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Title: A Little Girl in Old Quebec
Author: Douglas, Amanda Minnie, 1831-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Little Girl in Old Quebec" ***

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                     A LITTLE GIRL IN OLD QUEBEC

                        By AMANDA M. DOUGLAS



A. L. BURT COMPANY
PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

Copyright, 1906
BY DODD, MEAD & COMPANY



CONTENTS


        I. A WILD ROSE

       II. THE JOY OF FRIENDSHIP

      III. SUMMER TIME

       IV. A HUSBAND

        V. CHANGING ABOUT

       VI. FINDING AMUSEMENTS

      VII. JOURNEYING TO A FAR COUNTRY

     VIII. WHAT ROSE DID NOT LIKE

       IX. ABOUT MARRIAGES

        X. MILADI AND M. DESTOURNIER

       XI. A FEAST OF SUMMER

      XII. A LOVER IN EARNEST

     XIII. FROM A GIRL'S HEART

      XIV. A WAY OVER THORNS

       XV. HELD IN AN ENEMY'S GRASP

      XVI. A LOVER OF THE WILDERNESS

     XVII. THE PASSING OF OLD QUEBEC



A LITTLE GIRL IN OLD QUEBEC



CHAPTER I

A WILD ROSE


Ralph Destournier went gayly along, whistling a merry French song that
was nearly all chorus, climbing, slipping, springing, wondering in his
heart as many a man did then what had induced Samuel de Champlain to
dream out a city on this craggy, rocky spot. Yet its wildness had an
impressive grandeur. Above the island of Orleans the channel narrowed,
and there were the lovely green heights of what was to be Point Levis,
more attractive, he thought, than these frowning cliffs. The angle
between the St. Charles and St. Lawrence gave an impregnable site for a
fortress, and Champlain was a born soldier with a quick eye to seize on
the possibility of defence.

On the space between the cliffs and the water a few wooden buildings,
rough hewn, marked the site of the lower town. A wall had been erected,
finished with a gallery, loopholed for musketry, and within this were
the beginnings of a town that was to be famous for heroic deeds, for men
of high courage, for quaintness that perpetuates old stories which are
perfect romances yet to-day after the lapse of three centuries.

There was a storehouse quite well fortified, there was a courtyard with
some fine walnut trees, and a few gardens stretching out with pleasant
greenery, while doves were flying about in wide circles, a reminder of
home. Ralph Destournier had a spirit of adventure and Champlain was a
great hero to him. Coming partly of Huguenot stock he had fewer chances
at home, and he believed there was more liberty in the new world, a
better outlook for a restless, eager mind.

He went on climbing over the sun-baked cliffs, while here and there in a
depression where rain could linger there were patches of verdure, trees
that somehow maintained a footing. How unlike the level old seaport town
where he had passed a good part of his youth, considered his
grandfather's heir, when in the turn of fortune's wheel the sturdy old
Huguenot had been killed in battle and his estates confiscated.

Something stirred up above him, not any small animal either. It crackled
the bushes and moved about with a certain agility. Could it be a deer?
He raised his gun.

Then a burst of song held him in amaze. It was not a bird, though it
seemed to mock several of them. There were no especial words or rhymes,
but the music thrilled him. He strode upward. Out of a leafy bower
peered a face, child or woman, he could not tell at first, a crown of
light, loose curling hair and two dark, soft merry eyes, a cherry-red
mouth and dimpled chin.

"Hello! How did you get up there?" he asked in his astonishment. Indians
sometimes lurked about.

"I climbed. You did not suppose I flew?"

The tone was merry rather than saucy, and taking a few steps nearer, he
saw she was quite a child. But she wore no cap and she shook the
wind-blown hair aside with a dainty gesture. There was a fearlessness
about her that charmed him.

"And you live--here?"

"Not here in the woods--no. But down in the town. Down there by the
garden, M'sieu Hébert and the General. And Maman has one. But I hate
working in it. So I ran away. Do you know what will happen to me when I
go back?"

"No, what?" with a sense of amusement. "Perhaps you will get no supper!"

"I shall be whipped. And to-morrow I shall not be let out of the garden.
When I get to be a woman I won't work in the garden. I won't even have a
husband. They make you do just as they like. Why isn't one's way as good
as another's?"

A line of perplexity settled between her eyes that were soft enough to
melt the heart of a stone, he thought, if stones really had hearts.

"Older people are generally wiser. And mothers----"

"Oh, she isn't my mother," interrupted the child. "Even Catherine was
not my mother. I was very sorry for that. She was good and tender, but
she died. And Jean was very angry because she was not my real mother,
and he would have nothing to do with me. So he brought me to Maman. Oh,
it was a long while ago. Maman is good in some ways. She gives me plenty
to eat when we have it and she does not beat me often, as she does
Pani."

"And who is Pani?"

"Oh, the little slave. His tribe was driven away after they had lost
their battle, but some of the children were left behind and they are
slaves. Do you suppose the Indians will ever conquer M. de Champlain?
Then we should be slaves--or killed."

He shuddered. Already he had heard tales of awful cruelty in the
treatment of prisoners.

"Are you not afraid some Indians may be prowling about?" and he glanced
furtively around.

"Oh, they do not come here. They are good friends with M. de Champlain.
And the fort is guarded. I should hide if one came."

She began to descend and presently reached his level.

"There are long shadows. It gets to be supper time."

He smiled. "Are the shadows your clock hands?"

"We have no clock. M. de Champlain carries his in his pocket. But you
see the sun sends long shadows over to the east. It is queer. The sun
keeps going round. What is on the other side?"

"It would take a good deal of study to understand it all," he returned
gravely.

"I like to hear them talk. There are wonderful places. And where is
India? Can any one find the passage they are looking for and sail round
the world?"

"They have sailed round it."

"And have you seen Paris and the King?"

"I fought for the dead King. And Paris--why, you cannot imagine anything
like it."

"Ah, but we are going to have new France here. And perhaps Paris."

There were pride and gladness in her voice. He smiled inwardly, he would
not disturb her childish dream. Would she ever see the beautiful city
and the pageants that were almost daily occurrences?

"When did you come here?" she asked presently.

"A fortnight ago, when the storeship arrived."

"Ah, yes. Maman and I went to see it and M. Hébert sent us some curious,
delicious dried fruits. M. de Champlain is quite sure we shall grow them
in time and have beautiful gardens, and fine people who know many
things. Can you read?"

"Why, yes"--laughing.

"I wish I could. But we have no books. Maman thinks it a waste of time,
except for the men who must do business and write letters. Can you write
letters?"

"Yes"--studying her with amusement.

"Catherine could read. But she had no books. I once learned some of the
letters. Jean could make figures."

"Where is he?"

"Oh, off with the fur-hunters. And Antoine makes ever so much money. And
he says he and Maman will go back to France. And I suppose they will
leave me here. Antoine has two brothers and one is at Brouage, where M.
de Champlain was born."

She leaped from point to point in a graceful, agile manner, ran swiftly
down some declivity, while he held his breath, it seemed so fraught with
danger, but she only looked back laughingly. What a daring midget she
was!

And when they were in sight of the palisades they saw a group of men,
Pontgrave and Champlain among them. Destournier quickened his pace and
touched his hat to them with a reverent grace.

"Have you had a guide?" and Champlain held out his hand to the little
girl while he asked the question of Destournier. She took Champlain's
hand in both of hers and pressed it against her cheek. Pontgrave smiled
at her as well.

Destournier glanced up at the eminence where he had first seen the
moving figure. How steep and unapproachable!

"Could you find no fairer site for a new Paris?" he inquired smilingly.
"How will you get up and down the streets when you come to that?"

"Is it not the key to the north and a natural fortress? Look you, with a
cannon at its base and over opposite, no trading vessel could steal up,
no hostile man-of-war invade us. There will come a time when the old
world will divide this mighty continent between them and the struggle
will be tremendous. It will behoove France to see that her entrances are
well guarded. And from this point we must build. What could be a
fairer, prouder, more invincible heritage for France? For we shall sweep
across the continent, we shall have the whole of the fur trade in time.
We shall build great cities," and Champlain's face glowed with the pride
he took in the new world.

Yet it was a small beginning, and a less intrepid soul would have been
daunted by the many discouragements. A few dwelling houses, a moat with
a drawbridge, and the space of land running down to the river divided
into gardens. The Sieur de Champlain found time to sow various seeds,
wheat and rye as well, to set out berries brought from the woods and
native grape vines that were better fitted to withstand the rigorous
climate. But now it was simply magnificent, glowing with the early
autumn suns.

"I have a good neighbor who takes a great interest in these things. You
must inspect Mère Dubray's garden. With a dozen emigrants like her we
should have the wilderness abloom. She rivals Hébert. We must have some
agriculture. We cannot depend on the mother country for all our food.
And if the Indians can raise corn and other needful supplies, why not
we?"

"Ah, ha! little truant!" cried Mère Dubray, with a sharp glance at the
child, "where hast thou been all the afternoon, while weeds have been
growing apace?"

"She has been playing guide to a stranger," explained Destournier, "and
I have found her most interesting. It has been time well spent."

Mère Dubray smiled. She always felt honored by the encomiums of M. de
Champlain. She was proud of her garden, as well, and pleased to have
visitors inspect it. Indeed the young man thought he had seen no neater
gardens in sunny France.

"Mère Dubray," he said, "convert this young man into an emigrant. I am a
little sorry to have him begin in the autumn when the summer is so much
more enticing. But if the worst is taken first there is hope for better
to cheer the heart."

Something about her brought to mind the women of old France who sturdily
fought their way to a certain prosperity. She was rather short and
stout, but with no loosely-hanging flesh, her hair was still coal-black,
with a sharp sort of waviness, and her eyes had the sparkle of beads.
Her brown skin was relieved by a warm color in the cheeks and the red,
rather smiling lips. No one could imagine the child hers. It was nothing
to him, yet he felt rather glad.

Destournier was very friendly, however, and found her really
intelligent. The little girl ran hither and thither, quite a privileged
character. There were very few children beyond the Indians and
half-breeds. The fur-hunters often went through a sort of ceremony with
the Indian girls during their weeks of dickering with the traders. Some
returned another season to renew their vows, others sought new loves.

"I suppose the child has some sort of story?" he said to Champlain as
they sat in the evening smoking their pipes.

"The child? The reputed mother came over with some emigrants sent by the
King, and as a widow she married Jean Arlac. He, it seems, was much
disappointed at not having children of his own and was not over-cordial
to the little girl. Rather more than a year ago his wife was taken ill,
she had never been robust. And in her last moments she confessed the
child was not her own, but that of a friend, and before she told the
whole story a convulsion seized her. Jean was very angry and declared
the child was nothing to him. He brought it to Mère Dubray and then went
off to the fur regions, from whence the tidings came that he had married
an Indian woman and taken a post station. She is a bright little thing,
and I think must have come of gentle people. Her only trinket is a chain
and locket, with a sweet young face in it."

"But there is no chance here for any sort of education. She seems
naturally intelligent."

"There will be soon. There is a plan to bring out some nuns, and we
shall build a chapel. We cannot do everything at once. The mother
country cannot be roused to the importance of this step. It is not
simply to discover, one must hold with a secure hand. And we must make
homes, we must people them."

Pontgrave was to return to France. Ralph Destournier had half a mind to
accompany him, but he was young and adventurous and desirous of seeing
more of this strange country. At last he cast in his lot with them for
the year at least.

October was a gorgeous month with its changing colors, its rather sharp
nights when the log fires were a delight, and its days of sunshine that
brought a summer warmth at noon. At night the sky sparkled with stars.

The buildings were calked on the outside and hung with furs within.
Harsh winds swept down from the northwest, everything was hooded with
snow. Now one counted stores carefully and wasted nothing, though
Champlain's ever sympathetic heart dealt out a little from his not too
abundant supplies to the wandering Montagnais and gave their women and
children food and shelter. There was a continual fight to keep even
tolerably well. Scurvy was one enemy, a low sort of fever another.

There were many plans to make for the opening of spring. Yet Ralph
Destournier would have found it intolerably dull but for the little girl
whose name was Rose. He taught her to read--Champlain fortunately had
some books in French and Latin. There were bits of old history, a volume
of Terence, another of Virgil, and out of what he knew and read he
reconstructed stories that charmed her. Most of all she liked to hear
about the King. The romances of Henry of Navarre fired her
rapidly-awakening imagination.

Destournier took several little excursions with the intrepid explorer
before the severest of the winter set in. What faith he had in this
wonderful new France that was to add so much glory and prosperity to the
old world! If its rulers could have but looked through his eyes and had
his aims. There was Tadoussac, there was the upper St. Charles, where
Jacques Cartier and his men had passed a winter that in spite of the
utmost heroism had ended in the tragedy of death. To the south there was
a sturdy band of Englishmen trying the same experiment, not merely for
their King and country, but also some reward for themselves. Neither
were they eager to plant the standard of religion; that was left for
Puritans and French missionaries.

It seemed to Destournier that the scheme of colonization was hardly
worth while. He had not Champlain's enthusiasm--there was much to do for
France, and that land had always to be on the defensive with England.
Would it not be so here in the years to come? And the Indians would be a
continual menace.

But there was a whole continent to convert, to civilize. He went back to
the times of Charlemagne and the struggles that had brought out a
glorious France. And no one had given up the passage to India. Lying
westward was a great river, and what was beyond that no one knew. It was
the province of man to find out.

It was a dull life for a little girl in the winter. Rose almost longed
for the garden, even if weeds did grow apace. In the old country Mère
Dubray had spun flax and wool, here there was none to spin. She had
learned a little work from the Indian women, but she was severely
plain. What need of fringes and bead work and laying feathers in rows to
be stitched on with a sort of thread made of fine, tough grass? And as
for cooking, one had to be economical and make everything with a view to
real sustenance, not the high art of cooking, though her peasant life
had inducted her into this.

The little girl made a playhouse in one corner of the cabin and stood up
sticks for Indian children to whom she told over what had been taught
her. They blundered just as she had done, but she had a curious patience
with them that would have touched one's heart.

"What nonsense!" Mère Dubray would exclaim. "It is well enough for men,
and priests must know Latin prayers, but this is beyond anything a woman
needs. And to be repeating it to sticks----"

"But I get so lonely when they are all away," and the child sighed. "The
real Indian girls were a pleasure, but I'm afraid you could not teach
them to read any more than these make-believes."

"Yes, winter is a dreary time. I'm not sure but I would rather be up in
the fur country with my man. It seems they find plenty of game."

There was not so much game here, for the Indians were ever on the alert
and the roving bands always on the verge of starvation. But once in a
while there was a feast of fresh meat and Mère Dubray made tasty messes
for the hungry men.

Rose, bundled up in furs sometimes, ran around the gallery where they
had cleared the snow. Then there were the forge and the workshop, where
the men were hewing immense walnut trees into slabs and posts for spring
building. Some days the doves were let out of the cote in the sunshine
and it was fascinating to see them circle around. They knew the little
girl and would alight on her shoulder and eat grains out of her hand,
coo to her and kiss her. Destournier loved to watch her, a real child of
nature, innocent as the doves themselves. Mère Dubray had scarcely more
idea of the seriousness of life or the demands of another existence
beyond. She told her beads, prayed to her patron saint with small idea
of what heaven might be like, unless it was the beautiful little hamlet
where she was born. And as she was not sure the child had been
christened, she thought it best to wait for the advent of a priest to
direct her in the right way.

She was not a little horrified by Destournier's curious familiarity with
God and heaven, as it seemed to her. Rose understood almost intuitively
that it terrified her, that it seemed a sacrilege, though she would not
have known what the word meant. So she said very little about it--it was
a beautiful land beyond the sky where people went when they died.
Sometimes, when the wonderful beauty of sunset moved her to a strange
ecstasy, she longed to be transported thither. And in the moving white
drifts she saw angel forms with out-stretched arms and called to them.

The beginning of the new year was bitter indeed. Snow piled mountain
high, it seemed a whole world of snow. For windows they had cloth
soaked in oil, but now the curtains of fur were dropped within and a
barricade raised without. There were only the blazing logs to give light
and make shadows about. They hovered around it, ate nuts, parched corn,
and heated their smoked eels. They slept late in the morning and went to
bed early. The lack of exercise and vegetables told on health, and
towards spring more than one of the little band went their way to the
land beyond and left a painful vacancy. But one week there came a
marvellous change. The mountains of snow sank down into hills, there was
a rush in the river, the barricades were removed from the windows and
the fur hangings pushed aside to let in some welcome light.

Rose ran around wild. "I can recall last spring," she said, with a burst
of gayety. "The trees coming out in leaf, the birds singing, the
blossoms----"

"And the garden," interposed Destournier.

Rose made a wry face.

"It will be an excellent thing for you to run about out of doors. You
have lost your rosy cheeks."

"But I am Rose still," she said archly.

She ran gayly one day, she went up the stream in the canoe with
Destournier and was full of merriment. But the next day she felt
strangely languid. Most of the men had gone hunting. Mère Dubray was
piling away some of the heaviest furs.

"Thou wilt roast there in the chimney corner," she said rather sharply.
"Get thee out of doors in the fresh air again. It is silly to think one
cannot stir without a troop of men tagging to one. Thou art too young
for such folly."

"My legs ache," returned the child, "and my head feels queer and goes
round when I stir. And I am sleepy, as if there had not been any night."

Mère Dubray glanced at her sharply.

"Why, thy cheeks are red and thy eyes bright. Come, stir about or I
shall take a stick to thee. That will liven thee up."

The child rose and made a few uncertain steps. Then she flung out her
hands wildly, and the next instant fell in a little heap on the floor.

The elder looked at her in amaze and shook her rather roughly by the
arm. And now the redness was gone and the child had a strange gray look,
with her eyes rolled up so that only a little of the pupil showed.

"Saint Elizabeth have mercy!" she cried. "The child is truly ill. And
she has been so well and strong. And the doctor gone up to Tadoussac!"

She laid her on the rude couch. Rose began to mutter and then broke into
a pitiful whine. There were some herbs that every householder gathered,
there were secrets extorted from the squaws much more efficacious than
those of their medicine men. The little hand was burning hot; yes, it
was fever. There had been scurvy and dysentery, but she was a little
non-plussed by the fever. And the Sieur would not be here until
to-morrow; the doctor, no one knew when.

She took out her chest of simples, a quaintly-made birchen-bark
receptacle. They had been carefully labelled by the doctor. Yes, here
was "fever"--here another. Which to take puzzled her.

"I might try first one and then the other," she ruminated. "I would get
the good of both. And they might not mix well."

She boiled some water and poured it over the herbs. It diffused a
bitter, but not unpleasant flavor. Then she put it out of doors to cool.

Rose was sleeping heavily, but her eyes were half open and it startled
Mère Dubray.

"A child is a great responsibility," she moaned to herself. "If the
Sieur were only here, or the doctor!" She woke her presently and
administered the potion. But it brought on a desperate sickness.

"Perhaps I had better try the other." She took the hot, limp hand, the
cheeks were burning, but great drops of perspiration stood out on the
forehead. She twisted the soft hair in a knot and struck one of her
highly-prized pins through it, then she thought a night-cap would be
better. Only they would be a world too large for the child. But she
succeeded in pinning it to the right shape, though she grudged the two
pins. They were a great rarity in those days, and if one was lost hours
were spent hunting it up.

The second dose fared better. There was nothing to do but let the child
sleep. She busied herself about the few household cares, studied the
weather and the signs of spring. Oh, was that a bird! Surely he was
early with his song. The river went rushing on joyously, leaping,
foaming as if glad to be unchained. The air had softened marvellously.
Ah, why should one be ill when spring had come!

The kindly Mère repeated her dose. Towards night the fever seemed to
abate, but the child was desperately restless and the worthy woman much
troubled. Yet what was the child to her? to any one? And death was sure
to come sometime. She would be spared much trouble. She would also lose
much happiness. But was there any great share of it in this new world?

Rose was no better the next day. The nausea returned and clearly she was
out of her head. But late this afternoon the Sieur and the young guest
returned and were so much alarmed they dispatched an Indian servitor
with instructions to bring the doctor at once.

"A pretty severe case," he said, with a grave shake of the head. "You
have done the best you could, Mère Dubray, and children have wonderful
recuperative powers. So we will try."

"Poor, pretty little thing," thought Destournier. "Will she find
anything worth living for?" Women had so few opportunities in those
times. And when one was poor and unknown, and in a strange country. Yet
he could not bear to think of her dying. There was always a hopeful
future to living.



CHAPTER II

THE JOY OF FRIENDSHIP


She went down to the very boundaries of the other country, this little
Rose. One night and one day they gave her up. She lay white and silent
and Mère Dubray brought out a white muslin dress and ironed it up, much
troubled to know whether she had a right to Christian burial or not.

And then she opened her eyes with their olden light and began to ask in
a weak voice what happened to her yesterday, and found her last
remembrance was six weeks agone.

She could hardly raise her thin little hand, but all the air was sweet
with growing things. The tall trees had come into rich leafage, the
sunshine glowed upon the grass that danced as if each blade was
fairy-born, and sparkled on the river that went hurrying by as if to
tell a wonderful story. The great craggy upper town glinted in a
thousand varying tints, and at evening was wreathed in trailing mists
that seemed some strange army marching across. The thickly wooded hills
were nodding and smiling to each other, some native fruit trees were in
bloom, and the air was delicious with the scent of wild-grape
fragrance.

"It was a bad fever. And we had no priest to call upon. As if people
here did not need one as well as in that wild place with a long name
where they are hunting copper and maybe gold. But thanks to the saints
and the good doctor, you have come through. Ah, we ought to have a
chapel at least where one could go and pray."

"It is so beautiful and sweet. One would not want to be put in the
ground."

She shuddered thinking of it.

"No, no! And M. Pontgrave has come in with two ships. There is plenty of
provisions and fruits from La Belle France. See, M'sieu Ralph brought
them in for you. Now you have only to get well."

Mère Dubray's face was alight with joy. The child smiled faintly.

"And the Sieur de Champlain?" she asked.

"Oh, he is as busy as any two men with plans for building up the town,
and workmen, and some women for wives--two of whom are married already,
though one couple did their courting on shipboard. Oh, you must soon get
about. We are going to have a rare summer."

The child raised herself up a trifle and then sank back.

"Oh, dear!" with a little cry.

"Do not mind, _ma petite_. People are always so at first. To-morrow
maybe you can sit up, and a few days after walk. And then go out."

"The world is so lovely and sweet," she murmured. And she was glad she
had not died.

The next day M'sieu Ralph came in. He appeared changed some way, but the
old smile was there. The eyes seemed to have taken on a deeper blue
tint. She stretched out her hands.

"Thank the good God that you are restored, little one," he exclaimed,
with deep fervor. "Only you are a shadow of the Rose who climbed rocks
like a joyous kid less than a year agone. When will you pilot me again?"

She drew a long breath like a sigh.

"And there have been so many happenings. There are new people, though no
little girls among them, for which I am sorry. And already they are
building houses. The Sieur de Champlain has great plans. He will have a
fine city if they work. Why, when thou art an old lady and goest dressed
in silks and velvets and furs, as the women of the mother country, thou
wilt have rare stories to tell to thy grandchildren. And no doubt thou
wilt have seen Paris as well."

Then she smiled, but it was a pitiful attempt.

It was true Quebec had received a wonderful hastening in the new-comers
and in several grants the King had made concerning the fur trade. The
dreary winter was a thing of the past.

Destournier came in the next day and insisted the child should be
wrapped up and carried out in the sunshine. She seemed light as a baby
when he took her in his arms. He seated himself on a bench and held her
closely wound up in Mère's choicest blanket she had brought from St.
Malo, and which had been woven by her grandmother.

Ah, how lovely that savage primeval beauty looked to the child, who felt
more than she could understand. Every pulse seemed instinct with new
life. The gardens with their beds of vegetables, the tall slim spikes of
onions which everybody had been requested to plant plentifully, the
feathery leaves of the young carrots, the beans already in white bloom,
the sword-like leaves of the corn hardly long enough to wave as yet, and
the river with boats and canoes--why, it had never been so brisk and
wonderful before.

She drew in long breaths of health-giving fragrance. There had been some
trouble with the Indians and the Sieur de Champlain had gone to chastise
them. There were fur-traders on the way and soon everything would be
stirring with eager business. And when she could they would take a sail
around and up the St. Charles, and visit the islands, for besides Pani
the Mère had another Indian boy the Sieur had sent her, so there would
be no gardening for the small, white Rose. And he had made a new friend
for her, who was waiting anxiously to see her.

Presently she went soundly asleep in the fragrant air, and he carried
her back and laid her on the bed. Mère Dubray came and looked at her and
shook her head. She was indeed a white Rose now. They had cut her hair
when she had tangled it with her tossing about, and it was now a bed of
golden rings, but the long lashes that were like a fringe on her cheeks
were black.

"It will take her a good while to get back all she has lost," said the
young man. "It is little short of a miracle that she is here."

She gained a little every day. But she felt very shaky when she walked
about, and light in the head. And then Destournier brought her a visitor
one afternoon, a lady the like of whom the child had not dreamed of in
her wildest imaginings, as she had listened to tales of royalty. A tall,
fair woman whose bright hair was a mass of puffs and short dainty curls
held by combs that sparkled with jewels, and the silken gown that was
strewn with brocaded roses on a soft gray ground. It had dainty ruffles
around the bottom that barely reached her ankles, and showed the clocked
and embroidered stockings and elegant slippers laced back and forth with
golden cord, and a buckle that sparkled with gems like the combs. Even
royalty condescended to wear imitation jewels, so why should not the
lower round? Her shapely shoulders were half veiled by a gauze scarf on
which were woven exquisite flowers.

The child gazed with fascinated admiration. Did the Greek women
Destournier had read about, who won every heart, look like this?

"This is the lady I told you of, little one, who has lately come from
France, Madame Giffard. And this is Rose----" He paused suddenly with a
half smile. "I believe the child has no other name."

"Was she born here?" How soft and winning the voice was.

Destournier flushed unconsciously.

"She has a story and a mystery that no one has fathomed. The Sieur made
some inquiries. A woman of the better class who came over with some
emigrants brought her, and was supposed to be her mother. But some
secret lay heavy on her mind, it seemed, and when she was dying she
confessed that the child was not hers, but she had no time for
explanations. The husband brought her here and has gone to one of the
fur stations. His disappointment was so intense he gave up the child.
And so--her name is neither Arlac nor Dubray. We shall have to
rechristen her."

"What a curious romance! If one knew what town she came from. Oh, my
little one, will you let me be your friend? I had a little golden-haired
girl who died when she was but four, and no children have come since to
gladden my heart."

Madame Giffard bent over and took the small hand, noting the taper
fingers and slender wrist that seemed to indicate good birth. She
pressed it to her lips. Rose looked up trustfully and smiled.

"I like you," she said, with frank earnestness.

"Then I shall come to see you often. This is such a queer place with no
ready-made houses and really nothing but log huts or those made of rough
slabs. I wonder now how I had the courage to come. But I could not be
separated from my dear husband. And when he makes his fortune we shall
go back to our dearly beloved France."

The child smiled. The story had no embarrassment for her--Catherine had
brought her from France and she had never called her mother until on
shipboard. Back of it was vague and misty, though Catherine was in it
all. But this beautiful woman with her soft voice, different from
anything she had ever heard--why, she liked her already almost as much
as M'sieu Ralph.

"And you have been ill a long while?"

"It seemed only a day when I first woke up. Then the snow was on the
ground. I was so cold. I wanted to go to sleep on the chimney seat and
Mère would not let me. And now everything is in bloom and the garden is
planted and the sun shines in very gladness. I shall never like winter
again," and she shuddered.

"Are the winters so dreadful?" she inquired of Destournier.

"I never knew anything like it. I can't understand why the Sieur de
Champlain should want to found a city here when the country south is so
much more congenial. Although this is the key to the North, as he says.
And there is a north to the continent over there."

"You think there are fortunes to be made?"

"For those who come to make them. But the mother country will squeeze
hard. We have not found the gold and silver yet. But after all, trade is
your best pioneer. And this is an era of exploring, of fame, rather than
money-getting. We are just coming to know there are other sides to the
world. Ah, here is Mère Dubray."

The child glanced from one woman to the other. She saw the same
difference as there was between the workmen and the few of the better
class. Was it knowledge such as M'sieu Ralph had? And the good-hearted
home-making Mère scouted learning for women. Their business was cooking
and keeping the house. But she decided she liked the lady the best, just
as she liked M'sieu Ralph better than the brawny leathern- and fur-clad
workmen. But the Mère had been very good and never scolded her now.

She brought in some little cakes and a glass of beer brewed from roots
and herbs. Madame Giffard thanked her and sipped it delicately. Some
vague memory haunted the child, as if she had seen this lady before with
the dead Catherine.

"It is a wild, wild country. There is nothing like it in France," the
lady said, in a tone of disparagement. "And how one is to live----"

"You were not in France two or three centuries ago," he returned
good-naturedly. "Most countries go through this period. Beginnings are
not always agreeable."

"But I cannot admit this is a city. Yet they talk about it at home. The
furs are certainly fine. But the Indians! You are in fear of them all
the time. And if they should make an attack here?"

"They will hardly dare now. Indeed one Indian tribe is practically wiped
out. And the fortifications are to be strengthened. We manage to keep
quite friendly, though we do not trust too far."

"But it is horrible to live in perpetual fear," and she shuddered.

"You must not look on that side of it. It is a hard country for women, I
shall have to admit."

"But I have not come to stay, thank the saints. A year maybe at the
longest. My husband is to go back when he has--what you call
it--established his claim--concession. We like sunny France the best.
Only one wants a fortune to enjoy it."

"That is true, too. But here one can do without. At least a man
can"--laughing a little as he surveyed the dainty figure.

"A year," repeated the child. "How long is a year?"

Mère Dubray had been standing in the doorway, waiting to take the cup
when my lady had finished. Now she said in an unemotional tone--

"It is a summer and a winter. It was last May when Jean Arlac brought
you here."

The child nodded thoughtfully and there came a far-away expression in
her eyes.

"Jean Arlac went up to the fur country," she said to the guest.

"Does he return when the furs come in?"

She glanced at Mère Dubray, who shook her head.

"He comes back no more. He has married an Indian woman. But my husband
will be here."

"Does M. Gifford desire to go out himself?"

"That is his plan, I believe. Can he get back before winter?"

"Oh, yes, or by that time."

"I shall come often to see the little one. And when they have finished
the--the hut, the child must come often to me. I have brought some
furnishings and pictures and a few books. There is much more in the old
château, and my aunt is there to take care of it. But I wanted some old
friends about me."

At the mention of books Rose had glanced up eagerly at Destournier. Then
there was a sudden rush without. Both Indian boys were racing and
yelling in their broken language.

"They are coming; they are coming! The canoes are in," and both began to
caper about.

Mère Dubray took down a leathern thong and laid it about them; but they
were like eels and glided out of her reach.

"One was bad enough, but I could manage him. The other"--and she gave
her shoulders a shrug.

The lady laughed. "That is like home," she said.

"It is quite a sight. And I hope you will not be frightened, for the
next few days. I had better escort you back, I think, for there will be
a crowd."

They were guests of M. de Champlain, who had quite comfortable
quarters. Beside his governmental business he was much engrossed with a
history of his journeys and explorations and the maps he was making. All
the furnishings were plain, as became a hardy soldier who often slept
out in the open. But the keeping room already showed some traces of a
woman's love for adornment. He looked rather grim over it, but made no
comment.

"I will come again to-morrow." Madame Giffard pressed a kiss upon the
white forehead. The child grasped her hand with convulsive warmth.

An hour had changed the aspect of everything. Instead of the quiet,
deserted, winding ways, you could hardly call them streets, everything
seemed alive with a motley, moving throng. A long line of boats, and
what one might call a caravan, seemed to have risen from the very earth,
or been evolved from the wilderness. There were shouting and singing,
white men turned to brown by exposure, Indians, half-breeds of varying
shades, and attire that was really indescribable.

"Is it an attack?" and Madame Giffard clung to her guide in affright.

He laughed reassuringly.

"It is only the awakening of Quebec after its long hibernation. They
have been expected some days. Ah, now you will see the true business
side and really believe the town flourishing, be able to carry a good
report back to France."

They looked over the land side from the eminence of the fortifications.
Quebec did not mean to admit these roisterers within her precincts,
which were none too well guarded. Still the cannons looked rather
formidable from their embrasures. But as little would these lawless men
have cared to be under the guard of the soldiery.

They seemed to come to a pause. Indians and half-breeds threw down their
packs. Some sat on them and gesticulated fiercely, as if on the verge of
a quarrel. A few, who seemed the leaders, went about ordering, pointing
to places where a few stakes had been driven. Great bundles were
unpacked, a centre pole reared, and a tent was in progress.

"Why, it is like a magic play," and she clapped her hands in eager
delight. "Will they live here? Oh, where is Laurent, I wonder. He ought
to see this."

"They will live here a month or so. Some of the earlier ones will go
away, new ones come. The company's furs will be packed and loaded on
vessels for France, but there are plenty of others who trade on their
own account. There will be roistering and drinking and quarrelling and
dickering, and then the tents will be folded and packed and the throng
take up their march for the great north again, and months of hunting."

It was fascinating to watch them. They were building stone fireplaces
outside and kindling fires. Here some deft hands were skinning a moose
or a deer and placing portions on a rude spit. And there was the Sieur
de Champlain and a dozen or so of armed soldiers, he holding parley with
some of the leaders.

"Oh, there is M. Giffard," she cried presently. "And look--are
there--women?"

"Squaws. Oh, yes."

"Do they travel, I mean come from the fur country? What a long journey
it must be for them."

"They do not mind. They are nomads of the wilderness. You know the
Indians never build towns as we do. Some of them settle for months until
the hunting gives out, then they are off on a new trail."

"What queer people. One would think the good missionaries would civilize
them, teach them to be like--can they civilize them?"

"After centuries, perhaps"--dryly.

"Is all this country theirs?"

"Well"--he lifted his eyebrows in a queer, humorous fashion. "The King
of France thinks he has a right to what his explorers discover; the King
of England--well, it was Queen Elizabeth, I believe, who laid claim to a
portion called Virginia. She died, but the English remain. Their colony
is largely recruited from their prisons, I have heard. Then his Spanish
majesty has somewhat. It is a great land. But the French set out to save
souls and convert the heathen savages into Christian men. They have made
friends with some of the tribes. But they are not like the people of
Europe, rather they resemble the barbarians of the north. And the
Church, you know, has labored to convert them."

"How much men know!" she said, with a long sigh of admiration.

The sun was dropping down behind the distant mountains, pine- and
fir-clad. She had never looked upon so grand a scene and was filled with
a tremulous sort of awe. Up there the St. Charles river, here the
majestic St. Lawrence, islands, coves, green points running out in the
water where the reedy grass waved to and fro, tangles of vines and wild
flowers. And here at their feet the settlement that had just sprung into
existence.

"You must be fatigued," he said suddenly. "Pardon my forgetfulness. I
have been so interested myself."

"Yes, I am a little tired. It has been such a strange afternoon. And
that poor little girl, Monsieur--does that woman care well for her? She
has the coarseness of a peasant, and the child not being her own----"

"Oh, I think she is fairly good to her. We do not expect all the graces
here in the wilderness. But I could wish----"

Madame Gifford stumbled at that moment and might have gone over a ledge
of rock, and there were many there, but he caught her in strong arms.

"How clumsy!" she cried. "No, I am not hurt, thanks to you. I was
looking over at that woman with something on her back that resembles a
child."

"Yes, a papoose. That is their way of carrying them."

"Poor mother! She must get very weary."

They threaded their way carefully to the citadel. The guard nodded and
they passed. An Indian woman was bringing in a basket of vegetables and
there was a savory smell of roasting meat.

"Now you are safe," he said. "The Sieur would have transported me to
France or hung me on the ramparts if any evil had happened to you."

He gave a short laugh as if he had escaped a danger, but there was a
gleam of mirth in his eyes.

"A thousand thanks, M'sieu. Though I can't think I was in any great
danger. And another thousand for the sweet little girl. I must see a
good deal of her."

The room she entered was within the double fortification and its windows
were securely barred. The walls were of heavy timbers stained just
enough to bring out the beautiful grain. But some of the dressed
deerskins were still hanging and there were festoons of wampum,
curiously made bead and shell curtains interspersed with gun racks,
great moose horns and deer heads, and antlers. Tables and chairs
curiously made and a great couch big enough for a bed.

But the adjoining room was the real workroom of the Sieur. Here were his
books, he brought a few more every time he came from France; shelves of
curiosities, a wide stone fireplace, with sundry pipes of Indian make on
the ledges. A great table occupied the centre of the room and all about
it were strewn papers,--maps in every state,--plans for the city, plans
of fortifications, diagrams of the unsuccessful settlements, and the new
project of Mont Réal. Notes on agriculture and the propagation of
fruits, for none better than the Sieur understood that the colony must
in some way provide its own food, that it could not depend upon
sustenance from the mother country. For his ambition desired to make New
France the envy of the nations who had tried colonizing. He ordered
crops of wheat and rye and barley sown, and often worked in his own
field when the moon shone with such glory that it inspired him. And
though he had all the ardor of an explorer, he meant to turn the profits
of trade to this end, but to further it settlements were necessary, and
he bent much of his energy to the duller and more trying task of
building colonies. Though the route to the Indies fired his ambition he
was in real earnest to bring this vast multitude of heathens within the
pale of the Church, and to do that he must be friendly with them as far
as they could be trusted, but there were times when he almost lost
faith.



CHAPTER III

SUMMER TIME


The child sat in a dream on a rude, squarely-built settle with a coarse
blanket on it of Indian make and some skins thrown over the back, for
often at sundown the air grew cool and as yet women were not spinning or
weaving as in old France. A few luxuries had been brought thither, but
the mother government had a feeling that the colonists ought mostly to
provide for themselves, and was often indifferent to the necessary
demands.

Mère Dubray went out to the kitchen and began to prepare supper. There
was a great stone chimney with a bench at each side, and for a fireplace
two flat stones that would be filled in with chunks of wood. When the
blaze had burned them to coals the cooking began. Corn bread baked on
both sides, sometimes rye or wheaten cakes, a kettle boiled, though the
home-brewed beer was the common drink in summer, except among those who
used the stronger potions. The teas were mostly fragrant herbs, thought
to be good for the stomach and to keep the blood pure.

Mère Dubray dressed half a dozen birds in a trice. It was true that in
the summer they could live on the luxuries of the land in some
respects. Fish and game of all kinds were abundant, and as there were
but few ways of keeping against winter it was as well to feast while one
could. They dried and smoked eels and some other fish, and salted them,
but they had learned that too much of this diet induced scurvy.

The birds were hung on an improvised spit, with a pan below to catch the
drippings with which they were basted. Between whiles the worthy woman
unexpectedly bolted out to the garden with a switch in her hand and laid
it about the two Indian boys, who did not bear it with the stoicism of
their race, as they learned the greater the noise the shorter their
punishment.

The little girl did not heed the screams or the shrill scolding, or even
the singing of the birds that grew deliciously tender toward nightfall.
She often watched the waving branches as the wind blew among them until
it seemed as if they must be alive, bending over caressing each other
and murmuring in low tones. If she could only know what they said. Of
course they must be alive; she heard them cry piteously in winter when
they were stripped of their covering. Why did God do it? Why did He send
winter when summer was so much better, when people were merry and happy
and could hunt and fish and wander in the woods and fight Indians? She
had not had much of an idea of God hitherto only as a secret charm
connected with Mère Dubray's beads, but now it was some great power
living beyond the sky, just as the Indians believed. You could only go
there by growing cold and stiff and being put in the ground. She shrank
from that thought.

Something new had come in her life now. There was a vague, confused idea
of gods and goddesses, that she had gathered from the Latin verses that
she no more understood than the language. And this must be one that
descended upon her this afternoon. The soft, sweet voice still lingered
in her ears, entrancing her. The graceful figure that was like some
delicate swaying branch, the attire the like of which she had never even
dreamed of. How could she indeed, when the finest things she had seen
were the soldiers' trappings?

And this beautiful being had kissed her. Only once she remembered being
kissed, but Catherine's lips were so cold that for days when she thought
of it she shuddered and connected it with that mysterious going away,
that horrid, underground life. This was warm and sweet and strange, like
the nectar of flowers she had held to her lips. Oh, would the lovely
being come again? But M'sieu Ralph had said so, and what he promised
came to pass. There was a sudden ecstasy as if she could not wait, as if
she could fly out of the body after her charmer. Whither was she going?
Oh, M'sieu Ralph would know. But could she wait until to-morrow?

Into this half-delirious vision broke the strong, rather harsh voice
that filled her for an instant with a curious hate so acute that if she
had been large enough, strong enough, she would have thrust the woman
out of doors.

"Oh, have you been asleep? Your eyes look wild. And your cheeks! Is it
the fever coming back again? That chatter went through my head. And to
be gowned as if she were going to have audience with the Queen! I don't
know about such things. There is a King always--I suppose there must be
a Queen."

The child had recovered herself a little and the enraptured dream was
slipping by.

"And here is your supper. Such a great dish of raspberries, and some
juice pressed out for wine. And the birds broiled to a turn. Here is a
little wheaten cake. The Sieur sent the wheat and it is a great rarity.
And now eat like a hungry child."

She raised her up and put a cushion of dried hay at her back. The food
was on a small trencher with a flat bottom, and was placed on the settle
beside her.

"No, no, the tea first," she said, holding a birch-bark cup to her lips.

Rose made a wry face, but drank it, nevertheless. Then she took the
raspberry juice, which was much pleasanter.

"Yes, a great lady, no doubt. We have few of them. This is no place for
silken hose and dainty slippers, and gowns slipping off the shoulders,
and my lady will soon find that out. I wondered at M. Destournier. The
saints forbid that we should import these kind of cattle to New
France."

"She is very sweet"--protestingly.

"Oh, yes. So is the flower sweet, and it drops off into withered leaves.
And her eyes looked askance at M'sieu Ralph, yet she hath a husband.
Come, eat of thy bird and bread, and to-morrow maybe thou wilt run about
lest thy limbs stiffen up to a palsy."

"Mistress, mistress," called Pani--"here is a man to see thee."

She went through both rooms. The man stood without, rather rough,
unkempt, with buckskin breeches, fringed leggings, an Indian blanket, a
grizzled beard hanging down on his breast, and his tousled hair well
sprinkled with white; his face wrinkled with the hardships he had passed
through, but the gray-blue eyes twinkled.

"Ha! ha!" A coarse, but not unfriendly laugh finished the greeting as he
caught both hands in an impetuous embrace. "Lalotte, old girl, has thy
memory failed in two years? Or hast thou gotten another husband?"

The woman gave a shriek of mingled surprise and delight. "The saints be
praised, it is Antoine. And how if thou hast taken some Indian woman to
wife? Braves do not consort with white women who cannot be made into
slaves," she answered, with spirit.

"Lalotte, thou wert hard to win in those early days. But now a dozen
good kisses with more flavor in them than Burgundy wine, and I will
prove to you I am the same old Antoine. And then--but thy supper smell
is good to a hungry man. And a dish of shallots. It takes a man back to
old Barbizon."

Stout and strong as was Madame Dubray, her husband almost kissed the
breath out of her body in his rapturous embrace.

"But I had no word of your coming----"

"How could you, pardieu! But you knew the traders were coming in. And a
man can't send messengers hundreds of miles."

"I looked last year----"

"Pouf! There are men who stay five or ten years, and have left a wife in
France. You can't blame them for taking a new one when you are invited
to. It is a wild, hard life, but not worse than a soldier's. And when
you are your own master the hardships are light. But some of this good
supper."

"Out with you," she said to the Indian boys, who had snatched a piece of
the broiled fish. Then she put down a plate, took up two birds that
dripped delicious gravy, and a squirrel browned to a turn. From the
cupboard beside the great stone chimney, so cunningly devised that no
one would have suspected it, she brought forth a bottle of wine from the
old world, her last choice possession, that she had dreamed of saving
for Antoine, and now her dream had come true.

There was much to tell on both sides, though her life had been
comparatively uneventful. He related incidents of his wilder experiences
far away from civilization that he had grown to enjoy in its perfect
freedom that often lapped over into lawlessness. And he ate until
squirrel, fish, and the cakes, both of rye and corn, had disappeared.
The slave boys fared ill that night.

Rose had eaten her supper more daintily. The great pile of raspberries
was a delight; large, luscious; melting in one's mouth without the aid
of sugar, and being picked up with the fingers. She had been startled at
the sudden appearance of the husband she had heard talked of, but of
course not seen. His loud voice grated on her ears, made more sensitive
by illness, and when, a long while after, the pine torch that was
flaring in the kitchen defined his brawny frame as he stood in the
doorway, she wanted to scream.

"Oh--what have you here--a ghost?" he asked.

"A child who was left here more than a year ago. Jean Arlac lost his
wife, and not knowing what to do with her--she was not his own
child--left her here. He went out with the fur-hunters."

"Jean Arlac!" Antoine scratched among his rough locks as if to assist
his memory. "Yes. And on the way he picked up a likely Indian girl who
has given him a son. And he saddled her on you?"

"Oh, the Sieur will look after her--perhaps take her back to France,"
she answered, indifferently.

"The best place for her, no doubt. She looks a frail reed. And women
need strength in this new world. A little infusion of Indian blood will
do no harm. I wouldn't mind a son myself, but a girl--pouf!"

The child was glad he would not want her. She turned her face to the
wall. She had not known what loneliness was before, but now she felt it
through all her body, like a great pain.

On the opposite side of the room was another settle, part of which
turned over and was upheld by drawing out two rounds of logs. Mère
Dubray made up the wider bed now, and soon Antoine was snoring lustily.
At first it frightened the child, though she was used to the screech of
the owl that spent his nights in the great walnut tree inside the
palisade.

Was it a dream, she wondered the next morning. She slept soundly at last
and late and found herself alone in the house. She put on her simple
frock and went to the doorway. Ah, what a splendid glowing morning it
was! The sunshine lay in golden masses and fairly gilded the green of
the maize, the waving grasses, the bronze of the trees, and the river
threw up lights and shadows like birds skimming about.

No one was in the garden. The table had been despoiled to the last
crumb. Even the cupboard had been ransacked and all that remained was
some raw fish. She was not hungry and the fragrant air was reviving. It
seemed to speed through every pulse. Why, she suddenly felt strong
again.

She wandered out of the enclosure and climbed the steps, sitting down
now and then and drawing curious breaths that frightened her, they came
so irregularly. There were workmen building additional fortifications
around the post, there were houses going up. It was like a strange
place. She reached the gallery presently and looked over what was
sometime to be the city of Quebec. The long stretch was full of tents
and tepees and throngs of men of every description, it would seem;
Indians, swarthy Spaniards who had roamed half round the world, French
from the jaunty trader, with a certain air of breeding, down to the
rough, unkempt peasant, who had been lured away from his native land
with visions of an easily-made fortune and much liberty in New France,
and convicts who had been given a choice between death and expatriation.
Great stacks of furs still coming in from some quarter, haranguing,
bargaining, shouting, coming to blows, and the interference of soldiers.
Was it so last summer when she sometimes ran out with Pani, though she
had been forbidden to?

It was growing very hot up here. The sun that looked so glorious through
the long stretches of the forest and played about the St. Lawrence as if
in a game of hide-and-seek with the boats, grew merciless. All the air
was full of dancing stars and she was so tired trying to reach out to
them, as if they were a stairway leading up to heaven, so that one need
not be put in the dark, wretched ground. Oh, yes, she could find the
way, and she half rose.

It seemed a long journey in the darkness. Then there was a coolness on
her brow, a soft hand passed over it, and she heard some murmuring,
caressing words. She opened her eyes, she tried to rise.

"Lie still, little one," said the voice that soothed and somehow made it
easy to obey. She was fanned slowly, and all was peace.

"Did you climb up to the gallery all alone? And yesterday you seemed so
weak, so fragile."

"I wanted--some one. They had all gone----"

"Quebec looks like a besieged camp. Laurent, that is my husband," with a
bright color, "said I could see it from the gallery, and that it
resembled a great show. I went out and found you. At first I thought you
were dead. But the Indian woman, Jolette is her Christian name, but I
should have liked Wanamee better, carried you in here and after a while
brought you to. But I thought sure you were dead. Poor little white
Rose! Truly named."

"But once I had red cheeks," in a faint voice.

"Then thou wouldst have been a red Rose."

She sang a delicious little chanson to a red rose from a lover. The
child sighed in great content.

"Were they good to you down there? That woman seemed--well, hard. And
were you left all alone?"

Rose began to tell the story of how the husband came home, and Madame
Giffard could see that she shrank from him. "And when she woke they had
all gone away. There was nothing to eat."

"Merci! How careless and unkind!" But Madame Giffard could not know the
little slave boys had ransacked the place.

"I was not hungry. And it was so delightful to walk about again. Though
I trembled all over and thought I should fall down."

"As you did. Now I have ordered you some good broth. And you must lie
still to get rested."

"But it is so nice to talk. You were so beautiful yesterday I was
afraid. I never saw such fine clothes."

Madame Giffard was in a soft gray gown to-day that had long wrinkled
sleeves, a very short waist, and a square neck filled in with ruffles
that stood up in a stiff fashion. She looked very quaint and pretty,
more approachable, though the child felt rather than understood.

"Are there no women here, and no society? Merci! but it is a strange
place, a wilderness. And no balls or dinners or excursions, with gay
little luncheons? There is war all the time at home, but plenty of
pleasure, too. And what is one to do here!"

"The Indians have some ball games. But they often fight at the end."

The lady laughed. What a charming ripple it was, like the falls here and
there, and there were many of them.

"Not that kind," she said, in her soft tone that could not wound the
child. "A great room like a palace, and lights everywhere, hundreds of
candles, and mirrors where you see yourself at every turn. Then festoons
of gauzy things that wave about, and flowers--not always real ones, they
fade so soon. And the men--there are officers and counts and marquises,
and their habiliments are--well, I can't describe them so you would
understand, but a hundred times finer than those of the Sieur de
Champlain. And the women--oh, if I had worn a ball dress yesterday, you
would have been speechless."

She laughed again gayly at the child's innocence. And just then Wanamee
came in with the broth.

"Madame Dubray's husband has come," nodding to the child.

"Yes, yesterday, just at night."

"He has great stores, they say. He is shrewd and means to make money.
But there will be no quiet now for weeks. And it will hardly be safe to
venture outside the palisades."

Jolette had been among the first converts, a prisoner taken in one of
the numerous Indian battles, rescued and saved from torture by the Sieur
himself, and though she had been a wife of one of the chiefs, she had
been beaten and treated like a slave. Champlain found her amenable to
the influences of civilization, and in some respects really superior to
the emigrants that had been sent over, though most of them were eagerly
seized upon as wives for the workmen. Frenchwomen were not anxious to
leave their native land.

Madame Giffard fed her small _protégée_ in a most dainty and enticing
manner. The little girl would have thought herself in an enchanted
country if she had known anything about enchantment. But most of the
stories she had heard were of Indian superstition, and so horrid she
never wanted to recur to them. Madame Dubray was much too busy to allow
her thoughts to run in fanciful channels, and really lacked any sort of
imagination.

After she had been fed she leaned back on the pillow again. Madame soon
sang her to sleep. The child was very much exhausted and in the quietude
of slumber looked like a bit of carving.

"Her eyelashes are splendid," thought her watcher, "and her lips have
pretty curves. There is something about her--she must have belonged to
gentle people. But she will grow coarse under that woman's training."

She sighed a little. Did she want the child, she wondered. If Laurent
could make a fortune here in this curious land where most of the
population seemed barbarians.

She drew from a work-bag a purse she was knitting of silken thread, and
worked as she watched the sleeping child. Once she rose, but the view
from the window did not satisfy her, so she went out on the gallery. A
French vessel was coming up into port, with its colors at half mast and
its golden lilies shrouded with crape. Some important personage must be
dead--was it the King?

She heard her husband's voice calling her and turned, took a few steps
forward. "Oh, what has happened?" she cried.

"The King! Our heroic Béarnese! For though we must always regret his
change of religion, yet it was best for France and his rights. And a
wretched miscreant stabbed him in his carriage, but he has paid the
penalty. And the new King is but a child, so a woman will rule. There is
no knowing what policies may be overturned."

"Our brave King!" There were tears in her eyes.

"They are loading vessels to return. Ah, what a rich country, even if
they cannot find the gold the Spaniards covet. Such an array of choice
furs bewilders one, and to see them tossed about carelessly makes one
almost scream with rage. Ah, my lady, you shall have in the winter what
the Queen Mother would envy."

"Then you mean to stay"--uncertainly.

"Yes, unless there should be great changes. I have not seen the Sieur
since the news came. He was to go to Tadoussac the first of the week,
and I had permission to go with him. One would think to-day that Quebec
was one of the most flourishing of towns, and it is hard to believe the
contrary. But every soldier is on the watch. They trust no one. What
have you been doing, _ma mie_?"

"Oh, I have something to show you. Come."

She placed her finger to her lips in token of silence and led him back
to the room she had left. The child was still sleep.

"What an angel," he murmured. "Is it--how did it come here? I thought
you said the little girl was ill."

"She was, and is. Doesn't she look like a marvellous statue? But no one
seems to regard her beauty here."

"She is too delicate."

"But she was well and strong and daring, and could climb like a deer, M.
Destournier says. She will be well again with good care. I want to keep
her."

"She will be a good plaything for thee when I am away. Though this may
change many plans. The Sieur is bent on discoveries, and now he has
orders to print his book. The maps are wonderful. What a man! He should
be a king in this new world. France does not understand the mighty
empire he is founding for her."

"Then you do not mind--if I keep the child? She has crept into the empty
niche in my heart. I must have been directed by the saints when I felt
the desire to go out. She would have died from exhaustion in the
broiling sun."

"Say the good Father, rather."

"And yet we must adore the saints, the old patriarchs. Did not the
disciples desire to build a memento to them?"

"They were not such men as have disgraced the holy calling by fire and
sword and persecution. And if one can draw a free breath in this new
land. The English with all their faults allow freedom in religion. It is
these hated Jesuits. And I believe they are answerable for the murder of
our heroic King."

Wanamee summoned them to the midday repast. The plain walnut boards
that formed the table had been polished until the beautiful grain and
the many curvings were brought out like the shades of a painting. If the
dishes were a motley array, a few pieces of silver and polished pewter
with common earthenware and curious cups of carved wood as well as
birch-bark platters, the viands were certainly appetizing.

"One will not starve in this new country," he said.

"But it is the winter that tries one, M. Destournier says."

"There must be plenty of game. And France sends many things. But a
colony must have agricultural resources. And the Indian raids are so
destructive. We need more soldiers."

He was off again to plunge in the thick of business. It was supposed the
fur company and the concessions ruled most of the bargain-making, but
there were independent trappers who had not infrequently secured skins
that were well-nigh priceless when they reached the hands of the Paris
furrier. And toward night, when wine and whiskey had been passed around
rather freely, there were broils that led to more than one fatal ending.
Indian women thronged around as well, with curious handiwork made in
their forest fastnesses.

The child slept a long while, she was so exhausted.

"Why, the sun is going over the mountains," she began, in vague alarm.
"I must go home. I did not mean to run away."

She sprang up on her feet, but swayed so that she would have fallen had
not Madame caught her.

"Nay, nay, thou art not well enough to run away from me, little one. I
will send word down to the cabin of Mère Dubray. She has her husband,
whom she has not seen for two years, and will care naught for thee.
Women are all alike when a man's love is proffered," and she gave a gay
little laugh.

"My head feels light and swims around as if it was on the rapid river.
But I must go home, I----"

"Art afraid? Well, I promise nothing shall harm thee. Lie down again. I
will send Wanamee with the word. Will it make thee happy--content?"

The child looked at her hostess as if she was studying her, but her
intellect had never been roused sufficiently for that. There was a vague
delight stealing over her as slumber does at times, a confusion of what
might have been duty if she had understood that even, in staying away
from what was really her home. Mère Dubray would be angry. She would
hardly beat her, she had only slapped her once during her illness, and
that was to make her swallow some bitter tea. And something within her
seemed to cry out for the adjuncts of this place. She had been in the
room before, she had even peered into the Sieur's study. He always had a
kindly word for her, she was different from the children of the workmen,
and looked at one with sober, wondering eyes, as if she might fathom
many things.

"You do not want to go back?"--persuasively.

Was it the pretty lady who changed the aspect of everything for her?

"Oh, if I could stay here always!" she cried, with a vehemence of more
years than had passed over her head. "It is better than the beautiful
world where I sit on the rocks and wonder, and dream of the great beyond
that goes over and meets the sky. There are no cruel Indians then, and I
want to wander on and on and listen to the voices in the trees, the
plash of the great river, and the little stream that plays against the
stones almost like the song you sung. If one could live there always and
did not get hungry or cold----"

"What a queer, visionary child! One would not look for it in these
wilds. The ladies over yonder talk of them because it is a fashion, but
when they ride through the parks and woods they want a train of
admirers. And with you it is pure love. Could you love any one as you do
nature? Was any one ever so good to you that you could fall down at
their feet and worship them? Surely you do not love Madame Dubray?"

"M'sieu Ralph has been very kind. But you are like a wonderful flower
one finds now and then, and dares not gather it lest the gods of the
woods and trees should be angry."

"But I will gather you to my heart, little one," and she slipped down
beside the couch, encircling the child in her arms, and pressing kisses
on brow and legs and pallid cheeks, bringing a roseate tint to them.

"And you must love me, you must want to stay with me. Oh, there was a
little one once who was flesh of my flesh, on whom I lavished the
delight and tenderness of my soul, and the great Father took her. He
sent nothing in her place, though I prayed and prayed. And now I shall
put you there. Surely the good God cannot be angry, for you have no
one."

She had followed a sudden impulse, and was not quite sure it was for the
best. Only her mother heart cried out for love.

The child stared, motionless, and it dampened her ardor for the moment.
She could not fathom the eyes.

"Are you not glad? Would you not like to live with me?"

"Oh, oh!" It was a cry of rapture. She caught the soft white hands and
kissed them. The joy was so new, so unexpected, she had no words for
it.



CHAPTER IV

A HUSBAND


Lalotte Dubray had had the gala day of her life. Her peasant wedding had
been simple enough. The curé's blessing after the civil ceremony, the
dance on the green, the going home to the one room in the small thatched
hut, the bunk-like bed along the wall, the two chests that answered for
seats, a kitchen table, two shelves for a rude dresser, with dishes that
had been earned by the hardest toil, but they were better off than some,
for there was a pig grunting and squealing outside, and a little garden.

Times had grown harder and harder. Antoine had been compelled to join
the army and fight for he knew not what. Then he had decamped, and
instead of being shot had been sent to New France. Lalotte was willing
enough to go with him.

Hard as it was, it bettered their fortunes. He had gone out once as a
sort of servant and handy man to the company. Then he had struck out for
himself. He was shrewd and industrious, and did not mind hard work, nor
hardships.

Now he was in the lightest of spirits. He had some choice furs that were
eagerly snapped up. The Indian women had been shrewd enough to arrange
tempting booths, where frying fish and roasted birds gave forth an
appetizing fragrance. There were cakes of ground maize baked on hot
stones, and though Champlain had used his best efforts to keep some
restraint on spirituous liquors, there were many ways of evading.

Lalotte was fairly stupefied with amazement at her husband's prosperity.

"Why, you are rich with that bag of money," she cried. "I never saw so
much."

He laughed jovially. "Better than standing up to be shot--he! he!
Jacques Lallemont had the idea, and they wanted emigrants for New France
bad enough. Why don't they send more? The English understand better.
_Sacré!_ But it is a great country. Only Quebec stays little, when it
should be a great place. Why can they not see?"

Lalotte could venture no explanation of that. She seemed to be in a maze
herself.

Vessels were taking on cargoes of furs as soon as they were inspected.
The river as far as Tadoussac looked thriving enough. Antoine met old
friends, but he was more level-headed than some, and did not get tipsy.
Lalotte held her head higher than ever.

When it was getting rather too rough they made their way out.

"Oh, the child!" she exclaimed, with a sudden twinge of conscience. "And
those wretched slave boys. If your back is turned they are in league
with the evil one himself. Baptism does not seem to drive it out.
Whether the poor thing had her breakfast."

"Let that alone. It was mighty cool in Jean Arlac to foist her on thee.
And now that we have left the crowd behind and are comfortable in the
stomach."

"But the cost, Antoine. I could have gotten it for half!"

"A man may treat his wife, when he has not seen her for two years," and
he gave a short chuckling laugh. "There has been a plan in my head,
hatched in the long winter nights up at the bay. Why should man and wife
be living apart when they might be together? Thou hast a hot temper,
Lalotte, but it will serve to warm up the biting air."

"A hot temper!" resentfully. "Much of it you have taken truly! Two years
soldiering--months in prison, and now two years again----"

He laughed good-humoredly, if it was loud enough to wake echoes.

"The saints know how I have wished for the sound of your voice. Indian
women there are ready enough to be a wife for six months, and then
perhaps some brave steals in at night and pouf! out goes your candle."

"The sin of it!"--holding up both hands.

"Sins are not counted in this wild land. But there are no old memories,
no talks with each other. Oh, you cannot think how the loneliness almost
freezes up one's very vitals. And I said to myself--I will bring
Lalotte back with me. Why should we not share the same life and live
over together our memories of sunny France?--not always sunny, either."

"To--take me with you"--gasping.

"Yes, why not? As if a man cannot order his wife about!" he exclaimed
jocosely, catching her around the waist and imprinting half a dozen
kisses with smacks that were like an explosion. "Yes--I have sighed for
thee many a night. There are high logs for firing, there are piles of
bearskins, thick and fleecy as those of our best sheep at home. There is
enough to eat at most times, and with thy cookery, _ma mie_, a man would
feast. It is a rough journey, to be sure, but then thou wilt not refuse,
or I shall think thou hast a secret lover."

"The Virgin herself knows I shall be glad to go with thee, Antoine," and
the tears of joy stood in her eyes. "There is nothing in all Quebec to
compare with thee. And heaven knows one sometimes grows hungry of a
winter night, when food is scarce and one depends upon sleep to make it
up. No, I should be happy anywhere with thee."

They jogged along in a lover-like fashion, but they were not quite out
of hearing of the din. At nightfall all dickering was stopped and guards
placed about. But in many a tent there were drinking and gambling, and
more than one affray.

They came to the small unpretentious cabin. The door stood wide open,
and the shaggy old dog was stretched on the doorstep, dozing. No soul
was to be seen.

"Where is the child, Britta? Why, she must have been carried off. She
could not walk any distance."

The dog gave a wise look and flicked her ear. Lalotte searched every
nook.

"Where could she have gone?" in dismay.

"Let the child alone. What is she to us? Does Jean Arlac stay awake
nights with trouble in his conscience about her? She was not his wife's
child and so nothing to him. What more is she to us? Come, get some
supper; I've not tasted such fried fish in an age as yours last night."

"The fish about here has a fine flavor, that is true. Those imps of
boys, and not a stick of wood handy. Their skins shall be well warmed;
just wait until I get at them."

"Nay, I will get some wood. I am hungry as a bear in the thaw, when he
crawls out."

But Lalotte, armed with a switch, began a survey of the garden. The work
had been neglected, that was plain. There under a clump of bushes lay
Pani, sleeping, with no fear of retribution on his placid face. And
Lalotte put in some satisfactory work before he even stirred.

But he knew nothing of his compeer, only they had been down to the river
together. As for the child, when he returned she was gone.

"Let the child alone, I say!" and Antoine brought his fist heavily down
on the table. "Next thing you will be begging that we take her. Since
the good Lord in His mercy has refrained from giving us any mouths to
feed, we will not fly in His face for those who do not concern us. And
the puling thing would die on the journey and have to be left behind to
feed the wolves. Come! come! Attend to thy supper."

The slim Indian convert was coming up the path. She was one of the
Abenaqui tribe, and she had mostly discarded the picturesque attire.

"The lady Madame Giffard sent me to say the girl is safe with her and
will not be able to return to-night."

"So much the better," growled Antoine, looking with hungry eyes on the
fish browning before the coals.

"Did she come and take her? I went with my husband to see the traders."

"She has been very poorly, but is much better now. And miladi
thought----"

"Oh, yes, it is all right. Yes, I am glad," nodding definitely, as if
the matter was settled. She did not want to quarrel with Antoine about a
child that was no kin to them, when he was so much like her old lover.
He seemed to bring back the hopes of youth and a certain gayety to which
she had long been a stranger.

After enjoying his meal he brought out his pipe and stretched himself in
a comfortable position, begging her to attend to him and let the slave
boy take the fragments. He went on to describe the settlement of the
fur merchants and trappers at Hudson Bay, but toned down much of the
rudeness of the actual living. A few of the white women, wives of the
leaders and the men in command, formed a little community. There was
card-playing and the relating of adventures through the long winter
evenings, that sometimes began soon after three. Dances, too, Indian
entertainments, and for daylight, flying about on snowshoes, and
skating. There was a short summer. The Indian women were expert in
modelling garments--everything was of fur and dressed deerskins.

Few knew how to read at that day among the seekers of fortune and
adventurers, but they were shrewd at keeping accounts, nevertheless.
There were certain regulations skilfully evaded by the knowing ones.

No, it would never do to take the child. She had no real mother love for
it, yet she often wondered whose child it might be, since it was not
Catherine Arlac's? Strange stories about foundlings often came to light
in old France.

The death of the King rather disorganized matters, for no one quite knew
what the new order of things would be. The Sieur de Champlain sorrowed
truly, for he had ever been a staunch admirer of Henry of Navarre.
Demont had not had his concession renewed and to an extent the fur trade
had been thrown open. Several vessels were eagerly competing for stores
of Indian peltries, as against those of the company. Indeed it was a
regular carnival time. One would think old Quebec a most prosperous
settlement, if judged only by that. But none of the motley crew were
allowed inside the palisades. The Sieur controlled the rough community
with rare good judgment. He had shown that he could punish as well as
govern; fight, if need be, and then be generous to the foe. Indeed in
the two Indian battles he had won much prestige, and had frowned on the
torture of helpless prisoners.

Madame Giffard besought her husband that evening to consent to her
taking the care of little Rose, at least while they remained in Canada,
the year and perhaps more.

"And that may unfit her for her after life. You will make a pet and
plaything of her, and then it would be cruel to return her to this woman
to whom it seems she was given. She may be claimed some day."

"And if we liked her, might we not take her home with us? There seems no
doubt but what she came from France. Not that I could put any one quite
in the place of my lost darling, but it will afford me much interest
through the winter, which, by all accounts, is dreary. I can teach her
to read--she hardly knows a French letter. M. Destournier has taken a
great interest in her. And she needs care now, encouragement to get
well."

"Let us do nothing rash. The Sieur may be able to advise what is best,"
he returned gently. He felt he would rather know more of the case before
he took the responsibility.

"She is so sweet, so innocent. She did not really know what love was,"
and Madame laughed softly. "This Catherine Arlac must have been a maid,
I think. Yes, I am sure she must have come from gentle people. She has
every indication of it."

"Well, thou canst play nurse a while and it will interest thee, and fill
up thy lonely hours, for I have much to do and must take some journeys
quite impossible for a woman. And then we will decide, if this woman is
ready to part with her. _Ma mie_, thou knowest I would not refuse thee
any wish that was possible."

"That is true, Laurent," and she kissed him fondly.

Destournier had been busy every moment of the day and had been closeted
with the Sieur until late in the evening. Champlain felt now that he
must give up an exploring expedition, on which his heart was set, and
return to France, where large interests of the colony were at stake.
There was much to be arranged.

So it was not until the next morning that he found his way to the Dubray
house, and then he was surprised at the tidings. Lalotte was almost a
girl again in her interest in the new plans. As soon as a sufficient
number had sold their wares to make a journey safe from marauders they
would start for Hudson's Bay, while the weather was pleasant. Of course
the child must be left behind. She had no real claim on them; neither
could she stand the journey. She was now with Madame Giffard.

Thither he hurried. Little Rose had improved wonderfully, though she was
almost transparently thin, and her eyes seemed larger and softer in
their mysterious darkness. Already love had done much for her.

He told his story and the plans of the Dubrays.

"Then I can stay here," she cried with kindling eyes, reaching out her
small hand as if to sign her right in Madame's.

Madame's eyes, too, were joyous as she raised them in a sort of
gratitude to her visitor.

"How strange it comes about," she cried. "And now, M. Destournier, will
you learn all you can about this Catherine Arlac; where she came from in
France, and if she was any sort of a trustworthy person? It may some day
be of importance to the child."

"Yes, anything I can do to advance her interest you may depend on. Are
you happy, little one?"

"I could fly like a bird, I am so light with joy. But I would not fly
away from here. Oh, then I shall not have to go back! I was frightened
at M. Dubray."

"I don't wonder. Yet these are the kind of men New France needs, who are
not afraid of the wilderness and its trials. The real civilization
follows on after the paths are trodden down. Did you go out yesterday?"
to the lady.

"Only on the gallery."

"That was safest. Such a crowd was fit only for Indian women, and some
of them shrank from it, I noticed. You heard the news about the King?"

"The sad, sad news. Yes."

"And the Sieur feels he must go back to France."

"What is Quebec to do? And if there is an Indian raid? Oh, this new land
is full of fears."

"And think of the strifes and battles of the old world! Ah, if peace
could reign. Yet the bravest of men are in the forefront."

Then he came over to the child.

"Who brought you here yesterday?" he asked, with a smile.

"I was all alone. I had nothing to eat. I wanted to get out in the
sunshine. I walked, but presently I shook so, I crawled up on the
gallery. And then----"

She looked wistfully at miladi, who took up the rest of the journey.

"You were a brave little girl. But what if Madame had not chanced to
come out? Why, you might have died."

The dark eyes grew humid. "It does not hurt to die," she said slowly.
"Only if you did not have to be put in the ground."

"Don't talk of such things," interposed Madame, with a half shudder.
"You are going to get well now, and run about and show me the places you
love. And we can sail up to the islands and through the St. Charles,
that looks so fascinating and mysterious, can we not?" smiling up at
Destournier.

"Oh, yes, a month will finish the trading, for the ships will want to
start with their freight, while the weather is fine. True, the Indians
and many of the _coureurs de bois_ will loiter about until the last
moment. There is to be a great Indian dance, I hear. They generally
break up with one that has a good deal of savagery in it, but this early
one is quite mild, I have understood, and gives one an opportunity to
see them in their fine feathers and war paint."

"Oh, it must be interesting. Would it be safe to go?" she inquired.

"With a bodyguard, yes. Your husband and myself, and we might call in
the services of the Dubrays. Madame is a host in herself. And they are
glad, it seems, to shift the care of the child on some one else,"
lowering his voice.

"You will not forget to inquire----"

"Why, there must be a record here. The Sieur has the name and addresses
of all the emigrants, I think. There have not been many shiploads of
women."

"She has no indication of peasant parentage. There is a curious delicacy
about her, but _merci!_ what wonderful and delightful ignorance. It is
like a fallow field. Mère Dubray seems to have sown nothing in it. Oh, I
promise myself rare pleasure in teaching her many things."

"She has a quick and peculiar imagination. I am glad she has fallen into
other hands. Settling a new country is a great undertaking, especially
when one has but a handful of people and you have to uproot other habits
of life and thought. I wonder if one can civilize an Indian!" and he
laughed doubtfully.

"But it is to save their souls, I thought!"

"Yet some of them worship the same God that we do, only He is called the
Great Manitou. And they have an hereafter for the braves at least, a
happy hunting ground. But they are cruel and implacable enemies with
each other. And we have wars at home as well. It is a curious muddle, I
think. You come from a Huguenot family, I believe."

"My mother did. But she went with my father. There were no family
dissensions. Does it make so much difference if one is upright and
honest and kindly?"

"Kindly. If that could be put in the creed. 'Tis a big question," and he
gave a sigh. "At least you are proving that part of the creed," and he
crossed over to the child, chatting with her in a pleasant manner until
he left them.

That evening there was a serious discussion in the Sieur's study.
Captain Chauvin was to return also, and who was most trustworthy to be
put in command of the infant colony was an important matter. There had
been quite an acreage of grain sown the year before, maize was
promising, and a variety of vegetables had been cultivated. Meats and
fish were dried and salted. They had learned how to protect themselves
from serious inroads of the scurvy. The houses in the post were being
much improved and made more secure against the rigors of the long
winter.

An officer who had spent the preceding winter at the fort was put in
command, and the next day the garrison and the workmen were called in
and enjoined to render him full obedience.

Destournier and Gifford were to undertake some adventures in a northerly
direction, following several designated routes that Champlain had
expected to pursue. Their journeys would not be very long.

As for Rose, she improved every day and began to chatter delightfully,
while her adoration of Madame Giffard was really touching, and filled
hours that would otherwise have been very tedious.

They had brought with them a few books. Madame was an expert at
embroidery and lace-making, but was aghast when she realized her slender
stock of materials, and that it would be well-nigh a year before any
could come from France.

"But there is bead work, and the Indian women make threads out of
grasses," explained Wanamee. "And feathers of birds are sewed around
garments and fringes are cut. Oh, miladi will find some employment for
her fingers."

Mère Dubray made no objection to accompanying them to the Indian dance.
She had been to several of them, but they were wild things that one
could not well understand; nothing like the village dances at home. "But
what would you? These were savages!"

"I wish I could go, too," the child said wistfully. "But I could not
climb about nor stand up as I used. When will I be able to run around
again?"

She was gaining every day and went out on the gallery for exercise. She
was a very cheerful invalid; indeed miladi was so entertaining she was
never weary when with her, and if her husband needed her, Wanamee came
to sit with the child. Rose knew many words in the language, as well as
that of the unfortunate Iroquois.

All they had been able to learn about Catherine Arlac was that she had
come from Paris to Honfleur, a widow, with a little girl. And Paris was
such a great and puzzling place for a search.

"But she is a sweet human rose with no thorns, and I must keep her,"
declared miladi.

Laurent Giffard made no demur. He was really glad for his wife to have
an interest while he was away.

The party threaded their way through the narrow winding paths that were
to be so famous afterward and witness the heroic struggle, when the
lilies of France went down for the last time, and the heritage that had
cost so much in valiant endeavor and blood and treasure was signed away.

There were flaming torches and swinging lanterns and throngs wending to
the part beyond the tents. The dance was not to pass a certain radius,
where guards were stationed. Already there was a central fire of logs,
around which the braves sat with their knees drawn up and their chins
resting upon them, looking as if they were asleep.

"A fire this warm night," said miladi, in irony.

"We could hardly see them without it," returned her husband.

At the summons of a rude drum that made a startling noise, the braves
rose, threw down their blankets and displayed their holiday attire of
paint, fringes, beads, and dressed deerskins with great headdresses of
feathers. Another ring formed round them. One brave, an old man, came
forward, and gesticulating wildly, went through a series of antics. One
after another fell in, and the slow tread began to increase. Then shrill
songs, with a kind of musical rhythm, low at first, but growing louder
and louder, the two or three circles joining in, the speed increasing
until they went whirling around like madmen, shouting, thrusting at each
other with their brawny arms, until all seemed like a sudden frenzy.

"Oh, they will kill each other!" almost shrieked Madame.

"_Non, non_, but small loss if they did," commented Madame Dubray.

They paused suddenly. It seemed like disentangling a chain. The
confusion was heightened by the cries and the dancing feather
headdresses that might have been a flock of giant birds. But presently
they resolved into a circle again, and began to march to a slow chant.
One young fellow seized a brand from the fire and began a wild gyration,
pointing the end to the circle, at random, it seemed. Then another and
another until the lights flashed about madly and there was a scent of
burning feathers. The circle stood its ground bravely, but there were
shrieks and mocking laughter as they danced around, sometimes making a
lunge out at the spectators, who would draw back in affright, a signal
for roars of mirth.

"They will burn each other up," cried Madame. "Oh, let us go. The noise
is more than I can bear. And if they should attack us. Do you remember
what M. du Parc was telling us?"

"I think we have had enough of it," began M. Giffard. "They are said to
be very treacherous. What is to hinder them from attacking the whites?"

"The knowledge that they have not yet received any pay, and their
remaining stock would be confiscated. They are not totally devoid of
self-interest, and most of them have a respect for the fighting powers
of the Sieur and his punishing capacity, as well."

As they left the place the noise seemed to subside, though it was like
the roar of wild animals.

"Am I to remain here all winter with these savages? Can I not return
with M. de Champlain?" pleaded Madame Giffard.

"Such a time would be almost a Godsend in the winter," declared
Destournier. "But they will be hundreds of miles away, and the near
Indians are sometimes too friendly, when driven by hunger to seek the
fort. Oh, you will find no cause for alarm, I think."

"And how long will they keep this up?" she asked, as they were ascending
the parapet from which they could still see the moving mass and the
flashing lights, weird amid the surrounding darkness.

"They will sit in a ring presently and smoke the pipe of peace and
enjoyment, and drop off to sleep. And for your satisfaction, not a few
among those were fur-hunters and traders, white men, who have given up
the customs of civilized life and enjoy the hardships of the wilderness,
but who will fight like tigers for their brethren when the issue comes.
They are seldom recreant to their own blood."

"I do not want to see it again, ever," she cried passionately. "I shall
hardly sleep for thinking of it and some horrible things a sailor told
on shipboard. I can believe them all true now."

"And we have had horrible battles, cruelty to prisoners," declared her
husband. "These poor savages have never been taught anything better, and
are always at war with each other. But for us, who have a higher state
of civilization, it seems incredible that we should take a delight in
destroying our brethren."

It was quiet and peaceful enough inside the fort. The Sieur was still
engrossed with his papers, marking out routes and places where lakes and
rivers might be found and where trading posts might be profitably set,
and colonies established. It was a daring ambition to plant the lilies
of France up northward, to take in the mighty lakes they had already
discovered and to cross the continent and find the sure route to India.
There were heroes in those days and afterwards.



CHAPTER V

CHANGING ABOUT


"If you are ready for your sail and have the courage----"

Laurent Giffard kissed his pretty wife as she sat with some needlework
in her hand, telling legendary tales, that were half fairy
embellishments, to the little Rose, who was listening eager-eyed and
with a delicious color in her cheeks. The child lived in a sort of fairy
land. Miladi was the queen, her gowns were gold and silver brocade, but
what brocade was, it would have been difficult for her to describe. She
was very happy in these days, growing strong so she could take walks
outside the fort, though she did not venture to do much climbing. The
old life was almost forgotten. Mère Dubray was very busy with her own
affairs, and her husband was as exigent as any new lover. Her cookery
appealed to him in the most important place, his stomach.

"And to think I have done without thee these two years," he would moan.

When she saw her, the little girl had a strange fear that at the last
moment they would seize her and take her up to the fur country with
them. Pani was to go; he was of some service, if you kept a sharp eye
on him, and had a switch handy.

"I'll tell you," he said to Rose when he waylaid her one day, "because
you never got me into trouble and had me beaten. I shall have to start
with them and I will go two days' journey, so they won't suspect. Then
at night I'll start back. I like Quebec, and you and the good gentleman
who throws you a laugh when he passes, instead of striking you. And I'll
hunt and fish, and be a sailor. I'll not starve. And you will not tell
even miladi, who is so beautiful and sweet. Promise."

Rose promised. And now they were to go down the river.

"The courage, of course," and Madame glanced up smilingly. "We take the
child for the present."

"I shall soon be jealous, _ma mie_, but it is a pleasure to see a bright
young thing about that can talk with her eyes and not chatter shrilly.
_Mon dieu!_ what voices most of the wives have, and they are
transmitting them to their children. Yes; we will start at noon, and be
gone two days. Destournier has some messages to deliver. Put on thy
plainest frock, we are not in sunny France now."

She had learned that and only dressed up now and then for her husband's
sake, or to please the child. And she had made her some pretty frocks
out of petticoats quite too fine for wear here.

Rose was overjoyed. Wanamee was to accompany them. When they were ready
they were piloted down to the wharf by Monsieur, and there was M. Ralph
to welcome them. The river was brisk with boats and canoes and shallops.
The sun glistened on the naked backs of Indian rowers bending with every
stroke of the paddles to a rhythmic sort of sound, that later on grew to
be regular songs. There were squaws handling canoes with grace and
dexterity. One would have considered Quebec a great _entrepôt_.

But the river with its beautiful bank, its groves of trees that had not
yet been despoiled, its frowning rocks glinting in the sunshine, its
wild flowers, its swift dazzle of birds, its great flocks of geese,
snowy white, in the little coves that uttered shrill cries and then
huddled together, the islands that reared grassy heads a moment and were
submerged as the current swept over them.

"Why are they not drowned?" asked Rose. "Or can they swim like the
little Indian boys?"

M. Giffard laughed--he often did at her quaint questions.

"They are like the trees; they have taken root ever so far down, and the
tide cannot sweep them away."

"And is Quebec rooted that way? Do the rocks hold fast? And--all the
places, even France?"

"They have staunch foundations. The good God has anchored them fast."

A puzzled look wavered over her face. "Monsieur, it is said the great
world is round. Why does not the water spill out as it turns? It would
fall out of a pail."

"Ah, child, that once puzzled wiser heads than thine. And years must
pass over thy head before thou canst understand."

"When I am as big as miladi?"

"I am afraid I do not quite understand myself, though I learned it in
the convent, I am quite sure. And I could not see why we did not fall
off. Some of the good nuns still believed the world was flat," and
miladi laughed. "Women's brains were not made for over-much study."

"Is it far to France?"

"Two months' or so sail."

"On a river?"

"Oh, on a great ocean. We must look at the Sieur's chart. Out of sight
of any land for days and days."

"I should feel afraid. And if you did not know where the land was?"

"But the sailor can tell by his chart."

What a wonderful world it was. She had supposed Quebec the greatest
thing in it. And now she knew so much about France and the beautiful
city called Paris, where the King and Queen lived, and ladies who went
gowned just like Madame, the first time she saw her. And there was an
England. M. Ralph had been there and seen their island empire, which
could not compare with France. She had a vague idea France was all the
rest of the world.

What days they were, for the weather was unusually fine. Now and then
they paused to explore some small isle, or to get fresh game. As for
fish, in those days the river seemed full of them. So many small streams
emptied into the St. Lawrence. Berries were abundant, and they feasted
to their hearts' content. The Indians dried them in the sun for winter
use.

Tadoussac was almost as busy as Quebec. As the fur monopoly had been in
part broken up, there were trappers here with packs of furs, and several
Indian settlements. It was Champlain's idea which Giffard was to work
up, to enlist rival traders to become sharers in the traffic, and
enlarge the trade, instead of keeping in one channel.

Madame and the little girl, piloted by Wanamee, visited several of the
wigwams, and the surprise of the Indian women at seeing the white lady
and the child was great indeed. Rose was rather afraid at first, and
drew back.

"They take it that you are the wife of the great father in France, that
is the King," translated Wanamee, "because you have crossed the ocean.
And you must not blame their curiosity. They will do you no harm."

But they wanted to examine my lady's frock and her shoes, with their
great buckles that nearly covered her small foot. Her sleeves came in
for a share of wonder, and her white, delicate arms they loaded with
curious bracelets, made of shells ground and polished until they
resembled gems. Then, too, they must feast them with a dish of Indian
cookery, which seemed ground maize broken by curiously arranged
millstones, in which were put edible roots, fish, and strips of dried
meat, that proved quite too much for miladi's delicate stomach. The
child had grown accustomed to it, as Lalotte sometimes indulged in it,
but she always shook her head in disdain and frowned on it.

"Such _pot au feu_ no one would eat at home," she would declare
emphatically.

They were loaded with gifts when they came away. Beautifully dressed
deerskins, strips of work that were remarkable, miladi thought, and she
wondered how they could accomplish so much with so few advantages.

The child had been a great source of amusement to all on shipboard. Her
utter ignorance of the outside world, her quaint frankness and innocence
tempted Giffard to play off on her curiosity and tell wonderful tales of
the mother country. And then Wanamee would recount Indian legends and
strange charms and rites used by the sages of the Abenaquis in the time
of her forefathers, before any white man had been seen in the country.

Then their homeward route began, the pause at the Isle d'Orléans, the
narrowing river, the more familiar Point Levis, the frowning rocks, the
palisades, and the fort. All the rest was wildness, except the clearing
that had been made and kept free that no skulking enemy should take an
undue advantage and surprise them by a sudden onslaught.

The Sieur de Champlain came down to meet them. Rose was leaping from
point to point like a young deer. It was no longer a pale face, it had
been a little changed by sun and wind.

"Well, little one, hast thou made many discoveries?"

"Oh, yes, indeed. I would not mind going to France now. And we have
brought back some such queer things; beautiful, too. But we did not like
some of the cooking, miladi and I, and Quebec is dearer, for it is
home," and her eyes shone with delight.

"Home! Thanks, little maid, for your naming it on this wise," and he
smiled down in the eager face as he turned to greet Madame.

She was a little weary of the wildness and loneliness of dense woods and
great hills and banks of the river, that roared and shrieked at times as
if ghost-haunted. Wanamee's stories had touched the superstitious
threads of her brain.

M. Giffard took the Sieur's arm and drew him a trifle aside. Destournier
offered his to the lady and assisted her up the rocky steep. Many a
tragedy would pass there before old Quebec became new Quebec, with
famous and heroic story.

She leaned a little heavily on his arm. "The motion of the ship is still
swaying my brain," she remarked, with a soft laugh. "So, if I am
awkward, I crave your patience. Oh, see that child! She will surely
fall."

Rose was climbing this way and that, now hugging a young tree growing
out of some crevice, then letting it go with a great flap, now
snatching a handful of wild flowers, and treading the fragrance out of
wild grapes.

"She is sure-footed like any other wild thing. I saw her first perched
upon that great gray rock yonder."

"The daring little monkey! I believe they brave every danger. I wonder
if we shall ever learn anything about her. The Sieur has so much on
hand, and men are wont to drop the thread of a pursuit or get it tangled
up with other things, so it would be too much of a burthen to ask him.
And another year I shall go to Paris myself. If she does not develop too
much waywardness, and keeps her good looks, I shall take her."

"Then I think you may be quite sure of a companion."

Wanamee had preceded them and thrown open the room to the slant rays of
western sunshine. Madame sank down on a couch, exhausted. The Indian
girl brought in some refreshments.

"Stay and partake of some," she said, with a winsome smile. "I cannot be
bereft of everybody."

But the child came in presently, eager and full of news that was hardly
news to her, after all.

"Pani is here," she exclaimed. "Madame Dubray and her husband have gone
with the trappers. They took Pani. He said he would run away. They kept
him two days, and tied him at night, but he loosened the thongs and ran
nearly all night. Then he has hidden away, for some new people have
taken the house. And he wants to stay here. He will be my slave."

She looked eagerly at my lady.

"Thou art getting to be such a venturesome midge that it may be well to
have so devoted an attendant. Yet I remember he left thee alone and ill
and hungry not so long ago."

Rose laughed gayly.

"If he had not left me I could not have taken the courage to crawl out.
And no one else might have come. He wanted to see the ships. And Madame
Dubray whipped him well, so that score is settled," with a sound of
justice well-paid for in her voice.

"We will see"--nodding and laughing.

"Then can I tell him?"

"The elders had better do that. But there will be room enough in Quebec
for him and us, I fancy," returned miladi.

Rose ran away. Pani was waiting out on the gallery.

"They will not mind," she announced. "But you must have some place to
sleep, and"--studying him critically from the rather narrow face, the
bony shoulders, and slim legs--"something to eat. Mère Dubray had
plenty, except towards spring when the stores began to fail."

"I can track rabbits and hares, and catch fish on the thin places in the
rivers. Oh, I shall not starve. But I'm hungry."

The wistful look in his eyes touched her.

"Let us find Wanamee," she exclaimed, leading the way to the culinary
department.

Miladi had been surprised and almost shocked at the rough manner of
living in this new France. The food, too, was primitive, lacking in the
delicacies to which she had been used, and the manners she thought
barbarous. But for M. Destournier and the courtesy of the Sieur she
would have prayed to return at once.

"Wait a little," pleaded Laurent. "If there is a fortune to be made in
this new world, why should we not have our share? And I can see that
there is. Matters are quite unsettled at home, but if we go back with
gold in our purses we shall do well enough."

Then the child had appealed to her. And it was flattering to be the only
lady of note and have homage paid to her.

So the children sought Wanamee, and while Pani brought some sticks and
soon had a bed of coals, Wanamee stirred up some cakes of rye and maize,
and the boy prepared a fish for cooking. He was indeed hungry, and his
eyes glistened with the delight of eating.

"It smells so good," said Rose. "Wanamee, bring me a piece. I can always
eat now, and a while ago I could not bear the smell of food."

"You were so thin and white. And Mère Dubray thought every morning you
would be dead. You wouldn't like to be put in the ground, would you?"

"Oh, no, no!" shivering.

"Nor burned. Then you go to ashes and only the bones are left."

"That is horrid, too. Burning hurts. I have burned my fingers with
coals."

"But my people don't mind it. They are very brave. And you go to the
great hunting grounds way over to the west, where the good Manitou has
everything, and you don't have to work, and no one beats you."

"The white people have a heaven. That is above the sky. And when the
stars come out it is light as day on the other side, and there are
flowers and trees, and rivers and all manner of fruit such as you never
see here."

"I'd rather hunt. When I get to be a man I shall go off and discover
wonderful things. In some of the mountains there is gold. And out by the
great oceans where the Hurons have encamped there are copper and silver.
The company talked about it. Some were for going there. And there were
fur animals, all the same."

Rose had been considering another subject.

"Pani," she began, with great seriousness, "you are not any one's slave
now."

"No"--rather hesitatingly. "The Dubrays will never come back, or if they
should next summer, with furs, I will run away again up to the Saguenay,
where they will not look. But there are Indian boys in plenty where the
tribes fight and take prisoners."

"You shall be my slave."

The young Indian's cheek flushed.

"The slave of a girl!" he said, with a touch of disdain.

"Why not? I should not beat you."

"Oh, you couldn't"--triumphantly.

"But you might be miladi's slave," suggested Wanamee, "and then you
could watch the little one and follow her about to see that nothing
harmed her."

"There shouldn't anything hurt her." He sprang up. "You see I am growing
tall, and presently I shall be a man. But I won't be a slave always."

"No, no," said the Indian woman.

"That was very good, excellent," pointing to the two empty birch-bark
dishes, which he picked up and threw on the coals, a primitive way to
escape dish washing. "I will find you a heap more. I will get fish or
berries, and oh, I know where the bees have stored a lot of honey in a
hollow tree."

"You let them alone for another month," commanded Wanamee. "Honey--that
will be a treat indeed."

Miladi had missed the sweets of her native land, though there they had
not been over-plentiful, since royalty must needs be served first. They
bought maple sugar and a kind of crude syrup of the Abenaqui women, who
were quite experts in making it. When the sun touched the trees in the
morning when the hoarfrost had disappeared, they inserted tubes of bark,
rolled tightly, and caught the sap in the troughs. Then they filled
their kettles that swung over great fires, and the fragrance arising
made the forests sweet with a peculiar spiciness. It was a grand time
for the children, who snatched some of the liquid out of the kettle on a
birch-bark ladle, and ran into the woods for it to cool. Pani had often
been with them.

"Let us go down to the old house," exclaimed Rose. "Do you know who is
there?"

"Pierre Gaudrion. He gets stone for the new walls they are laying
against the fort. And there are five or six little ones."

"It must be queer. Oh, let us go and see them."

She was off like a flash, but he followed as swiftly. Here was the
garden where she had pulled weeds with a hot hatred in her heart that
she would have liked to tear up the whole garden and throw it over in
the river. She glanced around furtively--what if Mère Dubray should come
suddenly in search of Pani.

Three little ones were tumbling about on the grass. The oldest girl was
grinding at the rude mill, a boy was making something out of birch
branches, interlaced with willow. A round, cheerful face glanced up from
patching a boy's garment, and smiled. Madame Gaudrion's mother had been
a white woman left at the Saguenay basin in a dying condition, it was
supposed, but she had recovered and married a half-breed. One daughter
had cast in her lot with a roving tribe. Pierre Gaudrion had seen the
other in one of the journeys up to Tadoussac and brought her home.

The Sieur did not discourage these marriages, for the children
generally affiliated with the whites, and if the colony was to prosper
there must be marriages and children.

Rose stopped suddenly, rather embarrassed, for all her bravado.

"I used to live here," as if apologizing.

"Yes. But Mère Dubray was not your mother."

"No. Nor Catherine Arlac."

The woman shook her head. "I know not many people. We live on the other
side. And the babies come so fast I have not much time. But Pierre say
now we must have bigger space and garden for the children to work in. So
we are glad when Mère Dubray go up to the fur country with her man. You
were ill, they said. But you do not look ill. Did you not want to go
with her?"

"Oh, no, no. And I live clear up there," nodding to the higher altitude.
"M'sieu Hébert is there and Madame. And a beautiful lady, Madame
Giffard. I did not love Mère Dubray."

"If I have a child that will not love me, it would break my heart. What
else are little ones for until they grow up and marry in turn?"

"But--I was not her child."

"And your mother."

"I do not know. She was dead before I could remember. Then I was brought
from France."

Suddenly she felt the loss of her mother. She belonged to no one in the
world.

"Poor _petite_." She made a sudden snatch at her own baby and hugged it
so tightly that it shrieked, at which she laughed.

"Some day a man will hug thee and thou wilt not scream," she said in
good humor.

Pani came from round the corner and then darted back. The boy left his
work and came forward.

"Who was that?" he asked. "My father said 'get an Indian boy to work in
the garden.' I am making a chair for the little one. And I can't tell
which are weeds. Yesterday I pulled up some onions and father was angry,
but he could set them out again."

Rose laughed at that, and thought it remarkable that his father did not
beat him.

"Pani might show you a little. He belongs to me now. We both used to
work in the garden. Mère Dubray was always knitting and cooking."

Pani emerged again. "Yes, let us go," and Rose led the way, but she
would have liked to throw herself down among the babies, who seemed all
arms and legs.

"Can you read?" the boy said suddenly. "We have a book and I can read
quite well. My father knows how. And I want to be a great man like the
Sieur, and some of the soldiers. I want to know how to keep accounts,
and to go to France some time in the big ships."

Rose colored. "I am going to learn to read this winter, when we have to
stay in. But it is very difficult--tiresome. I'd rather climb the rocks
and watch the birds. I had some once that would come for grains and bits
of corn cake. And the geese were so tame down there by the end of the
garden."

The rows of corn stood up finely, shaking out their silken heads,
turning to a bronze red. Then there were potatoes. These were of the
Dubrays' planting, as well as some of the smaller beds.

"M'sieu Hébert gave father some of these plants. He knows a great deal,
and he can make all kinds of medicine. It is very fine to know a great
deal, isn't it?"

"But it must be hard to study so much," returned Rose, with a sigh.

"I don't think so. I wish I had ever so many books like the Sieur and M.
Hébert. And you can find out places--there are so many of them in the
world. And do you know there are English people working with all their
might down in Virginia, and Spanish and Dutch! But some day we shall
drive them all out and it will be New France as far as you can go. And
the Indians----"

"You can't drive the Indians out," exclaimed Pani decisively. "The whole
country is theirs. And there are so many of them. There are tribes and
tribes all over the land. And they know how to fight."

"They are fighting each other continually. M. Hébert says they will
sweep each other off after a while. And they are very cruel. You will
see the French do not fight the French."

Alas, young Pierre Gaudrion, already Catholic and Huguenot were at war:
one fighting for the right to live in a certain liberty of belief, the
other thinking they did God a service by undertaking their
extermination.

The argument rather floored Pani, whose range of knowledge was only wide
enough to know that many tribes were at bitter enmity with each other.

"Do you want to work in the garden? There are weeds enough to keep you
busy," said Pierre presently.

"No," returned Pani stoutly.

"And Pani belongs to me," declared Rose.

Pierre turned to look at the girl. Her beauty stirred him strangely.
Sometimes, when his father sang the old songs of home, the same quiver
went through every pulse.

"I'm sorry," he said, in a gentler tone. "Now I must go back to my
chair."

"Is it to be a chair?"

"I can't weave the grasses just right, though some one showed me, only I
was thinking of other things."

"Let's see." Pani was a little mollified.

They went back to the boy's work.

"I'm only making a little one for Marie. Then I shall try a larger one.
There are two in the room."

Yes, Rose knew them well. The place was about the same, with the great
bunk on one side and the smaller one on the other. Mère Dubray's bright
blankets were gone, with the pictures of the Virgin, and the high
candlestick, that was alight on certain days. Little mattresses filled
with dried grass were piled on top of the bunk. It looked like, and yet
unlike. Rose was glad she did not live here.

Pani inspected the boy's work.

"Oh, you haven't it right. You must put pegs in here, then you can pull
it up. And this is the way you go."

Pani's deft fingers went in and out like a bit of machinery. It was
forest lore, and he was at home in it.

"You make it beautiful," exclaimed Pierre. "Oh, go slower, so I can
understand."

Pani smiled with the praise and put in a word of explanation now and
then. The boys were fast becoming friends.

"Maman," Pierre cried, "come and see how fine the boy does it. If he
would come and live with us!"

"I might come a little while and look after the garden. And I could
catch fish and I know the best places for berries, and the grapes will
soon be ripening. And the plums. I can shoot birds with an arrow. But I
belong to mam'selle."

"If she will let you come now and then," wistfully.

"Yes, I might," with an air of condescension.

"Thou art a pretty little lady," was Mère Gaudrion's parting benison to
the little girl, and Rose smiled. "Come again often."

When they were out of the narrow passageway she said, "Now let us have a
race. I am glad Mère Dubray is there no longer, are you not? But what a
funny pile of children!"

They had their race, and a climb, and on the gallery they found miladi
looking for them, and they told over their adventure.

"Yes," she said smilingly. "I think we can find a place for Pani, and
between us all I fancy we can keep him so well employed he will not want
to run away."



CHAPTER VI

FINDING AMUSEMENTS


About the middle of August the Sieur de Champlain and Captain François
de Pontgrave sailed from Tadoussac for France. The Giffards,
Destournier, and several others accompanied them to the port, and were
then to survey some of the places that had advantages for planting
colonies. They did not return until in September. The season was
unusually fine and warm, and there had been an abundance of everything.
The colonists had been busy enough preparing for winter. They had
learned ways of drying fruit, of smoking meats and fish, of caring for
their grains. There had been no talk of Indian raids, indeed the
villages about were friendly with the whites, and friendly with several
of the outlying tribes. Some had gone on raids farther south.

Madame Giffard would have found time hanging heavy on her hands but for
the child. She began to teach her to read and to play checkers. Rose did
not take kindly to embroidery, but some of the Indian work interested
her. With Pani and Wanamee's assistance she made baskets and curious
vase-like jars. Pierre Gaudrion came up now and then, and miladi
considered him quite a prodigy in several ways.

When they were dull and tired miladi gave Rose dancing lessons. The
child was really fascinated with the enjoyment. Miladi would dress up in
one of her pretty gowns to the child's great delight, and they would
invent wonderful figures. Sometimes the two men would join them, and
they would keep up the amusement till midnight.

Pani was growing rapidly and he was their most devoted knight. And when
the snows set in there were great snowballing games; sometimes between
the Indians alone, at others, the whites would take a hand.

It was splendid entertainment for the children to slide about on the
snowy crust, that glistened in the sunlight as if sprinkled with gems.
The Indian women often participated in this amusement. And miladi looked
as bewitching in her deerskin suit, with its fringes and bright
adornments of feather borders, and her lovely furs, as in her Paris
attire. She often thought she would like to walk into some assembly and
make a stir in her strange garments.

What is the Sieur doing? Making new bargains, persuading colonists to
join them, getting concessions to the profit of New France. Alas! Old
France was a selfish sort of stepmother. She wanted furs, she wanted
colonies planted, she wanted explorations, and possessions taken in
every direction, to thwart English and Dutch, who seemed somehow to be
prospering, but the money supplies were pared to the narrowest edge.

The little girl would have been much interested in one step her dear
Sieur was taking, though she did not hear of it until long afterward.
This was his betrothment and marriage to Marie Hélène, the daughter of
Nicolas Boullé, private secretary to the young King. A child of twelve,
and the soldier and explorer who was now forty or over, but held his
years well and the hardships had written few lines on his kindly and
handsome face. That he was very much charmed with the child, who was
really quite mature for her age, was true, though it is thought the
friendship of her father and her dowry had some weight. But she adored
her heroic lover, although she was to be returned to the convent to
finish her education. Then the Sieur made his will and settled a part of
the dowry on his bride, and the income of all his other property, his
maps and books, "in case of his death in voyages on the sea and in the
service of the King."

If the autumn had been lovely and long beyond expectations, winter
lingered as well. And the travellers had a hard time on their return.
Lofty bergs floated down the Atlantic, and great floes closed in around
the vessel, and the rigging was encased in glittering ice. Sometimes
their hearts failed them and the small boats were made ready, but
whither would they steer? Captain Pontgrave kept up his courage, and
"when they brought their battered craft into the harbor of Tadoussac
they fired a cannon shot in joyous salute," says history. Seventy-four
days had their journey lasted.

The country was still white with snow, although it was May. Already some
trading vessels were bidding for furs, but the Montagnais had had a hard
winter as well, and the Bay traders would have perished on the way.

Champlain pushed on to Quebec, though his heart was full of fears.

Rose was out on the gallery, that Pani was clearing from the frequent
light falls of snow. A canoe was being rowed by some Indians and in the
stern sat the dearly-loved Commander. "They have come! they have come!"
shouted Rose, and she ran in to spread the joyful news. Destournier and
Giffard were at a critical point in a game of chess, but both sprang up.
The bell pealed out, there was a salute, and every one in the fort
rushed out with exclamations of joy. For the sake of the little girl he
had left, the Sieur stooped and kissed Rose.

Du Parc was in the best of spirits, and had only a good account. There
had been no sickness, no Indian troubles, and provisions had lasted
well. All was joy and congratulations. Even the Indian settlements near
by built bonfires and beat their drums, dancing about with every
indication of delighted welcome.

He had brought with him the young Indian Savignon, while Etienne Brulé
had wintered with the Ottawas, perfecting himself in their language. He
was a fine specimen of his race, as far as physique went, and his winter
in civilization had given him quite a polish.

There was a great feast. Miladi was in her glory ordering it, and
Savignon paid her some compliments that quite savored of old times in
her native land. She was fond of admiration, and here there was but
small allowance of it.

He was to restore the young brave to his tribe, and Destournier was to
accompany him. He saw that with trade open to rivals there must be some
stations. It was true no men could be spared to form a new colony, and
the few he had induced to emigrate would do better service in the old
settlement. In Cartier's time there had been the village of Hochelega.
It was a great stretch of open fertile land, abounding in wild fruits
and grapes, so he pre-empted it in the name of the King, put up a stout
cross, and built two or three log huts, and planted some grain seeds
that might in turn scatter themselves around. And so began Montreal. The
river was dotted with islands; the largest, on which the wild iris, the
fleur-de-lis, grew abundantly, he named St. Hélène, in remembrance of
his little betrothed.

They pushed on beyond the rapids and here he met the Algonquins and
restored their young brave to them, and was glad to find Etienne Brulé
in good health and spirits. But Savignon bade him farewell ruefully,
declaring life in Paris was much more agreeable, and spoiled one for the
wilderness.

Various bands of Hurons and Algonquins came to meet the great white
Sagamore, and he secured much trade for the coming season. But the fur
business was being greatly scattered, and Demont's finances were at a
rather low ebb, so there could not be the necessary branching out.

Destournier had some schemes as well. He had come to the new world
partly from curiosity and the desire to mend his fortunes. He saw now
some fine openings, if he could get a concession or grant of land. His
old family seat might be disposed of, he had not Laurent Giffard's aim
to make a fortune here and go back to France and spend it for show.

Madame Giffard was deeply disappointed at this prospect, and Rose was
inconsolable.

"Who will read to us in the long evenings and the days when the driving
snow makes it seem like night. And oh, M'sieu, who will dance with me
and tell me those delightful stories, and laugh at my sayings that come
like birds' flights across my mind and go their way?"

"You will have miladi. And there are the Gaudrion children. Pierre has a
heart full of worship for you. And books that the Governor brought. The
time will pass quickly."

"To you. There will be so many things. But the long, long days. And
miladi says there are so many pretty girls in Paris, whose dancing and
singing are marvellous, and who would laugh at a frock of deerskin. Oh,
you will forget me, and all the time I shall think of you. You will not
care."

Her beautiful eyes were suffused with tears, the brilliance of her cheek
faded, and her bosom heaved with emotion. What a girl she would be a few
years hence. His dear Sieur had married a child--was he really in love
with her? But his regard was fatherly, brotherly.

"See," he began, "we will make a bargain. When the first star comes out
you will watch for it and say, 'M'sieu Ralph is looking at it and
thinking of me.' And I will say--'the little Rose of Quebec is turning
toward me,' and we will meet in heart. Will not this comfort thee?"

"Oh, I shall hug it to my heart. The star! the star! And when the sky is
thick with clouds I shall remember you told me the stars were always
there. And I will shut my eyes and see you. I see strange things at
times."

"So you must not be unhappy, for I shall return," and he took her
throbbing fingers in his.

She raised her lovely eyes. What a charming coquette she would make, if
she were not so innocent. But the long fringe of lashes was beaded with
tears.

It was odd, he thought, but with all the admiration of her husband
miladi made as great a time as the child. What should she do in this
horrible lonely place, shut up in the fort all winter, with no company
but an Indian woman and a child whose limited understanding took in only
foolish pleasures. What miladi needed was companionship. Ah! if she
could return to France. If Laurent would only consent. But now he
thought only of fortune-making.

"And a return at the end. He is not taking root here. I am. I like the
boundless freedom of this new country," said Destournier.

"You will marry. There is some demoiselle at home on whom your heart is
set. And the old friendship will go for naught. You have been--yes, like
a brother," and she flushed.

"No, I am not likely to marry," he returned gravely.

"But--you will not return," in a desperate kind of tone. "You will be
won by Paris."

"I shall return. All my interests are here. And as I said--I shall leave
my heart in this new country."

Then she smiled, a little secure in the thought that she had no rival.

So again the Sieur de Champlain set sail for France, and many a
discourse he held with Ralph Destournier on the future of Quebec, that
child of his dreams and his heart. It would be fame enough, he thought,
to be handed down to posterity as the founder of Quebec, the explorer of
the great inland seas that joining arms must lead across the continent.

Miladi was very capricious, Rose found, although she did not know the
meaning of the word. What she wanted to-day she scouted to-morrow.
Rose's reading was enough to set one wild. Sure she was not
French-born, or she would know by intuition. Sometimes she would say
pettishly, "Go away, child, you disturb me," and then Rose would play
hide-and-seek with Pani, or run down to the Gaudrions. Marie was quite
an expert in Indian embroidery, the children were gay and frolicsome,
and there was a new baby. Pierre was very fond of her; a studious
fellow, with queer ideas that often worked themselves out in some useful
fashion. They read together, stumbling over words they could not
understand.

"And I shall build a boat of my own and go out to those wonderful
rapids. At one moment it feels as if you would be submerged, then you
ride up on top with a shout. Cubenic said the Sieur stood it as bravely
as any Indian. Why--if your boat was overturned you could swim."

"But there's a current that sucks you in. And there's a strange woman, a
windigo, who haunts the rapids and drags you down and eats you."

"I don't believe such nonsense. In one of the Sieur's books there is a
story of some people who believed there was a spirit in everything.
There were gods of the waters, of the trees, of the winds, and the
Indians are much like them. I've never found any of their gods, have
you?"

"No"--rather reluctantly. "But Wanamee has. And sometimes they bring
back dead people."

"Then they don't always eat them," and the boy laughed.

She had meant to tell miladi of her tryst and beg her to come out and
see the star, but when she found her not only indifferent, but fretful,
she refrained and was glad presently that she had this delicious secret
to herself. But there was a great mystery. Sometimes the star was
different. Instead of being golden, it was a pale blue, and then almost
red. Was it that way in France, she wondered.

She came to have a strange fondness for the stars, and to note their
changes. Was it true that the old people M'sieu Ralph had read about,
the Greeks, had seen their gods and goddesses taken up to the sky and
set in the blue? There were thrones mounted with gems, there were
figures that chased each other; to-night they were here, to-morrow night
somewhere else. But the star that came out first was hers, and she sent
a message across the ocean with it. And the star said in return, "I am
thinking of you."

He did think of her, and tried to trace out some parentage. Catherine
Defroy had gone from St. Malo, a single woman. Then by all the accounts
he could find she must have spent two years in Paris. Clearly she was
not mother of the child.

After all, what did it matter? Rose would probably spend her life in New
France. If it was never proven that she came of gentlefolks, Laurent
Giffard would hardly consent to his wife's mothering her. He had a good
deal of pride of birth.

The winter passed away and this year spring came early, unchaining the
streams and sending them headlong to the rivers; filling the air with
the fragrant new growth of the pines, hemlocks, and cedars, the young
grasses, and presently all blossoming things. The beauty touched Rose
deeply. No one understood, so she only talked of these strange things to
the trees and the stars at night. Often she was a merry romp, climbing
rocks, out in a canoe, which she had learned to manage perfectly, though
sometimes Pani accompanied her, sometimes Pierre Gaudrion, who was
growing fast and making himself very useful to Du Parc.

As for the Sieur, he found much to engross his attention. There was a
new trading company that had the privilege of eleven years. There was
another volume of voyages and discoveries, the maps and illustrations
finely engraved. Then he had laid before the secretary of the King the
urgent need of some religious instruction. Acadia had quite a thriving
Jesuit mission. This order was not in high favor with Champlain, who
deprecated their narrowness. The Sieur Houel recommended the Récollets,
and four willing missionaries were finally chosen. The company had
fitted up a large vessel and were taking all the stores they could
purchase or beg, and quite a number of emigrants of a better class than
heretofore.

They were all warmly welcomed, and found the colonists in very good
order. The enthusiastic priest startled them by kneeling on the soil and
devoutly consecrating it to God, and giving thanks that He had called
them to this new and arduous field of labor. The coarse gray cassock
girt at the waist with a bit of rope, the pointed hood, which often hung
around their necks and betrayed the shaven crown, their general air of
poverty and humility attracted attention, but did not so much appeal to
the colonists or the Indians. They were fearful of the new order of
things.

Quebec had enlarged her borders somewhat. The one-roomed hut had spread
out into two or three apartments. The gardens had increased. Some roads
had been made, the workmen taking the stone quarried to add to their own
houses. Still they received the fathers with a certain degree of
cordiality.

Champlain set aside ground for their convent, and they first erected an
altar and celebrated Mass. Père Dolbeau was the officiating priest. The
people, most of whom came from curiosity, knelt around on the earth,
while cannon from the ramparts announced the mystic services. The
Giffards joined in them reverentially, but Rose was full of wonderment.
Indeed, her joy was so great at seeing Destournier again that she could
give thanks for nothing else.

Then they erected a rude hut and discussed the work that lay before
them. Le Caron would go to the Hurons, Dolbeau to the Montagnais, Jamay
and Du Plessis would take charge of Quebec and the outlying provinces,
and planned to build a chapel.

Destournier had been successful with his grant. He bad been made
seignior of a large tract outside of the town, which was destined one
day to be a part of it. Here he settled some friendly Indians, and
several of the new-comers, who were to till the soil under his
directions, and raise different crops to ward off the scarcity of
rations in the winter. He would build a house for himself and live among
them.

"But why not remain in the fort?" asked miladi. "What charm can you find
with those ignorant people? Though perhaps peas and beans, radishes and
cabbages may console one for more intellectual pursuits."

"I shall only spend the days with them at present," he returned, with a
smile.

And now again came the influx of the fur-traders. It had been a good
season and from the new settlement of Montreal to Tadoussac, vessels
were packing away the precious freight. Champlain had gone with a body
of soldiers to help defend a town the Iroquois had threatened to attack.
The missions thus far had borne no fruit. Indeed the new teaching of the
Récollets in its severity was not pleasant. The Hurons were seized with
a panic after losing several of their leaders and the Sieur was wounded.
All winter the people at Quebec waited anxiously for their leader, and
parties set out to see if they could find any tidings. At last they were
sighted, and great was the joy at finding their beloved chieftain well
and unharmed. But he was not allowed to remain long in his pet
settlement. There were disputes and altercations, and he was summoned to
France.

"Another year we shall go ourselves," announced Laurent Giffard to his
wife. "We have enough now to make ourselves comfortable, and I doubt if
the company can weather through. At all events I shall be glad to be
well out of it. Art thou glad of the prospect?"

"There is great commotion with the King and his mother, and between
Huguenot and Catholic," she made answer slowly. "Does the Sieur
Destournier throw up his schemes in disgust as well?"

"Ah, I think he is wedded to the soil. The Governor trusts everything to
him, and Du Parc, and both are capable men. But truth to tell I have
lost faith in the colony. I hear the Virginians and the Bostonnais are
doing much better. France cannot, or will not, spend the money, nor send
the men to put the place on a sure foundation. The Indians grow more
troublesome. They hate being meddled with by the priests. They take
wives when they want them, and send them away when they are tired of
them. They torture prisoners--some day the priests will have a taste of
it themselves."

"They are all horrible," she said, with a shiver.

"And we will go back to La Belle France. I fancy I can manage a sort of
preferment with Dubissay, who has the ear of the Queen mother at
present. At all events I am tired of this turmoil, and thou, _ma mie_,
art wasting thy beauty in this savage land."

He stooped and kissed her. If he had been ready last year, she would
have hailed the prospect with delight. Why did it not seem so attractive
now?

"And the child?" she asked presently, her eyes fixed on the floor.

Was the tone indifferent?

"How much dost thou love her, _ma mie_? At first thy heart was sore for
the loss of our own, but time heals all such wounds. Destournier left no
stone unturned to discover her parentage, and failed. I think she has
been some one's love child. True we could give her our name, and with a
good dowry she could marry well. But she will want some years of convent
training to tone her down."

"And if we should leave her here? Though they say Miladi de Champlain
comes over soon, and there may be a court with maids of honor."

He laughed. "What I fancy is this, though I am no seer. Destournier is
fond of her, fatherly now, but she is shooting up into a tall girl.
There will not be so many years between them as the Sieur and
Mademoiselle Boullé. And some day he will take her to wife. 'Twere a
pity to spoil the romance. She adores him."

Miladi bit her lip hard, and drew her brow into a sharp frown.

"What nonsense!" she made answer.

"Destournier is a fine fellow, and will be a rich one some day."

"The more need that he should marry in his own station."

"But there is talk of reproducing home titles in this new land. And
Baron Destournier can raise his wife to his own station. If the child
should not be amenable to training, or develop some waywardness, there
might be sorrow, rather than joy or satisfaction in thine heart."

"There will be time enough to consider," she returned.

He left the room. She went out on the shady side of the gallery, and
looked down over the town. The two under discussion a moment ago were
climbing the steep rocks instead of taking the path where steps were
cut. The wind blew her shining hair about, her face was filled with
ripples of laughter. He took her arm and she would have no help, but
sprang like a deer from point to point, then turned to throw her
merriment at him.

"Yes, miladi would take her to France. What if some day he should
follow?"

The Governor spent a month in intense satisfaction, enlarging the
borders of his pet garden, talking with M. Hébert, who had been watching
the growth of some fine fruit trees imported from northern France, that
had blossomed and were perfecting a few specimens of fruit. He thought
sometimes it would be a joy to give up all cares and rest in cultivating
the soil. If the summers were short everything grew abundantly. There
were several rare plants, also, that they had acclimated.

"Bring thy wife over and be content," advised M. Hébert, in a cordial
tone, "and enjoy the governorship."

M. de Champlain laughed. But presently he said: "Friend, you little know
the delights of an explorer who brings new countries to light, who
builds cities that may continue after him. The route to India has not
yet been located. The fields of gold and silver have not been
discovered. The lilies of France have not been planted over there,"
nodding his head. "We must go before the Spaniard gets a foothold. Yet
there are delights I must confess that even Horace longed for--a
garden."

But if he longed for it at times he found the restless current hurrying
him on. Some disaffected members of the company were bringing charges
against him, desiring to depose him from the governorship. But Condé,
who had again come into power, knew there was not another man who would
work so untiringly for the good of New France, or make it bring in such
rich returns.



CHAPTER VII

JOURNEYING TO A FAR COUNTRY


The colony passed a very fair winter. It was in the latter part of April
that one night an alarm was given and the big bell at the fort rang out
its call to arms.

The messenger had trudged through the snow and was breathless.

"An Indian attack. The Iroquois are burning the settlement, and
murdering our people. To arms! to arms!"

There had been no Indian raid for a long while. Destournier had tried to
fortify the back of his plantation. There were Montagnais and Algonquins
of the better type living there peaceably. It was not altogether
cupidity. An Iroquois woman had been found cruelly murdered, and the
wandering band laid it at once to the settlement. It took only a brief
while to work themselves up to a frenzy.

It did not take long to plan revenge. There was no chief at the head;
indeed, in these roving bands it was every brave for himself. And now
after a powwow, since they were not large enough in numbers to attack
the fort, and they found some of the Indian converts were in the new
settlement, they determined on an onslaught.

The barricade at the back was high and strong. It was not so well
fortified on the side toward the fort, and they pushed through a weak
place at the end, lighted their torches, and commenced a treacherous
assault. Roused from their slumbers, and terrified to the last degree,
the air was soon filled with shrieks, and bursting in doors, the houses
were set on fire. They were wary enough to guard their loop-hole for
escape, but they found themselves outnumbered, and in turn had to fight
for their own lives. The blazing huts lighted up the snow in a weird
fashion; the shrieks and cries and jargon of the Iroquois added to the
frightfulness. Yet the struggle was brief. The enemy, finding themselves
on the losing side, began to fly, pursued by the soldiers, and indeed,
many of the inhabitants.

Destournier roused at the first alarm, and Du Parc gave orders that were
speedily obeyed. The citadel was in a glow of light and wild commotion.

Giffard ran down the stone steps with his musket. Destournier barred his
way.

"Some of us have no wives," he said briefly. "Go back and keep guard
until we see what the dastardly attack means."

"There are wives and children in the settlement," was the reply, but he
paused while Destournier ran on. When he was out of sight, Giffard
followed.

The soldiers pursued the flying band, but they presently plunged into
the woods and crept on stealthily, while the pursuers returned. The gray
morning began to dawn on the smoking ruin and the fitful blazes that the
men were trying hard to extinguish with the snow. Destournier went from
one to another. A few huts had not been disturbed, and crying women and
children were crowding in them. Some bodies lay silent on the
blood-stained snow. Destournier had taken great pride in the surprise he
had thought to give the Governor on his return, and here lay most of his
hopes in ruins.

He gave orders that the wounded should be taken to the fort for
treatment. It was a gratification to find two Iroquois dead, and when a
soldier despatched a wounded one he made no comment. It was pitiful when
the sun rose over the scene of destruction.

"Still there could not have been a large body, or the carnage would have
been more complete," he said, with some comforting assurance.

"You had better come in for some breakfast," an officer remarked. "You
look ghastly, and you are blood-stained."

He glanced down at his garments. "Yes," he said, "I will take your
advice. I want something hot to drink. And we must send some food over
there."

Rose came flying in as he was demolishing a savory slice of venison.

"Where is M. Giffard?" she cried. "Miladi is so frightened. She wants
him at once. Oh, wasn't it dreadful! Thank the saints you are safe!"

"Giffard!" He had caught two or three glimpses of him in the mêlée. "He
may be attending to the wounded. He is a brave fellow in an emergency. I
must find him."

He swallowed the brandy and water and rushed down to the improvised
hospital. A dozen or more were being fed and nursed by Wanamee and two
other Indian women. The priest, too, was kindly exhorting courage and
patience. Giffard was not here. No one had seen him. He ran over the
crusty, but trodden-down snow, stained here and there with blood. The
sun had risen gorgeously, and there was a decided balminess in the air.
He glanced at the insides of the huts. The furry skins had not been good
conductors of flames, and the snow on the roofs had saved them. Beside
the two dead Iroquois there was an Abenaqui woman and her child. In the
huts that were intact, the frightened women and children had huddled.
Some of the men were already appraising possible repairs.

"They went this way," announced an Algonquin, in his broken French. He
had been employed about the fort and found trusty.

The path was marked with blood and fragments of clothing, bags of maize,
that they had dropped in their flight--finding them a burthen. Here lay
an Iroquois with a broken leg, who was twisting himself along. The
Algonquin hit him a blow over the head with the stout club he carried.

"He will not get much further," he commented, as the Indian dropped over
motionless.

"Have you seen M. Giffard?" Destournier asked.

"_Non, non_. The men came back."

"He is not at the fort."

"Shall we follow on?"

Destournier nodded.

They heard a step crunching over the snow and waited breathlessly.

It was Jacques Roleau they saw as he came in sight, one of the workmen
at the fort. He gestured to them that all was right.

"They have fled, what was left of them," he explained. "I despatched two
wounded Iroquois that they had left behind. There are two of our men
that they must have made prisoners, the M'sieu at the fort who has the
pretty wife, and young Chauvin"--and he paused, as if there was more to
say.

"Wounded?"

He shook his head sadly.

"Dead?" Destournier's breath came with a gasp.

"Both dead, M'sieu, but strange, neither has been scalped."

"Let us push on," exclaimed Destournier sadly.

They followed the trail. After a short distance a body had been dragged
evidently. Roleau led the way through a tortuous path until they came in
sight of a small vacant spot where sometime Indians had camped, as they
could tell by the scorched and blackened trees. A nearly nude body had
been fastened to one and a few dead branches gathered, evidently for a
fire.

Destournier stood speechless. The head hung down, the face was unmarred,
save for a few scratches, and he gave thanks for that. But his heart was
heavy within him. The poor body had been stabbed and cut, yet it had not
bled much, it seemed.

He would have felt relieved if he had known the whole story. Two
stalwart bucks had seized Giffard just beyond the settlement and hurried
him along at such a pace that he could hardly breathe. They fastened his
arms behind, each man grasping an elbow, and fairly galloped, until one
of them caught his foot in a fallen tree and went down. In the fall
Giffard's temple struck against a stone that knocked him senseless. He
might have revived, but he was hurried along by a stout leathern thong
slipped under the armpits, and was then dragged a dead weight. They had
stopped for a holocaust and bound him to a tree, while they despatched
the younger man. But there was difficulty in finding anything dry enough
to burn, so they had amused themselves by gashing the dead body. Then
suddenly alarmed they had plunged farther into the forest, leaving one
of their own wounded that Roleau had finished.

Giffard had been captured in a moment of incautiousness, but the sights
and the wantonness had fired his blood and roused a spirit of
retaliation.

They had nearly stripped both bodies, and carried off the garments.

"If you can manage, M'sieu," exclaimed their guide, "I will take the
young fellow." He stooped, picked him up, and threw him over his
shoulder.

"You will find him a heavy burthen," as the man staggered a little.

"I can carry. Do not fear," nodding assurance.

Destournier took off his fur coat and wrapped it about the poor body.
Each took hold of the improvised litter and they commenced their
melancholy journey. How could Madame Giffard stand it, for she really
did love him. The man's heart ached with the sincerest pity.

They laid down their burthens inside the settlement in one of the partly
destroyed cabins. Du Parc came thither to meet them.

"Ah," he exclaimed, "that fine young fellow who was going to be a great
success. The company wanted him back in France. And his poor wife! The
blow will kill her."

"I wished him to remain within for her sake. He was no coward, either. I
would give the whole settlement if it would restore him to life. The
Governor thought it an excellent, but venturesome plan. But we must have
colonists if ever we are to make a town that will be an honor to New
France."

"It is not such a complete ruin. We have lost two men, one woman, and
three children. Five Iroquois bodies have been found and two are badly
wounded."

"And two more out in the woods. They had better be buried, so as to stir
up no more strife. It could not have been a large party, or we would
have suffered more severely."

"The English have had many of these surprises. I think we have been
fortunate, even if we have fewer in numbers. And it would have been
worse if there had been growing crops."

"I shall have the fortifications strengthened. And perhaps it would be
well to keep guard."

They left Roleau in charge of the bodies and turned to the fort. The
wounded had been made comfortable.

Rose sprang down the steps to meet Destournier.

"Oh, have you found him? Miladi is almost dead with grief and anxiety.
She is sure they have killed M. Giffard."

"Poor wife! How will we tell her?"

"Oh, then he is dead?" The child's face was blanched with terror.

"Yes, he has been killed by the cruel savages. But we have brought home
his body. Who is with her?"

"Wanamee and Madawando, who is saying charms over her. She is the
medicine woman who brought back the Gaudrion baby when he was dead. Oh,
can you not make her bring back M. Giffard? Miladi will surely die of
grief. Couldn't they put some one in his place? Wouldn't the great God
listen to the priest's prayers?" and she raised her humid, beseeching
eyes.

"My child, you loved him dearly."

"Sometimes. Then he made me feel--well, as if I could run away. He was
never cross. Oh, I think it was because he loved Miladi so very much,
there was no room for any one else. And that is why I love you
so--because you have no one belonging to you."

"We are alike in that," he made answer.

He saw Wanamee presently.

"She goes from one dying fit to another. Madawando brings her back. But
if he is dead, M'sieu, why should they not let her join him?"

Would she be happier in that great unknown land with him. What was there
here for her?

And some way he felt in part responsible. He had risked his life to save
Destournier's property.

There were sad days in the fort. The weather came off comparatively
pleasant, and the half-ruined huts were repaired, the wounded healed,
the losses made good, as far as possible. The dead Iroquois were put in
a trench, but better sepulture was provided for the colonists, and the
services over the body of M. Giffard were in a degree military. The two
Récollet priests were kindness and devotion personified, and they said
prayers every hour in their rude little chapel, where a candle was kept
burning before the altar.

They frowned severely on what they termed the mummeries of Madawando.
Even the Indian converts, and they were few enough, lapsed into charms
and incantations in times of trouble. They willingly had their children
baptized, as if this was one of the charms to ward off danger. But the
priests labored with unabated courage.

Miladi seemed to hover a long while between the two worlds, it was
thought, but the real spring was coming on, and all nature was reviving.
She had never quite wanted to die, so at the lowest ebb she seemed to
will herself back to life by some occult power.

Rose meanwhile had run quite wild, but she had been Destournier's
companion in his walks, in his canoe journeys; sometimes with Marie
Gaudrion, she was in and out of the settlement, and as she understood a
little of the several Indian languages, she was quite a favorite; but
Destournier felt troubled about her at times. She was very fearless,
very upright, and detected the subterfuges of the children of the
wilderness, condemning them most severely. But they never seemed angry
with her.

Sometimes he thought he would send her to France and begin her education
in a convent. But could the wild little thing who skipped and danced and
sung, climbed rocks and trees, managed a canoe, tamed birds that came
and sang on her shoulder, endure the dull routine of convent life? She
could read French quite fluently. She had taken an immense fancy to
Latin, and caught the lines so easily when Destournier read them from
musical Horace, or the stirring scenes of the Odyssey, the only two
Latin books he owned. And her head was stuffed full of wild Indian
tales.

"I wonder," she said one day, as she sat on the rocks, leaning against
Destournier's knee, the soft wind playing through the silken tendrils of
her hair--"I wonder if you should die whether I could be like miladi,
and want the room dark and have every one go in the softest moccasins,
and have headaches and the sound of any one's voice pierce through you
like a knife. It would be terrible."

"Why do you think of that?"

"Because I love you best of everybody. The Governor is very nice, but he
is in France so much and you are here. Then we can climb rocks together
and sit in the forests and hear the trees talk. I go to M. Giffard's
grave and say over the spells Madawando taught me, to bring him back,
but he does not come. If he could, miladi would be bright and gay again,
and we would dance and sing, and have merry times. If you died I should
want to die, too."

He was touched by the child's simple devotion.

"I am not going to die. Your Madawando told me I should live to be very
old. There were some curious lines in my hand."

"I am so glad," she said simply.

"But you had better not tell the good priest that you are trying to
bring M. Giffard back to life in this Indian fashion. They think it a
sin."

"I do not like the priests, in their dirty gray gowns, and their heads
looking as if they had been scalped. Only when they read in their book.
It sounds like those great people in the wars of Troy."

And this was a little Christian girl. Were not the priests also praying
that the souls in purgatory might be lightened of their burden? and he
smiled.

But somehow miladi pressed heavily upon his conscience. M. Giffard had
come to _his_ assistance, to save his property, as well as to save human
lives. He lost sight of the great brotherhood of mankind, of the heroism
of a truly noble soul. Was there anything he could do to lighten her
burthen?

At last she expressed a desire to see him. He had looked to find her
wasted away with grief, changed so that it would be sorrow to look upon
her. She was pale, but, it seemed, more really beautiful than he had
ever known her. Her gown was white, and she had a thin black scarf
thrown around her shoulders which enhanced her fairness. There could be
no shopping for mourning in this benighted country.

"I thought I should go to him," she said in her soft, half-languid
voice. "But the good Père believes there is something for me to do and
that I must be content to remain, and thankful to live. But all is so
changed. Sometimes I make myself believe that Laurent has gone back to
France to settle matters. He counted so on our return. And that he will
come again for me."

"You would like to go to friends?"

"Alas, there are not many. Some have gone to England, some to Holland,
not liking the new King's policy. And some are dead. I should have no
one to make a home for me. A woman's loneliness is intense. She cannot
turn to business, nor go out and find friends."

That was true enough. He pitied her profoundly.

"Is it true our Governor is bringing his new wife to Quebec?" she asked
presently.

"So the trading vessels have said. They are already loading up with
furs, and trade seems brisk. Of course it brings great confusion. I have
taken charge of M. Giffard's bales that came in last week. They had
better be sent as usual. The Paris firm is eager for them. They are a
fine lot. What is your pleasure?"

"Oh, relieve me of all care that you can. I am so helpless. Laurent did
everything. Women were never meant for business, he thought. I am no
wiser than a child."

She looked so helpless, so sweet, so dependent.

"I shall be glad to do what I can. Yes, it would be no place for a
woman. She could not manage matters. And if you like to trust me----"

"I would trust you in all things. Laurent thought your judgment
excellent. He cared so much for you. Oh, if you will take charge----"

She looked up with sweet, appealing eyes. Did he not owe her some
protection and care? He was pondering silently.

"You have relieved me of such a burthen. I think I shall get well now.
I hardly knew whether I wanted most to live or die."

"Life is best, sweetest." It would be for her. He uttered the sentence
involuntarily.

"You make it so." Her eyes were bewitchingly downcast and a faint color
fluttered over her face, while her pretty hands worked nervously.

He paced the gallery afterward in the twilight, when the stars were
slowly finding their way through the blue vault overhead, and the river
plashed by with its monotone of music. She might desire to return to
France; this life in the wilderness did not appeal to delicate women.
Yet she had taken it very cheerfully, he thought.

If she decided to stay--there was one way in which he could befriend
her, perhaps make her happy again. Marriage was hardly considered the
outcome of love in that period, many other considerations entered into
it. There were betrothals where the future husband and wife saw each
other for the first time. And they did very well. His ideas of married
life were a sort of good-fellowship and admiration, if the woman was
pretty; good cooking and a desire to please among the commoner ones. At
four and twenty he had not given the matter much consideration. Madame
Giffard was full thirty, but she looked like a girl in her lightness and
grace. And he owed the memory of M. Giffard something. This step would
make amends and allay a troublesome sort of conscience in the matter.



CHAPTER VIII

WHAT ROSE DID NOT LIKE


Eustache Boullé, the Governor's brother-in-law, had been not a little
surprised when his sister was helped off the vessel at Tadoussac. He
greeted her warmly.

"But I never believed you would come to this wild country," he
exclaimed, with a half-mischievous smile. "I am afraid the Sieur has let
his hopes of the future run riot in his brain. He can see great things
with that far gaze of his."

"But a good wife follows her husband. We have had a rather stormy and
tiresome passage, but praised be the saints, we have at last reached our
haven."

"I hope you will see some promise in it. We on the business side do not
look for pleasure alone."

"It is wild, but marvellously fine. The islands with their frowning
rocks and glowing verdure, the points, and headlands, the great gulf and
the river are really majestic. And you--you are a man. Two years have
made a wondrous change. I wish our mother could see you. She has
frightful dreams of your being captured by Indians."

He laughed at that.

"Are the Indians very fierce here?" she asked timidly.

"Some tribes are, the Hurons. And others are very easily managed if you
can keep fire-water away from them."

"Fire"--wonderingly.

"Rum or brandy. You will see strange sights. But you must not get
frightened. Now tell me about our parents."

The Sieur was quite angry when he heard some boats had been up the
river, and bartered firearms and ammunition for peltries. It was their
desire to keep the white man's weapons away from the savages.

Pontgrave had left a bark for the Governor, and Eustache joined them as
they went journeying on to Quebec. It was new and strange to the young
wife, whose lines so far had been cast in civilized places. The wide,
ever-changing river, the rough, unbroken country with here and there a
clearing, where parties of hunters had encamped and left their rude
stone fireplaces, the endless woods with high hills back of them, and
several groups of Indians with a wigwam for shelter, that interested her
very much. Braves were spread out on the carpet of dried leaves, playing
some kind of game with short knives and smoking leisurely. Squaws
gossiping and gesticulating with as much interest as their fairer
sisters, their attire new and strange, and papooses tumbling about. They
passed great tangles of wild grapes that scented the air, here and there
an island shimmering with the bloom of blueberries.

Then the great cliff of Quebec came in sight. Latterly it had taken on
an aspect of decay that caused the Governor to frown. The courtyard was
littered with rubbish from a building that had actually fallen down, and
a new one was being erected. And though some of the houses were quite
comfortable within, the exterior was very unattractive, from the
different materials, like patches put on to add warmth in winter.

The cannon rang out a salute, and the lilies of France floated in the
brilliant sunshine. Officers and men had formed a sort of cordon, and
from the gallery several ladies looked down and waved handkerchiefs. The
Héberts, with their son and daughter, a few other women, a little above
the peasant rank, had joined them and Madame Giffard, who still essayed
a rôle of delicacy.

The Sieur took formal possession again in the name of the new Governor
General, the Duke of Montmorency. Then they repaired to the little
chapel, where the priest held a service of thanksgiving for their safe
arrival.

The Récollets had chosen a site on the St. Charles river, some distance
from the post, and had begun the erection of a church and convent, for
headquarters. Madame Champlain was pleased to hear this and held quite a
lengthy talk with Père Jamay, who was glad to find the new wife took a
fervent interest in religion, for even among the French women he had not
awakened the influence he had hoped for, in his enthusiasm.

Eustache began a tour of observation. Perched on a rock with a great
hemlock tree back of her, he saw a small human being that he was quite
sure was not an Indian girl. She was talking to something, and raised
her small forefinger to emphasize her words. What incantation was she
using?

As he came nearer he saw it was a flock of pigeons. She had been feeding
them berries and grains of rye. They arched their glossy necks and cooed
in answer. He watched in amaze, drawing nearer. What sprite of the
forest was this?

Did she feel the influence that invaded her solitude? She glanced up
with wide startled eyes at the intruder, and looked at first as if she
would fly.

"Do not be afraid, I will not harm you," said a clear, reassuring voice.
"Are you charming the wild things of the forest? Your incantation was in
French--do they understand the language?"

"They understand me."

There was a curious dignity in her reply.

"You are French, Mam'selle?"

"I came from France a long while ago, so long that I do not remember."

"Was it in another life? Are you human, or some forest nymph? For you
are not out of childhood."

"I do not understand."

"But you must belong to some one----"

"No," she said proudly. "I have never really belonged to any one. M'sieu
Destournier is my good friend, and miladi took me when the Dubrays went
to the fur country. But she has been ill, and she does not like me as
she used."

"But you must have a home----"

"I live at the post, mostly with Wanamee. Some days my lady sends for
me. But I like out-of-doors, and the birds, and the blue sky, and the
voice of the falling waters that are always going on, and the great gray
rocks, where I find mossy little caves with red bloom like tiny
papooses, and the tall grasses that shake their heads so wisely, as if
they knew secrets they would never tell. And the birds--even some of the
little lizards with their bright black eyes. They are dainty, not like
the snakes that go twisting along."

"Are you not afraid of them?"

"I do not molest them," calmly.

"You should have been down at the post. The Governor's wife has come."

"Yes, I saw her. And I did not like her. But the Sieur was always kind
to me. He used to show me journeys on the maps, and the great lakes he
has seen. He has been all over the world, I believe."

"Oh, no. But I think he would like to. Why do you not like Madame de
Champlain?"

She studied him with a thoughtful gaze.

"M'sieu Ralph told me when he went to France he was betrothed to a
pretty little French girl, and that some day he would bring her here to
be his wife. I was glad of the little girl. I like Marie Gaudrion, but
she has to care for the babies and--she does not understand why I love
the woods and the rocks. And I thought this other little _girl_----"

She was so naïve that he smiled, but it was not the smile to hurt one.

"She was a little girl then. But every one grows. Some day you will be a
woman."

"No, I will not. I shall stay this way," and she patted the ground
decisively with her small foot, the moccasin being little more than a
sandal, and showed the high arch and shapely ankle that dimpled with the
motion.

"I am afraid you cannot. But I think you will like Madame when you know
her. I am her brother, though I have not seen her for over two years."

She studied him attentively. The birds began to grow restless and
circled about her as if to warn off the intruder. Then she suddenly
listened. There was a familiar step climbing the rock.

M'sieu Destournier parted the hemlock branches.

"I thought I should find you here. Why did you run away? Ah, M. Boullé,"
but the older man frowned a little.

"She left the company because my sister was grown up and not the little
girl she imagined. Is she a product of the forest? Her very ignorance is
charming."

"I am not ignorant!" she returned. "I can read a page in Latin, and that
miladi cannot do."

"She is a curious child," explained Destournier, "but a sweet and noble
nature, and innocent is the better word for it. The birds all know her,
and she has a tame doe that follows her about, except that it will not
venture inside the palisade. I'm not sure but she could charm a wolf."

"The Loup Garou," laughed the younger man. "I think nothing would dare
harm her. But I should like my sister to see her. Oh, I am sure you will
like her, even if she is a woman grown."

"Come," said Destournier, holding out his hand.

The pigeons had circled wider and wider, and were now purplish shadows
against the serene blue. Rose sprang up and clasped Destournier's hand.
But she was silent as they took their way down.

"Whatever bewitched my august brother-in-law about this place I cannot
see. Except that the new fort will sweep the river and render the town
impregnable from that side. It will be the key of the North. But
Montreal will be a finer town at much less cost."

Rose was fain to refuse at the last moment, but M'sieu Ralph persuaded.
The few women of any note were gathered in the room miladi had first
occupied. Rose looked curiously at the daughter of M. Hébert--she was so
much taller than she used to be, and her hair was put up on her head
with a big comb.

"Thou art a sweet child," said Madame de Champlain. "And whose daughter
may she be?"

It was an awkward question. Destournier flushed unconsciously.

"She is the Rose of Quebec," he made answer, with a smile. "Her parents
were dead before she came here."

"Ah, I remember hearing the Governor speak of her, and learned that
there were so few real citizens in Quebec who were to grow up with the
town as their birthright. It is but a dreary-looking place, yet the wild
river, the great gulf, the magnificent forests give one a sense of
grandeur, yet loneliness. And my husband says it is the same hundreds of
miles to the westward; that there are lakes like oceans in themselves.
And such furs! All Paris is wild with the beauty of them. Yet they lie
around here as if of no value."

"You would find that the traders appraise them pretty well," and he
raised his brows a trifle, while a rather amused expression played about
his eyes.

"Is there always such a turmoil of trade?"

"Oh, no. The traders scatter before mid-autumn. The cold weather sets in
and the snow and ice are our companions. The small streams freeze up.
But the Sieur has written of all these things in his book."

He looked inquiringly at her for a touch of enthusiasm, but her sweet
face was placid.

"Monsieur my husband desired that I should be educated in his religion
in the convent. We do not take up worldly matters, that is not
considered becoming to girls and women. We think more of the souls that
may be saved from perdition. The men go ahead to discover, the priests
come to teach these ignorant savages that they have souls that must be
returned to God, or suffer eternally."

There spoke the devotee. Destournier wondered a little how the Sieur had
come to choose a dévote for a wife. For he was a born explorer, with a
body and a will of such strength that present defeat only spurred him
on. But where was there a woman to match him, to add to his courage and
resolve! Perhaps men did not need such women. Destournier was not an
enthusiast in religious matters. He had been here long enough to
understand the hold their almost childish superstitions had on the
Indians, their dull and brutish lack of any high motive, their brutal
and barbarous customs. They were ready to be baptized a dozen times over
just as they would use any of their own charms, or for the gain of some
trifle.

Madame seemed to study the frank face of the little girl. How beautiful
her eyes were; her eager, intelligent, spirited face; the fine skin that
was neither light nor dark, and withstood sun and wind alike, and lost
none of its attractive tints. But she was so different from the little
girls sent to the nuns for training. They never looked up at you with
these wide-open eyes that seemed to question you, to weigh you.

"There is no convent here where you can be taught?" addressing herself
to the child.

"The fathers are building one. But it is only for the men. The women
cook and learn to dress deerskins until they are like velvet. They must
make the clothing, for not a great deal comes from France. And it would
only do for ladies like you and Madame Giffard."

"But there must be some education, some training, some prayers," and the
lady looked rather helpless.

She was very sweet and beautiful in her soft silken dress of gray, that
was flowered in the same color, and trimmed with fur and velvet. From
her belt depended a chain of carved ivory beads and a crucifix, from
another chain a small oval looking-glass in a silver frame. Her flaring
collar of lace and the stomacher were worked in pearls. Many Parisians
had them sewn with jewels.

"I can read French very well," said Rose, after a pause. "And some
Latin."

"Oh, the prayers, and some of the old hymns----"

"No, it isn't prayers exactly--except to their gods. There are so many
gods. Jove was the great one."

"Oh, my child, this is heresy. There is but one God and the Holy Virgin,
and the saints to whom you can make invocation."

"Well, then I think you have a number of gods. Do you pray to them all?
And what do you pray for?"

"For the wicked world to be converted to God, for them to love Him, and
serve Him."

"And how do they serve Him?" inquired the child. "If He is the great God
Father Jamay teaches He can do everything, have everything. It is all
His. Then why does He not keep people well, so they can work, and not
blight the crops with fierce storms. Sometimes great fields of maize are
swept down. And the little children die; the Indians kill each other,
and at times the white men who serve them."

"Oh, child, you do not understand. There must be convents in this new
world for the training of girls. They must be taught to pray that God's
will may be done, not their own."

"How would I know it was God's will?" asked the irreverent child,
decisively, yet with a certain sweetness.

"The good Father would tell you."

"How would he know?"

"He lives a holy life in communion with God."

"What is the convent like?" suddenly changing her thoughts.

"It is a large house full of little ones, the sisters' cells, the
novices' cells----"

"There are some at the post. They put criminals in them. They are filthy
and dark," with a kind of protesting vehemence.

"These are clean, because they are whitewashed, and you scrub the floor
twice a week. There is a little pallet on which you sleep, a
_prie-dieu_----"

"What is that?" interrupted the child.

"A little altar, with a stone step on which you kneel. And a crucifix at
the top, a book of prayer and invocation. Many of the sisters pray an
hour at midnight. All pray an hour in the morning, then breakfast and
the chapel for another hour, with prayers and singing. After that the
classes. The little girls are taught the catechism and manners, if they
are to go out in the world, sewing and embroidery. At noon prayers again
and a little lunch, then work out of doors for an hour, and running
about for exercise, catechising again, singing, supper and a chapel
hour, and then to bed. But the nuns spend the evening in prayer, so do
the devout."

"Madame, I shall never go in a convent, if the Fathers build one for
girls. I like the big out-of-doors. And if God made the world He made it
for some purpose, that people should go out and enjoy it. I like the
wilderness, the great blue sky, the sun and the stars at night, the
trees and the river, and the birds and the deer and the beautiful wild
geese, as they sail in great flocks. If I was shut up in a cell I should
beat my head against the stones until it was a jelly, and then I should
be dead."

Madame de Champlain looked at the child in amaze. In her decorous life
she had known nothing like it.

"And I wish there were no women. I do not like women any more. Men are
better because they live out of doors and do not pray so much. Except
the priests. And they are dirty."

Then she turned away and went out on the gallery, with a curiously
swelling heart. Oh, why was not Marie Gaudrion different? What made
people so unlike. If there was some one----

"Ha, little maid, where are you running to so fast?" exclaimed a
laughing voice. "Have you seen my sister yet?"

Eustache Boullé caught her arm, but she shook him off, and stood up
squarely, facing him. What vigor and resolution there was in her small
bewitching face.

"Hi, hi! thou art a plucky little _fille_, ready for a quarrel by the
looks of thy flashing eyes. What have I done to thee, that thou shouldst
shake me off as a viper?"

"Nothing! I am not to be handled roughly. I am going my way, and I think
it will not interfere with thine."

A pleasant smile crossed his face which made him really attractive, and
half disarmed her fierceness.

"My way is set in no special lines until I return to Tadoussac. Hast
thou seen my sister?"

She nodded.

"Every one loves her. She is as good as she is beautiful. And she will
charm thee," in a triumphant tone, gathering that the interview had not
already done this.

"I am not to be charmed in that fashion. Yes, she is beautiful, but she
would like me to be put in a convent. And I would throw myself in the
river first."

"There are no convents, little one. And but few people to put into them.
In a new country it is best that they marry and have families. When
there are too many women then convents play a useful part."

"Let me pass," she cried disdainfully, but not trying to push aside.

"Tell me where you go!"

"To Mère Gaudrion's to see that soft-headed Marie. I wish she had some
ideas, but she is good and cheerful, and does as she is told."

"You are not very complimentary to your friend."

"But if I said she had a bad temper, and told what was not true, and
slapped her little brothers and sisters, that would be a falsehood. And
if I said she understood the song of the birds and the sough of the wind
among the trees, and the running, tumbling little streams that are
always saying 'oh! let me get to the gulf as soon as possible, for I
want to see what a great ocean is like,' it would not be true either. I
like Marie," calmly.

"Thou art a curious little casuist. I am glad you like her. It shows
that you are human. There are strange creatures in the woods and wilds
of this new world."

"There is the Loup Garou, but I have not seen him. He gets changed from
a man to a fierce dog, and if you kill the dog, the man dies. There is
the Windigo, and the old medicine woman can call strange things out of a
sick person who has been bewitched, and then he gets well. But M.
Destournier laughs at these stories."

The young man had been backing slowly toward the steps and she had
followed without taking note.

Now he said--"Let me help you down."

"I am not lame, M'sieu, neither am I blind."

"Will you take me to see Marie Gaudrion?"

"You would laugh at her, I see it in your eyes."

"Are my eyes such telltales?"

He had not the placid fairness of his sister, and his chestnut hair
curled about his temples. His cheeks were red enough for a girl.

"Why should you want to see her?"

"I want to see all there is in Quebec. I want to know how the colony
progresses. I may put it in a book."

"Like the Governor. But you could not make maps out of people," with an
air of triumph.

"I'm not so sure. See here."

He drew from his pocket a roll and held one of the leaves before her
eyes.

"Oh, that is old Temekwisa sitting out by the hut. And, M'sieu, he looks
half drunken, as he nearly always is. And that is Jacques Barbeau
breaking stone. Why, it is wonderful. And who else have you?"

There were several Indians in a powwow around the fire, there was a
woman with a papoose on her back, and a few partly done.

"And the Sieur--and your sister?" eagerly.

"I have tried dozens of times and cannot please myself. The Indians have
about the same salient points, and that lack of expression when they are
tranquil. They are easy to do. And I can sometimes catch the fierce
anger. At home I would have a teacher. Here I have to go by myself, try,
and tear up. Then I am busy with many other things."

Her resentment had mostly subsided. His gift, if it could be called
that, fascinated her. She had reproduced wonderful pictures in her
brain, but to do them with her hand would be marvellous, like the Sieur
writing his books.

They had reached the garden of the Gaudrions. Pierre was employed
regularly now and was studying the plans of the new fort. Marie was
seated on the grass, cutting leather fringe for garments and leggings.
You could use up otherwise useless bits that way. The Mère was farther
down pulling weeds from the carrot bed, and directing the labors of two
children, at whom she shook a switch now and then. Marie had a baby on
each side of her, tumbling about in the grass.

She looked up and nodded, while a heavy sort of smile settled about her
lips, the upper one protruding a little, on account of two prominent
teeth. Eustache had seen the peasant type at home, the low forehead, the
deep-set eyes, the short nose, flattened at the base, the wide mouth and
rather broad, unmeaning countenance, the type of women who bear burthens
without complaining and do not resent when they are beaten. Marie had an
abundance of blue-black hair, a clear skin, and a soft color in her
cheeks.

Boullé glanced from one to the other, the lithe figure, the spirited
face, the eyes that could flash and soften and sparkle with mirth almost
in a minute, it seemed. What a distance lay between them.

"Marie, this is"--then Rose paused and flushed, and glanced at her
unbidden companion.

"I am Eustache Boullé and my sister is the wife of the Governor de
Champlain. And though I have been up and down the river I have never
really visited Quebec before."

Marie nodded and went on cutting fringe.

"And he has done pictures--Temekwisa, that you would know in a minute.
He did them with a pencil. Show them to her," she ordered, in a pretty
peremptory manner, as with a graceful gesture of the hand she invited
him to be seated on the grass, deftly rolling one baby over, who stared
an instant, and then fell to sucking his fist.

Marie's heavy face lighted up with a kind of cheerful surprise.

"Why did you not go up and see them come in? And after the service of
thanks, almost everybody went to see our dear Sieur's wife. She is
beautiful in the face and wears a silken gown, and a little cap so fine
you can see her hair through it. And she has small hands that look like
snow, but not many rings, like Madame Giffard."

"_Ma mère_ went to the prayers, but we could not both go. I saw the line
of boats and heard the salute. And your sister will live here with the
Governor?"

Eustache wanted to laugh, but commanded his countenance.

"Yes, though 'tis a dreary place to live in after gay France. I long to
go back."

"They are to build a new fort. My father will work on it, and my
brother, Pierre. And he wonders that you do not come oftener, Rose."

"There has not been a moonlight in a long while. I cannot come in the
dark. And now he wants his own way in all the plans and I like mine. He
has grown so big he is not amusing any more."

"But he likes you just as well," the girl said naïvely.

Eustache glanced. Rose did not change color at this frank admission.

Then the gun boomed out to announce the day's work for the government
was over.

Rose sprang up. "It will soon be supper time," she said.

"Stay and have it with us. There are some cold roasted pigeons, with
spiced gravy turned over them. You shall have a whole one."

"You are very good, Marie, but there are so many men about who have been
drinking too much, that M. Destournier would read me a long lecture."

"But Pierre would walk up with thee."

Eustache had gathered up his pictures. They had only been an excuse to
prolong his interview with Rose.

"I will see that no harm comes to your friend. Adieu, Mam'selle," and he
bowed politely, at which Marie only stared.

"We are very good friends, are we not?" as he was parting with the
pretty child.

"But I might not like you to-morrow," archly.



CHAPTER IX

ABOUT MARRIAGES


The new fort was begun on the summit of the cliff, almost two hundred
feet above the water, and the guns would command it up and down. A good
deal of stone was used. New houses were being reared in a much better
fashion, the crevices thickly plastered with mortar, the chimneys of
stone, with generous fireplaces. Destournier had repaired his small
settlement and added some ground to the cultivated area.

"The only way to colonize," declared the Sieur. "If we could rouse the
Indians into taking more interest. Civilization does not seem to attract
them, though the women make good wives, and they are a scarce commodity.
The English and the Dutch are wiser in this respect than we. When
children are born on the soil and marry with their neighbors, one may be
sure of good citizens."

The church, too, was progressing, and was called Notre Dame des Anges.
Madame de Champlain was intensely religious, and used her best efforts
to further the plans. She took a great interest in the Indian children,
and when she found many of the women were not really married to the
laborers around the fort, insisted that Père Jamay should perform the
ceremony. The women were quite delighted with this, considering it a
great mark of respect.

She began to study the Algonquin language, which was the most prevalent.
She had brought three serving women from France, but they were not
heroic enough to be enamored of the hardships. There was so little
companionship for her that but for her religion she would have had a
lonely time. The Héberts were plain people and hardly felt themselves on
a par with the wife of their Governor, though Champlain himself, with
more democratic tastes, used often to drop in to consult the farmer and
take a meal.

Madame Giffard was not really religious. She was fond of pleasure and
games of cards, and really hated any self-denial, or long prayers,
though she went to Mass now and then. But between her and the earnest,
devoted Hélène there was no sympathy.

The new house was ready by October. Hélène would fain have had it made
less comfortable, but this the Governor would not permit. It would be
hung with furs when the bitter weather came in.

No one paid much attention to Rose, who came and went, and wandered
about at her own sweet will. Eustache Boullé was fairly fascinated with
her, and followed her like a shadow when he was not in attendance on his
sister. He persuaded her to sit for a picture, but it was quite
impossible to catch her elusive beauty. She would turn her head, change
the curve of her pretty lips, allow her eyes to rove about and then let
the lids drop decorously in a fashion he called a nun's face; but it was
adorable.

"I shall not be a nun," she would declare vehemently.

"No, Mam'selle, thou art the kind to dance on a man's heart and make him
most happy and most wretched. No nun's coif for that sunny, tangled mop
of thine."

He would fain have lingered through the winter, but a peremptory message
came for him.

"I shall be here another summer and thou wilt be older, and understand
better what life is like."

"It is good enough and pleasant enough now," she answered perversely.

"I wonder--if thou wilt miss me?"

"Why, yes, silly! The splendid canoeing and the races we run, and I may
be big enough next summer to go to Lachine. I would like to rush through
the rapids that Antoine the sailor tells about, where you feel as if you
were going down to the centre of the world."

"No woman would dare. It would not be safe," he objected.

"Men are not always lost, only a few clumsy ones. And I can swim with
the best of them."

"M. Destournier will not let you go."

"He is not my father. I belong just to myself, and I will do as I
like."

She stamped her foot on the ground, but she laughed as well. He was not
nineteen yet, but a man would be able to manage her.

She did miss him when he was gone. And it seemed as if Marie grew more
stupid and cared less for her. And that lout of a Jules Personeau would
sit by her on the grass, or help her pick berries or grapes and open
them skilfully, take out the seeds or the pits of plums, and place them
on the flat rocks to dry. He never seemed to talk. And Rose knew that M.
Destournier scolded because he was not breaking stone.

He was building a new house himself, and helping the Sieur plan out the
path from the fort up above to the settlement down below. They did not
dream that one day it would be the upper and the lower town, and that on
the plain would be fought one of the historic battles of the world,
where two of the bravest of men would give up their lives, and the
lilies of France go down for the last time. Quebec was beginning to look
quite a town.

Destournier's house commanded his settlement, which was more strongly
fortified with a higher palisade, over which curious thorn vines were
growing for protection. He had a fine wheat field, and some tobacco. Of
Indian corn a great waving regiment planted only two rows thick so as to
give no chance for skulking marauders.

The house of M. Giffard was falling into decay. Miladi had sent to
France early in the season for many new stuffs and trinkets, and the
settlement of some affairs, instead of turning all over to Destournier.
The goods had come at an exorbitant price, but there had been a great
tangle in money matters, and at his death his concessions had passed
into other hands.

"They always manage to rob a woman," he thought grimly.

"I supposed you were to leave things in my hands," he said, a little
upbraidingly, to her.

"I make you so much trouble. And you have so much to do for the Governor
and your settlement, and I am so weak and helpless. I have never been
strong since that dreadful night. I miss all the care and love. Oh, if
you were a woman you would know how heart-breaking it was. I wish I were
dead! I wish I were dead!"

"And you do not care to go back to France?"

"Do not torment me with that question. I should die on the voyage. And
to be there without friends would be horrible. I have no taste for a
convent."

A great many times the vague plan had entered his mind as a sort of
duty. Now he would put it into execution.

"Become my wife," he said. He leaned over and took her slim hands in his
and glanced earnestly into her eyes, and saw there were fine wrinkles
setting about them. What did it matter? She needed protection and care,
and there was no woman here that he could love as the romances
described. He was too busy a man, too practical.

She let her head drop on his broad breast. She had dreamed of this and
used many little arts, but had never been sure of their effect. There
were the years between, but she needed his strength and devotion more
than a younger woman.

"Oh, ought I be so happy again?" she murmured. "There is so much that is
strong and generous to you that a woman could rest content in giving her
whole life to you, her best love."

He wished she had not said that. He would have been content that her
best love should lie softly in the grave, like an atmosphere around the
sleeping body of Laurent Giffard, whom he had admired very much, and who
had loved his wife with the fervor of youth. He drew a long breath of
pity for the man. It seemed as if he was taking something away from him.

"Is it true?" she asked, in a long silence.

"That I shall care for you, yes. That you will be my wife." Then he
kissed her tenderly.

"I am so happy. Oh, you cannot think how sad I have been for months,
with no one to care for me," and her voice was exquisitely pathetic.

"I have cared for you all this while," he said. "You were like a sister
to whom I owed a duty."

"Duty is not quite love," in her soft murmurous tone, touching his cheek
caressingly.

He wondered a little what love was like, if this tranquil half pity was
all. Madame de Champlain was like a child to her husband, the women
emigrants thus far had not been of a high order, and the marriages had
been mostly for the sake of a helpmeet and possible children. The
Governor had really encouraged the mixed marriages, where the Indian
women were of the better sort. A few of them were taking kindly to
religion, and had many really useful arts in the way of making garments
out of dressed deerskins. He chose rather some of those who had been
taken prisoners and had no real affiliation with the tribes. They felt
honored by marrying a white man, and now Père Jamay performed a legal
and religious ceremony, so that no man could put away his wife.

"Oh, what do you think!" and Rose sprang eagerly to Destournier,
catching him by the arm with both hands and giving a swing, as he was
pacing the gallery, deep in his new plans. "It is so full of amusement
for me. And I can't understand how she can do it. Jules Personeau is
such a stupid! And that great shock of hair that keeps tumbling into his
eyes. It is such a queer color, almost as if much sitting in the sun was
turning it red."

"What about Jules? He is very absent-minded nowadays, and does not
attend to his work. The summer will soon be gone."

"Oh, it isn't so much about Jules. Marie Gaudrion is going to marry
him."

"Why, then I think it is half about Jules," laughing down into the eager
face. "A girl can't be married alone."

"Well, I suppose you would have to go and live with some one," in a
puzzled tone. "But Jules has such rough, dirty hands. He caught me a few
days ago and patted my cheek, and I slapped him. I will not have rough
hands touch me! And Marie laughs. She is only thirteen, but she says she
is a woman. I don't want to be a woman. I won't have a husband, and be
taken off to a hut, and cook, and work in the garden. M'sieu, I should
fly to the woods and hide."

"And the poor fellow would get no dinner." He laughed at her vehemence.
"I suppose Jules is in love and we must excuse his absent-mindedness.
Will it be soon?"

"Why, yes, Jules is getting his house ready. Barbe is to help her mother
and care for the babies. I like Marie some," nodding indecisively, "but
I wish there was a girl who liked to run and play, and climb trees, and
talk to the birds, and oh, do a hundred things, all different from the
other."

She gave a little hop and a laugh of exquisite freedom. She was full of
restless grace, as the birds themselves; her blooming cheeks and shining
eyes, the way she carried her head, the face breaking into dimples with
every motion, the mouth tempting in its rosy sweetness. He bent and
kissed her. She held him a moment by the shoulders.

"Oh, I like you, I like you," she cried. "You are above them all, you
have something,"--her pretty brow knit,--"yet you are better than the
Sieur even, the best of them all. If you will wait a long while I might
marry you, but no other, no other," shaking her curls.

He laughed, yet it was not from her naïve confession. She did not
realize what she was saying.

"How old am I?" insistently.

"About ten, I think."

"Ten. And ten more would be twenty. Is that old?"

"Oh, no."

"And Madame de Champlain was twelve when she was married in France.
Well, I suppose that is right. And--two years more! No, M'sieu, I shall
wait until I am twenty. Maybe I shall not want to climb trees then, nor
scramble over rocks, nor chase the squirrels, and pelt them with nuts."

"Thou wilt be a decorous little lady then."

"That is a long way off."

"Yes. And Wanamee is calling thee."

"The priest says we must call her Jolette, that is her Christian name.
Must I have another name? Well, I will not. Good-night," and away she
ran.

He fell into rumination again. What would she say to his marriage? He
had a misgiving she would take it rather hardly. She had not been so
rapturously in love with miladi of late, but since the death of her
husband, the rather noisy glee of the child had annoyed her. She would
be better now. Of course they would keep the child, she had no other
friends, nor home.

Marie Gaudrion's marriage was quite a mystery to Rose. That any one
could love such an uncouth fellow as Jules, that a girl could leave the
comfortable home and pretty garden, for now the fruit trees had grown
and were full of fragrant bloom in the early season, and the ripening
fruit later on, and go to that dismal little place under the rocks.

"You see it will be much warmer," Jules had said. It was built against
the rock. "This will shield us from the north wind and the heavy snows,
and another year we will take a place further down in the allotment. I
will lay in a store of things, and we will be as happy as the squirrels
in their hollow tree."

Marie and her mother cleared it up a bit. The floor was of rough planks
filled in with mortar, and skins were laid down for carpet. There was
but one window looking toward the south, and the door was on that side
also. Then a few steps and a sort of plateau. Inside there was a box
bunk, where the household goods were piled away inside. A few shelves
with dishes, a table, and several stools completed the furnishing.

So on Sunday they went up to the unfinished chapel on the St. Charles,
where a Mass was said, and the young couple were united. It was a lovely
day, and they rowed down in the canoes to the Gaudrions, where a feast
was given and healths drank to the newly-wedded couple, in which they
were wished much happiness and many children. The table was spread
luxuriously; the Mère had been two days cooking. Roasts and broils, game
and fish, and many of the early fruits in preserve and just ripened.
Sunday was a day for gorging in this primitive land, while summer
lasted. No one need starve then.

Afterward the young couple were escorted home.

Rose sat out in the moonlight thinking of the strangeness of it all. How
could Marie like it? Mère Gaudrion had said, "Jules will make a good
husband, if he is clumsy and not handsome. He will never beat Marie, and
now he will settle to work again, and make a good living, since courting
days are over."

The child wondered what courting days were. Several strange ideas came
into her mind. It was as if it grew suddenly and there were things in
the world she would like to know about. Perhaps M. Ralph could tell her.
Miladi said she was tiresome when she asked questions, and there was
always a headache. Would her head ache when she was grown up? And she
stood in curious awe of Madame de Champlain, who would only talk of the
saints and martyrs, and repeat prayers. She was very attractive to the
children, and gathered them about her, letting them gaze in her little
mirror she carried at her belt, as was the fashion in France. They liked
the touch of her soft hand on their heads, they were sometimes allowed
to press their tawny cheeks against it. Then she would try to instruct
them in the Catechism. They learned the sentences by rote, in an eager
sort of way, but she could see the real understanding was lacking.

"It seems an almost hopeless task," she said one day to Père Jamay. "And
though the little girls in the convent seemed obtuse, they did
understand what devotion was. These children would worship me. When I
talk of the blessed Virgin they are fain to press their faces to the hem
of my gown, taking it to mean that I am our dear Lady of Sorrows.
Neither do they comprehend penance, they suppose they have offended me
personally."

"'Tis a curious race that God has allowed to sink to the lowest ebb,
that His laborers should work the harder in the vineyard. I do not
despair. There will come a glorious day when every soul shall bow the
knee to our blessed Lord. The men seem incapable of any true discernment
of holy things. But we must not weary in well-doing. Think what a
glorious thing it would be to convert this nation to the true faith."

The lady sighed. Many a day she went to her _prie-dieu_ not seven times,
but twice that, to pray for their conversion.

"We must win the children. They will grow up with some knowledge and
cast aside their superstitions. We must be filled with holy zeal and
never weary doing our Master's will."

She had tried to win Rose, as well as some of the more intelligent
half-breeds. But prayers were wearisome to the child. And why should you
ask the same thing over and over again? Even M. Destournier, she had
noticed, did not like to be importuned, and why then the great God, who
had all the world to care for, and sent to His creatures what He thought
best.

The child looked out on the wide vault so full of stars, and her heart
was thrilled with the great mystery. What was the beautiful world beyond
that was called heaven? What did they know who had never seen it? The
splendor of the great white moon--moving majestically through the
blue--touched her with a sort of ecstasy. Was it another world? And how
tenderly it seemed to touch the tree tops, silvering the branches and
deepening the shadows until they were haunts of darkness. Did not other
gods dwell there, as those old people in the islands on the other side
of the world dreamed? Over the river hung trailing clouds of misty
sheen, there was a musical lapping of the waves, the curious vibration
of countless insects--now the shrill cry of some night bird, then such
softness again that the world seemed asleep.

"_Ma fille, ma fille_," and the half-inquiring accent of Wanamee's voice
fell on her ear.

"I am here. It is so beautiful. Wanamee, did you ever feel that you must
float away to some other world and learn things that seem to hover all
about you, and yet you cannot grasp?"

"You cannot, child, until you are admitted to the company of the saints.
And this life is very comfortable, to some at least. Thou hast no
trouble, little one. But it is time for the bed."

"Why can I not sleep out here? The Indians sleep under the tree. So has
M'sieu Ralph, and the Governor. Oh, I should like to and have just that
great blue sky and the stars over me."

"They would not show under the tree branches. And there are wolves and
strollers that it would not be safe to see at this time of the year,
when there are so many drunken traders. So come in, child."

She rose slowly. A little room in the end of the Giffard house was
devoted to her and Wanamee. Two small pallets raised a little above the
floor, a stand with a crucifix, that the Governor's wife insisted was
necessary, a box, in which winter bedding was stored, and that served
for a seat, completed the simple furniture.

Rose knelt before the stand. There were two or three Latin prayers she
often said aloud, but to-night her lips did not move. This figure on the
cross filled her with a kind of horror just now.

"Mam'selle," said the waiting Wanamee.

The child rose. "You must pray for yourself to-night," she said in a
soft voice, throwing her pliant body on the pallet. "I do not understand
anything about God any more. I do not see why He should send His Son to
die for the thousands of people who do not care for Him. The great
Manitou of the Indians did not do it."

"_Ma fille_, ask the priest. But then is it necessary to ask God when we
have only to believe?"

"I am afraid I don't even believe," was the hesitating reply.

"Surely thou art wicked. There will be penance for thee."

"I will not do penance either. You are cruel if you torture dumb
animals, and it is said they have not the keen feeling of humans. I am
not sure. But where one thinks of the pain or punishment he is bearing
it is more bitter. And what right has another to inflict it upon you?"

Wanamee was silent. She would ask the good priest. But ah, could she
have her darling punished?



CHAPTER X

MILADI AND M. DESTOURNIER


"But what are you to do with this nice house? Why, the Governor's is
hardly better. Will you live here and not at the post? And how pretty
the furnishings are?"

Rose's face was wreathed in smiles, and the dimples played hide-and-seek
in a most entrancing manner.

"Yes, I am to live here. And you, and Wanamee, and Nugava, and----"

She clapped her hands and jumped up and down, she pirouetted around with
grace and lightness that would have enchanted the King of La Belle
France. Where did she get this wonderful harmony of movement. His eyes
followed her in admiration. She paused. "And what part is to be given to
me?"

"This. And Wanamee will have the room between, to be within call."

His cheek flushed. How was he to get his secret told?

"And this will be yours, M'sieu. I know it on account of the books. And
I can come in here and you shall teach me to read some of the new
things. I have been very naughty and lazy, have I not. But in the
winter one cannot roam about. Oh, how delightful it will be!"

She looked up out of such clear, happy eyes. How could he destroy her
delight--he knew it would.

"There will be some one else here," he began.

"Not Père Jamay. He is with Madame a good deal. I do not like his sour
face when he frowns upon me. And--oh, you will not have me sent to
France and put in a convent. I would kill myself first."

"No, no. It is not the priest. I am not over in love with him myself. It
is some one sweet and pretty, and that you love----"

"That I love"--wonderingly.

He took both her hands in his.

"Rose," with tender gravity, "I am going to marry Madame Giffard."

She stiffened up and looked straight at him, the glow on her cheek
fading to marble paleness.

"_Petite_, you did love her dearly. You will love her again for my sake.
No, you shall not go away in this angry mood. Do you not wish me to be
happy?"

"Miladi belongs to her husband, who is dead. When she goes to heaven he
will be there, and you two--well, one must give up. Do you not remember
that Osaka murdered his wife because she went away from him and married
another brave?"

He was amused at her passion.

"I will give her up then. It is only for this life. And she needs some
one to care for her. Why are you so opposed to it, when you used to
love her? She will be like a mother to you."

"I do not want any mother," proudly. "And she does not love me now. Oh,
one can feel it just like a blast of unfriendly wind. And when she has
you she will not care for any one else."

"But I can care for you both. You know you belong to me. And sometime,
when new people cross the ocean, some brave, fine young fellow will love
you and want to marry you."

"I will not marry him."

"Oh, my little girl, be reasonable. We shall all be happy here together.
And you will grow up to womanhood and learn many things that will please
you and be of great service. And will go to France some day----"

"I will not go anywhere with her. Unclasp my hands. I do not belong to
you any more, to no one, I am----"

She burst into a passion of weeping. In spite of her struggles he
clasped her to his heart and kissed the throbbing temples, that seemed
as if they would burst.

"Oh, Rose, my little one, whom I love as a child, and always shall love,
listen to me and be comforted."

"She will not let you love me. She will want me to be sent to France and
be put in a convent. Father Jamay said that was what I needed. Oh, you
will see!"

The sobs seemed to rend her small body. He could feel the beating of her
heart and all his soul was moved with pity, although he knew her grief
was unreasonable.

"And you are willing to make me very unhappy, to spoil all my pleasure
in the new home. Oh, my child, I hardly thought that of you."

She made another struggle and freed herself. She stood erect, it seemed
as if she had grown inches. "You may be happy with her," she said, with
a dignity that would have been amusing if it had not been sad, and then
she dashed out of the room.

He sat down and leaned his elbow on the table, his head on his hand. He
had gathered from several things miladi had suggested, that she was
rather indifferent to the child, but he did not surmise that Rose had
felt and understood it. No one had a better right than he, since in all
probability her parentage would remain unknown. He would not relinquish
her. She should be a daughter to him. He realized that he had a curious
love for the child, that she had attracted him from the first. In the
years to come her beauty and winsomeness would captivate a husband, with
the dowry he could give her.

For several days he saw very little of her. He was busy and miladi was
exigent. Rose wandered about, sometimes to the settlement, watching the
busy women dressing skins, making garments, cutting fringes, and
embroidering wampum for the braves. The tawny children played about, the
small papooses, strapped in their cases of bark, blinked and
occasionally uttered wearisome cries. Or she rowed about in her canoe,
often with Pani, for the river current was rather treacherous. Then she
scudded through the woods like a deer, winding in and out of the stately
columns that were here silver-gray, there white; beech and birch, dark
hemlocks, that not having space to branch out, grew up tall with a head
almost like a palm. Insects hummed and shrilled, or whirred like a tiny
orchestra. Now and then a bird flung out a strain of melody, squirrels
ran about, and the doe came and put its nose in her hand. She had tied a
strip of skin, colored red, about its neck, that no one might shoot it.
The rich, deep moss cushioned the ground. Occasionally an acorn fell.
She would sit here in dreamy content by the hours, often just enjoying,
sometimes puzzling her brains over all the mysteries that in the years
to come education would solve. So few could read, indeed books were only
for the few.

Then she ran up and down the rocks, hid in the nooks, came out again in
dryad fashion. She had been wont to laugh and make echoes ring about,
but now her heart, in spite of all she could do, was not light enough
for that. Wanamee was sore troubled by her reticence, for she was too
proud to make any complaint. Indeed, she did not know what to complain
of. In her childish heart everything was vague, she could not reason,
she could only feel that something had been snatched out of her life and
set in another's. She would henceforth be lonely.

"Miladi wants to see you," said Wanamee one morning. "She wonders why
you do not run in as you used. And she has something joyful to tell
you."

Rose shut her lips tightly together and stamped on the floor.

"Oh, _ma petite_, you have guessed then! Or, perhaps M'sieu told you.
Miladi is to marry him, and they are to go to the nice new house he is
building. They are to take you and me and Pani. And he will have the two
Montagnais, who have been his good servants. We shall get out of this
old, tumble-down post station, and be near the Héberts. Then M'sieu is
getting such a nice big wheat field and garden."

Rose was drawing long breaths. She would not cry or utter a complaint.
Wanamee approached her, holding out both hands.

"Do not touch me," she entreated, in a passionate tone. "Do not say
anything more. When I am a little tranquil I will go and see her. I know
what she wants me to say--that I am glad. There is something just here
that keeps me from being glad," and she pressed her hands tightly over
her heart. "I do not know what it is."

"Surely you are not jealous of miladi? They are grown-up people. And
M'sieu told her yesterday--I heard them talking--that you were to be a
child to them, that they would both love you. Miladi has been irritable,
and not so gay as she used, but she is better now, and will soon be her
olden self. She was very nice and cheerful this morning, and laughed
with the joy of other days. Oh, child, do not disturb it by any
tempers."

Wanamee's eyes were soft and entreating.

"Oh, you need not fear," the child exclaimed, proudly. "Now I will go."

She tapped at miladi's door, and a very sweet voice said--"Come, little
stranger."

She opened it. Miladi was sitting by the small casement window, in one
of her pretty silken gowns, long laid by. There was a dainty rose flush
on her cheek, but the hand she held out was much thinner than of yore,
when in the place of knuckles there were dimples.

"Where have you been all these days when I have not seen you, little
maid? Come here and kiss me, and wish me joy, as they do in old France.
For I am going to take your favorite as a husband, and you are to be our
little daughter."

Rose lifted up her face. The kiss was on her forehead.

"Now, kiss me," and she touched the small shoulder with something like a
shake, as she offered her cheek.

It was a cold little kiss from lips that hardly moved. Miladi laughed
with a pretty, amused ripple.

"In good sooth," she said merrily, "some lover will teach you to kiss
presently. Thou art growing very pretty, Rose, and when some of the
gallants come over from Paris, they will esteem the foundling of Quebec
the heroine of romance."

The child did not flush under the compliment, or the sting, but glanced
down on the floor.

"Come, thou hast not wished me joy."

"Madame, as I have not been to France I do not know how they wish joy."

"Oh, you formal little child!" laughing gayly. "Do you not know what it
is to be happy? Why, you used to be as merry as the birds in singing
time."

"I can still be merry with the birds."

"But you must be merry for M. Destournier. He wishes you to be happy,
and has asked me to be a mother to you. Why, I fell in love with you
long ago, when you were so ill. And surely you have not forgotten when I
found you on the gallery, in a dead faint. You were grateful for
everything then."

Had she loved miladi so much? Why did she not love her now? Why was her
heart so cold? like lead in her bosom.

"I am grateful for everything."

"Then say you are glad I am going to marry M. Ralph, who loves me
dearly."

"Then I shall be glad you are to marry him. But I am sorry for M.
Giffard, in his lonely grave."

"Oh, horrors, child! Do you think I ought to be buried in the same
grave? There, run away. You give me the shivers."

Rose made a formal little courtesy, and walked slowly out of the room,
with a swelling heart.

Miladi told of the scene to her lover daintily, and with some
embellishments, adding--"She is a jealous little thing. You will be
between two fires."

"The fires will not scorch, I think," smiling. "She will soon outgrow
the childish whim."

In his secret heart there was a feeling of joy that he had touched such
depths in the little girl's soul. Miladi was rather annoyed that he had
not agreed to send her to some convent in France, as she hoped. But in a
year or two she might choose it for herself.

They went up to the chapel to be married. The Governor gave the bride
away. She was gowned just as Rose had seen her that first time, only she
was covered with a fine deerskin cloak, that she laid aside as they
walked up the aisle, rather scandalizing the two Récollet fathers. She
looked quite like a girl, and it was evident she was very happy.

Then they had a feast in the new house, and it was the first occasion of
real note there had been in Quebec. Rose was very quiet and reserved
among the grown folks, though M. de Champlain found time to chat with
her, and tell her that now she had found real parents.

After this there was a busy season preparing for the winter, as usual,
drying and preserving fruits, taking up root vegetables and storing
them, gathering nuts, and getting in grains of all kinds. Now they kept
pigs alive until about midwinter, and tried to have fresh game quite
often. The scurvy was practically banished.

As for Rose, the marriage made not so much difference. She was let very
much alone, and rambled about as she listed, until the snows came.
Occasionally she visited Marie, but everything was in a huddle in the
small place, and the chimney often smoked when the wind was east. But
Marie seemed strangely content and happy. Or she went to the Gaudrions,
which she really liked, even if the babies did tumble over her.

She went sometimes to the classes the Governor's wife was teaching, and
translated to the Indian children many things it was difficult for them
to understand.

Madame de Champlain would say--"Child, thou ought to be in the service
of the good God and His Virgin Mother. He has given thee many
attractions, but they are to be trained for His work, not for thy own
pleasure. We are not to live a life of ease, but to deny ourselves for
the sake of the souls of those around us."

"I think oftentimes, Madame, they have no souls," returned the daring
girl. "They seem never able to distinguish between the true God and
their many gods. And if they are ill they use charms. Their religion, I
observe, makes them very happy."

"There are many false things that please the carnal soul. That is what
we are to fight against. Oh, child, I am afraid the evil one desires
thee strongly. Thou shouldst go to confession, as we do at home, and
accept the penances the good priests put upon thee."

Confession had not made much headway with these children of the new
world. Father Jamay, to his great disgust, found they would tell almost
anything, thinking to please him with a multitude of sins, and they went
off to forget their penance. So it was not strongly insisted upon.

Madame de Champlain was a dévote. In her secret heart she longed for the
old convent life. Still she was deeply interested in the plans of the
Récollet fathers, who were establishing missions among the Hurons and
the Nipissings, and learning the languages. She gave generously of her
allowance, and denied herself many things; would, indeed, have given up
more had her husband allowed it.

Captain Pontgrave came in to spend the winter, brave and cheerful,
though he had lost his only son. While the men exchanged plans for the
future, and smoked in comfort, Madame was often kneeling on a flat stone
she had ordered sent to her little convent-like niche, praying for the
salvation of the new world to be laid at the foot of God's throne, and
to be a glory to old France. But the court of old France was revelling
in pleasure and demanding furs for profit.

Destournier occasionally joined the conclave. His heart and soul were in
this new land and her advancement, but his wife demanded his company
most of his evenings. She sat in her high-backed chair wrapped in furs
listening to his reading aloud or appearing to, though she often drowsed
off. But there was another who drank in every word, if she did not quite
understand. The wide stone chimney gave out its glowing fire of great
logs, sometimes hemlock branches that diffused a grateful fragrance
around the room. On a sort of settle, soft with folds of furs, Rose
would stretch out gracefully, or curl up like a kitten, and with
wide-open eyes turn her glance from the fascinating fire to the reader's
face, repeating in her brain the sentences she could catch. Sometimes it
was poetry, and then she fairly revelled in delight.

After a few weeks she seemed to accept the fact of the marriage with
equanimity, but she grew silent and reserved. She understood there was a
secret animosity between herself and miladi, even if they were outwardly
agreeable. She had gathered many pretty and refined ways from Madame de
Champlain, or else they were part of the unknown birthright. She had
turned quite industrious as well, the winter day seemed dreary when one
had no employment. She read a good deal too, she could understand the
French, and occasionally amused herself translating.

When the spring opened the Governor and several others went to the new
trading post and town, Mont Réal. There really seemed more advantages
here than at Quebec. There was a long stretch of arable land, plenty of
fruit trees, if they were wild; a good port, and more ease in catching
the traders as they came along. There, too, stray Indians often brought
in a few choice furs, which they traded for various trifles, exchanging
these again for rum.

Rose drew a long breath of delight when the spring fairly opened, and
she could fly to her olden haunts. Oh, how dear they were! Though now
she often smuggled one of M. Ralph's books and amused herself reading
aloud until the woods rang with the melodious sounds.

Miladi liked a sail now and then on the river, when it was tranquil. She
did not seem to grow stronger, though she would not admit that she was
ill. She watched Rose with a curious half-dread. She was growing tall,
but her figure kept its lithe symmetry. Out in the woods she sometimes
danced like a wild creature. Miladi had been so fond of dancing in M.
Giffard's time, but now it put her out of breath and brought a pain to
her side. She really envied the bright young creature in the grace and
rosiness of perfect health.

This summer a band of Jesuits came to the colony. They received a rather
frigid welcome from the colonists, but the Récollets, convinced that
they were making very slow advance in so large a field, opened their
convent to them, and assisted them in getting headquarters of their own.
And the church in Quebec began to take shape, it was such a journey to
the convent services at the St. Charles river.

There followed a long, cold winter. Miladi was housed snug and warm, but
she grew thinner, so that her rings would not stay on her slim fingers.
There had been troubles with the Indians and at times M. Destournier was
obliged to be away, and this fretted her sorely.

There was a great conclave at Three Rivers, to make a new treaty of
peace with several of the tribes. A solemn smoking of pipes, passing of
wampum, feasts and dances. And then, as usual, the influx of traders.

Madame de Champlain desired to return to France with her husband, who
was to sail in August. The rough life was not at all to her taste.

"Oh," said miladi, eagerly, when she heard this, "let us go, too. I am
tired of these long, cold winters. I was not made for this kind of life.
If M. Giffard had lived a year longer he would have had a competency;
and then we should have returned home. Surely you have made money."

"But mine is not where I can take it at a month's notice. I have been
building on my plantation, weeding out some incompetent and drunken
tenants, and putting in others. Pontgrave is going. Du Pare is much at
the new settlement at Beaupré. It would not be possible for me to go,
but you might."

"Go alone?" in dismay.

"It would not be alone. Madame de Champlain would be glad of your
company."

"A woman who has no other thought but continual prayers, and anxieties
for the souls of the whole world."

"Another year----"

"I want to go now"--impatiently.

She was like a fretful child. He looked in vain now for the charms she
had once possessed.

"I could not possibly. It would be at a great loss. And I am not
enamored of the broils and disputes. How do I know but some charge may
be trumped up against me? The fur company seize upon any pretext. And
even a brief absence might ruin some of my best plans. Marguerite, I am
more of a Canadian than a Frenchman. The Sieur has promised to interest
some new emigrants. I see great possibilities ahead of us."

"So you have talked always. I am homesick for La Belle France. I want no
more of Canada, of Quebec, that has grown hateful to me."

Her voice was high and tremulous, and there burned a red spot on each
cheek.

"Then let me send you. You should stay a year to recuperate, and I may
come for you."

"I will take Rose."

"If she wishes. But I will not have her put in a convent."

"She is like a wild deer. Do you mean to marry her to some half-breed?
There seems no one else. The men who come on business leave wives
behind. There is no one to marry."

"You found some one," he returned good-naturedly, smoothing her fair
hair.

"Can you find another?"

"She is but a child. There need to be no hurry."

"She has outgrown childhood. To be sure, there is Pierre Gaudrion, who
hangs about awkwardly, now and then."

"She will never marry Pierre Gaudrion. She is of too fine stuff."

"A foundling! Who knows aught about her? Most Frenchmen like a well-born
mother for their children."

"She is in no haste for a husband. But do not let us dispute about her.
You excite yourself too much. Think seriously of this project. The Sieur
will see you safely housed when once you are there."

He turned and went out. She fell into a violent fit of weeping. She
could coax anything out of Laurent, poor Laurent, who might have been
alive to-day but for the friendship he thought he owed M. Destournier.
And they might now be in Paris, where there were all sorts of gay
goings-on. This life was too stupid for a woman, too cold, too lonely.
And a wife should be a husband's first thought. Ralph was cold and
cruel, and had grown stern, almost morose.

He walked over to the plantation. By one of the log huts Rose stood
talking to an Indian woman. Yes, she was no longer a child. She was tall
and shapely, full of vigor, glowing with health, radiant in coloring,
yes, beautiful. There was much of the olden time about her in the smiles
and dimples and eagerness, though she was grave in miladi's presence.

Yet neither was she a woman. The virginal lines had not wholly filled
out, but there was a promise of affluence that neither my lady nor the
Madame possessed. For the lovely Hélène had dévote written in every line
of her face, a rapt expression, that seemed to lift her above the
ordinary world. The souls of those she came in contact with were the
great thing. And though the Sieur was a good Catholic, he was also of
the present world, and its advancement, and had always been inspired
with the love of an explorer, and of a full, free life. He could never
have been a priest. He had the right view of colonization, too. Homes
were to be made. Men and women were to be attached to the soil to make
it yield up the bountiful provision hidden in its mighty breast.

And miladi! There had been so few women in his life that he knew nothing
of contrast, or analysis. Some of the men took Indian wives for a year
or so: that had never appealed to him. He had been charmed by Madame
Giffard from the very first meeting with her, but she was another man's
wife, and she loved her husband. The pretty coquetries were a part of
the civilized world over in France and meant only a graceful desire to
please. Then in her sorrow he pitied her profoundly, and felt that he
owed her the highest and most sacred duty.

But as he studied Rose now, and thought of a suggested lover in Pierre
Gaudrion, his whole soul rose in revolt. And the other thought of
sending her away was equally distasteful. Why, she was the light and
sweetness of the settlement. In a different fashion, she captured the
hearts of the Indian women, and taught them the love of home-making,
roused in some of them intelligence. How did she come by it? There was
Wanamee.

He did not dream that he had awakened a desire for knowledge in the
girl's breast and brain. But she had gone beyond him in the lore of the
sea and the sky, and the romance of the trees, that to him were
promising materials for houses and boats. They were her friends. She
could translate the soft murmur that ran through their leaves, or the
sweet, wild whistle of the wind that blew in from the river or down from
the high hills,--from the ice and snow of the fur country. And sometimes
he had seen her run races with the foaming river, where it whirled and
eddied and fretted against a spur of the mighty rocks. All her life,
from the day he found her on the rocks, seemed to pass before him in one
great flash. He exulted that she belonged to no one, that he had the
best right to her. He could not have told why. Heaven had denied him a
child of his very own, and he had learned that miladi considered babies
a wearisome burthen, fit only for peasants and Indian women.

Did the saintly and beautiful Hélène think so as well? he wondered. He
had learned a good deal about womankind since his marriage, but he made
a grand mistake, he had learned only about one woman; and she was not
the noblest of her kind.

Rose turned suddenly and saw him in that half-waiting attitude. There
was little introspection, or analysis, in those days; people simply
lived, felt without understanding. She had outgrown her first feeling of
aversion. In a vague fashion she realized that miladi needed protection
and care that no one but M. Destournier could give her. She was sorry
she could not ramble about, that she never brightened up, and sung and
danced any more. And this was why she, Rose, did not want to grow old
and give up the delights of vivid, enchanting exercise.

Why miladi was captious and changeful, never of the same mind twice, she
could not understand. What suited her to-day bored her to-morrow. She
gave up trying to please, though she was generally ready and gracious.
But she remarked it was the same way with M. Ralph, and he bore the
captiousness with so sweet a temper that she felt moved to emulate him.
In the depths of her heart there was a great pity, and it was sweet to
him, though neither ever adverted to it.



CHAPTER XI

A FEAST OF SUMMER


As if his eyes had summoned her, she turned toward him. Out here in
God's wide, beautiful world they could be the same friends, and not fret
any one. It might have been dangerous if he had not been so upright a
man, with no subtle reasonings, and she less simple-hearted.

"I have been helping Evening Star arrange her house. She is anxious to
be like a Frenchwoman, and has put off many Indian ways since she became
a convert."

"But you do not give her her Christian name," and he smiled.

"Maria Assunta! It isn't half as pretty. She has such lovely deep eyes,
and such velvety skin that her Indian name suits her best. What does it
matter?"

"Perhaps it helps them to break away from Indian superstitions. I do see
some improvement in the women, but the men----"

She laughed lightly. "The women were better in the beginning. They were
used to work. And all the braves care for is hunting and drinking bouts.
If I were a priest, I should consider them hardly worth the trouble."

"A fine priest you would make. They consider you half a heretic."

"I go to chapel, M'sieu, when one can get there. I know a great many
prayers, but they are much alike. I would like all the world to be
upright and good, but I do not want to stay in a stifling little box
until my breath is almost gone, and my knees stiff, saying a thing over
and over. M'sieu, I can feel the Great Presence out on the beautiful
rocks, as I look down on the river and watch the colors come and go,
amber and rose, and greens of so many tints; and the music that is
always so different. Then I think God does not mean us to shut it all
out and be melancholy."

"You were ever a wild little thing."

"I can be grave, M'sieu, and silent, when there is need, for others. But
I cannot give up all of my own life. I say to my heart--'Be still, it is
only for a little while'--then comes the dance of freedom."

She laughed, with a ripple of music.

"I wonder," he began, after a pause, watching her lithe step and the
proud way she carried her head--"I wonder if you would like to cross the
ocean, to go to France?"

"With the beautiful Madame? It is said she is to sail as soon as the
boats are loaded."

"Miladi might go with her. I could not be spared. And you----"

He saw the sudden, great throb that moved her breast up to her very
shoulders.

"I should not want to go," in a quiet tone.

"But if I found at the last hour that I could go?"

She drew a long breath. "M'sieu, I have no desire to see France. I hear
you and the Governor talk about it, and the great court where the King
spends his time in foolishness, and the Queen Mother plots wicked
schemes. And they throw people in prison for religion's sake. Did I hear
a story of some people who were burned at the stake? Why, that is as
cruel as the untaught Indians. And to cross the big, fearful ocean. Last
summer we sailed up to the great gulf, you know, and you could see where
the ocean and sky met. No, I like this old, rocky place the best."

"But if miladi wanted you to go very much?"

"She will not want me very much, in her heart," and she glanced up so
straightforwardly that he flushed. "No, you will leave me here and I
will be very religious. I will go to the chapel every Sunday and pray. I
will have a _prie-dieu_ in one corner, and kneel many times a day,
praying that you will come back safely. I shall have something real to
pray for then. And--miladi will be very happy."

There was a fervor, touching in its earnestness, that penetrated his
soul.

"You will not miss me much," he ventured.

The quick tears sprang to her eyes.

"Oh, yes, I should miss you," and her voice had a little tremble in it.
"But you would return. Oh, yes, I know the good God would send you back.
See how many times he has sent the Sieur de Champlain back!"

She raised her face to his, and though the tears still beaded her long
lashes, the lips smiled adorably. He could have kissed her, but his fine
respect told him that endearment was sacred to another man now.

"I do not think I shall go. Some one must be here to see that things do
not go to wreck."

She wondered if miladi would go without him. They walked on silently. He
was thinking of the other man. The Sieur hoped to persuade some
better-class emigrants on his next voyage.

Whether miladi would have gone or not could not be known. She was taken
quite ill. The doctor came down from Tadoussac, and said she would not
be strong enough to stand such a long voyage.

Wanamee was her indefatigable nurse when her husband was away, as he was
compelled to be in the daytime. On a few occasions she insisted that
Rose should read from some old volumes of poems. She used to watch, with
strange, longing eyes. Ah, if she could be young again, and strong. Did
M'sieu Ralph often think of the years between, and that some time in the
future she would be an old woman! He appeared to grow more vigorous and
younger.

There were busy times in the little town. The traders seemed to be
rougher every year. They were not much inside the palisade, but they set
up booths and tents on the shore edge, and there was much drinking and
chaffering.

"Thou must not go outside of the palisade," said Destournier to Rose.
"There are many rude, drunken men about."

She did not demur. In truth she spent many hours comforting the Indian
women for the loss of their angel lady, whom they had truly worshipped,
and whom, in their vague ignorant fashion, they had confused with the
Virgin. But she had wearied of the wildness and the lack of the society
of the nuns that she loved so dearly. Two of her maids would return with
her, the other had married.

And though she had not made very warm friends with Madame Destournier,
she would have liked her companionship on the long voyage. And miladi
was really sorry to have the break, since there were so few women, even
if she did tire of her religion.

"If we do not meet again here," Madame Hélène said, in her
sweetly-modulated voice, that savored of the convent, "it is to be hoped
we shall reach the home where we shall rest with the saints, when the
Divine has had His will with us. Farewell, my sister, and may the Holy
Virgin come to your assistance in the darkest hours."

Then she knelt and prayed. Miladi shuddered. Was she going to die? Oh,
no, she could not.

The vessel came down from Tadoussac. All the river was afloat, as usual,
at this season. A young man sprang off and pressed his sister's hand
warmly.

The Héberts, with their son and daughter, the married maid and her
husband and several others, who had stood a little in awe of the
Governor's lady, were there to wish her _bon voyage_. Her husband
assisted her, with the tenderest care. Was he happy with her, when she
was only half his age? M. Destournier wondered.

When they started, a salute was fired. He was leaving his new fort but
half completed.

"Who was that pretty young girl who kept so close to the Héberts?"
Eustache Boullé asked his sister. "There, talking to that group of
Indian women."

"Oh, that is M. Destournier's ward. Surely, you saw her when you first
came here, though she was but a child then. A foundling, it seems. Good
Father Jamay was quite urgent that she should be sent home, and spend
some years in a convent."

"And she refused? She looks like it. Oh, yes, I remember the child."

"Beauty is a great snare where there is a wayward will," sighed the
devoted Hélène. "It is no country for young girls of the better class.
Though no one knows to what class she really belongs."

Eustache fell into a dream. What a bright attractive child she had
been. How could he have forgotten her? He was two-and-twenty now, and
his man's heart had been stirred by her beauty.

If Rose was not so much of a dévote she began to make herself useful to
many of the Indian converts who missed their dear lady. To keep their
houses tidy, to learn a little about the useful side of gardening, and
how their crops must be tended, to insure the best results. The children
could be set to do much of this.

Quebec fell back to its natural state. There was no more carousing along
the river, no drunken men wrangling in the booths, no affrays. Rose
could ramble about as she liked, and she felt like a prisoner set free.
Madame Destournier was better, and each day took a sail upon the river,
which seemed to strengthen her greatly. Presently they would spend a
fortnight at the new settlement, Mont Réal. Many things were left in the
hands of M. Destournier, and his own affairs had greatly increased.

One afternoon Rose had espied a branch of purple plums, that no one had
touched, on a great tree that had had space and sun, but fruited only on
the southern side. No stick or stone could dislodge them. How tempting
they looked, in their rich, melting sheen.

"I must have some," she said, eyeing the size of the trunk, the smooth
bark, and the distance before there was any limb. Then she considered.
Finding a crotched stick, a limb that had been broken off in some high
wind, she caught it in the lowest branch and gently pulled it down until
she grasped it with her hand.

Yes, it was tough. She swung to it. Then she felt her way up cautiously,
like a cat, and when she swung near enough, caught one arm around the
tree trunk. It was a hard scramble, but she stood upon it triumphantly.
It bore her weight, yet she must go higher, for she could not reach the
temptingly-laden limb. Now and then a branch swayed--if she had her
stick up here that she had dropped so disdainfully when she had captured
the limb.

"It is a good thing to be sure you will not want what you fling away,"
she said to herself, sententiously.

"Aha!" She had caught the limb and drew it in carefully. There she sat,
queen of a solitary feast. Were ever plums so luscious! Some of the
ripest fell to the ground and smashed, making cones of golden red, with
a tiny cap of purple at the top.

In the old Latin book she still dipped into occasionally there were
descriptions of orchards laden with fruit that made the air around
fragrant. She could imagine herself there.

In that country there were gods everywhere, by the streams, where one
named Pan played on pipes. What were pipes that could emit music? The
nooks hid them. The zephyrs repeated their songs and laments.

There was a swift dazzle and a bird lighted on the branch above her, and
poured out such a melodious warble that she was entranced. A bird from
some other tree answered. Ah! what delight to eat her fill to measures
of sweetest music, and she suddenly joined in.

The young fellow who had been following a beaten path paused in amaze.
Was it a human voice? It broke off into a clear, beautiful whistle that,
striking against a ledge of rock, rebounded in an echo. He crept along
on the soft grass, where the underbrush had some time been fired. The
tree was swaying to and fro, and a shower of fruit came to the ground.

He drew nearer and then he espied the dryad. From one point he could see
a girl, sitting in superb unconcern. Was it the one he had been
searching for diligently the last hour? How had she been able to perch
herself up there?

Presently she had taken her fill of the fruit, of swinging daintily to
and fro, of watching the sun-beams play hide-and-seek among the distant
fir trees, that held black nooks in their shade, of studying with
intense ecstasy the wonderful colors gathering around the setting sun,
for which she had no name, but that always seemed as if set to some
wondrous music. Every pulse stirred within her, making life itself
sweet.

She stepped down on the lower limb. It would be rather rough to slide
down the tree trunk, but she had not minded it in her childhood. The
other way she had often tried as well. She held on to the limb above,
and walked out on hers, until it began to sway so that she could hardly
balance herself. Then she gave one spring, and almost came down in the
young man's arms.

She righted herself in a moment, and stared at him. There was something
familiar in the soft eyes, in the general contour of the face.

"You do not remember me!"

"Let me think," she said, with a calmness that amused him. "Yes, it
comes to me. I saw you on the boat that conveyed Madame de Champlain.
You are her brother."

"Eustache Boullé, at your service," and he bowed gracefully. "But I did
not know you, Mam'selle. You were such a child four years ago. Even then
you made an impression upon me."

She was so little used to compliments that it did not stir her in the
slightest. She was wondering, and at length she said--

"How did you find me?"

"By hard searching, Mam'selle. I saw your foster-mother--I believe she
is that--and she gave me a graphic description of your wanderings. I
paused here because the beauty of the place attracted me. And I heard a
voice I knew must be human, emulating the birds, so I drew nearer. Will
you forgive me when I confess I rifled your store? What plums these are!
I did not know that Canada could produce anything so utterly delicious.
We have some wild sour ones that get dried and made eatable in the
winter, when other things are scarce. And the Indians make a
queer-tasting drink out of them."

"I found this tree quite by accident. I never saw it before, and if you
will look, there are only two branches that have any fruit. The other
side of the tree is barren. And that high branch will give the birds a
feast. I do not think I could venture up there," laughing.

"I wondered how you ventured at all. And how you dared come down that
way."

His eyes expressed the utmost admiration.

"Oh," she answered carelessly, "that was an old trick of mine, my
childhood's delight. I used to try how far I could walk out before the
limb would give me warning."

"But if it had broken?"

"Why, I should have jumped, all the same. You did not go with your
sister and M. de Champlain."

"I had half a mind to, then I reconsidered."

She met his gaze calmly, as if she was wondering a little what had
prevented him.

"And I came to Quebec. It begins to grow. But we want something beside
Indians. M. Destournier has settled quite a plantation of them, and my
sister has believed in their conversion. But when one knows them
well--he has not so much faith in them. They are apt to revert to the
original belief, crude superstitions."

"It is hard to believe," the girl said slowly.

"That depends. Some beliefs are very pleasant and appeal to the heart."

"But is it of real service to God that one rolls in a bed of thorns, or
walks barefoot over sharp stones, or kneels all night on a hard, cold
floor? There are so many beautiful things in the world, and God has made
them----"

"As a snare, the priest will tell you. Mam'selle, thou hast not been
made for a devotee. It would be a great loss to one man if thou shouldst
bury all these charms in a convent."

"I do not know any man who would grieve," she made answer indifferently.

"But you might," and a peculiar smile settled about his lips.

"I am going to take home as many of these plums as I can carry. Madame
Destournier is not well, and has a great longing for different things. I
found some splendid berries yesterday which she ate with a relish.
Sickness gives one many desires. I am glad I am always well. At least I
was never ill but once, and that was long ago."

She sprang up and began to look about her. "If I could find some large
leaves----"

"I will fill my pockets."

She looked helplessly at her own garments, and then colored vividly,
thinking if this young man were not here she would gather a lapful. Why
should she have this strange consciousness?

Nothing of service met her gaze, and she drew her brow into a little
frown. It gave her a curious piquancy, and interested him. She had
spirit.

"Oh, I know! What a dullard I was. Those great flaring dockweeds do not
grow about here. But something else will answer."

She ran over to an old birch tree and tore off great pieces of bark,
then gathering some half-dried grasses, began to fashion a sort of pail,
bending up the edges to make the bottom. She was so quick and deft, it
was a pleasure to watch her. Then she filled it with the choicest of the
fruit. There was still some left.

"We might have another feast," he suggested.

"I have feasted sufficiently. Let us make another basket. It can be
smaller than this."

It was very pleasant to dally there in the woods. He was unnecessarily
awkward, that the slim fingers might touch his, and her little laugh was
charming.

"Allow me to carry the larger one," and he reached for it.

"No, no. You are weighted in the pockets. And these are choice. I will
have no one take part in them."

She drew herself aside and began to march with a graceful, vigorous
step, her head proudly poised on the arching neck that, bared to summer
suns and wind, yet was always white. The delicious little hollow, where
the collar bones met, was formed to lay kisses in, and be filled with
warm, throbbing lips. Yes, he was right in coming back to Quebec, she
was more enchanting than the glimpse of her had been.

"Why do you look at me so?" she cried, with a kind of quick repulsion
she did not understand, but it angered her.

"It is the homage we pay to beauty, Mam'selle."

"Your sister is beautiful," she said, with an abruptness that was almost
anger.

"So thought the Sieur de Champlain, and I believe she was not offended
at it."

"I am not like that," she declared decisively. "She was fair as a lily,
and Father Jamay said she had the face of a saint."

"I am not so partial to saints myself. And my brother-in-law would have
been better satisfied, I do believe, if she had been less saintly."

She looked a trifle puzzled.

"It is long since you left France," she commented irrelevantly.

"I was not seventeen. It is six years ago."

"Do you mean to go back?"

"Sometime, Mam'selle. Would you like to go?"

"No," she said decidedly.

"But why not?" amused.

"Because I like Quebec."

"It is a wretched wilderness of a place."

"Madame Destournier talks about France. Why, if Paris is all gayety and
pleasure, are people put in dungeons, and then to death? And there seem
so many rulers. They are not always good to the Sieur, either."

"They do not understand. But these are too weighty matters for a young
head."

"Why do they not want a great, beautiful town here! All they care about
is the furs, and the rough men and Indians spoil the summer. I like to
hear the Sieur tell what might be, houses and castles, and streets,
instead of these crooked, winding paths, and--there are fine shops,
where you buy beautiful things," glancing vaguely at him.

"Why should you not like to go thither then, if you can dream of these
delights?"

"I want the Sieur to have his way, and do some of the things he has set
his heart upon. Miladi would like it too. But I am well enough
satisfied."

She tossed her head in her superb strength. He had not known many women,
and they were older. There was something in her fresh sweetness that
touched him to the soul.

"This way, M'sieu." He was plunging ahead, keeping pace with some
tumultuous thoughts.

"Ah----!"

"And see--you have been careless. You are sowing plums along the way.
This is no place for them to take root."

She gave a little laugh as well, though she had begun in a sharp tone.

He had pressed the side of his slight receptacle and made a yawning
crack in it.

"Well, now you must gather that great leaf and patch it. Here are some
pine needles. I sew with them sometimes. You do not need a thread."

Was she laughing at him?

He managed to repair the damages, and picked up the plums he had not
trodden upon, that were yielding their wine-like fragrance to the air.

"Which way do you go, M'sieu?" she asked, with unconscious hauteur.

"Why--to M. Destournier's. I called on miladi, and she sent me to find
you in some wood, she hardly knew where. And I have brought you safely
back."

"M'sieu, I have come back many a time in safety without you."

Her voice had a suggestion of dismissal in it.

"I must present my spoils to Madame. No, I believe they are yours, you
were the discoverer, you made the purple shower that I only helped
gather."

She skipped up the steps lightly. How dainty her moccasined feet were!
The short skirt showed the small ankles and the swell of the beautiful
leg. Her figure was not a whit behind his sister's convent-trained one,
but she was fearless as a deer.

Miladi sat out on the gallery in her chair, that could be moved about
with ease by a small lever at the side. Looking down at the youthful
figures, the thought beset her that haunts all women, that here was
material for a very fortunate match. He was much superior to Pierre
Gaudrion.

"The trophies of the hunt," Boullé exclaimed gayly. "The huntress and
the most delicious harvest. I have seen nothing like it."

"I found some plums, a tree quite by itself, and only two branches of
fruit. We must send some of the best pits to M. Hébert. And I shall
plant a row in the Sieur's garden."

She brought out a dish and took them carefully from the birch-bark
receptacle. The exquisite bloom had not been disturbed.

"I will get a dish for yours," she said to the young man.

"Mine were the gleanings," he laughed.

Miladi's eyes glowed at the sight of the feast. Rose had not emptied all
of hers out, and now she laid three beauties in the corner of the
cupboard, looking around until she espied a pan. Wooden platters were
mostly used, even the Indian women were handy in fashioning them.

The young man had taken a seat and a plum, and was regaling his hostess
with the adventure.

"Curious that I should find the place so easily," and he smiled most
beguilingly. "Sometimes one seems led in just the right way."

For several reasons he preferred not to say he had heard the singing.

"Yes," and now she gave a soft, answering smile, as if there might be a
mysterious understanding between them. Miladi was often ennuied, now
that she was never really well, and the sight and voice of a young man
cheered her inexplicably.

"Every one knows her. She is the most fearless thing."

"I remember her when she was very little. How tall she has grown. A very
pretty girl."

"Youth always has a prettiness. It is the roundness and coloring. I
often long to go back and have it all over again. I should remain in
France. I do not see what there is in this bleak country to charm one."

"There was some talk of your going with my sister, was there not?"

"Yes. But I was too ill. And M. Destournier thought he could not leave.
He has many interests here."

Rose re-entered the room.

"I never tasted such delicious plums," the elder commented, in a pleased
tone. "I want some saved as long as they will keep."

"There is a quantity of them. I should have had to make another journey
but for M. Boullé," and she dropped a charming little courtesy.

"We might see if we could not find another tree."

"I doubt it."

"Will you stay some time?" asked miladi.

"They can do without me a while. Business is mostly over."

She raised her eyes, and they said she was pleased with the plan. Rose
busied herself about the room, then suddenly disappeared. She had seen
M. Destournier coming up the crooked pathway, and with a parcel in her
hand, went out to meet him.

"I thought of you. Miladi was delighted with hers. Some seagull must
have brought the pit across the ocean. It is so much finer than any we
have around here."

He broke it open, but the golden purple juice ran over his hand.

"It is the wine of sunshine. Here is to thy health, Rose of Quebec."

"M. Boullé is in there," nodding. "He came out in the wood and found me
up the tree," and she laughed gayly.

"Found thee----" Something sharp went to the heart of the man, and he
looked down into the fearless eyes, with their gay, unsuspecting
innocence.

"As if I could be lost in dear old Quebec!"

"Is it dear to thee?"

"Why, I have never known any other place, any other home."

There were many knowledges beside that of childhood. And among them one
might be all-engrossing.



CHAPTER XII

A LOVER IN EARNEST


Eustache Boullé seemed in no hurry to return to Tadoussac. He was
wonderfully interested in the new fort, in the different improvements,
in miladi, who, somehow, seemed to improve and render herself very
agreeable. She had a queer feeling about him. If one could be young
again--ah, that would be back in France. She had a happy time with
Laurent. She had exulted in winning her second husband, but somehow the
real flavor and zest of love had not been there.

When Eustache was with Rose she experienced a keen, hungering jealousy,
and it was then she wanted to be young. The girl was strangely obtuse.
She never colored when he came, or evinced any half-bashful joy, she
left him with miladi, and went off with the utmost unconcern. She was
much in the settlement, showing the Indian women nice ways of keeping
their homes and children tidy, so that when the beautiful wife of the
Governor returned they would have great improvement to show her. True,
they went out canoeing, and the sweet breath of the river washing the
sedgy grass on the small islands, gave a faint tang of salt, or where it
dashed and fretted against the rocks made iridescent spray. There were
so many beautiful places. And though she had seen the falls more than
once, she went again to please him, after making several excuses. Pani
was her bodyguard. He was still small, and lithe as an eel, and the
mixture of races showed in him. Wanamee was sometimes peremptorily
ordered to accompany him.

The wooing of looks and smiles had little effect on her. Sometimes he
reached for her hand, but it cunningly evaded him. She seemed so
sufficient for herself that the matter was reduced to good-comrade-ship.
Yet there were times when he was wild to kiss the rosy, dimpling mouth,
to press the soft cheek, to hold the pliant figure in his arms.

It was but right that he should ask M. Destournier for his
foster-daughter.

To lose her! Ah, how could he give her up?

"Would you come to Quebec?"

"My interests are at Tadoussac. And there are the fisheries at the
islands growing more profitable. But I might come often if she grew
homesick, and pined for this rough, rocky place."

"It will be as she pleases," the man said, with a heavy heart.

"I must tell you that I think Madame favors my suit."

M. Destournier merely bowed.

The husband and wife had never touched upon the subject. She could not
decide. The girl was very useful to her since she had fallen into
invalid ways. M. Destournier had to be journeying about a good deal. She
could read so delightfully when the nights were long, tiresome, and
sleepless. Even Wanamee could not arrange her hair with such deft
touches, and it really appeared as if she could take off the burthen of
years by some delicate manipulations. Yes, she would miss her very much.
But it would be a grand match for a foundling. And if they went to
France, she would rouse herself and go. M. Destournier was so occupied
with the matters of the town that he had grown indifferent, and seldom
played the lover.

But how was Eustache to propose to a girl who could not, or would not
understand, who never allowed any endearments or softened to sentiment.
Why, here had been a whole fortnight since he had won the Sieur's tardy
consent. Now and then he had found some soft-eyed Indian girl not averse
to modestly-caressing ways, but his religion kept him from any absolute
wrong, and meaning to marry some time, he had not played at love.

So he came to miladi with his anxieties. Was there ever a woman's soul
formed with no longing, no understanding of the divine passion, that
could kneel at the marriage altar in singleness of heart?

Miladi studied the young man. Had the girl no warm blood coursing
through her veins, no throb of pleased vanity, at the preference of this
patient lover? Perhaps he was too patient.

"Yes," she made answer, "I will see. You are quite sure your family will
not be displeased? We know nothing of her birth, you are aware."

"Her beauty will make amends for that."

One could not deny her beauty. Such a dower had never been miladi's,
though she had been pretty in youth.

"Beg her to listen to me."

"A man should be able to compel a woman to listen," she made answer a
little sharply.

Glancing out over the space between, she caught sight of Rose and her
husband coming down from the fort. She was gay enough now, talking with
no restraint.

"I am almost jealous of M. Destournier," Eustache said, with a sigh.

Miladi was suddenly jealous as well, and this swept away the last shred
of reluctance.

"You give her great honor by this marriage proposal. She shall be
compelled to consider it."

"A thousand thanks. If Madame will excuse, I will go out to them."

M. Destournier left her with the young lover. Would she not go out on
the river? No. Then let them take a forest ramble. There were some fine
grapes back of the settlement. Pani had brought in a great basket full.
What would she do?

"Sit here on this ledge and watch the river. Pierre Cadotte is at the
fort. They came through the rapids at Lachine. It was very exciting. He
has been at the trading post up to the strait and tells marvellous
stories of hardships and heroism. And the good priest up there has made
converts already."

She was always so interested in some far-off thing.

"I wish a priest might make a convert here. There is much need."

She was off her guard. Canoes and boats were going up and down the
river. Some men were hauling in a catch of fish; just below, an Indian
woman sat weaving reed baskets, while a group of children played around.
Not an ideal spot for love-making, but Eustache was desperate.

"Thee"--leaning over until his black curls touched hers. "I would have
thee converted to love and matrimony. I have been a coward, and kept my
heartaches and desires to myself. I can do it no longer."

"But I am not for matrimony." She raised her clear eyes that would have
disheartened almost any man. "I do not want any husband. I like my own
fancies, and I suppose they are strange. There is only one person I ever
talk to about them. No one else understands. I think sometimes I do not
belong here, but to another country; no, the country is well enough. I
am suited to that. I do not want to go away."

"You would like old France, Paris. My mother would be glad to welcome
you, I know. And, oh, you would like Paris. Or, if you would rather stay
here----"

"I do not want to be married in a long time yet. Women change so much
when they have husbands, and it seems as if they made themselves unhappy
over many things their husbands do."

"But my sister was very happy. She would not have come all the way to
New France if she had not loved her husband dearly."

"You see that is so different. I do not love any one in that manner.
And, oh, M'sieu, she was like an angel, and prayed so much. It is a good
thing, but I would not like to stay in a darkened room and pray. I like
better to be roaming in the woods, and singing with the birds, and
gathering flowers. I believe I am not old enough to accept these
things."

"But my sister was only twelve when she was betrothed to the Sieur de
Champlain."

"You see something makes the difference." Her brow knit in perplexity.
"If it is a thing you want, it would be very easy to reach out your hand
and take it----"

"But I want it!" He reached out his hand and caught hers. "I love you,
strange, bewitching as you are in your innocence. And I would teach you
what love was. No young girl loves much before marriage. But when she is
with her husband day by day and his devotion is laid at her feet, she
cannot help understanding what a delight it is, and she learns to give
of her sweetest and best, as you will, my adorable child."

The heat of his hand and the pulse throbbing in every finger roused a
deeper feeling of resistance. She tried to withdraw it, but the pressure
only tightened.

"Will you release my hand?" she said, with a new-born dignity. "It is
mine, not yours!"

"But I wish it for mine. Oh, Rose, you sweet, delightful creature, you
_must_ learn to love me. I cannot give you up. And the Destourniers are
quite willing. I have asked for you."

"No one can give me away. I belong only to myself."

She drew her hand away in an unguarded moment. She sprang up straight
and lithe, her head poised superbly. Every pulse within him was
mysteriously stirred, and his breath came in gasps. Yes, he must set her
in his life. It would be bleak and barren without. To kiss the rosy lips
when he listed, to pillow the fair head on his shoulder, to encircle the
supple figure, so full of vitality, in his arms--yes, that would be the
highest delight.

"I will wait," he said, in a beseeching voice. "You are but a child.
Pity has not sprung up in your heart yet. I will wait and watch for the
first sign."

"Go!" She made a dismissing gesture with her hand. "Do not attempt to
follow me."

He stood still, looking after her. His whole soul was aflame, his voice
could have cried to the heavens above that she might be enkindled with
the sacred flame that leaped and flashed within him.

Rose picked her way deftly, daintily over the rocky way. She did not
stop at the house, but went on to the beach. A fish-hawk was chasing a
robin, that suddenly veered round as if asking her protection, and
picking up a sharp stone, she took aim at the hawk and stunned him for
an instant, so that he lost his balance.

"Bravo, little Rose," said a hearty voice, and the canoe turned in the
bend. "If your stone had been larger it might have done more execution."

"But I saved the bird." The robin had perched himself on the limb of a
dead fir tree, and began a gay song.

"You had better go farther away from your enemy," she counselled. Then
to the canoeist--"Will you let me come in and go down the river?"

"Yes, I will take you down. What did you do with young Boullé?"

She colored a little. "I want to tell you."

"I saw you both up on the cliff."

"I came away and left him."

He drew up the canoe and she stepped in lightly, seating herself so
gently that the canoe did not even swerve.

"How blue the water is! And so clear. It is like the heaven above. And
there are rays of sun in the river bed. It does not seem very deep, does
it? I could almost touch it with my hand."

Destournier laughed. "Suppose you try?"

"And tip us over?" She smiled as well.

It was so lovely that both were moved to silence. Now and then they
glanced at each other, at some special point or happening. She was not
effusive.

After a while she began with--"Do you like M. Boullé very much?"

"He is a promising young man, I am glad he did not return to France. We
have few enough of them here. Every one counts."

"He will go some time," she said, reflectively.

A sudden thought flashed through his mind. The girl's face was very
calm, but her eyes had a sort of protest in them.

"Will he take you?" Destournier asked, in a husky tone.

"Oh, M'sieu Ralph, would you send me? Would you give me to any one
else?"

Now her eyes were alight with an eager breathless expression that was
almost anguish.

"Not if you did not want to go."

"I do not want to go anywhere. Oh, M'sieu Ralph," and now her tone was
piteous, "I wish you would send him away. I liked him very well at
first, but now he wants me to love him, and I cannot, the kind of love
that impels one to marry, and I do not want to be married."

"Has he tried to persuade you?"

Ralph Destournier knew he would make a good husband. Some time Rose
would marry. But it was plain she did not love him. And though love
might not be necessary, it was a very sweet accompaniment that, he knew
now, it was sad to miss.

"He talked to me about marriage. I do not like it." She gave a little
shiver, and the color went out of her face, even her lips, and her
pliant figure seemed to shrink as from a blow.

"My child, no one shall marry you against your will, neither shall you
be taken away. Rest content in my promise."

She nodded, then smiled, with trusting eyes. He wondered a little about
her future. While he lived--well, the Sieur de Champlain was well and
hearty, and much older. She was only a child yet, though she had
suddenly grown tall. He could care for her in the years to come, and she
would no doubt find a mate. He knew very little about girls. They
generally went to convents and were educated and husbands were chosen
for them by their parents. But in this new world matters had changed.
There was talk of a convent to train the Indian girls, and the
half-breeds who took more readily to civilization. The priests were in
earnest about it, but money was lacking. Rose had picked up much useful
knowledge, and knew some things unusual for a girl. Good Father Jamay
would be shocked at Terence, Aristophanes, and Virgil for a girl.

"So you do not like marriage?" he said, rather jestingly.

She shook her head.

"But then you know nothing about it."

"Why, there is the Sieur and the beautiful Madame. And you and miladi.
And Marie, with her dirty house and her babies. She is not as nice as
the Indian women. And they have to wait upon the braves or else, when
the braves are off fur hunting, they have to plant the crops and catch
fish, and even hunt and mend tents, and do such hard work. All that is
no delight like dreaming on the moss in the woods, and talking to the
birds, and breathing the fragrance all about, and having rushes of
delight sweep over you like a waft from the beautiful heaven above. Oh,
why should I marry; to think of some one else that I do not want and not
feel that my life was my very own."

He studied the youthful unconscious face before him, the clear, fine
skin, a few shades deeper from the daily contact with sun and much
dallying on the river; the beautiful dark eyes that seemed always
gathering the choicest of life, with joy and wonder; the rounded cheeks,
with exquisitely-faint coloring, seeming to join the clear-cut chin,
with its dimpled cleft melting into the shapely throat, that upheld it
like a flower on a strong, yet delicate stem. He was strangely moved by
the peculiar aloofness of the beauty.

Her soft hair hung about her like a cloud, the curling ends moved now
and then as if by their own vigorous life. Indeed, there was an intense
sort of vitality about her that, quiescent as it often was, in this
trifling, daily round, could shoot up into a bewildering flame. Perhaps
that was love. She did not have it for Eustache Boullé, she might never
have it for him. Were men and women but half alive? Was there some
sudden revivifying influence that raised them above the daily wants,
that gave them an insight into a new existence? Had he ever experienced
it?

The sun dropped down behind a range of hills, covered with pines, furs,
and cedars, that were growing into a compact dark wall, the interstices
being black. The edge of the river took on these sombre hues, but a
little beyond there were long strips of rose and tawny gold, between
zones of purple and green. The current tossed them hither and thither,
like some weird thing winding about. Destournier was strangely moved by
this mysterious kinship to nature that he had never experienced before.

"We must turn back," he began briefly, though it seemed to him he could
gladly go on to a new life in some other land.

She nodded. The tide was growing a little stronger, but it was in their
favor. They kept quite near the shore, where it was dark in spaces, and
then opened into a sort of clearing, only to close again. Even now the
voyager dreams on the enchanting shores that are not all given up to
towns and business.

She began to sing. It was melody without words. Now and then she
recalled a French verse or two, then it settled into some melancholy
Indian plaint, or the evening song of a belated bird. She was not
singing for him, yet he was enchanted.

He drew in the canoe presently. She sprang out with the agile grace
caught from much solitary rambling and climbing. Then she waited for him
to fasten it.

"You are quite sure that you will not consent to M. Boullé's wishes?"
she inquired, as they turned in and out of the winding path.

"You shall be left entirely free. You shall not marry at all, if you
prefer," he answered solemnly.

"Oh, a thousand thanks. And you will convince miladi. I think she wishes
M. Boullé all success. I must go make my peace with Wanamee and get some
supper."

She ran to the end of the house, the wide kitchen, where the cooking was
done. Wanamee and Mawha were in a discussion, as often happened. Pani
sat with a great wooden platter on his knees, eating voraciously. Rose
realized suddenly that she was hungry, and the smell of the broiling
fish was appetizing.

"I'm famished, Wanamee," she cried. "Will you give me some supper?"

"Miladi is much vexed with you, little one. She had supper sent to her
room and M. Boullé was there. They wanted you and M. Destournier. There
was to be a--I do not know what you call it, but he wanted you to
promise to be his wife, for he goes to Tadoussac to-morrow."

Rose's heart beat with a guilty joy.

"I should not promise that. I do not want to be a wife."

Mawha, who had been a wife several times, a tall, rather severe-looking
Indian woman, turned upon her.

"Thou art well-grown and shouldst have a husband. Girls get too wild if
they are let go too long. A husband keeps them in order."

"I will have some supper," Rose said, with dignity, ignoring the
stricture.

Then she cleared a place on the table and brushed it clean with the
birch twigs. Wanamee brought a plate of Indian meal cake, deliciously
browned, some potatoes baked in the hot ashes, and a great slice of
fish, with a dish of spiced preserves of some green fruit and berries.

"I looked for you," Pani said. "Were you up on the mountain?"

Rose shook her head.

She was hungry, but she dallied over her meal, wondering if she had best
go in and say good-night to miladi. She did not always; she quite
understood now that there were times when miladi did not care to see
her; then, at others, she sent for her. Now she would let her send. She
went up to her small chamber presently. The young moon was travelling
over westward with her attendant star. There were boats still out on the
river, merry voices, others in loud and angry dispute. Why did people
want to quarrel, when the world was so beautiful! Then a shrill cry of
some night bird, guards coming and going about the fort. She grew drowsy
presently, and went to bed, serene in the belief that M. Boullé would go
his way and torment her no more, for had not M. Ralph promised?

M. Ralph and miladi were having a rather stormy time. She had inquired
very peremptorily what had kept him so late. Pani had been sent to the
warehouse and had not found him, neither had he been at the fort.

M. Destournier was no hand to prevaricate. He lived an open, honest
life, and had few secrets beside those of business. Ordinarily, he would
have explained what he had been about the last two hours, but he had a
sudden premonition that it was wiser not to do so. Miladi was sometimes
captious where Rose was concerned.

"I was busy," he made answer briefly.

"M. Boullé goes to Tadoussac to-morrow. The vessel came down for him
to-day. Some urgent business requires his attention."

"He has loitered quite long enough," commented her husband. "He is a
pleasant young fellow, but there is more than indolent pleasuring to a
young man's life."

"He has had a purpose, a matter that lies near his heart. This new
country and the lack of fixed rules are demoralizing, and it will be a
good thing when there is a convent for the proper training of girls. But
lawless as Rose has grown, he has asked her in marriage. We wanted you
to ratify the consent I have given. He will make arrangements for the
marriage a few months hence."

"You seem to think Rose has no voice in this."

"Why should she have? Do we not stand in the place of parents? My father
chose M. Giffard, and he was presented to me as my future husband. No
well-bred girl makes any demur. But it seems that Mam'selle Rose has
some queer ideas, imbibed from heaven only knows where, that she must
experience a kind of overwhelming preference for a man, which would be
positively disgraceful in a young girl who has no right to consider love
until she is called upon to give it to her husband. It will be a most
excellent thing for her."

There was a moment or two of silence. He was considering how best to
make his protest.

"Well--why do you not reply?" tartly. "The young man is very ardent. She
can never do better."

"She is but a child. There need be no haste. And if she does not
care----"

"She is no longer a child. Fully fourteen, I think, and Mam'selle Boullé
was married younger that that."

"And whether the Sieur would quite approve. There are some formalities
in old France which we have not shaken off. His parents are still
alive----"

"And he is quite certain he can have the mystery about her fathomed. She
should go down on her knees to a man who would prove her honorably born,
even if he had no fortune. To-morrow morning he wants the matter
settled, and a betrothal, before he goes. If you know where she is, you
had better summon her and instruct her as to her duty. She is quite old
enough to understand. She has played the child too long already, and it
has spoiled her."

"I will not have her betrothed against her will. She has no fancy for
marriage. And there will be time enough. If M. Boullé chooses to wait
until the Sieur returns, and he consents----"

"She has always been a favorite of his," interrupted miladi. Then
suddenly--"Why are you so obstinate about it, when it will be such an
excellent thing for her?"

"I am not obstinate about it, only as far as she is concerned. If she
desired it she should have my full and free consent. But I will not
insist upon a step she does not desire."

"As if a girl knew what was best!" reiterated miladi scornfully. "And
why should you wish to keep her? Unless"--and now miladi's eyes flashed
fire--"unless----"

"Do not say it!" He held up his hand forbiddingly.

"I will say it! You are not her father, and it seems strange you should
have such an overwhelming fondness for her as to keep her from a most
excellent marriage, and persuade yourself that a woman grown can indulge
in all kinds of childish behavior, without detriment to her character.
If it is your fondness for her that stands in the way----"

Miladi at that moment was in a jealous fury. The passion leaped to her
heart full-grown. She understood now why she half-feared, half-disliked
the child that she had once esteemed a pet and plaything. She had
supplanted her in her husband's affections. She had youth and beauty,
and miladi was fading, beside being years older than her husband, and
then never very well any more.

"Hush!" exclaimed her husband, in a commanding tone. "I forbid you to
think of such a thing! When have I failed in my devotion to you?
To-morrow she shall have her choice, but she shall not be forced into
any promise beside her own wishes. And then I will find a new home for
her."

He turned and went out of the room. Miladi pounded on the table before
her with her small fist, as if she could beat the life out of
something.



CHAPTER XIII

FROM A GIRL'S HEART


Rose stood looking over the wide expanse of the river to the opposite
shore, wondering a little. Down there, miles and miles below, were the
English settlements. The men, as traders, came to Quebec now and then.
Were the English women like the French? Were there young girls among
them? She was beginning to experience a peculiar loneliness, a want of
companionship, that no one about her could satisfy.

"Madame Destournier wishes to see you," exclaimed Pani, who had been
sent on the errand.

She went slowly to miladi's room, and entering it wished her
good-morning, with a dainty courtesy.

"You will be needed for a matter in hand," began miladi, "about which I
desire to say a few words before the gentlemen come. It would have been
settled yesterday, but you were not to be found. Where were you?"

Miladi asked it carelessly, so intent on the matter in hand that she did
not remark the color that flew up to the fair brow.

"Out on the river," she answered briefly.

"It is not proper for you to go alone. I have told you of this before.
You are a young woman, and with so many men roaming about, it is too
bold and unsafe, as well."

"I am never in any danger."

"You do not know. But then it is not proper."

Rose made no reply to that. For some time miladi had not seemed to care
where she went. And she often did have Pani with her.

There was a rather awkward silence. Rose was meditating an escape. Then
miladi began, in so severe a tone that every nerve within her quivered.

"Yes, you were needed yesterday afternoon. M. Boullé came in and laid
before me a grave matter. You two seem to have wandered about in a
manner that would have scandalized a more civilized place, but there
appear to be no restrictions in this wilderness of savages. I have not
been able to watch over you as I should, and Wanamee does not
understand. Out of all this freedom, so unusual to a French maid, has
come a proposal of marriage, and this morning you are to be betrothed."

"I? But I have not consented, Madame. I told M. Boullé yesterday that I
could not marry him, that I did not want to marry any one."

"You will consider. Remember you are a foundling, with no name of
ancestry, no parents, that a man might refer to with pride when children
grow up about the family altar. It is not a thing to be quite satisfied
with, Mademoiselle, or proud of," and there was a sting in her tone.
"This man loves you so well that he is willing to overlook it and offer
you honorable marriage, which but few men would do. We have accepted him
for you. He returns to Tadoussac to-day, but the marriage day will be
settled and though you cannot have what I would wish, we will do our
best."

The girl's face had changed from scarlet to deathly whiteness. Something
inside of her seemed to spring into a flame of knowledge, of womanhood,
and burn up grandly. That subtle chemistry that works in the girl's
soul, and transforms it, sometimes slowly, was in her case like the
sudden bursting of a bud into flowering. She was her own. She had said
this before; in a way, she had always felt it; but now it was graven
with a point of steel.

"Madame," she began, in a tone she vainly strove to render steady, "only
yesterday I told M. Boullé I could not take the love he proffered me,
and make any return. And then I felt on a certain equality. I understand
better now. I am nameless, a rose of the wilderness, a foundling, as you
said. So I will marry no man who may be ashamed of me before his
children. Thank M. Boullé for the honor, and tell him----"

The door opened, Destournier recalled one of the few plays he had seen
in Paris, with a tragedienne who had won a king's heart, and it seemed
almost as if this girl might step into fame, so proud and full of power
was she, standing there. Miladi had not been willing to wait for a
conference. But the result would have been the same.

Both men looked at her in surprise, and were speechless for a moment.
Then M. Destournier, recovering, reached out and took the girl's slim,
nerveless hand.

"Rose," he said, "M. Boullé has done us all the honor to ask your hand
in marriage. If you can accept him you will have our heartiest wishes
for your happiness; if you feel that you cannot, if no affection draws
you to him, then do not give him a cold, loveless heart in return. Make
your own choice; there is no one to compel you, no one to insist."

"I thank you, M. Boullé, for the honor." She held her head up very
straight; it seemed as if she had grown since yesterday. Her eyes were
fearless in their high light, the delicious curves of her lips seemed
set as if they had been carved, instead of rosy flesh. "It is more than
the usual honor, I believe. I am a nameless foundling, and have been
handed about from one to another, and they were not the kind in whom one
could take pride. Therefore, I shall not bestow myself on any man, and
no one has any right to take advantage of his generosity. If I loved
you, I should do the same thing. How much more resolute I should be when
I do not love you, and would wed you simply for the sake of sheltering
myself under your name. I am sorry any one has considered this possible,
since it is not."

Boullé took a step forward and grasped her hand, as he poured out a
torrent of ardent love. Miladi looked on, amazed. Was the girl made of
stone, or was her heart elsewhere? She made no appeal to M. Destournier,
indeed her face was turned a trifle from him.

"You pain me," she said wearily, yet with a tender pity. "I can say no
more."

"But I will wait," he pleaded.

"My answer would always be the same."

"Rose!" miladi exclaimed.

"Madame Destournier, I thank you also for your kindness to a foundling,
and you, also," turning to M. Destournier, "for home and shelter, and
many other things. I feel now that since I have disappointed you I
cannot avail myself of your generosity any longer. I can find another
home----"

She turned swiftly as a ray of light, and disappeared.

"Have you no control over her?" cried Madame angrily, "that she defies
you to your face. It shows the blood that runs in her veins, wayward,
ungrateful thing that no honor can raise, no generosity touch. She has
the heart of a stone. M. Boullé, you have made a fortunate escape."

"But I love her, Madame. And I thought her noble in her refusal, but I
would have taken her to my heart, no matter what she was. And I do not
quite despair. I may find some link that will rehabilitate her. She must
have come from a fine race. There is no peasant blood there."

"Perhaps honorable peasant blood may be cleaner than a king's bastard,"
returned miladi scornfully.

"You have my most fervent sympathy," and M. Destournier wrung the
lover's hand. "But it would be ill work marrying a woman who did not
care for you. Perhaps another year"--should he give him hope? It was
such an honest, earnest face, and he would have been brave to set at
naught family tradition.

They went down the winding stair together. Rose was nowhere to be seen.

"Oh, you will watch over her?" M. Boullé cried, with a lover's
desperation.

"Do not fear. She has been like a child to me. No harm shall come to
her."

Miladi in her transport of rage tore the handkerchief she held in her
hand to shreds, and stamped her foot on the floor.

"She shall never come in this house again, the deceitful, ungrateful
wretch. And he shall not care for her, or befriend her in any way. She
must love him, and it is no child's love, either. Why, I have been blind
and silly all this last year."

Rose had flown out of the house, across the gardens and the settlement
to the woods, where she had spent so many delightful hours. She threw
herself down on the moss and the fragrant pine needles, and gave way to
a fit of weeping that seemed to rend both soul and body. Was she an
outcast? Oh, it could not be that M. Destournier would forsake her. But
she could ask nothing from him, and miladi would never see her again.
Why could she not have loved M. Boullé? Did it take so much love to be a
man's wife? to be held in his arms and kissed, to live with him day by
day--and she shuddered at the thought.

But she was young, and the flood of tears subsided. She sat up, leaning
against a stout pine. Then she rose and peered about. Was it true that
M. Boullé was to go away? What if he came and found her again?

She crawled out cautiously, and looked up at the sun. It had passed the
meridian. She was hungry, so she searched about and found some berries,
but she longed for something more substantial. For the first time
solitude seemed to pall upon her. She felt as if everything had been
swept away.

Toward night she crept down to the settlement. Several of the Indian
women would take her in, she knew. There was Noko sitting just outside
her tent; she would not accept a cabin of logs or stone. She was making
a cape of gulls' feathers, that she might sell to some of the traders,
who often took curious Indian finery home with their furs. Her three
sons were trappers. One had a wife and three children that the poor
mother provided for, and when her brave came home, she was devoted to
him, grateful for a pleasant word. What curious ideas these aborigines
had of wedded love!

"Noko, will you take me in for the night, and give me some supper?" she
asked, as she threw herself down beside the Indian woman, who, at
forty, looked at least sixty, and though she had the face of her tribe,
it was marked by a grave sort of pleasantness, and not the severity that
generally characterized middle life.

"Has the Sieur gone to Tadoussac?"

"Not that I know of. But I have offended miladi. And your wigwam is
always so clean, and there are no children."

The woman shook her head with a sort of remonstrance.

"You will have them of your own some day. When they are little, you will
care for them. They will be no trouble. When they are older, you will be
proud of them, and rejoice in their bravery. Then they go away, and
forget."

She began to put up her work. "Are you in earnest?" she asked. "Do you
need shelter?"

"Oh, the Gaudrions would take me in, but there is such a crowd, I am for
a little quiet and solitude to-night."

"Thou shalt have it. The Sieur has been good to me. But it is hardly
wise to quarrel with one's home."

"There was no quarrel. Miladi wanted me to do something that I could
not. And you know I have no real claim upon them, Noko, I belong to
Quebec, not to any person."

She gave a little laugh that sounded almost shrill. There was not so
much joy in belonging only to one's self.

"To Quebec, yes."

"Now let me kindle the fire. See how handy I can be. And to-morrow I can
help you with that beautiful cape. I suppose the great ladies in Paris
feel very grand in some of these things. I heard the Governor say that a
great deal of money was paid for a deerskin dress by some one at court.
It was worked beautifully, and as soft as velvet."

Rose busied herself in her eager, graceful fashion. Noko broiled some
deer steak on the coals, and had a stew made of various things, with
fish for the foundation. Rose was not very partial to this, but the
steak and the cakes made of rye and corn, and well browned, tasted good
to the hungry girl. There was a tea made of herbs, which had a
delightful fragrance.

Afterward they sat in the doorway, and one and another came to give Noko
a bit of gossip. Rose crept off to bed presently. How fragrant the fresh
balsam of fir was, and the tired girl soon fell asleep.

M. Destournier had been quite engrossed with a few forgotten things that
had to go to Tadoussac. Then the vessel pushed off and he turned to the
storehouse. Presently a load would go to France. Though he was
mechanically busy, his thoughts turned to Rose. She must have another
home. He had wondered more than once how it had come to pass that miladi
had lost so many of her charms, yet grown so much more exacting. He had
awakened to the fact that he had never been a rapturous lover. He paid
Eustache Boullé all honor that he had proved so manly and brave, yet in
his secret heart he felt glad that Rose had not loved him. Why, he could
not tell, except that she was too young. And he wondered how much miladi
had loved Laurent Giffard. How much was she capable of loving? And the
sweet angel-like Hélène, who had willingly crossed the ocean and exiled
herself from the life she loved to these uncongenial surroundings. They
were that for a woman.

When business was through with, he made his way down to M. Hébert's.
Though the man had been bred an apothecary, and had a wider education
than many in a higher round, he was making an excellent and enthusiastic
farmer. Madame Hébert had brought some of the old-world knowledge and
frugality with her, and put them in practice, bringing up her daughters
to habits of industry, while the son was equally well trained by the
father.

M. Hébert was busy with his young fruit trees. Every year he sent for
some hardy kind, and had quite a variety. He was a colonist, which so
few of the emigrants were.

After a walk about the garden, they went in to see Madame Hébert and
Thérèse, who was making lace. Then M. Destournier preferred his request
that they would take Rose for a while. He did not hint at any
disagreement. Madame Destournier's health was precarious, and she had
little idea of what was necessary for a girl, having been
convent-trained herself. Now that Madame de Champlain had gone there
was no real companionship for Rose, who was surely outgrowing her
childish fancies.

"How would you like it, Thérèse?" asked her mother.

Thérèse was a solid dark-eyed, dark-haired, rather heavy-looking girl,
without the French vivacity and eagerness. Destournier smiled inwardly;
he could hardly fancy their being companions; yet in a way, each might
benefit the other.

"Why--if you approved. Though I am never lonely," raising her eyes to
the visitor.

"Rose is quite given to rambling about. She haunts the woods, she is
fond of canoeing, and I think she has quite a mind for study. I am sorry
there are so few opportunities. Our good fathers seem to frown on
everything but prayers."

"Prayers are good, but there must be work, as well," said Madame Hébert,
who had been brought up a Huguenot, and who thought conventual life a
great waste.

"I should like the change for her. It may not be for long, but it would
be a favor. And you need not feel that you must devote a great deal of
time and energy to her, but give her the shelter of a home, until
matters change a little," with a hopeful accent in his voice, and a
smile that had the same aspect.

"Madame Destournier is not well?" in a tone of inquiry.

"No. She should have gone to France with the Sieur and his wife, but it
was thought she had not the strength to stand the sea voyage. I feel
much troubled about her."

Madame Hébert was sympathetic, but she had never admired the wife as
much as she did the husband. She was too volatile in the early days, and
held her head quite too high.

It was arranged that Rose should be an inmate of the Hébert home for a
month or two. It was such a comfortable, cheerful-looking place. There
was a set of bookshelves, and no one beside the Governor owned more than
a prayer-book, which did little good, since they could hardly read in
their own language.

M. Ralph did not go at once to his wife, but stopped in the kitchen.
Mawha was brewing some herbs. Wanamee entered with a plate on which
there was some wheaten toast.

"She will not take it. She does nothing but fret for Monsieur, and say
dreadful things about _ma fille_"--then she stopped in a fright, seeing
her master.

"Where is Rose?" he asked.

"She has not been here all day. I sent Pani to look for her, but he has
not returned."

M. Destournier went to his wife's room. She was hysterical and
unreasonable.

"Promise me that such a miserable, deceitful thing as that girl is shall
never enter this house," she cried. "I cannot breathe the same air with
her. You must choose between us. If you keep to her, I shall know you
have no love for me. I will kill myself."

"Marguerite, calm yourself. Rose is not to remain here, but go to the
Héberts. So you will have quiet and nothing to do but recover your
health. And if you can get well enough, we will go to Montreal, as I
have to transact some business. The change will do you good."

"You will not take her?"

"No, no. Now let the girl alone. She is provided for, and you have the
two women at your service."

"She did nothing for me. And after roaming the woods and canoeing with
M. Boullé, she should have been glad to marry him, for decency's sake."

"We will let her quite alone," he exclaimed authoritatively. "Why did
you not eat some supper?"

"I couldn't. Oh, Ralph, be kind to me. Do not let that girl steal your
love from me. I was quite as pretty in youth, but the years are hard on
one. And I need your love more than ever. You are not tender and
caressing as Laurent was."

He bent over and kissed her, smoothed her tangled hair, and patted the
hot cheek.

"I have been busy all day, and have had no supper," he began, loosening
the hands about his neck.

She sobbed wildly. She had been so lonely all day. She missed M. Boullé
so much. He would have been a son to them.

He had to tear himself away. He did not take his supper, but rushed out
to make inquiries. Where had Rose gone? Was she wandering about the
woods? There had been wolves, stray Indians, and a dozen dangers. The
palisade gates were fastened. He asked at two or three of the cabins,
where he knew she was a favorite. And where was Pani?

Pani was asleep on a soft couch of moss, under a clump of great oak
trees. He had lain down, warm and tired, and his nap was good for ten or
twelve hours.

"I saw her by Noko's wigwam," said a woman, as she heard him inquiring.

Not even waiting to thank her, he rushed thither. Noko had the
reputation of being a sort of seer, though she seldom used her gift. She
sat on the stone beside her door, and a woman knelt before her, to whom
she was talking in a low monotonous tone. His step startled the
listener, and she sprang up.

"Whither did Rose go?" he asked peremptorily, seizing Noko's arm.

"She is here, Monsieur. She is in bed asleep. There is trouble and the
fair-haired woman hates her. You had better not try to make them agree.
And she has no love for the dark-haired suitor who is on the river,
dreaming of her. She is too young. Let her alone."

"I wanted to know that she was safe. I will see her in the morning. Keep
her until I come."

"Yes, Monsieur."

Madame Destournier had wept herself to sleep, and was breathing in
comparative tranquillity. Ralph sat down beside the bed. If Rose had
loved Eustache Boullé, the way would have been smooth as a summer sea.
Was he sorry, or mysteriously glad? Why should he be glad? he demanded
of himself.

Rose made no demur the next morning when M. Destournier told her of the
new arrangements, only stipulating that she should have her liberty, to
go and come as she pleased.

"Are you very angry because I could not take M. Boullé for a husband?"
she inquired timidly.

"Oh, no, no. It was your life, Mademoiselle, for sorrow or joy. You only
had the right to choose."

The bronze lashes quivered sensitively upon her cheeks, and a soft flush
seemed to tangle itself among them.

"Is it joy, M'sieu?" in a low tone.

"It ought to be."

"Then I shall wait until there comes a touch of joy greater than any I
have yet known. And I have had thrills of delight that have gone all
through my body, but they faded. The love for a husband should last
one's whole life."

"Yes, Mademoiselle. Why not?"

All the white tones of her skin flushed to rose, and crept even among
the tendrils of her hair and over her small ears. Had he ever remarked
how perfect they were before?

"_Ma fille_," he responded softly. "And you will be content until better
times."

"So long as I do not have to marry, yes."

"That is a good _fille_. I shall see you now and then. You will like M.
Hébert. He has plenty of books, and it will be a good practice to read
up French."

She nodded.

He took a second thought.

"You may as well go now, and I will see that all is fair sailing. Noko,
thanks for keeping Rose of Quebec where neither wolves nor marauders
could get at her."

They walked quietly along, she with her agile step, that gave graceful
turns to her figure. She was hardly a woman, and yet more than a child.
But she kept the sweet simplicity of the latter.

Madame Hébert gave her a pleasant welcome. Thérèse glanced up from her
lace work and nodded, hoping in a formal and quite ungirlish manner that
she would be happy with them. Rose sat down beside her, and looked at
the lace. There were pins stuck in a cushion and Thérèse threw her
thread over this one and that one. How queer it looked.

"But if you should go wrong?" she inquired.

"Here is the pattern. This is quite simple. I have one very intricate,
but handsome, like they make at home, Maman says. And one with beads. I
took the idea from an Indian woman. I have some finished work, too."

"I have done a little of that. Miladi, that is Madame Destournier, used
to do embroidery. At first she had such a store of pretty things. But
now they cost so much. Only there are always packs of furs to exchange."

M. Hébert came in, with a pleasant word for his guest. They were
extremely sorry that Madame was ill, but it gave them the pleasure of a
visit from Rose. M. Destournier said she was fond of reading; he had
some poets, and books on gardening, out of which he made poetry, smiling
with French gayety.

On the whole, Rose liked the exchange. For a few days it seemed rather
stiff, but there were so many new things, and M. Hébert liked a good
listener. She walked about the garden with him. There were some rare
flowers, of which he was very proud, and several he had found in the
woods. Then there was a bed of herbs, and he distilled remedies, as well
as some delightful perfumes. He soon grew quite fond of the pretty girl
who was so interested in his pursuits, and fond of hearing him read
aloud, and though his wife and children listened amiably, their thoughts
were more on their work. Industry was Madame Hébert's cardinal virtue,
and her daughter was a girl after her own heart.

But this fresh young creature to whom a marvellous world was being
opened, who watched with eager eyes, who smiled or was saddened, who was
sympathetic or indignant, who flushed or paled with the pain of tragedy,
how charming she was!

She often ran up to the old home for a word with Wanamee, who was glad
to see her. Miladi was neither better nor worse, some days so irritable
that nothing could please her.

"She would keep M. Destournier beside her all the time," said Wanamee,
"but a man has business. He is not meant for a nurse, and to yield to
every whim. She is not a happy woman, miladi, and one hardly knows how
much of her illness is imaginary. If she would only brighten up and go
out a little, I think she would be better."

Rose used her strongest efforts to induce Thérèse to take a ramble with
her. She did go to the woods occasionally, but she took her work along,
always.

"Why do you keep so closely to it?" Rose asked one day.

"Mam'selle, part is for my trousseau. Maman instructed me in the fashion
of her old home, where girls begin to fill up a chest, to be ready."

"Oh, Thérèse, have you a lover?"

"_Non._" Thérèse shook her head. "But I may have, some day. There will
be people, men sent over to settle New France. The King has promised."

"Did you see M. Boullé, when he was here?"

"Oh, yes. And a nice young man he is, too."

"I wish he had wanted to marry you. He is nice and good to look at. How
could one marry Pierre Gaudrion, with his low brow and fierce eyebrows
that meet over his nose, and his great hands, that seem made of lead, if
he lays them on you! Yet he is smart and ingenious."

"And they say now that he visits Anastase Fromont. She will make a good
wife."

Rose gave a little shiver. She could recall one time, the last, when
Pierre had laid his hand on both her shoulders and drawn her to him, and
she had wrenched herself away, every drop of blood within her rising up
in protest.

"Don't you dare to touch me again, or I will kill you," she had flung
out with blazing eyes.

Then for weeks he had never so much as looked at her.

"Yes," retrospectively. "Why do people take likes the wrong way? Now if
M. Boullé had----"

"It is said he was wild for love of you," interposed Thérèse.

"That made the trouble. Miladi liked him so much. Thérèse, there is some
kind of love we must have before you can put yourself in a man's hand,
and let him take you to his home, where you must remain while life
lasts. A whole long life, think of it! And if you wanted to get free the
priest would forbid it. There would be nothing but to throw yourself
into the river."

Thérèse looked with frightened eyes at the impetuous girl.

"There is God to obey and serve. And if He sends you a good husband--M.
Boullé was brother to our dear Sieur's wife. It would have been an
excellent marriage."

"If it hadst only been thou!" Rose's short-lived passion was over, and
she was smiling.

"But you see, Mam'selle, they are strong Catholics. I follow my mother's
faith, and we do not believe telling beads and saying prayers is all of
the true service to the Lord. So it would never have done."

Rose was minded to laugh at the grave, satisfied tone, and the placid
face.

"I am not a good Catholic, either. I do not go to confession. I do not
tell lies nor steal, and though I get in tempers, it is because people
try me and insist that I should do what I know it would be wrong for me
to do. I did not want any husband, and I said so."

"But all girls hope to marry some time. I should like to have as good a
husband as my mother has, and be as happy with him."

"He is delightful," admitted Rose. "But your mother loved him."

"He was chosen for her, and there was no good reason why she should not
accept him. Yes, they have been very happy. But in France girls do not
have a voice, and when the husband is chosen, they set themselves about
making every act and thought of theirs agreeable."

"But if he was--unworthy?"

"Few parents would choose an unworthy lover, I think. They have the good
of their children at heart."

Eustache Boullé had not been unworthy. He would have married her,
nameless. Her heart turned suddenly tender toward him. She was learning
that in the greater world there was a certain pride of birth, an honor
in being well-born. She was better satisfied that she had not accepted
Eustache. What if the Sieur had been opposed to it and Madame de
Champlain frowned upon her?

And then the Sieur returned, but he came alone. The house in the Rue St.
Germain l'Auxerrois, with Madame Boullé, was more attractive than the
roughness of a half-civilized country. Even then Hélène plead for
permission to become a lay sister in a convent, which would have meant a
separation, but he would not agree to this. Ten years after his death
she entered the Ursuline Convent, and some years later founded one in
the town of Meaux, endowing it with most of her fortune. And though the
next summer Eustache renewed his suit, he met with a firm refusal, and
found the influence of his brother-in-law was against him.

Rose had been brave enough to lay the matter before him.

"Little one," he said, in the most fatherly tone--"if thou dost not love
a man enough to give him thy whole soul, except what belongs to God, to
desire to spend thy life with him, to honor and serve him with the best
thou hast, then do not marry him. It is a bitter thing for a man to go
hungry for love, when a woman has promised to hold the cup of joy to his
lips."

Eustache then returned to France, and after a period of study and
preparation, took holy orders, as a Friar.



CHAPTER XIV

A WAY OVER THORNS


Champlain found on his arrival five Jesuit priests, who had received a
poor welcome, even from their French brethren. The Récollets had offered
them the hospitality of their convent, which had been gratefully
accepted. So far not much advance had been made among the Indians, who
seemed incapable of discerning the spiritual side of religion, though
they eagerly caught up any superstition.

There had also come over a number of emigrants, two or three families,
the others, men of no high degree, who had been tempted by the lure of a
speedy fortune. It was a long, hard, cold winter, and throngs of Indians
applied for relief. Champlain had established a farm at Beaupré, down
the river, and stocked it with cattle he had imported. But for weeks
everything was half-buried in snow.

One morning M. Destournier came in. Rose was sitting by the fire in M.
Hébert's study and shop. The great fireplace was full of blazing logs,
and she looked the picture, not only of comfort, but delight. She had
not seen much of him for the month past. There was no opportunity for
sledging even, the roads had been so piled with snow. Then she had
taken quite a domestic turn, much to the gratification of Madame Hébert.

M. Destournier looked thin and careworn. Rose sprang up, deeply touched.

"Oh, you are ill," she cried. "I have not seen you in so long. Sit here
in the warmth. And miladi?"

She always inquired after her.

"That is what I have come about. Rose, my dear child, can you forget
enough of the past, and the long silence, to come back to us? Miladi
wants you, needs you, has sent me to see. She is very ill, and lonely."

Rose flushed warmly, with both pain and pleasure, and her eyes softened,
almost to tears.

"I shall be glad to come." There was a tremble of emotion in her voice.
"I realize how great a disappointment it was to her, but you know I was
right, and when I asked the Sieur if I had been too hasty, or unjust, he
approved. He thinks no woman ought to marry without giving her whole
heart, and somehow I had none to give," blushing deeply and looking
lovelier than ever. "I think it is because--because I am a foundling,
and could not go to any man with honor. So I must make myself happy in
my own way."

Her figure had taken on more womanly lines, though it was still slim and
exquisitely graceful. And the girlish beauty had ripened somewhat,
losing none of its olden charm.

She colored still more deeply under his glance.

"Is there anything new with miladi?" she inquired, with some hesitation.

"It seems a gradual wasting away and weakness. She thinks she will be
better when spring opens, and longs to return to France. I am putting my
affairs in shape to make this possible. She is very lonely. She has
missed your brightness and vivacity. It has seemed a different place."

Rose's heart swelled with pity. She forgave Madame from the depths of
her heart, remembering only the old times and the tenderness.

"When shall I come?"

"At once. She begged for you last week, but I was afraid it was a
restless fancy. The road is quite well broken. What a winter we have
had! The drought last summer shortened crops, and there have been so
many extra mouths to feed among the unfortunate Indians. So if you will
inform the Héberts--I have seen Monsieur."

She went through to the kitchen, where mother and daughter were
concocting savory messes for the sick. They both returned with her and
expressed much sympathy for the invalid. M. Hébert had said to his wife
that miladi was slowly nearing her end, while her real disease seemed a
mystery, but medical lore in the new world had not made much advance.

"We shall only lend her to you for a while," Madame Hébert said, with a
faint smile. "I hardly know how Monsieur will do without her. She is
truly a rose-bloom in this dreary winter, that seems as if it would
never end."

"And I want her to bloom for a while in the room where my poor sick wife
has to stay. She longs for some freshness and sweetness," he said, in a
pleading tone.

"She was rightly named," said Madame, with a smile. "Her poor mother
must have died, I am quite sure, for she could not have sent away such
an adorable child. Even when Mère Dubray had her, she was charming, in
her wild, eager ways, like a bird. The good God made her a living Rose,
indeed, to show how lovely a human Rose could be."

She came in the room wrapped in her furs, her hood with its border of
silver-fox framing in her face, that glowed with youth and health.

"You have all been so good to me," and her beautiful eyes were alight
with gratitude. "I shall come in often, and oh, I shall think of you
every hour in the day."

"Do not forget the latest pattern of lace-making," added the practical,
industrious Thérèse.

It was glorious without, a white world with a sky of such deep blue it
almost sparkled. Leafless trees stretched out long black or gray arms,
and here and there a white birch stood up grandly, like some fair
goddess astray. Stretches of evergreens suggested life, but beyond them
hills of snow rising higher and higher, until they seemed lost in the
blue, surmounted by a sparkling frost line.

The paths had been beaten down--occasionally a tract around a doorway
shovelled. It was hard and smooth as a floor. Destournier slipped her
arm within his, and then gazed at her in surprise.

"You must have grown. How tall you are. I wonder if I shall get
accustomed to the new phase? I seem always to see the little girl who
sat upon my knee. Oh, do you remember when you were ill at Mère
Dubray's?"

"All my life comes to me in pictures. I sometimes think I can remember
what was before the long sail in the boat, but it is so vague. Now it is
all here, its rough ways, its rocks, its beautiful river are a part of
me. I am never longing to go elsewhere. I am sorry Madame de Champlain
did not love it as well. And the Sieur was such a good, tender husband."

Destournier sighed a little, also. The Sieur kept busy and full of
plans, but occasionally there came a wistfulness in his eyes and a pain
in the lines that were settling so rapidly about his face.

They crunched over the icy paths. A time or two she slipped, and he drew
her nearer, the touch of her body, though wrapped in its furs, giving
him a delicious thrill. He lifted her up the steep ways he had seen her
climb with the litheness of a squirrel.

Wanamee came out with a fervent welcome. The old kitchen was the same.
Pani was toasting himself in his favorite corner. Mawha was doing Indian
bead and feather work, and looked up with a cordial nod.

"Get good and warm. I will tell miladi you have come. You will find her
much changed, but she does not like it remarked upon."

She and Wanamee were in an earnest talk when she was summoned. The room
had in it some new appointments, brought from France, but even a
luxurious court beauty might have envied the rich fur rugs lying about
and hanging over the rude and somewhat clumsy chairs of home
manufacture.

Pillowed up in a half-sitting posture in the bed was miladi. Rose could
hardly forbear a shocked exclamation. When she had seen her every day,
the changes had passed unremarked, for they had begun, even then. The
lovely skin was yellowed and wrinkled and defined the cheek bones, the
beautiful hair had grown dull, and the eyes had lost their lustre. All
her youth was gone, she was an old lady, even before the time.

And this vision of youthful, vigorous beauty was like a sudden sunburst,
when the day had been dull and cloudy. She seemed to animate the room,
to light up the farthest recesses, to bring a breath of revivifying air
and hope.

"I have wanted you so," the invalid said piteously. "Oh, how strong and
well you are! I never was very strong, and so the illness has taken a
deeper hold on me. And now you must help me to get well. Your freshness
will be an elixir--that is what I have wanted. Wanamee is good for a
servant nurse, but I have needed something finer and better."

She held out her hand and Rose pressed it to her lips. It was bony,
showing swollen blue veins, and had a clammy coldness that struck a
chill to the rosy lips.

"Did you like them at the Héberts? They are very staid people, and think
only of work, I believe."

"They were very kind, and I found them well-informed about everything."

"Why, when they know so much, can they not cure me? You know it is not
as though my case was very serious. I am weak, that is all. The doctor
came down from Tadoussac, but he just shook his head, and his powders
did me no good. M. Hébert sent some extracts of herbs, but nothing gives
me any strength. And the snow and cold stays on as if spring would never
come. What have you been doing all this while? You couldn't run about in
the woods."

"Oh, Madame, I am outgrowing that wild longing, though the trees have a
hundred voices, and I seem to understand what they say, and the song of
the birds, the ripple and plash of the river. But I have been learning
other things. How great the world is, and the stories of kings and
queens, and brave travellers, who go about and discover new places. It
widens one's subjects of thought. And I have learned some cooking, and
how to make home seem cheerful, and the weaving of pretty laces, like
those the ships bring over. I am not so idle now."

"And you liked them very much?" She uttered this rather resentfully.

"Ah, Madame, how could one help, when people were so good, and took so
much pains with one."

Her voice was sweet and appealing, yet it had a strand of strength and
appreciation. But had _she_ not been good to the little girl all these
years!

"Has Mam'selle Thérèse any lover?" she asked, after a pause.

"Not yet, Madame. Some old family friends are to come over in the
summer, and one has a son that Thérèse played with in childhood. It may
be that she will like him."

"And she will do as her parents desire!"

"They are very just with her, and love her dearly."

"And the brother?"

"He went to Mont Réal before the hard cold. If there were only people to
settle there it would be finer than Quebec, it is said."

"I am so tired of Quebec. Next summer we will go home; that is the
country for me. M. Destournier is willing to go at last, and I shall see
that he never returns to this dreary hole."

"It can hardly be called a hole, when there are so many heights all
about," laughed the girl.

"It is a wretched place. And you will soon like France, and wonder how
people are content to stay here. You see the Governor's wife had enough
of it. She had good sense."

"But, Madame, the priests teach that a wife's place is beside her
husband."

"What have I gained by staying beside mine, who is always planning how
to civilize those wretched squaws, and make life better for them? The
better should have been for me. And now I have lost my health, and my
beautiful hair has fallen out and begins to turn white. Am I very much
changed?"

Rose was embarrassed. Years ago miladi hated the thoughts of growing
old.

"Illness tries one very much," she said evasively. "But you will gain it
up when you begin to mend."

"Oh, do you think so? You see I must get something to restore the wasted
flesh. How plump you are. And I had such an admirable figure. M. Laurent
thought me the most graceful girl he had ever seen, had so many pretty
compliments, and that keeps one in heart, spurs one on to new efforts.
M. Destournier is not of that kind. He is cold-blooded, and seems more
English than French."

Rose colored. The dispraise hurt her.

"Fix my pillows, and put me down. I get so tired. And stir up the fire."

Rose did this very gently, smoothing out wrinkles, holding the cold
hands in hers, so warm and full of strength. The room seemed smothering
to her, but she stirred the fire vigorously, and sent a vivid shower of
sparks upward.

"Now if you had a little broth----"

"But I cannot bear to have you go away. Yes, I know I shall get stronger
with you here."

"You need some nourishment. I will not be gone long," giving a heartsome
smile.

A gallery ran along this side of the house, built for miladi's
convenience. She stepped out on it, in the clear air and sunshine, and
took a few turns. Poor Madame! Would she get well when she seemed so
near dying?

The broth was reviving. Rose fed her with a teaspoon, instead of giving
her the cup to drink from, and they both laughed like children. Then she
arranged the pillows and bathed the poor, wrinkled face and hair with
some fragrant water, and miladi fell asleep under these ministrations.

Rose moved lightly about the room, changing its aspect with deft
touches. She was glad to do something in return. Miladi had been very
sweet when she was ill, and there had been the pleasant years when she
had not minded the exactions. Was there really a plan to go to France?
Would they take her from her beloved Quebec?

M. Destournier brought in a book from the Governor's store and Rose read
aloud in the evening. That was a restless time for miladi, but the
sweet, cheerful voice tranquillized her. M. Ralph sat in the corner of
the wide stone fireplace, watching the changes in the lovely face, as
she seemed to enter into the spirit of the adventures. Heroism appealed
to her. The flush came and went in her cheek, her eyes sent out gleams
of glory, and her bosom rose and fell.

There came an instant of rapture to Ralph Destournier, that mysterious
and almost sublime appreciation of a woman's love, a love such as this
girl could give. He had possessed the childish affection, the innocent
girlish fondness, but some other would win the woman's heart, the prize
he would lay down his life for. What had been the pity and weak
tenderness was given to the woman in the bed yonder. He knew now she had
only touched his heart in sympathy, and a fancied duty. In a thousand
years she would never be capable of such love as this girl, blossoming
into womanhood, could give.

"There should be some women at hand," declared a weak voice from the
bed. "It adds an interest to the discoveries, to think, if a woman did
not inspire it, she crowned it with her admiration. But for a party of
men to go off alone----"

"The hardships would be too great for a woman."

Destournier's voice was husky with repressed emotion. This girl would
keep step and inspire an explorer.

"They would not take so many hardships then. What if there is a great
river or ocean leading to India! A man can live but one life, and that
should be devoted to some woman."

He rose, crossed the room, and kissed his wife on the forehead. He
learned by accident one day that she used something to keep her lips red
with the lost bloom of youth, and they had never been sweet to him
since.

"Good-night. I hope you will sleep. Rose had better not read any more.
We must not have all the good things in one day."

He ran down the steps to where a street had been straightened and
widened in the summer. The moonlight gave everything a weird glow, the
stars were tinted in all colors, as one finds in the clear cold of the
north. Only the planets and the larger ones, the myriad of small ones
were outshone. What beauty, what strength, what wonders lay hidden in
the wide expanse. He was tempted to plunge into the wilderness, to the
frozen north, to the blooming south, or that impenetrable expanse of the
west, and leave behind the weak woman, who in her selfish way loved him,
and the girl who could create a new life for him, that he could love
with the force of manhood suddenly aroused, that had been clean and
wholesome. He was glad of that, though he could not lay it at the girl's
feet. Miladi had been in this state so long, sometimes rallying, and in
the summer they would go to France. But they would leave Rose of old
Quebec behind.

Over there at the fort a man sat poring over maps and papers, a
solitary man now, who had wedded youth and beauty, and found only Dead
Sea fruit. But he was going bravely on his way. That was a man's duty.

In a few days there was a decided improvement in miladi. She was
dressed, and sat up part of the time. She evinced an eager resolve to
get well, she put on a sort of childish brightness, that was at times
pitiful. But nothing could conceal the ravages of time. She looked older
than her years. She was, in a curious manner, drawing on the vitality of
the young girl, and it was generously given.

Then came to Rose a great sorrow. M. Hébert, who had been such an
inspiring influence to her, died from the effects of a fall. There was a
general mourning in the small settlement. The Governor felt he had lost
one of his most trusty friends. The eldest daughter, Guillemette, who
had married one Guillaume Couillard, came down from Tadoussac, and they
took his place on the farm. Hers had been the first wedding in Quebec.

Rose felt that this must change the home for her. She had counted on
going back to them. There were days when she grew very tired of miladi's
whims and inanities, and longed to fly to her beloved wood.

"If I should die, he will marry her," miladi thought continually. "I
will not die. I will take her to France and marry her to some one before
her beauty fades. She will make a sensation."

Rose never dreamed she was so closely watched. After that moonlight
battle with himself, Destournier allowed his soul no further thought of
the present Rose, but dreamed over the frank child-charm she had
possessed for him. He grew grave and silent, and spent much of his time
with the Sieur.

Spring was very late. It seemed as if old Quebec would never throw off
her ermine mantle. Richelieu was now at the helm in France, and that
country and England were at war with each other. Quebec was looking
forward to supplies and reinforcements that had been promised.

From a cold and unusually dry May, they went into summer heats. The
Sieur de Champlain spent much of his time getting his farm at Cape
Tourmente in order. M. Destournier was engrossed with the improvements
of the town, and keeping the Indians at work, who were, it must be
confessed, notoriously lazy. Miladi complained. Rose grew weary. She
missed her dear friend M. Hébert, and she was puzzled at the coldness
and distance of M. Destournier. But the rambles were a comfort and a
kind of balance to her life. She brought wild flowers to miladi, and the
first scarlet strawberries. And there was always such an enchanting
freshness after these excursions, that the elder woman liked her to take
them.

Richelieu understood better than any one yet the importance of this
colony to France, when the English were making such rapid strides in the
new world. He was planning extensive improvements in colonizing, and
fitting out ships with stores and men.

The news came to Cape Tourmente that vessels had been sighted. Word was
sent on to Quebec, and there was a general rejoicing.

But it was soon turned to terror and anguish. Some savages came paddling
furiously to the town, and though the cries were indistinguishable at
first, they soon gathered force.

"The English have burned and pillaged Cape Tourmente, and are at
Tadoussac! Save yourselves. Man the fort. Call all to arms!"

Alas! The fort was considerably out of repair. The Indians had been
peaceable for some time and the mother country had kept them short of
supplies. The walled settlement was protection from marauding bands, and
the fort could have been made impregnable if the Governor had carried
out his plans and not been hampered by the lack of all-needed
improvements.

The farmer at Cape Tourmente had been slightly wounded, and was brought
down with the boat, on which several had escaped. The buildings had been
burned, the cattle killed, the crops laid waste. No doubt they were now
pillaging Tadoussac.

Champlain began to prepare for defense with all the force available.
Muskets were loaded, cannon trained down the river, the fort manned.
Friendly Indians offered their services. All was wild alarm, the blow
was so unexpected.

Miladi, hearing the noise and confusion, explained it her way.

"It is always so when the horde of traders come in," she said. She had
been looking over old finery, and getting ready for a return to France.

The little convent on the St. Charles was prepared to repel any
surprise. But at mid-afternoon a boat hovered about in the river, and it
was learned presently that it conveyed some captives taken by the
English, who were sent with a letter from the commander of the fleet,
that now appeared quite formidable, with its six well-manned vessels.

The Governor at once called together the leading men of the place and
laid before them the summons of surrender, and the first news of the war
between France and England. It was couched in polite terms, but
contained a well-laid plan. In all, eighteen ships had been despatched
by His Majesty, the King of Britain. Several small stations had been
captured, also a boat with supplies from France, and all resources were
to be cut off. By surrendering they would save their homes and property,
and be treated with the utmost courtesy, but it was the intention of the
English to take the town, although they preferred to do it without
bloodshed.

It was quite a lengthy document, and Champlain read it slowly, that each
sentence might be well considered. The hard winter, the late spring, the
supplies at Cape Tourmente and Tadoussac being cut off, rendered them in
no situation for a prolonged struggle. But they would not yield so
easily to the demand of the English. They had the courage of men who had
undergone many hardships, and the pride of their nation. Quebec had been
the child of the Sieur de Champlain's work and love. With one voice they
resolved to refuse, and the word was sent to Captain David Kirke.

He meanwhile turned his fleet down the river, fancying the town an easy
prey, when he espied the relief stores sent from France, a dozen or so
vessels, bringing colonists, workmen, priests, women, and children, and
farming implements, as well as stores, convoyed by a man-of-war. It was
a rich prize for the Englishman, and an order for surrender was sent,
which was refused.

The battle was indeed disastrous for Quebec, though they were not to
know it until months afterward. Most of the emigrants Captain Kirke
despatched back to France, some of the least valuable vessels he burned,
and sailed home with his trophies, leaving Quebec for another attempt.

Meanwhile the little colony waited in ill-defined terror. Day after day
passed and no attack was made. Then they ventured to send out some boats
and found to their surprise the river was clear of the enemy, but every
little settlement had been laid waste. The stock of food was growing
low, the crops were not promising. Every consignment sent from France
had miscarried, and since the two nations were at war there was small
hope of supplies. What would they do in winter? Already the woods were
scoured for nuts and edible roots, and stores were hidden away with
trembling hands. There were many plans discussed. If they could send
part of their people out to find a Basque fishing fleet, and thus return
home.

No heart was heavier than that of the Sieur de Champlain. To be sure
there was his renown as a discoverer and explorer, but the city he had
planned, that was to be the crowning point of France's possessions, was
slowly falling to decay.



CHAPTER XV

HELD IN AN ENEMY'S GRASP


These were sad times for old Quebec and for the little girl who was
blossoming into a womanhood that should have been joyous and serene, she
asked so little of life.

When the news of the reverse and the loss of the stores reached them,
they were still more greatly burthened by the influx from Tadoussac and
the settlements around. Then, too, the wandering Indians joined in the
clamor for food. Trade was stopped. Mont Réal took the furs and disposed
of them in other channels. No one knew how many English vessels were
lying outside, ready to confiscate anything valuable.

Madame Destournier was in a state of ungovernable terror.

"Why should we stay here and be murdered?" she would cry. "Or starve to
death! Let us return to France, as we planned. Am I of not as much
consideration as an Indian squaw, that you all profess so much anxiety
for?"

"It would not be prudent to cross the ocean now," her husband said. "We
might be taken prisoners and carried to England. You are in no state to
face hardships."

"As if I did not face them continually! Oh, I should have gone at once,
when Laurent died. And if the English take the town, where will be the
fortune he struggled for! I wish I had never seen the place."

She would go on bewailing her hard fate until utterly exhausted. There
were days when she would not let Rose out of her sight, except when her
husband entered the room. It was well that he had a motive of the
highest honor, to hold himself well in hand, though there were times
when his whole heart went out in pity for Rose. Was there another soul
in the world that would have been so pitiful and tender?

Eustache Boullé had come from Tadoussac, since so little could be done
toward rehabilitating that, and proved himself a most worthy compatriot
to Champlain. Rose was sorely troubled at first, but she soon found that
miladi no longer cared for the marriage. She was too selfish to think of
losing one who was so useful to her. The girl's vigor and vivacity were
a daily tonic to her. Would she sap the strength out of this splendid
creature? Ralph Destournier wondered, with a pang. Yet to interfere was
not possible. He understood the jealous nature, that if given the
slightest ground would precipitate an _esclandre_.

Among the Indians flocking in was Savignon, who had gone to France years
before with Champlain, and who had been in demand as an interpreter. He
had spent a year or two up at the strait, where there was quite a
centre, and the priests had established a station, and gone further on
to the company's outpost. An unusually fine-looking brave, with many of
the white man's graces, that had not sunk deep enough to be called real
qualities. But they were glad to see him, and gave him a warm welcome.

And now what was to be done? All supplies being cut off, the grain
fields laid in ruin, the crops failing, how were they to sustain
themselves through the winter? Various plans were suggested. One of the
most feasible, though fraught with danger, was to lead a party of
Algonquins against the Iroquois, and capture some of their villages. The
tribe had proved itself deceitful and unfriendly on several occasions.
The Algonquins were ready for this. Another was to accept the proffer of
a number settled at Gaspé, who had been warm friends with Pontgrave, and
who would winter about twenty of the suffering people.

Ralph Destournier offered to head the expedition, as it needed a person
of some experience to restrain the Indians, and good judgment in not
wasting supplies, if any could be found. Savignon consented to accompany
them, and several others who were weary of the suffering around them and
preferred activity. They would be back before winter set in if they met
with any success.

Destournier planned that his wife should be made comfortable while he
was gone. At first she protested, then she sank into a kind of sullen
silence. She had seemed stronger for some weeks.

Rose had gone for her daily walk late in the afternoon. She read miladi
to sleep about this time and was sure of an hour to herself. She was
feeling the severe drain upon her quite sensibly, and though she longed
to throw herself on a couch of moss and study the drifting clouds in the
glory of the parting day, when the sun had gone behind the hills and the
wake of splendor was paling to softer colors; lavender and pale green,
that mingled in an indescribable tint, for which there could be no name.
There was a little coolness in the air, but the breath of the river was
sweet and revived her. Many of the leaves had dried and fallen from the
drought, yet the juniper and cedar were bluish-green in the coming
twilight, with their clusters of berries frostily gray.

But she walked on. There was a craving in her heart for a change, a
larger outlook. It would not be in marrying M. Boullé, though more than
once when she had surprised his eyes bent wistfully upon her, a pang of
pity for him had gone to her heart. Could she spend years waiting on
miladi, whose strength of will kept her alive. Or was it that horrible
fear of death? If it was true as the priests taught--oh, yes, it must
be. God could not be so cruel as to put creatures in this world to toil
and suffer, and then drop back to dust, to nothingness. Even the Indians
believed in another sphere, in their crude superstitious fashion, and
there must be some better place as a reward for the pain here that was
not one's own fault. She loved to peer beyond the skies as she thought,
and to drift midway between them and the grand woods, the changeful sea.
What if one floated off and never came back!

There was a step beside her, and she drew a long breath, though she was
not alarmed, for she almost felt a presence, and turned, waited.

"Rose," the voice said, "I have wanted to find you alone. I have several
things to say. I have promised to go on this expedition because I felt
it was necessary. You will not blame me. I have made all arrangements
for you and miladi, and I shall be back before the real cold weather
sets in. I only pray that we may be successful."

"Yes," she said under her breath, yet in vague surprise.

"It is a hard burthen to lay upon you. Do not imagine I have not seen
it. At first I thought it only the restless whim of failing health, but
I believe she loves you as much as she can love any human being. I
realize now that she should have gone to her own sunny France long ago.
She is formed for pleasure and brightness, variety, and to have new
people about her when she exhausts the old. I should not have married
her, but it seemed the best step then. I truly believed----"

No, he would not drag his weak justification before this pure, sweet
girl, though he had almost said "I believed she loved me." And he had
learned since that she loved no one but her own self. Laurent Giffard
had never awakened to the truth. But he had taken the best of her youth.

"Oh, you must know that I am glad to make some return for all your
kindness in my childhood. And she was sweet and tender. I think it is
the illness that has changed her. Oh, I can recall many delightful hours
spent with her. I should be an ingrate if I could not minister to her
now of my best."

"You could never be an ingrate," he protested.

"I hope not," fervently.

"I count confidently on returning. I can't tell why, for we shall risk
the fate of war, but I can almost see myself here again in the old
place. Like our beloved Commandant I, too, have dreams of what Quebec
can be made, a glorious place to hand down to posterity. Meanwhile you
will care for her as you do now, and comfort her with your many pleasant
arts. I am a man formed for business and active endeavor, and cannot
minister in that manner. Perhaps Providence did not intend me for a
husband, and I have thwarted the will of Providence."

There was a humorous strain in his voice at the last sentence.

"Oh, you need not fear but that I will do my best. And I, too, shall
look for your home-coming, believe in it, pray for it."

"The women will remain, and Pani will serve you to the uttermost. When
this weary time is ended, and we are in better condition, you will have
your reward."

"I do not want any reward, it is only returning what has been given."

He knew many things miladi had grudged her, most of all the home, since
it was of his providing and intent.

They wandered on in silence for some time. Both hearts were too full for
commonplace talk, and he did not dare venture out of safe lines. He
could not pretend to fatherly love, even that cloaked by brotherliness
would be but a sham, he knew. He had his own honor to satisfy, as well
as her guilelessness.

Now it was quite dark.

"Oh, I must go back. It has been so pleasant that I have loitered. Let
us run down this slope."

She held out her hand, and he took it. They skimmed over the ground like
children. Then there were the steps to climb, but she was up the first.

"Good-night." She waved her white hand, and he saw it in the darkness.

"The saints bless and keep you."

She ran over to the level and then up again toward the kitchen end.
There was a savory smell of supper. A moose had been killed and divided
around.

"Oh, how delightful! Is there enough for two bites? One will not satisfy
me. But I must see miladi."

"No," interposed Wanamee. "I took in a cup of broth, but she was soundly
asleep. Have some steak while it is hot. The saints be praised for a
mouthful of decent food."

Yes, it was good. Pani watched with eager, hungry eyes and lips aquiver.
Rose felt almost conscience-smitten that she should have been satisfied
first.

"Was there much to be divided?" she asked of him.

"He was a noble, big fellow. And they have gone up in the woods for
deer."

Miladi was still asleep when she entered the room. She held the lamp a
little close with a sudden fear, but she saw the tranquil movement of
her chest and was reassured. There was a young moon coming up, a golden
crescent in a sky of flawless blue. It was too small to light the savage
cliffs, but she could hear the plash of the incoming tide that swirled
along with the current of the river. If the English came, what then?

It was near ten when miladi woke.

"What time is it?" she asked. "Not quite morning, for it is dark. I have
had such a splendid sleep. Why, I feel quite well."

She sat up in the bed.

"Come and bathe my face, Rose. Do you know whether Madame Hébert has the
recipe of this fragrant water? Mine is nearly gone. It is so
refreshing."

"I am quite sure she has. You have had no supper. There is some tasty
meat broth."

"I'm tired of pease and greens, and make-believe things that don't
nourish you at all. And there was such nice fish. Why do they not get
some? The river certainly hasn't dried up."

"No, Madame," in almost a merry tone, as if it might take the edge off
of complaining. "But there is such a scarcity of hooks. Petit Gabou is
making a net of dried grass that he thinks will answer the purpose. And
we have always had such a plentiful supply of fish."

The broth was very nourishing. Then Rose must sit with both of miladi's
hands in hers, so warm and soft, hers being little beside bone and
joints. She talked of France and her youth, when she was a pretty girl,
just out of the convent, and went to Paris. "You will like it so much. I
can hardly wait for the summer to come. I shall not mind if Monsieur has
so much business on hand that he cannot leave," and her tone had a
little mocking accent. "When men get older they lose their nice ways of
compliment and grace. They care less for their wives. Even M. de
Champlain does not fret after his, who is no doubt enjoying herself
finely. She was wise not to return."

The slim, golden crescent had wandered away to other worlds, and the
stars grew larger and brighter in their bed of blue. She watched them
through the open window. A screen was set up so that no draught should
annoy miladi. Presently she fell asleep again, and Rose stole to her own
couch, the other side of the screen, where she could still watch the
stars.

Savignon had come in with news. The Algonquins knew of a storehouse of
the Iroquois, who had gone on the war-path, and would hardly be back for
a whole moon. It would be best to start at once, and they began
preparations. Some of the Indian women volunteered, they were used to
carrying burthens. Bags were packed up. They trusted to find most of
their food upon the route.

Miladi took the parting tranquilly. M. Ralph had spent weeks on
exploring expeditions. If there was any danger in this, she did not heed
it. She held up her face to be kissed, and he noted how dry and parched
the lips were.

He gave a brief good-bye to Rose, who was standing near.

"Surely, he does not care for women," Miladi thought exultingly. "Even
her fresh, young beauty is nothing to him. He has no tender, eager
soul."

Rose went down to the plateau to see the start.

"You are much interested, Mam'selle?" Savignon said. "Give us the charm
of your thoughts and prayers."

"You have both, most truly." What a fine, stalwart fellow Savignon was,
lighter than the average, and picturesque in his Indian costume, though
he often wore the garb of civilization. French had become to him almost
a mother tongue.

Yet Rose wondered a little if it was right to rob the storehouse where
the industrious Indians had been making preparations for the coming
winter. Was it easier for one race to starve than another?

"And wish us a safe return."

The look in his eyes disconcerted her for an instant. Her own drooped.
She was acquiring a woman's wisdom.

"I do that most heartily," she made answer, turning aside; but the
admiration lingered over her fine, yet strong figure, with its grace of
movement. The beautiful eyes haunted him, if they were turned away.

Such forays were not uncommon among the tribes. The Iroquois had planted
more than one storehouse in the wilderness, in most secluded places. It
saved carrying burthens, as they wandered about, or if in desperate
weather, they set up their wigwams, and remained eating and sleeping,
until hunger drove them elsewhere.

A ship had come down from Acadia with news that several English vessels
were hovering about. They offered to take some of the women and
children, and M. de Champlain was thankful for this. By spring there
must be some change in affairs. The mother country could not wholly
forget them.

Rose wondered at times that miladi remained so tranquil. She slept a
great deal, and it was an immense relief. It seemed occasionally that
her mind wandered, though it was mostly vague mutterings.

Once she said quite clearly--"I will not have the child. You will come
to love her better than you do me."

Then she opened her eyes and fixed them on Rose, with a hard, cold
stare.

"Go away," she cried. "Go away. I will not have you here to steal his
love from me. You are only a child, but one day you will be a woman. And
I shall be growing old, old! A woman's youth ought to come back to her
for a brief while."

Rose's heart swelled within her. Was this why miladi had taken such
queer spells, and sometimes been unkind to her for days? And M.
Destournier had always stood her friend.

Yet she felt infinitely sorry for miladi, and that calmed her first
burst of indignation. She went out to the forest to walk. The withered
leaves lay thick on the ground, they had not been as beautiful as in
some autumns, the drought had turned them brown too soon. The white
birches seemed like lovely ghosts haunting the darkened spaces. Children
were digging for fallen nuts, even edible roots, and breaking off
sassafras twigs. What would they do before spring, if relief did not
come!

Suppose she went away with the next vessel that came in. But then she
had promised. Oh, yes, she must look after miladi, just as carefully as
if there were depths of love between them. How did she come to know so
much about love? Surely she had never loved any one with her whole soul.
Neither had she craved an overwhelming affection. But now the world
seemed large, and strange, and empty to her. She rustled the leaves
under her feet, as if they made a sort of company in the loneliness.
Perhaps it would not have been so bad to have taken M. Boullé's love. If
only love did not mean nearness, some sacred rites, kisses. She felt if
she raised her hand in permission it might still be hers. No, no, she
could not take it, and she shivered. Why, it was nearly dark, and cold.
She must run to warm her blood.

She came in bright and glowing, her eyes in cordial shining.

"Thank the Holy Mother that you have come," cried Mawha. "Miladi has
been crying and going on and saying that you have deserted her. Wanamee
could not comfort her. Run, quick."

Miladi was sobbing as if her heart would break. Rose bent over her,
smoothed her brow and hair, chafed the cold hands.

"The way was so long and dark," she cried, "such a long, long path. Will
I have to go all alone?" and Rose could feel the terrified shiver.

"You will not have to go anywhere," began the girl, in a soothing tone.
"I shall stay here with you."

"But you were gone," complainingly.

"I will not go again."

"Then sit here and hold my hands. I think it was a dream. I am not going
to die. I am really better. I walked about to-day. Is there word from
Monsieur? You know we are going to France in the summer. Do you know
what happens when one dies? I've seen the little Indian babies die. Do
you suppose they really have souls?"

"Every one born in the world has. The priest will tell you." Rose gained
a little courage. "Perhaps you would like to see Father Jamay."

"I went to confession a long while ago. The priest wanted my French
books. M. Ralph said I need not give them up. I prayed to the Virgin. I
prayed for many things that did not come. But we will go to France, M.
Ralph promised, and he never breaks his word, so I do not need to pray
for that. I am cold. Cover me up warm, and get something for my feet.
Then sit here and put your arms around me. Promise me you will never go
away again."

"I promise"--in a sweet, soft tone.

Then she sat on the side of the bed and placed her arm about the
shoulders. How thin they were.

"Sing something. The silence frightens me."

Rose sang, sometimes like a chant, lines she could recall that had a
musical sound. The leaning figure grew heavier, the breathing was slow
and tranquil. Wanamee came in.

"Help me put her down," Rose said, for she was weary with the strained
position.

They laid her down tenderly, without waking her.

"Stay with me," pleaded Rose. "You know when I went away M. Destournier
used to come in. I do not like to leave her alone."

"It is curious," exclaimed Wanamee. "This morning she seemed so well,
and walked about. Then she sinks down. How long she has been ill, this
way."

Rose wanted to ask a solemn question, but she did not dare. Presently
Wanamee dozed off, but Rose watched until the eastern sky began to show
long levels of light. There seemed an awesome stillness in the room.

"Wanamee," she said faintly.

The woman rose and looked at the figure on the bed, standing some
seconds in silence.

"Go out quietly, _ma fille_, and find Mawha. Send her in." Then she
turned Rose quite around, and the girl uttered no question.

"What is the matter?" asked Pani. "Mam'selle, you are white as a
snowdrift."

"I think miladi is dead," and she drew a long, strangling breath, her
figure trembling with unknown dread.

Pani bowed and crossed himself several times.

Wanamee came in presently. "The poor lady is gone," she said reverently.
"She was so afraid of dying, and it was just like a sleep. Pani, you
must row up to the convent at once, and ask some of the fathers to come
down. Stop first at the fort and tell the Governor."

That Madame Destournier should die surprised no one, but it was
unexpected, for all that. It appeared to accentuate the other sorrows
and anxieties. And that M. Destournier should be away seemed doubly sad.
Two of the priests came down with Pani, and held some services over the
body. Her ill health was the excuse of her not having paid more
attention to the offices of the Church, that so far had not flourished
at all well. The convent was really too far, and the chapel service had
waned since the departure of Madame de Champlain.

When Rose gained courage to go into the room where a few tapers were
dimly burning, she lost her fear in an instant. It was a thin and
wrinkled face, but it had a certain placid sweetness that often hallows
it, when pain and fear are ended. Rose pressed her lips to the cold
forehead, and breathed a brief prayer that miladi had found entrance to
a happier land. A new thought took possession of her. Miladi belonged
wholly to Laurent Giffard now. The tie that bound her to M. Destournier
was broken, and it was as if it had never been. She remembered he had
once said he would relinquish her in that other country. She had simply
been given to him in her sorrow, to care for a brief while. And how
grandly he had done it. Rose was too just, perhaps with some of the
incisive energy of youth, to cover up miladi's faults at once. If she
had been grateful to him for his devotion she would have thought more
tenderly of love. Yet she experienced a profound pity.

There had been set aside a burial plot, one end for the white
inhabitants. Thither the body was taken, and laid beside her true
husband, with the rites of the Church. M. de Champlain headed the
procession, but on the outskirts there was a curious throng.

The Héberts pressed their hospitality upon Rose, but even they were in
great straits. Then Wanamee was less superstitious than most of her
race, and made no demur at remaining in the house, if Rose desired to
stay. It was home to the girl, and she could almost fancy the better
part of miladi's spirit hovered about it, released from suffering.

How would M. Destournier take it? Would he regret he had not been here?

Day after day they waited the return of the party. Had there been a
battle? Sometimes Rose felt as if she must join them, the suspense
seemed the hardest of all to endure.

At last most of the Indians returned, with bags and blankets of
supplies. There had been no battle. They had come unexpectedly upon a
storehouse, cunningly hidden in the wood. There were no guards about. So
they had entered, and after satisfying their hunger, packed corn and
dried meats, onions, which would be a great treat, and nuts. They
divided the party, and sent one relay on ahead, to travel as fast as
possible, with the good news, and relieve the famishing people.

Quebec greeted them with the wildest joy. Savignon headed this party.
They had two days' start, and though the ground was frozen, there had
been no deep snow to prevent the others from a tolerably comfortable
march. They would no doubt be in soon. It seemed a large addition to
their scanty store. A great joy pervaded the little colony.

Two days passed, then a third. A party, headed by Savignon, went out to
meet them. They found a few men, dragging and carrying weary loads.
There had been an accident to M. Destournier. He had stumbled into an
unseen pitfall and broken his leg. They had carried him on a litter for
two days, then he had begged the others to leave him with an attendant,
and hurry onward, coming back for him as soon as possible.

Rose was all sympathy and anxiety. She flew to one of the half-breeds,
who had borne the litter. Was there much injury beside the broken leg?

"He was a good deal shaken up, but he knew what to do about bandaging,
and he uttered no groans. But when he attempted to walk the next morning
he died for a few moments, as your women sometimes do. And when he came
to life, they made the litter. He was very brave. So we rigged up a sort
of tent in the woods, as he insisted on being left."

The Commandant ordered that a party be formed at once to rescue him.
They could not allow him to perish there in the wilderness. He might be
ill.

"He might die," Rose said to herself. And then an intense ungovernable
longing came over her to see him once again. Women could minister to him
better than men. And if Wanamee and Pani would go. Pani had been so much
with women that he had lost many of the virile Indian traits.

Yes, they would go, but Wanamee did not quite approve of the journey. No
one could tell how deep a snow would set in.

"But it will be only a six days' journey, and most of it through the
forests. Savignon will be an excellent guide. And no one must speak of
the great sorrow that awaits him here."

M. de Champlain opposed the plan. It was too severe for women. But
curiously enough Savignon said--"The blossom of Quebec is no dainty
flower, to be crushed by wind and storm. If she wants to go, I am on her
side."

When Rose heard this she flew out to thank him, catching one hand in
both of hers, her eyes luminous with gladness.

"Oh, I cannot truly thank you, Monsieur. I must go, even if I ran away
and followed on behind. And I am no delicate house-plant."

"Thou art a brave girl," admiringly. "Thou hast been used to woods and
rocks, and art strong and courageous."

To be called monsieur was one of Savignon's great delights. He had tired
not a little of the roughness of savage life, and though he had caressed
pretty Indian maidens he had never been much in love with them. And this
girl was different from most of the white women. The courage in every
line of her face, the exuberant bounding life that flushed her veins,
her straight lithe figure, and the grace of every movement, appealed
strongly to him.

"Thou wilt find it hard going, Mam'selle, keeping step to the men, and
sleeping in the woods. But three days are soon spent, and we need not
march back so hastily. Our women have stood more than that."

"You will see how much I can stand," she answered proudly. She believed
the admiring eyes were for her courage alone.

Go she must. She did not stop to question. There was only one thing
uppermost in her mind. If he died she must see him; if he lived, she
must wait upon him, comfort him in his sorrow, for although in a vague
way she knew he had not come up to the highest joy in his marriage, any
more than her dear Sieur de Champlain, he had cared very tenderly for
miladi, and would sorrow to know her shut out of life. And it had been
so quiet at the last, just falling asleep. Her arms had been around her,
her voice the last sound miladi had heard. He would rejoice in his
sorrow that all had been so tranquil.

Rose and Wanamee came down in their robes of fur, with their deerskin
frocks underneath. Rose's cap had its visor turned up and it framed in
her beautiful face. Her hair fell in loose curls, the way she had always
worn it, and the morning sun sent golden gleams amongst it. There was a
small crowd to wish them God-speed.

The horses that De Champlain had brought over and a few mules that had
been at Cape Tourmente were carried off in the English raid. True, they
would not have been of much account in the overgrown brush of the
wilderness.

"Mam'selle," Savignon said, after an hour or two, "do not hurry ahead
so. You will tire before night."

"I feel as if I could run, or fly," she made answer, and she looked so.



CHAPTER XVI

A LOVER OF THE WILDERNESS


The weather was splendid, the sky cloudless, the air scented with the
resinous fragrance of cedar, fir, and pine. They paused for a midday
lunch and then kept on until dark. In a clearing in an almost
impenetrable forest they paused, built a fire, and prepared to camp.
Savignon drew some young saplings together and filled up the interstices
with boughs, ordering smaller ones inside that a sort of bed should be
raised off the ground. One of the men had shot some squirrels, and their
broiling over the coals was appetizing.

"You and Wanamee will be quite safe," the guide said. "We shall wrap in
our blankets and sleep about the fire. If you hear the cry of wolves, do
not be alarmed."

"How good you are," Rose returned, her eyes glorious with grateful
emotions. "M. Destournier will never forget your service. It cannot be
rewarded."

"Mam'selle, a man would give his life for your pleasure. Sleep well and
do not fear."

And sleep she did, with the slumber of youth and health. Naught came to
alarm them.

Their second day's journey was uneventful, though it was not so clear
and sunny, and again they camped for the night. Was there only one day
more? Rose's heart beat with alternate fear and joy. Indeed, they might
meet the cavalcade on the way.

She would not admit fatigue, indeed she did not feel it. Her grand hope
gave lightness to her step and color to her cheeks, which were like a
delicious opening rose, and you were fain to declare they had the same
fragrance. When she talked to Wanamee, Savignon did not listen for any
girlish secrets, but simply the music of her voice. That day some bird
astray in the forest gave his whistle, perhaps to his mate, and she
answered it with the most enchanting music. He came so near they could
hear the flutter of his wings. Cadotte started up with his gun.

"You shall not kill it!" she cried. "Do you think I would lure a bird to
such a cruel, treacherous death!"

Her face was bewitching in its indignation. What spirit, what strength
of purpose shone in it!

"He will freeze before spring, Mam'selle," Cadotte returned sullenly.

"Then let him die as the good God intends."

"Mam'selle, I never heard a human voice so like a bird's," Savignon
declared, in a tone of admiration. "Do you know other voices that range
in Quebec?"

She laughed, her present anger vanishing.

"I used to tame them when I was a child. They would come at my call. I
loved them so. And a tame deer knew my voice and followed me."

"As anything would. Mam'selle, sing or whistle, and it will make our
steps lighter. Among the Bostonnais they march to music not as sweet as
thine."

She was glad to give them pleasure.

The last day seemed long indeed, to her. Once they mistook the path and
had to pick their way back. Savignon's acute eyes told him another party
had crossed it, and he went on warily.

Presently, in the coming darkness, two scouts ran on ahead.

"Art thou tired, Mam'selle?" asked the well-modulated voice that had
lost the guttural Indian tone.

"Not tired, but impatient. Do you suppose we have missed them? What if
they should have started in some other direction?"

"I hardly think that. I have expected to meet them. M. Destournier must
have been more disabled than we supposed. But we shall soon know."

Oh, what if he were dead! A blackness fell over everything. She caught
Wanamee's arm for support. It was growing so dark they kept closer
together. The dead leaves rustled under their feet, now and then in an
opening they saw the sky in the soft, whitish-gray tints before it turns
to blue.

There was a shrill, prolonged whistle.

"They are coming back with news." Savignon guessed it was not cheering.
He answered through his fingers.

The two scouts came hurrying forward.

"They are gone. They must have taken some other road. The campfire is
out, the stones are missing. What shall we do?"

Rose gave a soft, appealing cry, that she vainly strove to restrain.

"We had better go on. We must stop for the night. It is too dark to find
their trail."

It seemed to Rose as if she would sink to the ground with indescribable
terror.

"Oh, do you think----" She caught Savignon's arm.

"They have started on and missed the trail," he replied, in an almost
indifferent tone, but he guessed in his heart there had been some
surprise. "We must find the old place and camp for the night. To-morrow
we will seek out the trail."

"You do not think there can have been----" Her voice faltered for very
fear.

"We had best think nothing. We should no doubt come wide of the mark.
Let us push on," to the men.

There were heavy hearts and slow steps. It seemed as if it must be
midnight when they reached the clearing, though it was not that late.
They built their fire. Cadotte and Savignon took a survey.

"Another party has been here," Cadotte exclaimed, in a whisper. "There
has been a struggle. They are carried off somewhere."

"Do not speak of it to-night. The women are tired. And Mam'selle will
have a thousand fears."

They found the others busy with fire and supper. Rose sat apart, her
face buried in her hands, a thousand wild fears chasing one another
through her mind. Life would be dreary if--if what? If he were dead? Had
he suffered long with no one to cheer? Or had he been suddenly
despatched by some marauding party? Then they would find his poor body.
Yes, to-morrow they would know all.

She did not want any supper and crept to bed, weeping out her fears in
Wanamee's arms.

They were all astir the next morning at daybreak. It was a little
cloudy. The three days had been unusually fine. Savignon had been
tracing this and that clew, and presently came upon a piece of wampum,
with a curious Huron design at one end. And a little further on he found
a trail where things had been roughly dragged. But he came to breakfast
with no explanation.

Did the Rose of Quebec care so much for this man? He had been like a
father to her, perhaps it was only a child's love. But now M.
Destournier was free to choose a new wife--if he were alive. He was a
brave man, a fine man, but if he were dead! The Hurons would show scant
pity to a disabled man. Savignon had done and would do his best, but
somehow he could not feel so bitterly grieved. He loved this woman--he
knew that now.

They were discussing plans when a near-by step startled them. Parting
the undergrowth, a torn and dishevelled man appeared. It was Paul De
Loie. He almost dropped on the ground at their feet.

"I have run all night," he cried gaspingly. "The Hurons! They took us
prisoners, and the stores. They are expecting another relay of the
tribe, and are going up north for the winter, to join the Ottawas. But
first they are to have a carouse and dance," and the three prisoners are
to be tortured and put to death. He had escaped. He supposed the party
would be back for M. Destournier and the stores. They must fly at once,
and return if they would save their lives. And what madness possessed
them to bring women!

"Wait!" commanded Savignon. "Let us go apart, De Loie, and consider the
matter," and taking the man by the arm, he raised him and walked him a
little distance.

"Now tell me--M. Destournier--how did he progress?"

"Well, indeed. We made him a crutch. We decided to take what stores we
could manage, and resume our journey, thinking we would be met by some
of the party. _Ma foi_, if we had started a day earlier! There were not
many of them, but twice too many for us. There was nothing to do, we
could gain nothing by selling our lives, we thought, but now they will
take them. In two days the rest of the party, thirty or forty, will join
them. We cannot rescue the others. Vauban could have escaped, but he
would not leave M. Destournier. And now retrace your steps at once."

Savignon buried his face in his hands, in deep thought. Should he try to
rescue these men? The Hurons were superstitious. More than once he had
played on Indian credulity. He held some curious secrets, he had the
wampum belt that he could produce, as if by magic. He was fond, too, of
adventure, of power. And he imagined he saw a way to win the prize he
coveted. He was madly, wildly in love with Rose. She was heroic. If she
would grant his desire, the safety of three people would accrue from it.
And surely she had not loved the Frenchman, who until a brief while ago
had a wife. As he understood, they had been as parents to her. She was
young, but if a man could inspire her with love--with gratitude even----

He questioned De Loie very closely. The trouble with Destournier would
be his inability to travel rapidly. They would soon be overtaken. Escape
that way was not feasible.

"I will consider. Come and share our breakfast."

Rose was walking by herself, on the outskirts of the clearing, her slim
hands clasped together, her head drooping, and even so her figure would
have attracted a sculptor. The Indian was enchanted with it. To clasp it
in his arms--ah, the thought set his hot blood in a flame.

She turned and raised her eyes beseechingly, her beautiful, fathomless
eyes in whose depths a man easily lost himself, the curved sweetness of
the mouth that one might drain and drain, and never quite have his fill.

"What is it, M'sieu? Is there any hope? Can nothing be done?" Her voice
went to his heart.

"What would you be willing to do, Mam'selle?"

"If I were a man I would attempt his rescue, or die with him. It would
not be so hard to die holding a friend's hand."

"You love him very much?"

The love Savignon meant had so little place in her thoughts that the
question did not cause her to change color.

"He was so good to me when I was little, and ill for a long while. He
used to hold me on his knee, and let my head rest on his strong breast.
And when I was well again we climbed rocks, and he showed me where the
choicest wild fruit grew. And we went out in the canoe. He taught me to
read, he had books of strange, beautiful stories. And after he married
miladi he took me in his home as if I was a child. Ah, I could not help
loving one so kind, unless I had been made of stone. And I wanted to
comfort him in his sorrow."

Her voice, in its pathos, the eyes luminous with tears that did not
fall, swept through the man like a devouring flame. He must have her. He
would risk all, he would test her very soul.

"You have not said what you would give."

"My life, M'sieu, if I could exchange it for his."

"It does not need that. Listen, Mam'selle: When I first looked upon you,
I was swept away with a strange emotion. I had seen lovely girls, there
are some in our own race, with eyes of velvet, and lips that tempt
kisses. And I knew when I helped you get your way on this expedition,
what it was; that I loved you, that I would have kissed the ground you
had walked on. And on our journey here I have dreamed beautiful,
thrilling dreams of you. I slept at the door of your improvised tent
lest some danger should come upon you unawares. Last night when I noted
your tired step I wanted to take you in my arms and carry you. You have
filled my soul and my body with the rapture of love. I can think of
nothing else but the bliss of straining you to my heart, of touching
your lips with the fire that plays about mine, like the rosy lightning
that flashes through the heavens, engendered by the heat of the day. Oh,
take me for your husband, and your life shall be filled with the best I
can give. You shall not weary your small hands with work, they shall be
kept for a husband's kisses. I will worship you as the priests do their
Virgin."

She had been transfixed at the outburst and flaming, passionate tone,
that in its vehemence seemed to grow finer, loftier. Was that love's
work?

"But it will not save M. Destournier," she wailed.

"Listen again." He stood up, manly and strong, and somehow touched her
with a subtle influence. It is not in a woman's nature to listen to a
tale of passionate love unmoved. "Once, among the Hurons an old witch
woman was wild to adopt me for her son. She gave me a great many secret
charms, many you white people would think the utmost foolishness. Some
were curious. And my people are superstitious. I have used them more
than once to the advantage of myself and others. I have brought about
peace between warring tribes. I have prevented war. I will go to the
Hurons, and try for M. Destournier's liberty. From what De Loie said,
they mean to sacrifice the men to-morrow. There are horrid, agonizing
tortures before death comes. If you will promise to marry me I will go
at once and do my utmost to rescue him, them."

"And if you fail?" Her very breath seemed like a blast of winter cold.

"Then, Mam'selle, I can ask no reward, only a share in your sorrow. I
will try to lighten their sufferings. That is all I can do."

She crossed her arms upon her breast and rocked herself to and fro.

"Oh, I cannot, I cannot," she said, with a cry of anguish. "Another man,
our dear Madame de Champlain's brother asked this thing of me, and I
could not. I do not want to marry."

"All women do in their hearts," he said moodily.

Was she not quite a woman yet? Had she just the soul of the little girl
who had climbed trees, scaled rocks, and plunged headlong into the
river to swim like a fish!

"It is three lives," he said, with the persuasive voice of the tempter.

Three lives! And among them her best friend! Something rose in her
throat, and she thought she was dying.

"And if I cannot?" in a tone of desperate anguish.

"Then we must start homeward at once. When the Hurons have whet their
appetite with their hellish pleasure, it is not easily satisfied. They
will look about for more fuel to add to the flames. So we must decide. I
cannot risk my own liberty for months for nothing. It will not make M.
Destournier's death pang easier."

"Oh, go away, go away!" she almost shrieked, but the sorrow in her voice
took off the harshness. "Let me think. I do not love you! I might run
away. I might drown myself. I might not be able to keep my promise."

"I should love you so much that you would not want to break it. Ah, I
could trust you, since you love no one else that you desire to marry."

She dropped on the ground and hid her face, too much stunned even to
cry. "Three lives" kept singing in her ears. Was she not selfish and
cruel? O God, what could she do!

"You know even the Sieur and the priests have approved of these mixed
marriages, so there would be no voice raised against it. The children
would belong to the Church and be reared in the ways of wisdom and
honor. In my way I am well born. I could take you to Paris, where you
would be well received. I have had some excellent training. Oh, it would
be no disgrace."

They were calling to him from the group. He turned away. His intense
love for her, his little understanding of a woman's soul, his passionate
nature, not yet adjusted to the higher civilization, could not
understand and appreciate the cruelty.

When he came back her small hands were nervously beating the dried turf.
He could not see her face.

"They have decided to go at once," he exclaimed. "De Loie says there is
no time to lose."

"I shall stay here and die," she said.

"That will not save any one's life."

Oh, that was the pity of it!

She rose with a strained white face. She looked like some of the
beautiful carvings he had seen abroad. Not even anguish could make her
unlovely.

"If you will go," she began hoarsely, and she seemed to strain her very
soul to utter the words, "and bring back M. Destournier, and the others,
I will marry you--not now, but months hence, when I can resolve upon the
step. I shall have to learn--no, you must not touch me, nor kiss me,
until I give you leave."

"But you must let me take your hand once, and promise by the Holy Mother
of God."

His seriousness overawed her. She rose and held out her slim, white
hand, from which the summer's brown had faded. Her lips shook as if with
an ague, but she promised.

He wanted to kiss the hand, but he in turn was overawed.

She heard the voices raised in dissent around the fire. What if they
would not let him go? She was chill and cold, and almost did not care.
She would stay here and die. Perhaps they could take the strange,
awesome journey together.

Wanamee joined her. "Savignon has determined to go to the rescue of the
men," she began, "but De Loie thinks it a crazy step. And we must stay
and risk being made prisoners. What is the matter, _ma fille_? You are
as white as the river foam in a storm."

"I am tired," she made answer. "I slept poorly last night. Then they
think there is no chance of success?"

"Oh, no, no! And we ought to escape."

She dropped down again, pillowing her head on a little rise of ground.
Should she be glad, or sorry? Either way she seemed stunned.

The sky cleared up presently, and the sun came out. The few men walked
about disconsolately. The rations were apportioned, some went farther in
the woods, to find nuts, if possible. Now that the stores had been taken
and two days added to the journey, want might be their portion.

Two of the men succeeded in finding some game. There was a small stream
of water, but no fish were discernible in it. It froze over at night,
but they could quench their thirst, and with some dried pennyroyal made
a draught of tea.

Rose wondered if she had ever prayed before! All she could say now was:
"Oh, Holy Mother of God, have pity on me."

The long night passed. De Loie said in the morning: "I think one of you
had better start with the women. If we should be beset with the savages,
they might find their way home. Here are some points I have marked out."

"No," returned Rose, "let us all perish together."

"_Mon Dieu!_ Do you suppose they would let you perish? You would have to
be squaw to some brave."

Rose shuddered. No, she could but die.

De Loie started out on the path he had come. It was mid-afternoon. A
light snow began to fall, and the wind moaned in the trees. Rose and
Wanamee huddled together at the fire, their arms around each other,
under the blanket. It was easy to love Wanamee. But then she had begun
it as a child--Was it easy to love when one was grown?

The darkness was descending when they heard a shout. Was it friend or
foe? Another, and it came nearer. It was not the voice of an Indian.

De Loie rushed in upon them. "You men go and relieve those at the
litter. Savignon is a wizard. He has the three men. I could not believe
it at first, and I am afraid now it is a trick. You cannot trust an
Indian."

Rose drew a long breath. Then her fate was sealed. Or, if they were
attacked in the night, it would be some compensation to die together.

They came in at last, with Destournier on an improvised hemlock litter.
The fire blazed up brightly, making a striking picture of the eager
faces. The men lowered the litter to the ground, and they crowded around
it. Destournier was ghostly pale, but full of thankfulness. When there
was a little space open he reached out his hand to Rose.

"You two women have been very brave, but you should not have taken the
journey. As for Savignon, we all owe him a debt that we can never
repay."

"It is repaid already," returned the Indian, glancing over at Rose. "To
have rescued you----"

"What arts and incantations you used! I could not have believed it
possible to move their stony hearts."

"It was not their hearts." Savignon gave a grim smile. "It was their
fears that were worked upon. I was afraid at one time that I would not
succeed. But I had a reward before me."

"Quebec will pay you all honor. It is a grand thing to have saved three
lives from torture and death. For there was no other escape."

That night Destournier related the surprise and capture. The stores were
a great loss. But they would not let him bemoan them.

"We must get back as rapidly as we can," he said. "I do not trust the
temper of the reinforcements, when they find they have been balked of
their prey."

The snow had only been a light fall, and the trees in their higher
branches were marvels of beauty. It had not reached the ground in many
places.

After a frugal breakfast the cavalcade started. Destournier insisted
upon walking at first, as he was freshened by his night's rest,
comparatively free from anxiety. His broken leg was well bandaged, and
he used two crutches. Rose noticed the thinness and pallor, and the
general languid air, but she kept herself quite in the background.
Savignon was really leader of the small party.

"Wanamee," she said, in a low tone, "will you tell M. Ralph about
miladi?--I thought to do it, but I cannot. And I am so sorry she left no
message for him. He was always so good to her. And you can tell him I
held her a long while in my arms that night."

"You were an angel to her, _ma fille_. I used to wonder sometimes----"

"I suppose it was being ill so long, and trying so hard to get well,
that made her unreasonable. It is better to go out of life suddenly, do
you not think so?"

"I should like to know a little about the hereafter. You see our nation
believe we go at once to another land, and do not stay in that miserable
place they tell of. But many of the braves believe there are no women
in the happy hunting grounds. One is swung this way and that," and
Wanamee sighed.

Rose's mind was torn and distracted by her promise. Now and then an
awful shudder took her in a giant grasp, and she thought she would drop
down and ask them to leave her. Savignon would stay behind, if she
proposed that. What if he had not gone to the Hurons? Frightful stories
of torture she had heard rushed to her mind. Old Noko had witnessed
them. So had some of the men at the fort. Death itself was not so hard,
but to have burning sticks thrust into one's skin, to have fingers and
toes cut off, piecemeal--oh, she had saved him from that. Yes, she would
marry Savignon, and then throw herself into the river, after she had
kept her promise.

The weather was growing colder. They halted for the night, and made a
fire. They had shot nothing, but the supper was very light, indeed.

"Little Rose," said Destournier, "come over beside me, since I cannot
well come to you. I have hardly seen you, and have not asked what has
gone on at the fort. I feel as if I had been away half a lifetime. And
miladi----"

"Wanamee will tell you, I cannot." She drew away the hand he held, and
gently pushed the Indian woman forward, going out of the clear sound of
her voice. Oh, would it be a great sorrow to him?

Wanamee's recital of that last night set a halo about Rose in the man's
mind. He had known for years that he had not loved miladi as a man could
love, but he also questioned whether such a light, frivolous nature
could have appreciated the strong, earnest affection. Her great effort
to keep herself young had led to a meretricious childishness. She had a
vain, narrow soul, and this had dwarfed it still more. Many a night he
had watched over her, pained by her passionate beseeching that he would
not let her die, her awesome terror of death. He felt God had been
merciful not to allow her to suffer that last rending pain. He had
really become so accustomed to the thought of her dying that it did not
seem new or strange to him, but one of the inevitable things that one
must endure with philosophy. He realized the sweetness and patience of
Rose through these last months.

When Wanamee came back she was snugly tucked in her blanket, and feigned
sleep. She did not want to talk. She fancied she would like to lie
beside miladi in the little burying ground. Young sorrow always turns to
death as a comforter.

That night an adventure befell them, though most of them were sleeping
from exhaustion. It was the Indian's quick hearing that caught a
suspicious sound, and then heard a stealthy rustle. He reached for his
gun, and his eyes roved sharply around the little circle. The sound came
from nearly opposite. The fire was low, but his sight was keen, and
presently he espied two glaring eyes drawing nearer Wanamee and her
charge. There was a quick shot, a shriek, almost human, and a rush
farther in the forest.

They were all awake in an instant. "An attack!" shouted two of the men.

"A wolf," rejoined Savignon. He took up a brand and peered about in the
darkness. The body was still twitching, but the head was a mangled mass.
There were no others in sight, but they heard their cry growing fainter
and fainter.

Rose sat up in affright. How near it had been to her. Was she always to
be in debt to this Indian?

"Go to sleep again," he said, in a low tone. "We shall have no more
alarms to-night. I am keeping watch. I would give my life to save you
from harm."

Wanamee drew the trembling, shrinking figure closer. Rose felt as if her
heart would burst with the sorrow she could not confess.



CHAPTER XVII

THE PASSING OF OLD QUEBEC


They ate their last crumbs for breakfast. A fine, cutting sleet was in
the air, but they kept quite inside of the forest, except when they were
afraid of losing the trail. There was no stop for a midday meal, and
they pushed on, carrying Destournier in a litter. Must they spend
another night in the woods?

Suddenly a shout reaches them, the sound of familiar French voices, and
every heart thrilled with joy, as they answered it. Blessed relief was
at hand.

Being alarmed at the long delay, a party had been sent out to search for
them. They halted, for indeed it seemed as if they could go no further.
Weak and hungry, some of the men sat down and cried, for very joy.

"I have hardly been worth all the trouble," Destournier said, in a
broken voice.

"It was not altogether you," replied one of the men. "And to have
rescued some of our men from those fiendish Hurons was worth while.
Savignon must have had some wonderful power to make them give up their
prey."

The relief party were provided with food, dried meat that had come down
from some friendly Indians. After they had eaten, they resolved to push
on, and started with good courage. The storm had ceased and the stars
were pricking through the blue. The moon would rise later on. But it was
midnight when they came in sight of the fort. The warm welcome made
amends for all.

Wanamee took Rose under her protection. She was nearly exhausted. M. de
Champlain insisted upon caring for Destournier, and examining the leg,
which was much swollen, but had been very well set. The story of the
wonderful escape was told over, to interested listeners.

"We owe Savignon a great debt, and are too poor to pay it," said the
Governor sorrowfully.

Poor indeed they were. It was the hardest winter the colony had known.
The dearth of news was most trying, and the fear of the English descent
upon them racked the brave heart of the Commandant, who saw his dream of
a great city vanishing. Jealousy had done some cruel work, and the
misgovernment of the mother country stifled the best efforts.

Rose lay listless in bed for many days. How could she meet Savignon, who
haunted the place hourly, to inquire, and begged to see her? One day she
told Wanamee to send him in, and braced herself for the interview.

Semi-famine had not told on him, unless it had added an air of
refinement. That he was superior to most of his race, was evident.

He was not prepared for the white wraith-like being who did not rise
from her chair, but nodded and motioned him to a seat at a distance.

"Oh, Mam'selle, you have been truly ill," he said, and there was a
tender sort of pity in his tone. "I have been wild to see you, to hear
you speak. Mam'selle, you must not die. I cannot give you up. I have
been starved, I have been half-crazy with impatience. Oh, can you not
have a little pity on me, when I love you so? And you have no one who
has a right to protest. You will keep your promise? For I swear to you
that I will kill any man who marries you. I cannot help if it brings
grief upon you. It would be the sorrow of my life not to have you! Oh,
let me touch your little white hand"--and he started from his seat with
an eager gesture.

She put both behind her. "I do not love you," she began bravely. "It
would take time----"

"I said I would wait, Rose of Quebec, wait months, for your sweetness to
blossom for me. But I cannot see you go to another."

"There is no other. There will be no other." She was sure she told the
whole truth. "But if you insist now, I shall die before a marriage
comes. I could slip out of life easily. Perhaps when I am strong again,
courage may come back to me. You must go away and let me be quite by
myself, and think how brave you were, how patient you are. Then when
you come again----"

She would be in her white winding sheet, then, and he would be afraid to
kiss her.

"But I won you fairly, Mam'selle. And I had great trembling of heart,
for the Huron chief was obdurate. I succeeded at length. _He_ has had a
wife, he does not need another. He might be your father. And you have
repaid him for all care by giving him back his life, by saving him from
torture you know little about. For if the party joining them had
discovered the robbery of their storehouse, there would have been little
mercy. Oh, Mam'selle, how can so sweet a being be so cold and
unyielding?"

"I have told you the secret of it. I do not love you. I do not want you
for a husband. But I will keep my promise. Give me time to get well. It
may not look so terrible to me then."

How lovely she was in her pleading, even if it did deny. He could have
snatched her to his heart and stifled her with kisses, yet he did not
dare to touch so much as her little finger. What strange power held her
aloof? But if she was once his wife----

"A month," he pleaded.

"Longer than that. Three months. Three whole moons. Then you may come
again and I will answer you."

His face paled with anger, his eyes were points of flame, his blood was
hot within him.

"I will not wait."

"Then you may have my dead body."

"But you break your promise."

"I ask you to wait," she said, in a steady tone. "That is all."

"And you will not seek to die, Mam'selle?"

"I will be your wife then. Now go. I am too tired to argue any more."

A sudden ray of hope kindled in the Indian's heart. He would see M.
Destournier, and lay the case before him, and beg his assistance. Surely
he could not refuse, when his life had been saved!

Rose leaned back in a half-faint. Oh, surely God would take her before
that time. But she had promised in good faith. Matters might look
different to her when she was strong once more.

Savignon meant to be armed at all points. He went up to the St. Charles
and laid his case before one of the fathers. His fine bearing and
intelligence won him much favor.

"Men often married Indian women, who made good wives. In this case if
the woman desired to take him for her husband, there could be no real
objection; it was between the two parties. No over-persuasion was to be
used. And if her friends or parents consented, it would be right enough.
Only they must truly love each other."

He knew now she did not truly love him. You might beat an Indian woman
into obedience--he had never struck one since he had come to manhood.
But this beautiful being, who was like a bit of flame, would be blown
out by harshness or force, and one would have only the cold body left.
If he could not make her love him at the end of the three months----

Then he sought Destournier, and laid the tale before him. He had won
Mademoiselle honorably. She had given her promise. At the end of the
three months he would come for her. Now he had resolved to go to the
islands, since it would be wretched to stay here and not see Mam'selle.

"Yes, the best thing," Destournier said, but he was stunned by the
bargain. Was his life to cost that sacrifice? There must be some way of
preventing it.

As the days went on he considered various plans. This was why Rose was
so languid and unlike herself. Perhaps the hard winter and poor food had
something to do with it. She had bought his life at too great a
sacrifice. And then came the sweet, sad knowledge that he loved her,
also.

The spring was quite early. Men began to work in their gardens and mend
the damages of the winter, but with a certain fear of what was to come.
And one day Destournier found Rose sitting in the old gallery, where she
had run about as a child. But she was a child no longer. The
indescribable change had come. There were womanly lines in her figure,
although it was thinner than of yore, and the light in her eyes deeper.

He had given up the house to her and the two Indian women, with Pani for
attendant. M. Pontgrave had been a great invalid through the winter, and
besought the younger man's company. The Sieur often came in and they
talked over the glowing plans and dreams of the earlier days, when they
were to rear a city that the mother country could be proud of.

He understood why Rose had shunned him, and whenever he resolved to take
up this troublous subject his courage failed him. Saved from this
marriage she surely must be. In a short time Savignon would return. He
had known of two women who had cast in their lots with the better-class
Indians at Tadoussac, and were happy enough. But they were not Rose.

He came slowly over to her now. She looked up and smiled. Much keeping
indoors of late had made her skin fair and fine, but her soft hair had
not shed all its gold.

"Rose," he began, then paused.

She flushed, but made a little gesture, as if he might be seated beside
her.

"Rose," he said again, "in the winter you saved my life. I have known it
for some time."

Her breath came with a gasp. How had he learned this, unless Savignon
had come before the time?

"And you paid a great price for it."

"Oh, oh!" she clasped her hands in distress. "How did you know it?"

"Savignon told me before he went away. He asked my consent to your
marriage. I could not give it then. He will soon return. I cannot give
it now."

"But it was a promise. Monsieur, your life was of more account than
mine."

"Do you think I will accept the sacrifice? I have been weak and cowardly
not to settle this matter before, not to give you the assurance that I
will make a brave fight for your release."

"I was very sad and frightened at first, partly ill, as well, and I
hoped not to live. But the good God did not take me. And if He meant me
to do this thing, keep my word, I must do it. I asked Father Jamay one
time about promises, and he said when one had vowed a vow it must be
kept. And I have prayed for courage when the time comes. See, I am quite
tranquil."

She raised her face and he read in it a nobly spiritual expression. He
recalled now that she had gone up to the convent quite often with
Wanamee, and that more than once she had slipped into Madame de
Champlain's _prie-dieu_, that her husband never would have disturbed.
Was she finding fortitude and comfort in a devotion to religion that
would strengthen her to meet this tremendous sacrifice? She looked like
a saint already.

She could not tell him that he knew only half, that he might still be
the object of Savignon's vengeance, if she failed to keep her word.

"Perhaps the Sieur will have something to say, if my wishes fail.
Unless you tell me you love this Indian, and that seems monstrous to me,
this marriage shall never take place."

"It must, it must," she said, though her face was like marble, where it
had been human before. "M'sieu, what is right must be done. I promised,
and you were saved."

"Of your own free will? Rose," he caught both hands in a pressure that
seemed to draw her soul along with it, "answer me truly."

"Of my will, yes, Monsieur." Her white throat swelled with the anguish
she repressed.

"You have left out the 'free,'" but he knew well why she could not utter
it.

"Monsieur, I think you would be noble enough to give your life for a
friend"--she was about to say "whom you loved," but she caught her voice
in time.

Was this heroic maiden the little girl who had run wild in the old town,
and sung songs with the birds; who had been merry and careless, but
always a sweet human Rose; the child he had taken to his heart long ago,
the girl he had watched over, the woman--yes, the woman he loved with a
man's first fervent passion! She should not go out of his life, now that
God had made a space for her to come in it. Miladi he had given up to
Laurent Giffard, she had never belonged to him in the deep sacredness of
love. And as he watched her, his eyes seeming to look into her soul,
through the motes of light that illumined them, he knew it was not
simply that she had no love for the Indian, but that she loved him. It
seemed the sublime moment of his life, the sweetest consciousness that
he had ever known.

"You gave something greater than life. Listen," and he drew his brows
into a resolute line. "When that man comes we will have it out between
us. For I love you, too. I owe you a great reward that only a life's
devotion can pay. I am much older, but I seem to have just awakened to
the dream of bliss that sanctifies manhood. My darling, if a better man
came, I could give you up, if I went hungering all the rest of my days.
But you shall not go to certain wretchedness. And he must see the truth.
That is the way a man should love."

Her slender, white throat rose and fell like a heartbeat. With Savignon
she would be loved with a fierce passion, for the man's supreme joy;
this man would love for the woman's joy.

"Monsieur, I have studied the subject, and I think it is right. I pray
you, do not disturb my resolve. It has been made after many prayers. If
the good Father should change His mind--but that is hardly to be thought
of. Do not let us talk about it," and she rose.

For instead of throwing herself in the river, as she had thought in her
wildness, she could cross to France, and enter a convent, if she could
not endure it.

Ralph Destournier saw that argument was useless. When the time came, he
would act.

But May passed without bringing the lover. Quebec was beginning to take
courage, and what with hunting and fishing, semi-starvation was at an
end. Emigrants came back and all was stir and activity in the little
town.

There came a letter to Rose, after a long delay. Savignon had joined a
party of explorers, who were pushing westward, and marvelled at the
wonderful country. He had pondered much over his desires, and while his
love was still strong, he did not want an unwilling bride. He would give
her a longer time to consider--a year, perhaps. He had wrung a reluctant
assent from her, he admitted, and taken an ungenerous advantage. For
this he would do a year's penance, without sight of the face that had so
charmed him.

Was he really brave enough to do that? Rose thought so. Destournier
believed it some new attraction to the roving blood of the wilderness.

But Rose would not wholly accept her freedom. Still she was more like
the Rose of girlhood, though she no longer climbed or ran races. The
Sieur was whiling away the heavy hours of uncertainty by teaching
several Indian girls, and Rose found this quite a pleasure.

The servant came in with some news. Not the French vessel they hoped
for, but an English man-of-war, with two gunboats, was approaching.

If defence had been futile before, it was doubly so now. The fort was
out of repair, the guns useless from lack of ammunition, there was no
provision to sustain a siege. A small boat with a flag of truce rounded
the point, and with a heavy heart Champlain displayed his on the fort.

The two brothers of Captain David Kirke, who was now at Tadoussac, had
again been sent to propose terms of surrender. The English were to take
possession in the name of their king.

It was a sad party that assembled around the large table, where so many
plans and hopes had stirred the brave hearts of the explorers and
builders-up of new France. Old men they were now, Pontgrave a wreck from
rheumatism, a few dead, and Champlain, with the ruin of his ambitions
before him. There was some vigorous opposition to the demands, but there
was clearly no alternative but surrender. Hard as the terms were, they
must be accepted. And on July 20, 1629, the lilies of France ceased to
wave over Quebec, dear old Quebec, and Captain Louis Kirke took
possession of the fort and the town, in the name of His Majesty, King
Charles I, and the standard of England floated quite as proudly over the
St. Lawrence.

Did they dream then that this scene would be enacted over again when a
new Quebec, proud of her improvements and defences, that were considered
impregnable, should fight and lose one of the greatest of battles, and
two of the bravest of men, and again lower the lilies! A greater romance
than that of old Quebec, the dream of the Sieur de Champlain.

But it seemed a sad travesty that the mother country should send succor
too late. A French vessel, with emigrants and supplies, came in sight
only to fall into the hands of the victorious English.

Captain Emery de Caen insisted that peace had been declared two months
before, but the Kirkes would not admit this. It was said that all
conquests after that date were to be restored. A new hope animated the
heart of the brave old Commandant. If it were true, the lilies might
replace the flaunting standard.

Many of the citizens preferred to remain. They had their little homes
and gardens, and the English proved not overbearing. Then there was an
end to present want. A hundred and fifty men gave the town a new
impetus, and when the next fleet came, with the large war-ships, there
was a certain aspect of gayety, quite new to the place.

After some discussion, Champlain resolved to return to France, and
thence to England, to understand the terms of peace, and if possible, to
win New France once more.

Ralph Destournier was a Frenchman at heart, though a little English
blood ran in his veins. He had a strong desire to see France.

"Will you go?" he asked of Rose.

"Not until the year is ended," she said gravely. "But if you will
go--Wanamee and Pani can care for me. I am a little girl no longer."

It was true. There was no more little girl, but there was no more old
Quebec. It had already taken on a different aspect. Officers and men in
bright uniforms climbed the narrow, crooked streets, with gay jests, in
what seemed their rough language; there were little taverns opened,
where the fife and drum played an unmelodious part. Religion was free,
for there had come to be a number of Huguenots, as well as of the new
English church. The poor priests were at their wits' end, but they were
well treated.

Eustache Boullé was to go with the Sieur, but he never returned. He took
a rather fond farewell of Rose. "If you would go, we might find
something of your family," he said. "I once had a slight clew."

"Is it not worth looking after?" asked Destournier, as he and Rose were
walking the plateau, since known as the Plains of Abraham. "If you were
proved of some notable family--there have been so many over-turns."

"Would you feel prouder of me?"

"No. Do you not know that you are dearer to me as the foundling of
Quebec, and the little girl I knew and loved?"

She raised luminous eyes and smiled.

"Then I do not care. No place will seem like home but this."

He would not go to France, but busied himself with his fields and his
tenants. He came back to the old house, altered a little, the room where
miladi had spent her fretful invalid years was quite remodelled. Vines
grew up about it. The narrow steps were widened.

Autumn came, and winter. The cold and somewhat careless living carried
off many of the English. But Madame Hébert had married again, and
Thérèse had found a husband. There was Nicolas Revert, with some growing
children. Duchesne, a surgeon, they had been glad to welcome. Thomas
Godefroy, Pierre Raye, and the Couillards formed quite a French colony.
They met now and then, and kept the old spirit alive with their songs
and stories.

June had come again, and the town had begun to bloom. There were still
parties searching for the north sea, for the route to India, for the
great river that was said to lie beyond the lakes. The priests, too,
were stretching out their lines, especially the Jesuits, about whom
still lingers the flavor of heroic martyrdom. Father Breibouf coming
back for a short stay, to get some new word from France, told the fate
of one unfortunate party. Among them he said "was that fine Indian
interpreter, Savignon, who you must remember went to the rescue of a
party the last time he was in Quebec. He was a brave man, and a great
loss to us. He had come to an excellent state of mind, and was one of
the few Indians that give me faith in the salvation of the race."

Rose's eyes were lustrous with tears as she listened to this eulogy. He
had proved nobler than his first passion of love. She had some Masses
said for his soul, but it pleased her better to give thanks to God for
his redemption.

"Now you belong to no one but me," Destournier said to her some weeks
later, when she had recovered from her sorrow. "Yet I feel that it is
selfish to take your sweet youth. I am no longer young. I shall always
be a little lame, and never perhaps realize my dream of prosperity. But
I love you. I loved you as a little girl, you have always, in some
fashion, belonged to me."

"I am glad to belong to you, to take your name. Do you remember that I
have no other name but Rose? You are very good to shelter me thus. I
think I could never have gone gladly to any one else. We are a part of
old Quebec, we are still French," and there was a little triumph in her
tone.

It was true the English had taken possession after peace had been
declared, and had not the right to hold the country. When France
demanded the recession King Charles held off, and the Kirkes were
unwilling to yield up the government, as they found great profit in the
fur trade. But needing money sorely, and as the Queen's dowry as a
French princess had only been half paid, he made this a condition, and
Richelieu accepted it.

So in 1632 Acadia, and all the important points in Canada, were ceded
back to France.

In the spring of the next year Champlain was again commissioned
Governor, and he set sail from Dieppe, with three vessels freighted with
goods, provisions, and the farming implements of that day, clothing and
some of the new hand-looms, beside seeds of all kinds. Two hundred
persons, many of them married couples, and farmers were to found a new
Quebec.

One May morning, just at sunrise, there was a great firing of bombards,
and for a brief while all was consternation and fear. But persons sent
out to explore, brought the welcome news of Champlain's return. Then
went up a mighty shout of joy, and the lilies of France were once more
unfurled to the breeze. There stood the stalwart old commander, whose
life work was crowned with success. All was gratulation. He must have
been touched by the ovation.

M. and Madame Destournier were among the throng, while Wanamee carried
the little son, who stared about with wondering eyes, and smiled as if
he enjoyed the glad confusion.

Even the Indians vied with the French, as he was triumphantly escorted
up the cliff, with colors flying and drums beating, and once more
received the keys of the fort. The spontaneous welcome showed how deep
he was in the affections of the people. He had been thwarted in many of
his plans, neglected, traduced, but this hour made amends.

"Little Rose," he said, "thou art a part of old Quebec, but thy son
begins with the new régime. Heaven bless and prosper thee and thy
husband. I should have missed thee sorely had any untoward event
happened."

The settlement at the foot of the cliff had been burned, but the upper
town, as it came to be called, had stretched out. The Héberts were on
the summit of the cliff, that part of the town where the ancient
bishops' palace stood for so long. Many of the former settlers had come
up here.

"I had hoped Madame de Champlain would return with him," Rose said. "I
wonder if any time will ever come when I shall love myself better than
you."

He bent over and kissed her. He had never quite understood love or known
what happiness was until now.

When the Indians learned of the return of their beloved white chief,
they planned to come in a body, and salute him. Algonquins, Ottawas,
Montagnais, and the more friendly Hurons, came with their gifts, and
smoked the pipe of peace.

In the autumn Champlain commenced the first parochial church, called,
appropriately, Notre Dame de Recouvrance. The Angelus was rung three
times a day. For now the brave old soldier had grown more religious,
there were no more exploring journeys, no more voyages across the stormy
ocean. He had said good-bye to his wife for the last time, though now,
perhaps, he understood her mystical devotion better.

It was indeed a new Quebec. There was no more starvation, no more
digging of roots, and searches for edible food products. Their anxious
faces gave way to French gayety. Up and down the steep road-way, leading
from the warehouses to the rough, tumble-down tenements by the river,
men passed and repassed with jests and jollity, snatches of song or a
merry good-day, for it was indeed good. There were children of mixed
parentage, playing about, for Indian mothers were no uncommon thing. The
fort, the church, and the dwellings high up above, gave it a picturesque
aspect. You heard the boatmen singing their songs of old France as they
went up and down the beautiful river. Stone houses began to appear,
though wigwams still remained. New streets were opened, but they were
loth to level the hills, and some of them remain to this day.

Ralph and Rose Destournier had a happy life. Children grew up around
them. A large, new house received them presently, but they kept a fond
remembrance for the old one that seemed somehow to belong exclusively to
Miladi and a dreamy sort of old life.

A mixed population it was, shaped by the sincerity of their religion.
There were priests in their gray and black cassocks, officers in brave
trappings, traders, Indians, farmers, stout and strong, and the
picturesque _coureurs de bois_, that came to be a great feature, and
added not a little to the romance of the place. They were not all mere
adventurers, but they loved a roving life. Settlements were made here
and there, an important one at Three Rivers, where the Récollets
established a mission. The summers were given over to work and business,
thronged with traders and trappers, but they found time in the winters
for much social life.

If the Sieur missed his old friend Hébert, there were others to take an
active interest in horticulture. Pontgrave was no more, but his grandson
kept up the name. A few years later the earnest young René de Robault
gave his fortune for the building of a college, and this kept the young
men from returning to old France for an education. Convent schools were
established, and Indian girls were trained in the amenities and
industries of social life. Montreal spread out her borders as well, the
Beauport road came to be a place of fine estates. All the way to the
mouth of the great river there were trading stations. The fur company's
business was good, there were new explorations to Lake Huron, Georgian
Bay, Lake Michigan, up to the Fox river.

Of the sons and daughters growing up in the Destournier household,
Hélène, who should have been a devotee, was a merry madcap, who exceeded
her mother in daring feats, a dark-eyed, laughing maid the Indian girls
adored. She could manage a canoe, she could fly, they said, she took
such wonderful leaps. Rose could sing like a bird and had a fondness for
all animals. Little Barbe was a dainty, loving being, always clinging to
her mother, and three sons were devoted to their father whose snowy
white hair was like a crown of silver. They loved to hear the old tales,
and fired with resentment when the lilies of France had to give way to
the flag of England.

"But they will never do it again," Robert Destournier would exclaim,
with flashing eyes.

But they did almost a century later. Robert was not there to strike a
useless blow for his beloved land. That belongs to the story of a newer
Quebec, and now all the romances are gathered up into history.

In the autumn of 1635 the brave, beloved Champlain passed away in the
heart of the city that had been his love, his ambition, his life-dream.
The explorer, the crusader, the sharer of toils and battles, his story
is one of the knightly romances of that period, and his name is
enshrined with that of old Quebec. Other heroes were to come, other
battles to be fought, much work for priest and civilian, but this is the
simplest, the bravest of them all, for its mighty work was done at great
odds.

To-day you find the Citadel, the old French fort, but the wharves and
docks run out in the river, and there are steamboats, instead of canoes.
There is the Market Place and the City Hall, the Grande Allée St. Louis
Place and Gate, the crowded business-point, with its ferries, the great
Louise basin and embankment. The city runs out to St. Charles river, and
stretches on and on until you reach the Convent of the Sacred Heart.
There are still the upper and the lower town, and the steep ways, the
heights that Wolfe climbed, the world-famed Plains of Abraham.

Everywhere is historic ground, monuments of courage, zeal, and religion.
The streets have old names. Here on a height so steep you wonder how
they are content to climb it, juts out a little stone eyrie, just as it
stood a hundred years ago. Three or four generations have lived within
its walls, and they are as French to-day as they were then. They want
nothing of the modern gauds of the present. Grandmothers used the clumsy
furniture, and it is almost worth a king's ransom, it has so many
legends woven around it.

There is the Château Frontenac, that recalls romance and bravery. There
are churches, with their stories. There are the old Jesuit barracks, out
of which went many a heroic soul to face martyrdom, there is the Chien
d'Or, with its stone dog gnawing a bone, and the romance of Nicolas
Jaquin Philibert, the brave Huguenot.

There are old graveyards, where rest the pioneers who prayed, and hoped,
and starved with Champlain. All the stories can never be written, all
the monuments that speak of glory do not tell of the sufferings. Yet
there were happy lives, and happy loves, as well. The storms die out,
the light and sunshine dry up the tears, and courage is given to go on.

The old French days have left their impress. Champlain will always be a
living memory, as the founder of one of the marvellous cities of the
world. Gay little girls run about and climb the heights, they dance and
sing, and have their festivals, and are happy in the thrice-renewed
Quebec. Many a Rose has blossomed and faded since the days of
Destournier.

THE END


       *       *       *       *       *


The "Little Girl" Series

By AMANDA M. DOUGLAS


    A Little Girl in Old New York

    A Little Girl of Long Ago
      A sequel to "A Little Girl in Old New York"

    A Little Girl in Old Boston

    A Little Girl in Old Philadelphia

    A Little Girl in Old Washington

    A Little Girl in Old New Orleans

    A Little Girl in Old Detroit

    A Little Girl in Old St. Louis

    A Little Girl in Old Chicago

    A Little Girl in Old San Francisco

    A Little Girl in Old Quebec

    A Little Girl in Old Baltimore

    A Little Girl in Old Salem

    A Little Girl in Old Pittsburg

For Sale by all Booksellers or will be sent postpaid on receipt of price.

A. L. BURT COMPANY, PUBLISHERS
52, 58 Duane Street          New York





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