Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Advocate
Author: Heavysege, Charles, 1816-1876
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Advocate" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE
ADVOCATE

A NOVEL

BY
CHARLES HEAVYSEGE,
Author of "Saul," "Jephthah's Daughter."
&c., &c., &c.

ILLUSTRATED BY J. ALLAN.
(engraved by John Henry Walker after illustrations by J. Allan)

MONTREAL
RICHARD WORTHINGTON,
GREAT ST. JAMES STREET.

1865.

M. LONGMOORE & CO., PRINTERS.



[Illustration: Stillyside]



THE ADVOCATE.



CHAPTER I.

   "Take, oh take those lips away,
   That so sweetly were forsworn;
   And those eyes, the break of day,
   Lights that do mislead the morn:
   But my kisses bring again,
      bring again
   Seals of love, but sealed in vain,
      seal'd in vain."

   _Measure for Measure._


On a bright day during the month of September, of the year 1800,
two persons were in earnest conversation in a lawyer's office in
the city of Montreal. One of them was the most distinguished
advocate of that place; a man of some three score years, and of a
commanding yet wild and singular aspect. His companion was a
well-dressed female of middle age, and comely, though mournful
countenance. Some disagreeable topic seemed to have just ruffled
both of their tempers, for her face was moist with tears, and
darkened with an expression of disappointment. His own was slightly
marked with annoyance, and, suddenly ceasing to arrange some folded
law papers that he held in his hands, and had gathered up from the
table at which he was standing, he exclaimed in tones of mingled
surprise and asperity: "Still at the old song! still harping,
harping, harping! Peace, no more of it. Heaven would be insufferable
with but one hymn, hell thrice horrible with but one howl, earth
uninhabitable with but one evil. Oh, variety, what a charm hast
thou!"

"Is this, then, all your answer?" enquired the female, sorrowfully.

"Is it not decisive?" he demanded sharply. "Woman, away: am I not
busy? Is not this the very Passion week of preparation before the
Easter of the Assizes?" Then with an upward leer of his eyes, that
were now filled with frolicksome humour, whilst at the corners of
his mouth flickered a grim smile, he continued: "Mona Macdonald,
I am neither selfish nor sensual, though women call me so; not
prone to be provoked to marriage; though Satan in your shape has
for so many years tempted me thereto, I have still remained in the
bachelors' Eden, in spite of you and the Serpent. Marry you! Do I
look in the humour for mischief? Do I appear vile enough to commit
the unpardonable sin? No, a man may put himself beyond the reach
of mercy by other means than that."

Mona looked up and sighed, and he continued:

"What more is marriage than mere desert sands, in which life's
current is lost until it reappears in a parcel of bubbles called
babies. What is it but the fool's end, the knave's means; a warning
to the wise, a snare to the simple; the wantonness of youth, the
weakness of years; a pillory wherein to exercise patience; what is
it but the Church's stocks for the wayward feet of women. Marry
you! To marry is to commit two souls to the prison of one body; to
put two pigs into one poke; two legs into one boot, two arms into
one sleeve, two heads into one hat, two necks into one noose, two
corpses into one coffin, and this into a wet grave, for marriage
is a perennial spring of tears. Marry! Why should I bind myself
with a vow that I must break, not being by nature continent and
loving? Marry you!  Yes, when I hate you. Have I a sinistrous look
to meditate such mischief? Do I seem old enough to be a bridegroom?
Pish! I am ashamed to be so importuned."

[Illustration: "Do I seem old enough to be a bridegroom?"]

This badinage was uttered with the fire of youth, combined with
the authority of age, accustomed to be obeyed, and the listener
offered no rejoinder; but the speaker, having approached, gazed
into her eyes with a twinkling smile of mirth, that gradually
changed to one of fondness and pity; and kissing her respectfully,
he added in a soft tone: "Come, come, how is the maid Amanda, how
fares our charming foundling?"

"Well," was quietly replied.

"Mona, I love that girl," he continued, assuming a tone of deep
sincerity, "for along with the whole web of your goodness, nature
has interwoven into the fine fabric of her form a thread of my
evil--not in the grosser sense,--no, no; still, look after her;
the breath of passion must be stirring in her, and at her years
most maids are tinder to love's dropping sparks. Remember, there
never yet was a nun but once had tender thoughts. Love comes unto
all that live, and with not less certainty than death's advances
--nay, even the cold, bony frame of death itself, at last comes
wooing, and elopes with life. Now, home and cheer your charge."
And he playfully pushed her from the room, then, throwing himself
into his chair, resumed the interrupted study of his briefs.



CHAPTER II.

   "A seducer flourishes, and a poor maid is undone."

   _All's Well That Ends Well._

The advocate was by birth an Englishman, and a cadet of an ancient
family, who, after having spent a dissolute youth and early manhood,
had come to Canada. Here he became acquainted with an old, half-pay
Highland officer of Wolfe's Army, who for his signal services
rendered during the operations of the British force before Quebec,
had been rewarded with a grant of land in that vicinity. Like others
of his countrymen, the Highlander had settled in the Province, and
married into a French Canadian family. But, soon, after their
union, his wife died in giving birth to a daughter, which he reared
to womanhood with all the strength of an undivided affection. The
Englishman's frank bearing and singular mental powers won the
admiration of the old soldier, and, at the same time, dazzled and
captivated his comely and unsophisticated daughter, to whom the
stranger was soon understood to stand in the light of a lover. But
Macdonald--for such was the name of the warm-hearted clansman--was
not destined to see his dearest wishes realized in the union of
the two. A sudden sickness laid low his hardy frame, and, dying,
he called the pair to his bedside, and joined their hands in
anticipation of the rite of wedlock. The father dead, the lover
betook himself to the study of the law, and with an extraordinary
aptitude and diligence, not only mastered the details of legal
practice, but comprehended, beyond others, the great principles
both of English and of French jurisprudence as practised in Lower
Canada. Ambitious of excellence, he resolved to complete his studies
of the latter in France itself. Of means he had little, but she,
confiding in his honor, consented that the estate left to her by
her father should be sold, to furnish him with the necessary funds
for his maintenance in Paris. In that gay capital--whilst taking
advantage of libraries, and sitting at the feet of the Gamaliels
of the French Bar,--he associated with gamesters and courtezans,
and was at length left with resources barely sufficient to enable
him to return to Canada. Settling in Montreal, his extraordinary
acquaintance with both schools of law, his impassioned and versatile
eloquence, his ready repartee, his habitual, grim and grotesque
humour, his outrageous sallies of wit, his unmerciful logic, his
fierce invective, his irony, his sarcasm, and his deep, irresistible
scorn, all heightened by his singularly expressive personal presence,
and eyes kindling with lambent fire, made him a forensic antagonist
with whom few willingly chose to deal. He soon became the favorite
counsel for the defence. Extensive practice, and its concomitant,
a large income, were now his, and his betrothed, who, in giving
him her fortune, felt as though she had given him nothing till with
it she had given him herself, day by day looked for the nuptial
tie, and at length besought him to relieve her from what had become
a doubtful and even a dishonorable position. But such was no longer
in his thoughts. Instead of performing towards her his long plighted
vows, he sent her to a lonely dwelling on the then unpeopled Ottawa
to hide her shame. There she remained till the scandal of their
connection was forgotten, and he brought her, along with her female
child, a creature of surpassing beauty, to a new retreat, called
Stillyside, bought by him for that purpose, and situated behind
the bluff known as Mount Royal, or popularly the "mountain," that
lifts its wooded sides in the rear of, and gives name to, the City
of Montreal. During these years of their separation, whilst laborious
in his profession, he continued to indulge his vein for pleasure;
not openly and abroad, as in his earlier days, but in the semi-secrecy
of his home; and with a still increasing income, his expenditure
from this ungracious cause also augmented. Moreover, in those days,
the province was, in great measure, ruled by irresponsible officials,
and often unscrupulous but energetic adventurers like himself;--men
of powerful parts and free lives, whom a community of race, religion,
language, and interest, united in a sort of Masonic association,
whereof his house became one of the centres of reunion. There,
aware of his gentle descent, and impressed with his transcendent
abilities; charmed with his conversation--as pithy as it was apt
to be impure--his wit, his taste, his information, his judgment;
sensible, too, of the excellence of his wines, and luxuriance of
his table, around which military officer and civil servant, merchant
and judge, were accustomed to assemble, rank and office were
forgotten, etiquette laid aside, and abandon ruled the hour.
Votaries of Venus and of Bacchus were all of them, however disguised;
and, secure in that close conclave, where no pure female presence
was found to check the bacchanalian song, or forbid the ribald
jest, all sat to listen to and applaud their host's inimitable
stories, his grotesque descriptions, his wayward thoughts and
fantastic images; to hearken to his close analysis, his robust
reasoning, his wondrous pathos, his sublime exaggeration; and, as
the wine circulated, to observe yet more his chameleon aspect and
Protean character unfold itself; now grovelling like the Paradisal
toad, wherein, at the ear of Eve, was hidden the form of Lucifer;
now, touched by the Ithuriel spear of some keen conception, suddenly
soaring, like to the bright expanded shape of the surprised and
fallen Archangel, till the guests themselves, like the startled
Ithuriel recoiling from the instant apparition of the fiend, drew
back in amazement, or, as if at the jests of another Yorick, raised
over the table a long, eruptive roar. Nor was that all. For a moment
he would assume the moralist, the theologian, or,--leaving both
revelation and the pandects,--become the philosopher, pacing the
universe for occult truth; or the metaphysician, tracking the region
of the supersensuous; and, over every theme, flying on mocking
mental pinions, seeming an intellectual satan, passing through the
region of vain questionings and doubtful disquisition, dim out to
the abyss. And thus he lived, using, and abusing, his rare gifts;
no virtuous and accomplished wife presiding at these feasts, ever
degenerating into orgies, or giving sanctity to these walls; within
which were gathered the brightest, gayest, noblest, most powerful
--often most dissolute--of the land. But now the guests were thinned
in numbers by death, by marriage, by worn out passions; and many
a fierce spirit had been tamed by adversity, till the mirth had
grown to be half moody, and the saturnalia gross rather in intention
than in fact.

[Illustration: "As if at the jests of another Yorick, raised over
the table a long, eruptive roar."]

Yet ever amidst these distracting pleasures his heart reverted,
first, to the woody wilds of Ottawa, and afterwards, to the sylvan
shades of Stillyside, which latter he still took delight to visit
and adorn; cherishing its mistress, and watching over and nurturing
her child, the fruit of her fondness and of his falsehood;--but
commonly known and publicly acknowledged, only as her foster
daughter, and, in his own prouder circle, as his ward. For himself,
he never occupied other than a handsome suburban residence, situated
between the city and the foot of Mount Royal, and whose doors Mona
Macdonald seldom entered; and when she did so, it was to be scowled
upon by its menial mistress, a French Canadian, named Babet Blais,
who viewed the melancholy visitor with angry and jealous eyes. Into
this house many comely Abigails had come and gone; but Babet Blais
remained in spite of him, having, as she deemed, acquired a wife's
settlement and privileges, by virtue of the presence of a dwarfish,
swarthy creature, half oaf, half imp, their mutual offspring. This
strange being, as if in mockery, for he was ugly from the womb,
was named Narcisse, and flitted about the house rather than made
it his home; rarely entering it, except in his father's absence,
and then chiefly to obtain largess from his mother, who loved and
indulged him the more because others disliked or despised him.
Reckless, stupid, savage; ignoble and stubborn; with thick, black,
stubby hair, and dark, bushy, beetling brows; his protuberant eyes
filled with cunning, and burning with a lustre like live coals;
deep-chested, and with shoulders raised and rounded, giving him an
air of pugnacity; snarl written upon his countenance, and pride in
the pose of his pygmean figure; dull, dissolute, and disobedient,
he was, nevertheless, the idol of his mother. She, poor woman,
reverenced, almost worshipped, him, as being something superior to
her plebeian self, by reason of the father's part that was in him;
wondering how his sire should be so blind to his merits, and so
severe upon his alleged faults and foibles. She the rather encouraged
him in his irregularities since others rebuked them, and was the
more liberal towards him, because of his father's stint; deeming
his vices and extravagance to be not only excusable, but proper,
in one who had to uphold and play the part of a gentleman. His
father strove to instil into him some knowledge of law, but soon
relinquished the distasteful and hopeless task, and articled him
to a Notary, who, for a tempting premium, consented to take him
into his office. But, instead of applying himself there, he spent
most of his time in idleness and debauchery; by night frequenting
the abodes of vice and infamy, and by day, haunting the doors and
corridors of the court-house, in the latter always instinctively
seeking to avoid a rencontre with his sullen and offended parent.



CHAPTER III.

   "Haply despair hath seized her."

   _Cymbeline._

It was now evening, and the landscape lay steeped in yellow sunshine;
when Mona Macdonald rode slowly homewards, silent and buried in
gloom. Her way lay around the base of the mountain. But neither
its adjacent and majestic sides on the one hand, nor the placid,
mellow-tinted, and sky-bounded plain on the other were regarded by
her. Her thoughts were still with the advocate in his office, or
with her departed father in her native home below Quebec, as he
and she had lived and loved each other there, nearly twenty years
before. Thus preoccupied, she lent no heed to the landscape, although
before her was the broad, descending sun, and behind her was the
mighty Saint Lawrence basking in burnished gold; and soon another
stream, a branch of the Ottawa, appeared in the distance, the two
clasping between them as in a zone the Island of Montreal. But
neither the note of birds, the lowing of cattle, the barking of
dogs, the churr of the bullfrog, the distant human voices coming
faintly over the lea, nor yet the elysean landscape were seen or
heard; and not until the carriage drew up at Stillyside, and the
bark of a lap-dog, on the top of the distant steps, that led to
the verandah in front of the house, struck her ear, did she fully
awake from her mournful reverie. Then, alighting, she passed
through a postern that hung at the side of folding gates, and,
winding her way up a walk bordered with shrubs and flowers, approached
the dwelling, that stood upon a knoll. At that moment the sound
of a cowbell in the contiguous mountain coppice told the slow
approach of a dappled dairy, in charge of a swarthy French Canadian
youth. All else was quiet about the place, that seemed to be lying
in a sort of listless, half dreamy tranquillity and halcyon repose.
The mansion itself was spacious, and built of the grey limestone
of the district. Woodbine and hop, clematis and the Virginia creeper
half concealed its rugged exterior, and clothed in tangled luxuriance
the verandah that extended along the front. The roof was covered
with shingles, painted red; and in it were a number of dormer
windows, which, like all the other windows, were hidden with closed
green blinds or shutters. Swallows were darting about the eaves,
and wheeling around a fountain and jet d'eau in front, that were
fed by a mountain spring behind the house; whilst from one of the
rather numerous chimneys a frail wreath of blue smoke crept, and
lingered lazily about the lightning rod, before it rose and melted
away into the pure evening sky. But by this time the lap-dog had
come forwards to meet her, and now ran in advance, emitting a fitful
and joyous bark; and as she ascended the steps the door was opened
by a servant, who, having admitted her, closed it again; but not
before a stranger might, from without, have witnessed a fair and
youthful female figure swiftly descend the stairs into the hall,
and, throwing her arms around the neck of the returned traveller,
greet her with an affectionate salute. A large, grey mastiff now
appeared from the rear of the building, and, while the driver was
removing sundry parcels from the carriage, took a few slow and
solemn turns about the knoll, then, on the departure of man and
vehicle, retired for the night to his kennel, leaving the scene as
quiet as before.



CHAPTER IV.

   "Ungracious wretch,
   Fit for the mountains, and the barbarous caves
   Where manners ne'er were preached! Out of my sight."

   _Twelfth Night._

On the morning of the following day, Mona Macdonald sat at breakfast
in a room at Stillyside. She was plainly and neatly dressed; and
with her sat a figure more lady-like, and still in her teens,
attired simply, but with negligent taste. Both seemed abstracted,
and, as they silently sipped their tea, appeared to be brooding
over some recent, sad subject of conversation. The weather, too,
without, was as sombre as the mood within. A canopy of cold, grey
clouds covered the sky; the air was chilly, and the wind swayed
the trees to and fro, betokening rain. From time to time the cat,
with arched back, and tail erect, came loudly purring, and rubbing
its sleek sides against the skirts of its mistresses; the lap-dog
was restless; and upon the hearthrug a drowsy spaniel lay with his
nose between his paws, and whined fitfully in a dog's day-dream;
whilst the females, at length altogether ceasing to eat, sat
self-absorbed. On the face of the elder was an expression of sorrow
tempered with patience, but on that of the younger, an air of
melancholy was mingled with resentment, that heightened almost into
majesty a form and countenance of extraordinary and statuesque
beauty. From time to time her companion regarded her with a look
of anxiety and tenderness; and at length, seeing her still abstaining
from the suspended meal, exclaimed:

"Eat, child, eat: fasting is bad for the young."

"I have no appetite, except for information," was mournfully replied;
and the elder again regarded her affectionately; then with subdued
earnestness, and in an expostulatory tone, rejoined:

"Be pacified, Amanda; for curiosity often brings us care. Let well
alone, and it will continue to be well with you; but why should
you thus persist to peer into the bottom of your past; as it were,
asking the fashion of your swaddling clothes? Fie! you are too
impatient; too importunate. Pray, no longer question me against my
will, making enquiries that may not be answered. Live without asking
why you live. No more of this. Does not your guardian love you as
though you were his child; and is he not wiser than yourself; to
judge of what knowledge is for your welfare? You ask me, why this
mystery about your birth. Amanda, we move midst mystery from birth
to death, and they who seek to solve it seek for sorrow."

"These words disturb me more than your past silence," exclaimed
the younger. "What horror is there to reveal touching my origin,
that you yet dare not shew me?"

"I dare not break your guardian's command," replied the elder,
firmly.

"Neither can I control a natural desire to know what so nearly
concerns me," retorted the other. "I beg of you to solve this
mystery of my birth. It is my right, my birthright, to know who
gave me birth. It is said that I was found--where was I found? by
whom? how have I been confided to your care? by whose appointment
have I had given to me this guardian? and why is he so kind, and
wherefore are you so faithful? Tell me, nurse, why has he caused
me to be educated with such care; from what motive has he caused
me to be furnished with accomplishments that seem to reach beyond
the bounds of my prospective sphere? Nurse, I charge you,--if you
indeed have nursed me from my birth, as you declare you have
done,--tell me, I pray you tell me: it is not much to ask: the very
poorest child yet knows its parentage; the meanest beggar knows
whether his father once asked alms or not; but I know nothing of
my progenitors; whether they were of a proud or of a humble station,
whether good or vicious; whether they be yet living or be long
since dead. I do not know even whether my guardian knew them, nor
how he has come to be my guardian, my kind supporter, friend:
nothing do I know of these, whose all I ought to know. What is the
reason of this singular secrecy? Nurse, tell me all you know,--for
well I know you know,--tell me, I say, about my parentage; declare,
again I charge you, and now most solemnly, if you really love me,
who gave me to your care and to his kind tutelage: Nurse, Mona,
foster-mother, speak; how have I become the ward, nay, like the
very child, of that eccentric, wise, gay, good old man?"

"More gay than good, and not so wise as wicked," muttered Mona,
and, not giving her companion time to reply, continued:

"Amanda, do not importune me further, I conjure you. Enough for
you to know your guardian loves you, cherishes you even as if you
were his child. Let us arise from table since our meal seems
done;--what is it that alarms you?" Ah! And at that moment the
report of a gun, the crashing of a window pane, the sound of shot
hurtling past, its striking the opposite wall of the apartment,
and dropping, along with falling plaster, on to the floor, burst
upon them; followed, without, by the expostulating tones of a
man-servant, that were soon overpowered by a loud guffaw, and,
before the interlocuters had recovered from their astonishment and
terror, Narcisse, followed by several men carrying fowling pieces,
rushed, swearing, into the vestibule. Amanda saw him, and, rising
to her feet, regarded him through the doorway with a look of scorn
and anger akin to that cast by the Belviderean Apollo upon the
wounded Python. But his dull temperament was invulnerable to the
arrows that shot from her eyes, and, undaunted, he swept forward
into the room, and with coarse familiarity attempted to salute her.
He was unsuccessful, for Mona, advancing between them, hindered
the nearer approach of the intruding mannikin, who, baffled, and
with the eyes of Amanda still fixed upon him, and yet beaming
ineffable contempt and disdain, at length stood before her with
downcast look, like one detected in some act of guilt. His companions
one by one slunk back to the lawn, whither in the dumb disgrace of
his discomfiture, he followed them. There, meeting with the domestic
already mentioned, and who had now been joined by a fellow-servant;
first an altercation, then a scuffle ensued, in which latter the
mastiff took an effective part, in maintaining the equality of the
house against what otherwise would have been overwhelming odds;
but he was at last disabled by a blow with the butt of a
fowling-piece, whilst the lap-dog, as it stood barking on the
borders of the fray, was shot dead by the cowardly and vindictive
Narcisse. This was too much to be borne, and, indignant, the ladies
descended to the lawn. At the same moment, three female domestics
appeared upon the scene, and changed the character of the encounter.
Three brawny ruffians seized each an Abigail, and attempted to bear
her off, as of old the treacherous Roman bachelors carried the
Sabine maids. Screams filled the air, mingled with oaths and
laughter; and the affair that had been begun in vulgar, aimless,
frolic, might have ended in serious outrage, but just then a horseman
appeared at the gate, dismounted, and, rushing in, riding-whip in
hand, plied it with such vigor, that in a few seconds all the rude
gang had fled except Narcisse, who, having stumbled, was seized by
the collar, hurried forward, and spurned through the gateway into
the road, leaving his fowling-piece behind him.

The stranger now for the first time seemed to observe the ladies,
and bowing to them respectfully, for a moment appeared to hesitate
whether to approach and address them. They, too, stood silent, but
it was with mixed astonishment and agitation, and he still stood
regarding the younger with an expression of deep admiration; till,
as if suddenly recollecting himself, and bowing yet more profoundly
than before, accompanied with an apologetic smile, enhancing the
beauty of his young and noble countenance, he gracefully retired
to his steed, vaulted into the saddle, and, galloping away, was
soon hidden from their view by a turn in the road.

"Oh, nurse, Mona, we have been rude indeed!" then exclaimed the
younger: "We have committed the most odious of all sins, ingratitude;
and," she added half archly, "we have seen the noblest of all forms,
Mona, a gentleman. Nay, but to have let the chivalrous stranger,
our deliverer, depart without a word of grateful recognition;--who
will champion us the next time, good Mona."

"May we never again require such timely help, child," replied her
mentor: "But let us go within and ascertain the damage that has
been done there by these vagabonds from the city;" and, so saying,
she took up the dead lap-dog and carried it tenderly in upon her
arm, viewing it with a wistful expression of grief and pity, whilst
Amanda stooped to caress the wounded mastiff, then followed with
an air of pensive majesty, not without looking in the direction in
which the gallant stranger, had disappeared.



CHAPTER V.

   "An ill-favored thing, sir, but mine own."

   _As You Like It._

It was near mid-day, and the advocate was engaged in his office,
when the notary with whom Narcisse had been placed, suddenly
entering, angrily demanded:

"Where is Narcisse, where is your son, sir? Here I am wanting his
assistance, now, and he is missing, he is gone, no one knows where,
nor where he has stowed those papers. Where is he, sir; where is
the boy, I say; where is your son?"

The advocate looked up at this sudden disturbance, and, drawing a
deep sigh, exclaimed with bitter emphasis:

"I would he were nowhere; that he were erased from the book of
being; I would he were in heaven,--or else--in your office, Monsieur
Veuillot. Is that a bad wish for either?"

"But he is not in my office," said Veuillot.

"Nor in heaven neither, I fear," rejoined the advocate.

"Where is he, then?" demanded the excited notary: "where is your
son?"

"Such a son!" murmured the advocate, shrugging his shoulders. "Do
you wish to be pleasant with me, Monsieur Veuillot? my evil genius
call him. Son! I own I feed him, as I do other vermin that infest
my house."

"But where is he?" reiterated the notary with growing impatience,
and seeming resolved to take no denial.

"Where is he?" echoed the advocate: "ask his mother; yes, sir, ask
his dam. Oh, Monsieur Veuillot, is there not deep damnation in thus
having an idiot for one's child? Here is your purgatory:--purgatory?
no: for purgatory is a kind of half-way house to heaven, but this
son of mine is to me a slippery stepping-stone to perdition. Sir,
a child should be a cherub to lift its parents' spirit to the skies;
but mine, oh!"--and a spasm of agony passed over the old man's
visage, succeeded by a forced expression of calmness, as he continued:

"Veuillot, you have heard of Solomon. He speaks of the foolish son
of a wise father. He was himself the father of a fool, that rent
the kingdom,--Rehoboam I mean,--and he kept concubines, too; so
I suppose he waxed fruitful in fools. I have but one fool, therefore
I am thankful;--but then he is a thorough fool, a most unmitigated,
and unmitigatable fool; the fool of fools, a finished fool, the
pink of fools; a most preposterous, backwards-going, crab-like
fool; a filthy fool; an idiot, sir, without either parts or particle
of ambition; an ape, an owl that flits about by day; a bat, and a
bad bat, that flits from tavern to sty; chief of the devil's
nightingales; a raven that, roving to foul roosts, goes beating
the bosom of the night; a soul that loves the darkness; a mole,
sir, a blind mole; a piece of animated perversity, a creature
that persists to go astray."

"Where has he strayed to now?" demanded the notary.

"Into the hands of justice, perhaps;" was the fierce reply: "into
the grip of the law; up to the foot of the gallows; on to the hill
of my extreme disgrace."

"Where is he, where can I find him? tell me only where," cried
Veuillot.

"Where! let echo answer,--would you wish to hunt him?" said the
advocate, mocking. "Did you ever gallop, sir, after a hedgehog? have
you assisted to draw a badger? I am badgered by him, and will blame
him, ay, ban him, for he is my curse, my bane; why should I not
curse him as Noah cursed that foul whelp Canaan? Beshrew him for
a block-head, a little black-browed beetle, a blot of ink, a shifting
shadow, a roving rat, a mouse, yes, sir, a very mouse, that creeps
in and out of its hole when the old cat is away. Away, Mr. Notary,
away; go, good Monsieur Veuillot. There are more conceptions in
man than he has yet expressed either in statutes or in testaments.
Go; you are a deed-drawer; I'll be a deed doer: I'll do, I'll do,--I
do not know what I'll do, but something shall be done. He shall be
shaken over perdition; sent to grind in the prison house; sold into
slavery:--fool! he shall be banished to Caughnawaga, or to
Loretto;--the further the better; he shall be sent to the Lake of
the Two Mountains, sir, or to Saint Regis to learn the war-whoop
and gallant the squaws. You smile:--but to your errand, Veuillot;
it is not known where my son is: I saw him last night, may I never
see him again! Then, dying, my old age, perhaps, may close in
peace: not else, not else."

The notary departed, but the exasperated lawyer still conversed
with himself. "I cannot decently die," he said, "any more than I
can devoutly live, pricked through the very reins and kidneys with
that skewer. Alas! he is my goad, my thorn in the flesh, the
messenger of satan sent to buffet me. He is the mosquitto that
stings my knuckles; the little, black, abominable fly that will
insist to assail my nose; he is my bruise, my blain, my blister,
my settled, ceaseless source of irritation: the cause, the cause--of
what is he the cause? Alas! that I should ever have been the cause
of such a foul effect! But let it be so; the whitest skins have
moles, the sun has spots; he is my mole, my spot; and I, I am the
father of the fool, Narcisse."

Narcisse was that moment at a tavern in the beautiful village of
Cote des Neiges, adjacent to Stillyside, and much resorted to by
pleasure seekers from Montreal. His companions, too, were there,
bewailing the loss of one of their fowling-pieces, and devising
means for revenge on their interrupter and successful assailant.
There they remained, and, instead of spending the day, as was their
first intention, on the side of the mountain, in popping at small
birds they passed many of its hours in quaffing large potations,
the effects of which they in some degree slept off by a long
afternoon nap. It was now nightfall, and they were returning
homewards, conversing in loud and angry tones on the humiliation
of the morning, and threatening retribution against its cause, the
gallant stranger. Narcisse, with the litigiousness of his maternal
race, and prompted by his inkling of law, was for launching an
action for assault and battery against their assailant's purse,
whilst the others, pot-valiant, declared their anxiety to meet him
in bodily conflict on another field; and thus discoursing in the
deepening gloom, the party arrived opposite the mansion at Stillyside.
For a few moments they halted, undetermined whether to approach,
and demand the delivery of the captured weapon; but at last agreed
to waive the requisition, chiefly at the instance of Narcisse, who
authoritatively ruled, that to demand and accept of the feloniously
acquired gun, would be to compound a felony. Hereupon, being
somewhat more at ease in their minds, they proceeded, and now less
noisily, continuing on their way with only occasional bursts of
abuse, and the firing off of fag ends of French songs, accompanied
with a fitful fusilade of low, horselaughter; and thus, mollified
and maudlin, unsteadily continued their straggling march, until
they halted at a gate on the roadside, and some distance behind
which, loomed a large, dingy and deserted-looking dwelling, half
concealed by tall trees. No light was to be seen, but, after a
brief consultation, the party swung open the gate, entered, and
having reached the house, one of the number gave a peculiar tapping
at a window, followed by a low whistle or call, that was immediately
answered by a corresponding sound from within, and this again by
a counter signal, which was repeated like the faintly returning
tone of an echo; and, after some delay, the door slowly opened,
the voices of men and women, mingling in boisterous mirth, burst
forth like the roar of a suddenly opened furnace, the party entered,
and the door was closed again.



CHAPTER VI.

   "How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?"

   _Macbeth._

At the same hour that Narcisse and his companions entered the sombre
and suspicious looking dwelling, the advocate returned to his home
in the upper environs of the city, wearied in mind and frame, from
an application broken only by the entrance of Monsieur Veuillot,
and the arrival of a messenger from Stillyside, who, hot and excited
from the violent scene whereof it had been the theatre, painted
the outrage in deepened colors, and exaggerated form. Anger and
shame contended in the old lawyer's bosom as he heard the story;
the former sentiment urging for the punishment of the delinquents,
the latter pleading for forbearance; for amongst the transgressors
was his illegitimate son, whose share in the offence, if brought
into the light of the tribunal, would thence cast back a shadow
upon the father, and point, publicly and anew, to their disreputable
relationship. Others also, whose reputation was far dearer to him
than his own, must be dragged, either as witnesses or as prosecutrix,
to public gaze, and thus be made to furnish matter for the tongue
of scandal. Perhaps, too, some latent paternal tenderness inclined
the incensed advocate to mercy; and, giving the messenger a hastily
written note, sympathizing with the tenants of Stillyside, he
despatched him thither, along with a noble Newfoundland dog, then
lying in the office, and which he meant should replace the disabled
mastiff. Afterwards, his thoughts, occupied with the important
professional business of the day, scarcely reverted to the vexatious
occurrence of the morning; but now, at eve, the tide of attention,
that had been so long dammed back, came flowing over his spirit
with increasing depth and force; and, in spite of his unwillingness
and the necessity for recruiting his wasted energies, for the
performance of the onerous public duties of the morrow, he fell to
brooding over the new misdeed of the already too obnoxious Narcisse.
From the son, his musings reverted to the menial mother, and, by
contrast, from her to the fair tenants at Stillyside; till, tossed
by the contrary and vexed tides of thought and feeling, he arose,
perturbed from the lounge, went to the window, and, drawing aside
the curtains, beheld in the east the full moon climbing the clear,
blue heavens, amidst a multitude of marble clouds. Struck with
sudden admiration and oblivious pleasure, he opened the folding
frames and stepped into the garden. The air was balmy; and, soothed
by the change, he returned within, reassumed the habiliments of
the day, took a stout, ivory-headed walking cane from its corner,
and, calling a domestic, announced that he should for some time be
absent. His first impulse was to cross a contiguous, half-reclaimed
tract, sprinkled with vast boulders of the glacial period, and
reach the turnpike road that led around the mountain. But before
he turned to commence his stroll he paused to gaze down on the
outstretched city, that, lying as asleep on the arm of the St.
Lawrence, with tin-covered domes, spires, cupolas, minarets, and
radiant roofs, showing like molten silver in the moonbeams,
contrasting with the dark shingles covering most of the houses,
presented an enchanted-looking scene of glory and of gloom. On the
left, and oldest of its class, was the Bonsecours Church, with its
high-pitched roof, and airy, but inelegant, campanile, refulgent
as if cut from some rock of diamond. Nearer, was the Court House,
and, beneath it, the Jail; and, behind them both, the dusky expanse
of the poplar-planted Champ de Mars. In the midst of the city rose
the tin-mailed tower and spire of the French Cathedral, and, at
its rear, loomed the neighboring, wall-girt, solemn Seminary of
Saint Sulpice. The bright, precipitous roof of the Church of the
Recollets, and the spangled canopy of the vast foundation of the
Grey Nuns reposed resplendent; and, within its ample enclosure,
luminous as a moon-lit lake, the quadrangled and cloistered College
of Montreal. Beyond these, in the midst of the shining river,
duskily slumbered the little, fortified and wooded Island of Sainte
Hélène; and up the stream, apast the petty promontory of Pointe
Saint Charles, stretched the low, umbrageous lapse of Nuns Island,
whence the eye followed the bending flood, that trended towards
where, with eternal toil and sullen roar, agonize for ever the
hoary rapids of Lachine. In the other direction the eye roved
downwards over Hochelaga and Longueuil, Longue Pointe and Pointe
aux Trembles, towards where lay the islet-strewn shallows of
Boucherville, and, lower yet, the village of Varennes. The mountains
of Boucherville, Beloeil, Chambly, and Vermont shadowy bounded the
horizon; and, turning from these, abrupt before him rose the awful
and spectral presence of Mount Royal. Skirting its foot he now
proceeded, brushing away the shining dew, disturbing the lazy lizard
and the serenading grasshopper, and hearing below him the harsh
croaking of the bullfrog in the pool; whilst, ever and anon, the
gust awoke, with a huge sigh, the dreaming maples, poplars, and
dark, penitential pines. From the remote, secluded farms came the
faint bark of dogs; and amidst such sights and sounds he at length
emerged upon the winding road, that, if followed, would lead him
past Stillyside. Slowly and without special aim he continued to
walk, ruminating and still drawn onwards, lured by the time and
scene, until the sound alike of mastiff and of cur had ceased, the
grasshopper refused to pipe upon the dusty road, and the too distant
bullfrog was no longer heard gurgling to its mates, but all was
silent, lying as in a trance, both heaven and earth. And then he
paused, and lapsing into meditation, stood unconscious of surrounding
things, till the tolling of the clock in the distant tower of the
cathedral of Notre Dame awoke him, and, starting from his reverie
and listening, he counted the hours to the full score of midnight.
Struck, then, by the weird aspect of the scene and singular silence,
a vague sense of horror stole through him, and he exclaimed hoarsely:
"This is the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn
and spirits walk abroad!" and scarcely had the words escaped his
lips when a wild tumult rose near him, and he perceived a bacchanalian
and disorderly troop of both sexes sallying into the moonlight;
wherein with uncouth antics and inviting pose, they disported
towards a group of trees, encircling which, and in the chequered
beams beneath their boughs, he beheld them in Harlequin and
Columbine-like appeals of passion, or already mated and forming
for the meditated measure; appearing the very gang of Circe;--and
in their midst he now observed his son, the brutish looking, cunning,
and sensual Narcisse, wine-flushed and loud, and seeming to be the
mimic Comus of the crew. As with the power of divination, he at
once comprehended the spectacle. He had arrived opposite the
equivocal building wherein Narcisse and his companions had disappeared
some hours before, and the door of which had just been suddenly
flung open, and kindling with wrath he at once advanced upon the
bacchants in the midst of their orgies. At the same instant, from
the direction of the city and unseen by him, a tall rider on a
lofty steed, cloak flying to the breeze, swept by like an apparition;
greeted only with a comical yell of astonishment and derision from
one of the females, as like a spectre it swept by. But the hilarious
band before him was too much preoccupied with the performance of
its mockeries to have observed anything, and the advocate, with
eyes gleaming and fixed upon his son, who now perceiving him stood
terror stricken, approached the revellers, who subsided before him,
as, with grey hair fluttering in the wind, he came beneath the
extending boughs, like some denouncing Druid amidst the sacred
oaks, his countenance inflamed, his whole frame seeming to shake
as if in throes to eject some foul possession; or, rather, as if
he were himself a fierce, incarnate, and unfriendly spirit; and,
at length, addressing his son, who was now leaning against a tree,
both for support and concealment, he burst forth: "Miscreant!"--and
the word was echoed from the side of a huge, dilapidated barn,
--"Wretches," he hollowed; and the guilty crowd, fearing both
individual recognition and personal contact, again began to retire.

"Stay," he commanded, imperiously, "you are known, and flight shall
put the worst construction on your case;--halt, brawlers and bullies,
spendthrifts and bankrupts, breakers of the peace; sons of afflicted
parents, husbands of weeping wives, brothers of sisters both ashamed
and grieved; outlaws; the city's scum, the country's scourge, the
harvest that shall yet be reaped for the jail, and leave gleanings
for the gallows; abandoned creatures, linger;" and suddenly grasping
Narcisse: "Sirrah," he cried, "here is your nightly haunt, these
are your companions,--come with me, sir, come,--ah, will you resist
your"--father he was about to say, but he recoiled from the word
as from an adder, and, casting upon his son a look of unspeakable
disdain, he shook the writhing criminal, who the next moment escaped
from his hold, and slunk away, still looking backward over his
shoulder and muttering curses upon his begetter. The advocate stood
watching him in silence, as, withdrawing along with the others,
the distance dimmed his form, and drowned his maledictions; then,
drawing a deep sigh, a dark, vindictive scowl gathered upon his
visage, until its expression became diabolical, and these words
rolled from his heaving chest in deep, irregular murmurs:

"Thou son of a wicked and rebellious woman, do I not know that thou
hast set my friends against me, and caused mine enemies to hold me
in derision! But thou shalt suffer, thou shalt bend, or I will
break thee, yea, dash thee into pieces. May not the potter do what
he wills with the cup his own hands have fashioned? Away with
thee, misshapen reptile; may soon the Saint Lawrence hide thee, or
may'st thou soon be laid in the burial field of thy mother's race.
Away, thou vessel of dishonor; grant Heaven that I may not yet make
of thee a vessel of wrath!" and the old man's countenance worked
convulsively, as he seemed to be revolving some terrible idea; but
at last growing calmer he exclaimed: "Down, down, ye cruel thoughts,
ye horrible conceptions; hence, busiest suggestions of the fiend;
be silent at my ears, ye visionary lips; ye perilous and importunate
prompters, peace!" But scarcely had he uttered these words, when
a report of firearms sounded amongst the trees, and a shot rattled
through the boughs, scattering the leaves upon his head; and the
replicated echoes had hardly ceased, when a peal of triumphant
laughter rose, and continued to be renewed till the spot appeared
a field for the sport of a hundred goblins of mischief.

"Come in," at length said a voice, and, turning, he beheld a woman
standing in the doorway.

"Who are you?" he enquired.

"Enter, and learn;" she answered: "I would not have you murdered
in your old age. Do you not know me?" and seizing him rudely she
drew him towards her until his face almost touched her own emaciated
countenance, on which played a sardonic smile as she turned it
towards the moonlight, and he strove to free himself, exclaiming:

"Witch, hag, loose me:" and gazed upon her with a look of mingled
amazement and abhorrence.

"Am I then so changed?" she demanded, with a gloomy smile; "am I
become a leper; am I grown loathsome now, whom you once declared
to be so lovely? Follow me, false man; you did not once require
solicitation." And again the sound of firearms startled the night,
and once more the leaves fell fluttering on his head, and the beldam
angrily exclaimed: "Come in, old fool," and laid hands on him a
second time, as, in a voice thick and hurried with dislike and
terror, he replied: "You are remembered by me, woman; give me
shelter for a moment," and hastily stepping with her over the
threshhold, she closed the door after them. Another burst of
triumphant laughter rose from the retiring revellers, and again
moonlight and returning silence rested on the scene.



CHAPTER VII.

   "It is my lady: oh, it is my love!"

   _Romeo and Juliet._

The agitation of the morning at Stillyside had subsided as the day
wore, but the mind of Amanda Macdonald (for such was the name of
the younger and fairer denizen of that sequestered abode) remained
pensive and preoccupied; and when at her usual hour she had ascended
to her chamber, instead of retiring to rest, she took up a tale of
the troubadours, and read; nor did she lay down the volume till
the sudden flickering of the candle in the socket and the simultaneous
tolling from the distant belfry of the church of the village of
Saint Laurent warned her that it was midnight. Then, feeling
oppressed, alike with the heaviness of the atmosphere of her room,
and a strange weight at her heart, analogous to the lassitude that
is sometimes felt in the beginning of sickness, she arose, drew
aside the curtains, and throwing open the folding window, stepped
on to the verandah. A clear Canadian night, appearing a new and
chaster version of the day, greeted her. The moon, at night's
meridian, hung high in the fulness of its autumnal splendor, tranquil
in the solitude of the sky, a solitude unbroken, save by a few
small stars that were twinkling in the azure, and a fleet of low,
dappled clouds that were coasting the horizon. Awhile her eyes
dwelt abstractedly on the sight, then, falling, they wandered
listlessly over the broad and shining expanse of landscape before
her; where Nature, unrobed, seemed as in a bath; for in front, the
grass, steeped in descending dews, glittered as a lake. Woods
confined the view in one direction, and the gleamy wave of the
Ottawa, amidst filmy obscurity, bounded it, yet further off, in
another. Unseen but felt, like the unperceived Genius of the
landscape, towered close behind her the sombre-sided mountain; and,
touched by the solemn scene, she advanced, and, leaning upon the
balustrade, heaved a deep sigh; then lapsed into a reverie so
profound, that she failed to hear the tramp of a horse now rapidly
approaching, and to note the change to sudden silence, caused by
its stopping at the postern. But there, transfixed with wonder and
admiration, and looking like a bronze equestrian statue at the
gate, now, mounted, sat gazing the lately flying horseman of the
road, the champion of the morning on those grounds, and contemplated
the figure on the verandah; then, dismounting, tied his steed, and
vaulting over the fence, swiftly approached across the lawn; till,
as if suddenly aware of being on holy ground, he paused, and stood
with reverential aspect and clasped hands, eagerly bending towards
her as if in adoration. Thus engaged, as stands in ecstasy some
newly arrived pilgrim before a shrine, he stood enrapt; whilst she
remained as moveless as a carved angel leaning over a cathedral
aisle, and, with her eyes fixed on vacancy, at length mournfully
exclaimed: "Sad, sad, so sad!--yet why am I so sad? No denser
grows the mystery around my birth; and if knight errants yet live,
rescuing maids, or he is a wandering god, and here is Arcadia, why
should that make me grieve? It is true that he is handsome--and
yet what of that?--most men are handsome in the eyes of maids. But
he appears the paragon of men. Is he indeed not all a man should
be? Where were the blemish, the exception; who shall challenge
nature, saying, in his form, that here she has given too little,
there too much?--Ah, me! I am not happy, yet I should be so."

"Can I have heard aright, or do I dream?" gasped out the stranger.

"A knight, a god;" she continued, yet musing; "oh, he came hither
like a knight of old, or as an angry angel sent to scatter
fiends;--or, rather, like the lightning he arrived, out of the
storm cloud of I know not where. Where is he now? whence was he?
who is he? what? Alas, I know nothing of where, nor who, nor what,
nor whence he is; all that I know is, I am strangely sad; and that
such perfection was not made for me."

"Is this not Stillyside?" enquired the listener, "or do I wander
in some spirit-land; lost, lost;--oh, so luxuriously lost! She,
too, seems lost--lost in a reverie, and all forlorn. I'll speak to
her;--and yet I fear to speak, I fear to breathe, lest the undulating
air should burst this, and prove it to be but a bubble. Yet she
breathes, she spoke, and oh, such words! Words, be at my command;
I will address her, for this is not fancy: could fancy shew a moving
soul of sorrow? See how the passion plays upon that face, as she
thus stands with sad-eyed earnestness, maintaining converse with
the hollow sky. Looked ever aught so fair yet so forlorn? Methinks
there is a tear upon her cheek. Why comes it from the Eden of her
eye? I must speak to her;" and with mixed fear and fervour he
exclaimed: "May Heaven keep you from grave cause of sorrow, lady!
Forgive me, oh, forgive me, lady, or vision, for, by these dazzled
eyes, and, as I fear, by your offended form, I Scarcely can divine
whether you are of earth or air; pardon me if I have appeared here
by night, as unpremeditatedly as I came by day. Bid me begone,
--and yet permit me to remain, for, by my life, and the deep
admiration with which you have inspired me, I cannot leave you till
I learn your grief, and with it, peradventure, my own doom. Whom
did you speak of even now, fair form?"

"Who asks of me that question; who is it that thus listens when I
thought myself alone?" she demanded haughtily, looking downwards
from the verandah. "Sir, just now I spoke, and said--I know not
what. What you have overheard me say I fear was foolish; do not,
then, regard it. I know you now. You are the stranger who, this
morning, drove those violent intruders from these grounds. Ah,
who would have thought you would return by night, and thus, sir,
play the eaves-dropper! Oh, for shame! Nay, you are not the one I
took you for. Sir, it is mean to overlisten; mean, very mean; nay,
it is base, unmanly, to listen to a maid, when she commits her
vagaries to the moon."

"Scourge me, for I deserve it, with your tongue;" rejoined the
stranger--"but, lady, you were not alone, though I were absent;
no; you cannot be alone. Such excellence must draw hither elves
and midnight troops of fairies; by day, by night, each moment must
array around you the good wishes of the world. No, not alone; the
very sky is filled with watchers and the ground covered with
invisible feet, that have come here to do you homage; then why not
I found here to pay you mine? Are you still angry?"

"You have offended me," she answered;--"and yet perhaps I am too
severe with you. I fear I am ungrateful. 'Mean,' did I say? It was
mean in me to say so, and most forgetful of the favor conferred
here by you this morning. No, I vow it was not mean--at least in
_you_. And yet it was mean, it was very mean in you, sir, thus to
overstep the golden mean of manners. Scourge you? Ah, I fear you
well deserve it;--and yet if I could, I would put to scourging that
word, 'mean,' that has just escaped from out of my petulent lips,
as sometimes a froward, disobedient child runs into danger; breaking
away from out of the nurse's arms. But you should not have played
the bold intruder, and joined in these vain vigils;--nay, begone,
or I must, myself, withdraw. I do entreat you, stay no longer; come
some other time,--but go to-night; make no excuse for staying, or
you may yet compel me to be angry with you. Indeed, I fear that I
am too forgiving. Go, I pardon you,--but go at once, or I may yet
repent to have condoned what it, in truth, were hard to justify."

"Heaven pardons heavier sins," observed the stranger.

"Yes, when its pardon is sought for;" was rejoined; "but I pardon
you without your craving it; and, remember, Heaven's pardon is not
granted to us simply for the asking; neither do we receive it
because our hearts are penitent; but for the sake of Him who died
for us upon the cross; hence you are now forgiven by me, not for
your prayers' sake, nor for your regret, but rather because
beforehand, the night's offence has been cancelled by the morning's
favor. For the rest, retire, sir: what you have heard, you have
heard. You have heard my words, yet give no heed to them. If I
to-night have walked forth in my sleep, and dreamed on this
verandah;--why, then, it was but a dream. Let it be thus esteemed,
and so we part. Good night."

"Stay!" exclaimed the stranger, as, smiling with ineffable sweetness,
and deeply curtsying, she drew backwards towards the window: "Stay;
how can those part whom destiny hath joined; how be divided whom
their fates make one? Stay, lady, and let love, young love, plead
his own cause. Oh, I would yet charm you with my tongue, even as
your own detected tongue has just declared that this morning I
charmed you with my deed. Stay. If, in truth, you did admire,
what, at the moment of its execution, I thought nothing of, and
value now only as it has relation to yourself, hear my appeal."

"What does this mean?" she asked, startled at his earnestness: "I
do not know you; go, oh, go; I say again, I do not know you, sir."

"I never knew myself till now," he cried with bitter pathos.

"I say, I do not know you; you do not know _me;_" she reiterated.

"Know me to be irrevocably yours;" rejoined the stranger, "for you
have bound my heart in such fast thraldom, that even yourself could
not deliver it."

"And, perhaps, I would not, if I could,--unless you asked it:" she
answered: "and yet, sir, possibly you jest. Oh, sir, forbear;
begone, nor longer fool here a surprised, lone girl. What is your
purpose? who, and whence, are you? On your honor, answer me truly."

"I am the seigneur Montigny's only son: my purpose and my thoughts
towards you are all honorable:" he replied. And she rejoined: "Oh,
if your intentions are dishonorable, and you have not the spirit,
as you have the aspect, of a gentleman, yet keep this secret, as
you are a man."

"What shall be said to reassure you?" demanded Montigny. "Witness,
Heaven, if I assume to act, or intend anything injurious towards
you. Believe me. I am the heir to a proud seigniory: you are,--I
know not what; enough for me to know, you are the fairest figure
that has yet filled mine eyes, and surely as good as fair. Will
you be mine, as I am yours for ever? Speak, why are you silent?"

"Hist," she said, listening.

"What is the matter?" he enquired.

"Nothing, perhaps nothing:" she continued, whilst her voice
faltered:--"but go, oh, go, and come again to-morrow, or next
week, or when you will. I'll think on what you have said; but go;
I tremble so; stay here no longer; think, should we be observed.
I am ashamed to think of it. I am ashamed to look the moon in the
face, ashamed to look into yours. Oh, sir, what have I done? What
have you said? How have I answered? for I am perplexed. Away, yet
come again; come fifty times; but stay no longer now; begone;--return
though when you choose; do not wait for an invitation.--Listen,
I hear it again; begone, begone; did you not hear something?--it
was nothing, perhaps, but yet begone."

"Never without your love pledge will I leave you," replied Montigny
firmly.

"And would you force me to avow myself?" she asked. "May Heaven
absolve me if I err herein! No, give me leisure to reflect: this
were too sudden. These passion-hurried vows were too much like
those vapors, that, igniting, rush like to unorbed stars across
the night, then, vanished, leave it blacker. Do not tempt me. To
act in haste is to repent at leisure; and quickliest lighted coals
grow soonest cool. Even now I feel my cheek aglow with shame, that
burns its passage to my rooted hair. Away: if you should not forget
me, why, you are as though you were still present; for your thought,
which is your truest self, remains with me. If you should grow
oblivious--why, it is I that shall suffer, and not you."

"Oh, waste of words on what can never be!" Exclaimed Montigny:
"cease to doubt me. Forget you! Love's memories are immortal. Love
writes the lineaments of the beloved in rock, not sand."

"Yet rocks may lose their effigies, the pyramids their inscriptions,
the strong-clamped monument may tumble, and the marble bust, by
time, may let the salient features fall into one indistinguishable
round," she answered doubtingly.

"They may;" rejoined Montigny: "but neither flowing time nor chafing
circumstance can erase affection from the constant mind. Mind is
more obdurate than steel; and love, the tenderest of the train of
passions, is, in its memory, as indestructible as gold;--gold that
resists the all-corroding fire. No; the fire may melt the impress
from the seal, the sun the angles from the stony ice; the jagged
rocks may from encounter with the wind and rain grow smooth; this
hilly globe may grow at length to be as level as is the sea, and
every jutting headland of the shore may crumble and disappear; but
your bright image must to the eventide of life's cogitation, stay,
like a sacred peak whose lofty brow stands ever gilded in the
setting sun. Forget you! little hazard: he whose heart is impressed
with the absent's form, needs wear no miniature upon the breast;
the scholar who knows his task by rote, needs not retain his eye
upon the book."

"Hearts may prove false," she answered solemnly, "and tasks to
treacherous memory committed may be forgotten; but will you forget
these weighty words: will you be constant, oh, will you prove true;
for did I give you all I have, my love, what were there left me
should you throw it away?"

"Injurious and incredulous one," returned Montigny, "save Lucifer,
who ever threw from him heaven?"

"Forgive me," she replied, "it is but a timid girl that speaks.
She did not doubt you, though she sought to prove you. Yet are you
sure you love her? Ask your heart, then render me its reply, as
one might do, who having listened for me to the murmuring shell,
should bring me tidings of the storm-vexed sea. Vow not, but listen."

Montigny seemed for awhile to listen to his heart; then, looking
at her, replied:

"Surer than is assurance itself I am yours. Say that you are mine,
and every further word shall seem only to be redundant and
apochryphal; for when love's lips have made their revelation, what
more is wanting to complete the canon."

"Believe that I have said it," she half whispered; then, starting,
and changing color, "hist, hist," she added, "once more I hear it:
heard _you_ nothing?"

"I nothing heard but you," replied Montigny: "Proceed; for your
voice is sweeter to me than plashing fountain's, or than Saint
Laurent's chimes, or than would be--could we hear it--the fabulous
music of those night-hung spheres, coming harmonious to our listening
ears, borne on the shoulders of the cherub winds. Why are you
silent?"

"Listen," she said, looking still more alarmed.

"I do," he answered.

"Yet heard you nothing?"

"Nothing but ourselves."

"Nothing besides?"

"What further should I hear?" he asked.

"And yet it seemed as if I heard another," she continued. "Are we
watched? speak, tell me," she demanded,--"I hear it again; listen."

Montigny listened a moment, then replied soothingly:

"Dismiss these pale-cheeked panics, for you hear nothing; or if
you do it is but the common voices of the night. It is merely the
hoarse bullfrog croaking in the swamp; and the green grasshopper
a chirrupping in the meadow; for, saving these, all nature with
myself is listening to you. Be reassured: there is nothing, but
what your own excited fancy has conjured: even the wind has ceased
to sigh amongst the leaves; the moon stands still, and her arrested
beam no longer draws the shadow on the dreamy dial. Then, proceed,
my love, for when you speak you fill my ears with heaven, but when
you pause then opens the abyss."

"Yet listen; I hear it again:" she said; "it was not fancy; no."

"What else? what can befall you, love, whilst I am here?" he
murmured.

"Nothing, I hope," she answered, falteringly.

"Then nothing dread."

"I dread to say it, yet I must: Good night."

"Already?" he demanded.

"All too long!" cried an imperious voice; and the advocate stood
before them.

"Amanda, ah, Amanda, Miss Macdonald," he continued, "is it thus you
fool us? Go, bird, into your cage. Nurse, take my lady in." And
Amanda beheld behind her the melancholy Mona, half shrouded in a
cloak covering her night attire.

[Illustration: "Amanda, oh! Amanda, is it thus you fool us?"]

Silently they both of them withdrew, and the stranger was left
alone with the advocate, who, laying his hand detectingly on the
other's shoulder, thus addressed him:

"Claude Montigny, I do not ask of you what brings you here, for I
have something overheard, and in that something, all. Given the
arc, the eye completes the perfect circle; furnished the angle and
the object's distance, and we can tell the dizzy altitude. Mark
me, sir. We climb with risk, but there is greater danger in
descending. Young sir seigneur, you have ascended to a height you
may not safely stoop from. As sportive and adventurous schoolboys
sometimes ascend a scaffolding in the absence of the builders, and
continue to scale from tier to tier, until they pause for breath;
so, I fear, that you this night, in her protector's absence, have
soared in the affections of my ward. Beware, beware: I would not
threaten you--a gentleman neither needs nor brooks a threat--but,
by my life and the strength that yet is left me, woe to the man
that shall fool me in yonder girl! Seek not to trifle with me,
Claude Montigny. Tell me your purpose; inform me how your acquaintance
with my ward began; how it was fostered; how it has been concealed;
and how it thus has ripened into this secret, midnight interview.
Speak; what do you say, sir, in arrest of judgment? Be seated, and
recount to me the story of your love, if you do love my ward--as
you have told her that you do--and to that love be attached a story,
long or brief; or if this passion--which you have propounded most
passionately to her--be of a mere mushroom growth, born of to-night,
sown by the hand of moonlight in a girl's dark eyes; or in her
heart, perhaps, by the fairies that you spoke of, and producing
some form of feeling or forced fruit of fancy; coeval with, and
meant to be as transient, as is the present fungi of these fields.
Sit down by me, and let your tongue a true deliverance make between
yourself, me, and my foster-daughter." And seating himself heavily
on a garden bench, and leaning with both hands clasped over the top
of his gold-headed cane, he looked enquiringly up into the face of
the young man, and added: "Come, plead before me to this charge of
heart-stealing, as touching which you have been taken in the act."

"Sir," then said the stranger with dignity, whilst he slowly seated
himself; "sir, you are justified in thus misdoubting me; for though
a gentleman should, like the wife of Caesar, be above suspicion,
never yet knew chivalry a time but there were recreant knights.
Moreover, I can perceive that circumstances now must shadow, and,
as with refracting influence, distort me, so that I may well stand
here seeming to be deformed, although my soul, if you could see
it, would show wanting no part of honour's fair proportions. Hear
me, then, patiently, for I plead less for my own defence than for
her vindication who has just retired beneath your frown."

And the ingenuous but compromised Montigny sketched the brief
history of his passion, and when he had done, the advocate, looking
into his countenance keenly, but confidingly, rejoined:

"You speak the truth, I know it by your eye, wherein no falsehood
might harbour for a moment; yet, young seigneur, you have entered
on a perilous path; dare you walk in it? It is the way of honor,
and will prove to be the way of safety; but, beshrew me, if I do
not fear that it may prove to you a way of pain. Whatever may be
the ways of wisdom, the ways of honour are not always ways of
pleasantness, nor is the path of duty always one of peace. If you
would wear the rose you must grasp it as it grows amidst the thorns.
And now, farewell--yet, hold. I hold you to your bond. The forfeit
were the forfeit of your word, which you have pledged to me and
mine. Remember, not only have you offered love unto my ward, but
you have been accepted."

"Even so:" exclaimed Montigny; "and may--"

"Call nothing down that might become your harm," said the advocate
admonishingly: "Rain has before now become transformed to hailstones,
and done much damage; and dews descending so benignly, have once,
it is said, in form of rain, swelled to a deluge that has drowned
the world. May the skies be still propitious to you, Claude Montigny.
Although temptation burn as fiercely as dogdays, do not fall beneath
it, for less hurtful were a hundred sunstrokes to the body, than
to the soul is one temptation that hath overcome it. Again farewell."
And he pressed Claude's hand convulsively, then tossed it from him
half disdainfully, and both departed from the grounds.



CHAPTER VIII.

   "Think no more of this night's accidents."

   _Midsummer Night's Dream._

From Stillyside Claude Montigny rode towards the western extremity
of the island; his thoughts steeped in bliss, and the country, as
it slumbered in the moonlight, seeming to him the land of Elysium.
At the ferry of Pointe Saint Claire he engaged a bateau in which
he was rowed over the confluence of the rivers Ottawa and Saint
Lawrence by four boatmen who, from time to time, in a low tone, as
if afraid of awakening the dawn, chaunted, now an old song of
Normandy, and now a ballad upon the fate of some lost voyageur.
The moon was yet shining, and he was in the mood to enjoy such
minstrelsy; but when they neared the opposite shore, a feeling of
sadness and apprehension stole over him, as he thought of meeting
his father, to whom he knew he must either communicate distasteful
tidings, or what was worse to his ingenuous mind, practice a culpable
concealment. Thus musing, as day broke he leaped on shore, and
again mounting his horse rode thoughtful through forest and farm;
now reburied in the darkness of night, which yet lingered amidst
the foliage, and now emerging into the light of the clearing; until,
as the sun was rising over the opposite bank of the St. Lawrence,
he entered the manorial gates of Mainville, and passing through
the park-like grounds, was once more in the proud home of the
Montignys.

Meantime, Amanda Macdonald had not slept. Shame, joy, fear, hope
possessed her; but fear chiefly, for she dreaded the coming morrow,
when she must meet her foster-mother, and--what to her was yet more
terrible--her, as she supposed, deeply offended guardian; and it
was not till the birds began to chirp and flit about her window,
that she fell into a deep, refreshing slumber that lasted long into
the day, and was at length broken by the voice of Mona bidding her
arise.

The advocate, on the other hand, who had at once returned to town,
arose at his usual hour, and repairing to his office, began the
business of the day; whilst at a later period, the dissipated
Narcisse again found his boon companions, and with them renewed
the debauch of yesterday.

During the day the anxious Mona did not fail to question her charge
touching the interrupted interview; and the latter at length related
how it had befallen, confessed to her sudden passion for the gallant
Montigny, revealed his plighted vows, and confiding herself to the
bosom where she had always found advice and comfort, deprecated
the displeasure of her guardian. But the betrayed Mona could give
her only slight encouragement, in what was now yet nearer to her
than even her guardian's favor, her lover's truth.

"Child," said Mona to her emphatically and in a warning tone, after
musing, "Child, hope not too much; fear everything, for man is
naturally false towards woman. Ah, you have yet learned but little
of man, and may you never learn too much. Beware, beware, beware,
Amanda. Happy the ignorant, happy is the woman whom no false man
has taught to distrust his sex! Man's love to woman is as evanescent
as is the presence of the summer-morning mist, that, for an hour
or so, hugs lovingly the lea, then vanishes for ever. What are his
vows but vapour? Poor, rash girl, why, without warning me, have
you opened the horn-book of love, and spelled at such a speed,
that, in a day's time, you have read as far as warier maids dare
con in years?" And Amanda looked both abashed and amazed; but at
length enquired in wonder:

"What may you mean by these strange utterances? Nay, nay, dear
Mona: you slander your own father by this language."

"Thou canst not say, child, that I slander thine," responded Mona,
tartly; and her countenance darkened with an equivocal expression
new to Amanda, who, catching at the inuendo, earnestly demanded,

"Who was my father? tell me, for you know; I myself know, I feel,
(and not untrustworthy is this intuition) that I am not here a mere
fortuitous foundling. Who was my mother? I charge you to inform
me."

"Girl, had not man been false, you had not needed to have so often
asked of me that question," Mona replied with a cynical expression,
and hoarse, sepulchral voice, that, whilst it seemed to vindicate
herself, reproved her fellow, on whose face an air of horror now
mantled, as she excitedly exclaimed:

"Say more, or else unsay what you have already uttered. What must
be understood from this alarming language? Although there hangs a
mystery over my birth, surely there rests upon it no dishonor.
Acquaint me, then, once more I charge you, and now by the love and
kindness that you have always shewn to me, declare, for you know--I
say I feel you know; whose child am I, where was I born, how have
I been committed to your care, adopted, cherished; I, who have no
filial claims upon you; adjudged to be an orphan, perhaps the child
of charity; how have I been divided between you and my guardian,
or held as if I were your mutual bond? Inform me, Mona, my good
Mona, foster-mother, nurse, you who have been to me as a true mother
might be, say whose I am; whether, and where, my parents live; and,
if they live, why they have thus abandoned me," and she burst into
a flood of tears.

"Quiet yourself, my fond one," answered Mona, moved also to tears
by this appeal; "your birth on one side is as high as any that this
country boasts, therefore is as high as Claude Montigny's. Your
mother is descended from a warlike Scottish line, your father's
father was an English peer. Your parents are yet living; but their
union, which was in many points unequal, was, alas! rendered the
more unequal by a gulf-like disproportion in the passion that
provoked it;--a gulf, too, that was undiscovered, till, too late,
your mother saw it. Thence, their lives, their loves, so call it,
their mutual progress (save on the course of fondness towards
yourself, their child, whereon they journey equal side by side)
has for years kept, and yet keeps, a still disparting pace; and,
oh, Amanda, excuse these tears, for well I know your mother, and
pity her, having many a time listened to her fruitless complaints;
but until your father, who is the laggard one of this most
misappointed pair, shall, either underneath the whip of a castigating
conscience, or prompted by the spur of your poor mother's sharp
appeals, come up abreast, and fill a certain chasm of omission by
an indemnifying deed, which has been by him most selfishly left
undone, but whose performance is essential to the full fruition by
you of your fortune, you must remain, as you have hitherto done,
my foster-child, and your grim guardian's ward; a waif we hold
waiting for its claimants; and until they arrive, let me beseech
you, as though I were the mother I have spoken of, to think no
further of young Claude Montigny."



CHAPTER IX.

   "Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be medicinable to me:
   I am sick in displeasure to him; and whatsoever comes athwart
   his affection, ranges evenly with mine. How canst thou cross
   this marriage?"

   _Much ado about nothing._

A few days after the conversation detailed in the preceding chapter,
there was ushered into the office of the advocate at Montreal a
gentleman, who announced himself as Montigny, Seigneur of Mainville.
He was tall, and of a distinguished aspect, and had scarcely accepted
of the advocate's invitation to be seated, when, like a man impatient
to be done with a disagreeable business, he began:

"I have a son, sir, and you, as I believe, a ward, an orphan girl;"
pronouncing with a mixture of pity and contempt the last two words.

The advocate observed this depreciatory intonation, and throwing
himself backwards in his large easy chair, repeated: "An orphan
girl," at the same time putting a half angry, half comical expression
into his countenance, and perpetrating a pun in what followed:
"Yes, many of your Canadian noblesse would bless themselves to have
been her father. The poor fellow, it is well he is not here to have
overheard you. An orphan girl: true, as you say, I have an orphan
girl,--or one that passes for such; a girl I love, a ward, a
charming child, yonder at Stillyside. Were I disposed to praise
her I might say she is the Mountain's maid; the Dryad of its woods,
a grace, a goddess, fairer than Diana, and far purer, for one may
guess the fool Diana made of that poor boy, Endymion. But what
concerning my ward, sir, my most immaculate lady?"

"Would you forbid my son access to her?" enquired the seigneur.

"Ah! you wish for an injunction;" said the advocate; "show me cause.
I have, sir--as you seem aware--a ward dwelling yonder at my seat
at Stillyside;--a place I sometimes visit; a sort of shrine, a kind
of hermitage or chapel, wherein two devotees, two nun-like, holy
women consume the hours; leading there, pious, penitential lives,
making each day a sort of hallowed tide, and every eve a vigil."

"You are humorous," replied the seigneur. "Excuse me, I am sorry,
but it were best that I should speak plainly. I would not wish to
see your ward dishonored."

"Dishonored! not a seigneur, nor a seigneur's son dare dream of
such a consummation, nor, daring so to dream, could compass it,"
cried the advocate, growing crimson. "Yet this is kind of you;" he
added, bowing as if deeply grateful;--"and yet," he continued,
"there can be no fear of an offence: is not your son a clergyman?
for, if he be, and they confess to him anything worse than to have
admitted him to their confidence--why, sir, he shall be allowed to
enter, and shrive them when he chooses;" and after a momentary
silence, "Fie! fie!" he resumed, rolling in his chair; "'the fool
hath said in his heart there is no God,' and the wise man of
Mainville, who has been all his life looking for purity in a
petticoat, says 'there is no virtue in woman.' But I say, both
these oracles are in the wrong; there is not only a Divinity, but
there are women too who are virtuous. This is a clumsy jest, sir.
My ward be dishonored by your son? Yes, when the diamond can be
cut with a feather. Monsieur Montigny, a tempest is as harmless as
a breath, when that tempest is being hurled against the rock; a
breath is even as effectual as is a tempest, when that breath is
puffed against the dust. So buzzing blandishments of sighing fops,
may blow the frail flowerets from weak, wanton natures; whilst
vehement vows of otherwise most honorable men, though urged as
strongly as the northern blast, are in vain against the marble
front of virtue. I am marble to your wishes."

"You weigh your danger as little as you do your language," observed
the seigneur. "Will you permit a trespasser, a tempter within your
grounds; a wolf, a fox, a bear within your fold?"

The advocate shrugged his shoulders and replied: "No, heaven
forbid;--and Stillyside is to me as an outer court of heaven,
wherein my ward dwells as a sort of semi-solitary angel."

"Yet angels fell, and so may she fall," interjected the seigneur
quickly.

"They did, and without a tempter, too, Monsieur Montigny," returned
the advocate, quietly; then added: "the height of heaven turned
the heads of the angels giddy."

"Girls are giddy," remarked the seigneur gravely.

"Boys are more frequently foolish," drily retorted the advocate:
"and often coming to girls for kisses, go away with cuffs. I hope
your son has neither sought for the one nor yet received the other.
But what is this son, Monsieur Montigny, that you would have me
believe to be so formidable? Is he another Lucifer, couched at my
Ward's ear, as his dark prototype once squatted at that of Eve? Or
is he Lothario alive again? Is he Leander, and are the Ottawa's
jaws a western Hellespont, with my ward and Stillyside, for Hero
and her tower?"

"Your verandah," remarked the seigneur, "is not higher than was
Hero's tower, although, I trust, your ward's virtue may be more
exalted than was Hero's. But are you aware, sir, that already my
son has had her company, alone, at midnight, on your grounds; all
others retired; she alone watching, with Claude Montigny and the
broad, full moon?"

"An actionable moon," exclaimed the lawyer, "and a decided case of
lunacy against the lovers. But, alas, sir, in this respect we have
all been sinners in our youth, and all grown wondrous righteous
with our years. Have we not ourselves, when we were young,--ay,
and upon inclement winter nights too, courted brown peasant girls
beneath both stars and moon? What if the nights were cold, the
blood was warm; and now with these volcanic veins of ours grown
cool, why, we may walk on the quenched crater of concupiscence,
and who dares challenge us, and say, ha, ha! smut clings to you,
gentlemen; you have the smell of fire upon you. No, sir, no; we
are fumigated, ventilated, scented, powdered, purged as with hyssop.
Pish! he must be truly an Ethiop, whom time cannot whiten; a very
leopard, who will not part with his spots, since the sun himself
shall lose _his_ some day, purged in his own fires."

"I repeat, sir, your ward is in danger," said the seigneur doggedly.

"Not at all. Is the diamond in danger when it is put into the
crucible; is the gold deteriorated when it is being deterged from
dross?" was responded.

"Infatuated man, would you open the door to the seducer?" asked
the seigneur, growing angry with the contumelious lawyer.

"Seducer!" said the advocate, affecting to be shocked: "that is a
huge stone to throw at your own son: and remember; is not every
man's frame a glass house, whereat the soul that inhabits it should
invite no stone throwing from the little red catapult of a neighbour's
tongue? Beware, beware; have mercy, Monsieur Montigny. 'All flesh
is grass,' the Prophet proclaims; but I assert, 'All flesh is
glass.'"

"A woman's reputation is as brittle," was the seigneur's ready
repartee; "therefore warn off my son from Stillyside."

"But should he not regard me, sir, what then?"

"Brandish the law over him, your chosen weapon," answered the
seigneur.

The lawyer suddenly looked grave, and, affecting to be offended,
demanded sternly: "Monsieur Montigny, am I a mere mechanic to do
your bidding? Brandish the law indeed! Is, then, the law but an
ordinary cudgel, to thwack the shoulders with or beat the brains
out? The law, sir, is a sacred weapon, not to be lightly taken up,
neither to be profanely applied to paltry uses, any more than we
would take the tempered razor to pick a bone, or pare our cheese
with. Brandish the law! The man that can talk of brandishing the
law would brandish a piece of the true cross, sir, if he had it;
he would drink, sir, from his mother's skull, and with his father's
thigh-bones play at shinty. What is the law? What less is it than
the will and force of all employed for one; the savage sense of
justice, disciplined and drilled till it can move in regular array,
invincibly, to conquer wrong; surely too vast an engine to be
employed on trifles. Who wants a wheel to break a butterfly upon;
or, to crush a worm who calls for a pavior's rammer? Monsieur
Montigny, listen. Mercy is Heaven's first attribute, and the
executioner is the State's meanest, as well as last, servant; shall
I, then, stoop to this, who may aspire to that? Shall I wield a
whip of legal scorpions before your son, should he seek to re-enter
Stillyside? Would you have me, as once Heaven's cherubim stood at
the gates of Paradise, with fiery swords turning all ways, to hinder
its ejected tenants from breaking back into the garden,--would you
have me, I say, stand at my gates at Stillyside, and, meeting young
Montigny, flourish in his face a fist full of fasces, in the form
of threatened pains and penalties? No; your suit, sir, is denied:
you take nothing by your motion."

"Dare you deny," retorted the seigneur, loudly, and with a look of
coming triumph; "dare you deny that you are privy to their intimacy;
will you assert that you--yourself unseen--have not witnessed my
son in secret, midnight conversation with your ward at Stillyside;
there overheard them interchanging vows of endless love, and dealing
declarations of devotedness unto each other;--I ask you; did you
not hear and see these doings, and, even when you did at length
surprise the pair, did you not by failing to condemn their folly,
give it your silent sanction?"

"Something of this I did," said the advocate coolly, "for I remembered
some rather liberal breathings of my own when I was young,--and
youth will have its fling,--nay, do not bite your lip, but listen.
Monsieur Montigny, thus far we have met guile with guile. Just like
two wily fencers, both of us, waiting to spy our advantage, have
still witheld the lunge, until, at last, you, having grown desperate,
have rushed into the close. Yet, do not let your anger overbear
discretion. The heated iron hisses when it is plunged into the
trough, but shall we hiss at each other like geese or serpents?
Shall we quarrel, deny the undeniable, try to undo the accomplished
deed? What is done is done, and not Omnipotence itself, sir, could
undo it."

"But we may hinder further evil," observed the seigneur.

"Ay? Would you keep out the lightning by high builded walls?"
demanded the advocate, "for you are as likely to accomplish that,
as to keep lovers from each other. No, let them alone, for they
are as climbing Titans towards their wishes' skies; despising
guardians' gates and fathers' fences, just as much as did Briareus
and his crew disdain its rugged sides, and risk their necks up
steep Olympus, when they were making war on Jove. You cannot bar
them. The sun may be debarred from attics, and frost may be kept
out of cellars, but, Monsieur Montigny, the mutually enamoured can
never be permanently parted. Sir, no more."

"Enamoured he, and she at length dishonoured," cried the seigneur,
disregarding the injunction.

"Her honour is its own sufficient guardian," was responded.

"Have regard, sir, to your future peace," was urged.

"Peace, sir, like silence, never comes for calling for," rejoined
the advocate.

"Impracticable man, have you no fear?" demanded the foiled Montigny
upbraidingly.

"None for my ward; I hope you have as little for your son," said
the lawyer sarcastically.

"Your ward invites my son, by sitting upon the verandah at midnight,
to attract him when he passes by, as the Hebrew woman, Tamar, once
sat to decoy the foolish Judah. Do you deny this? I have learned
all, all," outburst the indignant seigneur.

"Do I deny it?" cried the advocate, the blood, in anger, rushing
to his face. "Dare you affirm it? Monsieur, if you mean seriously
to asperse my ward, I say, prepare;--not for the action of the
law,--no, no, I hate the law, when it is cited for myself,--but
for the action of an old man's arm. Sir, I have been a swordsman
in my youth, and though the lank skeleton of my skill at fence is
buried in disuse, it moves now in the grave of this right hand,
that so long has wielded only the quiet quill. I do not bid you
quail; not I,--but, by the angry devil of the duel, you answer me,
either sword point to sword point; or from the pointing pistol,
that shall speak both sharp and decisive, and the dotting bullet,
perhaps, put a period to your proud life's scrawl. But no; I am
grown too old to have recourse to violence. Away, go, go; but, mind
you, do not breathe this calumny into a human ear,--no, not into
the air. Shame, shame! you are no noble minded man, to villify my
ward and your own son; whom, if I accounted to be as strangely base
as you have shown yourself to be, and have depicted him, I would
forbid to tread within my gates, and hound him from my door at
Stillyside."

"Words only anger you," said the astonished and half daunted
seigneur.

"Such words as yours have been:" was replied. "What! do you expect
to strike upon a bank where bees have settled, yet not be stung;
or dream to be allowed to draw the bare hand, clasping down a sword,
but not be wounded?"

"What shall I say, yet not offend you?" soothingly enquired Montigny.

"Say what you will," the advocate continued: "what can be worse
than what you have said already?"

"Hear me," said the seigneur, in the manner of one who is going to
make a confidential proposal: "Either remove your ward, and
receive a compensation for her absence, or quickly marry her, and
I will provide her with a dower."

"Now you are indeed a generous gentleman," said the advocate,
smiling; "You must have built churches, surely, or founded hospitals,
and always have dealt out dollars liberally to the deserving. But
you are wealthy, and can do these things without being impoverished.
It is fortunate that you are wealthy, for I shall accept of no
paltry sum. Only imagine, to have to banish her; to quench, or to
remove, the very beam that fills my life with light. You must be
liberal, if you would have me exile her Come, sign me a bond for
what I shall demand."

"You are in haste," observed the seigneur, somewhat startled at
the advocate catching so readily at the bait; but the latter was
ready with his reply:

"Because your son may now be at Stillyside, and, whilst we are
haggling, may carry off my ward,--or I might change my mind," he
answered.

"And I, too, may change mine," was the rejoinder.

"Why, then, we are quits;" observed the advocate carelessly, and
as if all parley were at an end; "we are as we were, and, for the
young ones, they are as they were; but if I know the force of
youthful blood, you, with all your endeavours, will not be able
long to keep them apart."

"What is your price for her expatriation?" demanded the seigneur
sullenly, as if coming to terms; and the advocate replied:

"No, marry her, marry her; we will have her married. We either
marry her or do nothing in this business, sir, which, after all,
were, perhaps, best left to those who have most interest in it;--but
if you think differently, be it yours to find the money, I will
find the match:--and let it be understood, that you find her a
dowry which would be fitting for a seigneur's daughter; or else,
without a dowry, I shall not scruple to give her to a seigneur's
son. Why are you silent?"

The proud, perplexed parent made no answer, but secretly groaned
in his dilemma, and at length exclaimed: "Insatiate old man, have
you no son, the thought of which may teach you to be just towards
me and mine? What do I ask of you? Little,--or what would cost you
little, yet you ask a fortune of me; and to enrich, too, one, whom,
as a punishment, I have reason rather to desire should always be
poor. Do not deny it; she has ensnared my son. It is impossible,
that he who has roamed over half the world, and has yet come home
uncaptivated, though in his travels he has met the fairest and the
richest, can have been caught at the mere passing by your farm of
Stillyside, can at a glance have been so smitten as to meditate
this marriage. No, he has been decoyed, seduced. You might as well
declare that a young eagle would not return to its nest, but plunge
into some casually discovered coop, and roost there, as aver that,
without some irregular influence, Claude Montigny would seek your
ward in marriage. If she marry him, she will marry a beggar: not
an acre of mine shall he inherit, not a dollar of mine will he
receive. Give her a dowry? Give her a dukedom. No, sir; I will
not buy brass from you at the price of gold; I will not subsidize
you to avoid your ward." And, with the words, he bowed himself out
of the room, and the advocate, casting himself backwards in his
easy chair, laughing, exclaimed: "Was ever such a proposition
started?--started! yes; and shall eventually be carried. It is not
what we do, but it is the motive that induced the deed, that gives
the color to it. She shall be Madam Montigny, in spite of old
Montigny's self; and for her dowry, (which I asked Montigny to
provide, only that it might be returned to him through his son),
I'll mortgage my old brains to procure it for her."



CHAPTER X.

   While you here do snoring lie
   Open-ey'd conspiracy
     His time doth take:
   If of life you keep a care,
   Shake off slumber, and beware:
     Awake! Awake!

   _The Tempest._

Amongst the seigniories contiguous to the eastern extremity of the
island of Montreal, lies that of Montboeuf. Its present owner was
André Duchatel, a descendent of the Sieur Duchatel, a cadet of an
ancient French noble family, to whom the seigniory was granted by
royal letters patent, about the middle of the seventeenth century.
But if any nobility of soul, or refinement of aspect existed in
the first of the Canadian dynasty of Duchatel, it had not been
transmitted to the living representative of the line. As the long
hung-up sword or unused ploughshare, lose their brightness and edge
from want of use, perhaps these qualities of mind and body had
disappeared for want of a fitter field for their display. André
Duchatel, seigneur of Montboeuf, was a vulgar looking, short,
broad-set, florid figure, of fifty years or so; material in his
tastes, in disposition obstinate and narrow-minded, unenlarged by
education; shy with strangers, yet fond of good fellowship with
his acquaintance, and, with much reason, accounted to be rich. He
was a widower, but lived in a kind of surly, patriarchal state, in
the midst of three sons and a daughter; the former being dissipated
and sensual, the latter of a showy person, but in character,
superficial, vain, vindictive, proud.

An intimacy had long existed between the houses of Montigny and
Duchatel, which, in spite of their different genius, had for
generations continued as it were to shake hands across the island.
The latter family, though equal to the former in wealth and pedigree,
secretly acknowledged it as the superior, and with a view to an
alliance between the two, Seraphine Duchatel, even when a child,
was a frequent visitor at Mainville; her relations hoping that
thereby, she and Claude Montigny might become inspired with a mutual
liking, the prelude to their desired union.

This union, it was understood, was to be cemented on the part of
Duchatel, by the gift, as her marriage portion, of a tract of land
adjoining the seigniory of Mainville, and at present the property
of André Duchatel; but which, at the nuptials, would be added to
the Montigny manor, as a sort of arrière fief, and so gratify the
craving of the elder Montigny for territorial aggrandizement. The
splendid person of Claude had long ago caught the slight affections
of Seraphine, who in her visits to Mainville, would hang upon him,
much to his distaste, and persist to make him her reluctant cavalier,
though neither her blandishments nor his father's wishes could
induce him to return these visits, or appear to reciprocate her
preference. Nor would a closer and wider acquaintance with the
Duchatels have lessened his reluctance. The eldest son, Samson,
was a colossal bully, dividing his time between field sports,
intemperance, and intrigues with the daughters of the censitors on
his father's seigniory; or in yet lower illicit amours with the
peasant girls of the manorial village; varied by occasional journeys,
made more for debauchery than business, to the city of Montreal.
The second scion of the house, Pierre, was a good-enough looking,
and not ill-disposed youth; whom his father, as if willing to offer
up his choicest lamb for the sins of the family fold, had intended
for the church. But the former had far other intentions towards
the fair than absolving them from their peccadilloes, and entertained
other ideas of foreign travel than that of going on distant Indian
missions; whilst the youngest brother, Alphonse, was an unbroken
colt and madcap, articled to one of the principal legal firms in
the city. Although in years he was but ancle deep, he was already
in potations full five fathoms; a worthy graduate of the
licentiousness of the town, and boon companion of the dissolute
Narcisse; whom, in a giddy moment he had made acquainted with the
family matrimonial design on young Montigny. Narcisse, in his turn,
had a domestic story, that instinct, revenge, and a mother's command
impelled him to relate, and which he told to the rollicking, but
now attentive Alphonse, with a wicked glee, raised by the prospect
of mischief. A discovery had been made by his brooding and despised
parent. Chance had thrown in her way an opportunity for which she
had watched for years. Mona Macdonald had visited the advocate at
his dwelling, and her presence had stirred not only the womanly
curiosity of the lynx-eyed Babet Blais, but her malicious jealousy
of one whom she could never but regard as a hateful and favored
rival. So, overhearing them in earnest conversation in the library,
she, with the unrestrained enjoyment of a low, untutored nature,
stole to the door, that was slightly ajar, and there, with her ear
applied to the interstice, learned the circumstance of the discovered
interview between Claude and Amanda at Stillyside, with their
plighted troth, not disapproved of by the advocate. Swelling with
envy and anger, and recollecting what Narcisse had told her of the
predilection and hopes of Alphonse Duchatel's sister in regard to
Claude Montigny, she, with an intent to dash the proud prospect
which seemed to be opening before the child of an odious--and as
she deemed, unlawful competitor for the advocate's favors, conceived
the spiteful idea of informing the Duchatels of what she had just
discovered. Further to instigate her, all the real and all the
fancied wrongs that her son had suffered from his father rose up
before her, magnified by her imagination, and prompting her to the
gratification of her unreasoning spleen. Her purpose was soon put
into execution. That night Narcisse came home sober; and giving
him some warm supper, followed by a delicacy that she had set aside
for him as a dessert, and which, with a half human, half animal
affection, she watched him devour, she broke the subject to him.
He grinned with an infantile delight, as he heard the important
secret, and discussed with her the project that might hinder the
good fortune of the haughty foundling, whose disdain had long
chagrined him, and under the recollection of whose scorn during
the recent raid on Stillyside, he was yet smarting. With heightened
pleasure she beheld his joyful interest, and, warming with his
sympathy, whilst she gloated over the anticipated revenge, she
exclaimed, as her face assumed a dark, prophetic aspect: "Yes, we
will humble that mongrel, and her proud, petted child. What better
are they than we, what nearer to thy father? See how I toil, and
do his drudgery; keep him a home, who, but for me, would have no
home, and no one to care for him. Yet no fine country house for
me, fine clothes, rich presents; no fine gifts for thee, my child,
no endless schooling, no sending _thee_ to travel; no allowance,
no expense to help to make of thee a gentleman, like his endeavours
to make her child a lady; no fine lady sought for thee to be thy
wife, Narcisse; no closetings for me, who, but for her, had been
thy father's wife, and not his servant. But God and the virgin have
at last heard our prayers. Narcisse, my darling, tell Alphonse
Duchatel all that I have told thyself. Bid him quickly inform his
father, brothers, sister; and if they have French blood in their
veins they will balk this half-breed and her daughter brat."

Never was there an apter pupil than Narcisse proved now; never a
willinger. Scarcely could he refrain from at once rushing forth to
find his friend, Alphonse; and he did at length arise with the
blessing and Godspeed of his mother, intending to inform him,
touching the rival who had so far and so suddenly outstripped his
sister on the road of Claude's regard, when the voice of the advocate
was heard calling upon his son to attend him in the room above.
Narcisse obeyed; but filled with a sentiment of rising rebellion
and new-born insolence, as of one who intends no longer to be
checked, nor submit to unmerited harshness and tyranny. There the
two had an altercation, provoked by the old grudges, and aggravated
by Narcisse's recent dissipation, escapade, and neglect of duty,
and still more sharpened by his present pertness and contumacy.
Anger rose high between parent and child, and the latter, in
unconcealed dudgeon flung from the room, and left the house, his
breast charged with a spiteful purpose; and going straight to the
lodgings of Alphonse Duchatel, he told all--and more than all--that
he had learned respecting the menaced alliance between the children
of Mainville and Montboeuf.

Burning with the information, the young and impetuous Alphonse
scarcely slept that night, and in the morning, having obtained
leave of absence, rode swiftly to his paternal home, and, in sudden,
solemn family council, declared what he had learned of danger to
the connubial scheme that had long been planned for his sister and
the distinction of their house.



CHAPTER XI.

   "Then hie you hence to Friar Laurence' cell."

   _Romeo and Juliet._

   "Given to captivity me and my utmost hopes."

   _Othello._

Whilst the news that Claude Montigny had given, to a girl of dubious
birth and uncertain social position, the heart, for the possession
of which the supercillious Seraphine Duchatel had so long striven
in vain, was disturbing the souls of the Montboeuf Manorhouse, the
seigneur of Mainville, ill at ease, and apprehensive of a hasty
and irremediable matrimonial step on the part of his son, started
for Montreal again to visit the intractable advocate.

Later in the same day, Claude also took horse, and rode towards
the banks of the Ottawa, where he arrived at dusk, and crossing at
the ferry from the main to Sainte Anne, he thence, solitary, and
filled with chequered thoughts, continued his way, whilst the
ground grew dimmer and yet dimmer, and star after star stole out;
till, as the moon rose slowly in the glimmering air, he reached
the neighbourhood of dim Mount Royal.

At the same hour that the large bateau was heaving its way over
the vexed flood of the meeting waters of the Saint Lawrence and
the Ottawa, four horsemen crossed a rustic bridge, that led from
the mainland to the opposite, or eastern extremity of the Island
of Montreal. One of the riders was of gigantic stature, and another
of diminutive proportions; and all were clad in the coarse grey
frieze suit of the country, and wore upon their heads the common
blue cap or tuque. Pursuing their way, they kept to the least
frequented paths; endeavouring to avoid recognition; until the
coming night concealed them, and they journeyed beneath the decrescent
and feebly shining moon.

And now, whilst such was transpiring at the extremities of the
Island, at Stillyside, its centre, the curtains had been drawn,
and the lighted lamp, with its frosted glass globe, shone serene
and silvery, like a minor and domestic moon. Mona Macdonald sat
sewing near a table, whilst Amanda read aloud. On a sofa a lazy
lapdog dreamed, the parrot slept on its swing, and the bullfinch
on the perch in its cage, and in the pauses of Amanda's voice, the
drowsy cat was heard purring in its evening doze. Nothing was heard
without, except the fitful bark of the Newfoundland dog at some
stray passer by; and, at length, even that had ceased; Mona's needle
was laid aside, the domestics, obedient to the early habits of
country life, were abed, Mona herself had now retired, and Amanda
being left alone, nothing was heard but the measured ticking of
the old clock on the corner of the stairs. The lamp had been taken
away by the departing Mona, and in the obscurity, the moonbeams
fell in grey streaks adown the damask curtains; and after a brief
meditation on the subject of her reading, Amanda rose, noiselessly
ascended the carpeted stairs to her room, approached the window,
drew aside the drapery, and gazed towards Mainville. Thus had she
done each night since the memorable interview with Claude Montigny;
and now not less long did she linger there, but longer; nor thought
of retiring, till, startled at the approaching sound of horses,
she hastily re-closed the curtains; the sound ceased, and she began
slowly to undress. But her thoughts were elsewhere; and, falling
into a reverie, she sat with her raised fingers still upon her
dress, that she was about to withdraw from before her snowy bosom,
when again she heard the sound of hoofs on the road, and soon a
shaking of reins near the gate, and champing of the bit, mingled
with the smothered growl of the awakened Newfoundlander. Divining
the cause, and seized with trembling, she arose, again threw aside
the curtains, and beheld in the moonlight a figure advancing up
the lawn. A moment she gazed upon the apparition; then, scarcely
knowing what she did, opened the folding window, and half within
and half without her chamber, leaning forward into the night,
demanded in a piercing whisper of enquiry and alarm: "Who comes
there? Speak, is it Claude Montigny?"

"It is I, my love, for by what name shall you be called, yet dearer,
worthier than love?" responded the subdued, yet full, clear voice
of Claude. Then, drawing nearer, he continued in an enraptured
tone:

"Oh, my lady, oh, my heart, my love, my life; my mistress now, my
wife that is to be: my breath, my soul; my hope, my happiness, my
all in all; fair presence--but in vain my tongue seeks for the word
that shall embody you, and, like the hunted hare returning to its
form, so does my soul return to that word, love. My love, then, be
it, for you are my love, you are my life henceforward; nor shall
the hereafter part us, for wherever you are there unto me will
still be heaven. Oh, my love, is it not kind of fortune thus to
call you forth? a favorable omen of the issue of this night. Oh,
come forth, my love; come forth, and make a hallowed aisle of the
verandah."

"Alas!" exclaimed Amanda, stepping to the verandah, "why have you
ventured here again so soon,--or, rather, why so late? for are
there not ruffian robbers on the road, and all the secret perils
of the night?"

"No peril equals that of absence from yourself," said Claude, "for
passion has greater perils than the road. Cupid's arrows are more
terrible to him whose breast is bared by the absence of its mistress,
than would be at the traveller's throat the armed and threatening
hands of fifty ruthless robbers. But how have you fared since we
were so rudely parted?"

Amanda sighed. "But so so;" she murmured mournfully, "it is a slight
burn that does not smart a little when the scorched part is snatched
away from the fire:" and hanging down her head bashfully, repeated,
"But so so:--I have felt an unaccustomed care--of little
consequence,--but, oh, tell me, Montigny, how your father, the
proud, rich seigneur takes this matter, for I know you would inform
him of it. Is he not incensed, not angry; does he not upbraid you,
and call me evil, and perhaps deserved, hard names?"

"He has expostulated with me;" Claude responded; "yet not with too
much earnestness, knowing love's fires are blown by opposition.
How seems your guardian?"

"How shall I dare to meet him!" murmured Amanda musing.

"Do not fear him;" Claude rejoined: "he will not chide you;--besides,
you shall be gone to-morrow. I come to-night, a Jason for the golden
fleece, and may not return without it. Stillyside is Colchis, and
my desires are dolphins that have brought me hither, and will not,
returning, ferry me across the Ottawa, unless they shall be freighted
with your form. Mine own one, do not stand transfixed like death
in life, but live here no longer; leave it, and live with me for
ever, for from where you are my feet shall never stray. Do not
misdoubt me: though man were as faithless as it is said that woman
is fickle, yet I were loyal towards _you_, whom I implore to be my
affianced to-night, my bride to-morrow."

"To-morrow!--Oh, so soon," exclaimed Amanda, starting.

"It will be a thousand years till then;" interposed Montigny; "and
yet it will be the glad millenium, since you shall reign amidst my
meditations, and towards you all my thoughts be worshipping saints.
This dumb devotion will be bliss, but to have sealed you mine by
the great sacrament of marriage will be glory, such as the saved
soul experiences when, in Heaven sitting, it feels itself secure,
and proof against the possibility of loss. Accord me your consent.
Why do you ponder? wherefore should you hesitate? Amanda, be
immediately mine. What are your thoughts? What are you that transports
me with impatience out of myself, to mingle with your being, and
become one with yourself in history and fate? Our fate commands;
let us obey it, since, what is fate's behest, but Heaven's directing
voice; what is our destiny, but the deed which we perceive may not
be left undone."

"Rash man, forbear;" pronounced Amanda, her face darkening with
displeasure; "you counsel me to evil. Though I would esteem you as
I would some annunciating angel, beyond impeachment of veracity,
and bent on a generous errand, you seem as a fallen spirit now;
tempting me, not enlightening. No, Montigny, no. Shall I deceive
my guardian so kind, shall I defraud your house, your father, you?
I, who have no fortune, nor--as is your lot--upon my name, neither
the rime and hoar of silver, new renown, nor golden rust of brown
antiquity,--the dust of ages in heroic deeds, lying on your
escutcheon, dyeing it as the dust that dapples the bright insect's
wings;--shall I, I say, come and lie like to a bar sinister across
it? for what else should I be considered by your indignant friends,
except, indeed, a shadow on your brightness, a shame across your
honour?" and she hung her head in despairing sadness, whilst Montigny
thus replied:

"Oh, shame on me, to hear you so self-slandered! Friends! mistaken
friends. And what although my father and the world esteemed you my
inferior; what were their estimation unto me; and, compared with
you, what is the value of heraldic honours and traditionary glory
heaped upon the dead, which is, in truth, too often only as the
phosphorescent glimmer that hangs upon decay: what are these gauds
to me, who count you to be far above the worth of monumental effigy,
or marble mask, my living love; whom I will set,--not in the tomb
of cold, pale porphyry, nor in a sable, slabbed sarcophagus, but
breathing, and enshrined in fortune's framing gold. Fastidious
girl, and prouder than the proud Montignys, listen to me, listen.
We are two stranger vessels that have met upon the highway of the
lonely sea;--we are as two ships that, being long from port, have,
sailing, met, and exchanged one with the other, what each has needed
and what each could spare; we have bartered heart for heart. Have
you not given me yours? If you have not, why, then, return me mine."

"Then were I poor indeed," replied Amanda.

"Yet I were poorer without yours," retorted Claude, "poorer than
he who begs his bread. I wish I had to beg my bread for you, then
richly should you fare; for who, when I should crave for love of
you, (as mendicants ask alms for love of heaven), could then refuse
me? Oh, refuse no longer my request. Estimate not my fortune, but
appraise myself; and whatsoever you may deem to be my value, account
your own worth as being ten thousand times that sum. Still take
me, a mere miserable doit; an earnest, an instalment towards the
payment of the debt of love and loyalty, that shall require a life
to liquidate, then leave me bankrupt in untold arrears."

"I should forgive the debt, even before you could have asked
forgiveness," replied Amanda, smiling, though much moved; "and yet
I would not leave you perfectly absolved, but still retain you by
some small reminder, some power of execution over you--not to be
exercised towards you to your hurt--far from it, but I would be
absolute that I might shew you mercy; even as noblest kings have
been despotic, and in their day have delighted in dispensing pardon.
So would I be towards you;--or even as the King of Kings--to speak
it reverently--who, of His boundless goodness and free grace,
remits the debts and manifold trespasses of us, his poor, defaulting
creatures."

"Go on, for it is bliss to hear you," murmured Claude.

"Nay, I have done;--what have I said?" she quietly enquired of him.

"Would you unsay it?" he demanded eagerly.

"Only to say it again," she answered blushing,--"yet I fear I have
babbled strangely;--but, remember, I was never wooed before, nor
answered wooer; so, being a novice in love's archery, it may be
that the gust of a too ardent breath has caught my words, and from
my meaning wafted them awry."

"And can a fountain yield both bitter and sweet?" demanded Claude:
"or are you as changeful as is yon waning moon?" he asked half
chidingly.

"Rather consider me to be as is the sun, that knows no change of
aspect throughout the livelong year; or, if it vary, swells its
orb in winter," she observed, "even as I would now appear to you
with fuller favor, amidst this young acquaintance's chilly prospect."

"Chilly! it is summer wherever lovers cast their eyes, the bright
Bermudas. Do not libel love, nor our sweet fortunes," cried Claude
impetuously: "For me, there never will be winter where you are;
and why, when I am with you, should you thus seem to shiver, as it
were, in the shadow of November?"

"I am no casuist," she said, "and yet it would appear to be too
selfish in me, too much like to fraud, should I accept all that
you offer me, such vast and personal advantage, and for which I
bring you no equivalent, no dower, no estate; nothing to counterpoise
the wide possessions that you will inherit;--nothing that may
conciliate your family, rich in material things and heaped with
honors,--save my poor love;--and what were that?"

"More than them all," ejaculated Claude, "but why these scruples?
In human hearts love is not placed against love, as in the scales
the commodity is placed against the weight; neither is it exchanged
for land, or bartered for position; but it is always given, and is
the donor's whole, unmeasured and immeasurable. It is infinite,
growing whilst it is being given, even as the horizon grows upon
the eye of him who travels towards it. It _is_ because _it must_ be;
it is unselfish; nay, unto itself it is unjust; often giving the
most where it receives the least; possessing nothing, yet possessing
all, if it possesses but all its object's heart. It is towards its
object as is the encircling and cloud-breeding sea unto the verdant
island, encompassing, and in soft showers, shedding itself over
it. As the sea sheds itself in soft showers upon the island, so do
I shed my fondness, and would shed my fortune, over you, and in
return seek for yourself,--no more, for what more could you give,
what more could I receive, who count all else as worthless dross.
What hinders then our marriage?"

"Your father," was replied.

"He would not consent unto our nuptials though I should pray him
on my bended knees, so obstinate and unyielding is his pride,"
asseverated Claude.

"My guardian, too, is proud," answered Amanda.

"Let us not wait, but wed without, and not against their leave,
then;" Montigny urged adroitly:--"but your guardian will consent:
he has avowed as much unto me privately; so, mark; when morning
brings the daylight to the east, be ready. Meet me beyond these
grounds; when we will hasten to the village of Saint Laurent, and
there be married. The deed being thus achieved, none will oppose,
for before the irrevocable all rebuke is dumb."

"And so am I to this," was replied with dignity.

"Yet let me speak:" Montigny urged with desperate eagerness, "let
me persuade you, for to this pass it must come; then let it come
at once, since each day will cause the path thereunto to grow more
rugged. My father's storm of threats, my mother's deluge of tears,
will make the way impassable and past repair. You falter; your
silence speaks consent; you are convinced, and yield to the necessity
for this ungracious consummation. Good night. To-morrow early, meet
me at the church of Saint Laurent, all shall be ready,--pray offer
no remonstrance;--meet me there at ten,--the priest is my fast
friend;--nay, do not grieve, but say good night; to-morrow you
shall smile:--goodnight, good night;" and kissing his hand to her,
before she could reply, the impetuous lover reached the postern,
and, vaulting into the saddle, vanished.

Paralyzed with amazement and apprehension, Amanda stood motionless
and dumb. She would have called on Claude to return, but dare not,
lest she should alarm the slumbering inmates of the house, and she
was still standing irresolute and helpless, when something was
suddenly thrown over her face, shrouding her in darkness, and before
she could resist she was lifted from her feet, hurried across the
lawn in a diverse direction from that taken by Claude, and on
arriving on the road, swung into a lofty saddle. A huge arm from
some one seated behind received her, passing around her waist, and
feeling like the coil of a boa-constrictor; and, amidst the sound
of several persons mounting in haste, spurs were struck into the
sides of the large animal, that reared with a vast bound which
nearly dismounted its riders; and at once, as it seemed, a troop
were flying with her at the top of their speed along the road. Half
fainting from terror, and stifling in the folds of some coarse
envelopment, she was unable to utter a cry for help, and the
cavalcade scoured along its way. One seemed to ride before them,
and the rest behind. No one spoke, but her companion on the crupper
grasped her tightly, like a relentless fate, and onwards they still
bounded, and the deeply spurred steeds in agony of exertion stretched
themselves to the task, and still they flew, and still Amanda strove
to recover her voice; till as the dumb, in some moment of mortal
terror, are said to have found speech, she, with accents, that,
bursting through the thick veil, rung amidst the night, shrieked
out the name of Claude Montigny. A low, chuckling laugh arose around
her, followed by a curse, and a hoarse threat of violence from the
figure that rode on the crupper, who at the same time again dug
spurs into the flanks of the courser, that once more, with its
huge, responding bound nearly dismounted its riders; and prompted
as it seemed by fear of a rescue, the rate accelerated till the
troop was scouring over the ground with the flight of a tempest.
Confused with terror, and alarmed at the threats of her powerful
keeper, she remained silent, unable to divine in what direction
they were hurrying; but felt that her captor and custodian kept
looking behind, as if afraid of some one in pursuit; and the killing
pace appeared to rise yet higher, and the animals to quiver in
quick bounds like mortal throes, as the spurs were plied up to the
rowels, and the creatures seemed to swallow the ground, until again
over all burst, as might the shriek of an imprisoned gnome, from
beneath her envelopement, the cry of Amanda calling upon the name
of Claude Montigny.

"Forward! faster, yet faster!" cried a voice in rage and apprehension;
and with renewed application of whip and spur, the party tore along
the road, shaking it as the prairie is shaken when it is swept over
by a herd of buffaloes.

[Illustration: "The party tore along the road, shaking it as the
prairie shakes when it is swept over by a herd of buffaloes."]

"Claude, Claude!" she again shrieked, and now in addition to the
thick cowl, a huge hand was placed upon her mouth, a threat of
instant death came from the terrible voice behind her, the grip
tightened round her form, and, making her darkness yet darker, at
that moment the clouds, that had been lately gathering, covered
the moon. Soon the way divided before them. To the left it meandered
half hidden with trees, to the right it loomed straight and open,
leading to Montreal, and the motion of the horses, now abreast and
flinging foam from their bits, seemed like the tossing of the
boiling rapids, and amidst the thunder of the hoofs the hoarse
voice of him who rode behind her, hissing with earnestness and fear
like an excited Python, exclaimed:

"Brother, and you, master Imp, make for the city; away!" And soon,
from the diminished sound, she knew that they had parted company
with a portion of her convoy. She could hear, too, that the remaining
horseman of the four, for that had been the number, had now fallen
into the rear, and, soon, she thought she heard through her mufflings
a voice crying as if commanding them to stay; and again she heard
it, but it had grown fainter, and wider from the track they were
pursuing, and now nothing was heard but the sound of their impetuous
course through the wood. This was soon cleared, when their speed
seemed to relax, and the hard breathing of the overstrained beasts,
proclaimed how much the chase had told upon them; and at last the
veil was slightly raised, a large, coarse visage peered under it,
and the hoarse voice enquired mockingly: "How fares my bird? We
will let a little light into its cage, if it will promise to sing
no more. What says my hooded crow?" and a titanic and convulsive
hug followed, causing her to shrink with pain, and revolt in disgust
and horror; feelings which changed to mortal apprehension, when
the same lascivious looking ruffian bade his now sole male companion
ride on before. The latter made no answer, but dashed up alongside,
and gazed into the face of Amanda as he passed, with an air of
curiosity mingled with admiration and respect. There was in him a
likeness to the sinistrous countenanced ogre behind her; yet he
was a rather handsome young fellow; and as the wind, caused by
their rapid course, blew backward his long, curly hair, he exhibited
a cast of honesty and openness in his aspect. The other seemed to
be impatient at his lingering, and growled: "Don't hang glowering
here; forwards, and warn me if any one approaches, that I may cover
up this toy." And whilst the monster readjusted the cowl to the
face of Amanda, his comrade again pricked the panting sides of his
own horse, that being lightlier laden than its fellow, easily shot
ahead. And thus they swept along the road, whilst the rising breeze
still drove the clouds over the face of the moon, and the race
seemed to have its fantastic counterpart in the wrack of the sky.
And now they silently journeyed, avoiding village and hamlet, by
making wide detours; but, in spite of their precautions, arousing
the bark of many a solitary cur, as they swept by each homestead
like an apparition. Even these incidents, and possible chances for
her rescue at length ceased, and the despairing Amanda, too proud
to vainly beg for her release from her stubborn captors, drew the
hood again over her face, and in the double darkness called upon
Heaven to be her protector and deliverer. That Claude had heard
her cries she felt assured; that he had pursued a portion of her
abductors towards Montreal, and would continue his efforts, with
those of her guardian and the inmates of Stillyside, to find and
recover her she did not doubt; but in the meantime what might she
not have to endure? And shrinking from the contemplation of the
uncertain gulf before her, she was at length recalled to a sense
of external things, by a sudden change of sound, from that of the
clatter of the horses' hoofs on the hard road, to one like the roll
of a distant peal of thunder, and telling her they were crossing
a rude wooden bridge, that led from the Island to the main. Then
for the first time the riders permanently abated their speed, and
their prisoner enquired of them whither they were carrying her.

"Never mind that, my pretty passenger pigeon," replied the elder
with a ghoul-like grin; "you will not require to find your way back
this year." And the foaming, exhausted animals, relieved from the
trying gallop, dropped into a feeble trot or lazy canter, whilst
Amanda gazed wistfully around to discover some glimpse of dawn.
No certain sign of it, however, could she perceive on the circle
of the horizon, though all around there showed the whitened eaves
of the roof of gloomy clouds. Her companions, too, casting jealous
glances at each other in the obscurity, had become more mutually
taciturn; and the wind, that during the previous part of their
flight had risen, as if to be in keeping with the current violence,
had now fallen to a calm; and, proceeding thus, she continued to
tell the terrors of her situation, as they alternately glided
through the gloom of the clearing, or plunged into the denser
darkness of the forest; till at last she was startled by something
leaping against her feet, followed by the pleased but stifled
barking of a huge hound close by her, and at the same instant she
saw a woman bearing a lighted candle in her hand, emerge from a
hovel on the road side. The next moment the party were halted before
it, and the woman, holding up her light, shed its beams upon the
face and form of Amanda, whose arrival she seemed to have been
expecting; and after having fixed her eyes searchingly upon her,
turned them with a familiar and significant look on the still seated
ruffian. The light illuminated her own countenance as much as that
of Amanda, who, repelled by her manners and appearance, sat
motionless, and checked the appeal that was rising to her lips.
The redoubtable rider dismounted awkwardly from behind her, half
dragged her from the tall beast, and hurried her into the house.
The woman followed, and having closed the door, placed the candle
on a table, and sat down by the fire; when Amanda, still standing
in the midst of the miserable room, began:

"Woman, what place is this? Where am I, and why have I been brought
hither?" then bursting into passionate grief: "Oh, woman, woman,
whosoever you are, save me, I implore you, from this man," and
with the words she sprang towards the door; but the churlish giant,
guessing her intention, intercepted, and bore her back, saying
"Keep quiet, gentle lady; have patience, bashful beauty; sit down,
sit down; come pet, come." And he made as if to approach her; when,
forgetting the hazard of her position, and inspired with returning
native courage, with her heart swelling with womanly indignation,
and looking the vast figure in the face, she cried with an utterance
tremulous from grief and scorn: "Whither have you brought me,
villain, and for what end? Sirrah, come no nearer me: I am polluted
by your touch. Out, shameless wretch!" and again she rushed towards
the door, but found it resist her utmost efforts: and, baffled,
turning within, she once more addressed herself to the female, who
was now carelessly warming herself before some embers on the hearth.

"Woman," she said, "for that you are one your form and garb assure
me, though your behaviour gives your exterior the lie; woman, if
you be one, save me. Charge this man--for you have influence with
him--to liberate me; oh! charge him to release me. Turn me into
the lane, into the field, or where you will; but let me leave this
house without delay."

The female, with a grim smile, bade her recompose herself; whilst
the burly brute doggedly hinted to her that she would have to remain
some time in those parts, and might as well sit down and be content.
Perplexed at this second announcement of her intended restriction,
Amanda stood mute in fear and horror. To arouse the creature in
whose power she was might be immediately dangerous, but, for a
moment, to seem resigned to her abduction was impossible. Trembling
with dismay and sickening with apprehension, her limbs would scarcely
sustain her; and as she mentally revolved, looking wistfully around,
as if to spy any nook or cranny for escape, she at last exclaimed:

"Again, I ask, why am I brought hither? Outlaw, who are you? wherein
have I wronged you, that you should drag me to I know not where?
What place is this, and why have you come with men as heartless as
yourself, stealing me from my home to bring me hither, and cast me
into this den?" and her bosom filled as she ended; but her hearer,
knowing no compunction, only answered with a sneer: "To clip your
wings, madam," then gave a low laugh, as if of self-applause at
his quickness of repartee, or the prospect of her humiliation, and
added: "Pray, miss, retire; you have not been abed to-night, and
watching is not good for English ladies' eyes."

"Shameless!" she cried, looking upon him with unmitigable disdain,
"how dare you hint at rest within these walls? Return me to the
spot whence you have taken me; render me to my home, so desecrated,
so invaded by such felonious feet as yours. Felon, convey me to
my home at Stillyside, and there reinstate me; if indeed you have
the heart, as you have the outward semblance, of a man;" and, in
spite of her resentment, she burst into a flood of tears.

But not even woman's tears could move his stolid disposition, or
melt his stony heart; and, looking at her with an expression akin
to contempt, he demanded:

"What, take the bird back to the bush where we have caught it? No.
Besides at present you have taken a long-enough ride, and when next
you journey it must be further in the same direction. You shall
see the world, and learn how wide it is; you shall have most
excellent French society."

"Oh, keep me, heaven, from such society as yours," she
ejaculated:--"base man!--but do you know to what you have exposed
yourself? Beware; I am not without friends both subtle and strong,
and one of whom will not be slow to punish you for this outrage.
Release me, stranger, or you shall be visited with his vengeance,
not to be trifled with, not to be risked with safety."

"Ah, the old advocate," exclaimed the giant, with more bitterness
than he had hitherto manifested; "Outrage! he has himself outraged
too many of our race."

"Ay, that he has;" the woman chimed in, whilst her eyes suddenly
glared dilating, and she looked menacingly at Amanda; "there is
Robitaille, and Lamoureux, and Paille, and myself, and Babet Blais,
--poor Babet! but her boy, _his_ boy, his own son, has paid him
down with sorrow, _he_ has punished him;--ha! ha!" and both she
and her Gorgon-like guest laughed a meaning and triumphant laugh,
whilst Amanda yet stood there to be baited by the brutish man and
the lost, revengeful woman, the latter of whom thus continued to
vent her spleen: "Mistress, what are you but an English interloper?
Girl, how can we endure you? Do you not despise us? Do you not
insult, despoil, dishonor us? Do you not covet our lands, do you
not reap the taxes, take the trade? Would you not all be Seigneurs?
What shall we give you that you have not already taken! Ah, out
upon you, my young mistress! Think it well if you should not receive
what I shall not now name to you,--your guardian's gift to many a
maiden--and worse;" she added between her teeth; "death, death,"
and turned away scowling.

"Return me to my home, or worse than death awaits you;" cried
Amanda; "endless infamy; hated of our race, despised of yours,
disowned by both."

But the woman by this time had begun to busy herself in piling new
logs upon the fire, and the colossus, her companion, after having
scanned the apartment, seemingly to ascertain whether it was to be
trusted to retain the prisoner, at length, satisfied with the result
of his scrutiny, unlocked the door with the key which he drew from
his pocket, and bestowing a bow of mock respect upon Amanda, who
affected not to perceive it, departed; and she, without vouchsafing
a look upon her feminine but callous jailor, sank upon a chair in
silence.



CHAPTER XII.

   "Ring the alarm bell."

   _Macbeth._

The abductors of Amanda were no other than the three sons of André
Duchatel, along with the vindictive Narcisse acting as their guide.
He and Alphonse Duchatel, at the branching of the road, had parted
company with the others, and so drawn upon themselves the pursuer,
Claude Montigny, who being magnificently mounted gained fast upon
them, till fearing to be overtaken they leaped from their horses,
and taking to their heels concealed themselves amongst the trees
that covered the side of the mountain, and where no rider could
follow. Claude then saw that he had been the dupe of a stratagem;
and after galloping across the country, struck the road that he
had been decoyed from following; then urging his horse in the
direction which he supposed the principal abductors had pursued,
he at length in despair left it, and again clearing fence and brook,
held his course towards the city of Montreal, where he arrived
betwixt midnight and dawn, and with the butt of his riding-whip
knocked at the advocate's door.

The old man was dreaming of the apparently fair fortune of Amanda;
of the ingenuous Claude, and of his father, the importunate and
imperious Seigneur, when the clang rung through the mansion, and
rudely dispelled his visions. At first he was doubtful as to the
reality of the alarm, and was dropping again to sleep, when once
more the riding-whip sent the startling summons, and leaping from
his bed, he threw open the window, and putting his head out, gruffly
demanded, who was there.

"Claude Montigny," was answered from beneath.

"And what wants Claude Montigny at this hour?" asked the advocate,
who now perceived the figures of steed and dismounted rider beneath
him in the obscurity.

"Dress instantly, and quick come down," was the reply. The window
closed, and in a few minutes the advocate, with his morning gown
thrown over him, opened the door.

"Why how is this?" he demanded in astonishment, as he beheld Claude
on the footwalk, whip in one hand, and with the other holding his
horse by the bridle.

Claude stood silent.

"How is this?" reiterated the advocate: "Out with it, man. Is your
father wild? does he threaten to disinherit you?"

"Not that, but worse:" Claude answered; "worse than your worst
suspicions, and it may be worse than the death of one you much
regard."

"Has any thing evil happened to my ward?" asked the advocate,
exhibiting alarm. "Why do you pause? Inform me quickly."

"Too quickly, perhaps, I shall inform you," replied Claude,
deprecatingly. "Something evil has happened to your ward. Arm
yourself now with firmness, and be calm; be cool in judgment, prompt
in execution; you who can counsel others, now prepare to be the
best counsellor to yourself."

"What act shall follow this preamble?" said the lawyer, raising
his thick, white, shaggy eyebrows in enquiring wonder: "Go on, go
on;" he commanded in a short, gasping utterance; "declare the pains
and penalties. She lives? Amanda lives? Has she proved false? You
have not lost her?"

"Lost her! oh!" exclaimed Claude, unable to curb his emotion.

"Nay, confess it; announce the worst; the broadest misfortune; my
ears are open for it," pursued the other.

"But I have no heart, no tongue to fill them with my dire news,"
Claude stammered, and the advocate resumed, growing impatient:

"Of my ward what can you tell me that is untoward? Of myself say
anything: foretell disaster, prophecy my death;--but what of
her?--you say she lives?"

"She does."

"Is well?"

Claude shook his head, and remained silent.

"Sir, let your lips pronounce my doom at once," said the advocate,
striving to be calm, yet alarmed and irritated; "Proceed:--I am
ashamed to say it, but I tremble. What has befallen my ward, what
trouble has alighted on my child?--for so I call her. Claude
Montigny, what is it brings you here betwixt night and day, with
tidings that you falter to deliver?"

"Calm yourself;" counselled Claude in a warning tone.

"I will;" answered the advocate; "I do;--resolve me quickly."

"I fear to do so," Montigny uttered pathetically, as if his resolution
had suddenly given way.

"Let me hear it, torture me no longer:" cried the advocate
imperatively: "Perfect knowledge, perhaps, may stun me; but far
worse to bear than were a shower of vitriol poured on a green wound,
are these distilled, dire drops of apprehension. Sir, are you guilty
that you thus stand dumb? What have you done injurious towards my
ward, that you so linger upon the street, and to my queries but
gaze like one demented? Sir, I charge you, tell me without more
reserve or hesitation, lest at last I listen to you with less of
fear than of anger. You have been--"

"The innocent accessory, I fear, to others' villany," Claude
interrupted; "still, hear me," he continued, "and forgive me if I
bring you tidings that shall hang as heavy on your soul as lead;
yet have given me the leaden bullet's swiftness, or that of the
blast, to waft them hither, blasting, to yourself.--Sir, you have
been robbed, bereaved; the star of Stillyside is set,--or, worse,
plucked from its firmament; my life, my lady, oh, my new-made love,
your peerless ward is stolen."

"Stolen!" the advocate echoed.

"Stolen; even from my very arms is plucked," continued Claude.

"Ill-freighted messenger," groaned the old lawyer; "stolen! oh,
Montigny, you have stolen half the strength from these old limbs,
and strained the sinews that have never bent before, neither to
man nor to misfortune. Stolen! How stolen? It is false; you jest,
you mean that you yourself have stolen her,--have stolen her heart;
you know I lately caught you in the act;--but, for her person, she
would not, could not, give it you without my leave. Montigny, you
have not stolen together to the church?--but this is in the street;
come in."

Claude tied his courser to a young maple that grew near the door;
and, whilst he was doing so, the advocate retired within, murmuring:
"Montigny, Seigneur Montigny, this is your work, and yet may prove
the dearest piece of petty larceny that ever man committed; as dear
as would have been to have furnished the dower you refused me. No;"
he continued musing, "trouble does not spring from out of the
ground. Then whence comes this? Who hates me?" he continued sharply;
"Covets her? Whom would her absence serve? who, except the father
of you boy, the Sieur Montigny?" and he had scarcely finished his
soliloquy when he was rejoined by Claude, who, straightway in the
obscurity of the library, related to him the adventure of the night.

The old man listened in silence, but his bosom heaved, and when
Claude had ceased, he grasped him by the hand and exclaimed:

"Montigny, we are bound together in that girl, the outrage upon whom
has made us rivals in the task to find and rescue her. Yet are you
sure the voice you heard was her's? You did not see her carried
off; you only heard, or thought you heard, her cry. You may have
been deceived. Hasten back to Stillyside. She may be there now
sleeping between the unruffled sheets, making them sweeter than
the perfuming lavender;--if she be not--why then--alas! what then?"
And he struck his palm against his brow, holding it there, perplexed,
revolving.

"You say you heard your name pronounced?" he enquired at length.

"I did," said Claude, unhesitatingly; and this seemed to satisfy
the lawyer's doubts, and, rising, he said, shaking his companion
by the hand: "Montigny, go. Beat up the bush at Stillyside; and if
she be not there,--why all the country side shall be roused to find
and bring her back. But, Claude, she is safe. Yet hie you thither;
mount again your horse, and bring me word before the day breaks:
begone." And in a few moments Claude was scouring back to Stillyside,
and the advocate ruminating alone amidst the shadows of his library.



CHAPTER XIII.

   "This noble gentleman, Lord Titus here,
   Is in opinion, and in honor, wronged;
   That in the rescue of Lavinia,
   With his own hand did slay his youngest son"

   _Titus Andronicus._

The elder Montigny, wrathful and irresolute, and like a beast in
the toils, had yesterday again visited the advocate on the same
errand as before, and with a like unsatisfactory result. But instead
of returning to Mainville he had proceeded to the Duchatel Manor
House; partly for counsel, but chiefly to ascertain whether its
owner--who, he deemed, had an equal interest with himself in the
removal of Amanda--would join with him in furnishing the demanded
dower. The subject was broached privately to the shrewd and worldly
André, who on hearing it propounded swore indignantly at the
advocate's audacity, and roundly refused to accede to any such
appropriation of his substance: so after fierce denunciations of
the insolence of upstart English adventurers, and censure of the
infatuation of young fellows in affairs of the heart, the theme
was dropped for the present, and the remainder of the day spent in
looking over the estate, and in those attentions that are usually
bestowed on a visitor, be he ever so familiar a one, much more when
he is both distinguished and in prospective relationship. The next
day the topic was resumed, but this time in the presence of Samson
Duchatel, as he sat yawning between asleep and awake, but who, on
hearing the conversation, aroused himself, and bade Montigny be
easy, and not dream of endowing the foreigner, since he, Samson,
had already secured the troublesome fair one. Montigny took little
notice of this, thinking it to be but the jest or boast, or, at
furthest, merely the loose announcement of the intention of the
unscrupulous giant; who soon afterwards invited him to walk abroad.
The company of Samson was not coveted by the more refined and
anxious Seigneur, but the former pressed him, and he thought that
locomotion might divert his mind from the contemplation of the
coming degradation and folly of his son. He consented, and issuing
from the ancient and flower-festooned porch of the Manor House,
they walked along in mid-morning of late September, the drowsy
charms of the summer's faded foliage just awakening to a resurrection
in the glorified beauty of Autumn; and, almost in silence, they
proceeded along the road or lane, till they came to the dubious
dwelling where, some hours before, Amanda was left a prisoner. The
sullen and sloven-looking female who had received her was now
dressed in gaudy attire, and saluted them as they entered, at the
same time casting a look of enquiry and surprise into the face of
Samson, and of suspicion on the Seigneur.

"Bring up the body of your prisoner;" growled the former, loudly,
as he threw his huge frame into an arm-chair. "Come, habeas corpus,
habeas corpus. Now, if we had Alphonse here," he continued, "he
could repeat the whole writ in Latin. Habeas corpus, habeas corpus,"
muttered the puzzled savage, fumbling in his brains for the context,
"habeas corpus, habeas corpus;--" then, relinquishing the vain
search, and addressing himself to the woman, at the same time
elevating his voice, he vociferated: "Hillo, come, lady sheriff,
bring up the body of your prisoner, I say;" when, as if in obedience
to the call of a magician, a door opened, and from an inner room,
with face flushed, brow dark and fretted with indignation, lips
pouting, breast heaving, and her eyes overflowing with tears, in
bounded his sister, Seraphine Duchatel, exclaiming: "And is this
the creature that has stood between me and Claude? and brought
here, too, to flout me to my face! I'll not endure it;" and she
burst into a fresh torrent of tears.

"Who has stood between you, girl?" enquired the brother, half
teasingly, half tenderly: "if there be a stump between here and
Mainville that hinders you from driving your carriage thither, tell
me, and we'll pull it up as quickly as Doctor Lanctot would pull
you a tooth out."

"You have done well, indeed," continued the angry girl, weeping,
and not minding his clumsy badinage, "you have done well indeed,
to bring her here to answer me, to scorn me, to defy me, to parade
herself before me, to stand in my presence as proud as any
peacock,--only not half so beautiful."

"Fine feathers make fine birds, Phin," drily retorted her brother.

"She is not fine, and if she be, she shall be plucked of her finery;"
exclaimed the sister: "I'll tear her eyes out; what business has
she to look at _me_, and speak so insolently? I'll have her face
flayed; her hair shall be plucked up by the roots;" and she stamped
with her little foot.

"We'll have her scalped, girl!" condoled her brother.

"Yes, this is the way you always think to manage me; by laughing
at me," cried the spoiled child, in renewed agony of tears.

"Why, what is the matter?" demanded the Seigneur, wondering, and
startled by these threatening allusions: "What is the meaning of
all this, Samson?"

"Oh," answered the latter, striving to perpetrate a pun, "Only that
we have brought Phin a handmaiden, and she finds her handsomer than
is agreeable;--but there is many a servant comelier than the
mistress."

"Let me behold this Paragon," said the Seigneur, at the same time
rising, and moving towards the door of the inner room, that had
been left ajar by the rude Seraphine, in her indignant exit. Pushing
it slowly open, he beheld Amanda, with half-averted form, seated
upon a chair, her head bowed, but her face wearing an expression
of proud serenity mixed with grief. His first impulse was to retire;
but pity, respect, admiration, and even awe, bound him to the spot,
and he remained gazing till curiosity and commiseration alike
combined to induce him to address a figure so incongruous with that
mean place, and whose majestic sorrow seemed too sacred for
interruption.

"Young lady, by your leave; pray pardon me; but can a stranger be
of service to you?" he at length enquired.

Amanda looked upward. "Oh, if you are, as you seem to be, a gentleman,
do not leave me;" she exclaimed beseechingly, as she slowly rose
and approached him: "do not leave me, but convey me back to
Stillyside, from whence I have been stolen by that man. Oh, sir,
you do not know with what a load of thanks its owner will repay
you, should you rescue me from this base durance."

The seigneur looked enquiringly at Samson, but the latter seemed
more disposed to wait to see how the seigneur regarded the appeal,
than to reply to the tacit question.

"Why have you been brought hither, and against your will?" resumed
the seigneur, respectfully.

"I am as yet ignorant of the cause;" she answered: "I do not know,
I cannot divine, why I am here a prisoner."

"She does know;" fiercely interrupted the sobbing Seraphine, "She
does, she does," she reiterated, and seemed disposed to fly at her
tooth and nail. "She knows she is a bold and wicked creature,--she,
she, she; she is a, a,--I don't know what she is;" she cried, spurting
out the last words in a paroxysm of sorrow and vexation, and flung
herself into a chair sobbing hysterically, with toilet and temper
alike disordered.

"Calm yourself, Seraphine," said the Seigneur.

"Yes, calm thyself, girl," echoed the ponderous Samson. "Why, what
a wild duck thou art, sister, flapping and quacking because an
unshotted barrel has been fired at thee. She is an unshotted gun,
she has no name; and what is a thing without a name? nothing: for
if it were something it would have been called something. What
thing is there--that is a thing--that has not got what a pudding
has? a name," and he laughed till his sides shook, and drawing a
pouch from his pocket, took thence a quid of tobacco, and put it
into his cheek, at the same time playfully offering another to the
outraged Seraphine, who petulently dashed it from his fingers, and
affected to bridle at the insult.

Meantime Amanda stood in silent sadness, and the Seigneur, who had
been watching her during the heartless flirtation between the
brother and sister, advanced one pace into the room, and said: "I
know your story, and have reason to be angry, not so much with you
as with my son, whom, I believe, you are acquainted with, one Claude
Montigny." Amanda turned away her face and blushed.

[Illustration: "Meantime Amanda stood in silent sadness, and the
Seigneur advanced one pace into the room."]

"You do know him I perceive," the Seigneur continued, "and if by
chance he has happened to know you I do not blame him, much less
can I blame yourself: but, lady, remember," and the proud Montigny
advanced, and bending over her whilst his voice fell, as if it were
intended for her ear alone, said "remember, we are not all of the
same degree, though Heaven has fashioned all of the same clay. The
proudest and the wealthiest in Canada might hail you as a daughter;
but old prescription, antecedents, prospects, all combine to render
impossible your union with my son."

Amanda blushed yet deeper, and both of them stood for awhile
embarrassed, but at length she said falteringly, and glowing like
a crimson poppy in her confusion:

"I own it just that you should urge these large considerations;
yet, believe me, sir, I have been passive in this matter, and have
not sought your son's acquaintance; neither, indeed, has he, if he
be rightly judged, (and you would not wrong your son), perhaps,
sought mine; for it would seem there are amities that Providence
provides for us, without our will or knowledge. It was accident
that brought us face to face; as we observe the sun and moon--that
are separate in their seasons, and withal so different in their
glory's given degree--brought monthly, and as if fortuitously,
though, in reality, by eternal, fixed design, into conjunctive
presence amidst the sky.

Yet who shall blame the sun and moon for that?

"None," said the Seigneur.

"Then let no one blame your son and me," continued Amanda, "if
Heaven, perhaps to try us, has ordained that our paths should cross
each other, as might two strange and diverse celestial bodies pass
apparently too hazardously near each other in their appointed
orbits. For the rest, forgive me, sir, and may He who best knows
what is for the benefit of his creatures, and who sometimes for
their good, sees it right that they should suffer wrongfully, assist
me. Since this has pleased Him, I bow, and bear it the best I may,
and trust too, that He will, in His good pleasure, deliver me from
this that He has permitted to fall upon me, my present sad and
dangerous estate of a poor prisoner here."

"Heaven will indeed rescue you from this infamous restraint, and
I will gladly be its minister," returned the Seigneur, melted almost
to love with pity, and dropping a tear; "none shall detain you
here; you are safe. Let me, myself--if thereby to some extent may
be atoned to you the wrong you have sustained in being hurried
hither--conduct you to your guardian."

"And raise the devil!--ay, and bring him here: her guardian is
his half brother," suddenly roared Samson in surprise and terror.
"No, Montigny, she has given too much trouble in the catching to
be so lightly released. Besides, is she to be still allowed to
stand between her betters. Leave her with me."

"Yes, leave her with Samson," cried the sulking Seraphine, starting
up in her chair. "He has known better girls, and handsomer,
too;--umph! how much men can be mistaken. It is wonderful that
Claude should covet her. Take her to her guardian! fie, Monsieur
Montigny," and half turning away in her seat with scorn and disgust,
she cast a look of ineffable hatred and disdain at the suppliant
Amanda, whilst the woman of the house fixed her jealousy-filled
eyes on Samson as he murmurred: "She shall not go: she is my
prisoner."

"She must return with me, sir," said the Seigneur, quietly but
firmly. "Are you not aware how great is the penalty that you have
incurred by this disgraceful scandal? Think it fortunate if you
shall be able in any way to compound for it with the lady's guardian.
Seraphine, mollify your indignation towards one who has not meant
to thwart you. Return to the hall with your brother, whilst I
conduct this injured lady to the parsonage, to remain there until
I can escort her home, and (as I hope) with the aid of her
intercession, obtain the pardon of her cruel abductors."

"It is you that is cruel:" cried the weeping Seraphine: "it is
Claude that is cruel. Not meant to thwart me! she _has_ thwarted
me, and you encourage her, you justify her, Monsieur Montigny."

"We will crucify her," cried Samson.

"Say no more," commanded the seigneur: "you are both of you ignorant
of the heinous nature of what you have done. Her guardian has the
power to punish you. Tremble lest he should exercise it." And, with
these words, he gave his arm to Amanda, and, passing amidst the
scowling trio, led her from the place.



CHAPTER XIV.

   "Confess the truth."

   _Measure for Measure._

   "You would pluck out the heart of my mystery."

   _Hamlet._

Claude Montigny rode to Stillyside and back, and was again with
the advocate within the hour. To conceive the terror and outcry in
that quiet dwelling, when its inmates ascertained that Amanda was
missing, let the reader recall the commotion in the castle of
Macbeth, when on the morning following his fatal entrance beneath
its battlements, it is discovered that the royal Duncan has been
murdered. As vehement and as wild as when the distracted Macduff,
in frantic tones and with wringing hands, declares to the assembling
sons and thanes of the ill-starred monarch, that, "confusion now
has made its masterpiece, most sacrilegeous murder has broken open
the Lord's anointed temple, and stolen hence the life o' the
building," was the outcry and disorder on the discovery of Amanda's
absence; and the wail and lamentation rung in Claude's ear as he
rode away from the gate to return to Montreal, where, still pacing
the library, the advocate anxiously awaited him. By the ratiocination,
as well as by the intuition, of the old man, the seigneur of
Mainville was reasonably to be suspected of being at least an
accessory to the stealing of Amanda. Claude, too, was not unvisited
by suspicions of his father's complicity; but thrust the dishonoring
doubts from him, as might a suffering saint dismiss hard thoughts
of the dealings of Providence towards himself. Each thought more
than he expressed to the other, but at length the advocate
communicated to Claude his injurious suspicions, acquainting him
with the fact and nature of his father's visits to his office; when
Claude, in turn, informed the advocate of the long cherished project
of an alliance between the houses of Duchatel and Montigny. This
information not only confirmed, but widened the field of the
advocate's fears. He was aware also of the lawless character of
Duchatel's sons; and recollected to have heard that the youngest
was a comrade of Narcisse, who, he likewise knew, entertained a
covert spite against Amanda, and, for his mother's sake, a rankling
dislike of Mona Macdonald. Against both of these his umbrage might
be supposed to have been heated by his recent ignominious expulsion
from Stillyside; and to gratify this resentment he might now be
executing some scheme of revenge, wherein, from his intimacy with
the young Duchatel, he could know that that family had cause to be
ready to assist him. Here was a clue to the recovery of his ward:--in
legal parlance, here was a prima facie case; and it but remained
to find and prosecute the criminals. To seize his son, and, by
threats or promises, extract a confession from him was the first
idea. But where was the errant and suspected Narcisse to be found?
His father knew he was absent, so the mother was summoned. She
came, but advanced no further than the threshold of the room, and
fell a trembling with fear, behaviour that she would fain have
dissembled to be from cold, for, with the divination with which
guilt endows its subject, she at once knew that the stranger was
the young Montigny, and herself had been cited in order to suffer
a searching cross-examination.

"Woman," said the advocate sternly, and wheeling his arm-chair
round so as to face her, "Woman, where is your son?"

"Helas!" she exclaimed, and shrugged her shoulders, as much as to
say, "I don't know where he is;" and smiled a rueful smile.

"No grinning now," cried the lawyer, raising his finger and shaking
it at her, and frowning as he was wont to do when he wished to
intimidate a witness, "no grinning now, madam. Will you pretend to
say you know nothing of where he was last night, where he is at
present?"

"Helas!" again exclaimed the affrighted Babet: "sir you forget
yourself. Last night? Why it is yet night. Open the shutters and
put out the lamp, and you will still be in darkness. Let me return
to bed."

"Babet Blais, many a better woman than you have I wished bedridden,"
the advocate cried with bitterness. "Beshrew me, but your answer.
Remember I am flint if you are steel, hence the less often we are
smitten together in this enquiry, the fewer may be the revealing
sparks. Babet Blais, here is an affair of blackest tinder, whereon
your bated breath has blown already, until it glows upon your
guilty face, as grimly as the lurid East that brews a rainy day,
to you the type of tears."

[Illustration: "Babet Blais, here is an affair of blackest tinder,
whereon your bated breath has blown already, until it glows upon
your guilty face."]

"What do you mean?" demanded the half mystified and still dissembling
woman, in terror.

"What do I mean? I mean that you shall tell me where your son was
during the last night, and where he is now."

"Where he is _now_?" echoed Babet, "Last night? it is now night,
or only just near dawning."

"Yes, we are near the dawning," mocked the old man, with loud,
relentless equivoque. "Madam, shed here the sunbeams of your highest
intelligence; clear the dull atmosphere of your soul from fog; and
let us see and hear respecting this occurrence, all that yourself
have seen, and heard, and known."

"Master, I know nothing," said she, "what affair?" enquired the
woman, fitfully.

"Is Narcisse at home?" bellowed the advocate, quivering with
excitement, and red to the roots of his white hair with wrath.
"Evil betide me that he should have ever made here his home;" he
continued. "Who called him hither? I? No, no; I called for aught
that might see fit to come, conditioned that it came in human guise;
but yonder frothy fool, yon swarthy pigmy, I did not summon him.
I called for anything of earth, but Heaven (to punish me) straight
passed the unhallowed call to hell, that sent me up a demon." The
apartment resounded with the last word, and still the old man's
voice was heard like the departing rumble of a thunder peal, as he
continued, with clasped hands and upturned eyes, whilst his
countenance assumed an air of singular elevation, passionately
exclaiming: "Oh, that a man who could have entertained the gods
with high conceits and philosophic parle,--could have communed with
spirits of the skies, should be assailed and pestered from the
pit!--Go on, woman, we will exorcise you, we will purge you, though
you be fouler than the Augean stable, that had been left uncleaned
for thirty years; ay, though you be as foul as is the stall that
holds the grimy company of the lost, and which goes uncleaned for
ever. Proceed, I charge thee!" and the fierce-eyed lawyer sat
dilated and erect in his chair, glaring upon her like a serpent
rearing its crest from amidst its coils, as he waited for an answer.

"I cannot, I know no further," she said at length with meek
doggedness.

"What say you?" exclaimed the advocate, almost screaming with
astonishment.

"I know no further; I know nothing," she replied.

"Assist me, patience, to confound this creature! Nothing! you know
all;" he shouted. "All, I say, all; for never had such a mother
such a son, but he did pour out all his purposes, all the infernal
cornucopia, into her breast from his. You have no secrets between
you; you, his mother, know all his course; his thoughts, intents,
conspiracies and plots; his loves, his hates, his loose, irregular
life; his merry moments, and his moods of malice. I charge thee,
tell us where he was last night, where yesterday, where he is now,
and where he will be to-morrow."

"Monsieur, I know no more, know nothing," cried the woman, appealing
to Claude. "My master is mad," and, bursting into tears, began:
"Here have I been his housekeeper twenty years--"

"Twenty years too long," vociferated the advocate. "One half the
period that heaven was vexed with a stiff-necked generation have
I endured you, Babet. Housekeeper! eh? Keeper of the King's
conscience next, a she Lord Chancellor,--but continue: call yourself
Keeper of the Seals, and mistress--or master either--of the Rolls,
so you unroll your secret. Tell all you may; empty your flask of
falsehood, then at the bottom we may find some sediment of truth.
Commence; don't count upon concealment. I will wring the truth from
you, though it shall ooze out drop by drop, and each drop be a
portion of your life."

Babet was still silent, but the lawyer pursued:

"Oh, toad, ugly and venomous, you have a precious jewel in your
head; deliver it; discover to myself and to this gentleman all that
you know about your son's late conduct. Speak, or you shall have
your closed lips forced apart, or there shall be found and set you
such tormenting penance, that you shall sue with speed to make
confession. What! still silent? Bathe no longer that face with
tears. Out on thee, crocodile! Oh, that those trite tears were
scales, falling, to leave you bare and vulnerable to arrows of
adjurement; then, with patience I could see them fall as fast as
flakes of snow in winter, till thou wert as white as Judge's ermine
with them! Creature, hast thou nothing plausible, nothing for us,
nothing for him, nor me?"

"Nothing for you, nor for this gentleman," she answered quietly.

"Do not imagine him to be so gentle, neither. Though he dwells
staid and silent, he is a roaring lion, that should I let slip may
soon devour thee, Babet. Overweening woman, you do not know how
much you and yours have wronged him," said the advocate.

Claude had heard all this without speaking, but now he interposed,
to try persuasion.

"Good Babet," said he, soothingly, "if you are aware of anything
untoward of Monsieur's ward, and will declare it, I guarantee to
you, not only a condonation for your son, if he have in any shape
conspired against her, but a reward so weighty for yourself, that
you shall bless the hour that you were awoke so early to be scolded.
What do you know of the lost lady of Stillyside?"

At these words a smile covered her face, as if of satisfaction at
good news; then, shrugging her shoulders, she languidly asked: "Is
she missing?" and added, "Helas! then others have an absent child,
as well as I," and shook her head; and, with another shrug, continued,
as if subsiding into herself, and in a tone of combined decision
and sadness: "I know nothing of the lady, nothing of my boy. Heaven
grant my son is safe, my poor Narcisse, and that he may not return
and meet his cruel father, who so hates him;" and she brushed away
a tear from her cheek.

"Heaven grant indeed we do not meet at present!" ejaculated the
foiled advocate; "for if we did, I might so far exceed a parent's
punitory privilege, that I should win but blame from the blind
world instead of sympathy. Begone, vampire," and she vanished like
a ghost at cockcrow.

That smile of her's at the mention of Amanda missing, had been
caught by the advocate's keen eye, and convinced him that she and
her son were accessories to the felony of the night. Brief
consultation now sufficed between him and Claude, who also felt
convinced of her complicity. Light began to glimmer amidst the
darkness of the situation, and, as it kindled into a dreary dawn,
as might a new scene amongst dissolving views, shadowy and sinistrous
amidst it seemed to loom the figures of the Duchatels; and, before
the sun had risen, Claude, winged equally with hope and indignation,
was posting towards Montboeuf. The advocate threw himself upon a
couch, and he would fain have thrown up his brief of that day, but
it was for a case involving capital punishment, and, at the eleventh
hour, to have deserted his client would have brought upon himself,
not only professional dishonor, but guilt. Hence, with heavy heart
and unwilling faculties he bent his attention to the study of the
important case, whilst at intervals he swallowed a portion of the
morning's meal, that at the usual hour was silently placed before
him; and at last, with an inexpressible sadness and boding, he left
the stillness of his home for the walls of the busy and exciting
arena of the criminal court.



CHAPTER XV.

   "Oh, what a rash and bloody deed is this!"

   _Hamlet._

   "Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye"

   _Macbeth._

The Court had been opened, and was crowded with lawyers, petit
jurors, witnesses, and excited spectators. A criminal trial of
such interest as the present one had not occurred there for years;
and the business in the Civil Courts had virtually been adjourned,
so great was the determination of the pleaders therein to be present,
and witness the conducting of a case so calculated to call forth
the powers of the renowned and venerable advocate. All conspired
to show that an extraordinary scene was to be enacted there that
day. The Judge was more than usually grave, attentive and deliberate;
the Crown Prosecutor wary, and complete in his preparations; the
legal, technical, and clerical grounds of exception and demur,
before the Crown was allowed to take up the burden of proof, were
entered and explored by the advocate, as one who reconnoitres before
committing his feet to dark and dangerous precincts, where any one
of his advancing steps may prove to be fatal.

And now the case had been laid before the jury, and the witnesses
for the prosecution, each as he testified touching the fearful
crime laid to the charge of the prisoner at the bar, were being
subjected to the terrible ordeal of a cross-examination by the
advocate; who all eye all ear appeared, as in his earlier days;
quick to detect, prompt to demand, stern to insist, at watch and
ward at every point; so that his client seemed to have found in
him an irresistible champion, and the crowd, to all of whom he was
familiar, considered his success as certain, just as the veteran
soldiery anticipate a triumph from the General, who has so often
led them to victory that they deem him to have become invincible.
But to the thoughtful and more observant, at times he showed signs
of preoccupation, strangely at variance with his present undoubted
supremely master mood; and as the trial proceeded these fits of
wandering from the point increased in duration and intensity. An
anxious expression settled on his countenance; his usually energetic
but measured movements when he was thus engaged became irregular
and nervous; and he frequently cast glances towards the entrance,
as if expecting the arrival of some one; and twice in the midst of
withering cross-examinations, stopped short at the sight of
individuals elbowing their way through the crowd; gazing upon them
enquiringly and with an air of expectation, until, passing, they
became embedded in the serried mass of spectators; when, with a
look of disappointment, he resumed his task, and again with consummate
talent and characteristic vigor, did battle for his client, whose
dark distinction in the dock went nigh unnoticed, from the settled
attention bestowed on his defender, just as the prominently exhibited
prize is sometimes overlooked and temporarily forgotten, in the
observation compelled to the rare skill shown by the competing
players.

But whilst the father was thus tasking every power of his trained
intellect, and crowning his career with forensic fires, that now,
in the evening of his genius, burned even more signally, than they
had done in the midst of its meridian splendors;--whilst thus
calling upon his great gifts, that, like to antique jewels brightened
by abrasion in the wearing, shone yet the more from the polish of
experience; and while lending a legal learning that, as a rapier
which, ever ready and ever in requisition, has acquired no rust,
was the more available from long practice combined with intuitive
tact;--whilst all this was passing in high and public court, the
ignoble son was awaking in a low lodging; weary and stiff after
the raid of the past night, anxious and timid from a sense of guilt,
and fearful of a future calling to account. His first wish was to
discover whether his sire was yet informed of the disappearance of
his ward. He knew that his father was retained in the trial which
had been fixed for that day, and had there been any whom he could
conveniently have sent to ascertain whether or not the advocate
was in court, he would have despatched one thither, but he could
prevail upon none about him to go for love, and money he had none
to offer. His mother, alarmed at her master's discovery of the
participation by Narcisse in their successful conspiracy, and not
knowing where to find the latter, had despatched a messenger to
the lodging of their bold and insolent accomplice, Alphonse Duchatel,
requesting him to warn her son to avoid his father during that day.
But the messenger failed to find him, and Narcisse at last arose,
dressed, and, prompted by a curiosity that overcame his apprehensions,
approached the Court House.

Meantime the advocate, tortured by increasing alarm, and with his
imagination filling with tragic touches the picture of the possible
fate of Amanda, had lost both recollection and temper; and for the
first time when conducting a cross-examination, had been not merely
baffled, but successfully bearded and insulted by an irritated
witness, to relieve himself from whom, he was obliged abruptly to
bid him leave the box. The occurrence stung him to the quick, though
he strove to hide his chagrin;--no wonder. Taken at disadvantage,
and in a moment of weakness, the old pleader was obliged to perceive
that the wager of mental duel between himself and the witness had
been decided against him; and to feel that, in an unsought encounter
and fair affray, he had been publicly worsted. To add to his
mortification, the witness walked from the box with the air of a
conqueror, and cast an insolent look of triumph around the court
and upon his antagonist, whose discomfiture was so signal as to be
evident to judge, jurors, witnesses, spectators, all. Still more
to increase the advocate's perturbation, the heat of the court had
become excessive, and the rebuff--which, at an earlier period of
his career, and with an unwounded heart, would have provoked only
such a grim and threatening smile as a powerful wrestler might
wear, when, in the careless security of proud contempt, he had been
thrown by a boy--now, in the self-esteem of age and the anguish
of bereavement, moved him almost to madness. Seizing his gown, he
half cast it from his form, regardless of decorum, and stood the
picture of misery, rage, and scorn.

Just then the court arose for a brief recess. Glad to breathe for
a moment the fresher air, the spectators retired, the jury returned
into their room, the sheriff and the crown prosecutor sauntered to
their respective offices, the panel of petit jurors escaped in a
body, the prisoner withdrew from the front of the dock, and sat
unseen, pondering his chances between the gallows and an
acquittal;--even the criers of the court abandoned their posts,
and the younger members of the bar, who usually gathered round the
advocate on these occasions, greeting him with pleasant compliments,
and polite and reverent attentions, seeing him thus moody, drifted
to the lobby, and in it paid court to some other, and secondary
legal luminary who was there holding his levee. For awhile the
advocate was left alone; then, emerging through the large folding
doors into the corridor or lobby, now cumbered with the gossipping
groups, through which he passed, solitary and in his gown, like
Caesar in his robe passing through the midst of the conspirators,
he proceeded past the doors of the offices occupied by the various
crown officials. None spoke to the old man, he spoke to none, but
his breast burned in agony, and a cloud was on his brow, like the
smoke that wreathes around the crater of a volcano. His eyes seemed
to shoot forth sparks, and his lips were muttering. Anger and sorrow
were upon his face, but, turning a corner in the building, he was
now hidden from the view of the multitude, and strode along the
main corridor towards the huge double staircase that, midway therein,
wound down to the dim entrance hall, that was divided by ponderous
doors from the esplanade between the building and the busy street.
A low, massive balustrade guarded the bridge-like portion of the
corridor that hung between the heads of the twin flights of stairs,
and whence, on looking down, was seen the paved abyss below.
Approaching this part, what did he behold but the truant Narcisse,
unconscious of his presence, ascending one of these flights of
stairs. At the sight of him the gloomy elements of his soul seemed
to flash within him and explode, rending all resolution of restraint,
and leaving him a puppet of some destructive power, as he stood
eyeing his son's approach, as the cat eyes that of the marauding
mouse, motionless, allowing the culprit to draw near, until,
detected, he stood, too nigh to retreat, too terrified to advance,
and, as the fascinated bird drops into the open jaws of the serpent,
fell resistless into the grasp of the advocate's extended hand.
Then, as the firedamp when met by the miner's candle must explode,
or as the liberated lightning must rend the cloud, though the latter
be near Jove's throne, so the frenzied father, regardless, nay,
forgetful, of the place, the time, the occasion, of himself and
natural ties, assailed the scared Narcisse, clutching him by the
throat with the strength of a maniac, and pushing him backwards
against the balustrade, and holding him there transfixed, while,
with eyes seething with wrath beneath the blanched, and big,
umbrageous brows, and showing like a sudden opening of the infernal
pit, he cried: "Demon, degenerate dog, where hast thou been walking
to and fro in the earth? whom helping to devour? Ah, son of Satan,
ah! Aroint thee, Imp, Abortion."

[Illustration: "Demon! degenerate dog! where hast thou been walking
to and fro on the earth?"]

The astonished wretch strove to reply, but terror and strangulation
forbade him; and the enraged parent, like an incarnate storm, at
arm's-length shook him, as the dog shakes the rat which it has
caught, or the lion its prey; and each moment the shuddering youth,
hearing his father's deep curses, and stiffening with horror, was
urged further and yet further over the abyss, and still with aimless,
outstretched arms, and disparted, claw-like fingers, strove to
clutch the advocate's gown; while with upturned and beseeching eyes
starting from their sockets, and still half on the balustrade and
half in air, with nothing but the grasp of his adversary retaining
him, he hung, while the arm that held him quivered, and surged
uneasily from side to side, as if irresolute whether to plunge him
or to draw him back; until a growl of satisfaction, followed by an
execration, gurgling in the advocate's throat, announced the coming
climax: the arm was jerked outwards, the clenched fingers unclutched
themselves, like an automaton's, and the miserable mannikin tumbled
with a yell down to the stones beneath. An instant all was silent,
then a faint groan rose from the bruised form, that the next moment
lay on the bloody flags a senseless corpse. Drawing a loud sigh
of indescribable relief, after his fearful and protracted agitation,
the advocate--and now murderer--stood glaring downwards with fixed
eyes and yet clenched teeth; then, sickening at the horrid sight
which loomed beneath, turned and leaned for support against the
balustrade over which he had cast his child. Hearing the noise of
the scuffle, some stragglers from the mixed crowd on the lobby came
running to the spot, and one enquired of the advocate if he were
seized with a sudden sickness. But he only pointed downwards to
where lay his ill-fated victim; and shook his head, looking all
woebegone, in mad, mute misery. Astonished, some descended, and
bearing the body up the stairs, laid it on a bench that stood
against the wall, and opposite its destroyer; while a still increasing
and motley multitude, including jurors, witnesses, constables,
criers, counsellors, clerks of the court, crown prosecutor, sheriff,
and lastly, the judge himself, hurrying, gathered round the scene
of the catastrophe. A surgeon who happened to have been subpoened
upon the current trial, opened a vein, but the blood refused to
flow; and a barrister, stripping himself of his gown, threw it over
the body as a pall. No one dared enquire the origin of what he saw,
until the judge arriving, demanded: "Who has done this?"

"I," feebly answered the advocate, ghastly pale, and yet leaning
for support on the fatal balustrade. Alas! what a change! His
countenance was grown haggard, and his white hair hung dishrevelled
about his collapsed visage, like icicles round the pinched countenance
of Winter. Despair was in his look, and he uttered the name of
Amanda, and gazed bewildered around him, as if awaking from a
sorrowful dream; and now began to whimper, to gaze upon the pall-like
gown, and now to call upon the spirit that had flown--as a scared
bird from a bush--forth from the body that lay beneath it.

"Narcisse," he feebly cried, "Narcisse, my son,--for thou wert
yet my son,--Narcisse, Narcisse," he reiterated piteously; and the
Sheriff advanced in his purple gown, and girt with his golden hilted
sword, laid his hand on the shoulder of the old man, the lately
proud advocate, but now wretched culprit, as a sign of his being
put under arrest. But none else moved; the Sheriff himself shrinking
from ordering the constable to give effect to the signal. All seemed
transfixed with pain or chained with horror, as in tremulous tones
of touching tenderness the slayer continued to call upon the dead.

"Narcisse, my son, my son," he cried in agony; "Oh, I have killed
thee, child; oh, thou art dead, dead, dead.--But thou didst steal
thy sister; yes, I know thou didst; ay, that thou didst, and hast
delivered her to dishonor, therefore have I killed thee. Come,
Amanda, come hither, dearest, and behold thy brother; behold thy
father, see what he has done, and all for thee. Yes, I did it, all
you curious crowd. Amanda, oh, where art thou? let me see thee ere
I die: Amanda dear, Amanda;" and at the words, Amanda, leaning on
the arm of Claude, and followed by the elder Montigny and André
Duchatel, appeared upon the corridor, a sweet smile playing upon
her features, and hastening forwards she fell upon the neck of her
guardian, who was still leaning against the balustrade, pale,
haggard and forlorn. Her companions, restrained by astonishment
and fear, gazed aloof and mute, whilst the wretched criminal, eyeing
them with a look of misery and suspicion, in a tone of inexpressible
sadness at length exclaimed:

"Come you to see me, then, before I die; do you come to triumph
over me, Seigneur Montigny? Look, see there, but do not touch it,
for it is abhorred, abominable, a foul spirit, a black imp of hell.
Amanda, art thou found?--Do not tremble, girl, do not weep; my
daughter, child, for, without a figure, thou art my daughter; art,
to the very letter, love, my child. Oh, we have much to tell each
other; see what I have done--but hear me, then condemn me. Oh,
Amanda, it is bliss to see, to feel thee here;--but here, here in
this breast is sadness. I have been a rash and hasty fool, a madman,
if you will, but no, no murderer; we kill mere vermin, we exterminate
rats, roaches; and what worse than that is this which I have done.
Pshaw, he was a reptile, a black beetle that came flying against
me. He, my son! Oh, slander, where wilt thou not cast thy slime?
the thing that the deceitful, wily woman palmed upon me, he my son,
thy brother? preposterous conception. Yet sad has been the creature's
end; and sad, sad, sad, I felt this morning when I left my home,
with a presentiment which seemed to say, that I should never enter
it again; and that presentiment is now fulfilled. Fate urged me
on. Unnatural hate has pushed me to the ledge, and now I sink to
lose myself in the abyss. Oh, foul fate! this deed foul, foul!
Fair, fair Amanda, close thine eyes on this enormity; or be content
to see it, yet not understand it, for knowledge here would surely
drive thee mad."

"Oh, sir, am I not mad, delirious?" enquired Amanda: "Oh, my kind
guardian, my good angel, more than father, friend. What have you
done? you have done nothing evil!" and she sobbed upon his bosom,
and Claude stood transfixed and silent, until his eyes meeting
those of the advocate, he demanded passionately:

"Sir, what may this mean; what horrible allusions drop like venom
from your tongue; whence comes this change; tell me, I charge you,
sir, why are you now so shaken, so wandering in your noble intellect,
even mad; you whom I left this morning, sad indeed, yet sane?"

"I do not know whether I was sane or not when I did what I have
done, or whether I am so just now; but for this scene, which must
appear most strange to you, see there what shall explain it all,"
replied the advocate; and the gown was partially withdrawn from
the corpse by one of the spectators, and Claude with his male
companions gazed upon it aghast, whilst Amanda turning away in
terror and uttering a feeble moan, hid her face in the old man's
breast.

"How has this happened?" Claude demanded at last with a voice hoarse
and guttural with abhorrence; and the advocate shrugging his
shoulders cynically replied:

"A bruise, a fatal fall; strange that he should have died of it.
It has been said, the lower in the scale of being, the higher the
tenacity of life. Yet here is an inferior intelligence dies of as
little corporeal damage, as might a poet or a philosopher. There
is no certainty in speculation, for by this experiment it has been
proved, that the bulls-eye in the stable window, in falling is as
fragile as the palace's clearest pane of crystal. Who would have
thought it? A dunce, that no one would have branded for having
brains, has from a mere tumble given up the ghost. Bury him, bury
him; I am sorry for it, but cannot howl," and at these last words
a howl was heard from below, and soon Babet Blais came rushing
along the corridor, wringing her hands, and frantically demanding:
"Where is he, where is my boy, my sweet Narcisse?" and threw herself
upon the corpse of her son. The advocate looked on with a bitter
smile, and when he beheld her covering with kisses the cold, coarse
features, exclaimed: "How these things love each other!--but when
he was alive she would give him the food out of her mouth, draw
for him the blood from her veins, sacrifice the immortal soul in
her body with lies and patent perjury and crookedest excuses, if
so was that she might screen him and his faults, deceiving
me.--Beshrew thee, woman!--but wherefore should I curse thee? thou
art what thou wert made to be, even as I am that which I was made
to be, a desolation and a miserable man:" and when he ceased Babet
started from her knees, and, looking on him with new born fierceness,
cried: "Monster, not master; man killer, son killer,--oh, you have
killed my own, my dear Narcisse! murdered my son, my boy, my child,
my only joy:" and she again cast herself upon the body, and, with
her face nestling in the dead bosom, sobbed and wept aloud.

The advocate seemed softened, and, looking at Claude, demanded:
"Who is there that shall not fulfil his fate? for this I was born,
and for it I shall die." The sheriff again essayed to remove him,
but he sank at his touch, as the dust of an ancient corpse falls
before the breath of the outer atmosphere, and with mortality
moulding his visage: "Stay," he said, "let me die here; death has
arrested me, he needs no warrant." A spasm passed over his face,
his frame slightly quivered; and looking beseechingly at Claude,
the latter bent tenderly over him, and he thus began: "It were
foolish in me to suppose that you have not heard of my irregularities.
You will not be astonished, then, when I call this girl my child,
no longer my mere ward, but mine own child, so late acknowledged.
Amanda, child,"--and his voice faltered, while he spoke with
increasing difficulty,--"will you acknowledge me in this disgrace,
receiving with the name of father that of felon? Mona Macdonald is
your mother, to whom I have promised marriage till my way down to
perdition is paved with broken oaths, as false as her love was
true, and as hot as was the fire which fell from heaven, when Elijah
strove with Baal's prophets, and that licked up the water in the
trench, as did those burning oaths of mine so often dry up her
tears. Give me your hand, Claude; Seigneur Montigny, give me yours.
I see a change within you towards this lady. Stand not between her
and your son, as you would wish no sin to stand betwixt yourself
and Heaven at Judgment." Then in a low tone meant only for Claude's
ear, he whispered, gasping:

[Illustration: "Quick, I am dying: bend over me: let me perceive
your breath, for I am blind."]

"Think all I would have said, if there were time, and we were
happier. Farewell for ever; I cannot tarry, neither would I do it
now. I have outlived myself by near an hour, for I was not myself
when I performed this deed." And again a spasm passed over his
frame, his eyes grew fixed and glazed, and he earnestly exclaimed:
"Gather near me all who love me, and all to love whom is my duty.
Quick, quick; for a film overspreads my eyes, the throes of death
are tearing down this frame. Quick, I am dying. Bend over me; let
me perceive your breath, for I am blind. Bend, bend;--stoop yet
lower; I cannot feel you, for each sense grows dull; stoop lower
yet.--Oh, soul, why all this haste? Amanda, Claude, poor, missing
Mona, I have somewhat more to say to you; quick, listen, listen,
or it will be too late. Pshaw! pshaw! it _is_ too late, too late,
too late!" And his head fell backwards, and with his arms clasped
convulsively around the necks of Claude and Amanda, the advocate,
like his son, was a corpse. On the following day both of them were
laid in the English burying ground, but no stone marks the spot,
and in vain the stranger seeks to discover it. None are able, or
care, to point it out, restrained by a superstitious awe. A few
octogenarians still remember him, and look grave and shake the
head, when questioned as to the story and fate of the talented and
terrible Advocate of Montreal.


END





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Advocate" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home