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Title: The Bastonnais - Tale of the American Invasion of Canada in 1775-76
Author: Lespérance, John, 1838-1891
Language: English
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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.

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by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions
(www.canadiana.org))



THE BASTONNAIS:

TALE OF THE AMERICAN INVASION OF CANADA IN 1775-76.

BY

JOHN LESPERANCE.

TORONTO: BELFORD BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS. 1877.

     Entered according to the Act of Parliament of Canada, in the year
     one thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven, by BELFORD BROTHERS,
     in the office of the Minister of Agriculture.

TORONTO: WILLIAMS, SLEETH & MACMILLAN, PRINTERS, 124 BAY STREET.



CONTENTS.


BOOK I.

THE GATHERING OF THE STORM.

CHAPTER
    I. Blue Lights
   II. Beyond the River
  III. At the Chateau
   IV. In Cathedral Square
    V. Receiving Despatches
   VI. Pauline's Tears
  VII. Beautiful Rebel
 VIII. The Hermit of Montmorenci
   IX. The Wolf's Cry
    X. The Casket
   XI. The Spirit of the Waterfall
  XII. Three Rivers
 XIII. A Successful Mission
  XIV. Crossing the Boats
   XV. The Meeting of the Lovers
  XVI. The Round Table
 XVII. A Noble Reparation
XVIII. Roderick Hardinge
  XIX. The Frightened Doves
   XX. The Spectral Army

BOOK II.

THE THICKENING OF THE CLOUDS.

    I. Zulma Sarpy
   II. Fast and Loose
  III. The Sheet-Iron Men
   IV. Birch and Maple
    V. On the Ramparts
   VI. The Flag of Truce
  VII. The Covered Bridge
 VIII. Cary Singleton
   IX. The Song of the Violin
    X. Blood Thicker than Water
   XI. Death in the Falls
  XII. Advice and Warning
 XIII. A Woman's Tactics
  XIV. The Romance of Love
   XV. On the High Road
  XVI. An Epic March
 XVII. O Gioventu Primavera Della Vita
XVIII. Braiding St Catherine's Tresses
  XIX. Par Nobile

BOOK III.

THE BURSTING OF THE TEMPEST.

    I. Quebec in 1775-76
   II. Cary's Message
  III. The Unremembered Brave
   IV. Practical Love
    V. Zulma and Batoche
   VI. The Ball at the Castle
  VII. The Attack of the Masks
 VIII. Unconscious Greatness
   IX. Pauline's Development
    X. On the Citadel
   XI. Horseman and Amazon
  XII. Was it Design or Accident?
 XIII. The Intendant's Palace
  XIV. Little Blanche
   XV. In Batoche's Cabin
  XVI. A Painful Meeting
 XVII. Nisi Dominus
XVIII. Last Days
  XIX. Près-de-Ville
   XX. Sault-au-Matelot

BOOK IV.

AFTER THE STORM.

    I. The Confessional
   II. Blanche's Prophecy
  III. The Prophecy Fulfilled
   IV. Days of Suspense
    V. The Invalid
   VI. The Saving Stroke
  VII. Donald's Fate
 VIII. The Burdened Heart
   IX. Ebb and Flow
    X. On the Brink
   XI. In the Vale of the Shadow of Death
  XII. In the Fiery Furnace
 XIII. Roderick's Last Battle
  XIV. At Valcartier
   XV. Friendship Stronger than Love
  XVI. The Hour of Gloom
 XVII. The Great Retreat
XVIII. Consummatum Est
  XIX. Final Quintet



THE BASTONNAIS



BOOK I. THE GATHERING OF THE STORM.



I.

BLUE LIGHTS.


He stood leaning heavily on his carbine. High on his lonely perch, he
slowly promenaded his eye over the dusk landscape spread out before him.
It was the hour of midnight and a faint star-light barely outlined the
salient features of the scenery. Behind him wound the valley of the St.
Charles black with the shadows of pine and tamarac. Before him rose the
crags of Levis, and beyond were the level stretches of the Beauce. To
his left the waterfall of Montmorenci boomed and glistened. To his right
lay silent and deserted the Plains of Abraham, over which a vapor of
sanguine glory seemed to hover. Directly under him slept the ancient
city of Champlain. A few lights were visible in the Chateau of St Louis
where the Civil Governor resided, and in the guard-rooms of the Jesuit
barracks on Cathedral-square, but the rest of the capital was wrapped in
the solitude of gloom. Not a sound was heard in the narrow streets and
tortuous defiles of Lower Town. A solitary lamp swung from the bows of
the war-sloop in the river.

He stood leaning heavily on his carbine. To have judged merely from his
attitude, one would have said that he was doing soldier's duty with only
a mechanical vigilance. But such was not the case. Never was sentry set
upon watch of heavier responsibility, and never was watch kept with
keener observation. Eye, ear, brain--the whole being was absorbed in
duty. Not a sight escaped him--from the changes of cloud in the lowering
sky over the offing, to the deepening of shadows in the alley of Wolfe's
Cove. Not a sound passed unheard--from the fluttering wing of the
sparrow that had built its winter nest in the guns of the battery, to
the swift dash of the chipmunk over the brown glacis of the
fortifications. Standing there on the loftiest point of the loftiest
citadel in America, his martial form detached from its bleak
surroundings, and clearly defined, like a block of sculptured marble,
against the dark horizon--silent, alone and watchful--he was the
representative and custodian of British power in Canada in the hour of a
dread crisis. He felt the position and bore himself accordingly.

Roderick Hardinge was a high-spirited young fellow. He belonged to the
handful of militia which guarded the city of Quebec, and he resented the
imputations which had been continually cast, during the preceding two
months, on the efficiency of that body. He knew that the Americans had
carried everything before them in the upper part of the Colony. Schuyler
had occupied Isle-aux-Noix without striking a blow. Five hundred
regulars and one hundred volunteers had surrendered at St. Johns.
Bedell, of New Hampshire, had captured Chambly, with immense stores of
provisions and war material. Montgomery was marching with his whole army
against Montreal. The garrison of that city was too feeble to sustain an
attack and must yield to the enemy. Then would come the turn of Quebec.
Indeed, it was well known that Quebec was the objective point of the
American expedition. As the fall of Quebec had secured the conquest of
New France by the British in 1759, so the capture of Quebec was expected
to secure the conquest of Canada by the Americans in the winter of
1775-76. This was perfectly understood by the Continental Congress at
Philadelphia. The plan of campaign was traced out with this view for
General Schuyler, and when that officer resigned the command, owing to
illness, after his success at St. Johns, Montgomery took up the same
idea and determined to carry it out. From Montreal he addressed a letter
to Congress in which he said pithily: "till Quebec is taken, Canada is
unconquered."

Roderick Hardinge was painfully aware that the authorities of Quebec had
little or no confidence in the ability of the militia for the purposes
of defence. It was necessary in the interest of that body, as well as in
the interest of the city, that this prejudice should be exploded.
Hardinge undertook to do it. No time was to be lost. In a fortnight
Quebec might be invested. He set to work with the assistance of only one
tried companion. Their project was kept a profound secret even from the
commander of the corps.

It was the night of the 6th November, 1775. Hardinge left headquarters
unnoticed and unattended, and proceeded at once to the furthest outpost
of the citadel. He was hailed by the sentinel and gave the countersign.
Then, addressing the soldier by name--the man belonged to his
regiment--he ordered him to hand over his musket. No questions were
asked and no explanations were given. Hardinge was an officer, and the
simple militiaman saw no other course than obedience. If he had any
curiosity or suspicion, both were relieved by the further order to keep
out of sight, but within hailing distance, until his services should be
required. The signal was to be a whistle.

Roderick Hardinge remained on guard from ten till twelve. As we have
seen, he was sharply observant of everything that lay before him. But
there was one point of the horizon to which his eye more assiduously
turned. It was the high road leading from Levis over the table-land of
the Beauce back to the forests. It was evidently from this direction
that the object of his watch was to appear. And he was not disappointed.

Just as the first stroke of twelve sounded from the turret of Notre-Dame
Cathedral, a blue light shot into the air from a point on this road, not
more than a hundred yards from the river bank.

Roused by the sight, Roderick straightened himself up, snatched his
carbine from his left side, threw it up on his right shoulder and
presented arms.

The sixth stroke of midnight was just heard, when a second blue light
darted skyward, but this time fully fifty yards nearer. The man who
fired it was evidently running toward the river.

Roderick made a step forward and uttered a low cry.

The last stroke of the twelve had hardly been heard, when a third light
whizzed up from the very brink of the river.

Roderick turned briskly round and gave a shrill whistle. The faithful
soldier, whose watch he had assumed, immediately rushed forward, had his
musket thrust back into his hands, with an injunction from Hardinge to
keep silence. The latter had barely time to recede into the darkness
when the relief-guard, consisting of a corporal and two privates, came
to the spot and the usual formality of changing sentries was gone
through.



II.

BEYOND THE RIVER.


With a throbbing heart, Roderick Hardinge walked rapidly over the brow
of the citadel into Upper Town. He glanced up at the Chateau as he
passed, but the lights which were visible there two hours before, were
now extinguished, and the Governor was sleeping without a dream of the
mischief that was riding out upon the city that night. He passed through
the Square and overhead the wassail of the officers over their wine and
cards. He answered the challenge of the sentinel at the gate which
guarded the heights of Mountain Hill, and doubled his pace down that
winding declivity. The old hill has been the scene of many an historic
incident, but surely of none more momentous than this midnight walk of
Roderick Hardinge. Along the dark, narrow streets of Lower Town,
stumbling over stones and sinking into cavities. Not a soul on the way.
Not a sign of life in the square, black warehouses, with their
barricades of sheet-iron doors and windows.

In twenty minutes, the young officer had reached the river at the point
where now stands the Grand Trunk wharf. A boat with two oars lay at his
feet. Without a moment's hesitation he stepped into it, unfastened the
chain that held it to the bank, threw the oars into their locks, and,
with a vigorous stroke, turned the boat's nose to the south shore. As he
did this, his eye glanced upward at the city. There it stood above him,
silent and unconscious. The gigantic rock of Cape Diamond towered over
him as if exultant in its own strength, and in mockery of his
forebodings. He rowed under the stern of the war-sloop. A solitary
lantern hung from her bows, but no watchman hailed him from her
quarter.

"The Horse Jockey is evidently a myth for them all," he murmured. "But
he will soon be found a terrible reality, and it's Roddy Hardinge will
tell them so."

The St. Lawrence is not so wide above Quebec as it is at other places
along its course, and in a quarter of an hour, the oarsman had reached
his destination. As the keel of his boat grated on the sands, a man
stepped forward to meet him. The officer sprang out and slapped him on
the shoulder.

"Good old boy, Donald."

"Thanks to you, maister."

"Punctual to a minute, as usual, Donald."

"Aye, sir, but 'twas a close scratch. The horse, I fear, feels it mair
than I do."

"No doubt, no doubt. Rode much?"

"Nigh on ten hours, sir, and nae slackened rein."

"Oh, but my heart leaped, Donald, when I saw your first rocket. I could
hardly believe my eyes."

"Just saved my distance, maister. If I had broken a gairth, I would have
been too late. But it's dune, sir."

"Yes, old friend, and well done."

The two men then entered upon a long and earnest conference, speaking in
low tones. From the animated manner of the old man and the frequent
exclamations of the younger, it was evident that important information
was being communicated by the one to the other. During a pause in the
conversation, Donald produced a small paper parcel which he handed to
Roderick Hardinge.

"'Twas stuckit in the seat o' my saddle, maister," said he, "an I wadna
hae lost it for the warld."

Roderick wrapped the parcel in his bandanna, and carefully placed it in
his breast pocket, after which he buttoned his coat to the chin.

At the end of half an hour, the two men prepared to separate.

"I will now hurry across," said Roderick. "And you, Donald, return to
the inn. You must need rest terribly."

"Twa hours or sae will set me to richts, sir."

"And your horse?"

"He's knockit up for gude, sir."

"Then get another and the best you can find. Here are fifty sovereigns.
Use them freely in His Majesty's name."

Donald bowed loyally and low.

"I will be awake and awa' a gude hour before dawn, maister Roddy. The
sunrise will see me weel oot o' the settlements."

"And we meet here again at midnight."

"Depend upon it, sir, unless the rapscallion rebels should catch and
hang me up to one of the tall aiks o' the Chaudière."

"Never fear, Donald; a traitor's death was never meant for an old
soldier of the King, like you."

The young officer entered his boat and immediately bent to the oars. The
old servant walked up the hill leading to Levis, and was soon lost in
the darkness.



III.

AT THE CHATEAU.


Roderick reached the north shore in safety. He fastened his boat to the
same green, water-worn bulwark from which he had loosened it not more
than an hour before. He walked up to the city along the same route which
he had previously followed. Nothing had changed. Everything was
profoundly quiescent. Every body was still asleep. If he courted
secrecy, he must have been content, for it was evident that no one had
been a witness of his strange proceedings.

When he got within the gates of Upper Town, his pace slackened
perceptibly. It was not hesitation, but deliberation. He paused a moment
in front of the barracks. The lights in the officers' quarters were out
and no sound came from the mess-room. This circumstance seemed to deter
him from entering, and he continued on his way direct to the Chateau St.
Louis. Having passed the guard satisfactorily, he rapped loudly at the
main portal. An orderly who was sleeping in his clothes, on a lounge in
the vestibule, sprang to his feet at once snatching up his dark lantern
from behind the door, and opened. Throwing the light upon the face of
his visitor, he exclaimed--

"Halloa, Hardinge, what the deuce brings you here at this disreputable
hour? Come in; it's blasted cold."

"I want to see His Excellency."

"Surely not just now? He was ailing last evening and retired early. I
don't think he would fancy being drummed up before daylight."

"Very sorry, but I must see him."

"Some little scrape, eh? Want the old gentleman to get you out of it
before the town has wind of it," said the orderly, who by this time was
thoroughly awake and disposed to be in good humor.

"Something far more serious, Simpson, I am concerned to say. You know I
would not call here at such an hour without the most urgent cause. I
really must see the Governor and at once."

This was said without any signs of impatience, but in so earnest a way,
that the orderly, who knew his friend well, felt that the summons could
not be denied. He, therefore, proceeded at once to have the Governor
awakened. With more celerity than either of the young men had looked
for, that official rose, dressed and stepped into his ante-chamber where
he sent for Hardinge to meet him. After a few words of apology, the
latter unfolded to His Excellency the object of his visit. He stated
that while every body in the city was busying himself about the invasion
of the Colony from the west, by the Continental army under Montgomery,
the other invading column from the east, under Arnold, was almost
completely lost sight of. For his part, he declared that he considered
it the more dangerous of the twain. It was composed of some very choice
troops, had been organized under the eye of Washington himself, and was
commanded by a dashing fellow. In addition to his other qualities,
Arnold had the incalculable advantage of a personal knowledge of the
city from several visits which he had quite lately paid it for
commercial purposes. The people of Quebec seemed completely to ignore
Arnold's expedition. They had a notion that it was or would be submerged
somewhere among the cascades of the Kennebec, or, at least, that it
would never succeed in penetrating so far as the frontier at Sertigan.

The Governor wrapped his dressing gown more closely about him, threw his
head back on the pillow of his arm-chair, and gave vent to a little yawn
or two, as if in gentle wonder whether it were worth while to rouse him
from his slumbers for the sake of all this information with which he was
quite familiar already. But the Governor was a patient, courteous
gentleman, and could not believe that even a militia officer would
presume so far on his good nature as to come to him at such an hour,
unless he had really something of definite importance to communicate.
He, therefore, did not interrupt his visitor. Roderick Hardinge
continued to say that, fearing lest Arnold should pounce like a vulture
upon the city while most of the troops of the Colony were with General
Carleton, near Montreal, and in the Richelieu peninsula, and while,
consequently, it was in an almost defenceless condition, he had
determined to find out for himself all the facts connected with his
approach. It might be presumption, on his part, but he had not full
confidence in the few reports on this head which had reached the city,
and wished to satisfy himself from more personal sources.

Here His Excellency smiled a little at the ingenuous confession of the
subaltern, but a moment later, he opened his eyes very wide, when
Roderick told him in minute detail all the circumstances which we have
narrated in the preceding chapters.

"Your man, Donald, is thoroughly reliable?" queried the
Lieutenant-Governor.

"I answer for him as I would for myself. He was an old servant of my
father's all through his campaigns."

"He says that Arnold has crossed the line?"

"Yes, Your Excellency."

"And that he is actually marching on Quebec?"

"Yes, Your Excellency."

"And that he is within----?"

"Sixty miles of the city."

The Lieutenant-Governor plucked his velvet bonnet from his head and
flung it on the table.

"Did you say sixty miles?"

"Sixty miles, sir."

His Excellency quietly took up his cap, set it on his head, threw
himself back in his seat, placed his elbows on the elbows of the chair,
closed his palms together perpendicularly, moved them up and down before
his lips, and with his eyes cast to the ceiling, entered upon this
little calculation.

"Sixty miles. At the rate of fifteen miles a day, it will take Mr.
Arnold four days to reach Levis. This is the seventh, is it not? Then,
on the eleventh, we may expect that gentleman's visit."

"Arnold will make two forced marches of thirty miles each, Your
Excellency, and arrive opposite this city in two days. This is the
seventh; on the ninth, we shall see his vanguard on the heights of
Levis."

"Ho! Ho! And is that the way the jolly rebel is carrying on? He must
have had a wonderful run of luck all at once. The last we heard from
him, his men had mutinied and were about to disband."

"That was because they were starving."

"And have they been filled, forsooth?"

"They have, sir."

"By whom?"

"By our own people at Sertigan and further along the Chaudière."

"But horses? They are known to have lost them all in the wilderness."

"They have been replaced."

"Not by our own people, surely."

"Yes, sir, by our own people."

"Impossible. Our poor farmers have been robbed and plundered by these
rascals."

"Excuse me, Your Excellency, but these rascals pay and pay largely for
whatever they require."

"In coin?"

"No, sir, in paper."

"Their Continental paper?"

"The same."

"Rags, vile rags."

"That may be. But our farmers accept them all the same and freely."

Roderick here produced the small parcel which he had deposited in his
breast pocket, and having unfolded it, drew forth several slips which he
handed to His Excellency. They were specimens of American currency, and
receipts signed by Arnold and others of his officers for cattle and
provisions obtained from Canadian farmers.

"Indeed," continued the young officer, "Your Excellency will excuse me
for saying that, from all the information in my possession--information
upon which I insist that you can implicitly rely--it is beyond question
that the population, through which the invading column has passed and is
passing, is favourable to their cause. A trumpery proclamation written
by General Washington himself, and translated into French, has been
distributed among them, and they have been carried away by its fine
sentences about liberty and independence. These facts account for all
the misleading and false reports which we have hitherto received
concerning the expedition. We have been purposely and systematically
kept in the dark in regard to it. Left to itself, Arnold's army would
have disbanded through insubordination, or perished of starvation and
hardship in the wilderness. Comforted and replenished by His Majesty's
own subjects, it is now marching with threatening front toward Quebec."

"Traitors to the King in the outlying districts cannot unfortunately be
so easily reached as those who lie more immediately under our eyes. But
their time will come yet. Meanwhile, we have to keep a sharp watch over
disaffection and treason within the walls of this very city," said the
Lieutenant-Governor with great earnestness and very perceptible warmth.

"This parcel may probably assist Your Excellency in doing so," replied
Hardinge, at the same time delivering the remainder of the package which
he had received from Donald.

"What have we here?" questioned the Governor, while unfastening the
strings which bound the parcel.

"Letters from Colonel Arnold to General Schuyler, the original commander
of the army of invasion. Arnold will be surprised, if not chagrined, to
learn that Schuyler has been succeeded by Montgomery."

"Ah! I see. Well, as these letters are not addressed to General
Montgomery, and as Gen. Schuyler has left the country, it will be no
breach of etiquette on our part if we open them. No doubt they will
furnish very interesting reading. And these?"

"They are letters from Arnold to several prominent citizens of Quebec."

"Impossible."

"Your Excellency will please read the addresses."

The Governor examined the superscriptions one by one, and in silence,
while he made his comments in an undertone.

"Mr. L.--It does not surprise me."

"Mr. F.--I shall inquire into it."

"Mr. O.--As likely as not."

"Mr. R.--Must be some mistake. He is too big a fool to take sides one
way or the other."

"Mr. G.--His wife will have to decide that matter for him."

"Mr. X.--I'll give him a commission, and he'll be all right."

"Mr. N.--I don't believe a word of it."

"Mr. H.--Loose fish. He was false to France under Montcalm. He may be
false to England under Carleton."

And so on through a dozen more. At length he came upon the twentieth
address, when he exclaimed:

"Mr. B.--Impossible! My best friend! But what if it were true? Who knows
what these dark days may bring about? B--! B--! I will see to it at
once."

Saying which, he flung all the letters on the table, and striving to
master his excitement, turned towards Roderick Hardinge, and asked:

"Have you anything else to say to me, my young friend?"

"Nothing more, sir, unless it be to apologize for having occupied so
much of your time, and especially at this hour."

"Never mind that. If what you have told me is all true, the information
is incalculable in importance. I shall lose no time in acting, and shall
not forget you, nor your old servant. I will send out scouts at once,
and proceed myself to the examination of these letters which you have
placed in my hands. The situation is grave, young man. You have done
well, and to show you how much I appreciate your conduct, I intend
employing you on a further mission. You have not slept this night?"

"No, Your Excellency."

"It is now half-past five. Go and rest till noon. At that hour come to me
with the best saddle horse in your regiment. I will give you your
instructions then."

Roderick Hardinge gave the salute and took his departure just as the
first streaks of dawn lighted the sky.

No one accosted him in the vestibule. The sentinel at the entrance did
not even notice him. He walked straight to the barracks. As he crossed
the Cathedral-square, a graceful hooded figure glided past him and
entered into the old church. It was pretty Pauline Belmont. Roderick
recognized her, and turned to speak to her, but she had disappeared
under the arcade. Alas! if either of them had known.



IV.

IN CATHEDRAL SQUARE.


There was a notable stir in Quebec on the morning of the 7th November,
1775. The inhabitants who had retired to their houses, the evening
before, in the security of ignorance, rose the next day with the vague
certainty of an impending portent. There was electricity in the air. The
atmosphere was charged with moral as well as material clouds. People
opened their windows and looked out anxiously. They stood on their
doorsteps as if timorous to go forward. They gathered in knots on the
street corners and conferred in low tones. There was nothing definite
known. Nobody had seen anything. Nobody had heard anything. Yet all
manner of wild stories circulated through the crowds. Strange fires were
said to have burned in the sky during the night. A phantom sentinel had
kept watch on the citadel, a spectral waterman had crossed the river
with muffled oars, a shadowy horseman from the forest had dashed through
Levis, and his foaming steed had fallen dead on the water's edge. Those
who disbelieved might see the corse of the animal in a sand-quarry not a
hundred yards from where he fell. And there was more. A mysterious
visitor had called upon the Governor in the small hours. A long
conference had taken place between them. The Governor was in a towering
rage, and the stranger had departed upon another errand as singular as
that which had brought him to the Chateau. These and other more
fantastic rumors flew from mouth to mouth and from one end of the city
to the other. It is wonderful how near the truth of things above them
the ignorant crowd can come, and how powerful is the instinct of great
events in vulgar minds. By ten o'clock Quebec was in an uproar, and
Cathedral-square was full of people.

Facing the Square from the east was the barracks. But no signs of
commotion were visible there. Two sentries walked up and down their long
beats as quietly as if on parade. Privates who were off duty stood
leaning against the wall or the door-frames of the building, with their
hands in their pockets and one leg resting over the other. Some even
smoked their pipes with that half-blank, half-truculent expression which
people find so provoking in public officials at times of popular
excitement. Still a close inspection showed that the military were
busier than usual. Patrol guards issued from the courtyard at more
frequent intervals, and the knowing ones observed that they were
doubled. It was noticed also that more parts of the city were being
guarded than the day before. For instance, fully one hundred men were
detached for service along the line of the river where previously there
were few or none. Officers, too, were constantly riding to and from the
barracks, evidently carrying orders. Passing through the Square, they
moved slowly, but in the side streets accelerated their pace.

The forenoon thus wore away. The sky kept on thickening and lowering
until it broke into a snow-storm. A light east wind arose, and the white
flakes tossed and whirled, blotting out the lines of the horizon. The
heights of Levis melted in the distance, the bed of the river was
surmounted by a wall of vapor, and the tall rock of the citadel wavered
like a curtain of gauze. What a delicious sense of isolation is produced
by an abundant snowfall. It hems you in from all the world. You extend
your hand feeling for your neighbor, and you touch nothing but a
palpable mist. You raise your face to the heavens, and the soft touch of
the flossy drops makes you close your eyes as in a dream. The great
crowd in the Square was thus broken into indistinct groups, and its
mighty rumor dwindled to a murmur in the heavy atmosphere. But all the
same the expectant and anxious multitude was there, and its numbers were
continually increasing. Women, wrapped in scarfs or muffled in hoods,
now added to its volume. Priests from the neighboring Seminary, in
shovel hats, Roman collars, and long black cloaks, quietly edged their
way through the masses. And the irrepressible small boy, the very same a
hundred years ago as he is to-day, dashed in and out, from the centre of
the crowd to its circumference, intent upon seeing and hearing
everything, yet blissfully incurious of the dread secret of all this
gathering.

Suddenly there was a movement in the centre of the Square. The
concentric circles of people felt it successively till it rippled to the
very outskirts of the assemblage. Everybody inquired of his neighbor
what had happened.

"Two men are fighting," said one.

"A woman has fallen into a fit," said another.

"Old Boniface is glancing a jig," said a third.

Whereupon there was a laugh, for Boniface was a mountebank of La
Canardiere, famous in the city and all the country side.

"A Bastonnais prisoner has just been brought in," said a fourth.

At this a serious interest was manifested. A Bastonnais prisoner meant
an American prisoner. The expedition of Arnold was known to have started
from Boston. Hence its members were called Bostonese. Bastonnais is a
rustic corruption for the French Bostonnais, and the corruption has
extended to our day. The whole American invasion is still known among
French Canadians as _la guerre des Bastonnais_. There is always a
certain interest attached to national solecisms, and we have retained
this one.

"It is none of any of these things," said a grave old gentleman, who was
working his way out of the crowd with a scared look.

"What is it?" asked several voices at once.

"One of our own citizens has been arrested."

"Arrested! arrested!"

"Well, if he is not arrested, he is at least summoned to the Chateau."

"Who is it?"

"M. Belmont."

"What! the father of our nationality, the first citizen of Quebec? It
cannot be."

"Ah, my friends! let us disperse to our homes. This is a day of
ill-omen. Things look as if the sad times of the Conquest were
returning. '59 and '75! It seems that we have not suffered enough in
these sixteen years."

And the old gentleman disappeared from the throng.

What happened was simply this. A tall young man, dressed in a long
military coat, had for a time mingled in the crowd, looking at nearly
every one as he moved along. When at length he was well in the midst, he
seemed suddenly to recognize the object of his search, for he stepped
deliberately up to a middle-aged gentleman, and handed him a paper. With
a movement of surprise, the gentleman received the missive and looked
sharply at the messenger. He glanced at the address, while a perceptible
thrill shot over his features. He then hurriedly broke the seal and ran
his eye over the brief contents of the letter, after which he crumpled
it into his pocket.

"How long since this paper was despatched?" he asked rather testily of
the young messenger.

"Over an hour ago, sir."

"And why was it not delivered at once?"

"Because I could not find you at your residence, and had to seek you in
this dense multitude," was the firm, yet respectful reply.

"Are you an aide de camp of His Excellency?"

"I have that honor, sir."

"There is then no time to be lost. Let us go immediately."

The two men turned and a way was immediately opened for them by the
crowd, while a suppressed murmur greeted them as they passed. A frail
girl, with azure veil drawn closely over her face, hung heavily on the
arm of the elder. When they reached the corner of Fabrique-street, which
debouches into the Square at the north-west angle of the Cathedral,
these two separated.

"What does it mean, father?" asked the girl in a timid voice.

"Nothing, my child. Go home directly and await my return. I will be with
you within an hour."

The girl went up the narrow street, and the two men wended their way in
silence to the Chateau St. Louis.

After this incident the Square gradually emptied until only a few idlers
were left.



V.

RECEIVING DESPATCHES.


A little before noon Roderick Hardinge stepped down from his quarters
into the courtyard of the barracks, booted and spurred. A full-blooded
iron-grey charger, instinct with speed and strength in every limb, stood
saddled and bridled for him. The man who held him by the head happened
to be the soldier whose watch Hardinge had kept the night before.

"Is that you, Charles?" said the young officer tightening his girth by
two buckle holes.

"Yes, sir," replied the soldier, showing the white of his teeth.

"And all right this morning?"

"Yes, thank you, sir."

Hardinge vaulted into the saddle at one spring. Then lacing the reins in
his left hand, he continued:

"Not been blabbing, Charles?"

"Oh, no, sir. Mum's my word."

"That's right. But did you see everything?"

"I saw the three rockets, sir, if that's what you mean, and knew they
were meant for you. But what they were fired for I didn't know till this
morning, when I heard the talk in the Square. Folks are pretty wild
altogether this morning, sir."

"So they are, but they will be wilder when they know all. In the
meantime keep everything to yourself, Charles, till you hear from me
again. Good-bye."

The soldier touched his cap, and the officer trotted through the
archway.

A moment later he dismounted at the portal of the Chateau, threw the
bridle into the hands of a groom in waiting, and entered. The
Lieutenant-Governor was in his office, and evidently expected him, for
he immediately rose and congratulated him on his punctuality. He then
proceeded to business without delay.

"You are well mounted?"

"I think I have the fleetest and best-winded horse in the army."

"You will need him. Three Rivers is eighty miles from Quebec."

"As the crow flies, Your Excellency. By the road it is something more."

"You must be there by ten o'clock to-night."

"I will be there."

"Here are despatches for the Commandant of Three Rivers."

And he handed the officer a sealed package which the latter at once
secured in his waistcoat pocket.

"These despatches," the Governor continued, "contain all the information
of military movements in this vicinity which I have been able to procure
up to the last moment. But as no written statement can ever be so full
as a verbal communication, I authorize you to repeat to the authorities
of Three Rivers all the details which you gave me during the night.
There was considerable exaggeration in the story of your man
Donald"--here the Governor smiled a little--"but I have reason to
believe that the substance of it is true, and I am going to act upon it.
Arnold's column is marching on Quebec. That is the great point. Its
arrival is only a question of time. It may be in ten days, eight days,
six days, four days--"

"Or two days," Hardinge could not help suggesting in a jovial way.

"Yes, perhaps even two days," continued the Governor quite seriously.
"Hence the necessity of your speed to Three Rivers. When you spoke to me
this morning, I was so impressed that I resolved then to communicate
with the military posts up the river, but before actually sending you,
I thought it best to make further inquiries. The information I have now
received justifies me in despatching you at once. The letter of Arnold
to Schuyler and some of those he addressed to residents of this city,
especially one, yes, one"--and here, for a moment, the Governor got very
excited--"have revealed his whole plans to me. To horse then and away
for King and country."

Hardinge bowed and walked to the door. On reaching the threshold, he
paused and said:

"Pardon me, Your Excellency, but there is one thing I forgot to tell you
before, and which, perhaps, I ought to tell you now?"

"What is it?"

"I promised to meet Donald again to-night."

"When?"

"At twelve."

"Where?"

"On the other side of the river, just above the Point."

"Will he have important news?"

"It may or may not be important, but it will be fresh, inasmuch as he
will have been all day reconnoitering the enemy on a very fast horse."

"Can he not cross to this side?"

"He has no instructions to that effect. Besides, he will arrive at the
rendezvous at the last moment."

"Then I will meet him myself. Good morning."

Noon was just striking when Roderick cleared the gates and took the high
road to Three Rivers.



VI.

PAULINE'S TEARS.


When Pauline Belmont reached her home, after separating from her father
at the Square, she was considerably troubled. She could not define her
fears, if, indeed, she had any, but mere perplexity was enough to weigh
down her timid, shrinking little heart. She went up into her room, put
off her furs, and, as she removed her azure veil, there was the gleam of
tears in her beautiful brown eyes. She seated herself in her low rocking
chair, and placing her feet on the edge of the fender, looked sadly into
the flames. Little did Pauline know of the great world outside. Her home
was all the universe to her, and that home centred in her father. Mother
she had none. Sisters and brothers had died when she was a child. She
had spent her youth in the convent of the gentle Ursulines, and now that
she had finished her education, she had come to dedicate her life to the
solace of her father. M. Belmont was still in the prime of life, being
barely turned of fifty, but he had known many sorrows, domestic, social
and political, and the only joy of his life was his darling daughter. An
ardent Frenchman, he had lived through the terrible days of the Conquest
which had seared his brow like fire and left only ashes in his heart. He
had buried his wife on the memorable day that Murray made his triumphal
entry into Quebec, and within three years after that event, he laid
three babes beside their mother. Had Pauline died, he too should have
died, but as that lovely flower continued to blossom in the gloom of his
isolation, he consented to live, and at times even to hope a little for
her sake. Fortunately large remnants of his fortune remained to him.
Indeed, he was accounted one of the wealthiest men of Quebec. As his
daughter grew to womanhood, he used these riches to beautify his home
and make existence more enjoyable to her. He was also a generous friend
to the poor, especially those French families whom the war of 1759 and
1760, had reduced to destitution. Those who could not abide the altered
forms of British rule and who desired to emigrate to France, he assisted
by every means in his power, while those whom circumstances forced to
remain in the vanquished province always found in him a patron and
supporter. As time wore on, his friends induced him occasionally to
withdraw from his solitude and take a feeble part in public affairs. But
this interest was purely civic or municipal, never political. He
persistently kept aloof from legislative councils and his loyalty to
England was strictly passive. The ultra-British did not like him, always
putting him down in their books as a malcontent.

When the news of the revolt of the Thirteen Colonies reached Quebec, it
had at first no perceptible effect upon him. It was only a quarrel of
Englishmen with Englishmen. The casting of tea chests into the waters of
Boston Bay he scoffed at as a vulgar masquerade. The musketry of Concord
and Lexington found no echo in his heart. But when one day he read in
his favorite _Gazette de France_ that _la patrie_ had designs of
favoring the rebels, a flash of the old fire rose to his eyes, and he
tossed his head with a show of defiance. Then came the thunders of
Bunker Hill, and he listened complacently to their music. Then came
rumors of the rebel army marching into Canada with a view of
fraternizing with the conquered settlers of its soil. There was
something after all then in this revolution. It was not mere petulant
resistance to fancied oppression, but underlying and leavening it, there
was a germinating principle of freedom, a parent idea of autonomy and
nationality. He read the proceedings of the Congress at Philadelphia
with ever-increasing admiration, and for once he admitted the wisdom of
such British statesmanship as that of Pitt Burke and Barre, the immortal
friends of the American Colonies.

All these things little Pauline remembered and pondered as she sat in
her low chair looking into the fire. She did not do so in the
consecutive form or the big words which we have just employed, but her
remembrance was none the less vivid and her perplexity none the less
keen, for all the phases of her father's mental life were well known to
her in those simple intuitive ways which are peculiar to women. She
concluded by asking herself these questions:

"Has my father said or done anything to compromise himself within the
last few hours? Why did M. de Cramahé send for him in such haste? The
Governor is a friend of the family and must surely have cause for what
he has done. And why was my poor father so agitated, why the young
officer so grave, why the people so deeply impressed at the scene?"

She looked up at the clock over the mantel and found that an hour had
been spent in these musings. Her father had promised to be back within
that hour, and yet there were no signs of him. She went to the window
and looked out, but she failed to see his familiar form advancing
through the snow-storm.

We have said that Pauline's life was wholly wrapped up in her father.
That was strictly true in one sense, but in another sense, we must make
note of an exception. There were new feelings just awakening in her
heart. She was entering that delicious period of existence which is the
threshold of the paradise of love.

"Oh! if he were only to come," she murmured, "or if I could go to him.
He would relieve my anxiety at once. I will write him a note."

She went to her table and was preparing paper and pen, when the maid
entered the room and delivered her a letter.

"It is from himself, I declare," she exclaimed, and all the sorrow was
dispelled from her eyes. She opened the letter and read.

     Dear Pauline:--

     I saw you going into the church this morning and wanted to speak to
     you, but you were too quick for me. I should very much have liked
     to run up in the course of the forenoon, but that too was
     impossible. So I send a line to say that I am off at noon on
     military duty. I don't know yet where I am going, nor how long I
     shall be away. But I trust the journey will be neither far nor
     long. I shall see you immediately on my return. I suppose you and
     your father saw the crowd in the Square this morning. It was great
     fun. Give my respects to M. Belmont and believe me,

     Ever yours, devotedly,

     RODDY.

Pauline was still holding this note in her hand, thinking over it, when
her father surprised her by walking into the room. He was very pale, but
otherwise bore no marks of agitation. Setting his fur cap on the table
and throwing open his great coat, he took a seat near the hearth. Before
his daughter had time to say anything, he asked her quietly what she had
in her hand.

"It's a letter, papa?"

"From whom?"

"From Roddy."

"Roderick Hardinge? Burn it, my dear."

"But, papa--"

"Burn it at once."

"But he sends you his love."

"He has just sent me his hate. Burn it, my daughter."

Poor Pauline was overwhelmed with surprise and sorrow, but, without a
word further, she dropped the paper into the fire. Then throwing her
arms around her father's neck, she burst into a tempest of tears.



VII.

BEAUTIFUL REBEL.


Hardinge had not been gone more than half an hour when the skies lifted
and the snow-storm ceased. The wind then shifted to the north, driving
the drifts in banks against the fences and low stone walls, and leaving
the road comparatively clear. He thus had splendid riding in the open
spaces. He was in exultant spirits, of course, for he had everything in
his favor--a magnificent horse upon whose speed and endurance he could
rely, the opportunity of exploring a long stretch of country previously
unknown to him, and, above all, the sense of being employed on a
military expedition of the greatest importance. He had played for high
stakes and had won them. At one stroke, he had rehabilitated the militia
and brought his own name into prominence. The way was now open to him in
the career which he loved and which his father had honored. If all went
well with him he would win advancement and glory in this war. And he had
no misgivings. What young soldier has with the bright sky over his head,
the solid earth under his feet, the wide world before him, and the whiff
of coming battle in his nostrils?

He imparted his own animation to his steed. The noble grey fairly flew
over the ground, and Roderick saw from the first that he would have to
restrain rather than impel him. His first stoppage was at
Pointe-aux-Trembles, a beautiful village, which became historic during
the war of invasion and with which will be associated several of the
incidents of this story. He passed the inn of the place so as to avoid
the queries and comments of the loungers who might be congregated there,
and pulled up at a neat farm house on the outskirts. Without
dismounting, he asked that his horse might be watered, while he
requested for himself a bowl of milk and a few drops of that good old
Jamaica which all Canadian families had the good sense to keep in their
houses at this period. As he was thus comforting himself, he noticed a
pair of sparkling blue eyes laughing at him through the narrow panes of
the road window. He did not try to be very inquisitive, but he could not
help observing, in addition, that the roguish blue eyes belonged to a
face of rare beauty, and that the form of the lady--for she was a lady,
every inch of her--so far as it could be defined by the diminutive
aperture, was of an exquisitely graceful mould. One observation led to
another, and he very naturally associated this lady with the purple
pinion that sat on the back of a little bay mare which was hitched near
the door.

His own horse had drained his bucket, and was champing his bit, as if
anxious to be off once more; he himself had emptied his bowl and he was
vainly endeavoring to force a few pieces of coin upon the denying
farmer, when the door of the dwelling opened and the lady walked forth.
She arranged the bridle herself, and placing her foot on the lowest step
of the porch, seated herself snugly in the saddle without assistance.
Then wishing the farmer and the farmer's jolly wife and the farmer's
multitudinous children a sweet _bonjour_, she gently cantered away, not
without a parting shaft from those murderous blue eyes at the handsome
cavalier. Venus and Adonis! but she was going in his direction. So,
bowing politely to the household, he immediately followed, and to his
unspeakable delight--for this was an adventure he certainly had not
looked for--he caught up with her at the first turn of the road. When he
came alongside, he pulled in his reins, took off his cap and bowed. The
salute was returned with a superb yet easy grace. His ardent glance took
a full view of her with lightning speed and precision. He felt that he
was in the presence of a grand woman.

"As we seem to be travelling in the same direction, will mademoiselle
allow me to accompany her to her destination?"

"Thank you, sir; a military escort is always welcome, especially to a
lady, in these troublous times, but I really do not live very far--only
ten miles."

"Ten miles!" exclaimed Hardinge.

The lady broke out into a merry laugh, and said:

"You wonder. This little beast is like the wind. You are well mounted,
but I doubt you can follow me. Will you try?"

So saying, she snapped her white fingers, and the little Canadian pony,
making a leap into the air, was away like an arrow. Hardinge dashed off
in pursuit, and for a time held his own bravely, the horses keeping neck
to neck, but presently he fell behind and the lady disappeared out of
sight. When at length he came up with her, she was waiting at the gate
of her father's house, a mansion of fine colonial dimensions, standing
in a bower of maples. She was laughing heartily and enjoying her
triumph. Hardinge, touching his cap gracefully, acknowledged his defeat.

"This will be a lesson for you, sir," she said.

"A lesson, mademoiselle?"

"It will teach you to chase rebels again."

"Beautiful rebel," murmured Roderick, bowing profoundly and wholly
unable to conceal his admiration.

"You don't choose to understand me," she said, half seriously and half
jestingly, "but later, perhaps, you will do so. I believe I am speaking
to Lieutenant Hardinge?"

"That is my name, at your service, mademoiselle, and am I mistaken in
presuming that I address a member of the Sarpy family, for this is the
mansion of Sieur Sarpy, well known to me."

"I am his daughter. I have only lately returned from France where I
spent many years."

"Not the Zulma of whom I have heard your brother speak so often?"

"The same."

And the wild frolic of her spirits broke out into a silvery peal, as she
seemingly recollected some idea connected with the name. She invited
Roderick to dismount and enter, but he was obliged to excuse himself as
having tarried already too long, and thus this adventure terminated. Its
romantic sequel will be related in subsequent chapters.

Hardinge pursued his journey without further episodes of interest. The
road between Quebec and Three Rivers was not what it is at present.
There were no corduroys across the swamps, no bridges over the streams
and the way was blocked for miles upon miles by the unpruned forest,
through which a bridle path was the only route. Notwithstanding all
these drawbacks, however, our horseman had reached Three Rivers, stabled
his grey, and delivered his despatches before ten o'clock that night. He
was very tired, indeed, when he retired to rest, but this did not
prevent the youthful brain from dreaming, and the youthful lips from
murmuring:

"Beautiful rebel!"



VIII.

THE HERMIT OF MONTMORENCI.


His name was Baptiste, but he went by the more familiar appellation of
Batoche. His residence was a hut near the Falls of Montmorenci, and
there he led the life of a hermit. His only companions were a little
girl called Blanche, and a large black cat which bore the appropriate
title of Velours, for though the brute was ugly and its eyes,

    "Had all the seeming
    Of a demon's that is dreaming,"

its coat was soft and glossy as silken velvet. The interior of the hut
denoted poverty, but not indigence. There was a larder in one corner; a
small oven wrought into the chimney to the right of the fire-place;
faggots and logs of wood were piled up near the hearth, and diverse
kitchen utensils and other comforts hung brightly on the wall. In the
angle of the solitary room furthest from the door, and always lying in
shadow, was a curtained alcove, and in this a low bedstead over which a
magnificent bear-skin was thrown, with the head of the animal lying on
the pillow, and its eyes, bulging out in red flannel, turned to the
rafters above. Directly behind the door stood a wooden sofa which could
sit two or three persons during the day, but which, at night, served as
the couch of little Blanche. A shallow circular cavity in the large blue
flag of the hearth was the resting place of Velours. On two hooks within
easy reach of his hand, rested a long heavy carbine, well worn, but
still in good order and with which, so long as he could carry it,
Batoche needed never pass a day without a meal, for the game was
abundant almost to his very door. From the beams were suspended an
array of little bags of seeds, paper cornets of dried wild flowers and
bunches of medicinal herbs, the acrid, pungent odor of which pervaded
the whole room and was the first thing which struck a stranger upon
entering the hut.

The habitation of Batoche was fully a mile from any other dwelling.
Indeed, at that period, the country in the immediate vicinity of the
Falls of Montmorenci was very sparsely settled. The nearest village, in
the direction of Quebec, was Beauport, and even there the inhabitants
were comparatively few. The hut of the hermit was also removed from the
high road, standing about midway between it and the St. Lawrence, on the
right side of the Falls as one went toward the river, and just in a line
with the spot where they plunge their full tide of waters into the rocky
basin below. From his solitary little window Batoche could see these
Falls at all times, and under all circumstances--in day time, and in
night time; glistening like diamonds in the sunlight, flashing like
silver in the moonbeams, and breaking through the shadow of the deepest
darkness with the corruscations of their foam. Their music, too, was
ever in his ears, forming a part of his being. It ran like a web through
his work and his thoughts during the day; it lulled him to sleep at
night with the last ember on the hearth, and it always awoke him at the
first peep of dawn. The seasons for him were marked by the variation of
these sounds--the thunderous roar when the spring freshets or the autumn
rain-falls came, the gentle purling when the summer droughts parched the
stream to a narrow thread, and the plaintive moan, as of electric wires,
when the ice-bound cascade was touched upon by certain winter winds.

Batoche's devotion to this cataract may have been exaggerated, although
only in keeping, as we shall see, with his whole character, but really
the Falls of Montmorenci are among the most beautiful works of Nature
on this continent. We all make it a point to visit Niagara once in our
lives, but except in the breadth of its fall, Niagara has no advantage
over Montmorenci. In altitude it is far inferior, Montmorenci being
nearly one hundred feet higher. The greater volume of Niagara increases
the roar of the descent and the quantity of mist from below, but the
thunder of Montmorenci is also heard from a great distance, and its
column of vapor is a fine spectacle in a strong sunlight or in a storm
of thunder and lightning. Its accessories of scenery are certainly
superior to those of Niagara in that they are much wilder. The country
around is rough, rocky and woody. In front is the broad expanse of the
St. Lawrence, and beyond lies the beautiful Isle of Orleans which is
nothing less than a picturesque garden. But it is particularly in winter
that the Falls of Montmorenci are worthy of being seen. They present a
spectacle unique in the world. Canadian winters are proverbial for their
severity, and nearly every year, for a few days at least, the mercury
touches twenty-five and thirty degrees below zero. When this happens the
headlong waters of Montmorenci are arrested in their course, and their
ice-bound appearance is that of a white lace veil thrown over the brow
of the cliff, and hanging there immoveably. Before the freezing process
is completed, however, another singular phenomenon is produced. At the
foot of the Falls, where the water seethes and mounts, both in the form
of vapor and liquid globules, an eminence is gradually formed, rising
constantly in tapering shape, until it reaches a considerable altitude,
sometimes one-fourth or one-third the height of the Fall itself. This is
known as the Cone. The French people call it more poetically _Le Pain de
Sucre_, or sugar-loaf. On a bright day in January, when the white light
of the sun plays caressingly on this pyramid of crystal, illuminating
its veins of emerald and sending a refracted ray into its circular
air-holes, the prismatic effect is enchanting. Thousands of persons
visit Montmorenci every winter for no other object than that of
enjoying this sight. It is needless to add that the youthful generation
visit the Cone for the more prosaic purpose of toboganning or sledding
from its summit away down to the middle of the St. Lawrence.



IX.

THE WOLF'S CRY.


It was an hour after sunset, and the evening was already very dark.
Batoche had stirred the fire and prepared the little table, setting two
pewter plates upon it, with knife and fork. He produced a huge
jack-knife from his pocket, opened it, and laid that too on the table.
He then went to the cup-board and brought from it a loaf of brown bread
which he laid beside one of the plates. Having seemingly completed his
preparations for supper, he stood still in the middle of the floor, as
if listening:

"'Tis strange," he muttered, "she never is so late."

He walked to the door, which was flung open into his face by the force
of the wind, and looked long and intently to the right and to the left.

"The snow is deep," he said, "the path to the high road is blocked up.
Perhaps she has lost her way. But, no. She has never lost her way yet."

He closed the door, walked absently over the room, and after gazing up
and around for a second or two, threw himself into a low,
leather-strapped chair before the fire. As he sits there, let us take
the opportunity of sketching the singular being. His face was an
impressive one. The chin was long and pointed, the jaw firm. The lips
were set as those of a taciturn man, but not grimly, and their corners
bore two lines as of old smiles that had buried their joys there
forever. A long and rather heavy nose, sensitive at the nostrils. High
cheek bones. A good forehead, but rather too flattened at the temples.
Long, thin meshes of white hair escaping through the border of the high
fox-skin cap. The complexion was bronze and the face beardless. This
last feature is said to be characteristic of low vitality, but it is
also frequently distinctive of eccentricity, and Batoche was clearly
eccentric, as the expression of his eyes showed. They were cold grey
eyes, but filled with wild intermittent illuminations. The reflection of
the fire-light gave them a weird appearance.

Batoche sat for fully half an hour in front of the fire, his long thin
hands thrust into his pockets, his fox-skin cap dashed to one side of
his head and his eyes steadily fixed upon the flames. Although
immoveable, he was evidently a prey to profound emotions, for the lurid
light, playing upon his face, revealed the going and coming of painful
thoughts. Now and then he muttered something in a half articulate voice
which the black cat seemed to understand, for it purred awhile in its
circular nest, then rising, rounded its back, and looked up at its
master with tender inquiry in its green eyes. But Batoche had no thought
for Velours to-night. His mind was entirely occupied with little Blanche
who, having gone into Quebec upon some errands, as was her wont, had not
yet returned.

The wind moaned dismally around the little hut, at times giving it a
wrench as if it would topple it from its foundations. The spruces and
firs in the neighborhood creaked and tossed in the breath of the
tempest, and there was a dull, heavy roar from the head of the Falls.
Suddenly, amid all these sounds, the solitary old man's quick ear caught
a peculiar cry coming from the direction of the road. It was a sharp,
shrill bark, followed by a low whine. He sat up, bent his head and
listened again. Velour's fur stood on end, and its whisker bristled like
wire. The sound was heard again, made clearer and more striking by a
sudden rush of wind.

"A wolf, a wolf!" exclaimed Batoche, as he sprang from his seat, seized
his gun from its hooks and rushed out of the house. He did not hesitate
one moment as to the direction which he should take, but bent his steps
to the main road.

"Never. Oh, it can never be," he gasped, as he hurried along. "God would
never throw her into the wolf's embrace."--

He reached the road at last, and paused on its border to listen. He was
not disappointed, for within one hundred or two hundred yards of him, he
heard for the third time the ominous yelp of the wolf. Then all the
hunter showed itself in Batoche. He became, at once, a new man. The bent
form straightened, the languid limbs became nerved, the sinister eyes
shot fire, as if lighting the way before them, and the blank melancholy
features were turned and hardened into one single expression--watching.
In a moment he had determined the exact direction of the sound.
Cautiously he advanced from tree to tree, with inaudible footfall and
bated breath, until he reached the outskirts of a thicket. There he
expected to bring the wolf to bay. He peered long and attentively
through the branches.

"It is a den of wolves," he whispered to himself. "Not one pair of eyes,
but four or five pairs are glancing through the dark. I must make quick
work of the vermin. They must not be allowed to take their residences
for the winter so near my cabin."

Saying which he raised his carbine to his shoulder and pointed. His
finger was upon the trigger and was about to let go, when he felt the
barrel of his gun bent from its position and quietly but firmly
deflected towards the ground.

"Don't be a fool, Batoche. Keep your ammunition for other wolves than
these. You will soon need it all," said a voice in a low tone.

The hunter immediately recognized Barbin, a farmer of Beauport.

"What are you doing here?"

"No time for questions to-night. You will know later."

"And who are those in the thicket yonder?"

"My friends and yours."

Batoche shook his head dubiously, and muttered something about going
forward to satisfy himself by personal inspection. He was an enemy of
prowlers of all sorts, and must know with whom he had to deal before
abandoning the search.

A low whistle was heard and the thicket was instantaneously cleared.

Barbin tried to retain him, but the old man's temper rose, and he
snatched himself away.

"Don't be a fool, I say to you again, Batoche. You know who I am and you
must understand that I would not be out in such a place and on such a
night without necessary cause. These are my friends. For sufficient
reasons, they must not be known at present. Believe me, and don't
advance further. Besides they are now invisible."

"But why these strange cries?"

"The bark of the wolf is our rallying cry."

"The wolf!"

"Do you understand now?"

The old man passed his hand rapidly over his forehead and his eyes, then
grounding his musket, and seizing Barbin by the collar, he exclaimed:

"You don't mean it. I knew it would come, but did not expect it so soon.
The wolf, you said? Ah! sixteen years are a long time, but it passes,
Barbin. We are old now, yet not broken--"

He would have continued in this strain, but his interlocutor suddenly
stopped him.

"Yes, yes, Batoche, it is thus. Make yourself ready, as we are doing.
But I must go. My companions are waiting for me. We have important work
to do to-night."

"And I?" asked the old man reproachfully.

"Your work, Batoche, is not now, but later, not here, but elsewhere. Be
quiet; you have not been forgotten."

Barbin then disappeared in the wood, while Batoche slowly returned
toward the road, shaking his head, and saying to himself:

"The wolf! I knew it would come, but who would have thought it? Will my
violin sing the old song to me to-night? Will Clara glide under the
waterfall?"



X.

THE CASKET.


Little Blanche had not been forgotten all this time. The old man when he
reached the road, looked in the direction of Quebec for a moment, as if
hesitating whether to turn his steps in that direction. But he
apparently changed his mind, for he deliberately walked across the road,
and plunged into the narrow path leading to his cabin. When he arrived
there, he saw a horse and sleigh standing a little away from it under
the trees. He paid no attention to them, however, and walked up to the
door, which was opened for him by little Blanche. Bending down, he
kissed her on the forehead, laid his hand upon her hair, and said:

"It is well, child, but why so late?"

"I could not return earlier, grandpapa."

"Who detained you?"

She pointed to a muffled figure seated in a shaded angle of the room.
Still trailing his carbine in his left hand, Batoche walked up to it.
The figure rose, extended its hand and smiled sadly.

"You don't know me, Batoche?"

The old man looked into the face of the stranger for a long time, then
the light of recognition came and he exclaimed:

"I must be mistaken. It cannot be."

"Yes, it is I--"

"M. Belmont!"

"Yes, Batoche, we remember each other, though we have not met for some
years. You live the life of an anchorite here, never coming to the city,
and I remain in retirement, scarcely ever going from the city. We are
almost strangers, and yet we are friends. We _must_ be friends now, even
if we were not before."

The old man did not reply, but asked his visitor to sit down, while he,
having hung up his weapon, and drawn a chair to the fire-place, took a
seat beside him. The fire had burned low and both were seated in the
deep shadow. Blanche had offered to light a candle, but the men having
refused by a sign, the child sat down on the other side of the hearth
with the black cat circled on her lap.

"I brought back the child to you," said M. Belmont, by way of opening
the conversation. "She was in good hands with Pauline, her godmother,
but we knew that she never spent a night out of your hermitage, and that
you would be anxious if she did not return."

"Oh, Blanche is like her old grandfather. She knows every path in the
forest, every sign of the heavens, and no weather could prevent her from
finding her home. I have no fear that man or beast would hurt the little
creature. Indeed, she has the mark of Providence upon her and no harm
will come to her so long as my life is spared. There is a spirit in the
waterfall yonder, M. Belmont, which watches over her and the protection
is inviolable. But I thank you, sir, and your daughter for having taken
care of her."

"I kept her for another reason, Batoche," and M. Belmont looked
furtively at his companion, who returned his glance in the same dubious
fashion.

"It gave me the opportunity of paying you a visit which, for special
reasons, is of the greatest importance to me."

Batoche seemed to divine the secret thought of his guest, and put him
immediately at his ease by saying:

"I am a poor solitary being, M. Belmont, severed from all the world, cut
off from the present, living only in the past, and hoping for nothing in
the future except the welfare of this little orphan girl. Nobody cares
for me, and I have cared for nobody, but I am ready to do you any
service in my power. I have learned a secret to-night, and--who
knows?--perhaps life has changed for me during the last hour."

M. Belmont listened attentively to these words. He knew in the presence
of what strange being he was, and that the language which he heard had
perhaps a deeper meaning than appeared upon the surface. But the manner
of Batoche was quiet in its earnestness, his eye had none of its strange
fire, and there was no wild incoherent gesture of his to indicate that
he was speaking outside of his most rational mood. M. Belmont therefore
contented himself with thanking the hermit for his good will. A lull
then ensued in the conversation, when suddenly a low howl was heard in
the forest beyond the high road. By a simultaneous impulse, both men
sprang to their feet and glared at each other. Little Blanche's head had
fallen on her shoulder and she was sweetly sleeping unconscious of all
harm, while Velours, though, she stirred once or twice, would not
abandon her warm bed on her mistress' knees.

"Wolf!" muttered Batoche.

"Wolf!" replied M. Belmont

And the two men fell into each other's embrace.

"We are brothers once more," said M. Belmont, pressing the hand of the
old man, while the tears flowed down his cheeks.

"Yes, and in the holiest of causes," responded Batoche.

"There is no more mystery between us now," resumed M. Belmont. "That
call was for me. I must be away at once. I have delayed too long
already. What I came to you particularly for, Batoche, was this."

And he produced, from the interior of his huge wild-cat overcoat, a
small casket bound with clasps of silver.

"In this small casket, Batoche, are all my family relics and treasures.
For my money I care nothing; for this I care so much that I would give
my life rather than that it should perish. You are the man to hide it
for me. You know of secret places which no mortal can penetrate. I
confide it to you. This has been a dark day for me; what to-morrow has
in store I almost fear to guess. The times will probably go hard with
all of us, including you, Batoche. For ourselves the loss will be
nothing. We are old and useless. But Pauline and little Blanche! They
must survive the ruin. Should I perish, this casket is to go to my
daughter, and should you too come to grief, entrust the secret of its
hiding place to Blanche that she may deliver it. Take it, and good
night. I must go."

Without waiting for a word of reply, M. Belmont embraced the old man on
the cheek, stooped to imprint a kiss on the forehead of the sleeping
child, rushed out of the cabin, threw himself into his cariole and drove
away.

As he disappeared, the same low cry of the wolf was borne plaintively
from the forest.



XI.

THE SPIRIT OF THE WATERFALL.


Batoche gave a single moment to deliberation. He stood silently holding
the latch of the closed door. Then he walked slowly across the room and
entered behind the chintz curtains of the little alcove. What he did
there is unknown, but when he issued forth his face was hard set, every
lineament bearing the stamp of resolution. He took up the silver casket
which had been left in his charge and balanced it in his hands. It was
heavy, but heavier still appeared to him the responsibility which it
entailed, if one might judge from the deep sigh which escaped him. He
glanced at little Blanche, but she still slumbered quietly, with her
head resting on the wall and bent over her shoulder. Velours was more
wakeful, looking furtively at her master from the corners of her eyes
but, knowing his habits well, she did not deem it prudent to stir from
her nest or make any noise.

"There is a place of all others," murmured Batoche, "where I may hide
this beyond all fear of detection. There neither the birds of the air,
nor the beasts of the forests, nor the eye of man will ever discover it.
Blanche only will know, but I will not tell her now. She sleeps and it
is well."

He then placed the casket under his arm and stole out of the house. He
took a footpath leading from his cabin to the Falls, and having reached
their summit, turned to the right, descending from one rock to another,
until he reached the depths of the basin. There he paused a moment,
looking up, as if to ascertain his bearings. An instant later, he had
disappeared under the Fall itself. Grasping the casket more tightly
under his right arm, he used his left to grope his way along the cold,
wet wall of granite. The rocks underneath his feet, some round, some
angular, some flat, were slippery with the ooze of the earth fissures
above and the refluent foam of the cascade. Beside these dangers, there
was the additional peril of darkness, the immense volume of descending
waters effectually curtaining out the light of heaven. When he had
attained about the middle of the distance between the two banks of the
river, Batoche paused and stooped at the mouth of an aperture which
would admit only his bent body. Without faltering, and as if sure of his
locality, he thus entered into the subterranean cavity. He was gone for
fully half an hour, but when he issued forth, he straightened himself up
with ease, and by the assistance of his two hands, rapidly retraced his
steps to the foot of the Falls. There he stopped, looking above and
around him, to assure himself that he was really alone with his secret.

But no, he was not alone. Upon the brow of the waterfall, along the
perilous ridge, where the torrent plunges sheer into the chasm below, a
fragile figure in white glided slowly with face turned towards him. Her
yellow hair, bound with a fillet about her forehead, fell loose upon her
shoulders; there was the light of love in her eyes and a sweet smile
irradiated her lips. Her white hands hung at her sides, and from under
the hem of her flowing garb, a tiny, snowy foot appeared barely touching
the surface of the water.

What was it--a phantom or a reality? A mockery of the vapor and the
night, or a spirit of God truly walking over the waters? We cannot say,
or rather we shall not stop to inquire. Enough that the poor old hermit
saw it, and seeing, was transported into ecstacy. His whole being
appeared transfused into the ethereal vision which shone before him. The
gross outlines of old age and shabby costume were melted into the
beautiful forms of exultation and reverence. Under the misty moon, under
the faint light of the stars, he fell upon his knees, stretched out his
arms, and his face turned eagerly upwards in the absorption of prayer.

"Once more, O Clara! Once more, O my daughter! It is long since I have
seen you, and my days have passed sadly in the lonesomeness of solitude.
You come once more to smile upon your old father, and bring a blessing
upon your orphan child. She sleeps sweetly yonder near the hearth.
Protect her from the harm which I know must be impending and of which
your visitation is the warning. You are the guardian angel of my cabin,
shielding it from all the dangers which have threatened it these many
years. Give me a sign of your assistance and I shall be content."

These were the words the old man uttered as he knelt upon the wet rocks.
Let no one smile as he reads them, for even the ravings of a diseased
brain are beautiful when they have a spiritual significance.

Batoche rose and advanced nearer, with arms still outstretched, as if he
would clasp the Spirit of the Waterfall, and seize the token which he
implored. But in this he was disappointed.

    Not a word her lips did utter, and without a start or flutter,
      She crossed her hands upon her bosom in the attitude of prayer;
    And his stricken soul beguiling with the sweetness of her smiling,
      Raised her bright eyes up to heaven, and slowly melted into air.

A thick bank of cloud floated in the sky, veiling the moon. The stars
paled, and it was very dark. The great Falls thundered with a sullen
roar. The wind beat against the forest trees with a moan. The hermit
knelt once more and engaged for a long time in silent prayer; then
rising, returned directly to his hut. He found little Blanche standing
in the middle of the room and in the full light of the hearth, with a
scared look in her brilliant, black eyes. He stooped to kiss her, and
noticing the supper still untasted on the table, said:

"You have eaten nothing, my dear."

"I cannot eat, grandpapa."

"Then go to sleep. It is late."

"I cannot sleep."

The old man understood. The white wings of the mother's spirit had
hovered over the child.

"Then pray," he said.

And dropping on her knees, little Blanche repeated all the prayers which
her godmother, Pauline Belmont, had taught her.



XII.

THREE RIVERS.


Roderick Hardinge's mission to Three Rivers was completely successful.
He found that town and the surrounding country in a state of alarm and
excitement consequent on the march of events in the upper part of the
province. The whole Richelieu peninsula was overrun with Continental
troops and the Montreal district was virtually in their power. The only
chance was that the British army might make a stand at Sorel, which
commanded the Richelieu and the St. Lawrence, at the confluence of these
two rivers, and accordingly around that point concentrated the interest
of the war in the first week of November. It was only natural,
therefore, that the people of Three Rivers should be in a turmoil of
excitement, for if the British were unable to hold their own at Sorel,
the whole of the St. Lawrence would be swept by the Americans, and Three
Rivers would be the very next place which they would occupy.

The arrival of Hardinge was not calculated to allay the excitement, and
the tidings which he brought were spread through the town that very
night notwithstanding all attempts at official secrecy. The Commandant
of the town was considerably alarmed.

"The news from above was bad enough," he said to his principal
secretary, after reading Hardinge's despatches, "but the intelligence
from below is not more reassuring. Three Rivers thus finds itself
between two fires. Montgomery from the west, and now Arnold from the
east. I am very much afraid that we shall have to succumb. And the worst
of all is that being masters of the intervening country, with emissaries
in all the villages along their route, they improve their opportunity
by tampering with our simple-minded farmers. Here in Three Rivers the
disaffection among our own people is already quite marked, and I very
much fear that this new source of danger will only increase it."

The secretary was a very old man who listened attentively to his
superior, biting the feathers of his pen and giving other signs of
nervous excitement.

"I am certain, sir, that you do not exaggerate the situation," he said,
speaking slowly, but with emphasis. "We are on the eve of a crisis, and
I suspect that this time next week the town of Three Rivers will be in
the hands of the Bastonnais. We have no means of resistance, and even if
we had, there is too much dissension in our midst to attempt it with any
hope of success. The next question which arises is whether it were best
for you to provide for your own safety as well as that of the archives
and registers of the town."

"I will do neither," replied the Commandant with dignity. "As for
myself, the duty of my office is to remain in charge until I am
dispossessed by force. Personal violence I do not fear, but should I be
subjected to such, I will endure it. Remember that you and I know what
war is. We both passed through the terrible years of the Conquest. With
respect to the archives, you will see that they are properly guarded,
but they must not be removed. The enemy are not barbarians. On the
contrary it is their policy to conciliate as much as possible. Besides,
they will only pass through Three Rivers."

"They will do more than that, sir. As they intend to march upon Quebec,
around whose walls they will more than probably spend the winter, it
will be a matter of military necessity for them to occupy all the little
towns and villages on their route between Quebec and Montreal, both for
the sake of their commissariat and as recruiting stations."

"Recruiting stations! Don't use those hateful words."

"They are hateful words, sir. But they express a fact which we must
face. Unless we are very careful, this war will be aggravated by the
circumstance of many of our countrymen turning their arms against us."

This conversation which we have briefly introduced in order to afford
the reader glimpses of the situation, relieved as much as possible from
the dryness of mere historical detail, was interrupted by the arrival of
a messenger who delivered a letter to the Governor.

"This is from Sorel," exclaimed the official. "It comes just in time to
throw light upon our affairs and will enable Lieutenant Hardinge, who
returns to-morrow, to bring the latest news to Quebec."

Saying which, he read the despatch.



XIII.

A SUCCESSFUL MISSION.


At ten o'clock, on the morning of the 8th November, the day after his
arrival, Roderick Hardinge presented himself at the residence of the
Commandant of Three Rivers. It was the hour agreed upon between them for
a conference, which circumstance did not prevent the Commandant from
manifesting some surprise on seeing the young officer.

"You surely are not ready to start for Quebec already?" he asked.

"If possible, sir, I should very much like to do so. My horse is not as
fresh as he was yesterday, and he will delay me longer, and besides I
think my presence will be required in Quebec before midnight."

"Very well. Time is pressing, I know. I have jotted down a few lines
giving Lieutenant-Governor Cramahé all the information in my possession.
Here is the letter. But you have doubtless wandered about the town a
little this morning, and thus learned many details which have escaped
me."

"I have heard much more than I am willing to believe," said Hardinge,
with a laugh.

"Tell me briefly what you have heard, and I will correct or confirm it."

"I have heard that Montreal has fallen."

"Not yet. Montgomery is still on the plateau between St. Johns, which he
captured about a week ago, and Montreal, which is his next point of
attack. But there are two obstacles which retard him. The first of these
is the skirmishing of the British troops on his flank, and the second,
the discontent among his own soldiers. Many men from Vermont and New
York have returned home. Montreal is, however, really defenceless, and
cannot hold out more than a few days, especially as Montgomery is
anxious to get there in order to house and clothe his naked, suffering
men. What else have you heard?"

"That the French of Montreal are secretly working for the enemy."

"It is false. Those who told you so are treacherous friends, and we have
several here in Three Rivers. Next?"

"That the Indians under LaCorne have dug up the hatchet which they
buried in the Recollets church, one month ago, and declared against us."

"That would be terrible news if true, but it is not true. My last
courier from the west, who arrived not an hour ago, has particular
information from the Indians about Montreal. They still maintain the
neutrality pledged in the Recollets church. I admit, however, that it
would not take much to turn them into foes, and I know that Montgomery
has already his emissaries among them. But LaCorne is a true Frenchman,
and so long as our own people retain their allegiance, he will maintain
his."

After a pause, Hardinge said:

"I have heard, sir, in addition, that Colonel McLean, at the head of his
Highlanders, has not been able to form a junction with Governor
Carleton, at Longueuil, so as to intercept Montgomery between St. Johns
and Montreal."

"It is true."

"That, owing to the defeat of Governor Carleton at Longueuil by a
Vermont detachment, and the spread of Continental troops through the
Richelieu peninsula, Colonel McLean was forced to fall back
precipitately to Sorel."

"That is unfortunately too true. Do you know more?"

"That is all."

"Then, I will tell you more. McLean will have to retreat from Sorel. My
_coureurs des bois_ and Indian messengers have been arriving in
succession all last night and this morning. They inform me that while
Montgomery is marching on Montreal, a considerable body, under one of
his best officers, is moving towards Sorel, with a view of occupying it,
and thus commanding the river. McLean is in no condition to withstand
this attack. What will hasten his retreat is the news he has by this
time received from Quebec. Last night, so soon as I had read the
despatches which you brought me, I sent him one of my fleetest
messengers with the intelligence. The messenger must have reached Sorel
early this morning. The special messenger to Governor Carleton, with the
same news, will arrive in Montreal about noon to-day."

During the whole of this conversation, Hardinge's face had been grave
and almost downcast. But at the last words of his interlocutor, it
suddenly flushed with an expression of enthusiasm.

"If Colonel McLean and Governor Carleton know exactly how we stand at
Quebec, I am content," he exclaimed.

"Then you may be content. I have stated all this briefly to
Lieutenant-Governor Cramahé, but you may repeat it to him with
emphasis."

"I will not fail."

And after a few parting words, he respectfully took his leave.

When he had cleared the streets of Three Rivers, and was alone upon the
road, he could not restrain a long, loud whoop of exultation.

"The game is up," he cried. "The war is in full blaze. In twenty-four
hours, my name has gone from one end of the province to the other. My
mission has indeed succeeded. How proud little Pauline will be of her
cavalier."

With such thoughts uppermost in his mind, he forgot his bodily fatigue,
and rode back to Quebec with more eagerness than he had gone from it.



XIV.

CROSSING THE BOATS.


Notwithstanding the late hour at which he arrived in Quebec--it was
considerably after midnight--Hardinge repaired directly to the Chateau
St. Louis. There was no bustle in the Castle, but his eye noticed signs
of unusual vigilance. The guard about the entry was a double one, and
many of the lower windows were lighted. It was evident also that his
coming was expected, for, immediately on his dismounting, his horse was
taken charge of by a soldier, and he was at once ushered into the
presence of the Lieutenant-Governor. Cramahé was in the Council chamber,
and several members of the Council were seated around the centre table,
on which was spread a number of papers.

"Welcome back, Lieutenant," said the Governor, with a weary smile and
extending both his hands.

Hardinge bowed and at once delivered his despatches. Cramahé having
rapidly glanced over them, handed them to his colleagues, then turning
to the young officer, said:

"It is clear that the storm which has been gathering over this province
must break upon Quebec. This is the old city of destiny. And we shall
accept our destiny, Lieutenant," said the Governor, rising from the
table, and advancing toward Roderick. "We have not been idle during your
absence. Much can be done in a day and a half, and we have done it. We
have done so much that we can await the arrival of Arnold with some
assurance. I see, however, from the despatches you bring me, that
Colonel McLean is in some danger at Sorel. I had calculated on his
arrival and that of Governor Carleton who knows our exact position by
this time. Should they have come to harm, it will go hard with us, but
we will do our best all the same."

Hardinge replied that he was exceedingly glad to hear this, because the
people of the upper country, through which he had ridden, looked to
Quebec for the ultimate salvation of the province. It was pretty well
understood that the rest of the country was lost.

"Your despatches make that painfully clear," replied the Governor, "and
increase our responsibility. I rely upon you particularly, Lieutenant. I
appreciate so much all that you have done, that I look to you, for
something more. This is our last day, remember."

"Our last day?"

"Yes, Arnold will be at Point Levis to-morrow."

Hardinge could not help smiling.

"You may well smile. Your prediction was correct. I saw Donald last
night. He had been hovering around the enemy all day and informed me
that by direct and forced marches they would surely be at Levis
to-morrow. This being the case, I have a duty for you to perform. But
first, you must take some rest."

"I will be ready for orders at daylight, Your Excellency."

"Ten o'clock will be quite early enough. If we worked during the dark we
should excite too much curiosity. The city is really ignorant of what is
impending, though there are many rumors. The excitement of yesterday has
entirely subsided, and it would be very unwise to renew it. At ten
o'clock therefore, you will quietly cross to the other side of the
river, with two or three of your men, and under pretence of wanting them
for some service or other--I leave you to imagine a plausible
pretext--you will cause every species of embarkation, canoe, skiff,
flat-boat or punt, to be taken over to this side. Not a floating plank
must be left at Levis. If Arnold wants to get over, he will have to hew
his boats out of the trees of the forest. Donald will be there to assist
you, and may possibly be in possession of fresh news."

Roderick thanked His Excellency for entrusting to him this task which he
regarded as the crowning act of the services which he had been rendering
the cause of his country in the past two days. After giving expression
to his obligation, he added:

"The removal of the boats, sir, will give us three or four days of
respite, for I suppose Donald repeated to you that Arnold has no
artillery and must procure boats if he really intends to attack the
city. In the interval, we may look for Colonel McLean and Governor
Carleton."

The Lieutenant-Governor nodded assent, and ordering the subaltern to
report to him when his work was done, he dismissed him to his quarters.

When the appointed hour came, Hardinge set about his business which he
conducted very quietly and judiciously. In those days everybody living
on or near the river owned a boat which was almost the only conveyance
whereby to reach the markets of Quebec. And the inhabitants had learned
from the Indians how to use their craft with skill, so that women were
as expert at the oars as men. Those who resided on the banks of the St.
Lawrence usually kept their boats chained near a little house on the
water's edge, where the women did their washing. The practice is
maintained to this day along many parts of the river which are distant
from large cities and where there are no ferries. Those who lived a
short distance in the interior were in the habit of drawing their boats
a little way into the woods, after they had used them, and leaving them
there in some marked spot till they were required again. It thus
happened that, at the time of which we write, there were perhaps no less
than a thousand boats within a radius of three miles up and down from
Quebec and on both sides of the St. Lawrence. Directly opposite the
city there were probably about a hundred, not belonging only to Point
Levis, for that was then an insignificant village, but mostly to farmers
of the neighboring parishes. The number was important if Arnold had been
able to lay hold of the craft, but it gave Hardinge little or no
difficulty to dispose of. Some thirty or forty of them that were leaky,
or otherwise disabled, he quietly broke up, sending the fragments afloat
down the river. The remainder he despatched over to the other side, at
intervals and from different points, with the aid of a dozen men whom he
had joined to his party. Operating thus from ten in the forenoon till
five in the afternoon, he succeeded in clearing the south shore of all
its boats, without exciting undue attention in the city.

He himself came over with the last canoe, about twenty minutes after the
sun had gone down and just as the twilight was creeping over the waters.
As he neared the landing, he distinguished a female figure walking very
slowly along the bank. He could not be mistaken. It was she. A few
vigorous strokes of the paddle having brought the boat to its
destination, he leaped ashore and approached.

Yes, it was Pauline.



XV.

THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS.


Swift as the lightning's flash are the instincts of love. Before a word
had been spoken and without being able to read her face in the dusk,
Roderick felt in his heart that Pauline's presence there was an omen of
ill. But, like a true man, he smothered the suspicion and spoke out
bravely.

"Why, Pauline, what an agreeable surprise. How did you know that I had
returned? I should have sent you word this morning, but I was so
occupied that it was impossible.... You probably heard it from
others.... But I am so glad to see you.... How is your father?... And
you, darling, I hope you are well...."

To these words of the young officer, broken by breathing spaces so as to
admit of replies, not an answer was returned. But when he had finished,
all that Pauline did was to stretch out her arms and lay her two
ungloved hands in the hands of Hardinge, while her face looked
imploringly into his and she murmured:

"O, Roddy, Roddy!"

They were then standing alone near the water, the two companions of
Roderick having ascended to the city. Gently and silently, he drew the
yielding form toward him until he could scan her features and learn in
those eyes, which he knew so well, the secret of her sorrow. But the
light of the eyes was totally quenched in tears, and the usually mobile
face was veiled by a blank expression of misery. Hardinge was
thunderstruck. All sorts of wild conjectures leaped through his brain.

"Speak to me, Pauline, and tell me what this means," he said
imploringly. "Has anything befallen you? Has any one injured you? Or am
I the cause of this grief?"

Still holding her extended hands clasped in his, and casting her eyes
upon the ground, she replied:

"O, Roddy, you cannot tell, and you will never know how wretched I am,
but it is some comfort that I can speak to you at least once more."

"At least once more!" These words quivered through him, chilling him
from head to foot.

"Pauline, I entreat you, explain the meaning of all this," he exclaimed.

"It means, Roddy, that I who have never disobeyed my father, in my life,
have had the weakness to disobey him this evening. I did not mean to do
it. I did it unconsciously."

"Disobeyed your father?"

"Yes, in seeing you again."

"Surely, you do not mean--?"

"Alas! dearest, I mean that my father has forbidden me ever to meet
you."

Roderick was so astonished that he staggered, and the power of utterance
for a moment was denied him. At last he whispered falteringly:

"Really, there must be some mistake, Pauline."

She shook her head, and looking up at him with a sad smile, replied:

"Ah! I also thought it was a mistake, but, Roddy, it is only too true.
These two days I have brooded over it, and these two nights. To-day,
hearing that you had returned, I could endure the burden no longer. I
thought of writing to you, but I had not the heart to put the terrible
injunction on paper. I have wandered the whole afternoon in the hope of
meeting you. I walked as in a dream, feeling indeed that I was doing
wrong, but with this faint excuse for my disobedience, that, by telling
you of it myself, I would spare you the terrible disgrace of being
driven from my father's door, if you presented yourself there without
knowing his determination. For myself such a misfortune would have been
a death blow."

Every word went burning to Roderick's heart, but he had to master his
own agony a moment, in the effort to support Pauline who had utterly
broken down. When she had recovered sufficiently, he protested tenderly
that there was a mystery in all this which he was unable to fathom, and
entreated her to help him discover it by telling him minutely all that
had happened since they had last met. She gradually summoned strength
and composure enough to do so, relating in detail the scene in Cathedral
square; the arrival of the Lieutenant-Governor's aide-de-camp; his
delivering of a letter to her father; the conversation that took place
between the latter and the officer; her father's visit to the Chateau;
his return therefrom; and, relapsing into tears, she narrated how her
father had found her reading a note from Roderick, and how he had
ordered her to cast it into the fire.

The young officer did not lose the significance of a word. At first the
mystery remained as impenetrable as ever, but after a while a thread of
suspicion wove itself into his brain. He tried to brush it away,
however, by rubbing his hand violently over his brow and eyes. It was
too painful. It was too odious. Finally, he asked:

"Did your father give any reason why you should burn my note?"

"Ah! Roddy, why do you force me to say it? When I told him that you had
sent him your regards, he replied '_he has just sent me his hate!_'"

These words solved the mystery. Hardinge saw through it all, distinctly,
sharply, unmistakeably. He drew a long breath, and his broad chest
swelled with the fresh air from the river.

"Pauline, my dear," he said with that tender authority with which a
strong man can miraculously revive a weak, drooping woman, "Pauline,
take heart. It is all a terrible mistake and it will be explained. Your
father has suspected me of a dreadful thing, but I am innocent and will
convince him of it. I will see him this very night and make him and you
happy."

She raised her hands imploringly.

"Fear nothing, darling, I am as certain as that we are standing here
together, that it is all a fearful misunderstanding, and that I will
make it clear to your father, in a quarter of an hour's conversation."

"But why not tell me, and I will tell him?"

"Because there are several points connected with the matter with which
you are not familiar, and because he might misconstrue both your motives
and mine. No. It is a matter to be settled between man and man. Besides,
it is late and your absence must not be prolonged. I, too, have a
military report to make to the authorities without delay."

Pauline suffered herself to be convinced, and the two, after a few
mutual words of love, which wonderfully recuperated them, bent their way
up Mountain Hill. At the gate they separated.

"I will be with you within two hours," said Hardinge, as he took the
direction of the Chateau.

Pauline stepped into the old church on her way, and in its consecrated
gloom poured out a prayer at the feet of Her whom she worshipped as the
Comforter of the Afflicted. _Consolatrix Afflictorum_.



XVI.

THE ROUND TABLE.


There was high festival at the Chateau St. Louis. Sieur Hector Théophile
Cramahé, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Quebec, and Commander of
the Forces in the capital, during the absence of Guy Carleton, Captain
General and Governor Chief, was a man of convivial spirit. He had for
years presided over a choice circle of friends, men of wealth and
standing in the ancient city. They were known as the Barons of the Round
Table. An invariable rule with them was to dine together once a week,
when they would rehearse the memories of old times, and conduct revels
worthy of the famous Intendant Bigot himself. They numbered twenty-four,
and it so happened that in five years not one of them had missed the
hebdomadal banquet--a remarkable circumstance well worthy the attention
of those who study the mathematical curiosities of the chapter of
accidents.

The ninth of November was dinner night. The Lieutenant-Governor had a
moment's hesitation about the propriety of holding it, but all
objections were at once drowned in a flood of valid reasons in favor of
the repast. In the first place, His Excellency had been particularly
burdened with the cares of office during the past two days. That young
fellow Hardinge had kept him as busy as he could be. In the next place,
though the citizens of Quebec really knew nothing of the true state of
affairs, they were making all kinds of conjecture, and if the dinner did
not take place, the gossips would hear of it immediately, and interpret
it as the worst possible sign of impending trouble. In the third place,
if the banquet were postponed for a day or two, that villain Arnold
might turn up and prevent it altogether. Cramahé paced up and down in
his drawing room, rubbing his hands and smiling as these fancies flitted
through his brain. If he had been serious, which he was not, his doubts
would all have been dissipated by the arrival of the Barons almost in a
body. Up they came through the spacious entrance and illuminated hall,
in claret-colored coats, lace bosom-frills and cuffs, velvet breeches,
silken hose, silver-buckled shoes, and powdered wigs, holding their
gold-knobbed canes aslant in their left hand, and waving salutations to
their host with their feathered tricorns. A lordlier band never ascended
the marble stairs of Versailles. Handsome for the most part, exquisite
in manners, worldly in the elevated sense of the term, they represented
a race which had transplanted the courtly refinement of the old world
into the wilds of the new--a race the more interesting that it did not
survive beyond the second generation after the Conquest, and is at
present only seen at glimpses amid the wreck of the ancient seigniorial
families about Quebec.

It was not long before the company was ushered into the banquet hall,
brilliantly lighted with waxen candles. A round table stood in the
centre of the floor charged with a treasure of plate and crystal. There
were twenty-four seats and a guest for every seat. We need not enter
into the details of the entertainment. It is enough to state that it was
literally festive with its succulent viands, its inspiriting wines and
its dazzling cross-fire of wit and anecdote. The present was forgotten,
as it should always be at well-regulated dinners; the future was not
thought of, for the diners were old men; the past was the only thing
which occupied them. They talked of their early loves, they laughed at
their youthful escapades, they sang snatches of old songs, while now and
again the memory of a common sorrow would circulate around the table,
suddenly deadening its uproar into silence, or the remembrance of a
mutual joy would flash merrily before their eyes like the glinting
bubbles of their wine cups.

It was five o'clock when the Barons sat down to their first course. It
was nine when they reached the _gloria_. Just at that supreme moment, a
waiter handed a paper to the Lieutenant-Governor. He opened it, and
having read it, exclaimed:

"Another glass, gentlemen. The rebel Jockey will have to swim the St.
Lawrence on horseback, if he wishes to pay us a visit."

The allusion was readily understood and hailed with a bumper.

The note was from Hardinge who, on arriving at the Chateau and finding
the Lieutenant-Governor engaged with his guests, wrote a line to inform
him that he had safely crossed all the boats. As the matter was not
particularly pressing, he had requested the orderly not to have the note
delivered before nine o'clock.

Scarcely had the noise of the toast subsided, when another waiter
advanced with another note.

"This news will not be as good as the other," whispered one of the
Barons to his neighbor, while the host was reading the despatch.

"And why, pray?"

"Because alternation is the law of life."

The old Baron was not mistaken. M. Cramahé perused the paper with a very
grave face, and folding it slowly, said:

"My friends, I regret that I must leave you for to-night. But first, let
us sip our cognac with the hope that nothing will prevent us from
meeting again next week."

A few moments later the guests had retired.

The message which the Lieutenant-Governor had received was from the
faithful Donald who informed him that the enemy had arrived within five
miles of Point Levis and encamped for the night.



XVII.

A NOBLE REPARATION.


After leaving the Chateau, Roderick Hardinge repaired to his quarters,
where he refreshed himself with a copious supper and then arrayed
himself in civilian evening dress for his visit to M. Belmont. His mind
was intensely occupied with the details of Pauline's conversation at the
waterside, but his love for her was so ardent, and he felt so strong in
the consciousness of duty accomplished, that he experienced no serious
misgivings as to the result of the interview which he was about to hold.
His feeling, however was the reverse of enthusiastic. The more he
reflected on the incident, the more he appreciated both the extent of M.
Belmont's mistake and the profundity of the wound that must rankle in
his proud spirit. He, therefore, resolved to hold himself purely on the
defensive and to enter upon explanations to the simple extent of direct
replies to direct charges. The stake was Pauline herself. On her account
he was prepared to push prudence to the limit of his own humiliation,
and to make every concession that would not directly clash with his
loyalty as a soldier.

Having fully made up his mind on these points, he threw his long
military cloak over his shoulders and issued from the barracks. In less
than ten minutes, he found himself at the door of M. Belmont's
residence. In spite of all his resolution, he paused before the lower
step and looked about him with that vague feeling of relief which a
moment's delay always afford on the threshold of disagreeable
circumstance. The lower portion of the house was silent and dark, but
above, a faint light appeared in the window of Pauline's room. In other
days, that light had been his beacon and guiding star, beckoning him
from every part of the city and attracting him away from the society of
all other friends. In other days, when he approached, that light would
suddenly rise to the ceiling, flash along the stairway and hall, and
meet him glistening at the open door, held high over Pauline's raven
hair. But to-night, he knew that he could expect no such welcome. He
summoned all his courage, however, and struck the hammer. The door was
opened by the maid, but as the vestibule remained in darkness, she did
not recognize him.

"Is M. Belmont at home?" he asked in a low voice.

"Yes, sir, he is."

"Is he visible?"

The maid hesitated a moment, then said falteringly, "I will see, sir,"
and left him standing in the obscure passage.

Without loss of time, M. Belmont himself stepped forward. Bowing stiffly
and looking up in the vain attempt to distinguish the features of his
visitor, he said:

"To whom am I indebted for this call?"

There was a tone of sarcasm in the query which almost threw Roderick off
his guard. He saw that M. Belmont was racked by suspicions and must be
approached with caution. He, therefore, extended his right hand and
said:

"M. Belmont, do you not know me?"

That gentleman did not accept the proferred hand, but stepping backward
and drawing himself up to his full height, exclaimed:

"Lieutenant Hardinge!"

Roderick made a slight inclination, but said nothing. M. Belmont
continued:

"Do you come here, sir, in your military capacity?"

For all answer, Hardinge threw open his long cloak.

"Ah! you are in citizen's dress. Then I cannot understand the object of
your visit. If you came as an officer of the King, the house would be
yours and you could do as you liked. But if you come as a private
citizen, I would remind you that this house is mine and that I will do
as I like. To-night, I would particularly like not to be disturbed."

This was said with a polite sneer which cut the young officer to the
quick, but he contained himself, and began quietly:

"M. Belmont...."

"Sir," was the sharp interruption, "I have given no explanations and
require none. You will oblige me by...," and he finished the sentence
with a wave of his hand toward the door.

Roderick did not stir, but made another attempt to be heard.

"Really, M. Belmont...."

"Sir, do you mean to force yourself upon me? I know that there is a sort
of martial law in the city. You are an officer. You may search my house
from cellar to garret. You may quarter yourself in it. You may detain me
as a prisoner. In fact, you may do whatever you please. If such is your
intention, say so, and I will not resist. But if such is not your
intention, I stand by my right of inviolability. Your boast is that
every British subject's house is his own castle. My desire is to
maintain this privilege in the present instance."

At this third summons of ejection, Hardinge's equanimity was completely
shaken, and he was about to turn on his heel when, on looking up, his
eye caught the hem of a white dress fluttering at the head of the stair.
The sight suddenly altered his determination. Pauline was there
listening to the interview upon which the future of both depended, and
her presence was omnipotent to nerve his courage, as well as to inspire
him with the means of successfully extricating himself from his
difficult position. Roderick at once resolved to change his tactics.
Drawing his cloak tightly across his chest and flinging the border of
the cape over his right shoulder, in the manner of a man who has come to
a decision, he said calmly:

"M. Belmont, I cannot be treated thus. I _must_ be heard."

These words were slightly emphasized, but without bluster or defiance,
and they had a visible effect on the listener, for he immediately folded
his arms as if to listen. Hardinge continued:

"It is true, sir, that I came to your house as a private citizen and as
a presumed old friend of your family."

M. Belmont uttered a moan and made a gesture of deprecation.

"But since it is plain that my presence in that capacity is distasteful,
I will add now that I am also here in my quality as a soldier. The
object of my visit is really a military one, and as such I beg you to
hear me."

"Why did you not say so at first?" exclaimed M. Belmont with a bitter
laugh. "Mr. Hardinge I do not know. Lieutenant Hardinge I cannot choose
but hear. Lieutenant, please step into my parlor."

Lights were immediately brought into that apartment and the two took
their stand before the fire-place, Hardinge having declined a seat.
Glancing at M. Belmont, Roderick was shocked at the change that had come
upon him within three days. He seemed like another man, his features
being pinched, his eyes sunken, and his manner quick and nervous. The
normal calm of his demeanor was gone, and his stately courtesy was
replaced by a restless petulance of hands. He stood uneasily near the
mantel waiting for the young officer to speak. Hardinge at length said:

"M. Belmont, this interview shall be brief, because it is painful to
both of us. Indeed, so far as I am concerned, there is only one word to
say, and it is this--that, although I have had some important military
duties to perform in the last few days, not one of these was or could be
directed against you."

M. Belmont looked dubiously at Hardinge and shook his head, but answered
nothing. Roderick bit his lip and resumed:

"The statement that I make, sir, though brief, covers the whole ground
of your suspicions and accusations. I know what these are and hence my
statement is very deliberate. I ask you to accept it as my complete
defence."

M. Belmont looked into the fire and still kept silent.

"Must I construe your silence as incredulity, sir? If so, I will
instantly leave your house, nevermore to enter it. But before taking
what to me will be a fatal step, I must observe that I had never
believed that a perfect French gentleman like you, M. Belmont, would
doubt the faith of a British officer like me, and my distress will be
intensified by the reflection that your daughter, who formerly favored
me with her esteem, will hereafter see in me only the brand of dishonor
stamped upon my character by her own father. For her sake I will say no
more, but take my departure at once."

At these words there were heard the rustling of a dress and suppressed
sobs outside the parlor door. Both the men noticed the sounds and
instinctively looked at each other. The eyes of Hardinge were suffused
with tears, while those of M. Belmont mellowed with an expression of
solemn pity.

"Stay, Lieutenant," he said in a low voice. "It strikes me all at once
that my silence may possibly be unjust. If I thought your statement
embraced all the circumstances of the case, I should not hesitate to
accept it, but I fear that you do not know how far my grievances
extend."

"I am certain that I know all," said Hardinge in a significant tone,
which was not lost upon his interlocutor, who immediately subjoined:

"This can be easily ascertained if you will answer me a few questions.
You called upon Lieutenant-Governor Cramahé early on the morning of the
seventh?"

"I did so."

"You delivered to him a parcel of letters purporting to have come from
Colonel Arnold, the commander of the Bastonnais?"

"Yes, sir."

"Some of those letters were addressed to citizens of Quebec?"

"They were."

"You know the names of those citizens?"

"I do not."

"Did not the Lieutenant-Governor open the letters before you."

"He did."

"And read them?"

"Yes, and read them."

M. Belmont's lip curled in scorn and his eyes darted fire at Hardinge,
who responded with a smile:

"The Lieutenant-Governor opened and read the letters in my presence and,
after reading, made his comments aloud, but in no instance did he reveal
the name of the persons to whom the letters were addressed, so that I
am, to this moment, in profound ignorance of them. Except by inference
from what has occurred between us, I should not know that one of those
letters was addressed to you, and, indeed, as yet I have no positive
proof that such was the case."

"Such is the case," cried M. Belmont in a voice of thunder. "I received
such a letter and it has brought me into trouble. I was summoned to the
Chateau in the face of the whole city. I have been suspected and
threatened, and the consequence is that I have been driven to...."

"Stop, M. Belmont," said Hardinge quietly, and interposing his hand.
"Tell me nothing of your plans. I do not want to know them. I will do my
duty to my King and Country. I believe you will do yours, but should
your principles lead you to another course, I prefer to ignore the fact,
and thus avoid becoming your enemy."

"You are not and will not be my enemy," exclaimed M. Belmont, clasping
the extended hand of Hardinge in both of his, and then embracing him on
the cheek. "I owe you a full apology. My suspicions were cruelly
unjust, but you have dispelled them. My treatment of you this evening
was outrageous, and I beg you to pardon me. Your explanations are
thoroughly satisfactory. You did your duty as a soldier in delivering
those letters to the Lieutenant-Governor, and even if you had known to
whom they were addressed, your obligation would have been no less."

"I did not need to be told my duty," said Hardinge with just a shade of
haughtiness, which he immediately qualified by adding, "but I am
flattered to know that I have the approval of one who has always
appeared to me a model of honor."

"You have my unqualified approval, Lieutenant. Although you were the
indirect instrument of the crisis through which I am passing, I am
satisfied that you are clear of the imputation of traitor and spy to me
which I had charged upon you in my indignation and despair. We are on
the eve of important events. Within a few days war with all its
anxieties and horrors will be upon us. You have high duties to perform
both as a citizen and a soldier. Perform them with all the energy of
your nature. It is your sacred duty. I will watch your course with the
deepest interest. Your successes will be a source of personal pleasure
to me, and I sincerely trust that no harm will befall you."

Roderick was quite overcome by this cordial speech, which was to him
more than a reparation for all he had endured during the interview. He
rejoiced, too, at his own perspicacity in having so accurately divined
the real cause of M. Belmont's misunderstanding. It was lamentable,
indeed, that Arnold's letters which he had delivered to the
Lieutenant-Governor should have implicated M. Belmont--if they did
implicate him, a fact of which he had yet no proof, and which he still
refused to credit--but they had been the means of awakening the
authorities to a sense of the peril with which Quebec was threatened,
and that was some compensation for what he had suffered. But there was,
however, another compensation for which he longed, notwithstanding that
the hour was considerably advanced and he had to return to his quarters.
Approaching closer to M. Belmont, with a pleasantly malicious smile on
his lips, he said:

"I have to thank you, sir, for the kind words which you have spoken. I
regard them in the light of the reparation which I knew you would not
withhold so soon as you became acquainted with the facts, but you will
excuse me for saying that there is just one little thing wanting to make
the reparation complete."

M. Belmont looked up in some surprise, but when he saw the expression on
Roderick's face, he comprehended the allusion at once, and replied with
genuine French good-humor and vivacity:

"Oh, of course, there is a woman in the case. You want to be
rehabilitated in the eyes of Pauline as well. It is only just, and it
shall be done. I told her all my suspicions against you, and repeated
all my charges to her. And, by the way, that reminds me that I never
told anybody else about the matter. How, then, pray, did it come to your
ears? You must have known of it before you came here to-night."

"I did, sir, and came expressly on that account."

"Who in the world could have told you?"

Hardinge broke out into a hearty laugh. The laugh was re-echoed by a
silvery voice in the passage.

"Treason is indeed rampant," roared out M. Belmont, cheerily. "A man's
worst enemies are those of his own household." Saying which, he advanced
rapidly to the door and opened it wide. Pauline stood before him, her
eyes swimming in tears, but with a smile of ineffable joy playing on her
white lips.

"Don't embrace me, don't speak to me," said M. Belmont, with mock
gravity. "I will hear no explanations. Settle the matter with this
gentleman here. If he forgives you, as he has forgiven your father, then
I will see what I can do for you."

He went out of the room, leaving Pauline and Roderick together for a
full quarter of an hour. There is no need to say that the twain laughed
and wept in turns over their victory.

When M. Belmont returned from his cellar, with a choice bottle of old
Burgundy, the reconciliation was complete, and that night the happiest
hearts in Quebec were those of Roderick Hardinge and Pauline Belmont. M.
Belmont was content at having done a good deed, but he was not really
happy. Why, the sequel will tell.



XVIII.

RODERICK HARDINGE.


It was a little before nine o'clock when Hardinge entered his quarters
at the barracks. He had passed through an eventful day, and he felt
weary. The interview which he had just held with M. Belmont was,
however, so absolutely the object of his pre-occupation, that he
appeared in nowise disposed to seek the rest required by his exhausted
physical powers. Mechanically divesting himself of his civilian costume
and assuming the undress uniform of his rank, he moved absently about
his little room, muttering to himself, humming fragments of song, and
occasionally breaking out into low laughter. Arnold and his rebel crew
were clean forgotten, the military events through which he had passed,
during the preceding few days, were blotted from his mind, and the
coming and going of the troops in the courtyard below completely escaped
his attention. It has been said, and with easily assignable cause, that
the soldier on the eve of battle is more sensitive to the softer
passions of the heart and the oblivion of all else which these passions
induce, than any other mortal. Such was the case with Roderick on this
evening. He keenly appreciated the extent of the dangers which he had
experienced, and the importance of the victory which he had won within
the last hour. What to him would have been the glory of arms, the fame
of patriotic service, if he had lost Pauline? And--if the whole truth
must be told--would the country itself have been worth saving without
her?

Roderick Hardinge was seven and twenty years of age. He was a Scotchman
by birth, but the best part of his life had been spent in Canada. His
father was an officer in Fraser's famous Highland regiment, whose
history is so intimately associated with the conquest of New France.
After the battle of the Plains of Abraham, in which it took a leading
part, his regiment was quartered in the city of Quebec for some time,
and when it finally disbanded, most of its members, officers as well as
men, settled in the country, having obtained from the Imperial
Government large tracts of land in the Gulf region. This colony has made
its mark in the history of Canada, and to the present day the Scotch
families of Murray Bay rank among the most distinguished in the public
annals of the Province. While retaining many of the best characteristics
of their origin, they have thoroughly identified themselves with their
new home, and by intermarriage with the French natives, have almost
completely lost the use of the English language.

Roderick's father imitated the example of many of his brother officers,
and in the autumn of 1760, a few weeks after the capitulation of
Vaudreuil at Montreal, and the definitive establishment of British power
in Canada, he resigned his position in the army, and settled on a fine
domain in Montmagny, a short distance from Quebec, on the south shore of
the St. Lawrence. Thither he summoned his family from Scotland.
Roderick, his only son, was twelve years of age when he landed in
Canada, and thus grew up as a child of the soil. He never left the
country afterwards, and, on the death of his parents, he succeeded to
the paternal estates which he greatly improved, and cultivated with
considerable success. Much of his leisure time was spent in the city of
Quebec where his position, wealth and accomplishments procured him
admission into the most select circles of the small but exclusive
capital. From the circumstances of the times, the French language was
almost more familiar to him than the English, and the reader will have
readily understood that most of the conversations, which we have
represented him as holding, were carried on in that language. This was
more particularly the case in his intercourse with Pauline and her
father, neither of whom spoke a word of English.

When the first news of the invasion of Canada by the Continentals
reached his ears, he immediately abandoned his estates to the care of
his old friend Donald, and buckling on his father's sword, rode in haste
to Quebec, and enrolled himself in the service. The remnants of Fraser's
Highlanders, with other recruits, were formed into a regiment, called
the Royal Emigrants, under Colonel Allan McLean, and we should naturally
have expected that Roderick would have joined it, but for some reason or
other, he did not do so. He took a regular commission in a regiment of
Quebec militia, commanded by Colonel Caldwell. It was in this capacity
that he performed the notable services which we have recorded in the
preceding chapters.

Roderick Hardinge was tall, robust, athletic and active. He was very
fond of field sports. He had made many a tramp on snow-shoes with the
_coureurs des bois_ far into the heart of the wilderness. He had often
wandered for months with some of the young Hurons of Lorette in quest of
the deer and the bison. He was a magnificent horseman, as his ride to
Three Rivers has proven.

His education had not been neglected, and his good native parts were
well cultivated by the instruction of his father and the best tuition
which the learned French ecclesiastics of Quebec could impart. He was
very fair complexioned, with flossy hair and flaxen beard. As man is
usually ruled by contrast, this was probably the reason why he loved the
dark-tressed, brown-eyed Pauline. He was ten years her senior, and had
known her from her childhood, but his florid air and perfect health made
him look much younger, and, as the two walked together, there appeared
no undue disparity of age.

Roderick had just fastened the last button of his fatigue jacket when
there was a call at the door, and Donald entered the room. After a few
words of hearty greeting, he informed his master that his reconnoitering
of the rebels was over, and that they would speak for themselves the
next day. He stated that he had just come from the Chateau, where he had
conveyed that intelligence to the Lieutenant-Governor. Hardinge thanked
him for his diligence and fidelity, and as a recompense, in answer to an
inquiry of Donald, ordered him not to return to the farm, but remain in
the city to take part in its defence. While the country was in danger
the Montmagny estate might take care of itself.



XIX.

THE FRIGHTENED DOVES.


Pauline had few or no misgivings. Her little being was all heart, and
her mind could not grasp the significance of the political events which
passed before her eyes, and on which her future more or less depended.
For her, loyalty to France consisted simply in reverence and obedience
towards her father. For her, fealty to the King did not extend much
beyond love for his handsome, manly representative, Roderick Hardinge.
Happy woman that need not walk beyond the beautiful round of the
affections. Noble woman whose heroism is purely of the heart, not of the
head. There are many species of martyrdom, but that of mere love is the
grandest in the concentration of its own singleness.

After Roderick's departure, Pauline felt the need of being alone for a
brief period in order to go over quietly in her own conscience all the
varied pathetic scenes of that evening. It was not a process of
analysis. Her mind was incapable of that. It was merely a quiet
rehearsal of all the facts, that their vividness might be made more
vivid, and their effect brought home more tenderly to her heart. For a
long hour she sat on the foot of her bed, now weeping, now smiling, now
tossing her lovely head backwards, then burying her sweet face in her
hands. At times a shadow would flit over the delicate features, but it
would soon be replaced by a glamor of serenity, until finally her whole
demeanor settled into an air of prayerful content. Her hands joined upon
her knee, her brow was bent, and her lips murmured words of gratitude.
Beautiful Pauline! Sitting there with inclined body, and her whole being
divided between her love on the earth and her duty to heaven, she was
the true type of the loveable woman.

It was eleven o'clock at the small ivory clock over the mantel, when a
scratch was heard at the door. What was Pauline's surprise, on answering
the call, to see little Blanche step into the room.

"Why, my little wood-flower, what could have brought you here to-night?"
she exclaimed.

The child sidled up to her godmother and did not answer at first, but
there was that in her eye which at once led to suspicion that everything
was not right. Her very presence there at such an hour was the
indication of an unusual event, for Pauline knew that Blanche had never
passed a night out of Batoche's cabin.

"Are you alone, my dear?" she asked.

"Oh no, godmother, grandfather is with me."

"Where?"

"Down stairs."

"And is any one with him?"

"Yes, M. Belmont is with him. He came to see M. Belmont."

These words somewhat reassured Pauline. She knew that Batoche seldom, if
ever, came to the city, but probably the circumstances of the time
forced him to do so this night, and he had carried his granddaughter
with him in case he should have to tarry too long. She, therefore,
proceeded to unfasten the child's hood and cloak.

"Come to the fire," she said, "and warm yourself, while I get you some
cakes and sweets from the cup-board."

As she said this, she noticed the same peculiar look in the eyes of the
little girl.

"Tell me, Blanche, what is the matter?" she asked.

"I don't know, godmother, except that I must spend the night with you."

"Spend the night with me? Well, that is right. I will take good care of
you, my dear. But are you sure of what you say? Who told you so?"

"M. Belmont himself."

"My father sent you up to me."

"Yes, and he said I must remain with you until he and grandfather called
for me."

"And they are both downstairs?"

The child's face put on that strange look again, as she answered:

"They were there just now, but--"

A great fear fell on the heart of poor Pauline. She knew instinctively
that something was amiss.

"Come down with me, Blanche," she whispered, taking the child by the
hand and leading her, on tip-toe, to the lower rooms. There was silence
in the passage. The lights in the parlor were extinguished. The sitting
apartment behind was deserted. Her father's cap and great coat were gone
from their hooks in the hall. She went to the maid's room and found the
girl fast asleep, in consequence of which there was no information to be
obtained from that quarter. She went to the front door and looked out
upon the street. She could easily distinguish the footprints of men in
the snow on the steps, and the trace of a carriole's runners describing
a sharp curve from the edge of the sidewalk.

"They are gone," she murmured.

And folding Blanche in her embrace, she returned to her chamber.

"Don't cry, little godmother," said Blanche, throwing her arms around
Pauline's neck. "Grandfather told me he would come for me before
morning."

Just then the muffled tread of soldiers was heard along the street, and
low words of command reached the listening ears of Pauline. She
understood that something momentous was going on. She closed her
shutters tight, drew down the heavy curtains of her windows, mended the
fire on the hearth, and crouching there, on low seats, like two
frightened doves, she and Blanche awaited the coming of the dawn.



XX.

THE SPECTRAL ARMY.


After leaving the banquet hall, the Lieutenant-Governor immediately set
about acting upon the important intelligence which he had received from
Donald. Now that the long suspense was over, and that the threatened
invasion of the Bastonnais had become a reality, he felt himself imbued
with the energy demanded by the occasion. Some of the ancient
chroniclers, Sanguinet more particularly, have accused Mr. Cramahé of
remissness in preparing for the defence of Quebec, but the researches we
have made, in the composition of the present work, convince us that the
charge is only partially true. He acted slowly in the earlier stages of
the campaign because he shared the general disbelief in the seriousness
of the Continental attack. Montgomery's movement from the west he had no
pressing reasons to dread, inasmuch as that officer was confronted in
the Montreal district by the Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief,
Guy Carleton himself. Carleton had nearly emptied Quebec of regular
troops for his army, and as long as he employed them in keeping back
Montgomery, Cramahé had really little or no responsibility to bear.
Arnold's march from the east, through the forests of Maine, was known to
be aimed directly at Quebec, but the Canadians of that day, who
understood all the hardships and perils of winter in the primeval woods,
had no idea that Arnold's column would ever reach its destination. And,
as we shall see, in the next book, when describing the principal
episodes of this heroic march, there was every good reason for the
scepticism.

But when at length, after many contradictory rumors and much false
information which would have bewildered any commander, Cramahé learned
from the intercepted letters of Arnold, and from the volunteer
reconnoitering of such faithful men as Donald, that the Continental army
was really approaching Quebec, it is due to the memory of a worthy
officer, even in these pages of romance, to say that he acted with
judgment and activity in making all the preliminary preparations
necessary to protect Quebec, until the arrival of Governor Carleton, and
reinforcements of regular troops.

After leaving the banquet hall, he put on his uniform, and wrapping
himself closely in his military cloak, he resolved upon making a
personal inspection of all the defensive posts of the city. He first
repaired to the barracks in Cathedral-square, where he had a brief
conference with the principal officers. He next visited every gate and
the approaches to the citadel, where he was pleased to find that the
sentries were unusually alert, and quite alive to the exigencies of the
situation, without precisely knowing what they were. The
Lieutenant-Governor then walked down into the darkness of Lower Town and
wandered a long time in silence along the dusky bank of the St.
Lawrence.

About three o'clock in the morning a sleigh drew up at the door of a
large square house in a retired street. Two men issued from it, one
middle-aged, erect and dressed in rather costly furs; the other old,
thin and arrayed like an Indian hunter, with a large fox-skin cap on his
head. As they stepped across the footpath from the sleigh to the front
steps of the mansion, a tall muffled figure stalked slowly on the other
side of the street.

"It is the Governor," whispered the younger man to his companion. "I
know his stature and carriage! Let us enter."

"I wonder what Belmont is doing out at this unseasonable hour," muttered
the tall man in the folds of his cloak. And he walked on, while the
door of the mansion closed with a thud upon the two sleighmen.

      *       *       *       *       *

It was five o'clock on the morning of the 10th November, 1775. The first
faint light of the morning was touching the tops of the far mountains.
The air was frosty, with indications of snow.

Two men stood at an angle of the ramparts, on the highest point of the
citadel of Quebec. They were looking eastward.

"See, Lieutenant," said one pointing his gloved hand across the river.

"Ay, there they are, Your Excellency, issuing from the woods and
ascending the hill," replied the other.

"They are _on_ the hill, swarming up in hundreds," rejoined the
Governor.

Cramahé pressed the hand of Hardinge, and the two descended rapidly but
silently into the city. On their way, they heard the confused mutter of
the streets:

"The Bastonnais have come!"

Yes, there they were. Arnold's men stood like a spectral army on the
Heights of Levis.

END OF BOOK THE FIRST.



BOOK II. THE THICKENING OF THE CLOUDS.



I.

ZULMA SARPY.


It was a damp bleak morning, and the snow was falling fast. Zulma Sarpy
sat in her bedroom, indolently stretched upon a rocking chair before a
glowing fire. She was attired in a white morning dress, or _peignoir_,
slightly unbuttoned at the collar, and revealing the glories of a snowy
columnar neck, while the hem, negligently raised, displayed two
beautiful slippered feet half buried in the plush of a scarlet cushion.
Her abundant yellow hair, thrown back in banks of gold over the forehead
and behind the rosy ears, was gathered in immense careless coils behind
her head and kept in position by a towering comb of pearl. Her two arms
were raised to the level of her head, and the two hands held on
languidly to the ivory knobs at the top of the chair. On the second
finger of the left hand was a diamond ring that flashed like a star. The
whole position of the lovely lounger brought out her grand bust into
full relief.

Beside her stood a little round table supported on three carven feet of
exquisite workmanship, and covered by a beautiful netting of crimson
lace. On the table was an open book and several trinkets of female
toilet. The table gave the key to the rest of the furniture of the
apartment, which was massive, highly wrought and of deep rich colors.
The tapestries of the wall were umber and gold; the hangings of the bed
and windows were a modulated purple. The room had evidently been
arranged with artistic design, and just such a one would be employed to
exhibit a statue of white marble to the best effect. Zulma Sarpy was
this living, breathing model, fair as a filament of summer gorse, and
statuesque in all her poses.

She had been educated in France, according to the custom of many of the
wealthy families of the Colony. Although confined for five years--from
the age of fourteen to that of nineteen--in the rigid and aristocratic
convent of Picpus, she had been enabled to see much of Paris life,
during the waning epoch of Louis XVI's reign and the times of morbid
fashionable excitement immediately preceding the great Revolution. Her
natural disposition, and the curiosity incident to her previous Colonial
training, led her to mingle with keen interest in all the forms of
French existence, and her character was so deeply impressed by it that
when she returned to her Canadian home, a few months before our
introduction to her, she was looked upon very much in the light of an
exotic. Yet was the heart of Zulma really unspoiled. Her instincts and
principles were true. She by no means regarded herself as out of place
in her native country, but, on the contrary, felt that she had a mission
to fill in it, and, having had more than one opportunity of honorable
alliance in France, preferred returning to Canada and spending her days
among her own people.

But she had to be taken as she was. If the good simple people around her
did not understand her ways, she could afford to leave them in their
wonderment without apology or explanation. The standing of her family
was so high, and her own spirit so independent, that she felt that she
could trace out her own course, without yielding to the narrow and
antiquated notions of those whose horizon for generations had never
extended beyond the blue line of the St. Lawrence.

Was she thinking of these very things this morning, as she lounged
before the fire? Perhaps so. But if she did, the thoughts had no
palpable effect upon her. Rather, we fancy, were her thoughts straying
upon the incident of three days before, when she had that rattling ride
with the handsome British Lieutenant and distanced him out of sight.
That glance in her great blue eyes was a reflection of the one which she
cast upon the youthful horseman through the little window squares of the
farmer's house. That tap of the slippered foot, on the edge of the
shining fender, was the gentle stimulant she administered to her pony's
flank as he leaped forward to win the race. That smothered, saucy laugh
which bubbled on her red, ripe lips was an echo of the peal which
greeted Hardinge when he pronounced the name of "Zulma," at the road
gate. And as she rolled her fine head slowly to and fro on the velvet
bosses of the back of her chair, was she not meditating some further
design on the heart of the loyal soldier? Conspiracies deeper than that,
designs of love that have rocked kingdoms to their foundation have been
formed by languid beauties, recumbent in the soft recesses of their easy
chairs.

Zulma had reached the culminating point of her revery and was gradually
gliding down the quiet declivities of reaction, when she was aroused by
a great uproar in the lower part of the house. She did not at first pay
much attention to it, but as the sound grew louder and she recognized
the voice of her father, speaking in loud tones of alarm, she sat up in
her chair and listened with concern. Presently some one rushed up the
stair and precipitated himself into the apartment, without so much as
rapping at the door. It was her brother, a youth of about her age, who
was at school at the Seminary of Quebec. He evidently had just arrived,
being still wrapped up in a blue flannel coat, trimmed with red cloth,
hood of the same material, buckskin leggings and rough hide boots. He
gave himself a vigorous shake, like a Newfoundland just emerged from the
water, and stamped upon the floor to throw off the particles of snow
adhering to his feet.

"What means all this disturbance, Eugene?" asked Zulma, holding out one
hand, and turning her head over the side of the chair, till her face
looked up to the ceiling.

"Oh, nothing, except that the rebels have come!" was the rejoinder, as
the youth walked up to his sister, and dropped globules of snow from his
gloves into her eyes.

"The what have come?"

"Why, the rebels."

"You mean the Americans."

"Americans or rebels,--what is the difference?"

"A world of difference. The Americans are not rebels. They are freemen,
battling for their rights."

"We have been taught at the Seminary to call them rebels."

"Then you have been taught wrong."

Zulma had risen out of her chair, and stood up in front of the fire,
with a glow of enthusiasm on her cheek. She would doubtless have
continued to deliver her ideas on the subject, but her young brother
evidently took no particular interest in it, and this circumstance,
which did not escape her quick eye, suddenly brought her back to more
practical questions.

"Where have the Americans arrived?"

"At Point Levis."

"When did they arrive?"

"This morning, early."

"Have you seen them?"

"They are quite visible on the heights, moving to and fro, and making
all kinds of signs toward the city. The whole of Quebec turned out to
look at them, the scholars of the Seminary along with the rest. After I
had seen the fellows, the Superior of the Seminary called me aside, and
directed me to take a sleigh, and come at once to notify you."

"Notify me?" said Zulma, arching her brows. "M. Le Superieur is very
amiable."

"Well, not you exactly," said Eugene, laughing, "but the family."

"Oh!" exclaimed she. "That is different. I never saw your Superior in my
life, and I do not know that he is aware of my humble existence."

"There you are mistaken. Our Superior knows all about you, your tricks,
your oddities, your French notions; and he often speaks to me of you. He
is especially aware that you are a rebel, and is much grieved thereat."

"Rebel! There is that hateful word again."

"I thought you liked it, when applied to yourself. You told me as much
the last time."

Zulma laughed and seemed propitiated, but she said no more. Her brother
then told her that their father was considerably agitated at the news.
He was particularly alarmed lest his son should be exposed by remaining
in the city, and thought of withdrawing him from the Seminary during the
impending siege. What did Zulma think of it?

"When do you return to Quebec?" was the abrupt query.

"I will return at once, and father is going with me."

"I will go too. I want to see these Americans for myself, and then I
will tell you what I think of your staying at the Seminary, or the
reverse. Go down stairs, while I make ready."

When Zulma was alone, it did not take her long to prepare herself for
the journey. All her languor had departed. The idle fooling in which she
had indulged during the previous hours was replaced by an earnest
activity in moving about her room. Her fingers were skilful and rapid in
the arrangement of her dress. In less than a quarter of an hour, she
walked up to the mirror for the last indispensable feminine glance. And
what a magnificent picture she was. In her sky-blue robe of velvet, with
pelisse of immaculate ermine, and hood of the same material, quilted
with azure silk, her beautiful face and queenly proportions were brought
out with ravishing effect. Encasing her hands in gauntlets, she went
down to meet her father and brother, and a moment later, the three rode
away at a brisk pace in the direction of Quebec.



II.

FAST AND LOOSE.


Pointe-aux-Trembles, or Aspen Point, in the vicinity of which stood the
mansion and the estates of the Sarpy family, is a little more than
twenty miles above Quebec, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence. The
road which connects it with the city follows pretty regularly the
sinuous line of the river. Over this route the sleigh bearing Sieur
Sarpy, with his daughter Zulma and his son Eugene, had travelled rapidly
and without interruption till it reached an elevated point, two or three
miles outside of Quebec, overlooking Wolfe's Cove and commanding a full
view of the Heights of Levis. Here Sieur Sarpy reined in his horse.

"Do you see them?" exclaimed Eugene, standing up in the sleigh, and
pointing across the river.

"I see nothing," responded his father. "The snow is blowing in our
faces, and my old eyes are very feeble."

Zulma remained buried in her buffalo robes and said nothing, but her
eyes were fixed intently at the distant summits, and her face bore an
expression of the most earnest interest.

"They are moving up and down," resumed Eugene, "as if busy storing their
provisions and ammunition. But they are very indistinct. I wonder if
they see us better than we see them?"

"They do," said his father. "The wind is behind them and they are not
incommoded by the drift."

After a pause, Eugene added:

"They seem to have no general uniform. They must belong to different
corps. Some have no uniform at all. Their appearance is not much that of
soldiers, and there are a good many small, young fellows among them."

"It must be the effect of refraction," said Zulma, in a low voice and
with a sneer. "But to me they seem like giants, towering on the heights
and stretching great arms toward us."

"In menace?" queried the Sieur with a strange affectionate look at his
daughter.

"That depends," she whispered smiling, but immediately subjoined:

"Let us drive on, papa."

A few minutes afterwards they reached the city. For some reason or other
Zulma declined accompanying her father and brother to the Seminary. The
pretext which she gave was that she had a few purchases to make in the
shops. But probably her real object was to visit some of her friends and
ascertain the real condition of things. Whether she did so or not we
need not stop to inquire, but an hour later she met Sieur Sarpy and
Eugene at the place agreed upon between them, to learn the decision that
they had come to.

"My fate is in your hands," said the youth opening the conversation in
high good humor. "You promised to give me your advice after you had set
your eyes on those gentlemen yonder, and now I have come to receive it."

"Yes," said the father, "we have determined to submit the matter to your
arbitration. Shall Eugene remain at the Seminary, or shall he return
with us?"

"What does M. Le Superieur say?" asked Zulma.

"He thoroughly appreciates the gravity of the situation. He believes
there will be a siege, perhaps a bloody one, certainly a long one. He
has strong opinions about the duty of every able-bodied man assisting in
the defence of the city. The young children he will send back to their
parents, but, at eighteen, Eugene ought to be accounted a man. He would
remain at the Seminary, one of the safest asylums in the city, always
under the eye of his tutors, and his studies would not be interrupted.
But he might do some minor military service all the same, and in the
event of a great emergency could help to swell the ranks of the troops.
The Superior thinks that practically he would be more secure within the
city than out of it. At home, he might be harassed by solicitations from
the enemy, and draw down upon us a great deal of annoyance."

At this Zulma smiled.

"And," added her father, "you know that, at my age, and with my
infirmities, I must have peace and quiet. From the beginning of these
hostilities, I have vowed neutrality, and I would not like to see it
disturbed."

Zulma's manner changed at these words. She looked at her father with a
mingled air of tenderness and determination, and said:

"What does Eugene think about it? Surely if he is old enough to fight,
he ought to be old enough to know his own mind and to be consulted."

The boy's answer was not very distinct. He did not seem to have any
opinions. His ideas were decidedly hazy about the King's right to his
allegiance, or the claims of the rebels to his sympathy. But there was
good blood in the fellow, and his uppermost thought evidently was that
it would be a grand thing for him to do a little fighting. Quebec was
his native city; everybody in it knew him, and he knew everybody.
Perhaps it would be as well if he joined in its defence.

"Then stay here," exclaimed Zulma peremptorily.

She added that she would take proper care of her father, and that Eugene
need have no solicitude on that score. In the meantime, things had not
come to the worse; perhaps, it would take even weeks before the siege
commenced, and they would have ample time to communicate with each other
again.

After this conference, Eugene accompanied his father and sister to the
street where their sleigh awaited them. The three were engaged in a few
parting words, when a young British officer passed hurriedly along. He
would certainly have gone on without noticing them, had not one of
Zulma's gauntlets fallen on the side-path at his feet. Was it accidental
or was it a challenge? Who shall tell? But whatever it was, the officer
stooped immediately for the glove, and handed it to the owner with a
profound salutation. Roderick Hardinge then recognized the beautiful
amazon.

There was time for the interchange of only a few words between them.

"Lieutenant," said Zulma, with that bright laugh which had so enchanted
Roderick the first time he heard it, "I have the honor of presenting to
you a loyal soldier in the person of my brother, who has just decided
upon entering the service in defence of the city."

"I am proud to hear that. Eugene and I are old friends, and I am glad to
know that we shall now be brothers in arms."

"But, Lieutenant," continued Zulma, "you will perhaps be surprised to
learn that he has acted thus at my recommendation."

"Indeed! That is certainly an agreeable surprise. I may then be
justified in hoping that you too, mademoiselle, will take part in our
cause."

"That is quite a different matter. Before I take, I must be taken, you
know," with another merry laugh.

"You mean that before we take you----."

"You must catch me."

"I own that is hard to do, considering my first experience, but it will
be done all the same."

"Never!" exclaimed Zulma, with a flush on her cheek.

"I repeat it--and mark me--it _shall_ be done."

And after a little more pleasantry, the party separated.

On their way homeward, Sieur Sarpy lightly questioned his daughter. He
knew the strength of her character, the high metal of her temper. Her
words with Hardinge, all playful as they appeared on the surface, had,
he was certain, a deeper significance. But this wonderful girl was
dearly affectionate, in the midst of all her follies, and she would not
grieve her father by telling him the secret of the thoughts which had
moved her bosom since the morning. He had pleaded for quietude during
the unquiet days that were coming. She was resolved he should have it in
so far as it depended upon her. At least it was much too early in the
day to vex his mind with forebodings. She therefore comforted and calmed
him by words of assurance, and, when he crossed his threshold, that
evening, the lonely old man felt that he was indeed secure under the
protection of his daughter.



III.

THE SHEET-IRON MEN.


The next morning the snowfall had ceased, and although the sky remained
lowering, there was no sign of a storm. Indeed, it was still too early
in the season for frequent or abundant snow. The climate of Canada has
this peculiarity which meteorologists have failed to explain--that
whereas, in other parts of the continent, such as the north-west, and
even so far down the Mississippi Valley as St. Louis, the winter
temperature has moderated with the clearing of the forests and the
cultivation of the soil, in Canada it remains precisely the same as it
was two and three hundred years since. A comparison of the daily
registers kept at present with those diurnally consigned in the
Relations of the Jesuits, shows--as the historian Ferland tells
us--that, day for day and month for month, the indications of the
thermometer in 1876, for instance, tally with those of 1776. At the
present time, in Canada, although the cold really begins to be felt in
the beginning of November, the winter is not regarded as having finally
set in till the 25th of the month. That is known as St. Catharine's day,
and its peculiar celebration will be described further on, being
connected with one of the episodes of our story. The last month of the
autumn of 1775 may therefore be supposed to have followed the general
rule. Indeed, we know from the records that it was, if any thing, milder
than usual, and that the winter was uncommonly tardy, a vessel having
sailed from Quebec for Europe as late as the 31st December.

As we have said, the weather, on the particular morning on which we
write, was cold but calm. The snow lay crisp and hard upon the level
places; in the hollows and gorges it was piled in light fleecy banks.
The atmosphere was of that quality that, although it had a sting when
first it was faced, so soon as the ears, hands, cheeks, and other
exposed parts got used to it, the whole system felt a pleasureable glow
of buoyancy. It was capital weather to work in, and so a number of
sturdy farmer's wives, residing on the north bank, a little above
Quebec, gathered at the river to do their washing. They had on immense
quilted mob-caps, with large outstanding ears, petticoats of thick blue
or purple woollen, the work of their own hands, heavy stockings to
match, and pattens lined with flannel. A great double handkerchief, of
flowery design, was set upon their broad shoulders, covering their necks
and crossed over their voluminous bosoms; but there was free play left
to the arms, which flushed with rosy color under the influence of work
and weather. A broad board fastened to the bank, jutted out five or six
feet into the water, and was supported there at a proper level by a
solid trestle. A boat was attached to this primitive jetty, and there
was besides a small building of rude timber, which served for the women
to boil their clothes in, or hang them up to dry.

Four women were working together along one plank, and of course there
was continuous talk among them. But whenever the conversation became
more than usually animated, or they would fall to disagreeing among
themselves, they would call out to their companions who were similarly
working and talking some yards away to the right and left.

One lively old girl, who was striking her pallet so hard on a bombed
bundle of yellowish clothes, that meshes of brown hair broke from under
her cap and fluttered on her forehead, seemed to be the oracle of the
party.

"Perhaps this will be the last time we shall wash clothes here. Those
are terrible fellows who have come. They call them Bastonnais. They come
from very far, and are very bad men. They will burn our houses and
barns. They will empty our cellars and granaries. I saw M. le Curé
yesterday, and he told me that we will have to shut ourselves up, and
not show our faces, because ... you know."

"Pshaw, Josephine," said another, "it will not be so bad as that. My old
man says that they are like other men. I'm not afraid. I will talk to
them. I am sure there are some pretty fellows among them."

"Marguerite is always a coquette," continued a third. "But she will have
no chance. These strangers are poor, lean, broken-down, and badly
dressed. They are not soldiers at all, like the men at the citadel. No
lace, no gold tape, no epaulettes, no feathers in their hats. The
officers have no swords, and many of the soldiers are without muskets.
Men like that I would not allow to approach me, and if they come to our
house, I will dance them out with this paddle."

Saying which, the speaker fell to, beating her clothes with renewed
vigor.

The youngest and prettiest of the four women having listened to all
this, straightened herself up from her tub, and placing her arms akimbo,
said:

"Pierriche"--meaning her husband--"was in the city all yesterday
afternoon. You know Pierriche is a great talker, and likes to know all
the news. Every time he goes to the city he has enough to talk about for
a week afterwards. Well, do you know what he says? He is such a hoaxer,
such a _blagueur_, that I did not believe him, and hardly believe him
now, but he swore to me that it was true."

"What was it?" asked her three companions simultaneously.

"Well, he said that after he had been in the city a little while, and
sold what was in his sleigh, he thought he would take a stroll into
Lower Town. There he met a lot of his friends, and one of his cousins
from Levis. And they told him...."

"What did they tell him?" asked the three women, who had now abandoned
their work and gathered around the speaker.

"Well, you know all the boats were taken away from the other side of the
river, but these men were so frightened that they ran down the bank till
they came opposite the Isle of Orleans. Then making a kind of raft with
a few logs they got over to the Island. There they found boats which
took them to the city. And they immediately spread the news of what they
had seen."

"What had they seen?" queried the excited women. "You are provoking,
Matilde, with your long story."

"You will not believe me."

"I'll believe everything," said one.

"I'll believe nothing," said another.

"Never mind what we will believe. Only tell us what it is," said the
third.

"Well, they told Pierriche that these Bastonnais are terrible men, tall
and strong. They suffer neither cold nor heat. Nothing can hurt them,
neither powder, nor ball."

"And why not?"

"Because...."

Here the pretty housewife paused suddenly, and with a look of mingled
fear and surprise, pointed to the river. Her companions turned and saw a
light birch-bark canoe, shooting out from the opposite shore and
directed for mid-stream. Three men were in it.

"There!" said the first speaker. "Just what Pierriche said. Look at
them. Look especially at that tall man sitting in the stern. The boat is
approaching very quick. See, he raises his cap and salutes us."

"What a handsome fellow," said Marguerite.

"Yes, but look at his dress and that of his companions," exclaimed the
others.

"Just what Perriche said," repeated the first.

"They are devils, not men," cried out a second.

"Just what Pierriche said. They are clad in sheet-iron."

"Yes, that is true. Sheet-iron men!"

And the frightened women, leaving the clothes on the jetty, fled
precipitately up the bank.

The boat described a wide semi-circle in the river, and the young man
sitting at the stern swept the north shore with a field glass. It was
Cary Singleton, an officer of Morgan's riflemen, one of the chief corps
of Arnold's army. He had been sent to reconnoitre.

Morgan's riflemen were all tall, stalwart men from Virginia and
Maryland, and they were dressed in tunics of grey unbleached linen. The
French would say _vêtus de toile_. But the panic of their sudden
arrival, at Levis, changed _toile_ into _tôle_, and the whole country
side rang with the cry of "sheet-iron men." The amusing incident is
historic.



IV.

BIRCH AND MAPLE.


Arnold's men stood like a spectral army on the Heights of Levis, but
unlike spectres they did not vanish in the full glare of the light.
After gazing their fill upon the renowned city which they had come so
far to see--its beetling citadel, its winding walls, its massive gates,
the peaked roofs of its houses, the tall steeples of its churches, the
graceful campaniles of its numerous convents--they set actively to the
work of attack which remained as the culmination of their heroic march
through the wilderness. The enchantment of distance had now vanished,
and the reality of vision was before them. Arnold had the quick insight
of the born commander. He understood that he could accomplish nothing
from Levis. The broad St. Lawrence rushed by him with a sullen moan of
warning, isolating him effectually from Quebec. He had no artillery.
There were no boats. An ice-bridge was out of the question for at least
two months to come. And yet he saw his way clear. He must cross to the
north shore. He must attack Quebec. The prize was worth even a desperate
attempt. If he took Quebec before Montgomery joined him, his name would
be immortalized. He would rank with Wolfe; indeed, considering the
exiguity of his means, his feat would surpass that of Wolfe. The capture
of Montreal would be glory enough for Montgomery. That of Quebec
belonged of right to Benedict Arnold. If there were risks, there were
also chances. The regulars were away. The walls were manned only by raw
militia. Lieutenant-Governor Cramahé was no soldier. The French
inhabitants of the city were at least apathetic Many of the English
residents were positively the friends of the Continental cause.

Yes, Arnold must cross the river, and that speedily. On the very
afternoon of his arrival, he ordered Morgan, the commander of the rifle
corps, to prepare a number of canoes without delay. With the assistance
of some Indians who were hanging around the camp in quest of fire-water
and other booty, a squad of Morgan's men, under the command of Cary
Singleton, repaired to the neighboring woods skirting the river, and
there proceeded to strip the oldest and girthiest birch trees. Autumn is
not so favorable a time as spring for the stripping and preparing of
birch bark, but the result is satisfactory enough provided the frost has
not penetrated too deep into the heart of the tree.

The maple and the birch are the kings of the Canadian forest. Two
strong, tall, unbending trees, they stand as fit pillars to the entrance
of a boreal climate. For fuel they rank first on the market of hard
woods, and each has its special advantage. The maple is rather more
appreciated for its heating properties; the birch is decidedly more
valuable for its ash. The ash of the birch is a fair thing to see, white
as snow and soft under the touch as flour. The leaf of the maple and
bark of the birch are national emblems in Canada, and it is well that
they should be, for they are both associated with the history of the
country, and enter largely into its domestic comforts. The annals of New
France may be compared to an album of maple leaves bound in a scroll of
birchen bark, and a contemporary writer in Quebec has adopted the idea
for the title of one of his works. The solid beams of the Canadian house
are hewn out of columns of birch, as sound if not so fragrant as the
cedar of Lebanon, and the furniture of the Canadian home is wrought of
bird-eye maple, susceptible of the velvetest polish, and more beautiful,
because more variagated, than walnut or mahogany.

Every season of the year has its peculiar amusements, and among a people
of primitive habits, these amusements are gone through with a kind of
religious observance. There is the hay-time in summer when, under the
sultry sky, and amid the strong scents of the hardier field-flowers, the
huge wain is driven from the stubble field into the shadows of the
impending woods, and around it the workers sing and make merry in token
of joy for the abundant yield of sweet grass that shall fatten the kine
in the drear barren months of snow. The young men rest on their scythes,
that glisten like Turkish sabres, and, from under their broad-brimmed
hats of straw, the town girls smile, as they tress garlands of garish
flowers to bind the last and the largest of the sheaves.

In autumn, there is the season of the harvest with its traditional
ceremonies of a religious or convivial nature. The granary is decorated
up to the roof in hangings of odorous verdure, and the barn floor is
cleared for the dance of the weary feet that have long toiled in the
five acre. Under the crescent moon, in those mild September evenings,
the old superstitions of the Saxon Druids are repeated, while many a
beautiful Norma, crowned with vervain and mistletoe, a gleaming sickle
in her hand, and her eyes filled with the prophetic light of love,
reigns a queen over the honest loving hearts of swains who lay at her
feet the brightest wisps of the upland. And the humble Ruth is there,
too, with her sweet patient face, and her timid look fixed on the
generous Boaz who allowed her to pick the gleanings of his golden corn.

Winter also has its feasts and its holidays. No where better than in
arctic climates are these celebrated by persons of every age and sex.
There are innumerable games and pastimes around the fire, where the
wildest merriment drives away the tedium of the long wintry night.
Stories are told, songs are sung, tricks are played. There is dancing in
the lighted hall; there is love making in the dark corners; and to crown
the festival there is a sleigh-ride under the cold moon, when the music
of the bells, the tramping of the hoofs, the shouts of the drivers, and
the shrill whistle of the Northern blast, are to the buoyant spirits of
the young promenaders like draughts of exhilarating wine.

In Canada, all these pleasant rural ceremonies of the old countries are
well preserved. And it is the only portion of this continent where they
are to be met with.

The American who has read of them, but has never witnessed them in
Europe, can find them faithfully reproduced in Canada.

But in spring, Canadians have a pastime peculiar to themselves,
furnished by their own climate. It is the season of sugar-making. At the
period in which the events of our story occurred, the cultivation of the
maple was much more extensive than now, but even at present it is
sufficiently well maintained to enable a traveller to study all its
picturesqueness and charm. In Vermont, New Hampshire, Michigan and
Wisconsin, the maple is cultivated, but in such a matter-of-fact,
mercantile fashion, that there is no rural poetry in the process.

The maples stand in an area of half an acre. Each one is notched at the
height of about a foot or a foot and a half from the ground. A piece of
shingle is fastened in the lips of the wound, at an angle of forty-five,
and down this trickle the sweet waters in a trough set at the foot of
each tree. There stand the forest wives distilling their milk, while the
white sunlight rests on their silver trunks and the soft winds of March
dally with their leafless branches. The sugarman has his eye fixed on
each of them, and as fast as the urns are filled, he empties them into a
large vessel preparatory to boiling. In an open space, towards the
centre of the area, is a huge cauldron dangling from a hob, and under it
crackles a fire of pine and tamarac. At a little distance from this
stands the cabin of the proprietor, where are stowed away all the
utensils necessary for sugar-making. There too his hammock swings, for
during the whole period when the maple bleeds, he lives like an Indian
in the forest.

Presently the sound of voices is heard coming up the slopes, and in a
short time the whole party that has been invited to the sugar-festival
finds itself collected under the maples. They bring with them baskets of
provisions, hams and shoulders, eggs, and the indispensable allowance of
strong waters.

"The first thing to be done, my friends," cries the host to his guests,
"is to drink the health of the forest wives in a draught of maple
water."

And immediately tin cups are applied to the notches. When they are
filled, the toast is drunk with all the honors.

"Now," resumes the host, "come up to the cauldron and get your share of
the syrup."

One by one, the guests approach the huge vessel where the maple water is
boiling and bubbling. Each one holds in his hand a wooden basin filled
with fresh clean snow, and into that the hospitable host ladles out the
golden stream. With the accompaniment of new bread, this dish is
delicious, for it is peculiar to the maple sugar and syrup that they do
not satiate, much less nauseate, as other saccharine compositions do.

After this preliminary repast, the guests indulge in various amusements.
The older folks sit together at the cabin door, chatting of their
youthful frolics in former sugar-making days, while the young people
sing, flirt, promenade and enjoy themselves as only the young know how.
Some of the more active go about gathering dry branches and wood to keep
up the fire, and others saunter a little out of sight on a visit to the
demijohns which they have hidden behind the rocks.

After a time, the host gives the signal for taffy-making. This part of
the fun is reserved for the girls. They throw aside their mantles, push
back their hoods, tuck up their sleeves and plunge their white fingers
into the rapidly cooling masses of syrup. The mechanical process of
drawing the arms backwards and forwards is in itself an uninteresting
occupation, but somehow under these Canadian maples, in that bracing
mountain atmosphere, and amid all the accessories of this peculiar
vernal pic-nic, taffy-making is an exhilarating, picturesque amusement.
The girls get ruddy with the exertion; they pant, they strain, they duck
their heads when their lovers creep behind to steal a kiss, or they run
after the shameless robber and slap his naughty cheeks with their sticky
palms. Under the rapid kneading the dark syrup becomes glossier, then it
reddens, next it grows a golden hue, till finally it gets whiter and
whiter, thinner and thinner, and the taffy is finished.

Towards the middle of the afternoon, the principal repast takes place.
All the provisions which the guests have brought are produced and spread
on a long table prepared for the purpose. Maple water and maple sugar
are the accompaniments of every dish. When all the meats have been
discussed, the feast winds up by the celebrated maple omelet. Whatever
Soyer or Brillat Savarin might say, it is a pleasant dish, though too
rich to be partaken of copiously, and according to every hygienic
principle, very apt to be difficult of digestion. It consists of eggs
pretty well boiled and broken into maple syrup, slightly diluted and
piping hot. After a meal of this kind, exercise is indispensable, and it
is the custom to get up a series of dances until the hour of breaking
up.

"Friends," exclaims the host, when they are about to retire from the
table, "I am glad to find that you have done justice to my syrup and
sugar. It is the best sign that they were good. It keeps up the
reputation of my sugary. Try to retain the taste of them till next year,
when I hope we shall all meet again under these same trees."

A round of applause follows these words, and the whole company breaks
out into hunting songs in honor of the host.

"Now," resumes he, "we must by all means have a dance. I never let my
friends go without at least one, and I intend to join in the first
myself. Come, hurry up, one and all. I see a suspicious cloud or two in
the sky yonder, and we may possibly have a storm before the day is
over."

A fiddler is soon found and the dance is organized. He leans his left
cheek lovingly on his instrument, and has just run his bow across the
discordant strings, when suddenly a loud crash is heard in the gorges of
the mountain. It is the roar of the storm. The maple tops writhe and
twist in the sweep of the winds that come up in eddies from the river
far beneath. The sky is suddenly darkened. The snow falls thick and
fast. These portents are sufficiently significant to startle the whole
party. The dance is broken up and every one prepares to depart as fast
as he can.

Cary Singleton and his men had a sterner duty to perform by the maple
trees. They cut them down and of the trunks constructed a number of
rafts wherewith to transport the baggage and provisions of the army
across the St. Lawrence.

At the same time, the Indians of the party were detailed to build
birch-bark canoes. With their long knives they swept around the slender
trunks, making an incision as regular and precise as any surgeon might
have done on a human limb destined to amputation. The first circle was
made about one foot from the ground, the other about three feet from the
branches where the tree began to taper. This was to secure slips of
about equal length. They then ran down their knives longitudinally from
the edge of one circle to the edge of the other circle, making four or
five sections according to the size of the tree. This was to obtain
slips of about equal breadth. They next inserted the point of their
knives under the layer of bark, and with rapid action of the arm pulled
off slip after slip. As these slips fell upon the ground they rolled up
in scrolls, but other Indians as quickly unrolled them, stitched them
together with light thongs of moose or buckskin, and sharpened them at
the two extremities. In this way, three men could build a good sized
canoe, within two hours. There remained only the process of drying which
was not indispensable indeed, but contributed to the lightness and
safety of the craft.

So soon as the first canoe was made, Cary Singleton launched it, and,
accompanied by two men, made the reconnoissance which so much frightened
the gossipping laundresses. He did not approach the north shore as near
as he had intended, for fear that the women might give the alarm and
betray his design, but he saw enough through his glass to enable him to
report that the secluded basin, sheltered by dense trees, and known as
Wolfe's Cove, would be a favorable place for the landing of the invading
army. Accordingly, after three days devoted to the repose of his troops,
and the replenishing of his stores from the neighboring farm houses,
Arnold, on the night of the 13th November, undertook to cross the St.
Lawrence. He was favored by darkness and a storm, and from ten in the
evening till four in the morning, by the aid of thirty birch-bark canoes
and a few rafts, he was engaged in the hazardous work. Backwards and
forwards the fragile vessels plied silently over the broad bosom of the
river, bearing a freight of taciturn armed men, on the point of whose
muskets literally trembled the fate of Canada. As the morning dawned the
whole of the Continental army, with the exception of 160 men who were
left at Levis, was safe in the recess of Wolfe's Cove, and Arnold had
won another stake in the lottery of war.



V.

ON THE RAMPARTS.


Very early that same morning, Zulma Sarpy drove into Quebec, accompanied
by a single servant. As she neared the city, she caught a glimpse of the
rebel troops surging up the gorge of Wolfe's Cove and forming in groups
on the fringe of the skirting wood. They could not as yet be seen from
the city, although the authorities had, an hour or two previously, been
apprised of their landing. The sight wonderfully exhilarated the girl.
She was not astonished, much less intimidated by the warlike view.
Rather did she feel a thrill of enthusiasm, and a wild fancy shot
through her mind that she too would like to join in the martial display.
She stopped her horse for a moment to make sure that her eyes were not
betraying her, and when she was satisfied that the men in the distance
were really Continentals, she snapped her whip and drove rapidly into
Quebec, in order to enjoy the malicious pleasure of being the first to
communicate the fact to her friends.

In that anticipation she was not disappointed. Her story at first was
not credited, because a glance at the Heights of Levis, across the
river, revealed the presence of troops there. But when she insisted and
detailed all the circumstances, the news spread with rapidity. From one
street it passed into another; from Upper Town it flew into Lower Town,
and according as the news was confirmed by other persons coming into the
city, the people grew wild with excitement and crowded to the ramparts
to satisfy themselves.

Pauline Belmont had not been as intimate as she might have been with
Zulma Sarpy, both because they had been separated for many years during
the school period, and because their characters did not exactly match.
The timid, retiring, essentially domestic disposition of the one could
not move on the same planes with the dashing, fearless, showy mood of
the other. Intellectually they were not equals either. Pauline's mind
was almost purely receptive and her range of inquiry limited indeed.
Zulma's mind was buoyant with spontaneity, and there was a quality of
aggressive origination in it which scattered all conventionalities as
splinters before it. Pauline was likely to lean upon Zulma, listen with
admiration to her brilliant talk, ask her advice and then smile, fearing
to act upon it. Zulma, on the other hand, was not inclined to claim or
exercise patronage. She was actually too independent for that, and in
regard to Pauline, more particularly, she rather preferred bending as
much as she could to her level. In the few months after Zulma's return
from France, however, the girls had frequently met, and they would have
liked to see more of each other, had they not both been retained a great
deal at home by the seclusion of M. Belmont and the infirmities of Sieur
Sarpy respectively.

On the present occasion Pauline was one of the friends upon whom Zulma
called, and naturally her first business was to acquaint her with the
landing of the Continentals. She was surprised to find that the
intelligence caused a deathly pallor to spread over the features of her
companion.

"The siege will begin in earnest, and we shall be cut off from all the
world," murmured Pauline. "And my father has not yet returned."

"Is he outside of the city?" asked Zulma.

"Yes. He went away yesterday, promising to return early this morning.
His delay did not alarm me, but now from what you tell me, I fear he may
get into trouble."

"Do not fret, my dear. It will take several days before the city is
invested, and your father's return will not be interfered with. Besides,
he is not a militant, I believe."

Pauline drew a sigh, but said nothing. Zulma resumed:

"I am sure he is neutral like my father, and such will not be annoyed."

"I wish I could be sure of that, but----," and Pauline suddenly checked
herself as if fearful of giving expression to her suspicions.

"You must remember, my dear, that these Americans are not so black as
they are painted. They are men like others, and true soldiers are always
merciful," added Zulma.

"Indeed! Do you think so? I hardly know what to say about them. Father
says very little of late, but there is a friend of ours who speaks of
them in terms of hostility."

"He must be an ultra loyalist."

"He is a British officer."

"A British officer? Why, Pauline, I thought your father kept aloof from
British officials."

"Oh, but this one is really a Canadian and speaks French like
ourselves," said Pauline, blushing.

"That makes all the difference," replied Zulma, with a pleasant laugh
that was slightly tinged with sarcasm. "I declare I should like to know
this specimen."

"You know him, dear."

"Impossible!"

"He has spoken to me of you."

"Indeed!"

"And is a great admirer of yours."

"You mock me!"

"You can't guess who it is?"

And little Pauline brightened up with childish glee at having gained
this slight advantage over her companion.

"You puzzle and excite me, darling. I can't guess. Tell me who it is."

"Lieutenant Hardinge!"

"Lieutenant Hardinge?"

Why was the cheek of Zulma suddenly touched with flame? Why did her blue
eyes darken as in a lurid shadow? And her lips--why did they contract
into marble whiteness, without the power of articulation? There was a
pause of deep solemnity. To Pauline it was perplexing. She feared that
she had said too much, both for her own sake and that of her friend. But
she was soon relieved of her misgivings by the touch of Zulma's hand
laid upon hers, and a deep, penetrating look, which showed, better than
any words, that the latter understood all, and generously sympathized
with her friend.

"Of course," she said with a laugh, "if you borrow your ideas from
Lieutenant Hardinge, you cannot have much of an opinion of the
Americans, and I suppose it would be loss of time for me to controvert
that opinion."

"Fortunately the result of the war does not depend on the notions of two
girls like ourselves," retorted Pauline, with an argumentative spirit
which was quite foreign to her, and which made her companion laugh
again.

"Never mind," said Zulma. "Let us do something more womanly. Let us go
and look at these new soldiers."

"Very well, and I may hear something of my father on the way."

They stepped out of the house and joined a crowd of men, women and
children bending their steps to the ramparts. When they reached the
walls, they found them already lined with people talking and
gesticulating in the most excited manner. Some spoke aloud, some shouted
at the top of their lungs, some waved their hats, some fluttered their
handkerchiefs attached to the end of their walking sticks, like flags,
and some openly beckoned a welcome to the rebel host. There stood
Arnold's army spread out before them, deployed into a loose double
column on the Plains of Abraham. They had brushed their clothes,
furbished their arms, and put on the best possible appearance. They were
not more than seven hundred in number, but by a judicious evolution of
the wings were made to appear more numerous. Some of the officers looked
very smart, having donned the full-dress uniforms which had not been
used since the expedition left Cambridge two months previously.

Pauline and Zulma occupied a favorable position in the midst of a large
group where they could see everything and hear all the commentaries of
the crowd.

"Why don't the Bastonnais come on?" said an old Frenchman, dashing his
blue woollen bonnet to one side of his forehead. "They are imbeciles.
They don't understand their chance."

"You are right," answered another old man near him. "If the rebel
General only knew it, the gates are not properly manned, and the
stockades only half made up. He could rush in and carry the city by a
_coup de main_."

This conversation was striking, and later in life Zulma used to say that
it expressed what was true. If Arnold had made a dash upon Quebec that
November morning, it is asserted by Sanguinet and others, that he would
have carried it. Thus would he have been immortalized, and the world
would have been spared the most dastardly traitor of modern times.

The foregoing dialogue took place to the right of Zulma and Pauline. The
following was held on their left, between two Englishmen--a
tavern-keeper and a sailor.

"If our commander made an attack on these ragamuffins he would sweep
them into the St. Lawrence," said the sailor.

"Or capture the most of them," said the tavern-keeper.

Here was a contrary opinion to the foregoing, and yet it too has been
expressed by subsequent historians. The Quebec garrison was fifteen
hundred strong, and well supplied with arms and ammunition. The American
army was only half that number, ill accoutred and poorly armed. The
British had a base of operations and a place of retreat in Quebec. The
Continentals had no line of escape but the broad St. Lawrence and a few
birch-bark canoes which a dozen torches could have destroyed. Who knows?
A great opportunity of fame was perhaps lost that day.

"I wish they would sally forth against the Americans," said Zulma to
Pauline. "But the shadow of Montcalm is upon them. Had the Marquis
remained behind his intrenchments, we should never have been conquered
by the English. If the English would now only follow his bad example."
And she laughed heartily.



VI.

THE FLAG OF TRUCE.


Suddenly a singular movement was observed among the American troops, and
silence fell upon the eager multitudes who lined the ramparts. The
principal rebel officers were seen grouped together in consultation.
From their gestures it was evident that a matter of grave importance was
argued, and that there was far from being a harmonious counsel. In the
centre of the party stood a short, stout man, of florid complexion and
apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was advocating his views
with vigor, sometimes with a persuasive smile, sometimes with angry
words. This was Arnold. A few of the officers listened in silence;
others walked away with a scowl of derision and contempt on their faces.
Finally, the interview closed, the troops fell back a little along the
whole line, and all seemed intent upon watching the important event
which was about to follow.

A trumpeter stepped forward, followed by a tall young officer dressed in
the uniform of a rifleman. Both gave the salute to Arnold and received
their instructions from him in a low voice. The young officer took from
his commander a sealed despatch, and, drawing his sword, attached to it
a white handkerchief.

The sight of this handkerchief explained the whole movement.

"A summons to surrender!" was the word that passed along the Continental
ranks, and nearly everybody laughed. The officers could scarcely conceal
their disgust, and some of them loudly protested against being compelled
to witness the humiliation which they were certain was about to ensue.

"A flag of truce!" exclaimed the crowds on the ramparts of the city, and
their curiosity was excited as to the purport of the contemplated
parley. It is safe to say that no one suspected a demand for
capitulation, as nothing could appear more ridiculous under the
circumstances.

The officer with the trumpeter advanced rapidly over the vacant ground
which lay between their line of battle and the walls of Quebec. At
stated intervals, according to the rules of the service, the trumpet was
sounded, but no response came from the city. Finally the two envoys
stopped and stood in full view of the two camps.

"What a handsome fellow it is," said Zulma to Pauline.

The girls were in an excellent position for observing all that took
place, and were so interested that even the timid Pauline forgot her
anxieties about her father.

"Do you mean the trumpeter?"

"Oh, he is well enough. But I mean the officer who bears the flag."

The two friends were discussing this point when their attention was
arrested by a movement at the gate almost beneath them. A British
officer walked out alone and went direct to the flag-bearer.

"It cannot be," exclaimed Pauline.

"Yes, it is no other," replied Zulma with a laugh.

"Roderick!"

"Yes, and no better choice could have been made. A handsome loyalist
against a handsome rebel. But there is a disparity of age."

"Hardly."

"I beg your pardon. Our tall, beautiful rebel is hardly twenty-one, I am
sure, while your Lieutenant, Pauline, is more mature."

It was indeed Roderick Hardinge who had been commissioned to go forward
and meet the American messenger. As he neared him, the two young
officers bowed politely to each other and exchanged the military salute.
Then the following brief conversation took place, as learned afterwards
from the lips of the participants themselves.

"I presume, sir, that you have been detailed to meet me here," said the
Continental.

"I have that honor, sir," responded Roderick.

"And to receive my message."

"I beg your pardon, sir, but I regret to say that I have instructions
_not_ to receive any message whatever."

"But Colonel Arnold demands a parley according to the usages of war."

"I am sorry, sir, that I cannot argue the point. My orders are to inform
you that the commandant of the garrison of Quebec does not desire to
have any communication with the commander of the Continental force.

"But, sir, this----"

"Excuse me, we are both soldiers. We have done our duty and I beg to
salute you."

Lieutenant Hardinge bowed and retreated a step or two. The flag-bearer
looked perplexed for a moment at this turn of affairs, but recovering
his self-possession, returned the bow, wheeled about, and, followed by
the trumpeter, started at long strides over the plain.

An universal tumult arose. Both parties were aroused to the highest
pitch of excitement. The Americans, seeing the insult which had been
offered to their messenger, could scarcely contain themselves within the
ranks. The citizens on the wall sent up cheer after cheer, and the
ladies fluttered their handkerchiefs. Zulma was an exception. She had no
pleasure to manifest, but the contrary. She resented the affront made to
the handsome young rebel, and had immediate occasion to show her
feeling. As Roderick Hardinge turned to retrace his steps toward the
gate, he glanced upward at the dense line of spectators on the
ramparts, and caught sight of Pauline and Zulma. He gave them both a
smiling look of recognition. Pauline returned it with ardent eye and an
animated face that betokened the joy and pride she felt in the service
which her friend was called upon to perform. Zulma affected not to see
Hardinge and looked away over to the American side with an ostentatious
air of offence.

Presently there was the report of a fire-arm, and a puff of pale blue
smoke floated over the edge of the wall. If there was excitement before,
there was uproar and consternation now. An outrage had been committed.
Some one in Quebec had fired on the flag of truce. Pauline uttered a
shrill cry and hid her face in her hands.

"What has happened?" she asked. "Is the battle going to begin? Let us
hasten away. And Roderick--where is he?"

"Safe within the gate," exclaimed Zulma, bending forward, with a keen
nervous movement, and pointing in front of her. "But the American is not
so safe. He has been fired at. The laws of war have been violated. See,
he is the only one who is calm. He walks proudly along, without even
turning his head. There is the hero. He is shot at as if he were a dog,
in violation of all civilized usages. Yet he is nobler than any of those
who pretend to regard the Americans as unworthy of human treatment."

The Americans could hardly maintain their discipline. If the troops had
been allowed their way, they would have rushed headlong against the
walls to avenge the insult. But fortunately the officers succeeded in
calming them. The shot had not been repeated. It was perhaps an
accident, or it had been fired by some militiamen without orders. The
flag-bearer was not injured, neither was the trumpeter.

The army contented itself with a last yell of defiance, and fell back,
partially deploying to the left so as to occupy the main road leading
from the country to the city. Arnold was bitterly disappointed. His
summons for surrender was a characteristic bit of impudence, as we have
seen, not so much on account of the summons itself, as of the threats
and other terms of rhodomontade in which it was couched. Still it might
have succeeded as a mere ruse of war. That it did not succeed was matter
for profound chagrin, and the circumstances of insult and humiliation by
which the refusal was accompanied added poignancy to the pain.

On the other hand, the citizens of Quebec were jubilant. It was a first
trial of strength and the garrison had not failed. It was the first time
the terrible Bastonnais were seen by the inhabitants, and they did not
inspire any terror. Roderick Hardinge pretty well interpreted the
general feeling in a conversation which he held that same afternoon with
Pauline and Zulma. The latter had argued that the flag of truce should
have been received. Roderick replied that he had, of course, no
explanations to give in regard to the order of his superiors, but
judging for himself he would say that any other commander except Arnold
might perhaps have deserved more consideration. But Arnold was well
known in the city. He had often come to Quebec from New England to buy
horses for the West Indies trade in which he was engaged. Indeed he was
nothing better than a Horse Jockey, with all the swagger, vulgarity and
bounce appertaining to stablemen. He had been appointed to head this
expedition, chiefly because of his local knowledge of the country. He
boasted that he had friends in Quebec who could help him. It was well
therefore to treat him with merited contempt from the first, and prove
to him that he had no allies among them.



VII.

THE COVERED BRIDGE.


After this interview the two girls separated. Pauline was anxious to
reach home in order to get information about her father. Zulma proposed
driving back to Pointe-aux-Trembles. Her friend did her best to dissuade
her. She pleaded that the day was too far advanced for safe travel, and
entreated Zulma to postpone her departure till the following morning.

"And my old father?" objected the latter.

"He will have no apprehensions. The news of the enemy's arrival will not
reach him to-day."

"Oh, but it will. Such news travels fast."

"But he can have no fear, knowing you to be safe with your friends in
the city."

"My father has no fears about me, Pauline. He knows that I can take care
of myself; but it is for himself that I am desirous of returning. He is
feeble and infirm, and requires my presence."

"But, my dear, consider the risk you run. The roads will be infested
with these horrid soldiers, and what protection have you against them?"

For all answer the cheek of Zulma flushed, and her blue eyes gleamed
with a strange light that was not defiance, but rather betokened the
expectation of pleasurable excitement.

"Wait till to-morrow morning," continued Pauline, "and you can go under
the shelter of some military passport. I am sure Roderick would be
delighted to get you such a paper."

Zulma's lips curled with scorn, but she made no direct reply. She
simply repeated her determination to go, tenderly reassuring her friend,
and embracing her with effusion.

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon, and the day had already
considerably lowered, when Zulma's sleigh reached the outer gate of the
city. The officer in charge would fain have prevented her from going
further, but she stated her case so plainly, and argued with such an air
of authority, that he was obliged to yield to her wishes.

"Well," said she to herself, with a smile, "I have broken through one
circle of steel. It remains to see how I will pass through the other."

She did not have long to wait. About two miles from the city, the road
which she was following went down a steep hill at the foot of which
flowed a little stream much swollen at this season with snow and cakes
of ice. Over this stream there was a covered bridge whose entrance was
very dark. As she began the descent, the gloom and solitude of the gorge
rather agitated the nerves of Zulma, and she stimulated her horse in
order to pass through the bridge as rapidly as possible. Her eyes
glanced over every point of the ravine, and it was with a sigh of relief
that she approached the bridge without seeing any human being. But
suddenly, as the horse's hoofs touched the edge of the planked floor,
the animal grew restive, tossed up his head, balanced right and left in
the traces, and gave other unmistakeable signs of danger ahead. Zulma
attempted to urge him forward, but this only increased his terror. Her
servant, a green young rustic, with more strength than courage, turned
to her with consternation stamped upon his blank face, and muttered
something about obeying the animal's instinct and not venturing to
proceed farther.

"Jump out and see what is the matter," she exclaimed. "If you are
afraid, I will do it."

The fellow slowly stepped from the vehicle, and feeling his way along
the shaft, reached the horse's head where he paused and peered into the
dark cavity of the bridge. He then seized the bridle and tried to lead
the beast along. But the latter wrenched the bit from the driver's hand,
raised his forelegs high in air, shaking the sleigh and imperilling the
seat of Zulma. She, too, was about to leap forth, when her servant ran
back precipitately, exclaiming:

"The Bastonnais!"

At the same moment the gleam of bayonets was seen under the arch of the
bridge, two soldiers advanced into the light, and the sharp, stern
summons of halt resounded through the hollow.

The servant stood trembling behind the sleigh. Zulma quietly signalled
the two soldiers to approach her. They did so. She said a word to them
in French, but they shook their heads. They then spoke in English, but
she in turn shook her head. They smiled and she smiled. By this time,
the horse, as if he appreciated the situation, having turned his head to
look at the soldiers, became tranquil in his place. The servant had not
half the same sense, and stood trembling behind the sleigh.

The soldiers consulted together a moment, then the elder signified to
Zulma that she would have to return to the city. She replied in the same
language that she must go on. They insisted with some seriousness. She
insisted with a show of rising temper. The position was becoming
embarrassing, when a tall figure appeared at the edge of the bridge, and
a loud word of command caused the soldiers to fall back. Zulma looked
forward and an expression of mingled surprise and pleasure was
discernible upon her countenance. The new comer advanced to the side of
the sleigh, touched his cap and bowed respectfully to its fair inmate:

"Excuse my men, mademoiselle," said he, in excellent French. "They have
detained you, I perceive, but we are patrolling the roads and their
orders are strict. You desire to pass out into the country?"

"If you please, sir."

"With this man?"

"Yes; he is not a soldier, but a family servant. We entered Quebec this
morning before the investment, and it is absolutely necessary for me to
reach my home to-night."

Zulma's tone was not that of a suppliant. Her manner showed that, as she
had not feared the commands of the soldiers, so she had no favor to ask
of the officer. The latter, doubtless, observed this, and was not
displeased thereat, for instead of giving the permission to proceed, he
seemed to linger and hesitate, as if he fain would prolong the
interview. Finally, he managed to introduce a link into the conversation
by asking Zulma whether she did not fear to pursue her journey at that
late hour, declaring that, if she did, he would be happy to furnish her
with an escort. She answered laughingly that perhaps the escort itself
would be the greatest danger she would be likely to encounter on the
way.

"Then I will escort you myself," said the young officer with a profound
bow.

Zulma thanked him, adding the assurance that she needed no protection,
as she anticipated no annoyance. She then called her servant to his seat
beside her, and was about driving off when the loud report of a gun was
heard in the direction of the city. She and the officer looked at each
other.

"A stray shot," said the latter, after listening a moment. "It is
nothing. You are not afraid, mademoiselle?"

"Excuse me, sir," Zulma replied, "but this is the second shot I have
heard to-day. This one may mean nothing, but the first was terrible, and
I shall never forget it."

The officer looked at Zulma, but said nothing.

"Is it possible that you do not remember it too?"

"We are so used to it, mademoiselle, that--"

"The man who fired that shot is a scoundrel, and the man at whom it was
fired," exclaimed Zulma, sitting upright and fixing a glowing eye upon
the officer, "is a hero. Good evening, sir."

And, as if impelled by the spirit with which his mistress pronounced
these words, the horse dashed forward, and the sleigh plunged into the
gloomy cavern of the bridge.



VIII.

CARY SINGLETON.


It was Cary Singleton. He stood a moment looking in the direction of the
bridge, then walked slowly away buried in thought. He was perplexed to
understand the meaning of the words which the beautiful Canadian had
spoken. Which was the shot that she referred to, and who was the
fortunate man whom she proclaimed a hero? At last, the suspicion flashed
upon him that perhaps the young lady had witnessed the scene of that
afternoon under the walls of Quebec. It was very probable, indeed, that
she was one of the hundreds who had lined the ramparts at the time that
the flag of truce advanced toward the gate. In that case, she may have
meant the treacherous firing on the flag, and if she did, her hero must
be the bearer of that flag. But this was almost too good to be true. The
girl was doubtless a loyalist, and to speak as she did, if she meant as
he thought, would argue either that she was a rebel at heart, or that
she was actuated by higher principles of humanity than he had a right to
look for in exciting and demoralizing times of war. And then could she
possibly have recognized him?--for it was no other than he that had
borne the ill-starred flag.

This last question gave a new zest to his excitement, and he stopped
short on the brow of the hill to nerve himself for a sudden resolution.
A second rapid analysis convinced him that he had indeed been recognized
by the lovely stranger. Her whole demeanor, her animated glance, her
inflamed cheek, her gesture of agitation and her last passionate word,
as he now vividly remembered them, pointed to no other conclusion. Yes,
she remembered him, she knew him, and, in a moment of unguarded
enthusiasm, she had expressed her admiration of him. And to be admired
by such a woman! He came from a land proverbial as much for female
beauty as for manly chivalry, but never had his eyes been blessed with a
vision of such transcendent perfection. Every rare feature came out in
full relief on his memory--the great blue eye, the broad entablature of
forehead, the seductive curl of lip, the splendid carriage of head, and,
above all, the magnificence of queenly form.

Cary Singleton was transported. He stormed against himself for having
been a fool. Why had he not understood these things ten minutes ago as
he understood them now? But he would make up for it. He would run over
to his encampment, a few rods behind the wood which skirted the road,
procure a horse, and start off in pursuit of the beautiful girl. He
would learn her name, he would discover where she lived and then ... and
then....

But a bugle-blast startled him from his dream, and shattered his
resolve. It was a call to quarters for special duty. He looked up and
saw great clouds of darkness roll into the valley. Alas! the day was
indeed done, and it was all too late. He walked grimly to camp bewailing
his lost opportunity, and devising all kinds of schemes to recover it.
As he tossed upon his cold pallet of straw that night, his dreams were
of the lonely gorge, the covered bridge, the fairy apparition, and when
he awoke the following morning, it was with the hope that such an
adventure would not remain without a sequel. He felt that it would be a
mockery of fate that he should have travelled so far through the forests
of Maine and over the desert plains of the Chaudière, suffering hunger,
thirst and fatigue, and facing death in every shape, to see what he had
seen, to hear what he had heard, the night before, and then be denied
the fruition of eye and ear forever.

It must be remembered that Cary Singleton was barely one-and-twenty
years of age, and that in him the enthusiasm of youth was intensified by
an exuberant vigor of health. Your wildest lovers are not the sickly
sentimentalists of tepid drawing-rooms, but the rollicking giants of the
open air, and the adventures of a Werther are baby trifles compared to
the infinite love-scrapes which are recounted of a Hercules.

Cary Singleton came of a good stock, Maryland on the side of his father,
Virginian on that of his mother. The Cary and Singleton families survive
to our day, through successive generations of honor, but they need not
be ashamed of their representative who figures in these humble pages. He
had spent his early life on his father's estate, mingling in every manly
exercise, and his latter days were passed at old Princeton, where he
attained all the accomplishments suited to his station. He was
particularly proficient in polite literature and the modern languages,
having mastered the French tongue from many years of intercourse with
the governess of his sisters. Cary had prepared himself for the law and
was about entering on its practice, when the war of the Revolution broke
out. He then enlisted in the corps of Virginia riflemen formed by the
celebrated Captain Morgan, and proceeded to Boston to join the army of
Washington, in the summer of 1775. He had not been there many weeks
before the expedition to Canada was planned. Washington, who agreed with
Congress as to the importance of this campaign, gave much personal
attention to organization of the invading army, and it was by his
personal direction that Morgan's battalion was included in it. When the
force took its final departure in September, Cary received the honor of
a hearty clasp of hand and a few words of counsel from the Father of his
Country, and this circumstance cheered him to those deeds of endurance
and valor which distinguished his career in Canada.



IX.

THE SONG OF THE VIOLIN.


It was the hour of midnight, and all was still in the solitary cabin of
Batoche. Little Blanche was fast asleep in her sofa-crib, and Velours
was rolled in a torpid circle on the hearth. The fire burned low,
casting a faint and fitful gleam through the room. The hermit occupied
his usual seat in the leather chair at one corner of the chimney.
Whether he had been napping or musing it were difficult to say, but it
was with a quiet, almost stealthy movement that he walked to the door
which he opened, and looked out into the night. Returning, he placed a
large log on the fire, stirring it with his foot till its reflection
lighted one half of the apartment. He then proceeded to the alcove, and
drew forth from it his violin. The strings were thrummed to make sure of
their accord, the heel was set in the hollow of the shoulder, and the
bow executed a rapid prelude. The old man smiled as if satisfied with
the cunning of his hand, and well he might, for these simple touches
revealed the artist.

"What will you sing me to-night?" said Batoche looking lovingly at his
old brown instrument. "There has been strange thunder in the voice of
the Falls all the day, and I have felt very singular this evening. I do
not know what is abroad, but perhaps you will tell me."

So saying, he raised his violin to his shoulder again, and began to
play. At first there were slow broad notes drawn out with a long bow,
then a succession of rapid sounds rippling over one another. The
alternation was natural and pleasing, but as he warmed to his work, the
old musician indulged in a revelry of sounds--the crash of the tempest,
the murmur of the breeze, the sparkling clatter of rain drops, the
monotone of lapsing water. The left hand would lie immoveable on the
neck, and a grand unison issued from the strings like a solemn warning;
then the fingers would dance backwards and forwards to the bridge, and
the chords vibrated in a series of short, sharp echoes like the petulant
cries of children. A number of ravishing melodies glided and wove into
each other like the flowers of a nosegay, producing a harmonious whole
of charming effect, and sweetening the very atmosphere in which they
palpitated. Then the perverse old man would shatter them all by one fell
sweep of his arm, causing a terrific discord that almost made his cabin
lurch from its seat. For one full hour, standing there in the middle of
the room, with the flickering light of the fire falling upon his face,
Batoche played on without any notable interval of rest. At the end of
that time he stopped, tightened his keys, swung his bow-arm in a circle
two or three times as if to distend his muscles, and then attacked the
single E string. It was there that he expected the secret which he
sought. He rounded his shoulders, bent his ear close to the board,
peered with his grey eyes into the serpentine fissures of the
instrument, pressed his left-hand fingers nervously up and down, while
his bow caressed the string in an infinite series of mysterious
evolutions. The music produced was weird and preternatural. The demon
that lay crouched in the body of the instrument was speaking to Batoche.
Now loud as an explosion, then soft as a whisper; now shrill as the
scream of a night bird, then sweet as the breath of an infant, the
violin uttered its varied and magical language, responsive to the touch
of the wizard. There were moments when the air throbbed and the room
rocked with the sound, and other moments when the music was all absorbed
in the soul of the performer. Finally the old man drew himself up, threw
his head backward, ran his fingers raspingly up towards the bridge and
made a desperate plunge with his bow. A loud snap was heard like the
report of a pistol. The string had broken. Batoche quietly lowered the
instrument and looked around him. Little Blanche was sitting up in the
bed gazing about with wide vacant eyes. The black cat stood glaring on
the hearth with bristling fur and back rounded into a semi-circle.

"Good!" muttered Batoche, as he walked to the alcove and laid by his
violin. Then going as quietly to the door, he opened it wide. Barbin and
two other men, closely wrapped in hoods, stood before him.

"Come in," said Batoche, "I expected you."

There was no agitation or eccentricity in his manner, but his features
were pinched, and his grey eyes shed a sombre light upon the deep
shadows of their cavities.

"We have come for you, Batoche," said Barbin.

"I knew it."

"Are you ready?"

"I am ready."

And he stepped forward to take his old carbine from its hooks.

"No gun," said Barbin, laying his hand upon the old man's arm. "You are
not to attack, nor will you be attacked."

"Ah! I see," muttered Batoche, throwing his wild-cat great coat over his
shoulders.

"You know the news?"

"I know there is some news."

"The day of deliverance has come."

"At last!" exclaimed the hermit, raising his eyes to the ceiling.

"The Bastonnais have surrounded the city."

"And will the Wolves be trapped?" asked Batoche in a voice of thunder.
"Ha! ha! I heard it all in the song of my old violin. I heard the roar
of their march through the forest; their shout of triumph when they
reached the Heights of Levis, and first saw the rock of the citadel;
the splash of their oars in crossing the river; the deep murmur of their
columns forming on the Plains of Abraham. Thus far have they come, have
they not?"

"Yes, thus far," responded the three men together, amazed at the
accuracy of the information which they knew that Batoche had not
obtained that day from any human lip.

"But they will go farther," resumed the hermit, "because I have heard
more. I have heard the boom of cannon, the rattle of musketry, the hiss
of rockets, the wail of the wounded, the shriek of the dying, the
malediction over the dead. Then a long interval, and after it, I have
heard the crackling of flames, the cry of the hungry, the moan of those
who suffered, the lamentation of the sick, and the loud, terrible voice
of insurrection. And all this in the camp of our friends, while within
the city, where the Wolves are gathered, I have heard the clink of
glasses, the song of revelry, the shout of defiance, the threat against
treason,--mark the word, my friends. Are we traitors, you and I, because
we love our old motherland too well, and hate the Wolves that have
devoured our inheritance? Yes, I repeat, I have heard to-night the shout
of defiance, the threat against treason, the mocking laugh against
weakness, and the deep growl of inebriate repletion. Another interval
and then the catastrophe. I heard the soft voice of the night, the fall
of the snow, the muffled tread of advancing regiments, the low word of
command,--then all at once a thunderous explosion of cannon,--and,
finally, silence, defeat and death."

Barbin and his two companions stood listening to the old man in rapt
wonder. To them he appeared like a prophet, as he unfolded before their
eyes the vision of war and desolation which the genius of music had
evoked for him. And when he had concluded, they looked at each other, as
doubtful of what to say. Batoche added:

"I fear that things will not turn out as favorably as we could wish. We
may hurt, but shall not succeed in destroying the pack of wolves.
However, we must do our best."

The men did not reply, but abruptly changed the current of the old
hermit's thoughts by walking towards the door, and urging him to follow
them.

"It is late," said Barbin. "We have work to do and must hurry."

The four then walked out of the house, leaving little Blanche and
Velours to the calm slumbers which they had resumed, so soon as the
voice of the violin was hushed.



X.

BLOOD THICKER THAN WATER.


Batoche and his companions plunged into the forest. On the way, the
object of the expedition was fully explained to the old man. He was
expected to have an interview that night with some officer of the
Continental army for the purpose of organizing a system of action
between them and the malcontents of the environs of Quebec. These
malcontents were of various degrees of earnestness, courage and
activity. Some had boasted a great deal of what they would do when the
Americans came, but when the Americans did come, and the loyalist troops
showed a determined front of opposition, they quietly slunk into the
background or even betrayed their former professions. Others of these
malcontents confined themselves to secret action, such as furnishing
information of what was going on within the city, harboring those who
were tracked for treason, or affording supplies of food and ammunition
to such of their friends as needed them for use. Finally, there were a
determined few, chiefly old soldiers or the sons of old soldiers of
Montcalm and Lévis, who, having never become reconciled to their English
masters, in the sixteen years which had elapsed since the Conquest,
hailed the appearance of the Americans as the prelude of deliverance,
and openly raised the standard of revolt. Of these there were again two
classes. One formed into a duly equipped battalion which joined the army
of Arnold and took part in all the subsequent events of the siege. The
second class consisted of farmers around Quebec, who, not being able to
quit their families and perform regular military service, engaged in a
species of guerilla warfare which was both effective and romantic.
Among these were ranged Barbin and his companions. Among them Batoche
was called to take a position. His well-known skill with the carbine,
his rare knowledge of all the woods for miles in circumference, his
remarkable powers of endurance, his reckless bravery and fertility of
expedient in the midst of most critical danger, all fitted him for the
trying events which circumstances thrust upon him and his friends. But
the oddities of his mode of life, the eccentricities of his character,
his generally accredited relations with the spirits of the departed, and
the gift of divination which all the country-side accorded him, spite of
occasional and deriding criticism, went still further to point him out
as a foremost man in the secret insurrection of the farmers. He himself,
in his own way, favored the movement with enthusiasm. He was not a
Canadian, but a Frenchman born. His youth had been spent in the wars of
his country. When the great Marquis de Montcalm was ordered to New
France, he followed him as a member of the famous Roussillon regiment In
that capacity, he fought at Carillon, and shared the glory of the
campaign of 1758. In the same capacity, he shared the stupendous defeat
of Sept. 13th, 1759, on the Plains of Abraham. He had the sad
consolation of having been one of those who bore the wounded Marquis
from the field, and accompanied him to the Hospice of the Ursulines
where he died, and where his glorious remains still rest. This
circumstance saved him from the ignominy of capture. Before Murray, the
successor of Wolfe, entered the vanquished city in triumph, he effected
his escape by creeping along the valley of the St. Charles during the
darkness, and making his way into the country. After wandering some
miles, he paused near the Falls of Montmorenci, and built himself a kind
of rustic tent on the very spot where he afterwards erected his lonely
cabin. He chose this place not only on account of the beauty of its
scenery, and the shelter from hostile intrusion which it afforded, but
also because it was in the immediate neighborhood of the
fortifications--visible even to this day--which his beloved commander
had constructed there, and from which he repulsed Wolfe with great loss,
only two months before the disastrous battle of the Plains of Abraham.

"Alas!" Batoche would often exclaim, standing over those earthworks, "if
the great Marquis had relied upon the walls of Quebec, as he did upon
these fortifications, we should still be masters of the country. Wolfe
owed his success solely to the imprudence of Montcalm."

In the spring of the following year, Batoche joined the army of the
Chevalier de Lévis, and was present at the great victory of Ste. Foye.
But the successful retreat of the British army, under Murray, behind the
walls of Quebec; the inability of Lévis to press the siege of the city;
the gradual disbanding of the French forces throughout the Province, and
the final surrender of Vaudreuil, at Montreal, whereby the whole French
possessions in America, were ceded to Britain--one of the most momentous
events of modern times in its gradual results--forced Batoche to return
to his Montmorenci solitude.

He might have gone back to France, if he had been so minded, but after
lingering some time in indecision, a circumstance occurred which
determined him to fix his abode definitively in the new world. This was
the receipt of a letter from his family, informing him of the death of
his wife and the utter poverty in which his daughter, a girl of
seventeen, was left. The girl herself appended a note stating that she
intended to sail by the first occasion to join her father in Canada. The
old soldier wrote at once to dissuade her from taking the step, giving
the characteristic reason that he did not want her to become a servant
of the detested English, but before his letter reached France, the girl
landed in Quebec, and thus the course of Batoche's destiny was changed.
His daughter was bright, intelligent and good looking, and received at
once advantageous offers of situations in several of the best families
of the capital, but the old man would not listen to any proposition of
the kind.

"Come with me, into the woods," he said to her. "We will live there
happily together. I don't want an Englishman to set his eyes upon you. I
am still able to work. You will help me. We shall want for nothing."

And he took her into his lonely habitation beside the Falls of
Montmorenci, where in effect the two spent a tranquil, easy existence.
At the end of three years, the son of a farmer of Charlesbourg fell in
love with the girl, and spite of his attachment, Batoche consented to a
marriage between them. It was a rude blow when the bride went forth from
his cabin to take up her residence in her husband's house, about twelve
miles away, but the sacrifice was generously made, and when ten or
eleven months later, a grandchild was born to him, Batoche felt that he
had received sufficient compensation for his loss.

"Little Blanche will live with me," he said, "and replace her mother."

He did not know how sad was the prophecy that he uttered.



XI.

DEATH IN THE FALLS.


It was a beautiful summer evening. The young mother, having recovered
from her illness, decided that her first visit should be to the cabin of
her old father, and, of course, the baby went with her. After resting
awhile, and receiving the caresses of the hermit, the daughter, with the
child in her arms, wandered about the familiar environs to enjoy once
more all the pleasures attached to her old home. It was a beautiful
summer evening. The forest was charged with perfume; a thousand birds
fluttered from branch to branch; the earth was spangled with an endless
variety of wild flowers; brilliant insects flashed and buzzed in the
slanting beams of the sunset; the whole air gently undulated in a
rhythmic wave that disposed the soul to revery and prayer. The young
woman felt this influence, without, of course, being able to define it,
and yielding to its sway, she wandered farther than she had intended, or
than her bodily strength justified, from the hut of her father. It was
so delightful to revisit all these scenes which she had learned to love
so much, and to see them again under such different circumstances. Even
the inanimate world is not the same to the wife as it is to the girl.
Marriage for woman seems to alter the form, color, scent and effect of
material things, giving them a character of pathos, if not of sadness,
which they never wore in the pleasant days when the body owed no service
to a master, and the mind was, in very literalness, fancy-free.

With her child in her arms--the flesh-and-blood pledge of her altered
life--the young woman strayed away along the avenues of the forest, and
out into the open spaces, until she reached the skirt of the high road,
fully half a mile from Batoche's hut. The white dusty stretch of the
road brought her to a pause, being as it were a dividing line between
the expanses of greenery over which she was wandering. Feeling now the
fatigue which she had not experienced before, she sat down upon the warm
tufted grass to rest, and, like all mothers, became oblivious of self in
attention to the wants of her babe. She had been nursing it at her
breast about ten minutes, while her eyes were fixed on its rosy limbs,
and her mind revelled in the half-sensuous, half-spiritual delights of
maternity, when all at once a mighty clatter of hoofs was heard along
the road, followed immediately after by loud shouts of men, the flash of
red coats and the clang of sabre-sheaths on the flanks of rushing
horses. What ensued was never fully known, but the young mother, with
disordered dress, hair streaming behind, and babe convulsively pressed
against her bosom, fled like a deer through the wood in the direction of
the Falls. Behind her went two pursuers, fleet as fate, but indistinct
as spectres in the twilight. Unfortunately the poor woman was on the
side of the Falls opposite her father's cabin. When she reached the top
of the headland, the cataract roared on her right, and the broad St.
Lawrence flowed at her feet. There was no outlet of escape. Disgrace and
death behind her; death and oblivion before her. There was not a moment
to waste. In the highest access of her despair, she heard a voice across
the Falls. It was that of her father, who, with hand and word, directed
her to go down the steep side of the promontory to the foot of the
cascade. He himself immediately disappeared under the overhanging rock
and curtain of water, and joined her just as she had attained the
desired spot. No time was lost in explanations. Seizing the babe in his
right arm, and encircling his left around the waist of his daughter, the
valiant old man turned and disappeared again under the Fall. Overhead a
yell of baffled rage was heard above the thunder of the torrent, but it
was not repeated.

Batoche had not advanced many steps when he noticed that the burden on
his left arm was growing heavier and heavier--and, on looking down, he
observed with terror that his daughter had swooned. The grand flower of
love was broken on its stem. This circumstance added tenfold to the old
man's peril. The slightest slip of his foot, the slightest jolt from the
perpendicular, the slightest deviation from the protecting line of the
granite wall, would hurl him and his precious freight into destruction.
If he could only reach the subterranean cavity which opened about midway
on his path, he might stop there to rest and all would be well. He
dragged along slowly in this hope; his eyes strained till they saw the
welcome haven approaching. A few more steps and he would reach it. He
_did_ reach it. As he bent down, on his right, to place the babe on a
ledge of rock within the cave, he felt a sudden wrench on his left arm,
then a sense of looseness, and to his horror he found that the circle
made by his arm upon his hip was empty. His daughter had glided like a
broken lily into the seething basin, at the point where the waters of
the cataract fall sheer like lead, and where they at once battered the
life out of her bare white breast.

"Great God of earth and heaven! What is this?" cried the old man, with
eyes starting from their sockets.

Then, with a gesture of despair, he took up the child, held it aloft on
his arm, and would have jumped into the gulf with it to complete the
sacrifice of misery. But his fierce eye turned and caught that of the
babe which was mellow with laughing light. There was also a smile upon
its lip, and its chubby little hand flourished a wisp of grass plucked
from a fissure in the ledge. That look, that smile, were like a flash of
Paradise. The old man lowered the child to his breast, folded both arms
over it, and rapidly passed out under the Fall. From that moment little
Blanche never left him.

Such was the story gathered from Batoche himself, and which is still
repeated as one of the traditions of Montmorenci. The hermit always
insisted that his daughter's death was caused by two drunken British
cavalry men. The version was never proven, but it was impossible to
dissuade the old man of its truth. Hence his abiding, ineradicable
hatred for the English, which, added to his aversion as a French
soldier, rendered him the most bitter of foes during the war of 1775-76.
Hence, also, the eccentricity of his character and subsequent mode of
life, which have been described in preceding chapters.



XII.

ADVICE AND WARNING.


The rallying cry of the band of malcontent farmers was the yelp of a
wolf. This was adopted out of hatred of the very name of Wolfe, the
conqueror of Quebec. "Loup" was the title applied by them to every
English resident, and more especially to the British soldier. We have
seen how the sound was used to gather the conspirators in the forest at
night, and how Batoche recognized it. Although the Americans had been
only forty-eight hours in the environs of Quebec, they had already
learned the meaning of the signal. This was apparent when the hermit
with his three companions reached the bridge which spanned the little
river St. Charles, on the high road leading directly to the town. There
a squad of New Jersey militiamen were posted as sentry. As the Canadians
approached they were challenged, and on uttering the cry of the wolf,
were immediately admitted within the lines. The officer in command
understood French, and Batoche was the spokesman of his party. The
following colloquy took place:

"What is your desire?"

"We have come to offer you our services."

"In what capacity?"

"As scouts."

"Do you live in the town?"

"No, at Beauport."

"You are farmers?"

"Yes."

"Have you arms?"

"Yes, for we are also hunters."

"You know the country then?"

"For ten leagues around."

"And the town?"

"We know all our countrymen in it."

"Can you communicate with them?"

"We have many means of doing so."

"That is well. We shall need your services."

We have said that the object of Barbin and his companions was to enter
into direct communication with some of the Continental officers, make
known their plans of operation and devise some mode of systematising
their services. This they partially accomplished in the course of a
further conversation, and were told to return in a few days to receive
direct commissions from headquarters. But they had a second duty to
perform, or rather Batoche had, as he informed his companions on their
way to the rendezvous, after hearing full particulars of everything that
had taken place in the two days since the Americans had invested Quebec.
Batoche delivered his ideas somewhat as follows. Addressing the officer,
he said:

"You are aware that my countrymen within the town are divided in
sentiment?"

"So we have heard."

"One party espouses the cause of England and has formed a regiment to
fight for it."

"That we know."

"That party is now particularly incensed against you."

"Ah!"

"Another party favors the cause of liberty and liberation."

"Yes, they are our friends."

"Well, they are very much discouraged at what has recently happened."

"Indeed? How so?"

"May I speak freely?"

"As soldier to soldier."

"And will you believe my words?"

The officer fixed his eyes on the quaint energetic face of the old
hermit and answered emphatically:

"I will."

"And you will report my words to your commander?"

"Yes."

"Then, listen to me. The day before yesterday, after landing on the
north shore, you deployed your forces on the Plains of Abraham?"

Batoche went into this and the following other particulars, which he had
learned from Barbin, in order to have them confirmed by the American
officers, so that there be no mistake about the conclusion which he drew
from them.

"We did," was the reply.

"And you sent forward a flag of truce?"

"Yes."

"That was for a parley."

"It was a summons to surrender."

"That makes matters worse. In the town it was supposed to be for a mere
parley. When the truth is known, the effect will be still more
disagreeable."

"What do you mean?" exclaimed the officer.

"Excuse me a moment. Your messenger was dismissed?"

"He was," replied the officer with impatience.

"And the flag fired upon?"

"Yes," was the answer accompanied by an oath.

"Then, this is what I mean. Your friends within the town are indignant
and disheartened because you did not resent this double insult. They
cannot explain it to themselves. They reason thus: either the Bastonnais
were strong enough to avenge and punish this outrage, or they were not.
If they were strong enough, why did they not sweep to the assault? If
they were not strong enough, why expose themselves and us to this
terrible humiliation? In the first instance, their inaction was
cowardice. In the second supposition, their drawing up in line and
sending a flag to demand surrender was a painful fanfaronade."

Batoche had warmed up to his old weird manner, as he spoke these words.
He did not gesticulate, neither did he elevate his voice, but the light
of the camp-fire flickering upon his face revealed an expression of
earnestness and conscious strength. Advancing a step or two towards the
officer he said in a lower voice:

"Have I spoken too much?"

"You have spoken the truth!" roared the officer, stamping his foot
violently, and then muttered in English:

"Just what I said at the time. This old Frenchman has told the truth in
all its naked harshness."

The officer was Major Meigs, one of those who had most strenuously
disapproved of the despatch of the flag of truce, and whose opinion of
the event is recorded in history.

He thanked Batoche for his valuable information and assured him that he
would repeat all he had said to Colonel Arnold.

"Perhaps you would allow an old soldier to add another word," continued
the hermit, as they were about to separate.

The officer was so impressed with what he had heard, and with the
peculiar manner of the strange being who addressed him, that he granted
an eager permission.

"As a lover of liberty, as an enemy of the English, as a friend of the
Bastonnais, I think, after what has happened, it would be better for
your troops to withdraw for a time from within sight of the walls of
Quebec."

The officer looked up dubiously.

"They might retire to some village a little up the river. There they
could revictual at leisure."

No answer.

"And wait for reinforcements."

The officer smiled approvingly.

"And give their friends in and around the town time to organize and
complete their arrangements. As yet we have done little or nothing. But
in a week or ten days we could do a great deal."

"The idea is an excellent one, and will be considered," said the
officer, shaking the hand of Batoche, after which the interview
terminated.

Whether the old man's advice had any weight or not, the very course
which he suggested was adopted a couple of days later. Feeling his
inability to press the siege unaided, and learning that Colonel McLean,
with his Royal Emigrants, had succeeded in reaching Quebec from Sorel,
on the very day that he himself had crossed from Point Levis, thus
strengthening the garrison of the town with a few regulars, Arnold, on
the 18th November, broke up his camp and retired to Pointe-aux-Trembles,
to await the arrival of Montgomery from Montreal.



XIII.

A WOMAN'S TACTICS.


When Zulma Sarpy reached home on the evening of her eventful journey to
Quebec, her aged father observed that she was under the influence of
strong emotions. She would have preferred keeping to herself all that
she had seen or heard, but he questioned her closely and she could not
well evade replies. It was quite natural, as she fully understood, that
he should be anxious to obtain information about the state of affairs,
especially as he had heard several rumors from his servants and
neighbors during the day. When, therefore, she had composed herself
somewhat, after the abundant and deliberate meal of a healthy, sensible
woman, she narrated to him in detail all the events which she had
witnessed. Sieur Sarpy frequently interrupted her with passionate
exclamations which surprised her considerably, as they showed that he
took a deeper interest in the impending war than he had intended or she
had expected. The incident of the bridge particularly moved him.

"And you are certain," he asked, "that the young officer was the same
who was fired at from the walls?"

"I am positive I cannot be mistaken," she replied. "His stature, his
noble carriage, his handsome face would distinguish him among a
thousand."

"But you do not know his name?"

"Alas! no."

"You should have inquired. The man who treated my daughter with such
high courtesy should not be a stranger to me."

"Ah! never mind, papa, I shall find out his name yet," said Zulma with a
laugh.

"Perhaps not. Who can tell what will happen? War is a whirlwind. It may
blow him out of sight and remembrance before we know it."

"Never fear," interrupted Zulma with a magnificent wave of her white
arm. "I have a presentiment that we shall meet again. I have my eye on
him and----"

"He has his eye on you," added Sieur Sarpy, breaking out into a little
merriment which was unusual with him.

His daughter did not answer, but an ineffable light passed like an
illumination over her beautiful face, and words which she would have
uttered, but did not, died away in a delicious smile at the corners of
her rich, sanguine lips. She rose from her chair, and stood immoveable
for a moment, gazing at a vase of red and white flowers that stood on
the mantel before her eyes. Her snowy night dress fell negligently about
her person, but its loose folds could not conceal the outline of her
bosom which rose and fell under the touch of some strong mastering
feeling. Sieur Sarpy, as he looked up at her, could not dissimulate his
admiration of the lovely creature who was the comfort and glory of his
life, nor restrain his tears at the thought, vague and improbable though
it was, that perhaps this war might, in some unaccountable way, carry
with it the destiny of his daughter, and change for ever the current of
their mutual existence. As she stood there before him, knowing her as he
did, or perhaps because he did not know her so well as he might have
done, he felt that she was about to make an important communication to
him, ask him something or pledge him to some course which would affect
him and her, and bring on precisely that mysterious result of which the
shadow was already in his mind. But before he had the time to say a word
either to quiet his fear or dissipate his conjecture, Zulma moved slowly
from her place and dropped softly before his knees. All the color of
her face, as she upturned it to his, was gone, but there was a melting
pathos in those blue eyes which fascinated the old man.

"Papa," she said, "will you allow me to ask you a favor?"

Sieur Sarpy felt a twinge in his heart, and his lips contracted. Zulma
noticed his emotion and immediately added:--

"I know that you are feeble, papa, and must not bear excitement, but
what I have to ask you is simple and easy of accomplishment. Besides, I
will leave you to judge and abide unreservedly by your decision."

Sieur Sarpy took his daughter's hand in his and replied:

"Speak, my dear, you know that I can refuse you nothing."

"You have resolved to be neutral in this war."

"That was my intention."

"Did you come to this resolution solely for your own sake?"

"For your sake and mine, dear. I am old and infirm, and cannot take part
in the struggles of strong men. You are young and I must guard your
future."

Zulma remained silent for a few moments, as if she could find no further
words to say. Her father, observing her embarrassment, brought back the
conversation to its original drift, by inquiring into the nature of the
demand which she had intended to make.

"I had intended to ask you my liberty of action," she said, with
suddenly recovered energy. "But I will not do so now. Circumstances will
perhaps occur to modify the situation for both of us before hostilities
have progressed very far. All I shall ask of you now is that you will
allow me to see that young officer again."

The old man, on hearing this innocent request, breathed more freely, as
he exclaimed:

"Why, is that all, my darling? You certainly may see him again. I would
like to see him myself and make his acquaintance. As I told you before,
I have great admiration for his bravery and gallantry towards you. And,
Zulma, the next time you see him, don't fail to learn his name."

"That is precisely what I want to obtain," said the girl with a smile.

"Then we are quite agreed," rejoined her father, tapping her on the
cheek and rising to close the interview.

He was now in great good humor, and she also affected to be gay, but
there was a flush on her cheek which told of an interior flame that
glowed, and when her father had departed, she walked up and down the
floor of her bedchamber with the slow measured step of deep, anxious
reflection.



XIV.

THE ROMANCE OF LOVE.


Four days later, the village of Pointe-aux-Trembles was startled by the
approach of Arnold's men. Their appearance was so sudden and unexpected
that the people did not know how to explain it, and the most of them
barricaded their houses. But the American advance was very orderly. The
vanguard wheeled to the left from the village and took up its quarters
on the extreme edge of the St. Lawrence. The main body stacked arms in
front of the church, and billets were at once secured in all the houses
of the village. Arnold himself took up his residence with the curé who
treated him well, and frequently during their short stay invited the
principal officers to his table. This clergyman was opposed to the
American invasion, in obedience to the mandate of the Bishop of Quebec,
but for the sake of his people he judged it advisable to use the
Continentals with as much respect as possible. And his courtesy was
properly rewarded, as during their whole sojourn at Pointe-aux-Trembles,
the Americans treated the inhabitants with unusual consideration. The
rear guard passed through the village and echelonned along the road for
a distance of fifteen or twenty miles. This division was mainly composed
of cavalry and riflemen whose duty it was to scour the country in search
of provisions, and to keep up communication with the upper country
whence the reinforcements from Montgomery's army were daily expected.

All Arnold's officers approved of his temporary retreat, for the precise
reasons which had been laid down by old Batoche appeared to every one of
them urgent under the circumstances. But if there was any one of them
more pleased than another it was Cary Singleton. He had other than
military reasons for applauding this measure. The opportunity was
afforded him--at least so he fancied--of recovering the treasure which
he had lost under the dark covered bridge, of seeing once more the
vision which, since that eventful night, had always floated before his
memory. Glorious illusion of youth! At that favored period of existence
so little appreciated while it lasts, and which, when it is gone, is the
object of bitter lamentation for the rest of life, even hardship gives
zest to enjoyment when the heart is buoyed--as what youthful heart is
not?--by the sweet potency of woman's love. Fatigue, hunger, thirst,
disease, and poverty are only trifles that are laughed at, so long as
there is seen in the background of it all the lambent light of tender
eyes speaking, as nothing else can, the language of the devoted heart.
For many of his brother officers, men with families, or already,
advanced in years, this American invasion was a dreary reality, made up
of a dismal succession of marches and counter-marches, parades and
bivouackings, attacks and repulses, privations of every description,
with the prospective of defeat at the last. But to Cary Singleton the
war had been, up to the present, a constant scene of pleasurable
excitement, as he will have occasion to testify himself in a subsequent
chapter, while from this point to its close it rose with him to the
proportions of a romance.

His single clue was that the beautiful girl whom he sought lived in the
neighborhood of his present encampment. Whether it was above or below,
on the line of the river, or somewhere in the interior, he could not of
course tell, but he was determined to find out. He knew that the present
quarters of the army were only temporary, that within eight or ten days,
at the furthest, they would be on the forward march again, when the
hurry of battle would ensue and his fate might be a bloody grave under
the walls of the old capital. Hence the necessity for diligence. He
thought he should be willing to die if his eyes were blessed only once
more with the sight of the object of his worship.

These thoughts were passing through his brain, as he slowly rode along
the road one quiet afternoon while the sun lay white on the frozen
ground, tinging the leafless branches of the beeches and birches with a
silver light. He little knew what was in store for him as he
mechanically pulled in the reins, and looked up an avenue of maple
leading to a mansion on his right.



XV.

ON THE HIGH ROAD.


The house attracted Cary's attention by the beauty of its site and its
appearance of wealth and comfort. He at once concluded that it belonged
to some old French seigneur who, after the conquest of the Province by
the British, had retired to the seclusion of his estates, and there
spent the evening of his life in the philosophic calm of solitude. He
had no further curiosity about it, however, and would probably have
passed on, had he not casually caught sight of a couple of figures
coming down the stairs to the open space in front. The distance was
considerable, and the intervening trees broke the line of vision
somewhat, but he thought he could distinguish the forms of a young woman
and an elderly man. He tarried a moment longer to look on. Presently he
saw a horse led to the foot of the stairs, and the young lady assisted
to her seat in the saddle. The site stirred him considerably. A
suspicion--but it was only a suspicion--crossed his mind. What if it
were she? He dismissed the thought, however, as altogether too good to
be true. It was impossible that she should thus throw herself into his
arms. Half the romance of all this adventure would be lost if it had so
simple and easy a conclusion. No! He had to seek for her, he had to
toil, to wait, to suffer still more before he could expect to attain the
object of his desire. Thus do we add to our pain in the intensity of our
love's longings, and Cary took grim pleasure in magnifying his own
wretchedness. But somehow he kept his eye sharply fastened on the
distant rider. After conferring with the elderly man for some moments,
she drew herself up, settled herself in her saddle, and moved away from
the front of the house. The avenue of maples, at the foot of which stood
the young officer, lay directly in her path, and for a moment Cary
thought she would take it. She halted her horse at the head of it and
looked down toward the gate. She sat full in his sight. He sat full in
hers. She must have seen him, as he certainly saw her. Did they
recognize each other? O Love, that is so sharp-eyed ever, how perversely
blind it is sometimes. Cary should have pulled up his horse's reins,
cleared the fence and ridden like mad up the avenue. The lady should
have waved her kerchief in token of a tryst and cantered down the path
to meet her cavalier. Instead of which he sat dazed in his saddle, and
she quietly walked her pony away from the opening of the avenue, and
slowly passed along a narrow road through her father's grounds.

There is often a revelation in disappearance, as there is a light in
darkness. Scarcely had he lost sight of the lady rider than Cary felt an
irresistible impulse to meet her and discover who she was. Now that she
was gone, the suspicion arose again that perhaps she was the loved one
whom he sought. Had he frightened her? That was not probable from the
ease and deliberation of her manner. Would he catch another glimpse of
her? He felt that that depended entirely on himself, and he determined
that if he did see her again, the sight would be a decisive one. He
paused a moment longer before making up his mind what to do. He thought
of opening the gate, sauntering up the avenue and turning down the path
which she had taken. But the trespass on private property, and the fear
of being stopped at the mansion to make explanations, deterred him from
taking the step. He judged it wiser to spur up the main road and trust
to luck. Perhaps he might find an outlet for that bridal path whence she
would issue. In this surmise he was not mistaken. After riding about
half a mile he came to the mouth of a rugged, unfrequented country
road, the bed of which was moist from the ooze of rills on one of its
banks. Here he stopped and reconnoitred with the keen eye of the
soldier. To his surprise and delight he observed the fresh prints of
pony's hoofs leading outward. He was satisfied that she had gone along
this route, and pursued her journey further up the highway. The course
was therefore clear for him. All he had to do was to follow, and he did
so without delay.

Meantime the afternoon had worn on, and the sun was slowly sinking to
the rim of the sky. There was the promise of a full hour of daylight
yet, but the air was getting chilly and banks of pinkish clouds
spreading fan-like in the western heavens gave portent of wind and
storm. For a whole hour did Cary Singleton ride along that solitary
road, watching the line of forest on his right and the steep embankment
of the river on his left. But he heard nothing save the low lapsing
sound of the water, and the monotonous simmer of the trees. He saw
nothing that could divert his attention from the one object of his
search. A fear came over him that his pursuit would be in vain. He was
already far away from quarters and, without special cause, could not
well prolong his absence much further. He therefore with a heavy heart
resolved to turn his horse's head in the direction of the camp. As he
advanced on a few steps slowly, deliberating sadly on this, he came to a
sharp bend in the road, and a few hundred yards before him, observed the
blue smoke of a little farm-house that stood in the clearing of the
wood. Before the house there was a group of men, women and children
standing around a saddled horse. To say that Cary was surprised would be
using a very mild term indeed. He was so astounded that he did not
venture to proceed another step. His presence excited a tumult among the
people. The children ran into the house, the women retreated to the
door, but a lady in riding-habit pacified them with a laughing gesture,
and immediately mounted her horse. Addressing them a few words of
farewell, she turned into the road and, a moment later, stood at the
side of the young officer.

"Is it possible, mademoiselle?" was all that Cary could whisper, his
agitation being so great that he had to hold on to his pommel for
support. It would be falsehood to say that the lady was not similarly
agitated, but she had that magnificent secret of disguise which places
women far above men in many of the most critical passes of life.

Her answer was a delicious smile of recognition, and the offer of her
gauntleted right hand.

"I never expected to meet you on this lonely road," said Cary, after
recovering a little, in saying which he uttered a most palpable but
unconscious falsehood. Else why had he ridden so far? Why had he
suffered the torments of doubt and expectation the live-long afternoon?
The lady was more direct and simple. The frankness of her reply almost
startled Cary from his saddle.

"I expected to meet you, sir," she said, and broke out in one of her
merriest laughs.

Explanations followed fast. The lady avowed that she had recognized Cary
from the head of the avenue, had purposely avoided going down to meet
him at the gate, had taken the bridle-path through her father's grounds
instead, with the certainty that he would follow her. She only half
intimated the reasons why she acted thus, but her partial reticence was
the most charming portion of her revelations, and as he listened Cary
was in a very ecstacy of delight. She knew that he would follow her!
What adorable feminine ingenuousness in the confession! What
consciousness of superiority and power!

The conversation, started from this point, did not flag. The young
officer recovered full possession of his senses and the two rode briskly
homeward in the roseate twilight which to them seemed the harbinger of a
happy dawn flushed with the glories of an Eastern sunrise.



XVI.

AN EPIC MARCH.


The next day Cary Singleton sat with Zulma and her father in a room of
the Sarpy mansion. A great fire glowed in front of them, and at their
side was a little table bearing cakes and wine. Cary sat at one angle of
the chimney, Sieur Sarpy at the other, and Zulma occupied a low chair in
the apex of the semi-circle. After many topics of conversation had been
exhausted, and the young officer had been made to feel quite at home,
Sieur Sarpy demanded an account of Cary's march with Arnold through the
forests of Maine.

"I have heard something about the hardships of that expedition," said
he, "and I know enough about the nature of our woods and prairies to
understand that yours must have been a particularly trying fate."

"We have a great deal of wood country in Maryland," replied Cary, "but
nothing like this in your Northern climates. I am strong and healthy,
but there were many times when I almost despaired of reaching Quebec in
safety."

"Where did your army organize?"

"In Cambridge, at the headquarters of General Washington."

"When?"

"In the middle of August."

"What was your definite object?"

"Well, when war against Great Britain became inevitable, we had to
prepare ourselves for the worse. The battles of Lexington, Concord and
Breed's Hill threw us on the defensive. But we could not be satisfied
with that. We must act on the offensive. Congress then resolved to
attack the English in Canada."

"The English?" exclaimed Sieur Sarpy.

"Yes, the English," said Zulma, turning towards her father with
animation of look and gesture. "The English, not the French."

"Precisely, mademoiselle," resumed Cary, with a smile and a profound
bow. "The French in Canada are our brothers and have as much reason as
we to detest the British yoke."

"Alas!" murmured Sieur Sarpy, raising his eyes to the ceiling and
striking the arm of his chair with his palm.

A look from Zulma caused Cary to pass rapidly over this part of his
narrative. He continued to say in general terms that Congress, having
determined to invade Canada by way of the Northern lakes, judged it
expedient to send a second expedition by way of the South, along the
Kennebec river.

"It was a beautiful morning in September," he said, "when we marched out
of Cambridge, under the eye of General Washington. Our first stopping
place was at Newburyport. There we took to the water. Eleven transports
conveyed us to the mouth of the Kennebec. Two hundred boats were
awaiting us there, constructed by carpenters who had been sent ahead of
us for that purpose. This place was the verge of civilization. Beyond
it, for hundreds of miles in the interior, was the primeval forest. An
advance party having been thrown forward for the purpose of
reconnoitering and exploration, the main body proceeded in four
divisions, of which our corps of riflemen held the van. After a pleasant
march of six days, we came to Norridgewock Falls."

"Norridgewock?" said Sieur Sarpy, as if speaking to himself. "I think I
remember that name."

"No doubt, you do, sir. It is a consecrated name. It recalls a great and
good man, Father Ralle."

"Ah, I remember. It was about forty years ago, and I was very young,
but I recollect with what horror the Superior of the Missions at Quebec
heard of the massacre of the saintly apostle of the Abnakis."

"Who murdered him?" enquired Zulma.

"The English settlers in Massachusetts," replied her father with
emphasis. "A party of them fell on the settlement and killed and scalped
the missionary and thirty of his Indians."

The eyes of Zulma flashed fire, but she said nothing.

"Yes," said Cary, "the foundation of the church and altar of the
Norridgewocks are still visible, but the Indians have disappeared and
desolation reigns over the scene of blood. At these Falls we had our
first portage."

"I know," said Sieur Sarpy, smiling.

"For a mile and a half we had to drag our boats over the rocks, through
the eddies, and at times even along the woods. The boats were leaky, the
provisions spoiled. We had to call oxen to our aid. Seven days were
spent in this fatiguing work. When we arrived at the junction of Dead
River with the Kennebec, one hundred and fifty men were off the rolls
through sickness and desertion."

"Was the weather cold?"

"Not in the first part of our journey. The sky was balmy, the sun shone
nearly every day, the watercourses were filled with salmon-trout, the
trees were magnificent in their autumn foliage, and the tranquil
atmosphere of the landscape was soothing to our wearied limbs. But in
the middle of October, the scene suddenly changed. All the leaves of the
forest had fallen, the wind blew chill through the openings, and
suddenly there appeared before us a mountain of snow. Our commander
pitched his tent and unfurled the Continental flag. One of our officers
ran up to its summit, in the hope of seeing the spires of Quebec."

Sieur Sarpy smiled again and shook his head.

"That officer should have given his name to the mountain," said Zulma,
laughing.

"So he did. We named it Mount Bigelow."

"And what did he see from the top of it?"

"Nothing but a wintry waste, and desolate woods. From this point, our
sufferings and dangers increased until they became almost unbearable.
Wading fords, trudging through the snow, hauling boats--it seemed that
we should never cross the distance which separated us from the
headwaters of the Chaudière. A council of war was held, the sick and
disabled were ordered back to the rear, and, to add to our
discouragement, Colonel Enos, the second in command, gave up the
expedition and returned to Cambridge with his whole division."

"Traitor!" exclaimed Zulma, with characteristic enthusiasm.

"But the rest of us pressed on, spurred by the energy of despair.
Seventeen falls were passed, and on a terrible October day, amid a
blinding snow-storm, we reached the height of land which separates New
England from Canada. A portage of four miles brought us to a small
stream upon which we launched our boats and floated into Lake Megantic,
the principal source of the Chaudière. We encamped here, and the next
day, our commander with a party of fifty-five men on shore, and thirteen
men with himself, proceeded down the Chaudière to the first French
settlements, there to obtain provisions and send them back to us. They
experienced unprecedented hardship. As soon as they entered the river,
the current ran with great rapidity, boiling and foaming over a rocky
bottom. They had no guide. Taking their baggage and stores to the boats,
they allowed themselves to drift with the stream. After a time the roar
of cascades and cataracts sounded upon their ears, and before they could
help themselves, they were drifting among rapids. Three of the boats
were dashed to pieces, and their contents lost. Six men were thrown into
the water, but were fortunately rescued. For seventy miles falls and
rapids succeeded each other, until at length, by a providential escape,
the party reached Sertigan, the first French outpost."

"Saved!" exclaimed Zulma.

"And how were they treated there?" asked Sieur Sarpy with much
curiosity.

"As friends. I am thankful to say that our wearied men received shelter
and provisions from the French inhabitants who freely accepted our
Continental scrip which they regarded as good money. But for their aid
we should all have perished."

"The rest of the army did not follow at once?"

"It could not. We had to wait for provisions from our commander, else we
should all have perished. We ate roots raw which we had to dig out of
the sand on the river bank. We killed all our dogs for food. We washed
our moose-skin moccasins, scraped away the dirt and sand, boiled them in
the kettle and drank the mucilage which they produced. When the first
flour and cattle reached us from Sertigan, the most of us had been
forty-eight hours without eating. Refreshed in this way, encouraged by
the friendship of the French inhabitants, and reinforced by a band of
forty Norridgewocks, under their chiefs Natanis and Sabatis, to serve as
guides for the remainder of the journey, we took up our march again and
reached Levis two months after our departure from Cambridge."

"It was an epic march!" cried Zulma rising from her seat and pouring out
wine into the glasses on the table. Sieur Sarpy pledged his guest in a
bumper of Burgundy. And the compliment was deserved. That march of the
Continental army was one of the most remarkable and heroic on record.



XVII.

O GIOVENTU PRIMAVERA DELLA VITA.


In the fortnight that followed, Zulma and Cary met nearly every day,
sometimes more than once a day. It was impossible that it should be
otherwise. There is no power on this earth that can restrain two
youthful hearts thrilling and surging with the first impulses of love.
When the imagination is all aglow with the purple pictures of destiny;
when the soul throbs with the unspeakably delicious sentiments of an
affection that is requited; when the nerves are in tension and quiver
like the strings of a harp; when the hot blood runs wild through the
veins, suffusing lip and cheek and brow; and the eyes look out upon the
roseate world through a mist of tears that are pleasureable pain and
painful pleasure inexplicably blended, then there is no force of cold
conventionality to check the outcomes of the spirit, no bolts or bars or
chains to fetter the bounding limbs that go forth rejoicing through the
enchanted landscape which the good God has opened to all of us, at least
once in life, as an exquisite foretaste of Paradise.

What mattered it to Zulma and Cary that the autumn skies were low, that
the winds moaned dismally through the leafless woods, that the snow
clouded the face of the sun and charged the atmosphere with inclement
moisture? They sat together before the blazing fire-place, and conversed
for hours, quite forgetful of the dreary winter that was setting in. Or
they stood together at the window, and as they conversed, unconsciously
contrasted the light and warmth that reigned in their hearts with the
cold and gloom of the waning year outside. Or they lingered on the
portico, loath to part for the day, and never minded the bleakness of
the weather, in the hope of meeting again. What mattered it that
Singleton had military duties to perform which retained him in camp for
many hours of each day, or sent him at the head of scouting parties,
over the country in search of provisions or to watch the movements of
the enemy? He managed his time so well that while never, in a single
instance, neglecting his business as a soldier, he found the means of
satisfying the claims of the lover. These very difficulties only gave
zest to the excitement in which he lived, and he was happy to know,
although she never said it, that they added to Zulma's sense of
appreciation.

Another circumstance deserving of mention is that the young rifleman's
visits to the Sarpy mansion were so conducted as to be a secret to his
companions-in-arms. There was a purpose in this, although neither Cary,
nor Zulma, nor M. Sarpy ever exchanged a word about it together. The
stay of the Continental army at Pointe-aux-Trembles was only temporary.
Its stay around Quebec, after it returned there, would be at least
rather precarious. It was, therefore, hardly desirable that one of its
officers should be known to have contracted other than military
engagements which might bind his good name among the vicissitudes of a
most hazardous war. Thus there was a dash of calculation in the romance
of Cary's love, a reserve of good sense amid all the impetuousness which
buoyed his heart. It is ever thus with men. They are rarely whole
lovers. Their ingrained selfishness always pierces, however slightly, to
mar the completeness of their sacrifice.

It was not so with the Canadian girl. She had that glorious
independence--the gift of superior women--which cares not for the prying
eyes of all the world. She did not mind who knew of the American
soldier's visit to her father's home. She would not have concealed a
single one of his interviews with herself. She liked him; she was
delighted to think that he liked her; they were happy in each other's
company--what more did she need for present happiness, and what harm if
others knew that she was happy?

Neither had her father any of the misgivings so common and so hateful in
meticulous old men. He was a loyal, frank character. He had unbounded
confidence in his daughter, and his absorbing love for her made him
rejoice in the present little episode as a bright spot amid the
gathering gloom of war. He had taken a fancy to Cary from the first. He
relished his conversation. He appreciated his attentions to Zulma with
the proud consciousness that she fully deserved them. Apart altogether
from political consideration, into which he never entered, and which the
young officer had the delicacy never to approach, he was pleased to
judge for himself of the men who came to invade his country in the
sacred name of liberty, and of extending the hospitality of his house to
a representative among them, as proof that he too was a friend of
humanity and chose to regard the impending war only from the standpoint
of right.

Fortunately, however, for all concerned, it so happened that the visits
of Cary were known to very few of those who habitually went to the Sarpy
mansion. The daily beggar hobbled up as usual, with his basket under his
arm, or meal bag slung across his shoulder, to gather the abundant
crumbs of the table, but he never penetrated beyond the kitchen. The
poor widow of the neighborhood appeared regularly for the broken
victuals that were almost the sole sustenance of her brood of little
orphans, but she was a model woman of her class, not given to gossip and
so devoted to her benefactors that she would repeat nothing likely to
satisfy the vulgar curiosity of outsiders. The farmers and villagers, of
Pointe-aux-Trembles were kept so busy providing food and lodgings for
the army, or were so deterred from moving about by the sight of the
patrols along the roads, that almost none of them called at the mansion
during the whole period of occupation.

And so passed the fortnight away. It was all too short considered by the
number of days. The mornings rose and the twilights came with a calm
remorseless rapidity that had no regard for the calculations of the
heart, but when the recapitulation was made, it was found that a mighty
distance had been travelled, and that the vague impressions of each
succeeding interview had verged at last into a blazing focus, whence the
illumination of two youthful lives burst upon the view.



XVIII.

BRAIDING ST. CATHERINE'S TRESSES.


One incident of this eventful period must not be passed over in silence.
The reader himself will judge of its importance. It was the 25th
November, St. Catherine's Day. In Italy and the South of Europe, the
Virgin-Martyr is venerated as the patron of philosophical students, and
the collegiate bodies celebrate her festival with public disputations on
logical and metaphysical subjects. But in Belgium and France, the day is
kept as one of social rejoicing by the young, and in Canada, from the
earliest times, probably because it marks the closing day of the
navigation of the St. Lawrence and the beginning of the long dreary
winter, it is observed with song, dance, games, and other tokens of
revelry. One special feature is the making of taffy which the young
girls engage in during the evening, and with which they regale their
friends and lovers.

The day itself had been melancholy enough. Snow had fallen continually
until it had piled a foot high on the level roads. The wind howled
dismally around the gables, and the branches of a maple beat doleful
music against the window of Zulma's room. She felt the influence of the
inhospitable weather. A feeling of weariness weighed upon her from the
early hours of the morning. Nothing that she attempted to do could
distract her mind or dispel her loneliness. The book which she had taken
up over and over again lay with its face down upon the table. The
harpsichord was open, but the music on its rack was tossed and tumbled.
Zulma was a good musician and passionately fond of her instrument, but
could not abide it when her spirits were depressed. She used to declare
that, even in her best moods, the simplest melody had for her a tinge of
sadness, which, when she herself was sorrowful, became a positive pain.

She scarcely left her room during the whole day. The house was silent
and could afford her no relief. There was nobody stirring in the
courtyard or around the kitchen. Even the great watch dog had retired to
sleep in his kennel. The snow fell noiselessly, curtaining out all the
world; the line of the sky was low and leaden, and nothing was heard to
break the death-like stillness of the air, save occasional gusts of wind
sullenly booming in the hollows.

If Zulma could have slept! More than once she threw herself wearily upon
her couch, but the eyelids which she would have closed remained rigidly
open, and she surprised herself gazing with intense stare upon the
arabesques of the window shades or the flowered patterns of her bed
curtains, while all sorts of wild, incongruous fancies trooped through
her brain, causing her brow to ache. She would then spring with
impatience to her feet, stretch out her white arms, clasp her hands
behind her neck, roll up the coils of golden hair that had fallen on her
shoulders, and then walk up to the window, where she gazed vacantly out
upon the bleak prospect.

"If he would only come," she murmured, as she stood there. "But it is
impossible. There is no riding on horseback through such snow, or I
should have gone out myself."

At length the weary afternoon had worn away. Five o'clock rang through
the house from the old French clock at the head of the stair. Zulma had
just finished counting the strokes with a feeling of relief when the
tinkling of sleigh bells fell upon her ear. She rushed to the window,
shot a glance upon the court, uttered an exclamation of joy and ran out
of her room.

"No, it cannot be, my darling, and in such weather!"

But it was Pauline nevertheless. The two friends fell into each other's
arms, kissed each other over and over again, and repaired together to
Zulma's room, where, amid the work of unwrapping, and warming feet, and
sipping a glass of wine, the congratulations and expostulations went
briskly on. Pauline had come with Eugene Sarpy, as that young gentleman
himself testified when he entered the house in noisy boyish fashion,
after having put up the horse. It was a holiday at the Seminary where
the youth was immured, and he had the opportunity to drive out to the
old home once more. He had asked Pauline to accompany him, and she
declared herself only too glad of the occasion to see Zulma again.

"It may be our last chance, you know," she said, half laughing, but with
a slight shadow on her sweet face.

"And those horrid rebels," rejoined Zulma very merrily. "How did you
make up you mind to encounter them?"

"We did not encounter them."

Zulma's face suddenly turned white.

"What? Are they gone?"

The fear flashed upon her mind that perhaps the Americans had left the
neighborhood, which would account for the absence of Cary during the
day, but she was reassured by Pauline, who informed her that Eugene had
avoided the American camp by taking a roundabout way through the
concessions.

"That must have increased your distance."

"It did at least by four leagues, but I didn't mind that so long as we
were free from danger."

"You do not like these soldiers?"

"I dislike them all, except, perhaps, one."

Zulma looked up in surprise.

"And pray who may that one be?"

"Don't you remember the bearer of the flag?"

"Oh!" was the only exclamation that Zulma uttered, while cheeks were fit
to burst with the rush of conscious blood.

"Roderick has spoken to me of him in the highest terms of admiration,"
continued Pauline quietly.

"He will doubtless be flattered to hear of this," said Zulma, with just
a touch of sarcasm in her tone.

But it was lost upon the gentle, unsuspicious Pauline, and Zulma,
regretting the remark, immediately said:

"If you had met him on your passage, he would have treated you kindly,
depend upon it," and she proceeded to relate the incident of the covered
bridge. One detail brought on another, and the two friends, sat for two
hours talking together, and much of the conversation turned on the
American officer. What two young women can tell each other in the course
of two hours is something stupendous, and he would be presumptuous,
indeed, who would venture upon the enumeration of even the topics of
converse. One thing, however, may be taken for granted--that when they
were called to supper, they kissed each other with a smack and trotted
down stairs in jolly good humor.

After supper the table was cleared, a large basin of maple syrup was
produced, and after it was sufficiently boiled, the two friends began
drawing the coils of taffy, with the assistance of Eugene, and under the
eyes of Sieur Sarpy, who sat at the table sipping his wine and enjoying
the amusement of the young people. Zulma's spirits had completely
revived; and she was in high feather, enlivening the occasion by songs,
and anecdote and banter, while she bustled around the table playing
tricks upon her brother, and teasing the gentle Pauline. Now and then
she would stop suddenly as if to listen, and her face would assume an
expression of disappointed expectancy, but the shadow would disappear as
rapidly as it came. Pauline was less boisterous and talkative. She was,
however, in the pleasantest state of mind, as if for this one evening,
at least, she had unburdened herself of the cares which had weighed her
down during the past eventful days. Eugene, like all schoolboys escaped
from the master's eye, was perfectly ridiculous in his wild gambols and
inconsequential talk, but his nonsense gave zest to the merriment
precisely because it was suggestive of that freedom with which the
horrid front of war and the constant spectacle of armed men in the
neighborhood afforded so sad a contrast.

An hour had been spent in this pastime, when Zulma again checked herself
in the conversation, and as she turned her eyes to the window, they
flashed with a ray of exultation. Her long waiting had not been in vain.
The weary day would still have an agreeable ending. She was certain that
she heard the music of sleigh bells, and she knew who it was that had
come. A moment later, there was a rap at the door of the dining-room,
and Cary Singleton stood on the threshold. Zulma went rapidly forward to
meet him, receiving him with a cordiality and enthusiasm which she had
never previously manifested. After the formal introduction was made,
Cary excused himself for calling so late in the evening.

"Better late than never," exclaimed Zulma with an earnest indiscretion
which she tried to turn off by a laugh, but which the rapid wandering of
her great blue eyes showed that she was ashamed of.

Singleton bowed low, but there was no responsive smile upon his lip.

"Thank you, mademoiselle," said he, "but a little more and I should
perhaps _never_ have returned here."

There was a general expression of surprise.

The young officer explained that a forward movement of the American army
was about to take place, and that he had received orders that very
afternoon to abandon his quarters.

"The order was peremptory," he added, "and I should have had to obey it
without delay, but fortunately the snow-storm came on with such violence
towards evening that our departure was postponed till to-morrow morning.
The opportunity I regarded as providential and seized it to make what
may be my last visit."

The light went out of Zulma's eyes and she bowed her head. Her father
broke the perplexing silence by saying cheerily:

"I trust that this will not be your last visit, sir. Indeed, I feel
certain that we shall meet each other again. If in the varying fortunes
of war, you should ever need my help, only let me know and you shall
have it."

Zulma looked up and there was that imploring tenderness in her eyes
which gave Cary to understand that she too, in the hour of need, would
fly to his assistance.

While this conversation was going on, Pauline sat a little in the
background. She said not a word, but her eyes were full of tears. Cary,
as he glanced around, to relieve himself of the melancholy of the
moment, noticed her emotion and was strangely touched by it. He knew
well who she was, as Zulma had often mentioned her name to him,
explaining the embarrassing situation which the war had created for
herself and family, and the relations in which she stood towards
Roderick Hardinge. These marks of silent sympathy from one of the
besieged in Quebec, and one who was tenderly attached to a leading
British officer, moved him profoundly, and, from that moment, he took
steps to enlarge his acquaintance with Pauline. By degrees the
conversation turned into a more cheerful channel, and the anxiety of the
morrow being temporarily forgotten, as young hearts will forget and are
blest in forgetting, the evening passed agreeably on, and Cary had
abundant opportunity of enjoying the society of Pauline. His manner and
his words proved how much he was impressed with the charms of her
person, and the beauty of her character, and the admiration which he
expressed was reciprocated by Pauline in those half advances and still
more eloquent reticences which are the delicious secret of loving women.
Zulma was so little disconcerted by this mutual good understanding,
that she openly favored it, being unable to conceal her delight that her
own two best friends should be friends together. Far seeing girl as she
was, she was rejoiced that, on the eve of separation and the consequent
resumption of hostilities, the young Continental officer should have
made the acquaintance of one who might perhaps be his saviour if the
storm of war whirled him torn and bleeding within the walls of the
beleaguered city. Divine instinct of women! How often it stands in good
stead the headlong rashness of man amid the wildering strokes of fate!

Genuine gaiety resumed its sway, and the work of taffy-making was taken
up again. Cary was fed with choice titbits until he was fairly satisfied
and had to beg for quarter. Then, taking up a large roll of the _tire_,
Zulma twisted it into a series of elegant and intricate plaits. The long
coil flashed like a beautiful brazen serpent, as she held it up to the
light, and set it beside her own golden hair.

"These are Saint Catherine's tresses!" she cried. "Who will wear them,
you or I, Pauline?"

And the sally was greeted by the loud laughter of all the company,
except Cary who did not understand its significance. When it was
explained to him that she would wear the mystical tresses who was
destined to remain an old maid, he smiled as he murmured to himself:

"I will see to that!"



XIX.

PAR NOBILE.


The evening had come to an end. Midnight had sounded and Cary Singleton
had to take his departure. The whole family accompanied him to the outer
door, where his sleigh was in waiting. The last words of farewell still
lingered on the faltering lips of the two young women, as they stood in
the embrasure of the entrance, when, through the darkness and the
pelting of the storm, Zulma noticed a shadow leaning against the house,
at a few feet from her. She at once, in a loud voice, challenged it to
come forward. It did so. By the feeble light of the passage she saw
before her a strange, uncouth figure, wrapped in a wild-cat coat, and
covered with a huge cap of fox-skin. The form was bent and the face was
that of an old man, but the eyes flashed like stars. The man stood on
snow-shoes, and he carried a long staff in his hand.

Pauline shrank behind Zulma as she saw the apparition, and murmured:

"It is Batoche!"

"Yes, child, that is my name," said the old man, "and I am come to fetch
you."

"To fetch her?" asked Zulma with a tone of authority.

"Yes, at her father's request."

"Come in and explain what you mean."

"No. It is unnecessary. Besides, the night is too far advanced. We must
return together at once."

A few hurried words revealed Batoche's mission. The Bastonnais were on
the forward march again. Quebec would be invested within a few hours.
Large reinforcements would enable the Americans to make the blockade
complete. Pauline's father was extremely anxious about the return of his
daughter. Batoche, who was within Quebec, escaped from it, promising his
friend to carry out his wishes. If Pauline tarried she would not be
allowed within the gates. Father and child would be separated. There was
no time to lose. A resolution had to be made. Would Pauline come?

Lamentations and condolences were out of the question. It needed only a
few words of consultation to decide upon following the old man's
instructions. Cary avowed that the information given concerning military
movements was correct, and offered to escort Pauline securely through
the American lines. A further hardship was the parting of Sieur Sarpy
and Zulma from Eugene, under the circumstances, but they made the
sacrifice bravely, and the youth, it is only fair to say, acted his part
with pluck. He had brought Pauline out; he would take her back. If Zulma
had followed her own impulses, she would have accompanied her brother
and friend till she had seen them safe within the walls, but she was
obliged to renounce this pleasure in consideration of her aged father.

Batoche declined a seat in either sleigh. He returned on snow-shoes as
he had gone; and so fleet was his march through the by-ways and short
paths of the country which he knew so well, that he reached the
appointed destination ahead of the party.

It was after six o'clock, and the dawn was just breaking when the
sleighs came within sight of the gates. Cary Singleton approached as
near as he durst, when he stopped to take leave of his fair charge.
Batoche walked directly up to the sentry, where, after a brief parley,
he returned, accompanied by a single man.

"Pauline!" exclaimed the new comer, as he stood beside her, "I have been
anxiously waiting for you. Come in to the town at once."

She bent down to him and whispered something in his ear. He turned and,
smiling, bowed profoundly to the American officer, who returned the
salute.

Cary Singleton and Roderick Hardinge had met a second time.

A moment after, the whole party had disappeared and the snow covered
their tracks.

END OF BOOK THE SECOND.



BOOK III. THE BURSTING OF THE TEMPEST.



I.

QUEBEC IN 1775-76.


Quebec is the most picturesque city in America. Its scenery is
unrivalled. Rock, forest and water combine to make its position an
unfailing charm to the student of landscape art. As it is to-day, so was
it one hundred years ago, or if there is a difference, it is in favor of
the latter date, for the pick and the axe had then made fewer inroads
upon the sublime work of nature.

Quebec is the most historical city in America. One of the very oldest in
date, it is by far the most notable in stirring annals. From its
earliest origin, it was the theatre of important events whose results
stretched far beyond its walls, and swayed the destinies of the whole
continent. Its records are religious, diplomatic, military, and naval.
Its great men were missionaries, statesmen, soldiers, and sailors. The
heroic explorers of the Far West were its sons, or went forth from its
gates. Jogues looms up beside Breboeuf. Champlain and Frontenac open
the luminous way along which have trod Dorchester and Dufferin. The
blended glory of Wolfe and Montcalm is immortal, and the renown is
hardly less of the young, ill-fated Montgomery. Where was there ever a
greater sailor than Iberville? The history of the Mississippi Valley is
linked for all time with the names of Marquette, Hennepin, Joliet, and
Lasalle.

It follows that in this era of centennial reminiscences, no city in
America is more interesting than Quebec, and an additional charm is that
we have comparative ease in placing it before the eye as it was a
century ago.

In the winter of 1775-76, the population was about 5,000 souls. Of these
3,200 were women and children. All the men were made to bear arms. Those
who refused were ordered out of the walls. There were probably not one
hundred English families in the town. The English language was spoken
only by the military. The times were hard. Provisions at first were
abundant, but fire-wood was scarce. Fortunately the winter on the whole
was mild. The houses during the day were partially deserted. The men
were on guard. The women were on the streets gadding. They found plenty
of occupation, for the air was thick with rumors. A besieged city must
perforce be a nest of gossip, a hive of cock-and-bull stories. The
regulars looked smart in their regimental uniforms. The militia wore
such toggery as they could get--grey homespun coat with red sash,
cowskin boots, and the traditional _tuque bleue_. The trappers not being
allowed into the town, furs were rare, and women of the lower classes
were obliged to go without them altogether. The centres of attraction
were the guard-rooms and sentry-boxes. There the episodes of the siege
were recounted. There all manner of serious and comic incidents occurred
to relieve the monotony of the long winter months. The principal
barracks were in Cathedral Square, in that venerable Jesuit College
which is to be pulled down during the present year. The three chief
outposts were St. Louis, St. John, and Palace Gates. These were the
three original French Gates, improved and strengthened by the great
engineer, de Lery. Through them, sixteen years before, the army of
Montcalm passed after its defeat on the Plains of Abraham, and then
passed out again, crossing by a bridge of boats to the camp at Beauport.
Through them one year later, the broken army of Murray rushed back in
flight from the disastrous field of St. Foye. But for those strong gates
built by the Frenchmen, the victorious army, under Levis, might have
recovered Quebec, on that memorable day, and regained possession of New
France. Bitter irony of fate! Along the avenue where Prescott Gate was
afterwards erected, palisades were raised by James Thompson, Overseer of
Works, to bar the advance of the Americans from that quarter, and his
name, as we shall see later on, was intimately associated with the
siege. All these defences were in Upper Town, or within the walled
portion. In Lower Town and under the Cape, the eastern extremity was
defended by batteries in Dog Lane or Little Sault-au-Matelot, and the
western end at Près-de-Ville, by a masked battery. Going from one to the
other of these constituted the round of military service. The Lower Town
was chiefly guarded by militia. They went and came singing their French
songs, the very best of military bands.

    Vive la Canadienne
    Et ses jolis yeux doux,

then received its consecration, and the light-hearted fellows kept step
to _c' était un p'tit bonhomme_ and _à la claire fontaine_. Along with
the singing there was much good-natured conversation. War has its grim
humors. One party standing in the Cul de Sac on the site of the chapel
built by Camplain, made mirth at the expense of Jerry Duggan, late
hair-dresser, in the town, who had gone over to the enemy and was
"stiled" Major amongst them. Jerry was said to be in command of five
hundred Canadians, and had disarmed the inhabitants of St. Roch, a
suburb of Quebec, without opposition. Another party, grouped in front of
the Chien d'Or, laughed heartily at the _Canadiens Bastonnais_,
Canadians who had joined the rebels, because they were stationed on the
ice of the river to keep patrol. "A cold reward for treason," they said.
Mysterious visitors went in and out of George Allsopp's house in
Sous-le-Fort street. Allsopp was chief of opposition in Cramahé's
Council. The outposts were enlivened every night by the arrival of
deserters. Some of these were spies. The information they gave of the
enemy was very puzzling. Every morning at headquarters, when the roll
was called, some one was found missing, having escaped to the Americans.
About one third of every army cannot be depended upon. The length of the
siege produced dearness of provisions, which had not been carefully
husbanded from the start. So early as January, beef rated at nine pence,
fresh pork at one and three, and a small quarter of mutton at thirteen
shillings. Notwithstanding repeated refusals, the besiegers periodically
approached the walls with flags of truce. A needless and unaccountable
courting of humiliation. Every now and again the enemy succeeded in
setting fire to houses within the walls. The consequent excitement
relieved the monotony of the blockade, and was an event to talk about.
The garrison made frequent partial sorties in quest of fire-wood,
sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully. Fatigue parties dug
trenches in the snow, without the walls, by way of exercise or bravado.
Sentinels at the Block House and other exposed points were frequently
frostbitten. A kind of sentry-box was fixed on a pole thirty feet high,
at Cape Diamond. Thence could be seen the tin spire of St. Foye Church,
but not the Plains of Abraham, beyond Gallow's Hill, where the besiegers
lay in force. Over the American camp the red-flag waved. Some thought
it was the bloody flag, by way of threat. But it was no more than a
signal to the prisoners within the town. About one hundred men were
picked up and formed into an Invalid Company to guard these prisoners.
Among this guard were some "picqued who did not formerly perceive the
meanness of their behaviour," as the old chronicle tells. On dark nights
rockets were sent up and large fires made on the ramparts and the high
streets to confound the enemy's signals. There was much generous rivalry
between the French militiamen and the British regulars. The former were
greatly encouraged by the priests, who went among them familiarly in
their long black robes. The Seminary, in Cathedral-square, where the
Bishop resided, was as much frequented by the soldiery as the
headquarters of MacLean in the Jesuit barracks, on the other side of the
square. Monseigneur Briand was as truly the defender of Quebec as
General Carleton. The most curious signals of the Americans were
fire-balls which burned from one in the morning till three. Whenever
these were seen, the garrison prepared more actively for an attack.
Spite of precautions on both sides, communication to and from the
beleaguered town was carried on to a considerable extent. A bold, active
man could always go in or out from the side of the river under the Cape,
or along the valley of the St. Charles. The Continentals had not men
enough to effect a complete blockade, and the garrison was not
sufficiently numerous to guard every obscure outlet. But spite of these
deficiencies, for eight long months--from November 1775 till May
1776--Quebec was virtually cut off from the rest of the world and the
theatre of one of the most important military events in the history of
America.



II.

CARY'S MESSAGE.


As soon as Pauline had entered the gates of the town, Cary Singleton
leaped into his sleigh and turned his horse's head towards the camp. But
before he could proceed, Batoche was at his side. The young officer had
not had occasion to exchange a single word with the singular being, but
his thoughts had been much occupied with him during the long night ride,
and it was with some satisfaction that he now had an opportunity of
addressing him.

"I must thank you, sir," said he, "for your service to the young lady."

"I did it for her sake, as she is my granddaughter's godmother. And for
her father's sake, who is an old friend," replied Batoche, quietly. And
he added immediately:

"I am prepared to do you a service, sir."

Cary looked at him in surprise. Was he in the presence of an enemy? Had
he fallen into an ambush from which this man was willing to rescue him?
Or if a friend, what service could he refer to? Might it be a message to
Pauline? Strange as it may seem--and perhaps it will not appear so
strange after all--the very thought, as it flashed upon him, created a
throbbing sensation in his heart. Had this little timid girl, after only
a few hours' interview, so ingratiated herself into his affections, that
the unexpected opportunity of communicating with her once more excited a
flutter of pleasurable surprise. Rapidly as these surmises passed
through his mind he had not time to resolve them, before Batoche resumed
in these simple words:

"I am returning at once to Sieur Sarpy's."

For a moment Cary was unable to make a syllable of reply. He looked hard
at the old man as if to fathom his inmost thoughts. But the latter did
not flinch. His countenance wore that expression of utter blankness and
conscious unconsciousness which is an attribute of resolute men, and
which only kindred spirits are gifted to understand.

Cary was as much impressed by his quiet manner as he had been by his
singular offer. He asked himself the following questions sharply one
after the other. What did this man know of him that he should connect
him in any way with the Sarpys? How should he be in possession of the
secret which had been hidden from all his comrades? Zulma did not know
him when he presented himself at her door last night. Sieur Sarpy
exchanged only a few words with him, and certainly did not treat him as
a familiar. And who was this Batoche? Was he a friend or an enemy of the
cause of liberty? Perhaps he was a spy?

During the interval Batoche stood immovable, while the snow piled in
inches on his round shoulders, but at length, divining the thoughts of
Cary, he said in a low voice:

"You are returning to Sieur Sarpy's, did you say?"

"At once."

"But the roads will be all blockaded."

"I know all the by-paths."

"Our troops are advancing and might arrest you."

The old man only smiled.

"I will give you a pass."

Batoche took off his glove and produced from his pocket a folded paper.

Cary opened it, and recognizing the signature of Colonel Meigs, returned
it with a smile.

"I thankfully accept your offer," said he. "Here is a little message
which you will deliver to Mademoiselle Zulma."

Saying which, he wrote a few lines in pencil on a leaf of his pocket
book.

"She will receive it at noon," said Batoche, taking the missive, and
without the addition of another word, he stalked away on his snow-shoes.

Cary returned to camp just in time to take part in the forward movement
of his corps. The main body did not break up its quarters till five days
later, but on the 29th November, the day on which the event just
narrated took place, Morgan's riflemen were ordered to lead the van
towards Quebec. That same afternoon, therefore, Singleton found himself
nearly on the same spot which he had occupied in the early morning.



III.

THE UNREMEMBERED BRAVE.


The snow-storm continued in unabated violence. The low lines of the sky
seemed to lie upon the earth, the sounds of nature were deadened to
mystical murmurs, the long streams of flakes lay like a white curtain
drawn aslant across the face of heaven, and universal silence pervaded
the land. Everybody was within doors, where the exterior calm had
penetrated, and where the families nestled around the hearth as if
conscious of the visible protection of God. It seemed like a desecration
that this holy silence should be disturbed by the iron tread of armed
men, and that the peace sent down from above with every grain of snow
should be violated by designs of vengeance and the thirst of human
blood. Unseen through the storm, the riflemen of Virginia advanced
towards the grey walls of the devoted town. Unheard through the tempest,
the garrison of the ancient capital moved to the gates and ramparts.
Unseen and unheard, the armies of Arnold and Montgomery, which had now
combined, were making their last preparations to depart from
Pointe-aux-Trembles and march for the final catastrophe in this dread
tragedy of war.

Sieur Sarpy sat in his arm-chair after dinner absorbed in the reading of
a book, and apparently under the blessed influence of the peaceful,
noiseless weather. From the staidness of his manner, it was evident that
he had forgotten the events of the previous night, and was unconscious
or oblivious of what was going on among the belligerents around Quebec.

He was interrupted in his occupation by the entrance of the maid, who
announced the arrival of Batoche. The sound of the name surprised him a
little, but without moving from his seat, he said quietly:

"Show him up."

The two old men had not been many minutes together before they
understood each other well. They were both of an age, and had known one
another in former and better days. After the usual preliminaries of
recognition were gone through, Batoche said:

"I have been on my legs for fourteen hours, and must return whence I
came before night. I am old now and have not the endurance of fifteen
years ago. Hence I must be brief, although my business is of the
greatest importance. Please give me all your attention for half an
hour."

Sieur Sarpy closed his book and holding up his right hand, asked:

"Is the business political or personal."

"Both. There is a question of crime on the one hand, and of mercy on the
other. I appeal to your humanity."

At that moment Zulma appeared at the door of the room, but was about to
withdraw at once, when Batoche turned towards her, and with a sweetness
of manner that one would never have suspected in him, said:

"I hope mademoiselle will enter. I have no secret for her. We all know
that she is her father's trusted counsellor. And mademoiselle will be
pleased to learn that her brother and her friend, little Pauline, have
entered safely within the gates of Quebec, and that the young officer,
having rejoined his command, is now somewhere near the walls of the
town. Before parting from him this morning, he requested me to hand you
this little note."

Zulma's hand trembled as she took the paper, but she did not open it.
When she was seated, Batoche immediately resumed:

"You are aware that Governor Carleton has arrived in Quebec?"

"Yes, we heard the guns of the Citadel proclaiming the event," replied
Sieur Sarpy.

"That happened just ten days ago. It was the most terrible blow yet
struck against our cause."

"Your cause, Batoche?" said Sieur Sarpy, looking up.

"Aye, my cause, your cause, the cause of us all. See here, M. Sarpy,
this is no time for mincing words. We must stand up and take a part in
this war. We did not provoke it, but it has come and we must join it.
You may prefer to remain neutral. I do not say you are wrong. Your
health is poor, you have a young daughter, you have large estates. But
for me and hundreds like me, there is only one course. I am an old
French soldier, M. Sarpy. Remember that. I fought on those plains yonder
under the noble Marquis. I fought at St. Foye under the great Chevalier.
I have seen this beautiful country snatched from France. For sixteen
long years I have seen the wolves at work tearing from us the last
shreds of our patrimony. They killed my daughter. They have made an
outcast of me. I have prayed that the day of vengeance might come. I
knew it would come. I heard it coming like distant thunder in the voice
of the waterfall. I heard it coming in the wild throbbings of my violin.
And, thank God, it has come at last! These Americans advance to meet us.
They stretch out the right hand of fraternity. They unfurl the flag of
liberty. They too suffer from the tyranny of England, and they ask us to
join them in striking off the fetters of slavery. Shall we not act with
them?"

Sieur Sarpy's head fell upon his breast and he answered not. Zulma sat
forward in her chair, with dilated eyes fastened on the face of the
speaker, and her own features aglow with the enthusiasm that shot from
him like living electric tongues.

Batoche who had risen from his seat during this impassioned outburst,
now resumed it, and proceeded in more subdued language:

"If Carleton had not returned to Quebec the war would perhaps be ended
now. He was beaten everywhere in the upper country, at Isle-aux-Noix, at
Chambly, at Longueuil, at St. Johns. He fled from Montreal without
striking a blow. All his men surrendered there and at Sorel. All his
ships were captured. All his stores were seized. And do you know how he
escaped?"

"In an open boat, I am told."

"Yes, in an open boat. He passed at Sorel, where the Americans were
watching for him, and the oars were muffled in their locks so that he
could not be heard. The boat was even paddled with open hands in the
most dangerous places."

Zulma listened eagerly to these details, which she had not heard before.
Sieur Sarpy's single remark was:

"Wonderful!"

"And do you know who piloted him?"

"Captain Bouchette, I believe."

"Yes, Joseph Bouchette. And what is Joseph Bouchette?"

"A French Canadian!" exclaimed Zulma, unable to contain herself.

"Aye, mademoiselle, a French Canadian. But for this Joseph Bouchette, a
French Canadian, Carleton would never have reached Quebec, and the war
would now be ended."

"By this you mean that the Americans would have Quebec, the only place
in all Canada that is not theirs already," said Sieur Sarpy, with
considerable energy.

"Just so. Now, it is about this Joseph Bouchette that I have come to see
you."

Both Zulma and her father involuntarily started.

Batoche continued:

"Bouchette has committed a great crime. He has been guilty of treason
against his countrymen. He must perish. There are hundreds who think
like me, but are afraid to strike. I am not afraid to strike. He will
suffer by my hand. The only question is the mode of punishment. Murder
is repugnant to my feelings. Besides it would not be polite. The man was
perhaps sincere in his devotion to Carleton, though I believe that he
rather looked to the reward. But if sincere, that ought to be considered
in mitigation of his sentence. Furthermore, he is a friend of M.
Belmont, and that too shall count in his favor. I had intended to seize
him and deliver him as a prisoner of war to the Bastonnais."

Sieur Sarpy made a solemn gesture of deprecation.

"Are you serious, Batoche?" he asked.

"Serious?" said the old man with that wild strange look characteristic
of his preternatural moods.

"Bouchette is safe."

"Not from me."

"He is well guarded."

"I will break through any guard."

"But you cannot enter the town."

"I can enter whenever I like."

"When inside, you will not be able to come out."

"The weasel makes an invisible hole, which is never filled up."

Zulma listened with riveted eye, set lip, and distended nostril. Sieur
Sarpy smiled.

"You will kidnap Bouchette?"

"I will."

"And fetch him to the American camp?"

"Yes."

"Well, what of that? Bouchette is no friend of mine. I know him only by
name. How does all this concern me?"

"Precisely. That is just what I have come for."

Sieur Sarpy looked at his curious interlocutor with renewed interest,
not unblended with concern.

"I have come from, and in the name of, M. Belmont. He knows of my plan
and has tried to dissuade me from it. But in vain. He might warn
Bouchette or betray me to the garrison, but he is too loyal to France
for that. He respects my secret. This, however, does not prevent him
from striving to help his friend. He said to me, 'Batoche, if you must
make a prisoner of Joseph Bouchette, go first to Sieur Sarpy and ask him
whether he would receive him in his house on parole. He would thus be
relieved of much unnecessary suffering, at the same time that he would
be out of the way of doing you further mischief.' After some hesitation,
I accepted this proposal of my friend, and here I am to communicate it
to you."

"I do not accept," said M. Sarpy curtly and decidedly. "I would be
ashamed to have a countryman of mine a prisoner in my house. If I took
part in this war, I should do so openly, but so long as I remain on
neutral ground, I will not allow my premises to be violated by either
party. If Bouchette deserves to suffer, let him suffer to the full."

"Then he will suffer to the full," said Batoche rising rapidly and
seizing his cap.

"No, he will not," exclaimed Zulma also rising and facing the old
soldier. "M. Bouchette did only his duty. He has his opinions as you and
I have. He has been faithful to those opinions. He has done a brave
deed. He has shed glory on his countrymen instead of disgrace. Who
constituted you his judge? What right have you to punish him? M. Belmont
keeps your secret? I am surprised. I will not keep it. I do not consider
it a secret. Even if it were, I would violate it. Promise me that you
will desist. In the name of France, in the name of honor, in the name of
religion, I call upon you to abandon your project. If you do not, I will
this moment leap into a sleigh, drive to Quebec, find my way within the
walls, seek M. Bouchette and tell him all. What do you say?"

During this impassioned harangue, the face of Batoche was a study. First
there was surprise, then amazement, then incredulity, then
consternation, then perplexity, then utter collapse. It was evident
that the old soldier had never encountered such an adversary before her.
The animated beauty of the speaker no less than her stirring words
magnetised him, and, for a few moments, he could not reply, but his
native cunning gradually awoke and he said slyly:

"Very well, mademoiselle, but what would the young officer say?"

Without noticing the covert allusion, Zulma answered promptly:

"The American officers are all gentlemen. They admire bravery and
devotion wherever they see it, and they would not take unfair advantage
of any enemy. But that is neither here nor now. Answer me. Do you
persevere in your intention or not?"

"Mademoiselle, Joseph Bouchette owes his liberty to you," said Batoche,
and, bowing, he walked out of the room. Sieur Sarpy attempted to detain
him, but without success. He went silently and swiftly as he had come.

An author has said that a wonderful book might be written on Forgotten
Heroes. Joseph Bouchette was one of them. By piloting the Saviour of
Canada in an open boat from Montreal to Quebec, he performed the most
brilliant and momentous single service during the whole war of invasion.
And yet his name is hardly known. No monument of any kind has been
raised to his memory. Nay more, after the lapse of a hundred years, the
material claims of the Bouchette family have been almost entirely
ignored.



IV.

PRACTICAL LOVE.


When Zulma found herself alone in her room, she opened the note of Cary
Singleton. She noticed that it was moist and crumpled in her hand. It
had been a sore trial to wait so long before acquainting herself with
its contents, but she felt, as some sort of compensation, that it had
served to nerve her to the animated dialogue which she had held with
Batoche.

"That paper," she said, "urged me to be brave. I knew that he who had
written it would have expressed the same sentiments under the
circumstance."

The note was very brief and simple. It read thus:

     "MADEMOISELLE,--

     "I desired to speak to you last night a parting word, but I could
     not. I am gone from you, but whither, I cannot tell. The future is
     a blank. May I ask this grace? Should I fall, will you cherish a
     slight remembrance of me? Your memory will be with me to the last.
     Your friendship has been the one ray of light in the darkness of
     this war. Should I survive, shall we not meet again?

     "Your devoted servant,
       "CARY SINGLETON."

When Zulma had read the letter once, she smoothed it out gently on her
knee, threw her head back into her chair, and closed her eyes. After an
interval of full five minutes, she roused herself and took up the paper
again. This time the cheek was white, the eye quenched, and the broad
forehead seemed visibly to droop under the weight of a gathering care.

"Five lines ... eighty-four words ... lead pencil ... paper torn front
pocket book...."

These were the only words she said, the effect of a mental calculation
so characteristic of her sex. But swifter than words could have spoken,
she went through the whole contents of the letter, replying to its every
expressed point, supplying its every insinuation, and supplementing the
effect of it all by her own kindred thoughts and feelings.

He had desired to speak to her last night as they parted in the
snow-storm at the door of the lower hall. She had expected that word of
farewell. It was to have been the culmination of the evening, the
crystallisation of all the undefined and unexpressed sentiment which had
passed between them. If he had not spoken, either through emotion,
timidity, or from whatever cause, she would have done so. The presence
of Pauline would have been no obstacle. The presence of her father would
have been no obstacle. The presence of her father would have been rather
an incentive. But at the supreme moment, the shadow of Batoche fell upon
the lighted door, like a blight of fate, the current of all their
thoughts were turned elsewhere, and the exquisite opportunity was lost.

And now he was gone. Alas! It was only too true to say that neither he
nor she knew what future lay in store for him. The soldier always
carries his life in his hands, and the chances of death are tenfold in
his case.

When he spoke of their friendship and asked a slight remembrance, her
own heart was the lexicon which gave the true interpretation to words
that appeared timid on paper. Zulma was too brave a girl to hide the
real meaning of her feelings from herself, nor would she have feared to
confess them to anybody else. Least of all, in her opinion, should Cary
ignore them. In other circumstances she would have preferred the
lingering indefiniteness and the gradual developments which are perhaps
the sweetest of all phases of love, but in the midst of danger, in the
presence of death, there could be no hesitation, and Zulma concluded her
long meditation with two practical resolves--the first, an instant
answer to the note, the second, the devising of means to meet Cary again
during the progress of hostilities.

When these determinations were made, her features resumed their usual
serenity, her beautiful head rose in its old pride of carriage, and
something very like a saucy laugh fluttered over her lips.

"I am sorry I offended old Batoche," she murmured, folding the paper and
hiding it in her bosom. "He would have been just my man."

She had scarcely uttered the words when her father entered and said:

"Batoche asks to see you, my dear."



V.

ZULMA AND BATOCHE.


The old soldier made his appearance at once. He held his cap in his
hand, his head was bowed, and he appeared slightly disconcerted.

"You have returned, Batoche," said Zulma, rising and advancing towards
him.

"I have returned, mademoiselle."

"You are not offended with me, then?"

"Mademoiselle!"

"Batoche, I am delighted to see you."

The old man looked up, and satisfied that the welcome was sincere, said:

"I had walked nearly two miles, thinking of all you had told me, and
forgetting everything else. Suddenly I remembered something. I stopped.
I reflected. I returned at once and here I am."

Zulma burst out laughing:

"What did you remember, Batoche?"

"That perhaps you might desire to send an answer to the note which I
brought. Excuse me, mademoiselle, I was young once. I know what girls
are."

And his little grey eyes twinkled.

Zulma laid her hand upon his shoulder, and with a half serious, half
jesting caress, replied:

"They call you sorcerer, Batoche. How could you thus divine my thoughts?
Listen. It is an hour since you left me. During that time I have been
occupied reading the note and reflecting upon it. I ended by deciding to
answer it at once. But where was my messenger? I thought of you, and
was expressing regret at your departure, when you were announced."

Batoche's face beamed with pleasure. Not only was he satisfied with the
result of his sagacity, but it afforded him the keenest joy to be able
to render a service to Zulma after the semblance of altercation which
had taken place between them. In the strife of generosity the old
soldier was not to be outdone, and he was rather flattered to believe
that, if anything, the balance was to be in his favour. He gave
expression to none of these thoughts, however. He contented himself with
observing that, as the afternoon was advancing, and he must reach Quebec
by nightfall, it was desirable that Zulma should make as little delay as
possible.

"Certainly, Batoche," she replied. "If you will sit down a moment, I
will write a few lines."

He did as he was desired. Zulma went to her writing table, spread out
her paper and with great deliberation proceeded to her task. She wrote
with a firm, running hand, and as from an overflowing mind, without
stopping to gather her thoughts. No emotion was perceptible on her
features--no distension of the eye, no flush of the cheek. She looked
like a copying clerk, inditing a mechanical business letter. This
circumstance did not escape the observation of Batoche. His knowledge of
human nature led him at once to the conclusion that such wonderful
self-possession must be the key to other admirable qualities, which,
joined to the spirit which she had displayed in her defence of Captain
Bouchette, convinced him that he was in the presence of one who, when
occasion required, would be likely to play the part of a heroine. And
what added to his silent enthusiasm was her matchless beauty as she sat
opposite him, her shapely bust rising grandly above the little table and
curving gracefully to its task, while the head, poised just a trifle to
one side, revealed a fair white face upon which the light of the window
fell slantingly. For such wild solitary natures as that of Batoche the
charms of female beauty are irresistible from their very novelty, and
the old hunter's fascination was so great that he there and then
resolved to cultivate Zulma's acquaintance thoroughly.

"Who can tell," he said to himself, "what role this splendid creature is
destined to act in the drama that is opening out before us? I know she
is a rebel at heart. That proud white neck will never submit to the yoke
of English tyranny. She is born for freedom. There is no chain that can
bind those beautiful limbs. I will have an eye over her. I will be her
protector. Her friendship--is it only friendship?--with the young
Bastonnais is another link that attaches her to me. I will follow her
fortunes."

Zulma finished her letter with a flourish, folded it, addressed it, and,
rising, handed it to Batoche.

"I did not keep you waiting, you see. Deliver this at your earliest
opportunity and accept my thanks. Is there anything that I can do for
you in return?"

Batoche drooped his eyes and hesitated.

"Do not fear to speak. We are perfect friends now."

"There is something I would like to ask, mademoiselle, but should never
have dared if you had not suggested it."

"What is it, Batoche?"

"I have a granddaughter, little Blanche."

"Yes."

"She has been my inseparable companion from her infancy."

"Yes."

"Now that the war has broken out, she is much alone, and that troubles
me."

"Where is she?"

"In our cabin at Montmorenci. Pauline Belmont desired to keep her in
Quebec during the siege, but to this I would not consent, because I
could not see her as often as I wished."

"Let me have the child, Batoche. I will replace her godmother as well as
I can."

"I thank you from the bottom of my heart, mademoiselle, but that is not
precisely what I meant. I could not part from her for good, neither
would she leave me. All I ask is this. I may be absent from my hut for
days at a time. You know what military service is."

"Military service?"

"Yes, mademoiselle, I am a soldier once more."

"You mean...?"

"I am enrolled among the Bastonnais."

"Bravo!" exclaimed Zulma. "Whenever you have to absent yourself from
home fetch Blanche to me."

How little either Zulma or Batoche suspected what strange events would
result from this incident.



VI.

THE BALL AT THE CASTLE.


On the evening of that same day, the 1st December, there was high
festival within the walls of Quebec. A great ball was given at the
Castle to celebrate the arrival of Governor Carleton. There was a
twofold sentiment in the minds of all guests which enhanced the pleasure
of the entertainment--gratification at the Governor's providential
escape from all the perils of his voyage from Montreal to Quebec, and
the assurance that his presence would procure a gallant and successful
defence of the town against the besiegers. The attendance was both large
and brilliant. Never had the old Chateau beheld a gayer scene. The
French families vied with the English in doing honour to the occasion.
Patriotism seemed to revive in the breasts of the most lukewarm, and
many, whose standing had hitherto been dubious, came forward in the
courtliest fashion to proclaim their loyalty to King George in the
person of his representative.

But M. Belmont was not one of these. When he first heard of the
preparations for the ball, he grew very serious.

"It is a snare," he said, "set to entrap us."

A day or two later, when he received a formal invitation, he was so
truly distressed that he fell into a fever.

"Happy malady," he muttered, "I shall now have a valid excuse."

Pauline nursed him with her usual tenderness, but could not extract from
him the cause of his illness. She had heard, of course, of the great
event which was the talk of the whole town, but never suspected that her
father had been invited, and it was, therefore, with no misgiving that
she accepted, at his solicitation, Eugene's offer of a trip to the Sarpy
mansion, the particulars of which have already been set before the
reader. A few hours after her departure, Batoche suddenly made his
appearance with the startling intelligence that the Bastonnais would
return the next day to begin the regular siege of the town, and the
anxious father commissioned him to set out and bring back his daughter
at once. In the course of the same evening Roderick Hardinge called and
was very much concerned to learn the absence of Pauline, but was
partially reassured when M. Belmont informed him of her expected speedy
return. Roderick's visit was short, owing to some undefined constraint
which he observed in the conversation of M. Belmont, and it was perhaps
on that account also that he omitted stating the reason why he
particularly desired to speak to Pauline. We have seen that he was
waiting at the outer gate when she drove up in the early morning
accompanied by Batoche and Cary Singleton.

As soon as they found themselves alone and safe within the town,
Roderick said abruptly:

"I would not have had you absent to-day for all the world."

Pauline noticed his agitation and naturally attributed it to his fears
for her personal safety, but she was soon undeceived when he added:

"You must by all means come to the ball with me this evening, my dear."

"To the ball?" she asked with no feigned surprise, because the events of
the preceding day and night had completely driven the recollection of it
from her mind.

"Yes, the Governor's ball."

It was in vain that she pleaded the suddenness of the invitation, her
want of preparation, and the great fatigue which she had just undergone.
Roderick would admit no excuse. His manner was nervous, excited, and at
times almost peremptory.

"And my father?" she urged as a last argument.

"I saw your father last night. He complained of being unwell and
evidently cannot come."

The slight emphasis which Roderick, in his rapid utterance, placed on
the word "cannot" was not lost on his sensitive companion. She looked up
at him with a timorous air.

"And what if my father will not let me go?" she asked almost in a
whisper.

"Oh, but he will. He _must_, Pauline."

Her eyes were raised to his again, and he met them frankly.

"Let me be plain with you, my dear. If you will not go to the ball for
my sake, you must go for your father's sake. Do you understand?"

She _did_ understand, though for a few moments she had no words to
utter. After advancing a few steps, she took her hand out of her muff,
laid it in that of Hardinge, and without raising her eyes, murmured:

"I will go, Roddy, for his sake and yours."

This preliminary being satisfactorily arranged, Hardinge accompanied her
to the door of her home, and after advising her to spend the day in
resting from her emotions and fatigue, promised to call for her early in
the evening.

He did so. To his surprise he found her cheerful and without the least
sign of weariness or reluctance in her manner. She was arrayed in a rich
and most tasteful costume, which gave a splendid relief to her quiet,
simple beauty. To his further surprise he found M. Belmont in an
agreeable mood, though still ailing. He was pleased to say that he quite
approved of his daughter attending the ball, and especially in the
company of Roderick Hardinge.

"This is another instalment of the reparation which I owe you, Roddy,"
he said, with a smile. "I confide Pauline to you to-night, and I do not
know that I would do the same for any other young fellow in Quebec."

Of course no more was needed to put Hardinge in the most exuberant good
spirits, and when, he drove off with Pauline, he hardly knew what he was
doing.

The ball was opened when they reached the Castle. The Governor who had
led in the first dance, or dance of honour, took part in a third and
fourth, mingling freely with all the guests, apparently disposed to
secure as many friends for himself and cause as possible. During this
interval, Pauline and Roderick glided into the hall almost unnoticed,
but it was not long before they were called upon to take part in the
dance, and at once they attracted general attention. Nor was there cause
to wonder at this. The young Scotchman looked particularly handsome in
his dazzling scarlet tunic, while Pauline, in her rich robes of crimson
satin and sprigs of snowy jasmine twined in her simple headdress,
revealed a warm, ripe, glowing beauty, which was a surprise even to her
most intimate friends.

After a time, the Governor took up his position on the dais, at the
extremity of the room, directly in front of the Chair of State and under
the violet fringes of the canopy. The Royal Arms flashed triumphantly
behind him, while on the panels of the walls, to the right and left, his
own cipher was visible. Those of the guests who had not yet been
presented to his Excellency, seized this opportunity to pay their
respects. Roderick and Pauline were of the number. As they approached
the foot of the throne, they were joined by de Cramahé, the
Lieutenant-Governor. This courtly man bowed profoundly to both and said:

"Lieutenant, I have a duty to perform, and you will please allow me to
perform it. I desire to present mademoiselle and yourself to his
Excellency."

So saying, and without waiting for a reply, he urged them forward to the
viceregal presence.

Carleton received Pauline with the most deferential politeness, and
added to the compliment by a kindly inquiry concerning the health of
her father. Pauline trembled like a leaf at this phase of the interview,
and timidly looked up to assure herself that the Governor was really
earnest in his question. But his open manner dispelled all doubt, and
thus, to the infinite relief of the girl, the sole drawback to her
thorough enjoyment of the evening was removed.

Then her companion's turn came.

"Lieutenant Hardinge," said de Cramahé.

"Hardinge?" replied the Governor, extending his hand and bending his
head to one side, as if trying to recollect something in connection with
the name.

"Yes," rejoined de Cramahé. "Your Excellency will remember. He is the
young officer whose exploits I recounted to you."

"Aye, aye!" exclaimed Carleton. "I do remember very well. Hardinge is a
familiar name to me. This gentleman's father was a brother officer of
mine under Wolfe. Yes, yes, I remember everything."

And taking Roderick's right hand in both his, he added aloud, so that
the promotion might be as public as possible:

"_Captain_ Hardinge, I have the honour to congratulate you."



VII.

THE ATTACK OF THE MASKS.


The ball concluded, as was the invariable custom at the State balls of
the time, with that most graceful and picturesque of all dances, the
Menuet de la Cour, which, brought over from France during the reign of
Louis XIII., had enjoyed great popularity throughout the Province until
the Conquest, and was retained by the British Governors of Quebec until
a comparative recent period. The _pas marché_, the _assemblé_, the _pas
grave_, the _pas bourré_, and the _pirouette_ were all executed with
faultless precision and stately beauty by a double set of eight chosen
from among the best dancers in the room. The rest of the company was
ranged in groups around the walls, some watching the figures with eyes
of critical inquiry, others observing the costumes of the dancers and
their involved movements with a simple sense of enjoyment. The rhythmic
swaying of handsome men and women in the mazes of a dance often produces
on the bystanders a sensation of poetic dreaminess, quite independent of
the accompanying music, and which may be traced directly to the
magnetism of the human form.

It is only true to say that nobody in the Menuet elicited more sympathy
and admiration than Pauline Belmont. The perfection of her dancing, the
sweetness of her face, the modesty of her demeanour, and the childlike
reliance which she seemed to place on the cooperation of her stalwart
partner, Roderick Hardinge, were traits which could not pass unobserved,
and more than once when she swung back into position after the
culmination of a figure, she was greeted with murmurs of applause.
Several gallant old Frenchmen, who looked on humming the music which
they knew so well, signified their approval by words allied to their
subdued chat. Finally, when the second strain was over, the peculiar
nineteen bars had been played, the _Chaîne Anglaise_ had been made, and
the honours performed by profound salutations to the distinguished
company and to the respective partners, the executants retired from the
floor and were immediately set upon by a mob of congratulating friends.
Among them, the portly form of Carleton, with his white shaven face, and
large pleasant eyes, was prominent. He addressed his felicitations to
several of the dancers, and thanked them for the splendid termination
which they had given to the festival. Near them stood his friend
Bouchette, who had been one of the lions of the evening, and who
improved these last moments with a few words of lively conversation with
Pauline.

"This has been a magnificent ball," said he, "worthy of our Governor and
worthy of old Quebec, but what is a particular source of pride to me is
that the belle of the evening has been a countrywoman of mine. You have
shed glory on your race, mademoiselle. I will not fail to report this to
my old friend, M. Belmont, and I am sure the delight he will experience
will be a compensation for his absence."

Pauline blushed as she heard these compliments, and clung more closely
to the arm of Hardinge. She faltered a few words of thanks, but her
confusion was not relieved till the interview closed by the pressure of
the crowds breaking up and making their way to the cloakrooms.

Shortly afterwards, the gay company had entirely dispersed, the lights
in the Castle were extinguished one by one, and silence reigned where,
only half an hour before, light feet beat time to the soft music of viol
and bassoon, and the echoes of merry voices resounded through the halls.

One of the guests, who had tarried longer than all the others, issued
alone and proceeded in the direction of Cathedral Square. Three o'clock
pealed from the turret as he passed. The night was dark and of that
dull, lustreless aspect which not even the white snow on roof and
footpath could relieve. Not another soul was in the streets. The long
square houses were wrapped in sleep. The solitary walker was of middle
size and apparently in the prime of life. A fur coat was loosely thrown
over his evening dress. His step was free and elastic, and he swung an
ivory-headed cane in his right hand. He was evidently in the best of
spirits, as a man should be who has dined well, danced to his heart's
content, and spent an agreeable evening in the society of his superiors,
and the company of handsome women.

When he reached the large stockade erected where Prescott Gate was
afterwards built, he paused a moment in front of the guard, who seemed
to recognize him and opened the wicket without the exchange of a pass
word. He then began the descent of the steep and tortuous Mountain Hill,
walking briskly indeed, but with hardly a perceptible acceleration of
the pace which he had held previously. It was not long before he
attained the foot of the Hill, and he was about turning the very dark
corner which led into Peter street, where he resided, when his step was
suddenly arrested by a shrill whistle on his left. He looked around, and
listened, tightening his great coat over his breast, and grasping his
cane with a firmer hand. He stood thus for several seconds, but hearing
nothing more except the flow of the St. Lawrence, a few yards ahead of
him, he attributed the sound to some sailor's craft in the harbour, and
confidently resumed his march. He had not proceeded more than a few
feet, however, when five men, muffled and masked, issued from a lane in
the rear, threw themselves upon him and dragged him to the ground.
Resistance was vain. The kidnappers gagged him, wrenched his cane from
his hand, and covered his face with a cloak. They were about to drag
him away, when a sixth figure bounded upon the scene.

"Halt!" was his single cry in French.

The men stopped.

"Release your prisoner."

They obeyed instantly and without a remonstrance.

"Ungag him."

They ungagged him.

"Restore him his cane."

The cane was immediately returned.

As soon as the prisoner felt himself free, and in possession of a
weapon, he leaped out into the middle of the street and faced his
enemies like the brave man that he was. He chafed, and fumed, and
brandished his cane.

"What does this mean?" he cried.

No answer.

"Who are you?"

Still no reply.

"Do you know who I am?"

"Yes," said the chief, in a low cold voice, "You are Joseph Bouchette.
We know you well. But go. You are free. You owe your liberty to an
intervention superior to the hatred and vengeance of all your enemies.
Thank God for it."

Bouchette, for it was indeed he, was dumb-founded and did not stir.

The chief repeated his order of dismissal in a tone that could not admit
of denial, and the doughty sailor, without uttering another word, turned
on his heel and walked leisurely to his home.

The masked men stood in a group looking at each other and at their
chief.

"You have astounded us," said Barbin to the latter.

"Possibly," was the quiet reply. "But this is no time for explanations.
Hurry out of the town and seek your hiding places in the forest. The
morning is far advanced and it will soon be day. As for me, I have had
no rest these two days and nights. I will creep into some hole and
sleep."

"Goodnight then," they all said as they slunk into the shadow.

"Goodnight."

In the dreams of the tired Batoche, that night, was blended the sweetest
music of the waterfall, and it seemed to him that there hovered over his
couch the white spirit of Clara thanking him for the deed of mercy which
he had wrought.



VIII.

UNCONSCIOUS GREATNESS.


It was more than a deed of mercy. It was politic as well. After
Bouchette returned home, he was so agitated that he could not sleep. His
chief concern was to know why he had been attacked and who were the men
who attacked him. It was clear that the assault was the result of a
deliberate plot. There was the rallying whistle. There was the disguise
of the men. There was the gag all ready to hand. And his rescuer? Who
could he be? and especially what could mean the strange words which he
had uttered?

Gradually, as he became calmer, he was enabled to grasp all the elements
of the situation, and at length the truth dawned upon him. He had been
singled out for revenge by some of his discontented countrymen because
of the service he had rendered the Governor-General. When he had
satisfied himself this, his first impulse was to rush to the Castle,
announce the outrage to Carleton himself, and head a terrible crusade
against all the rebel French. But, with a moment's reflection, his
better nature prevailed.

"Never," he exclaimed, as he paced his room. "Never, I am a Frenchman
before all. Loyalty to England does not require treason to my own
countrymen. The personal insult and injury I can forgive. Besides, was I
not rescued by an act of chivalry? If I have enemies among my own
people, is it not evident that I have friends as well? No. I will not
allow a word concerning this affair to escape my lips. If it becomes
public it shall be through no fault of mine."

Having relieved his mind by this act of magnanimity, he threw himself
upon a lounge and soon fell asleep. The sun was already high in the
heavens, and it streamed into the room, but did not disturb the slumbers
of the mariner who reposed as calmly as if he had not passed through a
struggle for his life and liberty. It was noon when he awoke. Sitting up
on the edge of his bed, some seconds elapsed before recollection went
back to this event, and when it did, he simply said:

"I will now go and see my friend Belmont."

Meantime, at M. Belmont's the matter had advanced a stage or two.
Batoche had found his way there after dismissing his associates, and,
without disturbing the inmates, had entered by means of a private key
given by his friend. He had gone to sleep at once, and it was eleven
o'clock in the forenoon before he arose. His first step was to seek the
presence of M. Belmont. To him he recounted the conversation he had had
with Sieur Sarpy, and the singular part which Zulma had taken in it. M.
Belmont listened with mingled surprise and concern. When Batoche
continued and described the adventure of the preceding night, he became
quite alarmed.

"This is terrible, Batoche," said.

The old man did what was very unusual with him. He smiled.

"There is nothing terrible about it, sir. Even if Bouchette had been
captured, there would have been nothing terrible. Bouchette is not such
a very important personage, and our men have no fears of retribution.
They are quite able to take care of themselves. But I had promised Zulma
that the man would not be disturbed, and I simply kept my promise. I was
near being too late. It was far past midnight when I reached the town,
after a weary tramp from Pointe-aux-Trembles. I knew all about the ball
and that, of course, Bouchette would be there. We had planned to seize
him on his way home from the Castle. Everything turned out as had been
anticipated. Our men did their work to perfection. They acted with
bravery and intelligence. It was a pity to spoil their success."

"Did you not arrive upon the scene in advance?"

"Yes, a few moments before the assault."

"Then why did you not prevent it altogether?"

"I hadn't the heart to do it. I wanted to give my men and myself that
much satisfaction. I wanted to see how my companions would do their
duty. Besides, although I had promised not to kidnap Bouchette, I did
not promise that I would not give him a good scare."

"Scare?" interrupted M. Belmont contemptuously, "Bouchette is as brave a
man as lives."

"Right enough," said Batoche with a giggle. "He showed fight and
brandished his cane like a man. So far as scaring went, the attack was a
failure."

"The whole thing was a failure, Batoche. It will ruin us. It will drive
me out of the town. I suppose the garrison is in an uproar about it by
this time."

"The assailants are not known and cannot be discovered."

"Exactly, and therefore the innocent will be suspected. Your great
mistake was in doing the thing by halves. A real abduction would not
have been so bad, for then the victim would not have been there to tell
his story. As it is, he has no doubt told it to everybody, and there is
no foreseeing what the consequences will be."

Batoche did not reply, but there was something in his manner which
showed that he felt very little repentance for what he had done.

At this point of the colloquy the servant came to the door and announced
Captain Bouchette.

M. Belmont was thunderstruck. Batoche remained perfectly impassive.

"Show him up," at length faltered M. Belmont.

Batoche made a movement to rise, but his companion stopped him
abruptly.

"Do not stir," he said. "Your presence may be useful."

Bouchette came striding in boisterously and in the fullest good humour.
He embraced his old friend with effusion, and accepted the introduction
to Batoche in a genial, off-hand fashion. Of course this conduct put a
new aspect on affairs, and M. Belmont was set quite at ease. Bouchette
opened at once with an account of the great ball. He said that he had
come purposely for that. He described all its phases in his own
unconventional way, and especially dilated on the share that Pauline had
taken in it. He grew eloquent on this particular theme. He assured M.
Belmont that he ought to be proud of his daughter, as she had made the
most favourable impression on all the guests and particularly on the
Governor.

There is no exaggeration in saying that this was positively delightful
to the anxious father, and that, under the circumstances, it went far
towards restoring his peace of mind. It was, therefore, no wonder that
the conversation, thus initiated, flowed on in a continuous channel of
gaiety, in which even Batoche joined at intervals, and after his own
peculiar manner. He said very little, indeed, perhaps not over a dozen
words, but he chuckled now and again, rolled about in his seat and gave
other tokens of satisfaction at the turn which things were taking. This,
however, did not prevent him, from the comparative obscurity of the
corner which he occupied, closely watching the features of the visitor,
and studying all his movements.

At length, at a convenient turn of the conversation, M. Belmont inquired
of his friend what the news of the day might be.

"Oh, nothing that I know of," replied Bouchette promptly, and quite
unconcernedly. "I have just got out of my bed and came here directly."

If a mountain had been taken from the shoulders of poor M. Belmont, he
could not have felt more relief than he did on hearing these few words.
He simply could not contain his joy. Leaping up from his seat, he
slapped his friend on the shoulder, and exclaimed:

"Well, Bouchette, we shall have a glass of wine, some of my best old
Burgundy. Your visit has done me a world of good."

The little grey eyes of Batoche were fixed like gimlets on the wall
opposite, at the line where it touched the ceiling. There was a glassy
light in them. He had gone off suddenly into one of his absent moods.
But it was only for a moment. Recovering himself, he too rose abruptly
from his seat, bringing his right arm down with a bang upon his thigh,
and muttering a few inarticulate words.

The wine was quaffed with pledges and _bons mots_. A second round of
glasses was indulged in, and when the interview closed at length,
Bouchette thundered out of the house as heartily as he had entered it.

"Well!" exclaimed M. Belmont, closing the door and confronting Batoche
in the hall.

"Well!" replied the other quietly.

"What do you say?"

"What do I say? I say that this man will never speak a word of what has
happened. So you may rest easy."

"And what do you think of himself?"

"He is a great man."

"And a good one."

"A true Knight of St. Louis."

"A friend of his countrymen."

"Yes. I admire his generosity and magnanimity, and I admire the
wonderful instinct of Zulma Sarpy who gauged him so well that she wrung
his liberation from me."

When Pauline descended from her private apartments after a long day's
rest, and was made acquainted with so much of the sailor's visit as
concerned herself, she was deeply moved, and the more that she observed
her father's intense gratification. The whole episode imparted a
happiness to that house such as it had not enjoyed for many days
previous, and such as it was not destined to enjoy later.



IX.

PAULINE'S DEVELOPMENT.


Insensibly a change was coming over Pauline. The sharp, varied
experiences of the past month had a decisive schooling influence upon
her. It is often the case that simple untutored natures like her develop
more rapidly in days of crisis than characters fashioned of sterner
material. There is no preliminary work of undoing to be gone through.
The ground is ready prepared for strong and lasting impressions. The
process of creation is hampered by no obstacles. There is, on the
contrary, a latent spontaneity which accelerates its action.

Pauline herself was hardly conscious of this change. At least she could
not formulate it in words, or even enumerate its phases by any system of
analysis, but there were moments when her mind surged with feelings
which she knew that she had never felt before, and she caught herself
framing visions whose very vagueness of outline swelled before her like
the shadows of a portent. At times, too, through these mists there
flashed illuminations which startled her, and made her innocent heart
shrink as if they were presentiments of doom.

She had seen so much, she had heard so much, she had learned so much
during these eventful weeks. The old peaceful life was gone, and it
seemed ever so far away. She was certain that it would never return
again. Amid her trouble, there was even a tinge of pleasure in this
assurance. That was, at least, one thing of which she was positive. All
else was so doubtful, the future appeared so capricious, her fate and
the fate of those she loved was shrouded in such mystery.

On the evening of the day on which occurred the incidents related in
the last chapter, she was sitting alone in her room. A circumstance
which, of itself, should have excited in her emotions of pleasure, threw
her into a train of painful rehearsals. Her father was singing snatches
of his old French songs in the room below--a thing he had not done for
weeks. This reminded her of the visit of Bouchette, and from that point
her mind travelled backwards to all the scenes, and their concomitants,
of which she had of late been the witness. There was the snow-storm in
Cathedral Square, when her father was summoned to the presence of the
Lieutenant-Governor; there was the burning of Roderick's letter; there
was the dreadful altercation and the happy reconciliation between him
and her father; there was the firing on the handsome young American from
the walls; there was the visit to the Sarpys; there was the night ride
back to the town; there was the dazzling magnificence of the Governor's
ball. And through all this she saw the weird form of Batoche, flitting
in and out, silent, mysterious, terrible. She saw the yearning, anxious,
loving face of Roderick Hardinge. She saw Zulma leaning towards her,
and, as it were, growing to her with a sister's fondness. The spell of
Zulma's affection appeared to her like the embrace of a great spirit,
overpowering, irresistible, and withal delicious in its strength. And in
spite of her she saw--why should the vision be so vivid?--the beautiful,
sad eyes of Cary Singleton, as he sat beside her at the Sarpy mansion,
or parted from her at the St. Louis Gate. She remembered how noble he
looked as he conferred with Roderick under the walls, when bearing the
flag of truce; how proudly he walked back to the ranks of the army, nor
even deigned to look back when a miscreant fired at him from the
ramparts. She recalled every word that Zulma had spoken about him, so
that she seemed to know him as well as Zulma herself.

When Pauline had gone over all these things several times, in that
extraordinary jumbling yet keenly distinct way with which such
reminiscences will troop to the memory, she felt positively fatigued,
and a sense of oppression lay like a burden at her heart. She closed her
eyes while a shudder passed through her frame. She feared that she might
be ill, and it required all the tranquil courage of her nature not to
yield outright to the collapse with which she was threatened.

At length she bethought her of a means to regain her serenity. She would
write a long letter to Zulma, describing the Governor's ball. She at
once set about the task. But when the paper was spread out, she
encountered a difficulty at the very threshold. Would she write about
herself? Would she speak of Roderick? Would she repeat the salutation of
his Excellency? Would she narrate her interview with Captain Bouchette?
If she did, she would relapse at once into the train of ideas of which
it was the object of her letter to get rid. Already, two or three times,
she had detected herself gliding into them, with pen poised in her hand.

"No," she murmured with a slight laugh. "I will do nothing of the kind.
I will write like a milliner. I will give a detailed account of the
dress worn by every lady in the château. This may amuse Zulma, or it may
disgust her, according to her mood when she reads the letter. But no
matter. It will answer my purpose. Zulma has often scolded me for not
being selfish enough. I will be selfish for once."

With this plan well defined, the writing of the letter was an easy and a
pleasant task. As the pen flew over the paper, Pauline showed that she
enjoyed her work. At times she would smile, and her whole face would
light up. At other times she would stop and reread a passage with
evident approbation. Page after page was covered with the mystic
language of the _modiste_, in which Pauline must have been an adept--as
what young woman is not?--for she made no erasures, and inserted no
corrections.

"Now that I have come to my own costume, shall I describe it?" she asked
herself, and almost immediately added:

"It would be affectation if I did not."

She forthwith devoted a whole page to the description.

Were we not right in saying that a great change had come over Pauline?
She, who only a few weeks ago, was the simplest and most unsophisticated
of girls, now knew the meaning of that dreadful word--affectation. She
not only knew what it was, but she knew that it must be avoided, and she
took particular pains to avoid it.

A little later on she asked herself again:

"Shall I make any mention of Roddy?"

The query was apparently not so easily answered as the other. She passed
her left hand wearily over the smooth hair that shaded her temple. Her
eyes were fixed vacantly on the green baize of the table. There was just
the slightest trace of hardness, if that were possible, on her features.

At length she whispered:

"Zulma would think it strange if I did not. Besides, I know she admires
Roddy. Yes, I must tell her about the Lieutenant--oh, beg pardon, the
Captain," and she smiled in her natural way. "Of course she must hear of
his promotion. Poor Roddy! How proud he was of it. And he seemed to
cling to me closer afterwards, as if he meant that I should share half
of the honour."

After detailing that circumstance, she added a few words about Carleton
and Bouchette, and wound up by expressing the regret, which was sincere
with her, that Zulma had not been present at the festival. She wrote:

"Captain Bouchette was kind enough to name some one whom you know as the
belle of the ball. That was flattery, of course. But had some one whom I
know been there, not only M. Bouchette, but the Governor himself and all
the company, not excepting Roderick, would have acclaimed her queen."

This was not an idle compliment from one girl to another. It was a
courtly tribute from woman to woman. Clearly, Pauline was making rapid
progress.

The letter was immediately folded and addressed. Holding it in her hand,
as she rose from the table, Pauline felt wonderfully refreshed. She
glanced through the window, on her way down stairs, and a new horizon
spread before her. Her misgivings for the time had departed, her doubts
were dispelled, and all that remained was a certain buoyant hopefulness,
which she could not explain.

She met her father below and inquired after Batoche.

"He is not here, my dear, but may return to-night."

"I have a letter for him."

"A letter for Batoche?"

"That is, a letter which I would wish him to carry?"

"For whom?"

"For Zulma Sarpy."

"Oh, that is very well. Write to Zulma. Cultivate her friendship. She is
a grand girl."

Batoche did call again at M. Belmont's that night, but it was only for a
moment, as he was about to betake himself once more out of the town. He
accepted Pauline's commission with alacrity.

"I will deliver the letter myself," he said. "I am glad of the chance to
see that magnificent creature again."



X.

ON THE CITADEL.


The next day, instead of experiencing the usual reaction, Pauline
continued in precisely the same state of mind as when she handed the
letter to Batoche. She was not by any means gay. For instance, she could
not have sung a comical song with zest. But she was more than merely
calm. There was a quickening impulse of vague expectancy within her
which led her to move about the house with a light step and a smiling
face. Her father was much pleased, as he too had not outlived the effect
produced upon him by the visit of Bouchette. Furthermore, the weather
may have contributed to the pleasantness that reigned in the house. The
sun was shining brightly, the wind had fallen, and the snow lay crisp
upon the streets inviting to a promenade.

Hardinge called about noon for the purpose of asking Pauline to
accompany him in a little walk.

"I have a couple of hours before me--a thing I may not have every
day--and a ramble will do both of us good," he said.

Pauline was soon ready with the cordial consent of her father.

After wandering through the streets for some time, and stopping to speak
to friends whom they met, the two wended their way towards Cape Diamond.
On the top of that portion of the citadel they were quite alone, and
they could commune together without interruption. They both appeared to
be pleased with this, each probably feeling that they had something to
say to the other, or rather that they might touch upon topics,
untouched before, which might lead to better mutual understanding.
Roderick was a trifle graver and more reserved than his companion.
Pauline made nothing of that, attributing it to his military anxieties,
a supposition which his conversation at first seemed to justify.

"This is an exposed point," said he, "which in a few days none of us
will be able to occupy. When the whole rebel army moves up from
Pointe-aux-Trembles, they can easily shell us out of this side of the
citadel."

"But it is a good point of observation, is it not?" asked Pauline.

"Capital, though not so good as that one higher up which is well guarded
and where double sentries will always be posted."

As he spoke, Roderick caught view of moving figures on the highway near
the Plains of Abraham.

"Look Pauline," he said. "Do you know those fellows?"

"I do not. Are they soldiers?"

"They call themselves Virginia riflemen. They are the advance guard of
the rebel army. They have been prowling around for the past two days."

"Virginia riflemen, Roddy?" said Pauline looking up with an expression
of languid inquiry in her dark eyes.

"Yes. You ought to know something about them. Don't you remember the
young officer who escorted you to the gates the day before yesterday?"

"Oh," replied Pauline, with no attempt to conceal her surprise or
interest, "you don't mean to say that he is down there among those poor
unsheltered men?"

"I do, certainly, and I am sure he enjoys it. I would in his place. He
has plenty of room to rove about in. It is not like being cooped up, as
we are, within these narrow walls."

"Well, he is strong and hearty and can stand a little hardship. That's
some comfort," said Pauline wagging her little head sympathetically.

This evidently amused Roderick, who replied:

"Yes, he is a stout, tough fellow."

"And so brave," pursued Pauline with growing warmth while her eyes were
fixed on the plain beyond.

"Every soldier ought to be brave, Pauline. But I must allow that this
man is particularly brave. He has proved it before our eyes."

Pauline answered not, but her attention remained fixed on the distant
sight before her. Roderick burst out into a hearty laugh and said:

"Surely this is not all you have got to say about him. He is strong, he
is brave, and--isn't he something else, eh, Pauline?"

She turned suddenly and answered Hardinge's laugh with a smile, but
there was the tell-tale blood in her cheek.

"Come now, dear, isn't he handsome?" continued Roderick, proud of his
triumph and full of mischief.

"Well, yes, he is handsome," answered Pauline with a delicious pout and
mock-show of aggressiveness.

"And what else?"

"Modest."

"What else?"

"Refined."

"What else?"

"Educated."

"What else?"

"Kind."

"Kind to you, dear?"

"Particularly kind to me."

"Thank him for that. He could choose no worthier object of his kindness.
Excuse my teasing you, Pauline. It was only a bit of fun. I quite agree
in your estimate of this American officer. He and I ought to be
friends, instead of enemies."

"You will be friends yet," said Pauline with a tone of conviction.

"Alas!"

A pause ensued during which despondent thoughts flashed through the
brain of Roderick Hardinge. All the horrors of war loomed up in a lump
before him, and the terrible uncertainties of battle revealed themselves
keenly. He had never felt his position so deeply before. This rebel was
as good as himself, perhaps better. They might have met and enjoyed life
together. Now their duty was to do each to death, or entail as much loss
as possible upon one another. Losses! What if one of these losses should
be that of the lovely creature at his side? That were indeed the loss of
all losses.

But no, he would not entertain the thought. He tossed up his head and
drank in the cold air with expanded lungs. He felt Pauline's small hand
upon his arm. The touch thrilled his whole being.

"Look, Roddy," she said pointing to the plain.



XI.

HORSEMAN AND AMAZON.


What they both saw was this. A band of some twenty men, members of
Morgan's corps, stood in groups on the extreme edge of the plain. At a
given signal a horseman issued in a canter from their midst. The animal
was almost pure white, with small, well-proportioned head, small clean
hoofs, long haunches, abundant mane and sweeping tail. Every limb was
instinct with speed, while the pricked ear, rolling eye and thin pink
nostril denoted intelligence and fire. The rider was arrayed in the full
uniform of a rifleman--grass-green coat and trousers, trimmed with black
fur, through which ran a golden tape; crimson sash with white powder
horn attached; a black turban-shaped hat of medium height, flanked over
the left temple with a black aigrette of short dark feathers, which was
held by a circular clasp of bright yellow metal. The rider trotted
around leisurely in a long eclipse until the snow was sufficiently
beaten for his purpose. He then indulged in a variety of extraordinary
feats, each of which seemed to be demanded of him by one or the other of
his companions. Among these the following may be worth enumerating. He
launched his horse at full speed, when suddenly loosening his feet from
the stirrups and his hand from the bridle, he sprang upwards and threw
himself with both legs now on the left, then on the right of the saddle.
He leaned far forward on the horse's neck so that the two heads were
exactly parallel, and next fell back into the saddle facing the crupper
and holding on to nothing. He stopped his horse suddenly and made him
stand almost perpendicular on his hind legs. Then, without the
assistance of bridle, stirrup, or pommel, he secured his position and
made the animal plunge wildly forward as if he were clearing a high
hurdle, while he no more swerved from his seat than if he had been
pinioned to it. Setting his horse again at his topmost bent, he took his
pistol, threw it into the air, caught it on the fly, and finally hurled
it with all his might in front of him. Then slipping one foot from the
stirrup, he bent his body over to the ground, seized the weapon as he
passed, recovered his position and replaced the pistol in its place,
before reaching the end of his round.

The friends of the rider were not more intent in their observation than
were the two spectators on the slope of the Citadel.

"Marvellous horsemanship," exclaimed Hardinge with enthusiasm. "The
animal must be an Arabian or some other thoroughbred. Whose can he be?
There is no such horse in these parts or I should have known it. And yet
it is hardly possible that he should have come along with Arnold's
expedition."

"And the rider?" murmured Pauline, advancing several steps in the
earnestness of her gaze.

"Yes, the rider," continued Roderick. "See he lives in the horse and the
horse in him. They seem to form part and parcel of one another. A
magnificent fellow."

"Impossible," said Pauline, shading her eyes with her hand to sharpen
her vision. "It cannot be."

"What?" queried Roderick.

"I thought perhaps...."

"But it is, Pauline."

"You don't mean it?"

"It is no other."

"Cary Singleton!"

Forgetful of everything, in her transport, she applauded with her gloved
hands. Roderick took off his cap and saluted.

"This is a brave sight, Pauline, and well worth our coming thus far to
see."

The girl was silent, and when at length she diverted her eyes, it was
not to encounter those of her companion. A slight trouble arose within
her which might have increased into an embarrassment, had not another
incident almost immediately occurred to give distraction.

The rider, having finished his gyrations, returned to his friends, who
after a brief parley dispersed, leaving him alone with a small group of
two or three, among whom appeared to be a lady on horseback. At least,
so thought both Roderick and Pauline. They did not mind the
circumstance, however, and were on the point of retracing their steps
homeward, when they noticed that two riders detached themselves from the
rest and took the direction of the plain. It was easy to recognize Cary
Singleton, and, in a few moments, as easy to see that he was accompanied
by a lady. The twain went along at a gentle walk directly towards the
St. Lawrence. The sun was still shining brightly, and as they rode, they
were sometimes in light and sometimes in shadow, according as they
passed the leafless maples that skirted the path. When they reached the
high bank overlooking the river, they stopped for a few moments in
conversation, Singleton evidently describing something, as indicated by
the movement of his arm along the line of the stream and again in the
direction of the town.

While they were thus engaged, the couple on the Citadel watched them
closely without uttering a word. The reader will readily guess that
Pauline watched the man, and Roderick the woman. Of the two, the latter
was far more intent in his observation, the former looking on in rather
a dreamy way.

At length, the officer and the amazon turned their horses' heads on
their backward journey. As they did so, they both happened to look
directly toward the town. Whatever it was that drew their attention, it
was sufficiently interesting to cause them to stop and confer together.
Then the lady made a sudden movement as if to advance straight forward,
but she was restrained by her attendant, who pointing to the guns on the
ramparts, made her understand that she must keep out of range.

It was at this point that Hardinge abruptly broke silence.

"I thought so," was his brief remark, uttered almost sternly between his
teeth.

Pauline did not appear to hear him.

"I knew I was not mistaken," he continued a little louder.

Pauline caught the word and looked up in wonder.

"I have a right to remember her."

"What do you mean, Roddy?"

"It is the very same riding habit?"

Pauline was now perfectly astonished. Hardinge's face was aglow.

"I would know that form in a thousand."

"What form?"

"And that carriage."

"Roddy, you don't intend to say?"

"I tell you it is Zulma Sarpy."

"You are jesting."

"Look, she is waving her handkerchief."

And so she was. She twisted and brandished it, and, in doing so,
agitated her horse to that extent that he fell back on his haunches and
pawed with his front feet. Roderick took off his cap and remained
uncovered a moment. Pauline shouted for joy and fluttered her
handkerchief in return. Singleton doffed his plumed hat, bowing low over
his holsters. It was a moment of exquisite excitement. But only a
moment. Swift as the wind the riders dashed away over the plain. Turning
suddenly, Hardinge recognized the danger of his position.

"Let us go, Pauline," he said, "we may be seen by our men and it would
be very awkward."

They hurried down the slope of the Citadel and entered into the town
without almost exchanging a word. Pauline was radiant. Roderick was
somewhat sullen. Gradually, however, they both resumed their composure
and sauntered for another half-hour together very agreeably, but talking
of quite indifferent subjects.

"That spectacle was more than we had bargained for," said Pauline,
taking off her gloves and laying her furs on the little central table of
her chamber. "I certainly never expected to see him again. That graceful
salutation of his was intended for me, no doubt. And I recognized him at
once, while Roddy did not. On the other hand, he recognized Zulma, and I
did not. Wasn't that strange?"

Pauline paused in her disrobing and thought over this. And the more she
thought over it, the more it appeared strange. It appeared so strange
that her features assumed a look of sadness and anxiety.

"What could Zulma be doing away from home to-day?" thought Pauline
further. "How was it that she met the officer? What if she came
purposely to see him? That would be just like Zulma. She is a fearless
girl. She cares for nobody. She can do what no other young woman could
attempt, without exciting criticism, or if there is criticism it falls
harmless at her feet."

For the first time in all these days, Pauline experienced something akin
to an envy of her brilliant friend. That is, she envied her spirit of
independence. She, of the drooping eyes and shrinking heart, felt that
she too would like to dare just a little, as Zulma did. Another proof of
the transformation which was being effected in her. But in this
particular, it was impossible for her to go beyond velleities. Much as
she might change, Pauline Belmont could never be Zulma Sarpy, and if the
dear child only knew it, it was not desirable that she should be. She
had her own claims to admiration and love. Zulma had hers. These were
almost radically different, but precisely their contrast enhanced the
value of each.

"I wonder if Zulma received my letter," added Pauline after finishing
her toilet. "It is possible that Batoche may have met her and delivered
it. I hope he did. In that case she must have been particularly glad to
see us and salute Roddy after his promotion. I am convinced of one
thing. Much as Zulma admires Cary Singleton, she thinks a great deal of
Roderick Hardinge. And I am equally sure that Roddy thinks a great deal
of Zulma."

And Pauline, sitting before her fire, crooned the old songs of youth,
while her mind wandered away and away, till the shadows of evening lay
deep on her window squares.



XII.

WAS IT DESIGN OR ACCIDENT.


Batoche delivered Pauline's letter to Zulma earlier than he expected. He
had intended to go out to the Sarpy mansion on purpose to do so, but to
his surprise and pleasure, he encountered her that very day in the
environs of Quebec. She was on horseback, accompanied by a servant. As
soon as she spied the old soldier, she rode up to him and greeted him in
the warmest language. A few words of conversation sufficed to reveal the
intention of her journey. She had taken advantage of the splendid
weather for a jaunt across the country and had chosen the direction of
Quebec in order to learn what was going on between the contending
armies. Batoche confined himself to a few words about her friends within
the town and excused himself from saying more by producing the letter of
Pauline. Zulma seized it eagerly, broke the seal and ran her eye over
the numerous sheets. She said nothing, but the expression of her
countenance was that of intense amusement, except towards the end of the
reading when it changed to a look of curious gravity.

"I shall read it more leisurely when I get home," she said to Batoche,
folding the missive and secreting it in her bosom, "and Pauline will be
sure to receive a long answer. For the present, please give her my
thanks and tell her that the things that she writes me are full of
interest. It is very kind of her thus to think of me. Tell her that she
is ever present to my mind. I am in no danger, but she is. I can roam
about at my pleasure, while she is restrained within the walls. Tell her
that I am prepared to do anything I can for her. Whatever she needs she
will have from me, and you will be our messenger, will you not,
Batoche?"

The old man signified his ready assent.

"If there is a necessity for it, I will go to Pauline even through the
barricades and barriers. Wherever you lead, Batoche, I will follow. Tell
her this, and now, adieu."

"Adieu?" said Batoche inquiringly.

"Yes, I will return home. I have had an agreeable ride. I might perhaps
have advanced a little further, but now that I have met you, and
received this precious letter, I am satisfied."

"It is not yet late in the forenoon," replied Batoche. "Mademoiselle
might tarry somewhat longer. I think she might render her journey still
more agreeable."

Through these simple words, Zulma was not slow to discern the meaning of
her old friend. Her cheek reddened and her eye got animated, spite of
the exertions she made to hide her emotions.

"Some of your old tricks of divination again," she said laughing. "Pray,
why should I tarry longer?"

Batoche met her ardent glance with a flash of intelligence. Pointing to
a little clump of wood, about a quarter of a mile to the right, he said:

"I gave him your note, mademoiselle. He was deeply moved. He declared he
would treasure it all his life. Perhaps he has answered you already."

Zulma shook her head slowly, but made no interruption.

"He is there, mademoiselle, with his command. Perhaps in a few days, he
may be ordered further forward. If he knew that you were so near him and
did not see you, I am certain that he would be deeply distressed. If he
knew that you were here, he would ride out at once to meet you."

Zulma still maintained silence, but she could not conceal the agitation
which these words produced within her.

"Mademoiselle," continued Batoche, "will you advance with me a little,
or shall I go on and tell him that you are here?"

"I put myself in your hands," said Zulma in a low voice, bending over to
the old soldier.

Batoche darted a last glance at her, which appeared to decide him. He
set forth at once in the direction of the camp, and before ten minutes
had elapsed, Cary Singleton was riding in hot haste to meet Zulma. He
persuaded her to remain a few hours in the camp in the company of his
fellow officers and it was in her honour that he performed the
tournament which we have described in the preceding chapter. And it was
thus that they both unexpectedly were seen by Pauline and Hardinge.



XIII.

THE INTENDANT'S PALACE.


On the 5th December the whole American army marched up to Quebec.
Montgomery, who had come down from Montreal with his victorious army,
joined Arnold at Pointe-aux-Trembles and took command of the expedition.
Flushed with the success which had laid all Canada at his feet, in a
campaign of barely three months, the youthful hero advanced against the
last rampart of British power with the determination to carry it or die.
His troops shared his enthusiasm. The despondency of the preceding
fortnight had melted away and was replaced by an ardour that was proof
against the rigours of the season and the undisguised difficulties of
the gigantic task which confronted them. They knew that the eyes of all
their countrymen were upon them. The Congress at Philadelphia paused in
its work of legislation to listen to the news from Canada. Washington
was almost forgotten in the anxiety about Montgomery. New England stood
expectant of wonders from the gallantry of Arnold. In far-off Maryland
and Virginia, the mothers, wives and daughters on the plantations had no
thoughts but of the postboy who galloped down the lane with letters from
the North, where their loved ones were serving under the chivalrous
Morgan. It was generally felt then, as it is now well understood in the
light of history, that on the fate of Quebec depended, in great measure,
the fate of the continental revolution. If that stronghold were
captured, the Americans would be rid of every enemy from the North; the
French-Canadians and the Indians, friendly to France, would be
encouraged to join the cause of independence; while the moral effect in
Europe, where Wolfe's immortal achievement was still fresh in all minds,
would doubtless hasten the boon of intervention.

Montgomery, who was altogether a superior man, was keenly alive to all
these considerations, hence when he moved up from Pointe-aux-Trembles he
carried with him the full weight of this enormous responsibility. How
far he was equal to it these humble pages will briefly tell for the
hundredth time, and the writer is proud that he is allowed the
opportunity to tell it.

Montgomery took up his headquarters at Holland House, and Arnold
occupied Langlois House, near Scott's Bridge. Around these two points
revolved the fortunes of the Continental army during this momentous
month of December prior to the attack on Quebec.

It was in the latter building, on the morning after the arrival of the
army, that Morgan, who, as we have stated, had preceded the main body by
five days, and occupied the principal roads leading to the beleaguered
town, received from Arnold the command to occupy the suburb of St. Roch,
near the Intendant's Palace. This historical pile was perhaps the most
magnificent monument in the Province. It was built as early as 1684, by
orders of the French King, under the administration of Intendant De
Meulles. In 1712, it was consumed by fire, when occupied by Intendant
Begon, but was reconstructed by orders from Versailles. During the last
eleven years of French domination, from 1748 to 1759, it became famous
through the orgies and bacchanalian scandals of Intendant Bigot, the
Sardanapalus of New France, whose exploits of gallantry and conviviality
would have formed a fitting theme for romance from the pen of the elder
Dumas. After the Conquest, the British had almost entirely neglected it,
as they held their official offices entirely with the town. At the time
of the siege, therefore, the edifice was in a deserted and somewhat
dilapidated condition, but its large dimensions afforded shelter to a
considerable number of Americans, and its advantageous locality
suggested to Montgomery the idea of making it the headquarters of his
sharpshooters. Morgan was ordered in consequence to place there a picked
detachment of riflemen. This he put under the command of Singleton, who
moved thither a couple of days after his interview with Zulma. From the
high cupola of the Intendant's Palace, he kept up a regular fire on the
exposed points of the garrison. The sentries along the walls were picked
off, one after another; whenever a reconnoitring party appeared above
the stockades, they were at once driven under cover, and even the
workers of the barbette guns were often frightened away from their
pieces. Whenever, as frequently happened, a few mortars were pointed on
the town from the environs of the Palace, the sharp fusillade which
accompanied them from the embrasures of the cupola, produced the
liveliest commotion within the walls, causing the alarm bells to sound
and sending battalion upon battalion of militia to the rescue. The
Americans were very much encouraged by this sign of success, imagining
that they had discovered a strong strategic point. The British were
proportionately vexed, and Carleton determined on getting rid of the
annoyance. For that purpose he brought a battery of nine pounders to
bear upon the building. When Cary Singleton saw it mounted, he smelt
mischief.

"We will be knocked off our pins, boys," he said, "but before we drop
let every man of you bring down his man."

The contest was keen and animated. The riflemen of Virginia poured
volley after volley against the artillerists, while the latter hurled
their solid balls against the massive masonry. At first they fired low,
battering in doors, splintering wood-work, unhinging shutters, and
ploughing the floors. The old walls of the town were shrouded in clouds
of white smoke. The Palace appeared like a ring of fire from the red
barrels of the riflemen. At length, one of the British militia officers
stepped forward and pointed a nine-pounder direct on the cupola.

Cary spied the movement and exclaimed:

"This is our last chance. Fire!"

Loud and clear boomed the roar of that fatal cannon shot amid the rattle
of musketry. There was a crash, a shivering of timbers, and then a heavy
fall. When the smoke cleared away, the Intendant's Palace was a heap of
ruins. The cupola had entirely disappeared. Wounded men crept out of the
debris as well as they could, some limping, some holding a broken arm,
others bandaging their damaged scalps, but all trailing their muskets.
Cary Singleton was borne away by two of his men badly hurt in both legs.
The British officer who had aimed the victorious shot stood towering on
the walls surveying his achievement. It was Roderick Hardinge.

"Well done, Captain," said Caldwell, commander of the militia regiment
to which Roderick belonged, and who had entrusted his young friend with
the destruction of the Palace. "That is a good work. I have watched it
from the bastion yonder and come to congratulate you. I shall recommend
you for immediate promotion."

And so he did. Before that day had ended Roderick Hardinge was breveted
a Major. He was overjoyed, and after receiving the congratulations of
his friends, he hurried off to tell Pauline of his good fortune. Her
father was out of the house and she was quite alone. When she opened the
door to Hardinge, her eyes were red with weeping, and she held a bit of
written paper in her hand. There is no need to describe the meeting.
Suffice it to say that the note had informed her of Cary Singleton's
fall.



XIV.

LITTLE BLANCHE.


Zulma had not forgotten her promise to Batoche concerning little
Blanche. The last time she had met the old man, the subject was mooted
and the answer she received was that possibly within a few days he would
have occasion to demand her good services in favour of his
granddaughter. An unforeseen circumstance hastened their meeting. Sieur
Sarpy having learned that an intimate friend of his, living at the
village of Charlesbourg, was very ill and particularly desired to see
him, proposed to Zulma that she should accompany him on the visit. There
was no risk attending the journey, as although Charlesbourg lay not very
far from Quebec, to the north-east and in the environs of Montmorenci,
it was out of the beat of the besieging forces, and could be reached by
a circuitous route free from all interruptions. The promise of immunity
had no effect upon Zulma, who knew that she had nothing whatever to
fear, but she accepted the offer eagerly through the motive of being
near her aged father, and because the excitement of travel was a
positive relief in her then state of mind. The journey was accomplished
successfully and without incident. The weather was favourable and the
winter roads excellent. Sieur Sarpy finding his friend very ill indeed,
decided upon remaining two or three days at his bedside. The first day
Zulma kept him company, but the second, having learned upon inquiry that
Batoche's cabin was not a great distance away, she felt an irresistible
desire to drive over and visit little Blanche. Her father did not think
it worth his while to interpose any objections, although he really did
not fancy the project. Strange to say, his sick friend favoured it.
Smiling languidly, he said in a whisper:--

"Let your daughter go. She may be able to do some good. Batoche is a
wonderful man. We all like him, however little we can make him out. I am
told that his granddaughter is a very singular child. Let Zulma go."

She went accompanied only by her own servant. She would accept no other
escort. When she debouched from the Charlesbourg road into the broad
highway leading from Quebec through Beauport to Montmorenci and onwards,
she heard the sullen roar of cannon and the muffled roll of musketry in
front of the town. She stopped a moment to listen, remarking to her
companion that the firing was brisker than usual. But she was not
further impressed, and soon drove on. The directions she had received
were so precise that no difficulty was experienced in finding the route
to the cabin. The little path leading to it from the main road was
unbeaten either by trace of cariole or web of snow-shoe, but her horse
broke through it easily enough, and pulled up in front of the hut almost
before it was seen. It was nearly indistinguishable, being white as the
element by which it was surrounded, and silent as the solitude amid
which it stood. The faintest thread of white smoke rose from the
chimney. Not a sound in the environs could be heard save the dull moan
of the waterfall. Zulma stepped lightly out of the sleigh, tripped up to
the door and rapped gently. No answer. She rapped a little louder. Still
no answer. She applied her ear to the small aperture of the latch. Not a
breath was audible. Getting just a little excited, not through fear, but
through the mystery of adventure, she drew off her glove and knocked
vigorously. The door opened wide and noiselessly on its hinges, and
across it stood a mite of a girl, dressed in white woollen. For a moment
Zulma did not stir. She could not. The strangeness of that child's face,
its weird beauty, the singular light in the wide-open eyes arrested her
footsteps and almost the beating of her heart. And near the child was a
huge black cat, with stiff tail, bristling fur and glaring green eye,
not hostile exactly, but sharply observant and expectant.

"Blanche," said Zulma at length in a voice whose musical softness was as
that of a mother's appeal. "_Bon jour_, Blanche. You do not know me. My
name is Zulma Sarpy."

There was no fear in the child's face from the first. Now all doubt and
hesitation disappeared from it. She did not smile, but a beautiful
serenity spread over it. She joined her two little thin hands together,
open palm to palm, and instead of approaching, retreated a step or two
as if to make way for her visitor. Zulma entered and closed the door.

"I have come to see you, Blanche. Your grandfather has spoken to me of
you, and I want to do something for you."

The child answered brightly that her grandfather had indeed mentioned
mademoiselle Sarpy's name and told her how good she had been to him and
how she had promised to be her friend. Both Zulma and Blanche being now
perfectly at ease, our old acquaintance Velours testified her
satisfaction at this issue of affairs by curving her long back and
rubbing herself against the hem of Zulma's cloak. Blanche gave her
visitor a seat, helped her to take off her furs, and soon the two were
engaged in earnest discourse. Zulma looked around the room and moved
about to examine the many articles of its quaint furniture. This
afforded her the opportunity of asking many questions, to all of which
Blanche returned the most intelligent answers. Indeed, the child gave
proofs of very remarkable intelligence. There was patent in her a wisdom
far beyond her years. It was something different from the usual
precocity, because the range of her information was limited enough, and
there was sufficient simplicity in her discourse to eliminate that
feeling of anxiety and pain which we always experience in the presence
of abnormally developed children. Zulma made her tell all about her
grandfather, and thus learned curious details concerning a character
which she intensely admired, notwithstanding the mystery which was set
like a seal upon it--a mystery which Blanche's unconscious revelations
rendered only deeper and more provokingly interesting. She spoke to the
child, too, of her godmother, Pauline, and it was a delight to learn
from those truthful lips how much more loveable her dear friend was than
she had ever suspected. Zulma felt that her visit was more than repaid
by the insight she thus gained into the characters of Pauline and
Batoche.

Then she broached higher things. She spoke of God and religion. The
untutored child of the forest rose with the occasion. There was nothing
conventional in her mind or words on these topics--as how could there be
under the wayward teaching of Batoche? But her intuitions were crystal
clear. There were no breaks, no obscurations in her spiritual vision. It
was evident that she had studied and communed direct with nature, and
that her soul had grown in literal contact with the winds and the
flowers, the trees and the water courses, and the pure untrammelled
elements of God.

She knelt before the lap of Zulma and recited all the prayers she
knew--the formulas which the priest and Pauline had taught her, and the
ejaculations which she had taught herself to say, in the bright morning,
in the dark evening, in the silent days of peace, in the crash of the
tempest, or when her little heart ached from whatever cause as she
passed from infancy to adolescence. The contrast between the styles of
these prayers impressed Zulma very strongly. The former were such as she
herself knew, complete, appropriate and pathetic in their very
phraseology. The latter were fragmentary, rude, and sometimes
incongruous in syntax, but they spoke the poetry of the heart, and their
yearning fervour and indubiety made Zulma understand, as she listened to
them through her tears, how it is that wayside statues of stone, and
wooden figures of the Madonna in lofty niches, are said to hear and
answer by visible tokens the prayers of the illiterate, the unfortunate,
and the poor.

"Are you not lonely here my dear?" asked Zulma raising the child from
her knees and stroking back her hair as she stood leaning against her
arm.

"I am used to be alone, mademoiselle," was the reply. "I have never had
any company but my grandfather, who is often absent. He seeks food for
both of us. He kills birds and animals in the woods. He catches fish in
the river. Nobody ever came to see us except of late when my grandfather
has been called away by strange men and has remained absent longer than
usual. When he is here he speaks to me, he tells me stories, he teaches
me to understand the pictures in some of his old books, he plays the
violin for me. When he is gone I take more time to do my work, washing
clothes, cleaning the dishes, sweeping the room, mending my dresses.
When this is done, if the weather is fine, I gather flowers and fruits,
I sit at the Falls making wreaths for our pictures and my grandfather's
crucifix. If it is dark or stormy outside, I sing canticles, repeat my
catechism, and when I am tired I play with Velours. She never leaves
me."

Blanche did not say all these things consecutively, but in reply to
repeated questions from Zulma, who led her on step by step. And not the
answers themselves, but the manner in which they were made, the tone of
voice, the expression of the eye and the ready gesture, all increased
her interest in this strange charming little being.

"But of late," she said, "your grandfather has been away several nights
together. Were you left all alone?"

"Yes, all alone, mademoiselle."

"And you were not afraid?"

Blanche smiled and there was a vacant look in her eye which reminded
Zulma of Batoche.

"The night is the same as the day," she said.

"Oh, not the same, my darling. At night wicked things go abroad. The
wild beasts prowl, bad men frighten the innocent, and the darkness
prevents help from coming so easily as in the day."

Blanche listened attentively. What she heard was evidently something
new, but it did not disconcert her. She explained to Zulma that when the
hour for rest came, she said all her prayers, put on the night-dress
which Pauline had given her--this was always white, in all
seasons--covered the fire in winter, closed the door in summer, but
never locked it, and then went to sleep.

"When my grandfather is in his alcove, I hardly ever awaken, but if he
is absent I always awaken at midnight. Then I sit up and listen.
Sometimes I hear the owl's cry or the bark of the wolf. At other times,
I hear the great noise of the tempest. Sometimes again there is not a
sound outside, except that of the waterfall. While I am awake I see at
the foot, of my bed the image of my mother. She smiles on me and blesses
me. Then I lie down and sleep till morning."

The above is a cold rehearsal of the words which the child uttered.
There was a pathos in them beyond all words that caused Zulma to shed
copious tears.

"Dear little thing," she exclaimed, clasping her to her bosom. "You
shall be no longer alone. I will take care of you. You will come with me
this very evening. Will your grandfather return to-night?"

"When he does not return, he tells me beforehand. When he returns, he
says nothing. He said nothing this morning, therefore he will return
to-night."

In the earnestness of her interview, Zulma had not noticed the flight of
the hours. When she looked up at the clock it was past five and the
darkness was gathering. Turning to the servant who, after attending to
his horse, had entered the room and taken a seat in a corner, she
ordered him to go out upon the main road and see whether any one was
coming. He came back with the information that several men were going
rapidly in the direction of Quebec, appearing very much excited, but
that none seemed to be coming from the town.

"It may be late Blanche," said Zulma, "before your grandfather returns,
but I will wait another hour. Then we shall decide what to do."

At six o'clock it was very dark and a slight snow-storm arose. Zulma was
getting anxious. She could not make up her mind to leave the child all
alone, and could not take her along without first seeing Batoche. On the
other hand, she must return to Charlesbourg to avoid any needless
anxiety on the part of her father. She was in the height of her
perplexity when she heard the shuffling of feet at the door.

"It is he," exclaimed Blanche, springing to the latch.



XV.

IN BATOCHE'S CABIN.


Batoche entered, supporting Cary Singleton under the arms. The latter
could stand upon his feet, but it was with effort, and he needed the
assistance of his companion. Zulma was thunderstruck on seeing the
wounded officer. He was no less astonished at seeing her. Batoche smiled
as he glanced over the room. But not a syllable was uttered, until Cary
had found a resting place in the easy chair before the fire. Then a few
hasty words explained the whole situation. Zulma burst into tears and
lamentations, as she took a seat at Cary's side, but he soon comforted
her by the assurance that he was not dangerously hurt.

"The doctor told me there was nothing broken. All I need is a few days
of rest. Batoche was at my side when I fell. He took care of me and
prevailed upon me to come out here with him."

Batoche smiled again while Cary spoke, then said in his turn:--

"The Captain would have preferred to go elsewhere to rest, and he
consented to come with me only when I assured him that you were away
from home."

"How did you know that?" asked Zulma.

"Oh, I knew it."

"You know everything, Batoche."

"I did not know that we should meet you in my humble cabin, but I
thought it was not impossible. When I saw your cariole at the door, I
was not at all surprised, but I did not tell the Captain of it."

"I was never more surprised and delighted in my life," said Cary.

Zulma was comforted. She totally regained her equanimity, and conversed
calmly with Cary. After a time, when little Blanche began to set the
table, she rose to assist and cooked the frugal meal with her own hands.
Later, she helped Batoche to prepare the liniments for the young
officer's bruises. Batoche was as expert as any medicine man among the
Indians, from whom indeed he had learned the virtues of the various
seeds and herbs which hung in bunches from the rafters of his hut.

A couple of hours thus passed away almost unnoticed. As eight o'clock
struck, Zulma arose from her seat and announced her intention of
remaining with her friend till the next day, when the nature of his
wounds would be better known. Cary remonstrated gently, renewing the
assurance that within a very few days he would be in perfect possession
of his limbs. On the other hand, Batoche encouraged Zulma in her
resolution. He declared he would regard it as a great favor if she would
accept the scant hospitality of his hut for one night. Little Blanche
said nothing, but she clung to the skirt of Zulma and there was an
appeal in her eye which the latter could not have resisted even if she
had been so minded. In her usual decided way, she ordered the servant to
drive back to Charlesbourg, inform her father why she had remained
behind, and return to learn her wishes the next morning.

"If I thought," said Batoche, "that Sieur Sarpy would be too anxious, I
would go with your servant, and explain everything."

"There is no need," replied Zulma. "My father is convinced that I would
do nothing to pain him, and I know that his high regard for Captain
Singleton, and his confidence in yourself, Batoche, will make him
completely approve, the course which I take. The chief point is that my
servant should return at once in order that my father may have no fear
that I have encountered an accident on the road."

And without further delay, the servant took his departure.

Quietude then reigned in the cabin. Little Blanche recited her prayers
to Zulma, and was put to bed by her, when she went to sleep directly.
Her strange manners and remarkable discourse had been a source of great
interest to Cary. Batoche retired to his alcove, whence he did not issue
for a long time. In the interval, Zulma and the disabled officer, seated
before the fire, indulged in a low-voiced conversation. Cary thanked his
wounds for this unexpected opportunity of pleasant repose. Going over
all the circumstances, he regarded this meeting with Zulma as something
providential. He had almost a suspicion that Batoche had had a secret
hand in bringing it about, so impressed had he become with the wonderful
resources of that singular man. Zulma was actually calm, but her heart
was full of gratitude and there was a fervour in her language which
showed that her sensitive nature was in harmony with the time and place
in which she found herself. Never had Cary seen her more beautiful. The
humbleness and poverty of her surroundings brought out into relief the
wealth and lordliness of her charms. She sat like an empress in her
wicker chair. The predominant thought with Cary, as he glanced at her
admiringly, was this--that it was an episode to be remembered through
life, an episode which he could not have expected in his wildest dreams,
and which would never recur again, to sit thus, a thousand miles away
from home, in a lonely hut, in the snow-piled forests of Canada, with
one of the loveliest and grandest women of God's planet. Over and over
again, as he took in quietly the significance of this fact, he closed
his eyes and delivered his soul to full and uninterrupted fruition.
There are brief hours of enjoyment--few and far between--which are full
compensation for years of dull, common-place existence, or even of
positive suffering. Cary was very happy, and he might have sat there,
before the fire, the live-long night, without ever thinking of his own
or his companion's fatigue. Zulma, while no less absorbed in her own
delight, was more considerate. When ten o'clock was reached, she called
Batoche from his retreat, and proposed to him the arrangements for the
night. After these were settled, she told her old friend that she had a
favor to ask him. She wished him to play the violin. He hesitated a
moment, then with a quaint smile fetched the instrument from the little
room. Taking his stand in the centre of the hut, he opened with a few
simple airs which only drew a smile from the lips of his listeners, but
all at once, changing his mood, he plunged into a whirlpool of wild
melody, now torturing then coaxing his violin, till he seemed
transported beside himself, and both Zulma and Cary fancied themselves
in the presence of a possessed spirit. They exchanged glances of wonder
and almost of apprehension. Neither of them was at all prepared for this
exhibition of wondrous mechanical skill, and preternatural expression.
Batoche closed as abruptly as he had begun. After a final sweep over the
strings that sounded like a shriek, he held his bow extended in his hand
for a moment, while his contracted features and fixed eye assumed an
expression of listening.

"There is trouble in the air," he said quietly, as he walked back to the
alcove to lay by his fiddle. "The day which has been so eventful shall
be followed by a night of distress. We have been happy. Our friends are
not so happy."



XVI.

A PAINFUL MEETING.


Deep silence followed these words. It was broken, after an interval of
about ten minutes, by a great commotion outside and the rushing of
Batoche to the door. Cary and Zulma remained in their seats awaiting an
explanation which was soon forthcoming. Batoche entered supporting on
his arm the drooping form of Pauline. M. Belmont followed, the picture
of anger and despair. When Zulma saw her friend, she uttered an
exclamation of pain and sprang forward to meet her. Pauline having shot
a burning glance at her and at the figure sitting beside her, placed her
hand upon her heart, and fell backwards in a swoon. Cary, forgetting his
wounds, hobbled to her assistance. The whole household was bustling
around the beautiful victim, as she lay unconscious in Batoche's easy
chair. But the attack was only transient. Pauline soon recovered
consciousness and strength under the action of restoratives, and the
company was enabled to understand what combination of strange
circumstances had thus brought them so unexpectedly together. M. Belmont
drew Batoche into the alcove, where they had a long and loud
conversation, the substance of which was that both the friends were in
imminent danger, the one of his life, the other of his liberty. M.
Belmont had been warned that day, through the friendly offices of
Captain Bouchette, that he must not receive Batoche into his house any
further. Batoche had lately been tracked in his nocturnal excursions to
and from the town, the authorities had been made aware of his doings,
and strict orders had been issued for his capture dead or alive. The man
who was on his heels was Donald, the servant of Roderick Hardinge, who
had apprised his master of the facts. Roderick, through delicacy, had
not ventured to mention the matter to M. Belmont, but had commissioned
their mutual friend, Bouchette, to do so. The Belmont house was
hereafter to be closely watched, and if Batoche or any of his companions
were found there, not only would they be seized, but M. Belmont himself
would be arrested and tried by court martial. This threat was bad
enough, but there was worse. M. Belmont had that day received an
anonymous letter in which he was told that a sentence of banishment from
the town was hanging over his head. Colonel McLean, commander of the
regulars, and the highest officer in the garrison after Governor
Carleton, had included his name in this punishment along with several
others. He had powerful friends in Lieutenant-Governor Cramahé, Captain
Bouchette, and Roderick Hardinge, but the force of circumstances might
render their interposition unavailable. M. Belmont did not know how much
truth there was in all this. But, according as the siege progressed,
spirits within the town were getting terribly excited, and he really
could not tell what might happen. At all events, the letter had
completely roused him, and he had decided, at whatever risk, upon coming
to consult Batoche. He had intended to come alone, but his daughter,
Pauline, guessing his intention, would not be left behind. She declared
she would follow her father through every contingency. They had both
contrived to escape from the town by the happiest combination of
circumstances. Now that he was out of the town, he would go further than
he had at first intended. He would ask Batoche's opinion about staying
away from it altogether, thus forestalling banishment. In the casket
which his friend had hidden for him, there were sufficient valuables in
coin to answer his purposes, and fully cover all his expenses for months
to come. Hitherto he had struggled hard against his fate and his
feelings for the sake of his daughter. Now that he was forced to act,
he would resume his liberty, and he hoped Pauline would become
reconciled to the change. He was not too old, and he had sufficient
bodily strength to carry his principles into practice if need be.

M. Belmont poured out his story with rapid animation, being never once
interrupted by Batoche. When he had concluded, he grew calmer and was in
a proper state of mind to receive the advice of his friend.

Batoche's words were few and deliberate. As for himself, M. Belmont need
not fear any further trouble from his goings and comings in the town. He
had no dread of the wolves, only hate. He laughed at their threats.
There was not an Englishman of them all cunning enough to entrap him. He
would continue his visits as he pleased, but he would never come near M.
Belmont's residence. As to M. Belmont's personal case, he would simply
advise him to maintain his ground, and not compromise himself by flight.
He knew that his friend was no coward, but flight was a cowardly act.
Then, there was Pauline to consider--an all-powerful argument. All his
life had been consecrated to her--let it be consecrated to the end. He
had made many sacrifices in her behalf--he should not recoil before this
greatest sacrifice. The dear child might acquiesce, but it would cause
her many a secret tear, and such as she were too good to be made
unhappy. Besides, M. Belmont should think of his compatriots. He was
their foremost man. If he fled, they would all be put under the ban. If
he deserted them, what would many of them do in the supreme hour of
trial that was coming?

M. Belmont listened attentively, almost religiously to the words of the
man whom he had of late so much learned to admire, and whose wisdom was
never more apparent than on the present occasion. He thanked Batoche
warmly, but failed to say that he would follow his advice. Instead of
that, he took him by the hand and drew him into the apartment where the
young people were seated.

They too had had an absorbing conversation. It was the sight of Cary
which had so suddenly unbalanced Pauline when she first entered the
cabin. From a hasty note which Batoche had smuggled into the town, she
had learned of his misfortune at the Intendant's Palace. She had been
feverishly anxious to hear more about his fate. This was one of the
causes why she decided upon accompanying her father in his perilous
journey that night. She knew she would meet Batoche and gather full
particulars from him. But she had no suspicion that she would see Cary
himself. And the presence of Zulma was another mystery. But after she
recovered consciousness, as we have seen, and, seated between them, had
heard the explanation of everything, not only did her spirits revive,
but she forgot all the other sorrows which waited upon her. Cary, too,
completely overlooked his own ailments in the joy of her presence. And
Zulma, without misgiving, without afterthought, was perhaps the happiest
of the three, because she partook of the pleasure which her two friends
experienced in each other's society.

Thus a full hour of unalloyed enjoyment passed away, after which the
conversation necessarily drifted into more serious courses. It could
hardly be otherwise in view of the circumstances by which they were all
surrounded. Youth and beauty and love cannot always feast upon
themselves. They must perforce return to the stark realities of life.
They spoke of the war and of all the miseries attendant upon it--the
sufferings of the poor, the privations of the sick, the anxieties of
parents, the pangs of absence, the rigours of the cold, and the terrible
sacrifices which even the commonest soldier is obliged to make. The two
girls listened with tears as Cary graphically recounted his experiences,
which, though relieved at times by touches of humor, were profoundly
sad. Then Zulma, in eloquent language and passionate gestures, gave her
view of the situation. Pauline was mostly silent. Her role was to
receive the confidences of others, rather than to communicate her own.
At times, in the march of discourse, the veil of the future was timidly
raised, but immediately dropped again, with an instinctive shrinking of
the three young hearts. That far they durst not look. The present was
more than sufficient for them to bear. A gentle, merciful Providence
would provide for the rest.

Who can gauge the effect upon the participants of this interview, in
such a place, at such an hour, and amid so many singular circumstances?
It was deep, searching, and ineffaceable, and the sequel of our history
will show that most of its culminating events were directly traceable to
this memorable evening.

When M. Belmont stepped forward with Batoche, he at once addressed
himself to Cary Singleton, asking his advice on the subject of the
conference just held in the alcove. The young officer, after blushing
and faltering at the suddenness of the appeal, replied in a manly
fashion that, although he was an apostle of liberty with pistol and
sabre, and entirely devoted to the cause, even to the shedding of his
heart's blood, he could not presume upon giving advice to such a man as
M. Belmont. He was too young, for one thing, and, for another, he was
not sufficiently acquainted with the circumstances of the case. He
added, glancing with ardour at the two fair girls beside him, that they
would be better able to determine the question, Mademoiselle Belmont
taking counsel of her father's welfare, and Mademoiselle Sarpy speaking
for the benefit of her dearest friend. Thus appealed to, Zulma declared
promptly that she had no opinion on the advisability of M. Belmont
remaining out of the town, but that if he resolved upon doing so, she
offered him, in the name of her father and in her own, a welcome home in
the Sarpy mansion. In fact, she insisted that she would allow her to
live nowhere else. Cary smiled and thanked Zulma with an approving nod.
Pauline had not a word to utter, but her answer was only too painfully
significant when she buried her face in her hands and gave way to a
tempest of grief. Perplexity was painted on every countenance. Batoche
alone retained his equanimity, and calmly, but with a tone almost of
authority, he said:

"M. Belmont, it is near midnight. There is a long road to travel. A
decision must at once be made. What do you say?"

M. Belmont still hesitated.

"Then, Pauline will decide. Come, my dear, shall we go or stay?"

Pauline immediately rose, and with a look of pathetic imploring,
murmured:

"Oh, father, let us go."

M. Belmont instantly complied. As Batoche signified his intention of
going along, in order to see them safe within the walls, Zulma earnestly
demanded permission to accompany him. M. Belmont, Pauline, and Cary
tried their best to dissuade her, but the old soldier silenced their
objections by at once according his consent. The wounded officer having
received the last attention for the night, the party took their
departure. They reached Quebec without incident, and Batoche readily
found an opening for them into the town from a ravine in the valley of
the St. Charles.

Zulma and Pauline embraced each other fervidly.

"Before we separate, I have a dreadful secret to tell you," said
Pauline.

"What is it, my dear?"

"Do you know who pointed the gun that wounded the Captain?"

"I do not."

"Can't you guess?"

"No."

"It was Roderick Hardinge."

The eyes of the two friends exchanged sparks of fire.

On the return journey, Zulma inquired of Batoche:--

"Do you know who fired the fatal gun against you from the walls?"

"I do."

"Does Captain Singleton know it?"

"He does not."

"Why did you not tell him?"

"On account of little Pauline."



XVII.

NISI DOMINUS.


Quebec was the centre of missionary labor for years before our Atlantic
coast was thoroughly settled. The church of San Domingo is older, having
been founded in 1614. That of Mexico dates from 1524, and that of Havana
was established at an earlier epoch still. But none of these can be said
to have exercised the same influence which distinguished the city of
Champlain. From Quebec came forth nearly all the missionaries who
evangelized the west and north-west. The children of Asisi and Loyola,
whose names are immortalized in the pages of Bancroft, all set forth on
their perilous wanderings under instructions issued from the venerable
college whose ruins are still seen beneath the shadow of Cape Diamond.
In the list of priests who resided at Quebec on the 1st October, 1674,
is found the name of Jacques Marquette. Little did that modest man then
dream of the glory which was soon to be attached to his labors and
explorations. By the discovery of the Mississippi not only did he add a
vast territory to the realms of his King, but he opened an immense field
to the zeal of his Bishop, and extended the boundaries of the diocese of
Quebec by thousands upon thousands of miles. Thus it happens that
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Louisville, and
all our Western cities, though they did not then exist, now occupy
ground which was under the jurisdiction of the great Bishop, Francois
Laval de Montmorenci, who was first raised to the See of Quebec two
hundred years ago. It is no stretch of fancy, but the literal truth--and
the picture is a grand one--that when Laval stood on the steps of his
high altar, in that venerable fane which has since been raised to the
rank of a basilica, he could wave his crozier over a whole continent,
from the Gulf of the St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the
Red River of the North to the waters of Chesapeake Bay. Time has passed
since then, and religion has progressed in such astonishing rates that
sixty-two dioceses are at present said to have sprung from the single
old diocese of Quebec.

The sixth successor of Laval was Briand, the last French Bishop of
Quebec under British domination. All those who succeeded him were
Canadian born. It was to him that M. Belmont addressed himself for final
counsel. He found the prelate alone in his study, calmly reading his
breviary, while a pile of documents, letters and other papers lay on a
table at his side. He wore a purple cassock, over which was a surplice
of snow-white lace reaching to the knees. On his shoulders was attached
a short violet cape. A pectoral cross hung from his neck by a massive
chain of gold. The tonsured white head was covered by a small skull-cap
of purple velvet. A large amethyst ring flashed on the second finger of
the left hand. Monseigneur sat there the picture of serene force. While
all around him was uproar, within his apartment the atmosphere of peace
reigned with a visible, tangible presence. The seminary where he resided
was within a stone's throw of the barracks in Cathedral Square, but
whereas the one was the continual theatre of anxiety and excitement, the
other was the scene of perpetual confidence and repose. And yet, this
lonely man was a principal actor in the events of 1775-76. His influence
had been, and was still, omnipotent and all pervading. From his quiet
retreat he had sent forth a pastoral, at the beginning of hostilities,
commending loyalty to Britain, and exhorting all his followers to obey
the teachings and example of their curates. And his voice had been
heard. But for him, there is no telling how different the circumstances
of the invasion of Canada would have been. If Guy Carleton was Knighted
for his successful defence of Quebec, surely Monseigneur Briand should
have received some token of favor from those whom he so faithfully
served. Without the spiritual power, the material force could not have
availed, and the sword of the commander would have been lifted in vain
but for the Bishop's crook that scattered the initial obstacles of the
contest.

The prelate received M. Belmont with the utmost kindness, for they were
old friends. Placing his thumb within the closed leaves of his breviary,
he asked his visitor to unfold to him freely the object of his coming,
although there was an expression in his countenance which showed that he
divined the object. M. Belmont, who was agitated at first, gradually
acquired sufficient self-possession to give a full explanation of his
case. He detailed his grievances, his apprehensions, and explained the
radical change which he had undergone in his political opinions. He
ended by pointedly asking the Bishop whether he was not justified in
taking a decided stand.

Monseigneur had listened unmoved to the whole history, occasionally
smiling languidly, occasionally looking very serious. His reply was
given in the kindest tones, but there was the conscious authority of the
chief pastor in every word which he uttered.

"I too am a Frenchman, my friend," he said. "I have my feelings, my
prejudices, my aspirations, like every other man. If I consulted only my
heart, I believe you can guess where it would have led me. But I consult
my head. I remember that I have a conscience. I am reminded that I have
stern duties, as Bishop, to fulfil. The responsibility of them is
something terrible. The cardinal doctrine of our theology is obedience
to legitimate authority. The whole logic of the church is there. This
principle permeates every department of life, from the highest to the
lowest. It shines out through all our history. In the present instance,
its application is plain. The English are our masters. They are such by
the right of conquest--a sad right, but one which is thoroughly
recognized. They have been our masters for sixteen years. In that time,
they have not always treated us well. But there was ignorance rather
than ill-will. Of late they have guaranteed the rights of our people and
of the church. The Quebec Act is a standing proof of a desire of justice
on the part of the English Government. And how do these Boston people
regard the Quebec Act? Judge for yourself."

The Bishop here produced from among the papers on the table a
pictorial caricature of the Act.

"See," he continued. "This represents Boston in flames and Quebec
triumphant, and the print explains that thus popery and tyranny will
triumph over true religion, virtue and liberty. Among the other
personages, look at the kneeling figure of a Catholic priest, with cross
in one hand and gibbet in the other, assisting King George, as the print
again says, in enforcing his tyrannical system of civil and religious
liberty: What do you think of that? Does it look like the real
fellowship for us which they profess in their proclamations? Liberty and
independence are fine words, my friend. I love them. But they may be
catch-words as well, and we have to beware. Who assures us that the
revolted Colonies are sincere? After all, they are only Englishmen
rebelling against their country. Even if they are justified in
rebelling, does that fact justify us in joining them? And what good
reason have we to believe that they can better our lot? Will they
respect our religion, language, and laws more than do our present
masters? Reflect on these things. Do nothing imprudent. Remember your
family. Respect your reputation. You have a fortune but it is not yours
to waste by useless confiscation. It belongs to little Pauline. I
respect your sympathies, and believe that you will soon have occasion to
display them without premature action. This town will soon be attacked.
Either the besiegers will succeed or they will not. If they do not
succeed, you will be able to ease your heart attending to the sick and
wounded prisoners among them. If they do succeed, and Quebec is taken,
then Canada is theirs, and they will become our masters instead of the
English. Then the duty of us all will be clear, and you will have no
difficulty in making your adhesion."

The Bishop smiled as he laid down this common-sense proposition, and so
did M. Belmont who was thoroughly convinced by its logic. He thanked
Monseigneur for his strong advice, and promised in most fervent language
that he would carry it out.

"Do so, my son," added the Bishop. "I am pleased with your submission.
Before a fortnight has elapsed, you will have reason to thank me again
for the counsel."

M. Belmont got down on his knees, and the prelate, rising, pronounced
the episcopal benediction over his bent brow, giving him at the same
time the pastoral ring to kiss.

"Pray," said the Bishop, advancing a few steps with M. Belmont towards
the door, "pray and ask your pious daughter to double her supplications
that the right may triumph, and peace be soon restored. The shock will
be terrible."

"But the town is very strong," replied M. Belmont.

The Bishop smiled again, and raising his finger in sign of warning, he
repeated solemnly and slowly the grand lesson:

"_Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem._ Unless the Lord keep the city, in
vain they watch who stand guard over it."



XVIII.

LAST DAYS.


Zulma spent the next morning in the exclusive company of Cary. Batoche
bustled in and out of the cabin, while little Blanche was kept busy at
household work. The wounded man had had a good night, and thanks to the
lotions and poultices of his old friend, felt much easier. About noon,
the whole circle was most agreeably surprised by the arrival of Sieur
Sarpy who drove up with his servant. He had come expressly to see Cary,
and, while condoling with him on his accident, testified to his joy that
he was on a fair way of recovery. He speedily commended the conduct of
his daughter under the circumstances, and, in a long conversation with
Batoche, took occasion to declare his cordial approval of the course
which he had thought fit to pursue in the war. This commendation was
very precious to the aged solitary, and he stated that it would serve as
an encouragement to persevere, doing all in his power to keep his
countrymen in the sacred cause of liberation.

Towards evening Zulma returned to Charlesbourg with her father, but on
the following morning they both came to Montmorenci again, and thus for
several days, until Cary having been pronounced by Batoche quite able to
travel, they prevailed upon him to pass the remainder of his
convalescence at the Sarpy mansion. Batoche, who had been kept in
idleness by the illness of his friend, favoured the removal, as it gave
him the opportunity of once more resuming his self-imposed military
duties. For the same reason, he readily allowed little Blanche to
accompany Zulma.

Cary remained five days with the Sarpys, and it is needless to say that
the time rolled by as if on wheels of gold. What added to his enjoyment
was that, through the medium of Batoche, Zulma managed to communicate
daily with Pauline, and to receive answers from her, in every one of
which she tenderly inquired about the young officer.

He would willingly have tarried longer in this delicious retreat, but at
the end of the five days, having learned that stirring events were being
prepared in camp, he decided that he was sufficiently recovered to take
part in them. Indeed, he declared that he would take part in them even
if he had to go on crutches. Zulma did not attempt to detain him. There
were tears in her eyes when she bade him farewell, but the beautiful
smile on her lips was an incentive to go and do his duty.

"If I fear anything, it is on your account," he said.

"Fear nothing," she replied. "I feel certain that we shall meet again."

On reaching camp, where his return was acclaimed by all his comrades,
Cary learned that the end was approaching. The great blow was at last to
be struck. The whole month of December had been wasted in a fruitless
siege, and Montgomery determined that, for a variety of imperious
reasons, he must attempt to carry the beetling fortress by storm. It was
a desperate alternative, but the single gleam of success which attended
it was all sufficient to cause its adoption.



XIX.

PRES-DE-VILLE.


Everything was in readiness. The only condition to be waited for was a
snow-storm. It came at length in the early morning of the 31st December.
The army fell into lines at once, and by two o'clock, Montgomery's
arrangements were all perfected. Ladders, spears, hatchets and hand
grenades were in readiness. The plan of battle was this. Montgomery, at
the head of one division, was to attack Lower Town from the west;
Arnold, at the head of the second division, was to attack Lower Town
from the east, and they were both to meet at the foot of Mountain Hill,
which they would ascend together, force the stockades on the site of
Prescott Gate, and pour victoriously into Upper Town. In the meantime,
Livingston, with a regiment of Canadians, and Brown, with part of a
Boston regiment, were to make false attacks on Cape Diamond Bastion, St.
John and St. Louis Gates, which they were to fire, if possible, with
combustible prepared for that purpose.

Let us first follow Montgomery. Advancing from his quarters at Holland
House, he crossed the Plains of Abraham, descended to Wolfe's Cove, and
thence marched up the narrow road between the river and the towering
crag of Cape Diamond. The night was dark as ink, a blinding snow-storm
raged, and the sharp wind heaped the way with banks of drift. Silently
the heroic column moved on, in spite of the terrible weather, until it
reached a spot called Près-de-Ville, the narrowest point at the entrance
of Lower Town. There it was stopped by a barrier which consisted of a
log house containing a battery of three pounders. The post was under the
command of two Canadians, Chabot and Picard, with thirty militiamen of
their own nationality, and a few British seamen acting as artillerists
under Captain Barnsfare and Sergeant McQuarters. Montgomery did not
hesitate. Ordering his carpenters to hew some posts that obstructed the
way to the barrier, he pulled them down with his own hands, then drawing
his sword, he put himself at the head of a handful of brave followers,
leaped over heaps of ice and snow, and charged. Sharp eyes were glaring
through the loop-holes of the block house, the match was lit, the word
trembled on tight-pressed lips. When the Americans were within forty
paces, Barnsfare shouted "Fire!" and a volley of grape swept down the
open space. Only one volley, but certainly the most fateful that was
ever belched from a cannon's mouth. No shot was ever more terribly
decisive.

The air was heavy with the groans of the wounded and dying. Thirteen
bodies lay stretched in a winding sheet of snow. Foremost among them was
that of Montgomery. There was a moment of silence, then the guns and
muskets of the block house poured forth a storm of missiles. But all to
no purpose, as the assaulting column, stunned by this first disaster,
fell back in confusion and retreated precipitately to Wolfe's Cove.

When daylight appeared, and news of the combat reached the authorities
of the Upper Town, a party under James Thompson, the Overseer of Works,
went out to view the field. As the snow had continued falling, the only
part of a body that appeared above the surface was that of Montgomery
himself, part of whose left arm and hand stood up erect, but the corpse
was doubled up, the knees being drawn up to the face. Beside him lay his
brave aids, McPherson and Cheeseman and one sergeant. The whole were
frozen hard. Montgomery's sword was found near by. A drummer boy
snatched it up, but Thompson secured it for himself and it is kept to
this day as an heirloom in his family.

Meigs, who served with Montgomery, pays this affecting tribute. "He was
tall and slender, well-limbed, of a genteel, easy, graceful, manly
address, and had the voluntary love, esteem and confidence of the whole
army. His death, though honourable, is lamented, not only as the death
of an amiable, worthy friend, but as an experienced, brave general; the
whole country suffers greatly by such a loss at this time. The native
goodness and rectitude of his heart might easily be seen in his actions.
His sentiments, which appeared on every occasion, were fraught with that
unaffected goodness which plainly discovered the goodness of the heart
from whence they flowed."

Montgomery had said: "We shall eat our Christmas dinner in Quebec."

Alas.



XX.

SAULT-AU-MATELOT.


Arnold moved his division from the General Hospital in the St. Roch's
Suburb, but not so secretly as Montgomery had done. The roar of cannon,
the ringing of bells, the rattle of drums aroused and alarmed the
slumbering town. His men crept along the walls in single file, covering
the locks of their guns with the lappets of their coats, and holding
down their heads on account of the driving snow storm, until they
reached the point of their attack in Sault-au-Matelot street. This is
one of the legendary streets of Quebec. It lies directly under the Cape,
and is supposed to derive its name from a sailor who leaped into it from
above. Creuxius has a prosier explanation: "_Ad confluentem promontorium
assurgit quod saltum nautæ vulgo vocant ab cane hujus nominis qui se
alias ex eo loco praecipitum dedit._" Of Arnold's followers the most
notable were Morgan's brave riflemen, and the whole column consisted of
five hundred men. He marched in advance of them, animating their courage
by word and example. His impetuous bravery led him to needless exposure
in the attack on the first barrier, in front of which he was at once
struck down by a musket-wound in the knee, and carried off the field
back to the General Hospital, where, to his intense chagrin, he soon
learned the defeat and death of Montgomery. The command then devolved on
Morgan, who, after a gallant charge, carried the first barrier, taking a
number of prisoners, and pushed to the second and more important one
further in the interior of Lower Town. On the way, his men scattered and
disarmed a number of Seminary scholars, among whom was Eugene Sarpy.
Many of these escaped to Upper Town and were the first to acquaint
Carleton with the grave condition of affairs. He instantly despatched
Caldwell with a strong force of his militiamen, including a body
commanded by Roderick Hardinge. Thus reinforced, the defenders of the
second barrier made so stout a resistance that Morgan was completely
baffled. In the darkness and confusion occasioned both by a murderous
enfilading fire and the fury of the snow-storm, he could scarcely keep
his men together. In order to recognize each other the Continentals wore
a band of paper around their caps, with the words _Mors aut Victoria_,
or _Liberty for Ever_, conspicuously written. But even this was of scant
avail. For the purpose of further concentration, Morgan decided on
abandoning the open street and occupying the houses on the south side,
whence he could keep up a telling fire on the interior of the barricade.
He thus obtained some shelter, but he could not prevent his ranks from
rapidly thinning under the artillery and musketry fire of the enemy. His
men fell on every side. Several of his best officers were killed or
wounded under his very eye. The brave Virginian stormed and raged, but
his most valiant efforts were futile. There was a propitious moment when
he might have retreated in safety. He chafed against the idea, and his
hesitation proved fatal. Carleton sent out from Palace Gate a detachment
of two hundred men, under Captain Laws, to march up Sault-au-Matelot
street and take the Continentals in the rear. The movement was
completely successful. Morgan was forced to understand his desperate
situation and yielded bravely to fate. He surrendered the remnant of his
shattered army, a total of four hundred and twenty-six men.

This was the dread culmination. The great stroke had been made and it
had disastrously failed. Quebec still remained towering on its granite
pedestal. British power still stood defiant. The Continentals had broken
their victorious campaign against this gigantic obstacle. Montgomery was
dead. Arnold was wounded. One half of the army was captured. The broken
remnant shrunk back to its quarters amid the snowbanks of the St Foye
road. Had Carleton been a great general he could have annihilated it at
one blow.

There never dawned a gloomier day over an army than the 1st of January,
1776, over the American forces before Quebec. All their chances were
gone, and they had to confront a menacing future. Still gloomier was the
fate of the four hundred brave fellows who were cooped up in the
Seminary. These prisoners were well treated by the British, but the loss
of liberty was a privation for which no kind offices could compensate.
Among them, of course, was Cary Singleton, who was not only a prisoner
but grievously wounded.

END OF BOOK THIRD.



BOOK IV. AFTER THE STORM.



I.

THE CONFESSIONAL.


It was the eve of the New Year. The snow-storm continued in unabated
violence, and the weather was so gray that the lines of earth and sky
were blended and utterly undistinguishable. A little after the hour of
noon, Zulma Sarpy knelt in the little church of Pointe-aux-Trembles.
Beside her there were only a few worshippers--some old men mumbling
their rosaries, and some women crouched on their heels before the
shrine. A solitary lamp hung from a silver chain in the sanctuary,
casting a feeble ray amid the premature gloom. An awful silence reigned
throughout the aisles. Opposite the place where Zulma was stationed
stood a square box through the bars of which faintly gleamed the white
surplice of the parish priest, who sat there awaiting the confessions of
his flock. The New Year is the chief of festal days among the French,
and it is always ushered in by exercises of devotion. After going
through all the needful preparation, Zulma rose from her seat and
approached the dread confessional. Her demeanour was full of gravity, a
pallor overspread her beautiful features, her eyes were cast down, her
hands joined upon her breast. The influence of prayer and of silent
communion with God could never be more perceptible. She looked like a
totally distinct being from the one whom we have known in the preceding
pages. Zulma moved slowly, and when she reached the door of the
confessional, she paused a moment. But it was not through hesitation.
She was recollecting herself for a supreme act of religion. At length
she disappeared behind the long green curtain, knelt on the narrow stool
within, and through the lattice poured forth her soul into the bended
and keenly listening ear of the pastor. What she said we may not know,
for the secrets of this tribunal are inviolable, but it is allowed to
believe that the lengthy whisperings consisted of something more than a
mere accusation of faults. They conveyed demands of counsel for guidance
in the trying circumstances amid which the girl found herself, and in
response the grave voice of the priest was heard in an undertone,
advising, warning, and exhorting. Finally, the rite was concluded. The
fair penitent bent her white forehead, the pastor signed the sign of
salvation in the air, the stool was pushed back, the green curtain
arose, and Zulma stepped forth to resume the place which she had at
first occupied. We are dispensed from further describing her appearance.
Longfellow, in speaking of Evangeline, has put it forth in one pregnant
line.

    "Serenely she walked with God's benediction upon her."

An hour passed, during which Zulma knelt immoveable, absorbed in prayer,
and most of the other persons in the church followed her example by
visiting the confessional in turns. At the end of that time, the priest,
assuring himself that there were no further ministrations to be made,
rose from his seat, opened the little door that held him in, and walked
forward into the aisle. As he passed Zulma, he tapped her gently upon
the shoulder as a sign that she should follow him. She did so at once,
and the two glided noiselessly into the vestry. There the priest, after
divesting himself of his surplice, turned towards the girl, and in the
gentlest manner inquired after her health and that of her father. He
then signified his pleasure at her punctual discharge of her devotions,
in spite of the extremely inclement weather.

"It is a great festival, but it will bring no joy this year," he said.

Zulma, whose countenance still preserved its paleness and expression of
extreme gravity, replied that the times were indeed melancholy, but that
she nevertheless hoped to enjoy a quiet _Jour de l'An_ with her father
and immediate neighbours, having made all the necessary preparations to
that end.

"You have not heard then, my daughter?" said the priest.

"Heard what, sir?"

"Of the terrible events which took place this night while we were
sleeping."

Zulma looked up with a movement of deep anxiety and asked:

"What has happened sir?"

"Two great battles have been fought."

"Is it possible?"

"Many killed, wounded, and prisoners."

"Who, where, how?" gasped Zulma in agony.

"Quebec was attacked in two places."

"And captured?" demanded Zulma, unable to restrain herself.

"No, my daughter. Both attacks were repulsed."

Zulma clasped her hands to her forehead and would have sunk to the floor
had she not been sustained by the good priest.

"Courage, my dear," he said "Excuse me for telling you these things, but
I saw from your deportment in the church that you knew nothing of them,
and I thought it would be well that I should be the first to inform
you."

"Pardon my weakness, Monsieur Le Curé," was the meek reply. "I had
indeed expected this, but the news is terribly sudden all the same. I
entreat you to give me all the particulars which you know. I feel
stronger now and can hear anything."

"I know little that is definite. In the general excitement, all sorts of
rumours are aggravated when they reach us at this distance. But I am
assured that General Montgomery has been killed and Colonel Arnold
wounded. I knew these gentlemen. They dined several times at my table.
They were fine men and I liked them well. I am distressed to hear of
their misfortune."

"Have you heard of the fate of any other officers?"

"Of none by name, except that it was a certain Morgan who replaced
Arnold and surrendered his army."

"Morgan?" exclaimed Zulma, and this time she was so overcome that she
fell exhausted in a chair.

The priest was considerably surprised. Notwithstanding that his
periodical visits to the Sarpy mansion had been interrupted during the
American occupation of Pointe-aux-Trembles, he knew in a general way
that Zulma had become acquainted with one or the other of the officers,
which was the main reason why he judged that the early communication of
the war news from his lips would be particularly interesting to Sieur
Sarpy and his daughter, but he had no suspicion that Zulma's feelings
went further, and had thus no idea of the effect which his words
produced upon her. It was only when he saw her extreme depression and
sorrow that he surmised something of the truth, with that instinct which
is characteristic of men, who, themselves separated from the world by
the stern law of celibacy, devote all their attention to the spiritual
and temporal concerns of their flocks.

"Do not be depressed," he said, approaching Zulma's chair, and bending
towards her with the kindness of a father towards his child. "Perhaps
the news is exaggerated. We shall hear more towards evening, and it may
turn out that the losses are not so great as represented. At least there
may be no loss personal to yourself, my dear, and I trust that such will
prove to be the fact. Therefore take heart. It is getting late. The snow
continues falling and the roads must be blocking up. Return home and
endeavour to maintain your soul in peace. To-morrow, you will come to
early mass, when I trust that we shall have better news to tell each
other."

In spite of the cheering words of the pastor, Zulma drove homeward with
a heavy heart. She spoke not a word to her servant. Instead of raising
her face to the storm and allowing the flakes to beat upon it, as was
her wont, when her spirits were high, she kept her veil down, and the
handkerchief which she frequently drew from under it gave proof that she
was silently weeping. It often happens, that the most boisterous, lofty
women bear their grief in unostentatious quiet, giving it a more
forcible relief from contrast. Thus was it in the present instance with
Zulma. Revolving in her mind all that the priest had told her, and
having full leisure during the journey to appreciate all its terrible
contingencies, she was completely prostrated when she reached home. On
descending from the sleigh she glided softly to her room, where she
locked herself in so as to be absolutely alone. She remained thus until
nearly the supper hour, and after the shadows of evening had enveloped
her.



II.

BLANCHE'S PROPHECY.


When Sieur Sarpy met his daughter at the table, he divined at once that
something was wrong. He himself had heard nothing. The prevalence of the
snow-storm had prevented any one from calling at his mansion, except the
few needy neighbours who had gone early in the morning to receive their
regular alms. The day had passed in solitude, and as the old gentleman
had had no misgivings whatever, he spent his time most agreeably in the
perusal of his favourite books. He must have happened on light and
cheerful literature, because, when he concluded his reading and came
down to supper, he was in more than his usual enlivened mood. But the
spectacle of Zulma's swollen eyes, pinched features and constrained
manner, checked his flow of good humour and arrested the pleasant
anecdote which his lips were about to utter. Naturally enough he did not
suspect the real cause of his daughter's sorrow. He knew that she had
driven down to the village church for her devotions, and of course
presumed that something had happened to her there. He was once on the
point of teasing her about the scolding which he supposed that the
priest had administered to her, but he immediately checked himself. With
the well-bred old French gentleman deep respect formed perhaps the chief
ingredient of the ardent love which he bore his daughter. He carried his
consideration so far that he would not even question her. It became
therefore incumbent on Zulma to break the painful silence. She detailed
the narrative which the priest had given her, supplementing it largely
with the comments dictated by her fears. The effect upon Sieur Sarpy
was hardly less than it had been upon his daughter. He listened in
profound silence, but with an anxiety and surprise which he did not
attempt to conceal. For a long time he ventured to make no reply, and
when at length he did so, it was in such hesitating language as showed
that he was haunted by the same apprehensions which besieged his
daughter. He had therefore scant consolation to offer her, and the
evening meal thus passed without any break in that mental gloom which
was deeper than the darkness which rolled in the exterior heavens.

Little Blanche sat at Zulma's side listening to the discourse with wide
distended eyes, and that expression of vacancy which was so frequent
with this strange child. Not a word had escaped her, and it was evident
that the effect was as great upon her acute mind as upon that of her two
companions.

"If Batoche would only come," murmured Zulma, passing her hand over her
weary brow. "He would tell us everything. I wonder he is not here
already."

"His absence is an additional cause for fear," replied Sieur Sarpy in a
low voice.

"Still, I do not despair. He may arrive before the night is over."

"If he is alive."

"What, papa? You do not suppose that Batoche took part in the attack?"

"I do. I am sure he never quitted the side of Cary Singleton."

"I did not think of that. Alas! I fear you are right. In that case, who
knows?"

"Yes, the worst may have happened to our old friend, and he may never
return."

Both Zulma and her father instinctively looked at little Blanche. An
angelic smile played upon her lips and her eyes were far away.

"Blanche," said Zulma, laying her hand softly on the child's shoulder.

"Yes, Mademoiselle. Grandpapa when he left me, two days ago, said _au
révoir_. That means, 'I will see you again.'"

"But perhaps those bad men have killed him."

"What bad men? The Wolves?"

Zulma did not understand, but Sieur Sarpy understood very well.

"Yes, the Wolves, my dear," he said with a sad smile.

"Oh, my grandfather does not fear the Wolves. The Wolves fear him. They
cannot catch him, no matter what great dangers he may be in. He may
suffer, he may be wounded, but he will not die except near our cabin at
the Falls, under the eye of my mother and with a blessing for me. He has
often told me this at night as he held me on his knee, and I believe all
that my grandfather says. No, Mademoiselle, he is not dead and will soon
arrive to console you."

Zulma could not restrain her tears as she heard the simple pathos of
these childish words, and suddenly a confidence sprung up in her heart,
which sacerdotal speech had been unable to infuse. She pushed her chair
from the table, lifted Blanche from her seat and set her on her own
knees, pillowing the little head on her bosom, and imprinting warm
kisses of gratitude on the slight forehead. Sieur Sarpy looked on, and
appeared pleased. No doubt a similar assurance awoke within him.

"If Batoche comes at all, he will come to-night. We know his punctuality
and his readiness to do a service. The weather is bad and the roads must
be in a wretched state, but this will be no obstacle to his reaching the
mansion. We learn, however, that a great many prisoners have been taken.
Batoche may possibly be among them. In that case, we shall, of course,
resign ourselves not to see him to-night."

Raising her head from Zulma's shoulder, Blanche said rapidly and with
some animation:

"No, M. Sarpy, grandpapa is not a prisoner. He has always said that the
Wolves would never catch him and I believe all that he says."

Sieur Sarpy smiled, and made no reply, but he had a vague belief that
perhaps the child might be right after all.



III.

THE PROPHECY FULFILLED.


She was right. The evening wore away slowly. The servant cleared the
table and trimmed the fire. Sieur Sarpy, instead of retiring to his
private chamber, wheeled his chair to the hearth, and resumed the
reading which he had interrupted before supper. Zulma continued to hold
Blanche on her knee and, sitting before the glowing fire, they both
dropped off into sleep. With the child, it was genuine slumber mingled
with pleasant dreams, as the smile upon her lips and the lines that
played upon her brow and cheeks clearly testified. With Zulma it was not
real sleep, but somnolence, or rather the torpor of dim meditations. Her
eyes were closed, her head was thrown back upon the rocking chair, her
limbs were somewhat extended, while an air of forced resignation or
preparation for the worse was set upon her noble features. The blue and
yellow flames of the chimney flickered wantonly upon her face; the moan
of the wind around the gable drummed into her ear, while the slow flight
of the hours which she heeded not, yet noted distinctly from the strokes
of the old clock, lapsed her soul farther and farther away into the
vague spaces of oblivion. Gradually Sieur Sarpy, yielding to the
influence of heat and solitude, dropped his book upon his knee, and
closed his eyes for a brief respite of repose. But for the outside
sounds of nature and an occasional gust in the fire place, everything
within that room was as silent as the grave. The respiration of its
three living beings was barely audible, a proof that at least none of
them suffered from physical pain. Everything betokened peace and
security. If the rest of the country-side was wild with war or the
rumours of war, the Sarpy mansion lay in the bliss of a profound
unconsciousness.

Suddenly Zulma moved about in her seat, and rolled her head from side to
side on the chair, as if a vision was flitting before her and the light
of the hearthstone. She slowly opened her eyes, closed them again
tightly in order to strengthen their force, and opened them a second
time. Ten o'clock struck. She had been resting for two hours. It was
time that she should rise and retire to her room. She sat up erect and,
in doing so, looked directly forward again. She could not be mistaken.
There was really a shadow between her and the fire. By a rapid effort of
her strong will, she acquired full consciousness and recognized Batoche.
Another glance of almost aching velocity revealed to her that his brow
was placid, his eye soft, and that the traces of a smile lingered at the
corners of his lips. This spectacle at once reassured her. She felt that
all was not as bad as it might have been or as she had fancied it was.

"Batoche," she said holding out her right hand, "you have surprised me,
but it is a delicious surprise. You cannot imagine how glad I am to see
you. Sit down."

Then little Blanche awoke and sprang from Zulma's knee into the arms of
her grandfather.

"I knew it," she sobbed. "I knew he would come."

"Yes," replied Zulma. "Blanche told us, when we feared evil had befallen
you, that you would surely come. She is a dear girl, and a prophetess
like her grandfather."

A moment later Zulma had aroused Sieur Sarpy, and after a few
preliminary words of welcome, Batoche was installed in a chair before
the fire, with Blanche upon his knees, and asked to recount his story in
its minutest details. Zulma had not dared to put him the single
predominant question which was present in her mind, partially trusting,
as we have seen, to the serenity of the old man's countenance, but he,
with his usual keen insight, answered it before entering upon the
course of his narration.

"It is all wrong and yet all right," he said with a swift wave of his
arm.

Zulma looked at him imploringly.

"We have been beaten," continued Batoche. "The Wolves have triumphed.
Many of our bravest officers were killed, but Captain Singleton was only
wounded."

"Wounded again!" exclaimed Zulma.

"But not very seriously. He fell, but I raised him from the snow and he
was able to stand alone, and walk."

"Did he escape?"

"He could not. I tried to induce him to follow me. He ordered me to fly,
but he declared that he must remain with his command."

"What then?"

"He was taken prisoner, but, be easy. He is in good hands."

"In good hands?"

"Yes. I saw Roderick Hardinge directly in front, and I am sure that he
recognized him."

"Heaven be praised for that."

"He is now within the walls of Quebec, but he will be well cared for."

Batoche then took up the account from the beginning and detailed all its
circumstances, both from what he had witnessed himself and from what he
had afterwards heard at headquarters. The report was graphic and lucid,
such as might be expected from so intelligent a soldier. It was midnight
before he had closed the history, and his companions listened to it with
the most absorbed attention.

"And now about yourself," said Sieur Sarpy. "How did you manage to
escape?"

Both Batoche and little Blanche smiled, the child nestling more closely
and lovingly in his arms.

"Have I not always told you that the Wolves could not capture me? At
least they will never take me alive. Although I and my men had enlisted
only as scouts, when the final attack on the town was determined upon, I
resolved to be present. I wished to be associated in that great revenge
if it was successful, and, if unsuccessful, I wished to share the
dangers of those who fought for our liberty. Besides I could not abandon
Cary Singleton, my dear friend and the friend of the kind lady who had
taken my granddaughter under her care."

Zulma accepted the compliment with a bow and the tribute of grateful
tears.

"At first everything appeared in our favour, but after Colonel Arnold
was wounded, the men fell into disorder, and I knew that we should have
trouble. What added to our discomfiture, was that we were confronted
mainly by our own countrymen. Our own countrymen, Sieur Sarpy. There was
Dumas who led them. There was Dambourges who performed prodigies of
valour. There was a giant, named Charland, who sprang upon the barrier
and pulled our ladders over it to his own side. The sight of these
things enraged and paralyzed me. If we had had only the English to deal
with, we should have succeeded, but when the French lent a hand it was
too much. When at length we were completely surrounded and our men fell
on every side, Captain Singleton, as I have said, ordered me to escape.
'You can do no good now,' he said. 'We are lost. Fly and tell our
friends all that has happened. Tell M. Sarpy and Mademoiselle Zulma that
I have not forgotten them in this most terrible of all my misfortunes.'
I obeyed these orders. The flight was almost as desperate as the
advance. Accompanied by my men and several Indians, we threw ourselves
into a narrow path along the river, till we reached the frozen bed of
the St. Charles, which we crossed with the greatest difficulty. We had
to run two miles over shoal ice formed by the high tides, and
encountering numerous air-holes hidden from us by the darkness and the
falling snow. After countless hardships and dangers, we succeeded in
reaching the opposite bank, whence we could hear the last sounds of
battle in the distance. We stopped to listen until all was quiet and we
knew that the fate of our unfortunate companions was sealed. Then we
made our way to the headquarters at St. Foye, where we were the first to
convey the terrible intelligence to Colonel Arnold. There too we learned
full particulars of Montgomery's defeat. After taking the needful rest,
I disbanded my men to their houses for a brief furlough, while I turned
my steps directly to this mansion. Here I am and I have told my story.
Was I not justified in saying that it is all wrong and yet all right?"



IV.

DAYS OF SUSPENSE.


Now that Zulma knew all, her anxiety was hardly less than when she was
left to her own painful surmises. It was a relief, of course, to be
certain that Cary's wound was not a dangerous one, and that, as he was
doomed to be a prisoner, he would have the good offices of Roderick
Hardinge. Of the latter's kindly disposition towards her friend she had
not the least doubt. Indeed, it added to her satisfaction to believe
that he would treat Cary well precisely for her own sake. Thinking over
this subject she found herself more than once mentally expressing a deep
admiration of the British officer. She pictured to herself with intense
vividness the beauty of his person, the manliness of his carriage, and
the hearty warmth, ease, and culture of his conversation. At times she
almost fancied that Cary's lot was not such a hard one after all, free
from further dangers, exempt from the winter hardships of his former
quarters, and enjoying the society of so congenial a character as
Roderick Hardinge. A sad smile glided across her face as she thought
that she would be disposed to bear a little captivity herself for the
sake of such companionship. But all these feelings lay only on the
surface. In the recesses of her heart, she grieved over the utter
failure of the Americans, over their blasted hopes, their ruined
expectations, and over the terrible catastrophe which had overtaken so
many of their principal officers. She particularly bewailed the unequal
share of misfortune which had overtaken Cary Singleton. Twice wounded
and now a prisoner--surely this was an unusually rude experience for a
youth of one and twenty. And then she was deprived of his company as he
of hers. She wondered--and the thought, in spite of her, was an
additional pang--whether he would feel the isolation as much as she. She
had no knowledge how long the captivity would last. Batoche had not been
able to enlighten her on this head. If the remnant of the Continental
army retreated, these unfortunate men would doubtless be left behind to
pine in their prisons. If the siege was to continue during the remainder
of the winter, they would be kept to prevent them from swelling the
ranks of the invaders. In either case, the prospect was very dark.

Zulma remained in this state of doubt and depression for a week, during
which she and her father received further particulars of the great
battles, so that now they understood their nature fully, but they
learned absolutely nothing concerning the prisoners, nor indeed
concerning any one within the walls of the town. Batoche, who came out
to them a couple of times during that interval, stated that he had tried
every night to contrive an entrance, but found all the avenues so
closely guarded that he had to abandon each attempt. He added, however,
that he was sure this extraordinary vigilance would not be kept up a
length of time. So soon as the garrison became satisfied that the
besieging army did not meditate a renewal of the attack--at least a
speedy renewal--they would relax their watchfulness, which must be a
severe strain upon the comparatively small number of the troops. This
assurance afforded Zulma only slender consolation. It pointed to a
further delay, and delay, with all its uncertainties, was what she was
then incapable of enduring. A further source of society was that she and
her father had no tidings whatever of Eugene since the great event.
Previously they heard of and from him frequently through the visits
which Batoche paid the Belmonts.

At the end of a fortnight, Batoche arrived at the Sarpy mansion with a
bit of more definite news. He had not himself succeeded in penetrating
to the interior of the town, but he had unexpectedly met in the woods,
near his hut, at Montmorenci, a poor broken down countryman of his who
had deserted from the militia. From him he heard that the prisoners were
confined in a portion of the Seminary, occupying comfortable quarters,
and precisely one of the causes of his desertion was that he and his
companions were deprived of their best rations for the benefit of these
fellows. He further stated that, at the battle at Sault-au-Matelot, the
young students of the Seminary found themselves engaged and behaved
pretty well, but none of them suffered. This was a source of great
pleasure to both Sieur Sarpy and Zulma and it dispelled their misgivings
about Eugene. Another piece of news brought by this deserter was that,
after firing the fatal shot at Près-de-ville, the little garrison of the
block-house fell into a panic and fled in the utmost precipitation, and
it was only when they found that they were not pursued that they
ventured to return.

"Ah!" exclaimed Batoche, "if the officer, who took the command after the
brave Montgomery, had only pressed on, the block-house would have been
carried, Arnold would have been reinforced, the combined assault would
have been a complete success, and Quebec would now be ours."

"What is the name of that officer?" inquired Zulma.

"I do not know him, but I believe they call him Campbell."

"Coward, if not a traitor," exclaimed the girl, rising from her seat and
exhibiting her scorn by a strange contraction of features.

Whatever the cause, the conduct of Campbell was inexplicable. There
appears no doubt that he could have continued the assault successfully
after Montgomery's death, and it is more than probable that his triumph
would have insured that of Arnold. But there is no use speculating on
this. A great commander has said that war is largely made up of
accidents, favourable and unfavourable.



V.

THE INVALID.


Batoche displayed his usual foresight when he predicted that the
garrison of Quebec would soon slacken its vigilance. Arnold with the
small remnant of his shattered forces gave up all attempt at a complete
investment, but confined himself to an alert blockade. He burned the
houses in the suburbs that interfered with his plan of operations. On
his side, Carleton made a sortie or two to burn the rest of the houses
in St. Roch's, with the double purpose of clearing the spaces before his
guns and supplying the town with fire-wood, which was getting short.
With his two thousand men he could easily have pounced upon the five or
six hundred Americans and routed or captured them, thus effectually
raising the siege, but for some reason or other, which has never been
satisfactorily explained, he preferred to pursue the Fabian policy, and
trust to the return of spring and the arrival of reinforcements from the
sea for ultimate deliverance. He kept his troops well in hand, but it
was natural with the weary length of the siege and the long inaction
which followed the attack on New Year's eve, his men should get more or
less demoralized. The desertion mentioned in the preceding chapter was
followed by many others, especially of American soldiers whom he had
unwisely enlisted in one of his corps, instead of keeping them rigidly
as prisoners.

These men seized every opportunity to escape, and through them Arnold
soon became acquainted with all that was going on within the town. Among
these sources of information were long letters written by his captive
officers, in one of which it was stated that Captain Singleton's wound
having induced a serious inflamation of the lungs, he had been allowed
to be transported to the house of a private family. When Batoche became
possessed of this important intelligence he immediately repaired to the
Sarpy mansion and acquainted Zulma with it.

"I wonder who are the kind friends that have taken him in," said Zulma,
after lamenting this new danger that threatened her friend.

"Can't you guess?" asked Batoche, and his knowing smile went straight to
the heart of his companion.

"I hope that _you_ guess true."

"Be assured of it, but to clear away all doubts, I am resolved to find
my way into Quebec to-night. I have a plan that will succeed. The
deserter whom I met the other day has given me his uniform in exchange
for other clothing which will enable him to move about the country in
safety. I will disguise myself in this uniform. The Wolves will take me
for one of themselves. I will carry musket, knapsack, and all. If you
have any message or letters for your friends, prepare them at once. I
will carry them about me in such a manner that they shall not be
discovered, and I will safely deliver them. I have made up my mind to
get into the town to-night, and I will do it. I have a definite purpose
and it shall be accomplished. Captain Singleton is sick and I must see
him in person."

As Batoche spoke these words, his face was marked by a calm
determination which was proof against every obstacle, and there was an
expression of sadness besides, indicative of the concern which he felt
for the safety of Cary Singleton's life.

The old man was as good as his word. On returning to quarters, he donned
the disguise of the deserter, and, when the proper hour of the night
came, went off to reconnoitre under the walls. He travelled long and
wearily. Several times he was espied, or fancied he was espied, by the
sentinels on the rampart. Once he was fired upon. But at length by dint
of skill, courage, and perseverance, he managed to scale a parapet and
drop quietly into a dark street, just as the sentry, returning on his
beat, remained above him with glistening weapon. He crouched in a corner
to make sure that he had been unseen and unheard. Very provocatively,
the guard stood a considerable time gazing at nothing, but he stepped
forward finally, and Batoche slipped away. He went directly to the house
of M. Belmont, where, as his time was short, he would be best able to
get all the information that he wanted.

"I promised M. Belmont," he muttered to himself, "that I would not go
near his house again, but that was because I was a rebel. Now I am a
loyalist, a devoted servant of King George, and I wear his glorious
livery. There can, therefore, be no possible objection to my visit."

And the old man chuckled as he neared his destination.

It was not later than eleven o'clock, but the house was still and dark.
There were no lights on the front, and the snow was untrampled on the
stairs and sidewalk. Batoche hesitated a moment, fearing that some
misfortune might have happened to his friends within the four or five
weeks since he had last seen them. But on moving cautiously to the rear,
he saw a bright light in the kitchen and a fainter one in an upper room.

"All is well," thought he, as he ascended the steps and knocked at the
kitchen door. His rap echoed loud within, and he heard the shuffling of
flying female feet. He then tried the lock, but found the door
double-barred.

"I have frightened the maid and the house is barricaded, but I hope the
girl will have sense enough to announce that somebody is at the door."

Presently the muffled stamping of manly slippers became audible and
Batoche recognized the tread of M. Belmont.

"Who is there?"

"A friend."

"Your name?"

Batoche durst not give his name even in a whisper, for the winds of
suspicion might bear it to headquarters.

"What do you want at this hour?"

"Fear nothing. Open the door and I will tell you."

"I will not open."

M. Belmont was not a timid man, but evidently these precautions had
become necessary in the present demoralized condition of the town.

Batoche was in a quandary, but his native sagacity soon came to his aid.
Putting his mouth close to the key-hole, he sent through it the low bark
of the wolf. M. Belmont opened his eyes wide as he heard it, and a
sickly smile spread over his face, but he lost no time in turning the
lock. Through a very small aperture the stranger glided into the room.

"Batoche!"

"M. Belmont!"

A few whispered words explained everything--the disguise, the motive of
the visit and all the rest. M. Belmont recovered his equanimity and led
his friend to a front room.

"I have no time to lose. I must see him," said Batoche.

"He is very ill and now sleeping."

"Who is with him?"

"Pauline. She never leaves him."

"Stay a moment. Roderick Hardinge may be here at any moment. He calls
every evening about this hour. He must not meet you."

"Never fear. It will be easy to keep out of his sight."

The two friends then ascended to the sick room--Pauline's own chamber.
On the little bed lay the fine form of the young American soldier,
stretched out at full length under snow-white coverlets. The face was
drawn down and narrowed, the eyes were sunken, while the fever played
in lurid lines about the cheek-bones and ample forehead. The masses of
curly hair lay moist upon the pillow. By the dim light of the shaded
lamp on the table near by, Cary looked like a corpse, silent,
immoveable--how different from the manly figure which Batoche had seen
doing battle by his side in the terrible defile of Sault-au-Matelot.

Pauline sat in a low chair at the head of the bed, the loveliest picture
of sad, suffering beauty. There were dark lines under her eyes that told
of long watches, and a slight stoop in her shoulders indicative of
weariness against which the generous, loving spirit was struggling. When
the stranger entered the apartment with her father, she neither moved
from her seat nor made any sign. Her idea was that it was probably a
soldier whom Roderick, unable to come himself, had sent to inquire about
the invalid. But when the man approached nearer, and M. Belmont,
preceding him, whispered something in her ear, she rose with the
pressure of both hands upon her throbbing heart.

"Batoche!" she exclaimed in a smothered voice. "You are an angel of
Providence."

"I heard he was ill and I came to see him."

"Yes, you heard he was ill and you came, at the peril of your life. You
are a noble man, a generous friend. Oh, how he will be delighted to see
you. He sleeps; we cannot awake him, but when he awakes, your presence
will give him strength and courage. And Zulma----"

Just then there was a low rap at the front door, and the girl,
interrupting her speech, stepped out of the room and down stairs.

"It is Hardinge," said M. Belmont "Go into the adjoining room, Batoche.
He will not remain long. Perhaps, as the sick man is now reposing, he
may not come up stairs at all."

It was some moments before he ascended, being engaged in a colloquy with
Pauline, and when he did come up, it was only to gaze upon the sleeping
man for a few seconds. He contented himself with saying to M. Belmont
that he had just seen the doctor, who declared that this was the height
of the crisis, but that the chances were largely in favour of the
patient. Anything--the merest trifle--that would tend to cheer up his
moral nature at this time, without unduly exciting him, would most
probably determine a salutary change for the better.

M. Belmont smiled faintly as he heard this. He thought of Batoche's
visit.

"That will be just the thing," he murmured inwardly.



VI.

THE SAVING STROKE.


When Roderick took his departure, Pauline accompanied him to the outer
door, but she was not long away, being desirous to assist at the
interview between Cary and Batoche. The old man stood by the bedside of
his friend keenly observant of the symptoms which presented themselves
to his practised eye. He that had so often been exposed to the
severities of the Canadian winter and the hardships of the hunter's life
was well acquainted with a malady which had more than once threatened
his own days.

"Both his lungs are terribly attacked and he is very, very feeble," said
he to M. Belmont and Pauline, "but the clearness of his complexion shows
that his constitution is sound, and the repose of his limbs is proof
that he is endowed with remarkable strength. He was struck by a ball
under the right shoulder and the upper lobe of the lung was probably
grazed. He held up against the shock, thus wasting much of the vital
force which absolute repose from the beginning would have spared him. He
is a very sick man, but I believe with the doctor that he will pull
through. Indeed," added Batoche in that quaint oracular way which was no
longer new to those who heard him, "Cary Singleton cannot, must not die.
Not only is his own young life precious, but there are dear lives
depending upon his. What would Zulma Sarpy do without him, she that is
fretting at the very thought of his illness? And, Pauline, you, I am
sure, would not have him die?"

The answer was two large tears that quivered in the eyes of the poor
girl.

Presently, the head of the sick man turned slightly on its pillow, the
body contracted a little and Cary opened his eyes. There was no
bewilderment in the look. He awoke knowing where he was--not in a
strange place, but among those whom he loved and who lovingly cared for
him. Pauline was the first to approach him. She asked him a question,
and he answered in her own language, as naturally as if the French had
been his mother tongue. Batoche was delighted to observe this, regarding
it as a satisfactory normal symptom. Cary accepted a draught from the
hands of his beautiful nurse, then lay back on his pillow as if quite
refreshed. At that propitious moment, his eyes encountered those of
Batoche, who stood up a little towards the foot of the bed. A calm smile
played upon his lips, intelligence beamed softly in his look, and,
withdrawing his long emaciated hand from under the sheet, he extended it
to his old friend.

"Batoche!" he whispered.

The latter took the proffered hand reverently and pressed it to his
lips.

"You know me, Captain?"

"Perfectly."

"I have longed to see you."

"And I to see you."

"But it was impossible to come sooner."

"I know it and you had to use that uniform."

As Cary said this he pointed to Batoche's disguise with a subdued laugh.
He immediately added:

"And my friends, how are they? Mademoiselle Zulma and Sieur Sarpy?"

"They grieve at your misfortune and pray for your recovery.
Mademoiselle's chief regret is that she cannot be at your side."

A radiance passed over the sufferer's face, and he said:

"Does she know in whose kind hands I am?"

"She does and that is her only consolation."

It was Pauline's turn to betray her emotion, by averting her head and
wiping the tears from her eyes.

"Here are a few lines from her pen," continued Batoche, "written not
many hours ago."

Cary held out his hand for the paper, partially raising himself on the
pillow in his eagerness as he did it. He would have asked that it be
read to him, when Batoche interposed with that quiet authority so
familiar to him.

"Not to-night, Captain. Keep it for your first joy on awakening
to-morrow morning."

The sick man smilingly acquiesced, and handed it to Pauline, saying:

"We will read it together at breakfast."

After a pause, during which Cary appeared to be collecting his thoughts,
calmly, however, and without effort, he said to Batoche:

"You return to-night?"

"Yes, at once. It is growing late."

"You will see Mademoiselle Sarpy and her father. You will thank them for
their solicitude. Tell them that my thoughts are with them. If I live
and secure my liberty, my first visit will be to them. If I die--"

"Die, Captain, die!" exclaimed Batoche in a ringing voice that startled
Pauline and her father. "A soldier does not die thus. All is not lost.
We shall fight side by side again. A young man does not die thus. Death
is for old men like me. A glorious future is before you. Die? You will
not die, Captain Singleton. You must live for the sake of your parents
and relatives in the old home of the South, and you must not break the
hearts of these two Canadian girls, whose happiness hangs upon yours."

This last sentence especially Batoche blurted out in a kind of reckless
enthusiasm. But he knew well what he said.

Pauline was amazed at the audacity of his speech. M. Belmont looked on
in silent wonder. As to Cary he gazed with great open eyes, as if he was
listening to a summons, delivered in a trumpet blast, from an unseen
power that was omnipotent to save him. A glow of sudden health mantled
his cheeks; his brow was illuminated with an air of intelligence quite
distinct from the torpor of mortal disease which had lain upon it, and,
as he stretched himself out more fully on his couch, he appeared endowed
with a vigour that could only be born of confidence. It was evident,
too, that, at the moment, he was perfectly happy.

"It is well," murmured M. Belmont, laying his hand upon his daughter's
shoulder. "This is the blessed revulsion of which the doctor spoke."

Batoche seemed quite satisfied with what he had done, and a moment after
he bade his friend farewell. Down in the hall, when alone with M.
Belmont, he delivered his other messages, a letter from Zulma to
Pauline, and from Sieur Sarpy to his son Eugene, which his friend was to
send to its destination in whatever way might seem best so as not to
compromise himself. He observed also with satisfaction that Cary had not
breathed a word about military matters. This he regarded as a sign that
the young man's mind was quite at ease.



VII.

DONALD'S FATE.


Before he took his departure M. Belmont solemnly warned Batoche of all
the dangers which he incurred, reminding him that it is often more
difficult to return from such an expedition as he had undertaken that
night, than to get through its initial stages. Batoche was by no means
insensible to his perils and, thanking his host, promised to exercise
the utmost prudence. M. Belmont particularly called his attention to a
patrol headed by Roderick's old servant, Donald, who was a desperate
man, animated by the most deadly feelings against every one whom he even
suspected of disloyalty towards the King.

"I know that he owes you a special grudge, Batoche, for your midnight
incursions, and if he catches you, he will treat you without mercy."

The night was as dark as death, without a single star in the sky, or a
solitary lamp in the streets. On leaving the house, Batoche shot boldly
into a narrow lane that led towards the ramparts facing the St. Charles,
and then slackened his step, creeping along the walls of the houses.
This lane opened on a little garden which the old hunter was obliged to
skirt along its whole length. He heard nothing, saw nothing, except that
he fancied the leafless trees looked down upon him with shadows of
warning. Batoche often said that he understood the language of trees,
and certainly to-night the sight of them impressed his usually
imperturbable soul so that he accelerated his pace. When he reached
about one-third the length of the garden, he distinctly felt that he was
followed. He turned around and saw a dark figure at a distance behind
him. He knew instinctively that there was mischief brewing. He stopped;
the figure stopped. He advanced; it advanced. He crossed the road
diagonally; it crossed. He returned; it returned. He might have rushed
upon his pursuer, but that would probably have occasioned outcries and
other noises, which were naturally to be avoided. He had a recourse to
flight. Swift as a deer he glided along the garden palisade, turned, and
hid himself behind a large tree that formed the corner of the street.
His pursuer was equally fleet and came up to him immediately.

"Give me your musket," he growled in broken French.

"No."

"Follow me to the guard-room."

"No."

"Who are you?"

"Your enemy."

The strange man advanced a step and looked full into Batoche's face.

"Ah! it is you, at last, and disguised in his Majesty's uniform. I knew
I would catch you yet. Take this."

He raised an enormous horse pistol which he pointed at the old man's
forehead. With the left hand Batoche struck up the levelled arm, while
with his right he whipped out a long hunter's knife from his belt. The
struggle was brief. The pistol went off grazing the edge of Batoche's
fox-skin cap, and the hunter's blade plunged deep into the patrolman's
heart. The latter rolled into the snow without a groan, and Batoche fled
with the sound of footsteps, attracted by the pistol's report, sounding
in his ears. He encountered no further obstacle, crossing the wall at
the same spot which he had chosen in the earlier part of the evening,
and almost in sight of a sentinel who was half asleep on his carbine.

"That fellow will never trouble me or M. Belmont again," thought
Batoche. "And what is better they will not know that I did it. I am only
sorry for Monsieur Hardinge, who will have to provide himself with
another servant."

The death of Donald created a great excitement in the town. Besides that
he was well known and much esteemed as a faithful, active soldier, the
mystery that attended his fate aroused the most painful feelings. Was it
due simply to a moonlight brawl, were any of the disaffected men of the
garrison concerned in it, or had some of the American prisoners, in
attempting to effect their escape, committed the deed? A thorough
investigation took place, but no clue to the tragedy could be found.
Roderick Hardinge was particularly distressed. After exhausting all the
means of inquiry, a suspicion of the truth flashed upon him, and roused
the stormiest indignation in his mind. His vexation was the greater,
that, if his conjecture were correct, it would place him in a difficult
position towards the Belmonts. Once already; as he only too well
remembered, his military duties had led him to a bitter misunderstanding
with Pauline's father, and several times since, the operation of the
same cause had rendered their mutual relations very precarious. Both of
them had made concessions, and the young officer was generous enough to
admit to himself that M. Belmont had borne a very trying part in the
most noble spirit. But, in the present instance, the element of
publicity in Donald's death was a particularly disturbing circumstance,
and it preyed so much on Roderick's mind that for two or three days he
avoided calling at the house of M. Belmont. Pauline and her father
noticed the absence without being able to account for it. They had
indeed heard of Donald's death, but it never entered into their remotest
suspicions that Batoche had anything to do with it. At length, when his
mind was calmer, Hardinge went to inquire after the health of Cary
Singleton. He made that appear the main object of his visit. In spite of
himself he was constrained in manner while addressing a few words to M.
Belmont, and even towards Pauline he appeared cold and formal.

On conducting him to the door, the girl ventured to ask him whether he
was ailing.

"I am ailing in mind, Pauline. I have tried my best to make things
pleasant with my friends," and he looked sharply at her--"but this
outrageous murder of my old servant has upset nearly all my
calculations. I don't know what may come of it yet."

Pauline understood nothing of his speech, but when she repeated it to
her father, he grew very excited and angry.

"It is the hardest thing in life to serve two masters, my dear. Roderick
is a fine fellow, but perhaps if you or I had known less of him, our
course would have been simpler, and we should not have to live in
perpetual fear and trembling. I think I know what is on his mind, which
would explain the coldness of his manner towards both of us. While I
will stand strictly by the promise made to Monseigneur, I will not allow
myself to be made the butt of any man's humour, and if Roderick holds
the same conduct towards me to-morrow evening, I will attack him about
it."

M. Belmont's aspect was very decided as he spoke these words. Pauline,
still comprehending nothing, retreated to the sick room with a load of
apprehension at her heart.



VIII.

THE BURDENED HEART.


Nor was this her only sorrow. The morning after Batoche's visit; Cary's
first thought, upon awakening, was about Zulma's letter. He asked
Pauline to read it to him, which she did without delay. The note was
short and simple. It expressed the writer's amazement and regret at the
awful misfortune which had befallen Cary and his companions, and
contained such sentiments of comfort as might have been expected from
her warm heart and generous nature. The only remarkable sentence was the
last one, which read as follows: "Do you know that all these adversities
are making me selfish? It seems to me that I am harshly treated. I know
that you are in good hands, but it is my place to be beside you, and I
am jealous of the chance which Pauline has of nursing you. Tell Pauline
this. Tell her that I am dreadfully jealous, and that unless she brings
you to health within a very few days, I shall myself lead a storming
party which will succeed in wreaking its vengeance. Pardon this banter.
Give my love to Pauline. I write to her more on this subject."

These phrases were innocent and common-place enough, and they caused
Cary to smile. Not so with Pauline. She read them with a serious face,
and faltering accents, and when she closed, her eyes fell on those of
the sick officer in a queer spirit of interrogation.

"A very kind letter, such as I knew she would write. I hope to be able
to thank her soon," he said. "And she has also written to you,
mademoiselle?"

This was spoken in such a way as to show plainly that Cary would have
desired this second letter to be read to him. Pauline thus understood
it, but although the paper was secreted in her bosom, and she
instinctively raised her hand to produce it, she checked the movement
and contented herself with saying that, among other things, Zulma had
recommended her to take the utmost care of her patient.

"Indeed!" said Cary smiling. "That was the excess of generosity, but she
might have spared herself the trouble. Let me say it again,
mademoiselle. Not my own mother, not my own sisters, not even Zulma
Sarpy herself could do more for me than I receive at your hands, and if
I recover, as I now believe I shall, I will always hold that I owe my
life to Pauline Belmont."

This little speech thrilled the listener. It was spoken in a calm,
pathetic tone, and the last sentence was accompanied by such a look as
carried a meaning deeper than any words. Words, gesture, look--none of
these things had escaped the girl, but what particularly struck her with
unusual significance was that, for the first time, her patient had
addressed her as "Pauline."

Later in the day, when Pauline was alone for a few moments, she produced
Zulma's letter and read it once more attentively. She could not disguise
from herself that it was a noble letter, full of generous feelings and
instinct with that sympathy which one true friend should testify to
another on occasions of such painful trials. Zulma wrote eloquently of
the dangers and anxieties which Pauline must have experienced on that
dreadful December morning, and renewed her invitation to abandon the
ill-fated town and take up her abode in the peaceful mansion of
Pointe-aux-Trembles. "You are not made for such terrible scenes, my
dear"--these were her words--"I could bear them better, for they are in
my nature. You should be in my place and I in yours. I would thus be in
a position to bear the fatigue of nursing him who is the dearest friend
of us both."

This was the phrase which had puzzled Pauline at the first reading, and
which perplexed her still at the second. It was on account of this
sentence that she did not read the letter to Cary. What could Zulma mean
by it?

"She is much mistaken," thus Pauline soliloquized, "if she thinks I am
unable to bear the burden which Providence has laid upon me. I am no
longer what I was. These two months of almost constant agitation have
nerved me to a courage which I never thought I could have had. They have
completely changed me. When I might have remained out of the town and
gone to Pointe-aux-Trembles, it was I who persuaded my father to return
to this house, and I do not regret it. I would not leave it now if I
could. Much as I should like Zulma's company, and the benefit of her
advice and example, I would not consent to exchange places with her."

Pauline glanced at the letter again.

"How curiously she words the letter about my poor invalid! She does not
speak of him as _her_ dearest friend, an expression which I would have
expected her to use," here an involuntary tremour passed through
Pauline's frame, "but she speaks of him as the dearest friend of _us
both_. What does this mean? Was it written spontaneously, or on
deliberation? It is a trap to draw me into indiscretions? No. Zulma is
too true a friend for that. Alas! The dear girl does not know, cannot
know, will never know the full bearing of the words."

Pauline herself did not then know the full bearing of the words written
with no intention of conveying the meaning which she attached to them.
Notwithstanding all the changes that had previously taken place in her
character, her sweet simplicity remained intact, and it was this very
ingenuousness which had prompted her to admit Cary Singleton into her
fathers dwelling. When the young officer fell sick in the hospital at
the Seminary, it was Roderick Hardinge who acquainted her with the fact,
expressing regret that he could not be more properly provided for. She
at once suggested that he be transported to her home, offering to be his
nurse. Hardinge readily assented, and, after considerable difficulties,
obtained the necessary permission from the authorities. In all this
transaction the conduct of the British officer was manly, noble, and
above board, without afterthought; or the slightest trace of
selfishness. It is simple truth to say that, notwithstanding her sincere
admiration of Cary Singleton, Pauline acted in the matter through
motives of humanity alone and out of her friendship for Zulma. She
looked not to future contingencies. Indeed she never stopped to inquire
that any contingencies might arise. Had she done so, a sense of duty
might have restrained her deed of charity. That duty was the love she
bore Roderick Hardinge, a love which had never been confessed in words,
the extent of which she had never been able to define to herself, but
which existed nevertheless, and which it had been her happiness to
believe was fully reciprocated. But the heart travels fast within nine
days, and, at the end of that time, it is no wonder that Batoche's
visit, Zulma's letters, and Roderick's moodiness should have disturbed
the poor girl's soul. Man is not master of his affections, and there is
a destiny in love as in the other events of this world.



IX.

EBB AND FLOW.


Zulma's anxieties were no less than Pauline's. They increased from day
to day, and she fretted herself almost into illness by her impatience.
She knew that Cary's malady was of its nature a protracted one, and that
the convalescence must necessarily extend over many weeks. She could
hear from him only occasionally, and never with that fullness of detail
which her affection required. She had recourse to many expedients to
ease her mind, but failure in every instance only sharpened the edge of
her disappointment. Her chief attempt was to obtain admission into the
town for the purpose of aiding Pauline in nursing the invalid. She quite
appreciated all the delicacy of the step; but, having obtained her
father's cordial consent, she pursued it with all the energy of her
nature. She applied for the necessary leave to her brother Eugene, who,
having done soldier's duty, was supposed to be entitled to some little
consideration at the hands of the authorities. Eugene was flatly
refused. Zulma then enlisted the services of Roderick Hardinge, who
somehow entered into her views with the greatest alacrity.

"She would make a charming prisoner," he said gaily.

But Hardinge failed. So did Bouchette, who had been approached in the
matter by his friend Belmont. The affair created quite a stir in this
small circle of friends, relieving the monotony of the siege for the
time being. Cary Singleton was very much amused as well as touched by
it. But when it was at length ascertained that the Governor, usually so
good-natured, was strangely inexorable in the present instance, Pauline
and her coadjutors gave up all hope of seeing Zulma among them. But the
latter was not so easily discouraged. These rebuffs only added fuel to
her desire, and though the time passed rapidly, she did not resign her
project. Very seriously, she inquired of Batoche whether he could not
smuggle her within the walls. The proposition at first struck the fancy
of the old man, making his eyes glitter; but, upon second thought, he
laughed it away.

"The trouble would not be so much to smuggle you in, as to know what to
do with you when once we got you in," he said slyly. "Women are awkward
things to handle in a camp of soldiers. No disguise can hide them from
prying eyes."

As a last resort, Zulma resolved on appealing directly to Monseigneur
Briand, whom surely Carleton would not deny. There were numerous and
very glaring objections to this bold measure, but the impetuous girl
over-ruled them all, and, after writing a splendid diplomatic letter,
she had concluded arrangements to have it safely delivered to the
prelate, when an unforeseen event saved her from the consequences of her
amiable rashness.

As we have said, time had passed briskly on since the terrible events of
the New Year's Eve. January had glided into February, and March had come
with the promise of an unusually early spring. No military events of any
importance had occurred, at least, none that had any connection with our
story, and beyond the circumstances attached to Cary's long illness,
there happened nothing which need make us linger over those bleakest
months of the winter.

Singleton had so far recovered as to be able to walk about, but he
remained very feeble, without the opportunity of taking that free
exercise necessary to his complete restoration. It was awkward for him
to tarry much longer in the house of M. Belmont. The seclusion of prison
life was interdicted by the humane physician, while there were clear
military objections to his being allowed to circulate in the streets of
Quebec. Fortunately the doubt was solved by a partial exchange of
prisoners which took place about the middle of March, and in which by a
special privilege, Cary was included.

The parting from Pauline was very trying. The young man could not
explain to himself the regret which it caused him. It grew out of
something distinct from and far above his gratitude for her nursing, and
the sense of obligation for the saving of his life which he was
conscious he could never discharge. In those long afternoons, within the
curtained gloom of the sick chamber: during those longer sleepless
nights, with their companionship of silence and the sole intercourse of
the eyes; in those frequent conversations made up for the most part of
commonplaces, but relieved at times by unbidden revelations of the
heart; in those brief but not infrequent visions of Pauline's beauty
brought about by sudden graceful movements of her body, or when she
appeared under certain favourable effects of the window light; in those
intuitive glimpses of her real character made doubly attractive by its
constant element of sadness, and the suspicion of self-sacrifice, Cary
had woven about his heart an unconscious chain, the power of which he
could not understand until called upon to burst it.

Nor did he gather any comfort from Pauline's attitude. When he announced
his final departure to her, she heard him calmly, but her quiet was that
of mental and physical weakness. There was no energetic self-control in
her words or manner; merely a passive resignation. As she extended her
hand, and felt the warm kiss imprinted upon it, she was an object of
extreme pity, which added to the bitterness of Cary's sorrow.

The last farewell had been spoken and the two stood on the steps, at the
foot of which a cariole was waiting to convey the released prisoner to
his destination among his friends. Cary turned once more to meet the eye
of Pauline. As he did so, he paused, struck by a sudden thought, and,
going back a step or two, said:

"Pauline--allow me to call you by this name for perhaps the last
time--Pauline, promise me one thing. Take care of your health. I fear
that, after I am gone, you will replace me on that sick-bed, worn out by
wearing weeks of watching."

Two livid spots burned on Pauline's cheek, and there was a glassiness in
her eye. She leaned on the frame of the door for support, but mustered
strength enough to answer that she felt no illness and hoped that all
would turn out for the best. It was poor comfort; Cary had, however, to
be satisfied with it, and drove away with a very heavy heart.

He had not been two hours in the American camp, when he met Batoche. It
goes without saying that the meeting was of the heartiest, and, between
them, a visit to Pointe-aux-Trembles was planned for that same evening.
Zulma having heard of the negotiations for the exchange of prisoners,
the coming of Cary was not unexpected, and there was great rejoicing
that evening at the Sarpy Mansion, as over one who had been lost and was
found, who had died and had risen from the dead.



X.

ON THE BRINK.


Another month had passed. With the middle of April the balmy spring-time
was at hand. The snow had disappeared from mountain and plain; the
rivers flowed clear and abundant in their channels; the trees were
faintly burgeoning, and the heavens palpitated with an atmosphere of
genial warmth. The cattle, confined for so many months in the darkness
of stalls, lay basking in the sunshine, or trooped to the southern
slopes where the young grass was springing. The sheep skipped on the
hill sides. The doors and windows of the farm-houses were thrown wide
open for a vital freshening. The children played on the stoop. White
steam rose from the cracks and fissure of the heated granaries. The
barn-yard was vocal with awakening sounds. The dove-cots buzzed with
wooings; the eaves grew populous with swallows, and the thatched roofs
of the pens and stables were covered with poultry grubbing for the
earliest worm.

It was the resurrection of nature, nowhere felt with such keen
exhilarance as in arctic latitudes. From the far off mountains, the
clouds of murky vapour that lifted and rolled away, leaving the purple
summits towering up to receive the first kiss of the rosy dawn and the
last embrace of the golden sunset, were emblems of the winter's gloom
replaced by that spring-tide brightness which aroused new hopes and a
revived interest in the souls of men. The crocus of the glen, the
anemone of the prairie, the cress of the sheltered waters, the hum of
the first insect, the twitter from the mossy nest, the murmur of forest
streams, were all so many types of human rejuvenescence and animation.

There was besides a moral feature to the splendour of the season. The
dreary Lenten time was over, with its vigils and fasts, its
self-abasement and penitence. The dread Holy Week had gone, with its
plaints and laments, its confession of sins and cries for mercy, its
darkened windows and stripped altars, its quenched tapers and hushed
bells, its fourteen stations of that _Via Crucis_ which rehearses the
ineffable history of the Man of Sorrows and the Lady of Pain. The
glorious Easter morning was there. Bright vestments gleamed, a thousand
lights flamed from the sanctuary, perfumed incense circled heavenward,
bearing the thanksgiving of opening hearts. From hillside to valley
echoed the music of bells in every turret and steeple, even the bells of
the churches and convents in the old beleaguered town that had so often
sounded the alarm of battle during the night, taking on a new voice to
celebrate the "great day which the Lord hath made." And even as the
heavy stone was suddenly flung aside from the sepulchre under the shadow
of Golgotha, giving freedom to the Master of the world; so the pall of
winter was torn from the face of nature, and from the hearts of men was
removed the burden which, during four long months, had made their torpor
somewhat akin to that of the great beasts of the wilderness.

It was Easter Monday, a calmer day, but perhaps more enjoyable from the
palpable assurance it afforded that the promises of its predecessor were
really being fulfilled. The weather was magnificent, and the whole
country resounded with the voices of men and women preparing for their
work. Zulma Sarpy and Cary Singleton walked alone on the bank of the St.
Lawrence, directly in front of the mansion. They moved along slowly,
frequently stopping to admire the scenery spread out before them, or to
engage in earnest conversation. Cary had entirely recovered from his
illness, appearing stouter and stronger than ever before. He was
clothed in his uniform, a proof that he had resumed active military
duty. Zulma was seemingly in her usual health, and as she stood with her
grey felt Montespan hat and azure plume, and brilliant cashmere shawl
tightly drawn across her shoulders, her beauty shone in its queenliest
aspects. No fitter companion for a soldier could well be pictured. Cary
evidently felt this, as his frequent glances of admiration testified,
and there were moments when to the observer he would have appeared as
making the most ardent declarations of love.

Such, however, was not the fact. The young people had not reached that
limit. Well as they knew each other, often as they had met, exceptional
as were the circumstances which had surrounded their intercourse, they
had never gone beyond a certain point of mutual confidence. They had
often hovered on the edge, but sudden or unforeseen incidents had
intervened, and thrown them back instead of advancing their suits. Zulma
was sure that Cary loved her, but she had never ascertained that fact by
any word of his. Cary could not doubt of Zulma's love for him, as her
deeds and writings had eloquently shown, but she had never given him the
opportunity, or he fancied he had never had the opportunity, of
obtaining a decisive answer from her lips. On this day, their
conversation was earnest and active, but inconsequent. It is often thus
in that game of love which is conducted not in concentric circles, but
in eccentric orbits.

To Cary the situation was becoming pressing, and he told Zulma as much
in words which deeply impressed her. He foresaw that the end was
approaching, that, with the return of the open weather, military
operations must take a decided turn one way or the other. He was
sagacious enough to foresee that there could hardly be other than one
fatal result--the retreat of the Americans. Arnold had been superseded.
Wooster, an aged officer, who had commanded during the winter at
Montreal, doing a great deal of harm to the American cause by his
inefficiency, and his religious intolerance towards the French
Canadians, had assumed the control. From him little or nothing was
expected with the present army. Reinforcements, although often promised
and ostentatiously announced to the garrison through deserters and
prisoners, were altogether out of the question, while it was known that,
now the St Lawrence was clear of ice, a fleet of British vessels might
soon be expected for the relief of Quebec. In a fortnight at furthest,
Cary foresaw that a crisis must come. All this he confided to Zulma,
knowing well that he was violating no duty in entrusting her with the
information. The girl was astounded with the intelligence. It broke all
her dreams. Her confidence in the success of the Continental arms had
been unlimited. Notwithstanding their terrible reverses she never
allowed herself for one moment to doubt that the champions of liberty
would capture the last stronghold of British tyranny, and restore the
old reign of French domination in America. She even tried to argue her
companion into a reversal of his judgment, but failing in this, her
instinct brought her face to face with the further personal result which
Cary had altogether eluded.

The retreat of the Americans then took a more serious aspect. It implied
mutual separation. It came to this--that, after six months of the
closest intercourse, hallowed and purified by a series of the most cruel
vicissitudes, Cary should be sent flying back to whence he came, while
she would be driven again to the solitude of Pointe-aux-Trembles. Could
this be? Should Cary be thus left to his fate? Would she be able to
endure this sudden and enforced loneliness?

Singleton was outspoken and diffuse in his expressions of regret. He
repeated over and over again that his failure as a soldier wounded his
pride and disappointed his hopes, but that his separation from Zulma
would prove the most terrible of pangs. Had he foreseen this, he should
have sought death at the Intendant's Palace or at Sault-au-Matelot.
Death in the house of M. Belmont would have been a relief and a
benediction.

It was in vain that Zulma attempted to comfort him. Her heart was not in
it, and she could, therefore, not go beyond the range of commonplaces.
Finally, a deep silence fell upon both. They doubtless felt that they
ought to go one step further and face a dread corollary. But they did
not. Perhaps they durst not. Why not? Time will tell.

The conference ended in these words:

"I must return to camp, Mademoiselle. Let us postpone this subject. I
have more to say, but require to collect myself."

"I too have more to say, Captain."

Cary almost started on hearing these words, the tone of which struck him
as singular. He looked at Zulma, and found that her face was ashy pale.
Her eyes were gazing far away across the St. Lawrence. He fancied--was
it only a fancy?--that she was a little piqued.

"Shall we walk back to the mansion?" he asked almost timidly.

"If you please," was the quiet reply.

They advanced slowly across the open field, and up the avenue of trees,
speaking little, and that little only on such objects as caught their
eye on the way. Unconsciously they were fighting shy of each other. When
they reached the greensward in front of the mansion, they paused and
suddenly Zulma broke out into a hearty laugh.

"We are both children, sir," said she. "I thought you a great soldier
and I find you a child. I thought myself a strong-minded woman and I too
am a child."

And she burst out laughing again. Cary was puzzled, but could not
repress a smile. He did not ask her meaning, and smiled only because he
saw that her old serenity had returned.

Just then the setting sun poured through the intervening trees, flooding
the green with glory, and lifting the twain as it were in a kind of
transfiguration. They were idealized--he appearing like a knight of
legendary days, and she a queen of the fairy land. Both were beautiful
and both were happy once more.

Zulma knocked at the door, and the maid who answered the summons handed
her a letter. She opened it hurriedly, glanced over the page, and
throwing out her arms, uttered a moan of terror, while her eyes were
fixed wildly on the young officer.

"What is it, mademoiselle? What is it?"

"Pauline is dying!"



XI.

IN THE VALE OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH.


Cary's presentiment had come true. After his departure, Pauline
struggled against her fate for eight or ten days, but had finally to
succumb. One evening as she sat alone in her chamber, the forces of
nature suddenly gave way, she fell heavily to the floor in a swoon, and
was carried to her bed in the arms of her father. The physician treated
her at first as for a case of mere physical debility, resultant on her
long watches during the eight weeks of Singleton's illness, and the
extreme anxiety she had experienced for the safety of her friend. But
when the malady remained obstinate to his prescriptions, and other
insidious symptoms set in, pointing to a gradual decay of the vital
energies, he divined that the ill was a mental one which would baffle
his art unless he could ascertain its cause from the patient herself.
Her confession of it would be half the cure. But he did not succeed in
extracting this confession. Pauline did not know what ailed her. Beyond
a great prostration she did not know that she was sick. She was
unconscious of any cause for her present condition. This was her
language, but of course the experienced old doctor did not believe a
word of it. At the same time, however, he was aware that it was quite
useless to press his interrogatory further, his knowledge of women being
that there is no measuring the length, breadth, and depth of woman's
secretiveness. He therefore consulted M. Belmont. From him he learned
that an observable change for the worse in Pauline's manner was
coincident with the young American officer's departure from his house,
and even dated back from the latter days of his convalescence, when his
departure was understood to be only a question of time. But beyond this
M. Belmont's perspicacity did not go. He averred that he had not noticed
any particular attachment between his daughter and her patient. She was
nearly always at his bedside, but this was no more than could be
expected from a tender-hearted nurse towards a poor fellow who had
fallen among enemies, and whose life depended upon unremitting care. The
young man had throughout acted like a gentleman, was cautious, delicate,
reserved, and quite above taking advantages of his position to toy with
the feelings of Pauline. Furthermore, the girl had long been devoted to
Major Hardinge, and the Major was devoted to her. Indeed, their
relations might be said to be of the tenderest character. Finally, this
American officer, unless he was much mistaken, had contracted a strong
affection for the daughter of Sieur Sarpy, an affection which was
reciprocated, and he had every reason to believe that Pauline was well
acquainted with that circumstance.

"Stop there," said the old doctor, taking a pinch of snuff and smiling
slyly. "Here is perhaps a clue. Your daughter may have fallen in love
with this young rebel--girls cannot help such things, you know--and the
knowledge that his heart is turned to another may be precisely the thing
that has preyed upon her mind, bringing her to her present pass."

"But she and Zulma Sarpy are intimate friends."

"So much the worse. Her feelings would be the more acute and the
struggle against herself all the keener on that account."

"But Major Hardinge?"

"La, la, la! your Major. She may have loved him till she saw the other
man, and then, _ma foi_----. From a Major to a Captain, from a loyalist
to a rebel is rather a descent, _eh, mon ami?_ But what will you have?
These things cannot be controlled. They happen every day. Do you know
that she is plighted in any way to this Major?"

"She is not."

"How do you know?"

"She told me so."

"Under what circumstances? Excuse this freedom, my friend, but with the
confessions of women everything depends upon circumstances. If it is
under persuasion, a woman may tell you the truth, for their hearts are
good after all. But if it is under compulsion, or threat, or by
strategy, they are a match in fencing with the best of us."

"It was under a sense of duty, and only a few weeks ago. I was annoyed
at Hardinge's manner to me and even to her after the death of that
servant of his who was killed, you remember. I told Pauline I would
resent that conduct if it were repeated, and on the same occasion I
asked her whether she had engaged herself to him in any shape or form.
Her answer was a simple, straightforward negative, and the child is
incapable of untruth."

"This is very well. It removes one difficulty. Her mind does not suffer
from any broken pledge towards the Major."

"But her love for him must remain."

"Not heaven or earth can dominate a woman's love. It is strong as death,
immense as the sea, deep as the abyss, yet a glance of the eye, a wave
of the hand, a smile, a toss of the head may change it for ever. Listen,
Belmont. Your daughter loves the American officer. She grieves for
Hardinge, she grieves for Zulma Sarpy. The diagnosis is complete. She is
wasting away in a silent, hidden combat between herself and her friends.
And I fear the worse."

"You do not mean that Pauline is in danger?"

"It is the duty of friendship to be candid with you. If there is not a
complete change, within ten days your daughter will be dead."

"Gracious heaven!" exclaimed the poor father, his wail of horror
sounding through the house and frightening Pauline from her trance. She
screamed in her turn. M. Belmont leaped to his feet and was about to
rush to her room, when the doctor restrained him.

"Do not present yourself in that condition. It might kill her. I will go
and pacify her."

He did so. After a few minutes, he returned and informed M. Belmont that
he was positive of the correctness of his conjecture, and advised an
immediate change of scene for the girl.

"A change of scene? Are you dreaming, doctor? We are penned up like
sheep in this unfortunate town. I am under a ban. I can expect no
favours. The whole country is deserted or overrun with soldiery. And I
must accompany her. Nothing on this earth could separate me from my
child. I have lived for her. I will die with her. But oh, doctor, she
will not die. Tell me she _shall_ not die."

"Then she must leave Quebec."

"But, doctor!"

"It must be done. It is a case of life and death."

A painful silence ensued. M. Belmont bowed his head in his hands and
moaned. "What shall I do? Who will help me? Who will intercede for me?"

At this juncture, who should make his appearance but Captain Bouchette?
His presence was a revelation.

As soon as he saw him, M. Belmont became calm, and in a few words
unfolded his difficulty to him.

"Rest easy, my friend," said Bouchette in his hearty way. "There can be
no possible obstacle. I will go and see the Governor at once, and he
will not refuse. It is a matter of mercy. General Carleton is the most
soft-hearted of men."

Within an hour, Bouchette returned with the necessary permits duly
signed and sealed. M. Belmont and his daughter were allowed to leave the
town, the reason of their departure being fully stated, and a
recommendation was added to the good offices of both friends and foes.

When Pauline was apprised of this measure, she rallied a little and
smiled her contentment, but soon after fell into her habitual lassitude.
The doctor, who was there to watch the effect, was not overpleased. He
had expected a more marked result, and he almost feared that the relief
had come too late. He therefore prescribed that the change should be
postponed for a few days, until he had applied some stimulants and
restoratives to the debilitated frame. It was during this critical
interval that Zulma received a letter from her brother Eugene repeating
the current rumour that Pauline was actually dying. He added, however,
that a supreme effort would be made to transport her out of the town.



XII.

IN THE FIERY FURNACE.


On the third day after these occurrences, Pauline had rallied to the
extent of being able to rise from her bed and sit in an easy chair. She
signified to her father and the family physician that she felt
sufficient strength to undertake the journey on the following morning.
But she set a condition. She must see Roderick Hardinge at once. The
young officer had all along been most faithful in his attention, calling
morning and evening to visit her, but within the preceding ten or twelve
days neither he nor any other stranger had been admitted to her room.
When Pauline stated her request, the doctor shook his head. M. Belmont,
however, promptly interfered with his permission.

"You shall see him, my dear. I will send for him immediately."

Hardinge was on duty at the ramparts, but he obtained a respite without
delay, and hurried on his errand. Why did his heart throb as he hurried
along the streets? Why did his hand tremble as he raised the knocker at
the well known door. Roderick's instincts were true as are ever those of
single minded men. A shadow had been on him for weeks, and he knew that
it was now thickening into darkness. Spite of himself, a presentiment
possessed his soul that whereas his military prospect was brightening,
his career advancing, and the success of his cause was being every day
more assured, his personal fate was waning, and the dearest hopes of his
heart were verging to the gulf of disappointment. He could not formulate
in words what the matter was. Pauline was exteriorly always the same to
him, and yet there was a change. Had her love cooled? Had it diverted?
Had he done anything to bring about any alteration? Had his political
sentiments in any way affected his conduct towards her? Had he taken
sufficiently into account the anomalous position in which she was placed
by her father's stand during the war? Or were the causes deeper than all
this? And his mind reverted to Cary, to Zulma, to a hundred little
incidents of the past eventful weeks which his excitement magnified into
possible determining causes of the boding change. This and much more had
passed through his mind before reaching M. Belmont's house. But as he
mounted the stair leading to the presence of Pauline, a great hope rose
above all, and when he reached her room, he was in much the same state
of feeling as on ordinary visits. Blessed intervention of Providence
which gives one last moment of bliss before the descending stroke of
destiny.

There is no need to dwell upon this painful interview. The dissection of
the heart serves no useful purpose when there is no gleam of consolation
to come from it. Pauline was quite strong to go through the ordeal. She
was tender, too, and natural--indeed her own self throughout. After
speaking of many things relating to former days, omitting nothing that
she thought Roderick would like to have recalled, she came at length to
the object of the interview.

"Do you know, Roddy, why I called for you?"

He replied that he had heard of her contemplated departure and that,
while he deeply regretted the cause, he could only rejoice at any step
undertaken for the recovery of a health which was dearer to him than his
own.

Pauline's heart failed her as she heard those words. They pierced like a
dagger. Her head became dizzy and she had to fall back in her chair for
relief. When she recovered, she held out her hand, murmuring:

"Yes, Roddy, I have called upon you to say farewell. I am going and we
shall never see each other again."

"Pauline!"

"I am going away to die. I should have liked to close my eyes in the old
house, but for my father's sake, I am willing to depart and make a show
for my life. It is useless, however. I shall die."

"Dear Pauline, do not speak so. Your case is by no means hopeless. A
change of air and scene will revive you. We shall both see better days
again."

"You may, Roddy, and that shall be my dying prayer, but not I. Alas! not
I."

Still holding her white thin hand in both his, Hardinge threw himself at
her feet, weeping and beseeching that she would recall these words of
doom.

Pauline sat upright in her seat and, in a strangely quavering voice,
exclaimed:

"Rise, Roderick Hardinge. Do not kneel to me. It is I should be
prostrate before you. I called you to say farewell, but there is more. I
could not leave without asking your forgiveness."

"My forgiveness, Pauline? What wildness is this?"

"Yes, your forgiveness. I have been false to you."

And here the poor girl utterly broke down. She averted her face in her
chair and burst into a paroxysm of tears.

Roderick rose from the floor. He was in a whirl. Had he heard aright, or
was he raving? He was at length brought to his senses by a soft voice
requesting him to be seated and hear all.

"I could not help it, Roddy. It was all unconsciously. Had I known what
I know now, it would not have happened. It was not I brought the
circumstances about. It was all meant for the best by you and me. But
the fatality came. It was a terrible revelation to me. That is the blow
that has blasted my health and life. But the fault is mine all the same.
Your conduct was noble throughout and you did not deserve it. I repeat
that the fault is all my own. I am willing to expiate it. I am content
to die. My death will end everything. Farewell, Roddy. One parting kiss
and your forgiveness."

Strange that through this speech, sounding like the music of a broken
harp, Roderick remained perfectly cool and collected. With acutest
perception he understood everything now. The black cloud was rent and
light poured down upon him. It was a light from heaven, for it warmed
his soul to heroism.

"Pauline," he said in gentlest accents, "the spasm is past and I can
speak to you, as of old. My words shall be few, because I see that this
effort has spent you. You have done an injustice to yourself and me. My
forgiveness, dearest? You have none to ask. You have done me no wrong. I
had no right over you. We have known each other for long years and have
loved each other?"

"Ah! Roddy, ah! how well!" sweet and low, as waters murmuring over
pebbles.

"Yes, how well, Pauline. But love is not our own. It is disposed of by a
higher will. We had hoped that it might end in something else--at least
such was my hope."

"And mine, Roddy."

"But if this may not be, we must bow to the almighty power. Man is not
the arbiter of his destiny. False to me Pauline? No truer heart ever
breathed the air of heaven. You could not be false to any one. Oh!
dearest, withdraw all these bitter words. Remember me, remember your old
friend. May the blessing of God attend you. Go forth into a broader
atmosphere, and amid brighter scenes to recover your health and that
beauty which I have adored. Farewell, Pauline, farewell."

She heard him not. The poor shattered spirit, overcome by exhaustion,
had drifted away into a merciful oblivion. He kissed her on the forehead
and glided out of the room. At the door he met M. Belmont, whose hand he
silently clasped. Then he stepped out into the world, a new man,
purified as if by fire.



XIII.

RODERICK'S LAST BATTLE.


The next morning dawned bright and balmy. At an early hour, a closed
carriage slowly approached the massive arch of St. John's Gate,
accompanied by four or five persons on foot, among whom were Captain
Bouchette, the venerable physician of the Belmont family, and
Lieutenant-Governor Cramahé. The presence of the latter personage was a
high honour to his old friend Belmont. When the vehicle stopped, and
while the papers were being perused by the officer on guard, a final
interview took place between the members of this little circle. It was a
moment of trying emotion to all, and there were tears in every eye as
the last embrace was given.

On a high embankment, level with the wall, and commanding a view of the
gate, rose the solitary figure of Roderick Hardinge. Leaning on his
sword, he stood in the young grass, under the budding boughs of a walnut
tree. He had waited there till the carriage came. He would wait till it
rolled away through the valley. There was a terrible moment, as it
lingered before the guard-house, when he would have rushed down to plead
his great love once more at the feet of Pauline. Perhaps at that
critical time he might win his suit. Perhaps she was waiting for him and
wondering in pain why he did not come. But, spite of his anguish,
Roderick retained mastery over his soul. He checked this intention,
feeling with cruel vividness that a sacrifice, to be a sacrifice, must
be carried out to the end. Their last farewell was on yesterday. She had
distinctly wished it thus. He would not disturb the vision of their
parting--the closed eyes, reversed form, pallid cheek, and appearance
of helpless misery. She too had suffered. He would not make her suffer
more. And there was that kiss on the burning forehead. He could never
forget that, nor would he allow impressions to intervene and possibly
efface it.

So the noble fellow stood in the young grass, leaning on his sword,
immoveable, stern, holding his forehead up against fate, and silently
fighting a battle with himself compared to which the clash of battalions
and the thunder of ordnance were mere child's play. And he conquered. A
shadow of a smile fluttered over his lips as he resigned his last hope,
and closed the door for ever to the cherished prospect of the
efflorescence of love into fruition.

At that moment the friends of M. Belmont stepped aside, and, as the door
closed, Roderick caught a glimpse of Pauline's dress. His imagination at
once constructed the picture. She lay recumbent upon pillows, with her
father at her side. Her face was pale, and her lips drawn down, but her
eyes were animated with a glow that was a mixture of inquiry and regret.
Was she really expecting Roderick? Alas! who can doubt it? She knew him
too well not to feel that he must be somewhere in her neighbourhood, and
the unerring instinct had its magnetic influence upon her.

At length the carriage rolled away, passing under the great shadow of
the gate, and turned into the valley, leaving the old town behind. As
the portals came together with a crash, and the heavy chains rattled,
the echo of doom simultaneously smote the heart of her that was going
and of him that was left behind. The beautiful past was over--and what
was to replace it? A moment later, at a sharp angle of the road, Pauline
turned her head on the cushion, and she saw him standing under the
walnut tree. The vision was brief, as the horses took a sudden bound
forward, but the poor girl had time to raise herself on her elbow and
faintly wave a white handkerchief. Roderick beheld the token, and
forgetting everything in the enthusiasm of the moment, rushed forward
to the brink of the parapet. He would have leaped down in the face of a
thousand pointed bayonets and dashed through the serried ranks of foes,
but, alas! as he gazed once more, the vehicle had disappeared forever in
the windings of the vale.

"Too late, too late!" exclaimed the poor fellow, turning on his heel and
plunging the point of his sword into the tufted grass. "She is gone,
never to return. Farewell to all my dreams of happiness, to all my hopes
and aspirations. What is glory to me now? Why should I live to gather
fame? Who is there now that will reap my laurels and wear them on snowy
forehead for my sake? Oh, fate, oh, fate!"

And he walked away through solitary lanes till he reached his quarters,
utterly broken down in heart. The whole forenoon he lay on his iron bed,
oblivious of all the world and steeped in his own tremendous sense of
dereliction. It was in vain that the golden spring sun streamed through
his windows rocking the room in waves of splendour. The glad sounds of
voices, in the Square, of men and women enjoying the beautiful weather
in promenades, were unheeded by him. The great voice of cannon from the
Citadel, answering some hostile movement of the enemy, was powerless to
arouse him from his torpor. There is nothing so terrible to encounter as
the last phases of a moral crisis, nothing so painful as to realize that
one has yet two or three points to gain of that fatal resignation which
he thought he had mastered. The cup of poison may be dashed off in a
gulp of rapid determination, but it is the slow drinking of the dregs
that is revoltingly loathsome.

Thus Roderick had to go through the ultimate stages of the combat once
more and force himself to face the dread reality so that he should never
again beguile himself with a single hope. This was really the situation
as he understood it. He finally wrought himself up to that supreme
point, and leaping from his bed, exclaimed:

"Where all is comfortless, there is at least this comfort. I had her
life in my hands. By acting as I did, I have saved that life. This
reflection shall be the prop of my misery."

He then composed his dress hastily, and walked out headlong to his
regiment.



XIV.

AT VALCARTIER.


The ubiquitous Batoche was at a point, out of range of the garrison's
guns, to meet the carriage. Although not communicated with directly by
anybody, he knew all the particulars of M. Belmont's coming, and stood
at the door of the vehicle, as if it was a matter of course. After
mutual greetings and inquiries, he advised M. Belmont to drive out to
Montmorenci.

"My cabin is small, but I have made it comfortable," said he. "There our
sick child will have solitude, pure air, and a beautiful scenery. It is
just the place."

"No, Batoche, thank you," responded M. Belmont, decidedly.

The old man raised his brows in surprise, but evidently reading into the
motive of the refusal, he did not insist.

"Then go to Pointe-aux-Trembles. It is Zulma's most pressing invitation.
If she had known you were coming to-day, she would be here herself to
make it."

It was now Pauline's turn to speak.

"No, no, not there," she said, shaking her head and colouring deeply. "I
am most anxious to see Zulma. Indeed, I _must_ see her, but not at her
house."

Again, Batoche did not urge his suggestion.

"My destination was Valcartier," rejoined M. Belmont, "and I see no
reason to change my mind. Pauline needs absolute rest. She must be away
from the noise of the world. Valcartier is the place--fifteen miles from
the town, in the heart of a splendid landscape. We will go there."

"I will go with you," said Batoche.

The long journey, so far from fatiguing the invalid, proved a source of
revival. The roads were good, the weather grew warmer with the flight of
the hours, and the conversation of the old solitary was sparkling with
amusement. He played with the situation like a consummate artist. He
ranged over all sorts of topics, not studiously avoiding the illness of
Pauline, or the names of Zulma and Cary, lest that might create
suspicion, but touching upon them only rarely and incidentally, and as
if they were matters of the least importance. The consequence was that
he put Pauline into something like good humour. He made her smile
faintly at several of his stories, and when she would relapse in the
listlessness either of debility or retrospective thoughts, he would
recall the light to her eye and the colour to her cheeks by some
anecdote of stirring adventure. When after easy stages, the party
reached Valcartier, Pauline was sufficiently strong to step out of the
carriage, with the support of her father and Batoche. A proper house was
chosen at a little distance from the hamlet, and all the arrangements
were made for the convenience of the sojourners. Batoche remained with
them two days, endearing himself still more to both, if that were
possible, by his kind, intelligent attentions. When he was on the point
of departure, Pauline said to him:

"Do not tell anybody that I am here."

"But I thought you said you wanted to see Zulma?"

"Not now. A little later."

"Very well. I will not tell anybody. I did not intend to."

And he smiled in his peculiar way. Pauline could not help smiling a
little too, seeing clearly that the old wizard knew all.

Batoche's pleasant manner deserted him, however, on the way, and he thus
discoursed with himself, as he trudged along:

"I could not insist on Montmorenci or Pointe-aux-Trembles, but
Valcartier is a mistake. Pauline will not find there what she seeks. I
have promised silence and will keep it. Indeed, I did not mean to
divulge her retreat, for it is no business of a rough old fellow like me
to interfere in the affairs of young people. But all the same Pauline's
solitude must be found out, and I have no doubt it will be found out. If
it is not, the poor child will pine and perish there just as certainly
as she would have done within the walls of Quebec."

These previsions almost at once entered upon their fulfilment. Scarcely
had Batoche turned his back on Valcartier, than an overpowering feeling
of loneliness fell upon Pauline. The improvement which the excitement of
the journey and the company of the aged soldier had induced disappeared
immediately. M. Belmont's hopefulness was replaced by a new alarm, which
was increased when he discovered that there was no physician in the
village. This contingency he had not foreseen, having been assured by
his own family doctor that Pauline, with the exception of a few tonics
and restoratives which he furnished, needed no other treatment than rest
and a change of air. In his anxiety M. Belmont called in an Indian
doctor from the neighbouring village of Lorette, equal, he was told, to
any member of the profession in the Province. The Huron, after visiting
the patient, took M. Belmont aside and said:--

"The pain is here," pointing to the heart. "The Great Spirit alone can
cure it."

Was it fated then that the gentle Pauline must die?



XV.

FRIENDSHIP STRONGER THAN LOVE.


Ever since Zulma had received her brother's letter referring to the
critical state of Pauline, she had been in constant solicitude, which
was only partially relieved by the intelligence of the projected
departure from the town. The concern of Cary Singleton was no less.
Indeed, it was of another nature and far more profound. When, at the
door of the Sarpy mansion, he heard the words from Zulma's lips,
"Pauline is dying," he sprang into his saddle and rode at full speed to
headquarters, where he met Batoche, whom he instructed to use every
means to communicate directly with M. Belmont. Through the old man he
heard daily of the phases of the disease. But he was considerably
surprised, and not a little annoyed that the latter had not apprized him
of the issue of Pauline from the gates, and had been away two days
without telling him of it. Cary and Zulma had many conversations on the
subject of their mutual friend. The young officer opened his heart
without reserve, having no conscience that he had anything to conceal,
and relying implicitly upon Zulma as the person, of all the world, in
whom he ought to confide, and from whom he might expect sympathy. This
simplicity for a while appeared quite natural to Zulma, because she too
was simple, and had followed all along the promptings of her heart,
without any alloy of selfishness, or any suspicion of painful
consequences. Notwithstanding the singular conversation which had taken
place between them on the banks of the St. Lawrence, as has been
recorded, their trust in each other had not slackened in the least, and
while Zulma never feared for a moment that Cary might be lost to her,
he had never gone into such self analysis as could have shown that a
separation from her was within the range of possibilities, without any
fault on his part, or any means on her part to avert the stroke. This
condition of mind in Cary is easily comprehensible of him as a man and a
soldier. Women credit men with craft and cunning in the ways of love.
Such is not always the case. Oftentimes they are single-minded, and that
very selfishness which is imputed to them is the motive that drives them
headlong to the possession of the coveted object, regardless of the
obstacles, possible and positive, which the cooler instinct of the woman
generally observes. Zulma's state was more singular and needs a word of
explanation. If we have succeeded in painting this character, the reader
must have an impression of nobility free from all trace of meanness, and
of self-willed force capable of the loftiest generosity. Zulma was a
spoiled child, but this defect never dwindled to silliness. None
understood better than she the relative fitness of things. There was
never a speck of hypocrisy in her composition, and not the slightest
shade of suspicion. Her character was diaphanous. She could check her
thoughts and hold her tongue as few of her sex at her age could do, and,
in the tournament of conversation with men, could manage the foils of
reticence or half meanings as the best, but the foundation of her nature
was truth, simpleness, and honour free from all guile. Our female
readers will understand us fully if we say in one word that Zulma was in
no sense a coquette. She was always sincere, even in her by-play, which
was the secret of her power and ascendancy. This being so, the reader
will be prepared for the statement that she never really supposed the
peculiar relations of Cary with Pauline could affect her. Jealousy she
had not, because she was incapable of it, but even if she had not been
above this most diabolical of female vices, she could not have felt it,
because she did not realize that there was any occasion for it. Hence
when Cary spoke to her with deepest concern of Pauline's illness, of his
fears of the result, and of his desire to do all in his power to avert
the blow which threatened her, she entered fully into his spirit, and
intensified his grief by the warmth of her own sympathies. And when, on
hearing of Pauline's departure from Quebec, he declared he would follow
her for leagues upon leagues--anywhere--to minister to her salvation, it
was with spontaneous cordiality that Zulma added she would go with him
and do all that was possible to save the dearest of her friends.

It is, therefore, no wonder that she, as well as Cary, was vexed at
Batoche for not revealing the place of the sick girl's retreat. During
three whole days, the old man was inexorable. Neither the young woman's
coaxing, nor the soldier's serious displeasure could move him. His sole
answer was:--

"Pauline will see no one but Mademoiselle Sarpy, and that only later."

"But I _will_ see her," Cary would say, emphasizing the resolve with
hand and foot.

"Then, find her, Captain," was the taunting reply.

It was some comfort to their mutual anxiety, however, that Batoche
assured them of their friend's improved health.

But this situation could not last. At the end of the third day, the old
soldier ran out to Valcartier, and was so alarmed at the relapse which
he witnessed, that he almost immediately returned to quarters. Cary at
once divined the truth from his altered appearance.

"Batoche, I command you to tell me where she is."

"Patience, Captain," was the reply, delivered in accents of sorrow and
pity. "Your command is just and shall be obeyed. You have a right to see
Pauline, and you shall see her. But Mademoiselle Zulma must go first.
You will follow. I hasten to Pointe-aux-Trembles."

Zulma required no lengthy summons. She ordered the calèche to be
brought out at once, and with Batoche, drove rapidly to Valcartier. What
a meeting! Never had Zulma so much need of her self-possession. If she
had yielded to her impulse, she would have filled the house with
screams. It was not Pauline that lay before her--only her shadow. It was
not the living, laughing girl whom she had known--the stamp of death was
set upon every fair lineament. She bent softly down, laid her head
beside the marble brow upon the pillow, folded her arms around Pauline's
neck, and clasped her in a long, yearning embrace. Then they communed
together, almost mouth to mouth, with that miraculous sweetness which is
God's divinest gift to women. Pauline revived for the occasion. She was
so happy to see Zulma. She, that had wished to die alone and
forgotten--it was almost the dawn of resurrection to have her dearest
friend beside her now at length. All was gone over, quietly, gradually,
amid pauses of tears, and the interruption of kisses, yet so rapidly
that, before half an hour had elapsed, Zulma had completely made up her
mind. Brushing back the moist brown hair from the throbbing temples of
the sick girl, she rose serene, majestic, with the light of a great
resolution in her eyes, and the placidity of heroism on her beautiful
features. Stepping out of the room she called Batoche.

"Take my calèche. Drive to the camp, and bring back Captain Singleton,
at once. Tell him he must see Pauline before the set of sun, and that I
desire it."

The old man comprehended and did not require to be told twice.

"Good," he exclaimed. "That is a grand girl. She understood it all at a
glance. What I could not do, she has done. Pauline will now be saved.
Poor Pauline!"

For three hours the friends were together, hand clasped in hand. Words
were spoken that were full of ineffable tenderness. There were intervals
of silence no less replete with happiness. There was a mutual language
of thorough understanding in the eyes as well as on the lips. Zulma's
theme was of hope. She quickly reached that point where she dismissed
the idea of death and insisted on life for the mutual enjoyment of the
twain. Not for Pauline's sake, but for her own, now that she knew what
she knew, she saw it was necessary that death should be robbed of its
sting and the grave resign its victory. Did Pauline acquiesce? She said
not so--how could she dare, she that was dying without hope?--but there
was a lambent gleam in her sunken eye, as of a ray of the future's
sunshine playing upon it.

The afternoon passed softly, gently. The sun was gliding behind the
trees and the long shadows crept over the valley faintly dimming the
window panes. The holy hour of twilight had come. The angelus bells from
the turret of the distant village church echoed sweetly on the tranquil
air, and Zulma knelt by the bedside to murmur the _Ave Maria_. When she
rose, she stood and listened. There were carriage wheels at the door.

"Do you hear?" she said.

Pauline opened great bewildered eyes and her features became pinched.
Then turning rapidly, she hid her face in the pillow, sobbing
convulsively.

"Oh, Zulma, this is too much. Why did you do it? It must not be. Oh, let
me die."

She essayed to say more but tears choked her utterance.

"It is God's will!" whispered Zulma in calm, clear accents, still
standing above her with a look of inspiration.

The invalid turned back on her pillow, cast an agonizing glance of
gratitude upon her friend, and holding out her hand murmured.

"Heaven bless you, dearest."



XVI.

THE HOUR OF GLOOM.


The interview with Cary Singleton was not delayed a moment. Both he and
Pauline desired that Zulma should be present, but she imagined a
pressing pretext and glided out of the chamber. As she did so, her face
was irradiated. Meeting Batoche in the passage, near the entrance to the
house, she threw herself upon his neck and burst into silent tears.

"Courage, mademoiselle," he said in a pathetic voice. "You have been
magnificent, and shall have your reward. Courage."

"It is over, Batoche. A momentary weakness which I could not resist. I
am happier now than I ever was in my life."

Batoche looked at her with admiration and whispered:--

"There was only one way of saving her life."

"Yes, and we have adopted it."

"You have adopted it, not I. Yours is all the merit and you shall be
blessed for it."

The two then went into the room of M. Belmont to keep him company, while
he awaited with resignation the result of the conference in the sick
chamber.

We may not dwell upon the details of the conference. Suffice it to know
that it was consoling in the extreme to the invalid and supremely
painful to the young officer. At sight of the wasted figure before him,
Cary lost all control over his feelings. He remembered only one
thing--that this girl had saved his life. He saw but one duty--that he
must save hers at whatever cost to himself and others. The long watches
of those eight weeks at the Belmont house came back to him, the
tireless attention, the gentle nursing, the sweet words of comfort. Her
illness was the result of his. That was enough.

Pleased as Pauline was to hear his words of gratitude and declarations
of devotion, she gave him no encouragement to believe that they would
have the effect of restoring her either in body or mind. The poor girl
shuddered at the alternative in which she was placed. Zulma was so
near--only a wall separating them. Roderick was so far--the ramparts of
Quebec seeming to have receded beyond an infinite horizon. Death was at
hand. Why recoil from it? Why not hail its deliverance with a benison?

Not in words did Pauline communicate these thoughts to Cary. With all
her resolution she would have been utterly unable to do so. But he
gathered her meaning only too well, the acuteness of his own suffering
making him read on the suffering face of the patient the recondite
thoughts which, on ordinary occasions, he would never have been able to
fathom. But, in spite of all this, Pauline was happy in the simple
presence of Cary. There were moments when she scarcely heeded what he
said, so intent was she in the enjoyment of the assurance that he was
really once more at her side. If she could have had this boon
indefinitely, without the need of pledges or protestations, without the
necessity of recalling the past, or facing the future, she would have
been content, nor asked for anything beyond. This dream of a tranquil
passivity was a fatal symptom of completely broken energies and
proximate decay. But even this dream had to be dispelled. An hour had
gone by and darkness had filled the room, an admonition to Cary that he
must forthwith return to camp. When he informed the invalid of this she
moaned piteously, and it was minutes before he could soothe her. Indeed
she was not reconciled until he promised that he would be with her again
as soon and as often as he could tear himself away from his military
duties. Before leaving he leaned over her, and, while pressing her hand,
imprinted a reverent kiss upon her forehead. He did it naturally, and as
if by duty. She received the token without surprise, as if she expected
it. It was the seal of love.

The calèche was waiting at the door, and Cary mounted it, after the
exchange of only a few words with M. Belmont and Zulma. He was
preoccupied and almost sullen. Batoche took a seat beside him and they
drove away into the darkness. For nearly two-thirds of the route not a
syllable passed between the two. The stars came out one by one like
laughing nymphs, the moon sailed up jauntily, the low sounds of the
night were heard on every side. Batoche was too shrewd to speak, but his
eyes glared as he conducted the horse. His companion was buried in his
thoughts. Finally the freshening breeze showed that they were
approaching the broad St. Lawrence, a faint illumination floated over
Quebec from its hundred lights, and the camp-fires of the Continental
army broke out here and there in the distance. They reached a rough part
of the road where the horse was put on the walk.

"Batoche," said Cary hoarsely.

"Yes, Captain," was the calm reply.

"The end is at hand."

"Alas! sir."

"You see those fires yonder? They will soon be extinguished. The English
fleet is coming with reinforcements, and we cannot withstand them. We
shall have to flee. But before we go, I trust we shall fight, and if we
fight, I hope I shall be killed. I am sick of disappointment and defeat.
I want to die."

These words were spoken in such a harrowing way, that for once, Batoche
was thrown off his guard, and could answer nothing--not a word of
argument, not an expression of comfort. Whipping his horse to his utmost
speed, he muttered grimly:--

"You will not die, but I----"



XVII.

THE GREAT RETREAT.


A few days passed and the month of May was ushered in. Cary Singleton
was right in foretelling that stirring events were at hand. A crisis
intervened in the siege of Quebec. Since the disappearance of the snow
the Americans had given some symptoms of activity. There was more
frequent firing upon the town, and feints were made with ladders and
ropes for escalades at different points. An armed schooner, named the
Gaspé, captured during the autumn, was prepared as a fire-ship to drift
down and destroy the craft that was moored in the Cul-de-Sac, at the
eastern extremity of Lower Town. Other vessels destined for a similar
service were also made ready. At nine o'clock on the night of the 3rd of
May, the attempt was actually made. One of the fire-ships turned out
from Levis, and advanced near to the Quebec shore without molestation,
the garrison imagining that it was a friend. Success seemed almost
within reach, when on being hailed, and not answering, guns were fired
at her from the Grand Battery over the Cape. At this signal that they
were discovered, the crew at once set a match to the combustible
material on board, and sent the vessel drifting directly for the
Cul-de-Sac. A moment more and she would have reached that coveted spot,
and the shipping, with the greater part of Lower Town, would have been
consumed. But the tide having ebbed about an hour, the current drove her
back, notwithstanding that the north-east wind was in her favour. This
failure was a terrible disappointment to the Americans. It was their
last stroke against Quebec. Had the attempt succeeded, the army intended
to attack the town during the confusion which the conflagration would
necessarily have created, and the onslaught would have been a terrible
one, because they were goaded to despair by their continuous
ill-success, at the same time that they knew it was their final chance
prior to the arrival of the British fleet, which was every day expected.

That fleet did not long delay its appearance. At six o'clock, on the
morning of the 6th May, a frigate hove in sight turning Point Levis. The
whole American army witnessed her triumphant entrance. The ramparts of
the town were lined with spectators to hail the welcome sight. Drums
beat to arms, the church bells clanged, and an immense shout arose that
was re-echoed from the Plains of Abraham across the river to the Isle of
Orleans. It was the acclamation of deliverance for the besieged, the
knell of final defeat for the besiegers. The frigate was well named the
Surprise, and she carried on board two companies of the 29th regiment
with some marines, the whole amounting to two hundred men, who were
immediately landed.

She was speedily followed by other war vessels containing more abundant
reinforcements.

At noon of the same memorable day, the garrison, supported by the new
arrivals, formed in different divisions, issued through the gates, and
moved slowly as far as the battle field of St. Foye, where Chevalier
Levis won his brilliant, but barren victory over Murray, on the 28th
April, 1760. Carleton, now that he was backed by a power from the sea,
shook off his inaction, and determined to deliver combat to the
Continentals. But beyond a few pickets who fired as they fell back, the
latter were nowhere to be seen. They had begun a precipitate retreat,
leaving all their provisions, artillery, ammunition, and baggage behind
them. Their great campaign was over, ending in disastrous defeat. They
endeavoured to make a stand at Sorel, being slightly reinforced, but the
English troops which pressed on under Carleton and Burgoyne, the
commander of the fresh arrivals, forced them to continue their flight.
They were obliged to abandon their conquest at Montreal, Chambly, St.
Johns, and Isle-aux-Noix, and did not deem themselves safe, till they
reached the head of Lake Champlain. Then they paused and rallied,
forming a strong army under Gates, and one year later, wreaked a
terrible revenge upon this same Burgoyne, who had superseded Carleton,
by capturing his whole army at Saratoga, thus gaining the first real
step towards securing the independence of the Colonies. Arnold fought
like a hero at that battle, giving proof of qualities which must have
insured his success at Quebec if the fates had not been against him.



XVIII.

CONSUMMATUM EST.


The flight of the Continentals caused the utmost excitement, not only in
Quebec, but throughout the surrounding country. They had so long
occupied the ground, that their sudden departure created a great void.
Those who were opposed to them broke out into acclamations, while the
large number who sympathized with them were thrown into consternation.
Bad news always travels fast. Long before sunset of that day, the event
was known at Valcartier, and on the little cottage occupied by M.
Belmont, the intelligence fell like a thunder clap. It was useless for
Zulma to attempt mastering her feelings. She rushed out into the garden,
and there delivered herself to her agony. She had not foreseen this
catastrophe, had never deemed anything like it possible. Now he was
gone, gone in headlong flight, without a word of warning, without a
farewell. After what had been happening within the preceding few days, a
single, final interview would have helped to seal her resignation and
reconcile her to her fate. But now even this boon was denied her.

It need not be said that M. Belmont's grief was also extreme, as we know
the many reasons--personal and political, on account of himself, his
countrymen, and his daughter--which he had to desire the success of the
American cause. It was in vain for him to attempt concealing his emotion
in the presence of Pauline. She immediately divined that something
extraordinary had happened. Cary's behaviour during the last of his
several visits had been so peculiar as to leave the impression that he
was under the shadow of impending calamity. Only the evening previous,
as he bade her farewell, his manner was strange, almost wild. He was
tender and yet abrupt. If she had not known that he was dominated by a
terrible sorrow, she would have feared that he was yielding to anger. He
protested his eternal gratitude. He poured out his love in glorious
words. He stood beautiful in the grandeur of his passion. And yet there
was an indefinite something which made his departure painfully
impressive to Pauline. His last words were:--

"If you will not consent to live, Pauline, there is only one thing for
me to do. You understand?"

She understood perfectly well. The words had been ringing in her ears
ever since, and now from her father's appearance the suspicion flashed
upon her that perhaps they were fulfilled. Was Cary dead? Had he thrown
away his life in battle? The doubt could brook no delay, and, gathering
all her strength, she abruptly interrogated M. Belmont.

"No, not dead, my child, but----"

"But what, father? I beg you to tell me all."

"They are gone. The siege is raised. It was unforeseen, and done in the
utmost precipitation."

"And he too is gone!"

"Alas! my dear."

"That is as bad as death."

And uttering a piercing shriek, Pauline fell back in a swoon upon her
pillow. The cry was heard by Zulma in the garden, and she rushed back
into the room. The alteration in the face of the patient was so terrible
that Zulma was horror-stricken. Pauline lay absolutely as if dead. No
breathing was audible, and her pulse had apparently ceased to beat.
Restoratives were applied, but failed to act. Although they did not
exchange a word together, both Zulma and M. Belmont thought that it was
the end. With the setting sun, and the coming of darkness, an awful
silence fell upon the house, through which alone, by the terrified
listeners, was faintly heard the rustling of the wings of doom.

Then the tempest arose, fit accompaniment for such a scene. Thunder and
lightning filled the sky. A hurricane swept the landscape, with a voice
of dirge, while the rain poured down in torrents. For long hours Zulma
knelt beside the inanimate form. M. Belmont sat at the head of the bed
with the rigidity of a corpse. But for the ever Watchful Eye over that
stricken house, who knows what ghastly scene the morning sun might
witness?

Through the storm, the sound of hoofs was heard, followed soon after by
a noise at the door. Zulma turned to M. Belmont with a sweet smile,
while he awoke from his stupor with indications of fear.

"Heavens! are our enemies so soon upon us?" he exclaimed, rising.

"Never fear," said Zulma, rising also. "It is our friends."

She went to the door and admitted Cary Singleton and Batoche. They were
both haggard and travel-stained. It required but a glance to reveal the
situation to them. The young officer, after pressing the hand of Zulma
and M. Belmont, stood for several minutes gazing at the insensible
Pauline. The old man did the same at a little distance behind. Then the
latter gently touched the former upon the shoulder. He turned and the
four held a whispered conference for a few moments, the speakers being
Cary and Zulma, both earnest and decided, especially Zulma. A conclusion
was soon reached, for M. Belmont hurriedly quitted the room. During his
brief absence, while the two men resumed their watches beside the couch,
Zulma carried a little table near the head, covered it with a white
cloth, set upon it two lighted candlesticks, and a little vessel of holy
water in which rested a twig of cedar. She did this calmly,
methodically, with mechanical dexterity, as if it had been an ordinary
household duty. Never once did she raise her eyes from her work, but,
from the increased light in the room, one might have noticed that there
was a spot of fiery red upon either cheek. Cary, however absorbed in his
meditations, could not help casting a look upon her as she moved about,
while Batoche, although he never raised his head, did not lose a single
one of her actions. Who can tell what passed in the bosoms of the three,
or how much of their lives they lived during these moments?

Zulma's ministrations had scarcely been concluded, when M. Belmont
returned with the parish priest of Valcartier, a venerable man, whose
smile, as he bowed to all the members of the group, and took in the
belongings of the room, was as inspiring as a spoken blessing. Its
influence too must have extended to the entranced Pauline, for, as he
approached her side, and sprinkled her with hyssop, breathing a prayer,
she slowly opened her eyes and gazed at him. Then turning to the lighted
tapers, and the snowy cloth, she smiled, saying:

"It is the extreme unction, Monsieur le Curé! I thank you."

The old priest, with that consummate knowledge of the world and the
human heart, which his long pastorate had given him, approached nearer,
and addressed her in a few earnest words, explaining everything. Then he
stepped aside, and revealed the presence of Cary. The two lovers folded
each other in a close embrace, and thus, heart against heart, they
communed together for a few moments. At the close, Pauline called for
Zulma, who was on her knees, at the foot of the bed and in shadow. The
meeting was short, but passionate. Finally, one word which Zulma spoke
had a magical effect, and the three turned their faces towards the
assistants, smiling through their tears.

The ceremony was brief. There in that presence, at that solemn hour, the
hands were joined, the benediction pronounced, and Cary and Pauline were
man and wife. The priest producing the parish register, the names of
the principals and witnesses were signed. Zulma wrote hers in a large
steady hand, but a tear, which she could not restrain, fell upon the
letters and blurred them.

"Rest now, my child," said the priest, as he took his departure.

Pauline, exhausted by fatigue and emotion, immediately relapsed into
slumber, but every trace of pain was gone, and her regular breathing
showed that she was enjoying a normal repose. Then Batoche, approaching
Cary, silently pointed to the clock.

"Alas! yes," said the latter, turning to M. Belmont and Zulma, "it is
now midnight, and the last act of this drama must be performed. Our camp
is thirty miles away, and the night is terrible. I rode here to
accomplish one duty. I must ride back to fulfil another. It is a
blessing she sleeps. You will tell her all when she wakes."

He continued in fervid words recommending Pauline to both Zulma and M.
Belmont. He protested that nothing short of his loyalty to his country
could induce him to go away. Had his army been victorious, he might have
resigned service and remained with Pauline and her friends. But now,
especially that it was routed, he could not abandon his colours, and he
knew that Pauline would despise him if he did. To-morrow they would
resume their flight. In a few days they would be out of Canada.

When he had finished speaking, he threw his arms around the neck of
Zulma, thanking her for her devotion, declaring that he would never
forget her, and that he would always be at her service.

"I confide Pauline to you," he said. "To no other could I so well
entrust her. She saved my life. Let us both be united in saving hers.
She has promised me that she will now try to live. With your help, I am
certain that she will do so. It is my only comfort on my departure,
together with the assurance that you will always be her friend and
mine."

Batoche, too, had a word with Zulma. He predicted the reward of Heaven
upon her abnegation, sent remembrances to his friends, and, in most
touching language, begged her to assume the care of little Blanche, to
whom he bequeathed a tearful blessing. When this was accomplished, he
told M. Belmont that Blanche knew the secret of his casket and would
reveal it to him. Then the final separation took place. Cary and Batoche
left the house together. The next morning the former had joined his
companions on their retreat, while the latter lay prone on the wet
grass, at the foot of the Montmorenci Falls--dead. The lion-like heart
was broken. It could not survive the ruin of its hopes.



XIX.

FINAL QUINTET.


Eight years had elapsed. It was the summer of 1784. The great war of the
Revolution was over and peace had been signed. Cary Singleton, having
laid down his arms, proposed to travel for rest and recuperation. His
first visit was to Canada in the company of his wife, and of M. Belmont,
who desired to return to Quebec, and there spend the evening of his
days. Having accompanied Pauline to Maryland immediately after her
recovery--which had been very protracted--he had a led a tranquil life
there, but now that age was telling, and that he had no further
solicitude about the safety of Cary, nostalgia came hard upon him. It is
needless to say that the journey was a most agreeable one. All the old
places were revisited, all the old faces that had survived were seen
once more. But the chief attraction for both Cary and Pauline was Zulma
and Roderick. What had become of them? The latter remained in the army
for a year after the deliverance of Quebec. Carrying his great
disappointment in his heart, he joined the expedition of Burgoyne, and,
of course, shared its fate at Saratoga. But as Morgan was in that
battle, where he caused the death of the brave English General Fraser,
and Cary was with him, Roderick received at the hands of the latter the
same treatment which he had extended to him, after the battle of
Sault-au-Matelot. Whereas all Burgoyne's men were kept prisoners in the
interior of the country, Hardinge procured his liberation through the
influence of Singleton with Morgan, and returned home renouncing
military pursuits forever. He retired first to his estate in the
country, but the solitude became painful to him, and he took up his
residence in the old capital, where one of the first persons he met was
Zulma who had just returned from Paris, after an absence of a couple of
years. She was an altered woman, the fire of whose spirits had died out,
and who carried the burden of her loneliness as bravely as she could.
But her wonderful beauty had not yet decayed. Rather was it expanded
into full flower. Like Roderick, she was alone in the world, her father
having died within a year after the siege of Quebec. It was only natural
that these two should gradually come together, and no one will be
surprised to learn that, after a full mutual explanation, and with much
deliberation, they united their lives. Neither will it astonish any one
to be further told that their union proved happy in the solid fruits of
contentment. They deserved it all, and it was literally fulfilled that
the blessings of their great sacrifice came to them a hundred-fold.

Sometimes, when he was in a jolly mood, Roderick would say:--

"You remember, dear, that I once predicted I would catch my beautiful
rebel. I have caught her."

And he would laugh outright. Zulma would only smile faintly, as if the
reminiscence had not lost all its bitterness, but she would return her
husband's caress with effusion.

We shall not linger to describe the meeting of the four friends--after
so many years. Our story is verging to its close, and we have space for
only a last incident. One beautiful afternoon, they were all gathered
together at the foot of the Montmorenci Falls, around the humble grave
of Batoche. It was a little tufted mound with a black cross at the head.
In their company appeared the picturesque costume of an Ursuline nun.
This was little Blanche, whom Zulma had placed in the convent after the
death of her father, and who had decided to consecrate her life to God.
By special dispensation from a very severe rule, she was allowed to
accompany the friends of her childhood to the grave of her old
grandfather. Zulma and Pauline planted flowers over it, and Blanche
threw herself across it sobbing and praying. All wept, even the two
strong men, as they gazed upon a scene which reminded them of so much.

Poor Batoche! What was there in the music of the waterfall that seemed
responsive to this tribute of his friends?

      *       *       *       *       *

During my first visit to Canada a few years ago, I met on the Saguenay
boat a young lady whose beauty and distinction impressed me. I inquired
who she was. An old gentleman informed me that her name was Hardinge,
and on tracing up her genealogy, as old men are fond of doing, he made
it clear that her two grandmothers were the heroines, and her two
grandfathers, the heroes of this history. A son of Roderick and Zulma
had married a daughter of Cary and Pauline, and this was their
offspring. Thus, at last, the blood of all the lovers had mingled
together in one.

THE END.





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