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Title: The Plowshare and the Sword - A Tale of Old Quebec
Author: Trevena, John, 1870-
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 Plowshare and the Sword - A Tale of Old Quebec" ***

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[Illustration: Cover art]



THE PLOWSHARE

AND

THE SWORD


A TALE OF OLD QUEBEC



BY

ERNEST GEORGE HENHAM



"Empire and Love! the vision of a day."--_Young_



TORONTO: THE COPP, CLARK CO., LIMITED

LONDON: CASSELL AND COMPANY, LIMITED

MCMIII.  All Rights Reserved



À Toi



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER

       I.--THE FATHER OF WATERS
      II.--AN ENEMY IN THE CAMP
     III.--CHRISMATION
      IV.--MAKERS OF EMPIRE
       V.--DOUBLE DEALING
      VI.--THE INTRODUCTION TO A FIGHT
     VII.--THE FIGHT
    VIII.--COUCHICING
      IX.--THE GAUNTLET DOWN
       X.--PILLARS OF THE HOUSE
      XI.--THE SWORD IMBRUED
     XII.--SPLENDOUR
    XIII.--ENCHANTMENT
     XIV.--FIRESIDE AND GROVE
      XV.--GLORIOUS LIFE
     XVI.--CLAIRVOYANCE
    XVII.--STAMEN
   XVIII.--COMMITTAL
     XIX.--ENKINDLED
      XX.--SACRAMENTAL
     XXI.--IRON AND STEEL
    XXII.--OR AND AZURE
   XXIII.--THE EVERLASTING HILLS
    XXIV.--ART-MAGIC
     XXV.--NOVA ANGLIA
    XXVI.--STIGMA
   XXVII.--REVELATION
  XXVIII.--BODY AND MIND
    XXIX.--WOMAN'S LOVE IS LIFE
     XXX.--LAND-LOCKED
    XXXI.--IN THE FALL OF THE SNOW
   XXXII.--ARMS AND THE MAN
  XXXIII.--THE GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED
   XXXIV.--THE THIRST
    XXXV.--SWORDCRAFT
   XXXVI.--SETTLEMENT
  XXXVII.--THE PLOWSHARE
 XXXVIII.--VALEDICTORY



THE PLOWSHARE AND THE SWORD



CHAPTER I.

THE FATHER OF WATERS.

It was an evening of spring in the year of strife 1637.  The sun was
slowly withdrawing his beams from the fortress of Quebec, which had
been established some thirty years back, and was then occupied by a
handful of settlers and soldiers, to the number of 120, under the
military governorship of Arnaud de Roussilac.  The French politicians
of the seventeenth century were determined colony builders.  However
humble the settler, he was known and watched, advanced or detained, by
the vigilant government of Paris.  The very farms were an extension,
however slight, of the militarism of France, and a standing menace to
Britain.  Where, further south, Englishmen founded a rude settlement,
the French in the north had responded by a military post.  The policy
of peace taught by that intrepid adventurer, Jacques Cartier, exactly a
hundred years before, had become almost forgotten.  "This country is
now owned by your Majesty," Cartier had written.  "Your Majesty has
only to make gifts to the headmen of the Iroquois tribes and assure
them of your friendship, to make the land yours for ever."

But Samuel de Champlain, the colony-maker who followed Cartier, was a
man of pride who understood how to make war, but had left unlearned the
greater art of bidding for peace.  In 1609, acting under what he
believed to be a flash of genius, Champlain brought against the
Iroquois the Algonquins, their bitter hereditary enemies; and with
their aid, and the use of the magic firearms which had never before
been heard in the country of the wild north, he had utterly defeated
the proud and unforgiving people who had won the admiration and respect
of Cartier the pioneer, thus making the tribes of the Iroquois
confederacy sworn enemies of France for ever.  Had Providence been
pleased to make Samuel de Champlain another Cartier, had the latter
even succeeded the former, Canada, from the rough Atlantic seaboard to
the soft Pacific slope, might well have been one great colony of France
to-day.

It was, however, not the past history of that land, nor even its
present necessities, which occupied the mind of the Abbé La Salle,
great-uncle of the future Robert of that name, who, half-a-century
later, was to discover the mighty river of Mississippi--which was to
deprive the St. Lawrence of its proud birth-title, the Father of
Waters--and explore the plains of Michigan.  The abbé was lying, that
spring evening, on the heights, smoking a stone pipe filled with coarse
black tobacco from Virginia, and watching a heavy ship which rocked
upon the swift current where it raced round the bend in the shore.  He
was building up a future for himself, a fabric of ambition upon
foundations of diplomacy and daring.  This senior priest of the
fortress--there were two others, Laroche the bully, and St Agapit the
ascetic--was a handsome man, powerfully built, of fair complexion
marred only by a sword-cut above the left eye.  Although priest in
name, he was more at his ease flicking a rapier than thumbing a
breviary; an oath was habitually upon his tongue; a hot patriot was he,
and above all a fighter.  He had fought a duel before his early mass,
and had left the altar to brag of his prowess.  He was, in short, one
of the most notorious of that band of martial Churchmen, imitators of
Armand du Plessis Richelieu, for which colonial France at that age was
noted.  Far from the eye of the mighty Cardinal and the feeble mind of
Louis the Just, they swaggered through life, preaching the divine
mission of the Church to the natives one hour, drinking deeply, or
duelling in terrible earnest, the next.  The lives of the fighting
priests of Quebec make not the least interesting page of that romance
which three centuries have written around the heights.

Wooden huts were dotted thinly along the slopes, which ended where the
forest of hemlocks began, about half a mile from the edge of the cliff;
and below, where a log landing-stage jutted into the stream, a
man-of-war flying the flag of France rode at her ease, a party of
turbaned men, no bigger to the abbé's eyes than children, gambling at
dice upon her fore-deck.  Anchored beside the shore opposite appeared
another vessel, more rakish in build, less heavy at the stern, and
showing four masts to the Frenchman's three.  A pine branch fluttered
at the main truck, and a great bough of hemlock depended over her bows,
completely draping the heavy and grotesque figure-head.

It was this latter ship which La Salle was watching with suspicion, as
attentively as the distance would permit.  The abbé mistrusted all
foreigners, even when, as in this case, they came bringing gifts.  He
had recently been informed of that hasty alliance patched up between
France and Holland, and the policy found no favour in his eyes; he
frowned to think that a Dutch man-of-war should be permitted to sail up
the St. Lawrence and cast anchor beneath the heights.  Was there any
genuine desire on the part of Holland to strengthen the hands of her
new ally, or were the crafty Dutchmen playing some deep game of their
own?  The Indians, who surrounded the fortress as closely as they
dared, were entirely hostile to the holders of the land.  Rumours of at
least one band of Englishmen, friendly with the natives, hiding in the
forest or among the clefts in the rock, waiting to strike a blow when
opportunity offered against the servants of King Louis, had been
circulated by a French dwarf known by the name of Gaudriole, a
malevolent, misshapen creature, who passed unharmed about the country,
and escaped hanging merely because of his value as an interpreter of
the various native dialects.  The Dutch ship, which had arrived only
that afternoon, might well have sailed northward with some plan of
joining for the time with either Indian or English to wrest the mastery
of the maritime provinces from the clutch of France.

While La Salle thus meditated with a mind to his own advancement, his
keen ears detected the fall of footsteps over the crisp grass, and he
pulled himself round to discover a priest, like himself wearing a
sword, a stout man, panting after his long climb.

"What news, Laroche?" called the smoker, indicating the distant warship
with the stem of his pipe.

"Corpus Domini!" gasped the new comer.  "The sun strikes across yonder
rocks like the fire of Gehenna.  What news, ask you, of yonder
piratical thief of a Dutchman?  She is under commission, mark you, to
pick a quarrel and fight us for this coast, for all the fair talk of
alliance and the chopping up of the Spanish Netherlands between Paris
and Holland----"

"What of Roussilac?" broke in La Salle.

"The commandant is now aboard the floating gin-tank, and there you may
swear he shall impress upon the mind of Van Vuren, her master, the
certain fact that Louis the Thirteenth is lord here, from the sea
outward to wherever this endless land may reach.  But we know the
Hollander.  A smooth rascal, who flatters to a man's face, and when his
back is turned--Proh stigmata Salvatoris!  Dost remember the Dutchman
who pinked you in the shoulder at Avignon?"

He broke off with the question, and his fat body shook with laughter.

"A priest must remain a priest in Avignon," said La Salle sourly; "but
he may here be a man.  What news has this Hollander brought?"

"Why, that England is in revolt from end to end," answered Laroche
gladly.  "We shall find none of their clumsy ships, nor any of their
barbarian fist-using soldiers here.  The people have risen against the
king.  A man named John Hampden has refused to pay ship-money, a new
tax levied to raise a fleet to defy the Pope, the Dutch, and the
Cardinal, and this man carries the people with him.  Also this Charles
has made himself hated in the north by forcing some new form of heresy
and insult to his Holiness in the shape of a prayer-book down the
throats of the Scotch.  All but a handful have fallen away from him,
says Van Vuren, even the lords temporal have begun to despair, and many
are preparing to set out for the West."

La Salle's martial spirit flamed up.  "Here?" he questioned eagerly.

"They would no more dare seek a home here than in Rochelle," went on
Laroche.  "They go south to take up the lands where the last of their
mariners harried the Spaniards.  It is reported that Lord Saye and Sele
proposes to transport himself to Virginia, Lord Warwick to Connecticut,
and the yeomen, weary of heavy taxes and fearing the extortions of the
Star Chamber, seek information concerning New England now that the star
of the old has set.  We hold the seas, France or Holland unaided is
strong enough to sink the rotten barques which the English call their
fleet.  There is no money forthcoming for new ships.  Richelieu shall
soon rule the world!  Come down.  We shall perchance obtain a bottle of
wine along the Rue des Pêcheurs before vespers."

"I join you at Michel's after sundown," said La Salle.  "At this
present time I remain in the wilderness."

He stood up, brushed the dry grass from his almost entirely secular
costume, and gazed landwards under the wide brim of his hat, until a
crow came presently flapping out of the valley where the great forest
began.  The black bird soared over the heads of the martial priests,
and dropped slowly to drink of the river.

"There are finer birds in yonder forest," muttered La Salle, a smile
about his mouth.

"Ha!  An assignation?" exclaimed the stout priest, and at the
suggestion wiped his moist forehead and laughed loudly.  Then he turned
and rolled away down the slope, shouting a song of the cabaret which
had been popular among the soldiers of Paris two years before.  La
Salle followed his progress with a cynical smile, before he also
turned, and descended upon the opposite side out of sight of the river,
and crossed the plain where the French were to rule for two centuries
more and then to fly with the kilted men of Scotland at their heels.
Here the cool hemlock forest murmured, the dense forest which stretched
northward to the mud flats of the salt bay named after the adventurer
Hudson, whose lost bones were somewhere tossed in its cold and lonely
waters.  The sun was hidden by the hills, big golden lilies stared at
the priest, an indigo-winged butterfly tumbled into shelter to die at
the ending of the day.  The dew sweated out of the ground, and the
foliage smelt like wine.

"This is better than the gutters of Paris," muttered the priest.

The bushes parted at the sounding of his voice, and a radiant vision
stood before him, backed by the greenwood shade.  A young woman, but a
few years removed from childhood, stepped forth, hungrily regarding the
abbé with a splendid pair of eyes, brown-red and full of fire, and
burning with the health and passion of life.

This young maid was Onawa of the Cayugas, that boldest of the tribes of
the allied Iroquois, who held the interior under their confederacy, all
the plains, backwoods, the river and seaboard, with the exception of
those spots where military posts had been established--the small
palisaded farm, and even the trader's hut, being marked upon the map as
military posts, and made so by the simple order, "_Le roi le veut_."
This girl had been present at the council fire when Roussilac had
endeavoured to heal the breach between French and Indians by specious
promises, none of which he intended to fulfil; La Salle also had been
present, accompanying the commandant as the representative of the
Church.  The council had been a failure, owing, said the soldiers, to
the trickery of Gaudriole, the only interpreter available; but in fact
due to the overbearing manner of Roussilac, who fell into Champlain's
error of relegating an uncivilised people to the level of animals; and
to the innate hatred entertained by the Indians for their conquerors.
The Iroquois sachems answered the representative smoothly that they
would consider his offer of peace and the terms accompanying the same,
and subsequently resolved that, though they might tolerate English and
Dutch in their midst, their final answer to the white race who had
armed the Algonquins against them could only be made by arrow and
tomahawk.  Onawa, who because of her sex was allowed to take no part in
the discussion, held aloof, and regarded the figure of La Salle
standing haughtily in the yellow glow of the fire.  When the deputation
withdrew she followed and caught the priest's attention with a smile;
and when night fell she was still watching the lights of the rude
little town upon the cliffs.

La Salle was no woman's man.  He was too healthy a soldier; but he was
ambitious, and had moulded his policy upon that of his master, the
character which did not shame to describe itself in the unscrupulous
terms, "I venture upon nothing till I have well considered it; but when
I have once taken my resolution I go directly to my end.  I mow down
and overthrow all that stands in my way, and then cover the whole with
my red mantle."  The daughter of an Iroquois chief had great power
among her own people, and the priest reflected that he might add some
fame to his name and win perhaps the red hat for his head, if he could
secure the withdrawal of the hostile tribes; or, better, inflame them
against the English, who were, so said report, but awaiting an
opportunity to strike at the north.  But a difficulty lay in his path;
neither he nor Onawa could speak the other's tongue.

But this was not an overwhelming obstacle, because then, as now, the
language of signs might make a dumb tongue eloquent.  Thus it was not
altogether by accident that the handsome abbé came to the fringe of the
forest at evening, and it was not chance alone which brought Onawa from
the camp into the enemy's country.

She held between her fingers a flower, a lily as golden as that
emblazoned upon the royal standard; and while standing before him she
placed the flower to her forehead, and then gave it him, without
turning away her eyes, and without shrinking from his.

La Salle understood that she was expressing her willingness to give
herself to him, with or without the will and consent of her people.

"By St. Anthony!" he muttered.  "How shall I tell the jade that I have
abjured women?  Does she then desire me to strip and paint, that she
may make of me a heathen husband?"

He shook his head, and the light changed in the eyes of the girl, and
her brow wrinkled.  He saw the sudden gleam of her teeth and heard her
sigh.

"Jezebel of the forest," he cried, "name me this flower!"

He extended it with a sign, and the ready girl spoke softly a
dissyllabic word.  La Salle repeated it, again indicating the flower,
and Onawa nodded vigorously.

"Ah!" exclaimed the priest.  "Here is light out of darkness."

He came nearer and took the girl's hand, making the same sign.  She
spoke again.  He touched her hair.  Again she spoke.  Then her cheek,
her nose, her lips, her ears, and Onawa answered him every time,
laughing delightedly as the priest pronounced each soft Iroquois word
at her dictation.

"A few such lessons, and Gaudriole may be hanged," said La Salle.

Then, with a quick gesture, Onawa put out her fawn-coloured hand, and
touched his right eye with the tip of one finger.

"L'oeil," answered La Salle.

She patted his cheek.

"La joue," he said.

She tweaked his nose, with a laugh.

"Le nez," he gasped.

She slapped his mouth.

"La bouche," he growled, adding, "I might have said, 'La grimace.'"

The girl was very near.  He caught her and drew her up to him, and
pressed his lips powerfully upon hers.

"C'est le baiser," he said carelessly.

The salutation of the kiss was unknown among the Iroquois.  Onawa
started, thrilling with a feeling altogether strange; then turned to
him, putting back her head as a Parisienne might have done to receive
her lover's salute.

"Le baiser _again_," she demanded, clinging to the word which had made
life a new thing.  "Le baiser _again_."

"By all the wiles of Satan!" exclaimed La Salle, thrusting her back.
"She is in league with the enemy."

Again he held her before him, his arms slightly bent, and said
haltingly in the tongue of the hated race, which he knew little better
than the Cayuga: "You speak the English?"

Onawa's face lighted.  "A ver' little words," she answered.  Then she
drew up to him, her eyes more eloquent, and softly repeating her
bilingual request:

"Le baiser again."

It was dark when La Salle reached the group of huts planted upon the
cliffs.  The warships were invisible and unlighted, because lamps would
have revealed figures patrolling upon deck, and there were keen-eyed
enemies watching from either shore.  The priest stumbled along the
rocky path, his long boots kicking the stones before him, until he came
near the waterside and the Rue des Pêcheurs, situated immediately below
the main cliff on the site occupied to-day by Little Champlain Street.
The way was inhabited, as its name implied, by fisher-folk who swept
the wide river when times were fairly peaceful, and served as soldiers
in war.  There was no street in the accepted sense of the word.  A few
cave dwellings burrowed out of the rock; huts here and there, a tent,
or a simple erection of sticks and stones plastered over with mud, were
barely visible, sprinkled irregularly, out of the darkness along the
high shore.

Where a worn pathway went round and curved towards the landing-stage, a
square log-hut occupied some considerable portion of space.  A very
dull lamp smoked over the entry, below a board bearing the inscription,
"Michel Ferraud, Marchand du Vin."  A grumbling noise of conversation
and the rattle of dice sounded within.

"Deuce and three for the third time!" shouted the high-pitched voice of
the Abbé Laroche.  "I'll throw you again, Dutchman--one more throw for
the honour of the Church; and the devil seize me if this box plays me
the trick again."

La Salle bent his head and entered the cabaret.  He made two steps,
then stood motionless, his fingers feeling for his sword-hilt.

Laroche looked up, the dice-box poised in his fat right hand, and a
smile wandered across his face at beholding the attitude of his
fellow-priest.

"The master of the Dutch man-of-war," he called, indicating the player
who sat opposite him.  "Sieur," he shouted over the table, with a burst
of unctuous laughter, "the renowned swordsman, L'Abbé La Salle."

Then Van Vuren looked up.



CHAPTER II.

AN ENEMY IN THE CAMP.

At sunset Roussilac, the commandant of Quebec, after receiving
reassuring reports from the sentries and thus closing his official
duties for the day, went aboard the man-of-war.  Having personally
superintended the shipping of the gangway, to satisfy himself that
immediate communication with the shore was cut off, he withdrew to his
cabin, which he occupied in preference to his hut upon the slope.
Before retiring to his hammock, he mentally reviewed his position, the
difficulties of which had not been lessened by the unexpected arrival
of the Dutch ship.

It had never been the way of Holland to go out of her course to be
friendly.  The commandant could not forget that she had colonised large
tracts of country further south; he knew that, like England, she
aspired to extend her influence beyond the seas; and what more probable
than that, snatching at the opportunity afforded by this alliance, her
government should have commissioned Van Vuren to spy out the land and
report upon its possibilities?

Already sufficient dangers threatened the fortress.  Disquieting
rumours had reached Roussilac of late.  The Indians, it was said, were
growing more restless and bolder because they had discovered the
weakness of the French.  It was certain that a band of five Englishmen
had been seen in the district by Gaudriole, and these were probably the
precursors of more formidable numbers.  The islanders, Roussilac knew,
had a knack of appearing when least expected; and Agincourt had long
since shown the world that they were never so formidable as when few in
numbers, short of supplies, and worn after heavy marching.  It was this
fear which had induced the commandant to adopt the plan of retiring to
the ship each night, so that, whatever might befall his men upon the
mainland, he at least would be in a position of comparative safety.

By this it will be perceived that Roussilac was not altogether of that
stuff of which heroes are made.  Nor was he a man of exceptional
ability.  He had fought his way up to his present post of
responsibility with the aid of fortune and a natural capacity for
obeying orders, although, while he had been ascending, he preferred to
forget his Norman parents and connections, merely because they happened
to be poor and humble folk.  His mother's brother and her husband, the
latter driven out of France for heresy, were living upon a small
holding, little more than a day's journey from the fortress; Jean-Marie
Labroquerie, their only son, had lately joined the ranks of his small
army; but the commandant was too proud, or perhaps too cowardly, to
acknowledge these kinsfolk, and in his heart he found the hope that
Madame Labroquerie, his aunt, a woman of bitter memories, with a sharp
tongue and a passionate nature, would never seek to reach the fortress
and shame him before his men.  The selfish spirit of Richelieu was
working on in Arnaud de Roussilac, as indeed it worked through the
character of almost all the creatures of the Cardinal.

Still perplexed by the problems of his position, the commandant recited
the prayers without which no soldier of the age could have deemed
himself safe from the perils of the night, placed his sword ready to
his hand, and retired to his hammock, although darkness had scarcely
settled over the land.  In a few minutes he was asleep.

These early slumbers were rudely broken by a heavy hand which seized
and shook him by the shoulder.  The glare of a torch hurt his eyes,
when he opened them to discover the tanned features of D'Archand, the
master of the ship, between the folds of the netting spread to exclude
the ever-hostile insects.

"An attack," muttered Roussilac, in the first moment of consciousness.
"A plague upon these English."

"Hasten!" cried D'Archand.  "The fortress is in an uproar.  La Salle
has insulted the Dutch master, and a duel is imminent."

At that Roussilac awoke fully, and, stretching out his arm, drew the
square port-hole open, admitting the sound of the tidewater under the
ship's counter, and beyond, a sharp murmur of excited voices.  Craning
his neck, he discovered an intermittent flashing of lights along the
pathway under the cliff.

"Now may the saints help me!" the commandant exclaimed, as he felt for
his cloak.  "I have no shadow of power over these priests.  More
willingly would I oppress a witch than cross a Churchman.  Magic can
only rot a man's body, but excommunication touches his soul.  What is
the cause of this quarrel?"

"I know not," answered D'Archand.  "But duelling has been forbidden
altogether----"

"By Church and State alike," the commandant interrupted testily.  "The
Cardinal might as well forbid the plague to strike his army.  When the
Church itself breaks the law, how is the head of the army to act?"

The captains speedily left the ship, ascended the winding path, and
entered the street of fishermen.

All the inhabitants appeared to be gathered together upon the low
ground, to witness the by no means unprecedented spectacle of a duel
between priest and layman.  They stood six deep under the cliff, with
as many more upon the side of the river; old and young, women in soiled
stiff caps, ragged settlers, and soldiers in faded accoutrements side
by side.  A ring of men, holding spluttering pine torches, or oil
lanterns, the flames of which smoked and flickered up and down the horn
sides, enclosed an open space where two shadowy figures swayed almost
noiselessly, facing one another, each right arm directing a rapier
which flashed continually in the confused lights.

"I would the challenger were any other than the Abbé La Salle,"
muttered Roussilac.  "He would cut off my hopes of Heaven as readily as
he shall presently run through yonder Dutchman."

"There is no finer swordsman in the new world than the abbé," whispered
D'Archand in his ear.  "If Van Vuren be killed, the Cardinal shall
account you responsible, and I too shall not escape blame.  This new
alliance may not hold if the deed be known in Paris."

Roussilac started forward, and scattered the people, who were too
excited to recognise him.

"Put up your swords!" he shouted.  "I charge you, sir priest, in the
King's name to cease fighting with this man, who is my guest and our
common ally."

"Corpus Domini!" cried Laroche, staggering towards the commandant, his
big face flushed with excitement and liquor.  "Order the wind to cease,
commandant, or yon river to stop its flow.  Attempt to restrain La
Salle when his blood is hot!  Know you, sir, this is an affair of
honour."

"It is not you who shall suffer from the breaking of the law, sir
priest," protested the representative.  "By St. Gris! a master-stroke!"
he exclaimed, unable altogether to suppress his soldierly instincts.

La Salle, foreseeing an interruption, had closed with his enemy in a
vigorous skirmish of rapid and clever feints, culminating in a stroke
the admirable technique of which had wrung an involuntary testimony
from the commandant.  Van Vuren escaped by a side movement, which to
the onlookers partook of the nature of a lucky accident.  But there was
a smear of blood upon the priest's rapier when he pressed again to the
attack.

"Yon Dutchman shall be the only sufferer," said Laroche.  "Only
bloodshed can satisfy the Abbé La Salle.  Nature must run her course.
There stands a scar upon my brother's back, made by this Van Vuren's
sword four years ago at the corner of a dark turning in Avignon.  What
was the cause?  Well, commandant, a woman they say is always the cause;
but my friend is, like myself, a priest, and therefore above suspicion
so far as women are concerned.  Dutchmen have hard heads and slow
brains.  It is also said of them that if they can run from an enemy
with honour they will run.  My brother was one night returning home
after administering at a sick bed; beside a corner he heard a step,
and, before he could turn, a sword point went in his back.  The
Dutchman's honour was satisfied.  He ran, but he was marked as he
escaped.  In Avignon during those days Van Vuren was known by another,
and less honourable, name.  But the devil may wear a halo and remain
the devil."

While the abbé spoke, some heavy clouds, which had gathered over the
heights, darkening the night, began to discharge themselves in rain,
which presently lashed in so heavy a torrent that the pine torches were
extinguished, and the men holding the lanterns had much difficulty to
maintain the feeble flames.  La Salle, with his back to the storm,
drove the Hollander before him through the hissing rain, the people
falling away as the duellists advanced, their blades gleaming and
grating through the silvery lines of water.  A muffled shout went up.
Van Vuren had been palpably hit upon the shoulder.  La Salle smiled
grimly and still pressed on, lunging repeatedly over the captain's
guard, taking every risk of a wound as he hastened to make his victory
sure.

Roussilac cleared the road, the people only obeying when the soldiers
prepared to enforce their officer's order.

"Gentlemen," cried the commandant, advancing, with an imprecation upon
the rain, "drop your swords, I pray of you."

"The devil seize you!" shouted La Salle, throwing out his left arm.
"His point was not an inch from me."

"Put up your swords," repeated Roussilac, boldly disregarding the
remonstrance.  "Sir priest, it is the will of the Cardinal."

These were potent words, and for one moment the abbé hesitated.  He
lowered his point with an angry side glance upon his interrupter, and
the affair would then have finished had not a dark figure stopped out
from the shadow under the cliff, and thrown itself into position with
the muffled warning, "En garde!"

"Ah, dog!" cried La Salle, starting forward through the rain with
scarcely a ray of light between him and his adversary.

When a line of lightning broke the sky, an exclamation burst from his
lips and his bold cheek blanched.  During that momentary illumination
La Salle beheld his enemy clearly.  He saw a mean man clad in a suit of
faded red with torn and stained ruffles; his hair gathered behind and
tied with a piece of grass; his hat broken out of shape and adorned
sadly with half a plume.  And when Laroche held up a lantern, the
fighting priest saw further that what he had taken for a negroid skin
was merely a mask which covered the stranger's face, slit with holes
for the eyes and mouth.

"This," muttered La Salle, cold with terror as he warded off an attack
which was far more aggressive than that of Van Vuren, "this is the work
of Satan."

Roussilac touched D'Archand, pointing along the path which bent down to
the river, and whispered, "Wait for the lightning."

When the flash passed, the master saw the big figure of the Dutchman
hurrying to reach his ship, his sword still drawn in his hand.

"Then, who is this?" exclaimed D'Archand, with a frightened oath,
indicating through the beating rain the man behind the mask.

Roussilac signed himself, and said nothing.

Laroche hurried up, his big face streaming, the lantern shaking in his
hands like a will-o'-the-wisp, his attitude grotesque with terror.

"What witchcraft is here?" he shouted.  "See you how this Dutchman has
changed body and appearance as well as name?"

"Van Vuren is not here," said Roussilac gravely.  "He ran when the abbé
lowered his sword; and so soon as he had gone--nay, before--yonder
figure stepped out of the darkness under the cliff and challenged La
Salle.  You see he has covered his face.  It is the mad Englishman who
fights for the love of fighting.  And the English cover the earth like
flies."

"I shall stiffen his arm, be he heretic or devil," said the stout
priest; and he went and stood near the duellists, and, boldly facing
the stranger, cursed him prolifically in the name of Holy Church and
the King of Rome.

The stranger did not turn, and only acknowledged the anathemas by a
perfectly distinct laugh which issued weirdly from the mask.

No man had ever called La Salle's bravery in question.  Facing an
enemy, who had started as it were from the rocks before him in the rain
and the lightning, he met the resolute attack and parried every lunge.
In truth, the priest was a fine swordsman; but his resource in skirmish
and detail was here taxed to the uttermost.  All he could do at his
best was to hold out the short sword, which flashed in and out of the
rain, controlled by a wrist of steel and an iron arm.  The masked man
gave forth no sound of hard breathing.  He was a master of swordcraft,
and La Salle knew that he had met his match.  Here was no nervous
Dutchman to be trifled with; no hectoring soldier with a hearty oath
and bluff swagger.  La Salle sweated, and his breath came pricking in
hot gasps, and a cold thrill trickled along his back when he allowed
himself to wonder who the enemy might be.

The stranger guarded against treachery, hugging the cliff lest anyone
with hostile intentions might pass behind and reach his back.  Had he
moved out, he would assuredly have beaten down the abbé's defence; as
it was, the latter was acting upon the defensive, and doing so with
much difficulty.

The rain stopped on an instant.  As suddenly the clouds fell back to
admit the light; and the rugged shadows of the rocks traced fantastic
shapes along the Rue des Pêcheurs.

The strained voice of Laroche broke the stillness.

"A touch!"

"Liar!" shouted back the hard-driven but proud priest, although he felt
warm blood oozing between his fingers.

The masked man feared the light which followed the sweeping away of the
storm clouds.  He bestirred himself, feinted with amazing rapidity
within and without the pass, then his limber wrist stiffened for the
second, and his point darted in like a poisonous snake over the hilt
and wounded La Salle upon the muscle of the sword-arm.

"A touch!" shouted the captains together, both too excited to have any
thought for the law.

"An accident," gasped the proud priest.  "A misfortune."

"Well, here's a touch!" called a deep English voice; and as the
challenger made his nationality known he lunged beneath the abbé's
blade, thrusting out until the blood spurted upward in a jet.

"Yes, yes.  A touch--I confess," panted La Salle; and he staggered
back, crossed his legs, and fell heavily.

"By St. Michael!" shouted the fat Laroche, furiously pulling out his
sword and reaching towards the shadow under the cliff.  "You shall pay,
assassin, for this."

The mysterious stranger chuckled, disarmed Laroche in a moment,
scratching the stout abbé's wrist with his point, and before the two
officers and the handful of soldiers could bestir themselves, he had
disappeared round the bend of the Rue des Pêcheurs.  Roussilac ran to
the ending of the way, but found no sign of the masked man, who had
vanished as mysteriously as he had arrived.



CHAPTER III.

CHRISMATION.

The day following the duel La Salle was under the hands of the
surgeon--who, in the ignorance of that age, treated his patient for
loss of blood by letting yet more--and Roussilac was sending forth men
with the charge to find the hiding-place of the Englishman, and to fail
not at their peril.  However, they did at that time fail.  Not even the
cunning hunchback Gaudriole had been able to discover the habitation of
the mysterious swordsman who had dared to enter the fortress and openly
defy its officers and men.

Even the Indian might have walked behind the scrub of tangled
willow-growth over the cave-dwelling, and known nothing of it, had his
eyes or his nose failed to discern the thread of wood-smoke often
curling above the blackened crater of a hollow tree which had been
ingeniously converted into a chimney.  A grass-covered knoll made the
roof of the dwelling, the entrance to which only became apparent from a
stone causeway, shelving gradually between the roots of pine trees, and
enclosed by massive logs which banked the eastern front of the burrow.

Upon the threshold of this rude home a brown boy was playing with a
wolf-hound, while awaiting his father's return from that daring visit
to the fortress.

Around him Nature thundered like a great organ.  The leaden waters of
the great discharge roared where the bush made a screen which no eyes
could pierce; the falls of the Ouiataniche smoked below.  Spray flew
above the scrub, bathing the dog's fur and the strong arms of the
child.  The one bayed, the other shouted, to the hard north wind that
swept overhead, lashing the branches, tearing the summits of the pines,
snatching the dry wisps of grass and whirling them under the clouds.
The dark bush groaned.  The great rocks bore their buffetings with
hollow protests.  Ravens croaked as they swung up and down; divers
wailed from the weedy creeks.  The boughs chafed, and the plumed
foliage clashed together, loosening a rain of cones and showers of pine
needles.

"I want to grow.  I want to be strong," shouted the boy to his panting
companion.  "I want to wear a sword and fight.  I want to be a soldier
and shed blood.  I want to live!"

The dog broke away barking, and rushed through the scrub.  The child
ran after him, and they met upon the dripping rocks, which made a
natural fortification to the cave beyond.

A magnificent spectacle rolled away, as full of sound and motion as a
battlefield.  Well had the Indians named that place the Region of the
Lost Waters.  Islands heaved out of the raging expanse, small and
densely covered with torn vegetation, every ridge of pine-crested rock
moaning under the north wind, splintered and rough and ragged, scarred
like the duellist's arm.  About these islands the separate torrents
thundered, seeking outlets for escape.  There were a hundred channels,
each striving to be the main, each at war with all others, each leaping
white-crested down to join its rivals at the stupendous fall.  Every
separate discharge lifted up its voice to drown the combined clamour of
its rivals.

A canoe shot the rapids between two islands, quivering like an arrow in
its flight.  It swept down, a mere feather upon the water, with only a
shell of rough bark between its two occupants and the hereafter.  The
steerer, a handsome and pure-blooded woman of the Cayugas, crouched
like a figure of bronze against the cross-piece, wielding her paddle
with an easy carelessness which spoke of perfect confidence.  By a turn
of her wrist the shell of bark swept off a projecting rock; by a deft
motion of her body, almost too subtle for the sight, the canoe glanced
from a reef where the waves were wild; another, more determined,
motion, and the fragile thing pierced a sheet of spray and swept to the
shore.  The child caught the shell and held fast, while the man who had
conquered the fighting priest jumped nimbly to the sand.

"Brave boy, Richard," he cried.  "Your mother and I looked out from
yonder bend between the islands, knowing that our son would be awaiting
us.  Tell me now, how have you fared during our absence?"

The boy put out his lean arms, already tight with muscle, to greet his
mother.

"I have been hunting by the moon," he answered.  "Last night I shot a
deer, and to-day have cut it up.  A portion of the meat is cooking now."

The soldier of fortune reached an arm round the boy's shoulders and
drew him close.  "You are a man, my Richard.  You shall never know what
it is to lack strength."

Night settled down.  The lord of the isles left the cave, and, seating
himself upon a bank, smoked a long pipe, which he had received as a
gift from Shuswap, chief of the Cayugas, with whom he had allied
himself by marriage.  Silently he drew the smoke through the painted
stem, then handed the pipe to his wife, and she smoked and passed the
quaint object to her son, who smoked also with a strange expression of
sternness upon his child's features.

"Was the meat good, father?" he asked, as he handed back the pipe.

"Somewhat too fresh, my son," the man answered.

"Was the deer well shot?"

"It was well done, Richard."

"It is not easy to shoot straight in the moonlight," the boy said.
"But I shot no more than once.  My arrow went true to the side of the
neck, and Blood followed and pulled the creature down."

The great hound looked up with open mouth, and heavily flapped his tail.

The boy spoke both English and Cayuga, the former more perfectly than
the latter.  His father and mother spoke both languages, each having
taught the other the words of a strange tongue.  The woman was tall, of
a type which was soon to grow extinct, her features as regular as those
of a Greek statue, her eyes and hair a deep black, her skin a trifle
darker than fawn-colour.  Like all the proud daughters of the Iroquois,
she knew well how to handle the axe and bow.  Among her own people, in
the days of maidenhood, her name had been Tuschota; but by her English
husband she was called Mary.

He, the lord of the isles, was almost mean in stature, with a lean,
careworn face marked with decisive lines of character, grey-eyed and
thin-lipped.  His body was clad in a much mended suit of faded red, an
old hat partly covered by a broken feather, with moccasins and leggings
of his wife's make.  A short sword swung behind him by a rough belt of
buckskin, and a hunting-knife, the blade hiding in a beaded sheath,
hung closely to his right hip.  It was hard to tell his age; he had the
eager face of youth under the bleached hair of middle-age.  His wife
and only child called him Thomas or Father, as did the neighbouring
Indians of the allied Iroquois tribes; but none of them knew him by any
other name, except that of Gitsa, the sun, or, as they intended to
convey, "The strong one who sometimes covers his face."

"Father," young Richard exclaimed nervously, "shall you go away
to-night?"

"Be silent, child," said the mother.  "It is not for the young to know
the father's will."

"Nay, Mary," said the grave man.  "I love the lad's spirit.  Let him
speak his mind."

Richard came nearer and put out his hand, a flush upon his brow.  He
patted the hound's back, its head, handled the frayed hem of his
father's cloak, and then his brown fingers passed on to caress the hilt
of the sword upon which his eyes had been fixed while his hand wandered.

"Father," he exclaimed, in a burst of boyish passion, "I want to wear a
sword."

The man's grey eyes kindled as he heard this strong boy speak.  Child
as he was in years, the father's spirit was in him, and the father
rejoiced.

"What would you do with a sword?" he said, frowning.  "Would you cut
your bread, or make kindling wood for the fire?  Have you not your bow
and arrows?"

"I can bring you down the bird flying, or the beast running.  I can
shoot you the salmon in the water.  Now I would learn the sword, that I
may go out with you, and fight with you, and--and protect you, my
father."

The man did not smile; but he frowned no more.

"Son," he said, in tones that were still severe, "you are yet over
young to join the brotherhood of the sword.  The same is a mighty
weapon, never a servant, but rather a tyrant, who shall destroy his
wearer in the end.  Know you that the Master of the world said once,
'All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword'?  Even as
the tongue is the sword, an unruly member which no man can restrain.
It answers an enemy without thought, even as the tongue throws back an
angry word.  It passes a death sentence lightly, even as the tongue
curses an enemy's soul.  It strikes a vulnerable spot in one mad
moment; and when the passion sinks, then the hand fails, and the eye
shall close for shame.  Only the sword changes not, remaining cold to
the eye, ready to the hand, and responsive to the first evil thought in
the heart.  You shall wear the sword some day, my son.  Be content till
then."

"I want to fight Frenchmen," the boy muttered.  "Father, let me draw
your sword.  Let me see it flash in the moon.  Let me feel its point."

The father's hand closed upon that of the boy, pressing the little palm
strongly against the hilt.  "Do not draw that sword, child," he said.
"The virgin hand should hold a virgin blade."

He rose suddenly and disappeared along the white causeway.  The mother
and son were alone on the knoll, the black pines torn by the wind
behind, the spray flying in front.  The mother put out her well-shaped
arm to the smouldering pipe, and drew at the mouthpiece, watching the
excited boy over the triangular bowl.  She spoke in the liquid language
of the Cayugas, "Remember that you are very young, my son."

Richard turned passionately, and fanned away the tobacco smoke which
wreathed itself between their eyes.

"I have lived fifteen years.  I am strong.  See these arms!  See how
long they are, and mark how the muscle swells when I lift my hand.  I
am weary of killing fish and birds and beasts.  I would kill men."

"You would be a man of blood, son?"

"Even as my father.  He has taught me to hunt.  But when he goes down
to the great river he leaves me here.  You he often takes; but I am
left.  He goes down to fight.  I have watched him when he cleans his
sword.  There is blood upon his sword.  It is the blood of men."

"With whom would you fight?" said the mother, her voice reflecting the
boy's passion.

"With the savage Algonquins in the far-away lands, the enemies of the
Iroquois.  And with the Frenchmen whom my father hates."

More the boy would have said, but at that moment the lord of the place
returned with a sheathed sword and a velvet belt.  The sword, a short
blade like that which he himself wore, as slight almost as a whip, he
tested on the ground, and in his stern manner pointed out a spot upon
the summit of the knoll where the moonlight played free from shadow,
saying, "Stand there."

The boy obeyed, stretching out an expectant hand.

His father gave him the virgin sword, fixing him with his stern eye,
and suddenly whipped out his own blade, and exclaimed, in a voice which
was meant to strike terror into the child's heart, "On guard!"

The boy did not wince, but threw up his point like an old soldier, and
his face became wild when along his right arm there thrilled for the
first time an indescribable strength and joy as the two blades met.

By instinct he caught the point, and parried the edge.  By instinct he
lunged at the vital spots, stepping forward, darting aside, falling
back, never resting upon the wrong foot nor misjudging the distance.
His father, who tested him so severely, smiled despite himself, and
Richard saw the smile, and, confident that he could pass his father's
guard, stepped out and took up the attack in a reckless endeavour to
inflict a wound upon his teacher's arm.

The stern soldier of fortune played with the boy under the rushing
north wind and the swaying light of the moon, while the mother stood
near on the slope of the knoll, her eyes flashing, her nostrils
distended, her bosom heaving with the passion of the sword-play.  She
noted how nobly the boy responded to his blood--the enduring blood of
the high-bred Cayuga mingled with the fighting strain of the
Englishman.  She watched the sureness of his hand, the boldness of his
eye.  She saw how readily the use of the sword came to him, and once
she sighed, because her husband had made her Christian, and she
remembered the warning of the unseen God which her lord had lately
repeated, "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."

A cry broke from her lips.  Her husband's sword flashed suddenly across
her vision, drew back, lowered, and fell like the falcon which had made
its blow, and the point sprinkled a few drops of blood upon the
bleached grass.

"Thomas," she exclaimed in her native tongue, "why have you wounded
your son?"

"It is his baptism to the sword," her husband answered.

Maddened, not by the pain in his shoulder, which indeed he scarcely
felt, nor by the sight of his blood flicked contemptuously at his feet,
but at the indignity of the wound, the boy rushed at his father, and
hit at him blindly as with a stick; and when the master caught and held
him, and by the act reminded him that he was yet a child, he began to
sob violently with rage.

"You shall pay," he flamed.  "I will have your blood for mine.  I will
fight you again.  I will kill you.  I will----"

"Peace, child," interrupted his mother.  "He is your father."

"Take him and see to him, Mary.  I did but prick his shoulder," said
the father.  "So fiercely did he press upon me that I feared he might
throw himself upon my point.  The lesson shall teach him prudence."

"I am dishonoured--wounded," moaned Richard.

The father opened his doublet and displayed his chest, which upon both
sides was marred by many a scar.  Richard beheld, and blinked away his
angry tears, as the passion departed from him.

"Must I too be wounded before I am a soldier?" he said.

"Ay, a hundred times," his father answered; and the boy turned away
then with his former look of pride, and permitted his mother to wash
and bandage the slight wound upon his shoulder.

Soon they came out together to the knoll where the silent man sat with
the north wind roaring into his ears the song of battle.  He looked up
when they were near, and called, "Richard!"

The boy came, subdued and tired, and stood before his father.

"Kneel."

The boy obeyed.  The lord of the isles fastened the velvet sword-belt
to his son's waist, secured the coveted sword in its place, then stood,
and drew out his own well-tested blade.

With it he struck the boy smartly upon the shoulder exactly over the
wound, smiling when the child compressed his lips fiercely but refused
to wince, and loudly called:

"Arise, Sir Richard!"



CHAPTER IV.

MAKERS OF EMPIRE.

As the days passed, and Van Vuren's attitude of diffident friendliness
remained unaltered, Roussilac's suspicions began to leave him; and even
La Salle modified his former opinions when he again walked abroad and
discovered that out of the seventy-five fighting men who made up the
military complement of the Dutch man-of-war, no less than thirty had
been sent out upon a hunting expedition in the western forests.  These,
and other circumstances, tended to impress the minds of the French
officers that their ally was acting in good faith; thus the commandant
relaxed his vigilance, and Van Vuren was permitted to go upon his way
unwatched.  The Dutchman came seldom to the fortress, because he feared
a second meeting with La Salle; but he frequently stole under cover of
night into the forest to the north, where the Cayugas had their camp,
little guessing that these visits were known, not indeed to the French,
but to a company of five Englishmen, who had been thrown upon the coast
to the west of the settlement of Acadie during a storm of the previous
October, and had wintered in a cave among the rugged cliffs some little
distance beyond the falls of Montmorenci, believing themselves to be
the sole representatives of their country in all that land.

These men--the sole survivors of an expedition which had set forth with
the object of establishing a small colony in the north--wasted no time
in repining over their ill-fortune, or considering the hopeless nature
of their position.  They engaged themselves in mastering the topography
of the fortress and ascertaining the strength of its garrison; they
watched the river, and noted the coming and going of each ship; they
made themselves friendly with the Iroquois, and from Shuswap, the chief
of the Cayugas, a man who loved the English, they obtained from time to
time much information of value.  It was one of their number, Jeremiah
Hough the Puritan, who had followed Van Vuren to the Indian camp-fire;
and when he discovered that the Dutchman was indeed faithless to his
allies and was endeavouring to stir up the Iroquois to strike a blow
against the French position, he returned with the tidings to his
comrades, and the little council of five sat for a long night and
discussed this Dutch policy with the cool shrewdness of their race.

As a result of their debate, one of the little band was deputed each
night to lie concealed upon the shore and watch the Dutch ship.  Simon
Penfold, the leader, a spare, grey man of two score years and ten, but
hard and hale as any oak in his home meadows, played spy on the first
night; Jesse Woodfield, a yeoman scarce thirty years of age, did duty
on the second, and handsome young Geoffrey Viner, the boy of the party,
beloved by his comrades for the sake of his long fair hair and comely
face, kept watch on the third.  On the fourth night the task devolved
upon George Flower, a middle-aged, sad-featured man, the captain's
faithful friend since the days of boyhood; and the next night found
stern Hough the Puritan lying among the willows above the shingle, with
his cold eyes fixed upon a single star of light which marked the
position of the Dutch ship.

These five men, who made up the little company of Englishmen venturing
into the French colony, were yeomen of Berks, farmers of the valleys
and fields watered by the Thames, men of good repute, who had been
driven to leave their native shore and seek another home in the wide
new world through the oppression of the agents of the greedy English
king.

The man who had discovered Van Vuren's plans had indeed delayed his
flight too long.  Scarred and lined as were the faces of Flower and
Penfold, their features had at least escaped the terrible mutilation
which had been inflicted upon Hough as an outward and visible sign of
the royal displeasure.  His ears had been cropped close to the skull,
his nostrils slit, his cheeks branded, as a penalty for having stoutly
refused to supply any portion of the necessities of King Charles,
according to the demand of the most honourable Court of Star Chamber.
The strong black hair which spread thickly over the Puritan's face, yet
without hiding the trail of the branding iron and the primings of the
executioner's knife, added a terrible touch to his dehumanised
appearance.

It was on the fifth night after the watch had been appointed that Van
Vuren played for his big stake.  From a safe shelter among the willows,
Hough observed a small fire upon the shore, and two men, one of whom
appeared to be a native, watching beside the flames.  Presently he
heard a voice hailing softly from the darkness which overhung the
river, and soon a black hulk loomed beside the shore.

Hough counted six men as they disembarked one by one, he saw the boat
drawn up, and the beacon fire extinguished.  That fire was still
hissing under the water which had been thrown upon it when the Puritan
crawled out of the thicket of red willow, and stood, leaning forward,
listening attentively.  When the sound of footfalls died away, he
scaled the cliff behind, ran over the flat to the little river of
Montmorenci, which was flecked with foam and shivering as it neared its
long straight plunge, pulled a canoe from beneath the bushes, and shot
across that dangerous passage as though it had been no whit more
formidable than some sluggish reach of his native Thames.  Had he
dropped his paddle, death would have been inevitable; had he allowed
himself to drift beyond a certain point the current would have dragged
him down to the white bar of foam which marked a phosphorescent line
across the darkness beyond.

Plunging again into the forest, he proceeded in the same headlong
fashion, bearing to the right, always descending, until he struck a
path through the interlacing trees, and finally reached rock-land and a
cave cunningly concealed behind a screen of willow.

He whistled softly, and when his signal was answered pushed inward,
drawing away a sheet of canvas which had been stretched across the
entry to imprison more effectually the light.  A fire burnt within, the
smoke escaping from a shaft two hundred feet above; and round this fire
were grouped his four companions, who started up with eager faces when
the Puritan made his entry.

"Good news, I wot," cried old Penfold.  "'Tis spoken already by your
eyes, friend Hough."

"My eyes lie not," the Puritan answered.  "Comrades, the Dutch have
shown their hand.  If we strike at once we shall assuredly kill their
plan, and may perchance seize their leader."

In a few words he disclosed what he had seen.

"They go to hold council with the sachems," said Penfold, adding
thoughtfully, "There will be no light until the dawn."

"Let us lie in wait for them beside their boat," the Puritan advised.

"Nay, let us fall upon them in the forest," cried Wood field.

"Not so," answered the leader.  "A man cannot use his sword for the
bush and the splintered growth from the pines."

"An Iroquois guide will accompany them," said Flower.

"The boat! the boat!" shouted young Viner.  "That is the place."

"Peace, lads," cried Penfold, stroking his beard.  "Let us discuss with
reason.  Why has this Dutch vessel made her way up the river?
Roussilac would tell us that she has come to strengthen the hands of
the French.  Is it so?  I trow not.  It has ever been the policy of the
Dutch to dissemble.  Holland intends to keep the English from this
coast if she may.  Surely she desires also to drive out the French, in
order that she may make herself mistress of the North American land.
She is eager to make colonies, and she knows full well that the
fortress may easily be defended once it be captured."

"She is, then, a privateer," exclaimed Hough.

"Not so.  She is commissioned by the Government of the Netherlands to
seize North America.  The French are only a handful here.  England has
no fleet.  Now is the crafty Dutchman's opportunity.  Look upon this,
my lads."

Penfold pulled a flaming stick from the fire and walked across the
cave.  He stopped where the side sloped as smoothly as a wall, and held
the torch above his head, pointing to a map of the American colonies
traced upon the wall of silica by charcoal.  The design was roughly and
incorrectly made; rivers were placed where mountains should have shown,
and the scale was entirely inaccurate; but politically it was correct.

"See!" cried the leader, passing a finger through Chesapeake Bay, and
laying his hand lovingly upon the province of Virginia.  "There lies
the fairest of England's colonies.  Here, mark you, flows the Potomac,
and here to the north behold the province of Maryland.  What country
lies back in the beyond we do not know, because the Mohawks are masters
there; but pass north along the coast and we reach New England, the
provinces of Connecticut and Massachusetts, with the king's towns of
Boston and Plymouth.  Between lie our enemies."

He passed his fingers across the words written on the wall, "New
Netherlands," while the four men murmured behind.

"Did the Hollanders acquire their colonies in fair fight?" demanded
Penfold, returning to the fire.

He flung down the brand, and as the sparks showered upward he went on,
"I say it was through deceit.  During the glorious reign of our
Elizabeth, of blessed memory, our men of Devon, our Grenville, our
Drake, our Hawkins smoked out the Spaniards, and wrested these colonies
of the new world from the King of Spain in fair fight.  Fair do I say?
Ay, surely one tight English ship was ever a match for three popish
galleons.  But mark you how the jackals followed the lion, even as
travellers from the Indies tell us they follow to take of that which
the lion shall leave.  Where the land was free, where there was no
tyranny of the church to dread, mark you how the Dutch jackals crept
in, to find a home and found a colony under the protection of the
golden lions of England."

"Come, old Simon," broke in Woodfield.  "Enough of talk."

"Ay, ay.  Put out the fire, my lads.  Rub out yon map.  We have a plan
which, with God's help, shall perchance furnish us with better quarters
than this poor hole in the rock."

Young Geoffrey stepped back, spat upon the white wall where the words
"New Netherlands" appeared, and obliterated the Dutch colonies with the
flat of his hand.

"Let the map now stand!" he cried, and the others gathered round the
boy whom they loved, clashing their swords, and taking courage from the
thoughtless prophecy which was in God's good time to be fulfilled.

Then the Englishmen went on their way through the dark night.



CHAPTER V.

DOUBLE DEALING.

The Dutch master had played his game of duplicity with no little skill.
His arrogant attitude towards the head men of the fortress, his
outspoken hatred for the wild north land and its uncivilised
inhabitants, his outward indolence and distaste for fighting, were all
subtle moves towards the object he had in view.  The culminating stroke
of practically disarming his ship by sending out thirty of his best men
upon a hunting expedition was, he considered, a veritable inspiration
of genius.  The plan had indeed succeeded in its purpose of hoodwinking
the French, and Van Vuren was satisfied, because he knew nothing of the
venturers who had discovered his plans and were preparing to strike a
blow against him for the glory of their country and themselves.

Six men were admitted into their leader's confidence, and five of these
only at the last hour.  Everything seemed to favour the enterprise.
The night which had been chosen for the council between Van Vuren and
the headmen of the Iroquois was very dark.  No sound came from the
sleeping fortress; not a light was showing upon the French ship.  The
usual sentries were posted, but the darkness was too impenetrable for
the keenest sight to carry more than a few yards.  Van Vuren stepped to
the side of his ship, listened intently for some minutes, and when the
silence remained unbroken whispered an order, and the five picked men
clambered down a ladder and guided their feet into a boat which rode
alongside.  The master followed, the boat was pushed off, and floating
down stream swung rapidly round the bend.

"To your oars," muttered Van Vuren.

The black water began to trickle gleefully under the bows, the rowers
dropping their blades cautiously and lifting them high to avoid a
splash.  Soon a spark of light broke out upon the shore, at no great
distance from the falls of Montmorenci, where the river of that name
discharges into the mightier stream.  Swinging the tiller round, Van
Vuren aimed the boat towards that light.

Beside the fire awaited them a stout Dutchman, who had lived in New
Netherlands among the Indians on the banks of the Schuylkill and there
had learnt the language, and with him was an Indian squatting upon his
haunches.  The latter was naked to the waist; a round beaver cap came
low over his forehead, and long hair streamed down his cheeks.  His
body shone like polished mahogany as the firelight played across it.
He rose when Van Vuren approached, and remarked upon the exceeding
blackness of the night, and the stout Dutchman answered in the native
tongue, "It is well."

After drawing their boat up the shore and putting out the fire, the men
listened again for any sounds of hostile movements, and when Van Vuren
was reassured as to their safety the party set off along an
imperceptible trail, following their Cayuga guide, who strode rapidly
towards the cover of the forest.

At the end of an hour's march they drew near the camp and perceived the
glow of the council fire.  The boles of the trees became ruddy, and
they smelt the acrid smoke which curled upward in wreaths to find an
outlet through the solid-looking roof of foliage, There was no
vegetation below.  Splintered stumps projected stiffly from the
conifers; sometimes a fallen trunk lay across the way; the peaty ground
was soft with pine needles.  A fox barked monotonously in the distance.
Occasionally a gust of wind passed with a sigh and a gentle straining
at the mast-like firs.

The party stepped into a clearing, and Van Vuren halted nervously,
tightening the sash which secured his doublet at the waist.  Nine men
appeared before him, seated under a protection of skins stretched
tightly across a framework of boughs, the whole forming a lean-to which
might readily be moved, either to break the force of the wind or to
afford shelter from rain.  The men squatted cross-legged, the majority
naked to the waist and shining with fish-oil, a few wrapped in
blankets, the heads of all covered with fur caps adorned with pieces of
white metal or black feathers.  Only one man was painted, and he showed
nothing more than a triangular patch of red upon his forehead, the apex
of the triangle making a line with the bridge of his nose.  This man
was smoking, and did not put down his pipe when the strangers arrived.
The smoking was indeed a compliment, being the symbolic pipe of peace.

The nine were sachems of the great Iroquois tribes who in combination
held the north of the continent: the Cayugas, Oneidas, Mohawks,
Onondagas, and Senacas.  The smoker was Shuswap, headman of the
Cayugas, father of Onawa and Tuschota, and the chief doctor, one who
professed to understand the language of the beasts, and knew how to
hold communion with the dead.  He looked up, drawing the stem of his
pipe from his thin lips, and spoke:

"Do the white men, who come to us from the world where the sun never
shines, speak to us now words of peace or of war?"

Van Vuren moved awkwardly when he saw the grave hairless faces peering
at him through the hot vapour of the fire.  At that moment the fat
sailor from New Netherlands reached the clearing, panting like a dog.
He presently interpreted the question, and his leader answered: "Tell
the chief that we come from a world where the days are long, and where
the same sun that warms this country shines from morn till night."

"That were waste of breath," muttered the seaman, who had none to
spare, and he said instead to the council of nine: "The white chief has
come in peace to seek the aid of the sun's children that he may
overthrow his enemies."

"A people have taken my children to be their servants," said Shuswap.
"That people armed the enemies of my race against me.  Is the white man
friendly with that people?"

"The French of whom the great sachem speaks are my enemies also,"
replied Van Vuren through the interpreter.  "I would drive them from
the land, and dwell here in peace beside my allies the great tribes of
the Iroquois."

The crafty Dutchman reflected that, when the flag of the Netherlands
waved over the heights, it would be easy to hold the Indians in the
forest with a warship upon the St. Lawrence and a few cannon frowning
from the cliff.

"The white man has called us into council," went on Shuswap.  "What
does he ask of us?"

At that the Hollander played his hand boldly.  "I ask you to send your
fighting-men against the French when I give the signal.  I will sink
the provision ship which lies upon the river, while your men sweep over
the heights and capture the fortress.  So shall you be avenged upon
your enemies, the men who armed the Algonquins against you."

"It is well said," answered the council of nine.

"What signal will you give, that we may know when to make our attack?"
said Shuswap.

"A raft of fire floating down the river."

The headman removed his eyes from the Dutchman and turned to consult
his colleagues.  They conferred for some minutes, without passion,
without animation, apparently with no feeling of interest.  Their faces
were set, and they spoke with only faint motions of their lips.

"We will bring our children," said the old sachem at last.  "When the
fire is seen along the Father of Waters we shall make ourselves ready."

He bent forward, raised a short stick from the centre of the council
fire, and held it out in his brown fingers, then dashed the brand
suddenly upon the ground, and dreamily watched the upward flight of
sparks.

"So let our enemies fly before us," he muttered.

"The sparks fly outward," said the sachem of the Oneidas.

"The Frenchmen shall not be able to stand before the children of the
sun," they muttered with one voice.

The pipe was passed round with terrible solemnity, every Indian and
Dutchman drawing once at the stem and handing it to his neighbour, and
then the Hollanders left the clearing to return, well satisfied with
their night's work.

It wanted yet three hours to the first breaking of the dawn, and the
night was as dark as ever when the seven men came out upon the rocks,
where they could hear the faint whisper of the river.  There the Indian
guide left them, and the Dutchmen, flushed with success, laughed and
talked loudly, knowing that they were separated from the hearing of the
French settlement by more than a mile of rock and bush.  Advancing in
single file, they came to the thicket of willow beside which they had
left their boat.

"Is all well?" called Van Vuren, who walked at the end of the line.

As he spoke there fell a storm out of the night; a thunder of voices;
the lightning of flashing swords; a rush of dark bodies around the
boat.  In the thick darkness all became confusion on the side of the
attacked.

"English!" shouted Van Vuren; and, as the long body of the Puritan
descended upon him, the master turned and fled, without honour, but
with a whole skin.  Only the stout seaman shared his leader's privilege
of a run for his life, but him the far-striding legs of Hough pursued,
covering two feet to the Dutchman's one.  The wretch sweated and
groaned as he flung out his aching legs, his great body heaving and
staggering as cold as ice.  He swore and prayed to God in one breath.
He promised a life of service to the Deity, a treasure in the Indies to
the pursuer; but prayer and promise availed him little.  The mutilated
man pressed upon him, and it was only the almost tangible darkness
which prolonged his life for a few more agonised seconds.  Then Hough
bounded within reach, lunged fairly, pressing home when he felt flesh,
and the fat Dutchman emitted a violent yell, and his big carcase rolled
upon the rocks, his head settled, his mouth grinned spasmodically, his
limbs twitched, and then he lay at ease, staring more blindly than ever
into the night.  Out of the six conspirators who had set forth that
night, Van Vuren was the only man to escape with his life.

"Cast me these bodies into the river," said Penfold, wiping his sword.
"But, stay.  It were a pity to waste so much good clothing.  Strip them
first, lads.  Naked they came into the world, and naked let them go
out."

The bodies were denuded of their clothes and weapons.  Five splashes
shivered the face of the river, and then the Englishmen laid hands upon
the boat and drew her down to the water.  But an idea had occurred to
Penfold, and he called a halt.

"We have the current to row against, and the night may break before we
reach the ship," he said.  "Let us disguise ourselves, so that French
and Dutch alike may regard us as friends in the dimness of the morning.
Here are five suits of Dutch clothing.  There are five of us.  We shall
fight the easier in such loose-fitting trunks."

"Methinks they that fear the Lord have no need to adopt a cunning
device," protested the Puritan.

"What know we about the ways of the Lord?" said his leader.  "Does the
Lord grant the victory to him who runs?  Does He not rather send him a
sword into his coward's back?  The Lord, I tell you, helps that man who
is the most subtle in devising schemes through which he may overthrow
his enemies.  A murrain on these garments!  I shall be as a child when
he has put on his father's trappings for the bravery of the show."

Already a grey-dark mist spread along the river where the night clouds
were dissolving at the first light touch of the fingers of the day.
The adventurers had but an hour for their project before the coming of
the first light.



CHAPTER VI.

THE INTRODUCTION TO A FIGHT.

Upon the fore-deck of the Dutch ship two sailors were chatting idly
beside a lantern's shaded light.  They had tramped up and down,
performing their duty in a listless fashion, until the general silence
had convinced them that the officer in charge was asleep below.  The
determination to take their ease, which they thereupon arrived at,
became strengthened by their belief that the vessel could not have been
safer had she been at anchor-hold in the Zuyder Zee.

"Yon French ship has no sentries, I warrant," said Jan Hoevenden, the
younger of the two.  "What use, when a man may hardly see his hand when
'tis held in front of him?  Your Indian does not attack by water, as
Roussilac well knows.  Neither shall he attack in such a darkness,
unless hard put to it."

"'Tis a scheme of the master to deprive us of our hard-earned sleep,"
grumbled James Oog.  "Come, comrade, let us rest here and smoke.  Here
is a parcel of tobacco which I dried yesterday in the sun."

The two sailors filled their pipes, lighted the tobacco at the poop
lantern, and settled themselves aft speedily to forget their
responsibilities.  There was not a sound, except the hum of flies and
the swirl of the river.  There was nothing to be seen, beyond the
gloomy masts and spectral rigging.  The atmosphere remained still and
close.

"This is but a poor country, Jan," observed the older man, after a few
contented puffs at his huge pipe.  "There be no treasure of gold or
silver buried here."

"Nought but forest and rock, with a biting wind o' nights," replied
Hoevenden.  "'Tis a cold climate.  The Indians say this river is thick
with ice for a full half of the year."

"I wish for none of that.  Give me the south.  Hast ever been in
Florida?"

"Nay.  Is that land as fruitful as men say?"

"It knows no winter, and even in the midst of the year the heat is
never so great that a man may not endure to work.  The soil is so rich
that grain dropped upon the ground shall spring into harvest in a
month.  Sugar and fruit grow there, and much timber for building.
There is also game for the pot, and furs for a man's back."

"There are pestilent beasts, they tell me," Hoevenden grumbled.

"Well, man, there was never a paradise without serpents.  True there
are mighty reptiles, twenty feet in length, within the rivers, and
monstrous scorpions upon land.  But what of it?  There are perils upon
every shore.  A man may sit out at night under a big moon, beside trees
covered with white or pink blooms, every bloom as great as his head and
smelling like wine, and he may listen to the Tritons singing as they
splash through the sea, and watch the mermaidens--passing fair they say
who have seen them--lying upon the rocks, wringing salt water from
their hair.  'Tis a wondrous shore.  I would rather own an acre of it
than be master of all this country of cold forest where there is
neither fruit nor flower."

"The fog arises yonder," said Hoevenden, pointing down the river.

The grey mass which he indicated ascended rapidly and drenched the deck
with dew.  There was as yet no light, but a heavy shadow had taken the
place of the intense blackness, and the river was visible as it carried
its current to the gulf.  The two men rose suddenly, and hid their
pipes when they heard the rattle of oars and splash of water.

"Shall be found at our duty," said Oog, with a husky laugh, and his
fellow-seaman chuckled with him.

A boat was making rapid progress against the stream, Penfold, with an
eye upon the fog and his right hand on the tiller, encouraging the
rowers.  The muscles sprang out from their arms, the sweat flowed from
their faces, despite the rawness of the air.  Hough's mutilated
countenance throbbed terribly beneath his efforts.  The ship started
suddenly out of the mist, and Penfold called softly, "Easy, lads.
Spare yourselves now, for we have soon to fight."  But immediately the
men stopped rowing, the current dragged the boat down.

"The use of the sword will be as child's play after pulling against
this stream," gasped Hough.

Again the men bent their backs, and the boat sullenly made way.  Behind
them the morning was breaking rapidly, the fog gathered in whiter
folds, and some flickering bars of grey light crossed the track of the
river.

"They must not see our faces nor hear us speak," Penfold muttered.
Then he whispered sharply, "Heaven be thanked!  A ladder hangs at her
stern."

He drew the borrowed plume over his eyes, and lowered his head because
he was facing the ship.  His comrades gave way, driving the heavy boat
upward with great strokes of the clumsy oars, until Penfold muttered
softly, "Easy now."

The two sentries were looking down from above; but they perceived
nothing of a suspicious nature, chiefly because they had no cause to
fear the coming of the enemy.

Young Viner was the first to leave the boat, but Penfold was hard after
him.  They scrambled up the ladder, while the others secured the boat
to the steps.

"Five men!" exclaimed Hoevenden, peering through the perplexing light.
"Where is the sixth?  Masters, where is the commander?"

"Here!" muttered an English voice, and the sentry fell forward with
Penfold's sword through him.  Oog opened his mouth to cry "Treachery!"
but all the sound that issued therefrom was a death gasp, as Viner
finished his career with a pretty stroke which effectually deprived the
Dutchman of his hoped-for heritage in the south.

"A fair beginning," said Penfold, peering forward at the big cabins
which gave the ship a curiously humped shape.  "Now to smoke out the
hornets.  If we are mastered by numbers, we may yet save ourselves by
swimming to the shore.  All silent yet.  But see--a gun!"

He rammed his sword up the muzzle-breach.  "'Tis loaded.  Fetch me
yonder lantern."

Hough brought the lantern from the poop; but hardly had he done so when
a head came out from one of the cabin windows, and a pair of frightened
eyes swept their faces.  In a moment, as it seemed, the ship was in an
uproar.

"Now may God deafen the Frenchmen," prayed Penfold, as he swung the
brass gun round and pointed its muzzle at the cabin door.

Viner and Woodfield were fastening down the hatches, while Hough ran
forward, taking his life in his hands, and severed the cable.  The ship
quivered, shook herself like a dog aroused from sleep, and very slowly
answered the downward pull of the stream.

But before the Puritan could return the cabin door burst open and the
enemy swarmed forth.  Hough dropped the first in his shirt, parried a
blow from the second, turned and ran back, while old Penfold opened the
lantern and brought the flame down to the portfire.

There was light now over the St. Lawrence under masses of wet cloud.
An Indian canoe was flying over the water like a bird, urged by two
pair of arms paddling furiously.  She caught the floating ship, and as
she made fast to the side of the steps the gun roared overhead, and
after it an English cheer shook the mist.

"Keep to my side," said the man in the canoe.  "Forget not that pass
under the hilt I taught you."

Having thus spoken he bounded up the ladder.



CHAPTER VII.

THE FIGHT.

Although the majority of the thirty-six Dutchmen left aboard had been
secured below hatches, those on deck were sufficient to make the odds
heavy against the Englishmen.  The unanticipated arrival of the lord of
the isles and his son--who had been returning from their hunting ground
higher up the river, when their ears were startled through the morning
mist by the sound of English voices--brought up the attacking strength
to the fortunate number of seven; but the new-comers were not even
observed by the five adventurers during the excitement of the opening
stage of that struggle in the fog.

That incautious cheer, which followed the noise of the gun, was defiant
rather than triumphant.  In spite of Penfold's careful aim the ball had
merely crashed across deck and plunged through the cabin windows.  A
couple of hurriedly aimed shots came back in angry reply, but one
passed high, the other low, resulting in a wrecked plank in the deck
and the loss of a portion of rigging.  The bark of seventeenth-century
cannon was far more formidable than its bite.

"Have at them, my lads.  Drive them over the side," thundered Penfold;
and he rushed forward to clear the deck at the head of his gallant few.

Before the conflicting parties could meet, three Dutchmen, deceived by
the tumultuous English cheer, had gone over the side to swim for shore.
These men believed that at least a boatload of armed men had taken them
by surprise, and they but obeyed the instinct which in certain
temperaments recommends prudence in the form of flight.

"We stand too close together," rang out Penfold's voice.  "Friend
Woodfield, I had your elbow twice into my side.  Separate a little, but
let us keep in line."

"One rush forward--a strong rush to the cabins," shouted Hough.  The
five swords darted through the fog, and every point came back reddened.

Then they broke into a run, hoping thus to sweep the deck, but their
weakness had by this time become evident to the defenders, who in their
turn pressed forward, conquering by sheer weight of numbers.  Each of
the adventurers sought shelter for his back, a mast or bulwark, and
each was driven to fight independently.  Three men rushed upon Penfold
and pressed him sore.  The Englishman cut at the head of the foremost,
but while his arm was uplifted the others took the advantage offered
and ran in under his guard.  Penfold drew his dagger and beat at them
with his left hand.  The second Dutchman scratched him deeply along the
side.  The third caught and held his left wrist, and shortened his
rapier to run the Englishman through the heart.  Penfold saw death
before him, but only called grimly, "Fair play, ye dogs, fair play!"

The sword was dashed from his hand.  He pressed back to avoid the
plunge of the shortened blade, but the Hollanders had him at their
mercy.  Penfold prepared to make a last effort to break aside, when the
foe who threatened him started rigid with a gasp of pain, and the
leader of the adventurers saw the point of a sword dart fearfully from
the Dutchman's chest.  Then the man fell forward spitted from behind,
and with him another of the soldiers, while the third of Penfold's
assailants splashed heavily into the St. Lawrence.

The man who had saved the leader's life went on his way fighting with
magnificent confidence in the strength of his right arm, and beside him
went the boy, fighting with all his father's fervour, his brown face
pale with passion, his little brown hands already oozing blood, and his
short sword from hilt to point all bloody too.

"Angels or devils," gasped Flower, who was bleeding heavily from a
wound in the thigh, "they fight upon our side."

"At them again," cried Woodfield.  "After the brave stranger."

"He takes too much upon him.  I am leader here," grumbled old Penfold
unthankfully.

The valour of the stranger turned the scale.  None of the Dutch could
stand before that terrible blade.  They gave way, were hunted back to
the cabins, and there brought to bay.

"Yield you, sirs!" called Penfold.

Seeing that they had done sufficient for honour, the men yielded, gave
up their weapons, and sought permission to finish their dressing.
Before this request could be granted, a deep voice exclaimed:

"You grow careless, my masters.  Know you not that a bird cannot fly
unless she has wings to carry her?"

It was the stranger who issued this caution as he pointed with his
sword over the stern.

The ship had drifted some eighty yards from her moorings, her keel
grating more than once upon a drift of mud.  She had remained close to
the bank, out of reach of the strong central current, and now lay
almost motionless, because she had reached the slack water where the
river commenced its eastward bend.  Behind her lay the fortress,
already vested in the golden light of the morning.  Between, where the
white mist was stealing upward, came sailing a great hulk, and above
the vapour could be seen the flag of France crushing its golden lilies
against the topmast.  At intervals came the indistinct murmur of
voices, the flash of hurried sparks dropped upon touchwood, the rattle
of cannon balls, the ramming home of charges down slim-waisted guns.

"Fool that I am!" exclaimed Penfold.  "Fool and forgetful!  Up the
rigging, my lads, and set the mainsail.  What breeze there is blows
down the river.  Drive me yonder fellows up, George Flower.  Do you see
that they set all sails, and if they be not ready to obey hurry them
with the sword point."

The sailors were driven into the rigging to plume their ship for the
benefit of a victorious enemy.  The canvas flapped out, the ship veered
towards midstream, and, instantly responding to wind and current,
floated to the left of the island, with the Frenchman scarce a hundred
yards from her stern.

A voice came rolling out of the mist, the voice of D'Archand.  "Are you
attacked by Indians?" he shouted.  The master had undoubtedly made out
the Indian canoe floated beside the steps.

"Let any man answer at his peril," said Penfold, glaring round upon the
unarmed Dutch.

"Do we fear the French?" demanded Viner hotly.  "Here are five--nay,
seven--good Englishmen, for surely our stout allies here have fought as
only English can----"

"There are a hundred men upon yonder ship," interrupted the leader,
"men equipped with the newest weapons of Europe.  It were madness to
divulge our names and nation.  Sir," he went on, turning to the
stranger, "we are much indebted to you.  Sir, you have fought like a
brave man, and have helped us to overcome our enemies.  What counsel do
you give?"

"Answer Roussilac that Indians have come aboard, but that the crew are
capable of defending themselves, if you will," the stranger replied.
"So may you avoid his fire.  Or with your pleasure I will undertake to
answer the master myself, even as an Englishman should always answer a
Frenchman."

"And how is that?" demanded Penfold.

The stranger indicated the brilliant flag, flapping in the sunshine
like a wounded bird trying to fly but falling back.  "By defying him so
long as that emblem flies," he said.

Between heavy lines of mist, waved like the bar nebuly upon the shield
of the woolcombers, the black stem and white deck of the enemy had
become partly visible.  Heads of watchers were peering over her side,
their bodies hidden, their faces barely above the fog line.  Before the
cabins in front of the poop a canopy fluttered; under it a table, and
upon the table six great golden poppies lifted their heads, their
ragged petals flickering under the breeze.  The Englishmen saw the bare
head and richly caparisoned shoulders of a tall priest, who swayed
monotonously from side to side, and muttered Latin in a deep voice.
The table was an altar, the poppies were candles, and the priest was La
Salle reciting the inevitable morning Mass.

The better-built Dutch vessel, being easily capable of sailing a knot
and a half to the Frenchman's one, drew away, her main and fore sheets
swelling till they were round as the belly of some comfortable merchant
of Eastcheap who had profited by a successful venture upon the Spanish
Main.  Very soon the voice of the militant priest became like the
murmur of an overhead insect.

"Now by my soul!" cried Hough, with a quivering of his slit nostrils.
"It were an everlasting disgrace to Christian men to stand thus idle
and watch a priest of Baal offering sacrifice.  Bid us run out the
guns, captain, and drop a good Protestant cannon ball amid yonder
catholic juggling.  We have fought for our country this day.  Let us
now commit ourselves to the Lord's work, and snuff out yonder stinking
candles, and end these popish blasphemies."

Penfold made no sign of hearing this appeal.  He said merely, "They
cram on yet more sail.  But they shall not come up to us unless we are
brought upon a bar, and even so they cannot pass us, because the water
becomes narrow beyond.  Where is friend Woodfield?"

"Guarding the prisoners at the door of the cabin and keeping an eye
that they do not arm themselves."

"Listen to the men below," said Flower.  "Our caged birds become weary
of confinement, and beat their wings to escape."

Hough and the lord of the isles held their eyes upon the Frenchman, who
was now one hundred and fifty yards away, and almost clear of vapour.
When they could see that the guns had been unshipped and were pointing
over the bows, neither man was able altogether to suppress his feelings.

"The curse of God shall surely fall upon us," cried the Puritan
furiously.  "When summoned to work in His vineyard we turn a deaf ear
to the call.  Did evil come to me when I dragged with mine own hands
from the reformed communion table of our parish church at Dorchester a
Jesuit in disguise, and flung the dog into our little river Thame there
to repent him of his former and latter sins?"

"Peace, friend," said old Penfold.  "Here is not England, nor stand we
on English territory.  Let yonder papists worship their saints and
idols to their own decay.  We are but few in number, though valiant in
spirit, and with every man a wound to show.  Remember also that this
ship is not yet our prize."

"Croaker," muttered Hough disdainfully.

"Say rather a man to whom age has brought sound judgment," returned
Penfold, unmoved.

"It is my turn," said the deep voice of the unknown.  "Sir Captain, I
have a favour to beg.  There is a gun yonder on which I have set my
eye, a brass gun of some twenty pounds weight, loaded with ball.  If it
displease you not, I will discharge that gun from the aftmost deck in
such a manner that it shall harm no man.  Sir Captain, I have some
small experience in aiming the gun."

Penfold set his rugged face towards his questioner.

"Good sir," he said, "you are English among Englishmen.  We are plain
countrymen of the royal county of Berks, village yeomen of small
degree, who have beaten our plowshares into swords; but you, I may
believe, judging from your speech, are somewhat higher.  Tell us, if
you will, your name."

"My name is my own, my sword the king's, my life belongs to my
country," said the stranger.  "Enough to know that I am a man of Kent.
If now I have answered you, sir, I beg of you to answer me."

"We should but reveal ourselves."

"Every minute widens yon strip of water between ourselves and the
pursuer.  She is sailing her fastest, and each minute sends us more of
the wind which she has been taking from us.  This breeze may endure for
another hour, by which time we shall have reached the chasm which is
called Tadousac.  Sixteen years have I dwelt upon this river, good
master, both in winter and summer, and no servant of King Louis, nor
Indian of the forest, knows its waters better than I."

Penfold turned to the two associates supporting him.  "What answer
shall I give?" he asked.

"Consent," said fanatic and youth together; and Penfold gave consent
against his better judgment.

Unaided, the stranger carried the short gun up the steps, rested it in
position upon its crutch on the sloping deck, and arranged the priming,
while the stern boy at his bidding produced knife and flint.  The men
below awaited results with a certain curiosity, looking for little more
than an explosion of powder, and the hurling of a defiant missile
harmlessly into space.

It might have been the excellence of the aim, it might have been the
working of Providence, more probably it was sheer commonplace English
luck; but, when the quaint little weapon had howled, kicked viciously,
and rolled over, there came the dull crash of lead with wood, a shower
of tough splinters, and--most glorious sight for the adventurers'
eyes--the top of the French mainmast, carrying the great white and gold
flag, which had been blessed by a bishop upon the high altar of Notre
Dame in Paris, sprang into the air like a pennoned lance, described a
half circle, and plunged to deck, piercing the canopy as though it had
been paper, missing the ministrant by inches only, scattering the
candlesticks and breaking the candles before the eyes of the
scandalised soldiers, who were concluding their devotions to the "_Ite
missa est_" of the priest.

A great cheer ascended from the Dutch ship, making the cold, pine-clad
hills echo and ring.  Hough forgot his sternness, and laughed aloud as
he clasped the gunner's hand.  Old Penfold smiled grimly, with more
inward jubilation than he cared to show.

"Now plume her, lads, and let us fly," he shouted.  "Steer her around
yonder bend in safety, and we may laugh at her cannon."

"The prisoners, captain!  We cannot both fight the ship and hold guard
over them."

"To the river with them," said Hough.  "Let them swim ashore."

"There may be some who cannot swim."

"What better chance shall they have of learning?  My father cast me
into the Thames when I was but a whipster, and said, 'Sink or swim, my
lad.'  And I thought it well to swim."

Protesting, struggling, swearing in an unknown tongue, the prisoners
were brought forth from the cabins and hurried over the side, the
laggards helped by a cuff or kick at starting.  The turgid river
splashed with Dutchmen, like a school of porpoises, making with what
speed they could--for the water was exceedingly cold--towards the
rock-bound shore.

Great was the confusion upon the Frenchman when she became so notably
disgraced, but presently D'Archand restored a semblance of order, and
the men trailed off to their duties, probably not a little afraid at
discovering that the ever-dreaded English, whose appearance north of
far-distant Plymouth had become a familiar nightmare, were aboard their
supposed Dutch ally.  La Salle, who had immediately rushed into his
cabin and there divested himself of his ecclesiastical finery, speedily
reappeared in secular costume with his redoubtable sword naked in his
hand.  The abbé could swear as heartily as any soldier when put to it,
which fact he proved beyond lawyers' arguments then and there.

"Body of St. Denis!" he cried.  "See to your priming, knaves.  Ah,
hurry, young imp of the pit," kicking a scrambling powder-boy as he
shouted.  "By St. Louis, our Lady, and the Cardinal!  This is a Dutch
word, a Dutch troth, a Dutch alliance.  We shall harry the traitors who
have leagued themselves with our enemies, unless their master, Satan,
lends them wings to carry them to the uttermost parts of the earth.  We
shall hang them speedily to the rigging, if the saints be favourable.
Fire, rogues!  See you not that she is slipping away from us?  Ah, for
a sand bank, or sunken rock, to catch her as she runs!  Mark you now,
when I throw a curse over them, how they shall be brought down in their
pride."

Despite the malediction of Holy Church, the trim Dutchman swept on
nearly a quarter of a mile ahead.  Sailors manned the rigging, and
crammed on as much additional sail as the masts would bear; the
dishonoured flag was replaced; Roussilac paced the main deck, pale with
rage, his fingers clasping and unclasping his sword-hilt.  D'Archand
hurried to and fro, issuing orders with typical French rapidity.

A jet of smoke broke over her bows, and a ball threw up a spout of
water in the wake of the fleeing vessel.

"A most courteous and inoffensive messenger," quoth Flower, bowing to
the enemy.  "Captain, shall we not make a suitable reply?"

"I fear me powder and ball are out of reach," said the captain.  "The
noisy hornets below guard the magazine.  Would that we had a flag to
hoist over us, though it were nothing more comprehensible to our foes
than the five heads of county Berks."

Another gun exploded, and after it another, and so they continued
ringing their wild music, the balls falling astern for the most part,
though more than one whizzed through the rigging, yet without doing
more damage than cutting a rope.

"Take her wide round yonder point, master helmsman," cried the
stranger.  "There lies a mud-bank stretching under the water well-nigh
to mid-stream.  Mark you the place where it ceases by the ripple across
the river?  Steer your passage to the left of that ripple, and all
shall go well."

"Methinks the wind blows more keenly," said Woodfield.

"There is coming upon us that wind which the Indians call the life of
the day, a breath of storm from the west which endures but a few
moments, blowing away the vapours of early morn and the last clouds of
night," said the man of Kent.  "We may be sure of that wind at this
season of the year.  After it follows calm, and the sun grows hot.
Haul down the lower main-sail, Sir Leader.  The heavy mist upon yonder
hills tells us that the wind shall blow full strength this morning."

Even as he spoke a ball from the enemy's bows roared overhead, and
snatched away a portion of the sail he indicated.  The loose canvas
began already to flap and the flying ropes to whistle in the wind.

"Let it remain so," said the Kentishman.  "We have no need to take in
our sail since they have saved us the work.  Didst see how she
staggered then?  She shall never carry all that weight of canvas
through the life of the day, and the wind bears more heavily on her
than upon us.  Ah, she gains!"

It was as he had said.  The unwieldy vessel fell into the breath of the
wind, and, righting herself after a sudden lurch, settled down into the
water, ploughing a deep white furrow, every mast bending and every rope
straining, every inch of canvas bellying mightily.

The Dutchman came out to avoid the mud flat.  She began to make the
bend, and her helmsman already saw the wide reach of river beyond, when
a terrible shout ascended from the men who were caged between decks.
At the same moment a pungent odour tainted the free air, and a thin
blue vapour began to leak from the cracks and joinings of the planks.

The Dutchman was burning internally.  Soon her deck smoked like a dusty
road under wind, and the shouts of the prisoners became terrible to
endure.  The adventurers smelt the choking fumes, saw the curling
vapours, and their faces grew pale with the knowledge that they had to
face a more dangerous foe than the French, knowing well that any moment
a spark or a flame might touch the magazine.

"Unfortunates!" groaned Penfold.  "I had hoped to win this ship, and
with her sail to Virginia, there to gather a crew of mine own people,
and return hither to harry the French."

"To the boats," cried Flower.  "Better be sunk by a cannon ball than
perish like rats in a corn-stack."

The wind rushed down from the westward rocks with a shout.  It smote
the waters of the St. Lawrence, beating them into waves.  It penetrated
the womb of the Dutch vessel, and fanned the smouldering fire into
life.  It plucked at the cordage, fought with the sails, and bent the
masts until they cracked again.  It came in a haze through which the
sun glowed faintly, and behind over the unseen heights the sky cleared
and burst into blue patches, because the passing of the life of the day
was as sudden as its birth.

Down went the mizzenmast of the Frenchman with its crowning weight of
canvas, carrying away the spanker, the shrouds, davits, and quarter
boat; and her sky-sails, which a moment before had raked the breeze so
proudly, spread disabled in the river.  She dragged on with her
wreckage, while men with axes swarmed into the poop to cut away the
dead weight of wood and saturated canvas.  The mainmast curved like a
bow from the main shrouds to the truck, but remained fast until the
haze broke, and the sky became a field azure, from which the sun shone
out in his might.

Flames were now pouring from the doomed ship, and the poop was a mass
of fire.  The Englishmen ran for the boats, into which they flung every
article upon which they could lay their hands: swords and guns, axes,
clothing, provisions, bedding, and even spare sails and ropes.
Everything would serve some useful purpose in their life upon the
shore.  The lord of the isles alone took nothing.  He entered his canoe
with the boy, and before the adventurers quitted the doomed ship they
had reached the shore and entered the cover of the trees, the man
carrying the light canoe beneath his arm.

"Release the prisoners," cried Flower, as he cast his last burden into
the boat.

"Not so," replied the vindictive Hough.  "Let them perish like the men
of Amalek before Israel."

"Nay, we are no cold-blooded murderers," protested Woodfield.
"Unfasten the hatches, and let them save themselves."

"Have they not been delivered into our hands that we may destroy them?"
said Hough.

"Now you would undo the good work, and raise up again a host to be our
destruction in the time to come."

"Let us not argue, lest we be destroyed," said young Viner.  "What says
our captain?"

But old Penfold was lying back in the boat, fainting with exhaustion
and loss of blood, and when Woodfield appealed to him he only murmured
the death sentence of the Dutchmen, "Let Jeremiah Hough command."

"Cast off," said the Puritan.  "Let the enemies of our country perish.
The Lord do so to me and more also if I spare any of the accursed race
who have sworn to sweep England from the seas."

So the boat pushed off, and came after hard rowing to the shore, beside
the mouth of the little river which enters the main stream midway
between Cap Tourmente and the cleft of the Saguenay.  Up this river the
men pulled to find a place for encampment, until the sweet-smelling
pine forest closed behind and hid them from their enemies, whose flag
they had flouted and beaten that day.  While they worked their way
inland a mighty explosion shook the atmosphere, the cones rained from
the overhanging trees, the rock land thrilled, the face of the water
shivered, and the birds flew away with screams.

"I fear me," said Hough, as he ceased his nasal droning of a psalm, "I
fear me that the popish dogs have been given time to rescue the
Hollanders."

True it was that the French had been allowed both time and opportunity
for setting at liberty the wretches in the burning ship, but neither
Roussilac nor any of his captains dared to lead the venture, knowing
that any moment might witness the destruction of the ship.  The master
took in his sails, cast anchor, and waited for the end.

Thus the undertaking of Holland failed, as her treachery deserved.  It
was her one attempt at wresting the fortress from the Cardinal's grip.
And from that day to this no man-of-war from the Netherlands has ever
sailed up the gulf of the St. Lawrence.



CHAPTER VIII.

COUCHICING.

A month went after the failure of the Dutch venture, and the sachems of
the Iroquois still awaited the signal of the raft of fire.  Van Vuren
had entered the fortress that morning which witnessed the loss of his
ship, and there remained at the mercy of the French, spending his days
in making friendly overtures to the commandant, avoiding La Salle--who
still refused to believe that it was not Van Vuren who had been his
cowardly attacker that distant night at the street corner in
Avignon--and anxiously inquiring for news concerning the expedition
which he had sent out to the west.  The Dutchman was being punished for
his treachery by the knowledge that a sword was suspended by an
exceedingly frail thread above his head, for he strongly suspected that
the dwarf Gaudriole was cognisant of his visits to the council fire.
He was therefore afraid to approach the Indians again; but his mind was
yet occupied with its former plot of seizing the fortress with their
aid.

During that month Roussilac had not been idle.  With half his men he
had harried the country to east and west, that he might find and hang
the Englishmen who had dared to occupy his territory and disgrace his
flag.  He did not venture into the forests of the north, because the
Iroquois were masters there.  Once the adventurers came very near to
being taken, but bravery and English luck opened a way for their
escape.  They were, however, compelled to abandon their cave among the
cliffs, and flee for refuge into the district inhabited by the friendly
Cayugas; and there, a few paces from the brink of Couchicing, the Lake
of Many Winds, they built them a hiding-place surrounded by a palisade,
which they ambitiously named New Windsor.  To the north they were
protected by the face of the water, to the south by the primæval
forest; on the west the Cayugas held the land, on the east the Oneidas,
both tribes well disposed towards the English and bitterly hostile to
the French.

Finding himself again defeated, Roussilac cast about in his mind for a
sounder policy, and finally resolved to adopt Samuel de Champlain's
cunning and stir up the Algonquins anew to attack their hereditary
foes.  Accordingly he despatched Gaudriole with a couple of soldiers to
the north, with a present of guns and ammunition and a message to the
chief Oskelano, praying him to descend straightway to the river, and
view for himself the majesty and power of the representatives of the
King of France.  Oskelano, a treacherous and heartless rogue, snatched
at the gifts, asked greedily for more, and consented to return with the
dwarf to the fortress.

This move on the part of the commandant escaped the knowledge of the
men who were busy in their way spinning the web of England's empire,
fighting for their own existence and for supremacy at one and the same
time.  At their councils figured the lord of the isles--whose
well-hidden shelter in the heart of the region of the lost waters had
never been suspected by the searching party--and his stern young son.
Since that unlooked-for meeting on the deck of the Dutch vessel the
Kentishman had come into frequent contact with the men of Berks, and
their common nationality, cause, and necessities had quickly forged a
stubborn tie between them.  But the geniality of the yeomen never
succeeded in breaking down the reserve of their mysterious colleague.
When asked to recount some portion of his past history he would but
answer brusquely, and when they demanded to know his name he merely
returned his former answer, "I am a man of Kent."

During that month another provision ship, the _St. Wenceslas_ of
Marseilles, had sailed up the St. Lawrence, and so soon as she had made
fast and told the news of the world D'Archand lifted anchor and headed
for home, carrying Roussilac's despatches, and those soldiers and
settlers who, by reason of wounds or sickness, had become unfitted to
fulfil their military obligations.  The French Government had taken
advantage of the dissensions which were rending England apart to send
by the _St. Wenceslas_ more emigrants into the new world--all picked
men, destined by the Government to be established, willing or
unwilling, regardless of soil or natural advantages, upon such
districts as might be considered to need strengthening, there to
survive or to become extinct.  It would be their duty to form, not a
settlement capable of extension, but a military post; and they would be
sustained by supplies brought over from France by warships.  It was a
weak policy, bound by the test of time to fail.  The English motto was
settlement and a friendly attitude towards the natives; that of her
great colonial rival, aggrandisement and the destruction of the
aborigines.

These facts were remembered by the venturers, when they beheld the
coming of the one ship and the departure of the other, and, egotists
though they were, the truth that they could not possibly form a
settlement unaided became at last too obvious to be ignored.  After
repeated deliberations they decided upon a course which was indeed the
only one open to them.  The advice, that one of the party should
attempt to reach the king's loyal town of Boston by overland journey
and there beg for help, proceeded in the first instance from the man of
Kent.  He explained that the province of Massachusetts was well
occupied by Englishmen of every grade--soldiers of fortune as well as
artisans, farmers, and titled scions of great houses; and, he added,
there were ships of war in Boston and Plymouth harbours.  This advice
found favour in the eyes of the others, and they proceeded to draw lots
to decide which one should make the hazard.  The lot fell upon Geoffrey
Viner, the youngest of the party.  His seniors at once held forth
objections, grounded upon his youth and inexperience; but the boy as
stoutly held out for his privilege, until the dissentients gave way.

At noon upon the day which had been selected for the young man's
departure, the lord of the isles appeared at New Windsor to bid the
messenger farewell.  Geoffrey went out with him, and they stood alone
in the shade of a hemlock, facing the lake and a white cascade which
streamed like a bridal veil over the face of the rocks.  After the
Kentishman had imparted what little knowledge he had of the country to
the south, he went on to fix deeply into the mind of his listener the
importance of seeing Lord Baltimore, the Governor of New England,
personally, and of impressing the papist peer strongly with the vital
necessity of sending immediate succour to the north.

"And what if my Lord Baltimore will not hear me, or hearing will not
believe?" asked Geoffrey anxiously.

"Give to him this ring," replied the other, drawing reluctantly from
his left hand a gold circlet set with a stone bearing a coat-of-arms.
"Bid him remember the promise made to this ring's owner one summer
night in a Kentish orchard.  Bid him also recall the words of King
Henry the Sixth upon Southwark Bridge, hard by Saint Mary Overies, to
his ancestor the keeper of the privy seal, and to mine the sheriff of
Kent."

"Think you that our plans shall prosper?" the young man asked.

"Have no doubt.  Believe that already we have succeeded.  Persuade
yourself that the French are driven out of their fastnesses, and the
land from Acadia to Hochelaga gives allegiance to King Charles.  As a
man wills so shall it be.  And yet be cautious."

"Should I not bid them attack Acadia first?  It is but a small colony,
and open to the water they say."

"Nay," said the other.  "Let us fight with our faces to the sea.  How
shall it profit us to drive our enemy inland and disperse them as a
swarm of flies which rises and settles in another spot?  We must drive
them eastward to the sea, where they shall either conquer or die.  I
pray you guard that ring."

As they moved away from the hemlock's shade a canoe swept over the lake
and touched the sand, and two stern-faced Cayugas lifted their paddles,
shaking the water from the blades.  These brought a brace of
land-locked salmon to the beach.  A young woman followed, and after her
an old man, his thick hair adorned with a bunch of feathers.  These
were Shuswap and Onawa, his youngest daughter.

The lord of the isles went forward, and met his native relatives upon
the beach.

"Gitsa," cried the old man.  "We greet you, Gitsa."

"Is it well, Shuswap?"

"It is the time of the wind of life, the good time," the old man
answered.  "The waters are free, and the animals breed in the forest.
Where are the white men of the smooth tongue, Gitsa?  Where are the men
who came to us at the council fire and said to us, 'Your enemy is our
enemy.  Aid us now when we rise up against them'?  Shall they return
with the wind of life?"

"The north wind came upon them and swept them away," his son-in-law
replied, employing the sachem's figurative speech.  "You have something
to tell me, Shuswap?"

"There is a strange ship come to the high cliffs, a great ship from the
land of the accursed people," said the old man.  "What is this that you
have told us, Gitsa?  Said you not that the King of England shall send
many ships and men when the ice has gone, to drive out the men of
France and restore their own to the tribes of the Iroquois?  What is
this that we see?  The priest of France sends more ships, and more men
who shall kill the beasts of the forest and the fish of the waters, and
drive us back with their fire-tubes into the forests of the north where
the enemies of our race, the Algonquins, lie ever in wait.  Is there a
king in England, Gitsa?  Has he ships to send out?  Has he men to put
into them?  Have you lied to the sachems of the Iroquois?"

"Be not afraid, Shuswap," said the white man.  "You shall learn whether
there be a king of England or no.  But he has many enemies in the
far-away world, and these he must conquer first.  Even now we are
sending a messenger to the king's country, and he shall return with
ships and men, and the French shall flee before them."

The man of Kent spoke with a heavy heart.  He dared not confess what he
believed to be the truth--namely, that England was already embroiled in
civil war.

"A tribe divided against itself shall be annihilated," said the sachem
sharply, with the clairvoyant power of the primitive man.  "The
remaining tribes stand by until it is exhausted, and then fall upon
that tribe, and it is known no more.  Is it so with the English, Gitsa?"

"It is not so," replied the Englishman, a flush upon his tanned
features.  "England stands above other nations of the world, even as
the sun is greater than all lights.  She shines over the earth in her
strength.  Were there no England the world would fall into decay, the
creatures who supply us with meat and fur would die, the fish would
fail in the waters, the forests would wither, there would be no rain
and no light by night or by day.  The sun would turn black, the moon
would fall into the sea, the very gods would die if England were no
more.  She shall take possession of this land in her own time, and
Frenchmen shall have no place in it except as subjects of our king."

The old sachem lifted his cunning eyes and said: "It is well, Gitsa.
But if it be so, why does not your king lift his hand and drive away
his enemies, or blow with his breath and destroy their ships?  Surely
that would be a small thing to a king who governs the world."

"It would be a small thing in truth," replied the Englishman, smiling
in spite of his sorrow.  "But the ways of the king are not our ways.
He allows his enemies to go upon their course, until a day comes when
he shall say, 'You have gone too far.'  It is thus that he shows his
power."

"It is so," said the sachem gravely.  "We cannot read the mind of him
who rules.  One year there are many animals in the forest, and we live
in plenty.  The next we starve.  A small tribe overthrows a great one.
A great tribe becomes too prosperous and is plagued with pestilence.
The young men are smitten.  The old live on.  The wind destroys the
forest, the river breaks its own banks.  The lightning strikes down the
totem-pole which we have raised for his pleasure.  It is so.  There is
a mystery in life.  The gods destroy their own handiwork.  They remove
the strong, and let the weak survive."

He passed on, an erect figure, in spite of his age, and treading firmly.

Onawa, a silent listener to their talk, stepped out.  She was good to
look upon, with her wealth of black hair, her large eyes, her rounded
face, the cheeks and lips lightly touched with paint, her slim muscular
figure.  She could run against any man, and aim an arrow with the
sureness of any forester of Nottingham.  But she was headstrong, as
changeable as water, and the Englishman did not trust her.

"Where have you been, Onawa?" he said.

"I have come from the camp with my father," she replied.  "Where have
you left your son?  They say, among the tribes, that he grows into a
great warrior.  They say also that he carries wood and draws water and
cuts up the deer which he has killed.  Our young men despise a woman's
work."

"I have taught him the duty of helping his mother," came the reply.
"In my country a man lives for his mother or his wife, and her good
favour is his glory."

The girl hesitated, a frown crossing her forehead.  "Why are the French
so beautiful, so bold-looking?" she asked suddenly.

"That they may captivate the minds and eyes of women who are weak."

"They are better to look at than Englishmen.  They do not wear old
garments marked with dirt.  They do not let the hair upon their faces
grow down their bodies.  They do not talk deep in their throats.  They
are not serious.  I love to hear them talk, to see them move.  They
walk like men who own the world."

"I have warned you against them," he said earnestly.  "They are the
natural enemies of your people.  Consider!  What Frenchman has ever
married into your tribe and settled down among you?"

The girl laughed scornfully, and turned to go, grasping her long hair
in her hand.

"You hide from them because you know that they are better men than
you," she taunted.  "It was a Frenchman who first came Jo our country
from the other world.  Perhaps there was no England in those days.  The
sun loves to shine upon Frenchmen.  The English live in the mists.  You
have taken my sister for wife, but I--I, Onawa, daughter of Shuswap,
would marry a Frenchman."

"Never shall I wish you a harder fate," retorted the calm man; and
having thus spoken he turned aside towards the tiny English settlement
to greet his friends and join again his son.

It was the first hour of night when Viner started upon his great
journey.  The forest was white with a moon, and sparks of phosphorus
darted across the falls.  When the wooden bars were drawn out of their
sockets and the five men emerged from the palisade, the monotonous
chirping of frogs ceased abruptly, and a great calm ensued.

In single file they passed along the dark trail, the wet bush sweeping
their legs, the branches locked overhead.  They rounded the red fires
which marked the camping-ground of the Oneidas; they smelt the acrid
smoke, and dimly sighted many a brown lean-to; the dogs jumped out
barking.  They passed, the lights disappeared, the silence closed down.
Presently the trail divided; the branch to the left leading to the
river, that to the right bearing inland to the lakes, rivers, and
hunting-grounds known only to the Indians.

"Get you back now," said Viner, halting at the parting of the ways.
"We are already in the country of the enemy.  Bid me here God-speed."

There they clasped hands, and in the act of farewell Flower slipped
into Viner's hand a little black stone marked with a vein of chalk.
"Keep it, lad," he muttered.  "One spring when I was near drowning in
the Thames by being held in the weeds I caught this stone from the
river-bed.  Methinks it has protected me from ill.  May that same
fortune be on you, and more added to it, in the work which lies before
you."

A ray of moonlight fell through an opening in the trees, and whitened
the five keen faces.

"Superstition made never a soldier of any man," muttered the stern
voice of the Puritan.  "Fling that idolatry to the bush, Geoffrey, and
go your way, trusting rather in the Lord with a psalm upon your lips."

"It is but a reminder of home for the lad," protested Flower gently.
"We have each other.  But in the solitudes what shall he have?"

"'Tis but a stone from our river, friend Hough," said Geoffrey timidly.
"I thank you, neighbour," he added.

"Fare you well," said old Penfold sadly.  "We shall lack you sore."

They turned away, and instantly became lost from the man who was going
south, because the trail bent sharply.  The little band of adventurers,
now reduced to four, walked slowly and sorrowfully towards New Windsor,
until they came out upon the lake, and heard the beavers gnawing the
rushes, and the wind splashing the fresh water up the beach.

"What has come to our nightingales?" said Penfold suddenly.  "I like
not this silence."

The frogs about the palisade were songless, and the sign was ominous.
At their leader's hasty remark the others came to a stand, and scanned
the prospect keenly, until silently and abruptly the ghost-like shape
of a woman rose between them and the moon.

"'Tis but the girl Onawa, daughter of Shuswap," muttered Woodfield
reassuringly; but there was a suspicion in his mind which prompted him
to add, "What does she here?"

Even while he put the question Hough cried out, and pointed with a wild
gesture, feeling that same moment for his sword.  Gazing in the
direction which he indicated with a quivering hand, his brethren saw
before them the palisade, but not as they had left it.  The wooden bars
had been set back into their sockets, as though to forebode the
occupation of their enclosure by an enemy.

"Stay!" called Onawa haughtily, when the men approached her at a run.
"Your tepee has passed from you into the power of the king."

"There is only one king," cried old Penfold.  Then he shouted at her,
for all the land to hear, "What king?"

"King Louis," said the girl defiantly.



CHAPTER IX.

THE GAUNTLET DOWN.

Oskelano, chief of the Algonquins, that unstable race, false alike to
friend and foe, and doomed to be the first of the savage tribes to be
extinguished, reached the fortress about noon on the day which had been
fixed for Geoffrey's departure to the unknown lands.  Roussilac
personally met the treacherous old man upon the heights, and dazzled
his savage eyes with the splendour of a blue surcoat, upon which
gleamed the fleur-de-lys worked in gold.  He proceeded to point out the
soldiers in their brave array, the strong huts of wood or stone dotted
about the cliff, the _St. Wenceslas_ riding upon the river, the
glistening guns, and the flashing steel.  Finally he bade the old
savage note the impregnable nature of the French position.

"Behold the citadel which my master has ordered me to build for your
protection," the commandant continued, pouring his figments through the
leering mouth of the dwarf Gaudriole.  "We have not destroyed your
forests, nor robbed you of your shelters.  You may enter our forts in
safety, and obtain whatsoever you desire in exchange for skins and
feathers.  We do not mass together in one place.  We distribute our
strength.  Our forts are dotted along the coast.  The tribes of
Maryland and of Massachusetts have shown you how the English congregate
upon the Potomac River.  When you go to them for supplies of food, or
demanding recompense for that which they have taken from you, they
threaten you with death.  Is it not so?"

"Um," replied the Algonquin, not a muscle of his face stirring.

"The English have their eye upon this north of the continent," went on
the governor.  "In the south they rule, but only by permission of our
king.  Have you obtained any benefits from them?  Have they not rather
hunted you like wild beasts when you have resisted them?  Remember how
Samuel de Champlain armed you so that you might fight against the
tribes of the Iroquois.  He did not fear the Iroquois, but he saw you
in danger, and reached out his hand to save you."

"Um, um," exclaimed Oskelano, with some symptom of feeling.

"And now the King of France bids you choose between him and Charles of
England.  If you accept my master's friendship he shall protect you
from your enemies.  But if you refuse him he shall leave you to the
mercy of the Iroquois and the English, who shall rob and kill you until
there is not one Algonquin left."

"The chief desires to know," said the interpreter, "why it is that the
English in the south have brought their wives and families, and why the
French come alone."

"The English desire to take the country that they may make it their
home and abide here for ever," answered Roussilac.  "The French are
here to protect the Algonquins, and when danger is over they shall
return to their wives and families in the homeland."

"The chief also desires to know what is the cause of the king's
friendliness to a people whom he has never seen," continued the
interpreter.

"King Louis has forbidden the English to enter this country, and when
they disobey he sends ships and men against them.  It is his will that
the Algonquins shall possess this land in peace."

"Um," said Oskelano profoundly, when these fictions had been expounded.

"What says the wooden-faced fool?" asked Roussilac.

"The doctors of his tribe tell him that all white men are liars,"
replied the dwarf.  "But the English are greater liars than the French."

"Would that I might collect all the savages in this country upon yonder
island in mid-stream, and there exterminate them root and branch," the
governor muttered.

"Import a shipload of bad brandy, commandant," suggested the
interpreter, with an evil grin.  "That would spread a disease which
might carry them off in a few generations."

"What say you?" exclaimed Roussilac.  "Away, hunchbacked devil!"

But when Oskelano had gone to the quarters which had been prepared for
him, and Gaudriole had followed with a grating laugh, Roussilac
remained to pace the cliff and consider the evil thought.  "'Tis a vile
plan," he muttered.  "Yet beasts are poisoned when they overrun the
land.  By St. Louis, it is a plan which might work."

That poor twisted freak of nature, Gaudriole, had lived formerly in the
gutters of Paris by his wits and the predatory powers of his fingers,
begging by day, stealing by night.  Favoured by fortune beyond his
deserts, he had continued to escape the great stone gallows which had
been erected for the dismissal of vagabonds of his kind, and had
finally escaped to the New World, there to fall speedily into the hands
of the Indians.  Having saved his life by the performance of some
sleight-of-hand tricks, he robbed the tribe which had taken him captive
and escaped that same night.  For years he had lived among the natives,
learning their language, adopting their manner of living, until he had
made himself as much at home in the dense forests as in the slums of
his native city.  Indian braves and French soldiers alike stood in awe
of him on account of his impish form and devilish ways.  The governors
of the forts found him useful because he brought them information.  The
free life suited the unprincipled dwarf, who was little better than an
animal invested with a trick of reasoning; and he knew that, like an
animal, he was liable to be hanged and his body thrown to the crows any
day of his sinful life.

The cabaret in the Rue des Pêcheurs was noisy that evening because the
ship which had lately arrived from Marseilles had replenished Michel's
casks.  Soldiers were gaming behind the red curtain which half-blinded
the single window, and fierce songs sounded under the cliff as
Gaudriole shuffled down the pathway.  The dwarf had not listened to the
welcome noise of the tavern for many a month, and his crooked heart
heated at the sound.

"Saints of God!" the high voice of La Salle sounded.  "If it be true,
as they say, that the devil lends favour to gamblers, then are you
lost, brother, body and soul.  Michel, an you sing that lewd song
again----  A plague strike you drunkards!  Have the streets of
Marseilles no new song?"

"There is nothing new, my father," bawled a hoarse voice.  "His sacred
Eminence holds all France as a man might contain in his hand an egg.
Only strong men, good fighters, be they priests or laymen, find favour
in the Cardinal's eyes, and 'tis said, though with what truth I know
not, that he sways his Holiness as the wind may play with a cornstalk.
Not a brick has been added to Marseilles this year past.  The very
mass-bread is mouldy, and the women are hags----"

"Peace, brute!" La Salle shouted.  "Laroche, smite me yon babbler
across his mouth."

Standing in the doorway, Gaudriole saw the fat priest heave, and aim a
terrific blow at a half-drunken soldier whose head lolled against the
wall.  The dwarf shuffled forward with his malevolent laugh as the
soldier lurched aside with an oath.

"The English are upon you, Messires!" he shouted with all his strength.

Instantly there arose indescribable confusion.  Trestles and stools
were flung aside, wine from overthrown goblets soaked black patterns
into the earthen floor, as every soldier made for the outside, grasping
his sword, or swearing because he could not find it.  Out of the noise
grated the laugh of the dwarf, who slunk against the log wall, rubbing
his hairy hands.

"A jest!  A jest!" screamed Ferraud of shrill voice, his waxen face
regaining colour as he wagged his hand at the dwarf.  "Masters, behold
Gaudriole!  Liar, hunchback, bastard!  Were you used as you deserve you
would hang from the roof-tree.  Masters, come back.  There are no
English within a thousand miles."

"What found ye outside, my soldiers?" chuckled Gaudriole, as the men of
Mars tumbled disorderedly into the cabaret.  "There is the wind.  The
west wind, which the Indians say brings all that a man may wish for.
Comrades, did ye find the wind?"

His hideous figure doubled, and his laughter grated again.

"Buffoon of the pit!" cried Laroche, striding up and shaking the dwarf
until his head rolled.  "Would make a laughing-stock of his Majesty's
brave men, deformed imp of darkness?  Come forth now and sing to us.
Sing to us, I say, lest I beat your crooked shape into a lath."

Because Gaudriole was aware of his value he dared to play such pranks.
He was indeed a capably grotesque comedian, and formerly had garnered
many a capful of sous at the corners of Paris by his antics, songs, and
contortions.  His pathetic shape had saved him from the punishment
which often attended the tricks of less daring jesters; and it may be
surmised that his malignant face and cross-seeing eyes not unfrequently
repelled the would-be striker.  Men were superstitious in the days when
the world was large.

"Some wine first," the hunchback panted, for the priest's arm was
rough.  "The ship moves not till she has wind in her sails.  I have
been a drinker of water these months, and my dreams have been red of
wine.  Ah, friend! may your beard grow golden, and curl even as your
mistress would have it."

This to a singularly ugly soldier, with a flat, scarred face and
stubbly black beard, who handed him a potful of wine.

"My beard becomes me well enough," the man growled, when a laugh went
against him.

"Well, in faith.  It grows out of your skin like bristles from a
chimney-brush."

"Cease your gibes, hunchback, and to your capers.  We grow thin for
want of laughter in this accursed country," cried Laroche.

"What shall it be, Messires, a dance, a clever contortion, or a song--a
song of fair ladies, such as one may see upon the streets of Paris,
saving the presence of these most holy and renowned priests?" jeered
Gaudriole, with his intolerable laugh.

"All.  Give us all, buffoon, and invent somewhat for the occasion," the
master of ceremonies ordered.

Not loth to practise his talents, Gaudriole took the centre of the
floor.  Voice, in a musical sense, he had none.  The noise he made was
little better than the screech of wind roaring through the hollow
mouthpiece of some gargoyle of the roof-gutter.  Every fresh contortion
of his face was more hideous than the last, as he danced, shouted, and
twisted bonelessly over the wine splashes on the ground, until he
appeared to the spectators as some frightful creature of nightmare,
presenting the evil scenes and actions of their past lives before their
wide-opened eyes.

He concluded his vaudeville amid shouts of applause, in which La Salle
alone took no part.  The priest was disgusted at this exhibition of so
much that was brutal, and he was disgusted with himself for remaining a
listener and a watcher.  He was, for those days, well-educated, and the
spectacle of the little monster writhing and yelling before him
repelled.  It was Paris in truth that Gaudriole recalled; but not, for
him, the Paris of the corners and byways, not the Paris of vagabonds
and free-livers, but the city of the most brilliant court upon earth,
the city of intrigue where Cardinal Richelieu spun his red web to
entangle the feet of kings.  The cabaret was but an interlude, a by-way
of the path to power; but the priest realised, as he sat among the
fools, that he had trodden the by-ways frequently and too well.

He left the tavern with its fumes of smoke and wine, and escaped into
the cool, moist wind under the cliff, but a pair of cross-seeing eyes
followed his departure, and Gaudriole wormed his way through a
labyrinth of arms that would have detained him for more folly, and
hopped loosely up the ascent of the crooked path.

"What would you, creature of sin?" demanded La Salle, when he perceived
who it was that followed him.

"A word with you, holiness," panted the dwarf.  "The woman Onawa sends
you greeting and prays that you will meet her at the beginning of the
forest where formerly she saw you by chance.  She engages to show you
where your enemy may be found.  She waits for you now, most renowned."

"Dog!" exclaimed La Salle.  "What have I to do with this woman?  What
enemy is it of whom she speaks?  I have no enemy save Van Vuren, who
lives now under the protection of the governor, and slinks at his heels
like a frightened hound."

Gaudriole could never suppress the malignant grin which escaped from
the ends of his slit mouth whenever he spoke.

"I but repeat the message as it was spoken.  Think you that I dare
betray a Frenchman, and that a most holy priest?  An I wished to do so,
the game would not be worth the candle.  Gaudriole loves life as yonder
crows love carrion."

"See you tell no man of this," the priest muttered, as he moved towards
the cliff.

The way was rough, the breeze cold, as La Salle crossed the heights,
turning once to see the flag beating over the fort and men creeping
like midges about their tasks.  He descended, and the swaying wall of
forest broke the wind.  The pale purple crocus pushed its furry hood
from the short grass, the songless robins hopped before him, the smell
of fresh water was in the air.  The fighting priest felt strong as he
breathed the wind.

Onawa flashed out of the brush and waved her bow to him.

"She has painted her face and looks forth ready for battle," said the
priest.  "A comely maid, by St. Louis.  What a figure is there, and
what freedom!  She has a trick of moving her head which would make a
fashion at court."

"Come!" Onawa called.  "Hasten!"

She spoke in English, and hope revived in the heart of the priest.

"English.  I show you," she cried.  "I have waited a long time.  It is
growing late," she went on in her own tongue, hoping vainly that he
might understand.

"I commit my body to this adventure," said La Salle.  "If these be the
English who captured the Dutch vessel and mocked us, the reward of
discovery shall be mine.  A ship sails for home next week.  Tidings
from the New World carry apace throughout Europe.  The first step.  Ha,
it is the first step that gives confidence.  The rest is easy."

He followed Onawa along a trail which bewildered with innumerable
twistings, and after an hour's sharp walking they reached an untrodden
bed of sage brush glistening upon the flats.  Onawa picked up a faint
thread, which was invisible to La Salle's eyes, and led him on through
bush where the spikes of dead pines snagged his feet.  Then came a cold
ravine down the sides of which quaking asps drooped and moss spread
thickly.  More forest, growing every pace denser, until the girl
stopped and motioned her companion to enter what appeared to be a hole
made in the centre of a thicket.  She held back the rough bushes to
allow him to pass ahead.  For a moment La Salle hesitated.  He was
human enough to know that his manliness had made an impression upon
Onawa, but at the same time he feared treachery.  The Iroquois were
sworn foes of the French, and here was a daughter of the chief of the
Cayugas abetting a Frenchman.  He looked at the girl.  She smiled
brilliantly and made an impatient movement, and he advanced boldly into
the cold thicket.

The ground shelved, and under the arched branches a spring freshet,
scarcely seven feet in width, ran hurriedly into the unseen.  A canoe
rocked upon the water, held to the crooked root of a pine by a knotted
willow.  Onawa motioned him into this canoe, and when he had taken his
place after sundry lurchings and difficulties, the girl stepped in,
unfastened the twig, and struck her paddle into the water.  The canoe
swept away under the low branches.

"I would I had Laroche with me," said La Salle, watching the cold trees
and the pale rocks approaching and receding.

"English," said Onawa softly from time to time.  "I show you."

The trees went back and the rocks heightened.  La Salle heard water
rolling up a beach and the sweep of wind across an open surface.  The
freshet widened and grew more shallow; the keel of the canoe scraped
across a ridge of silt.  With a deft turn of her paddle Onawa shot the
prow upon a sand bank, and signed to him to land.

She led him along a cliff path, across a flat, again into sage brush,
and finally into more forest.  They moved stealthily under cover, until
the trees thinned, and willow scrub sprang thickly out of a grey soil.
At a certain spot the girl halted and motioned her companion to look
forth.

La Salle saw the little settlement of New Windsor nestling in its
enclosure, and needed no longer the information, "English," which the
girl offered with a smile.

They lay in wait while the night grew upon them.  La Salle watched when
the bars of the palisade were removed and five men came forth, and
marvelled to learn the weakness of the enemy.  A bold scheme instantly
suggested itself.  He would engage the enemy single-handed upon their
return, and wear them down one by one.

Here Onawa became an obstacle, because he could not explain to her his
intentions.  He did his best by signs and broken English, but the girl
misunderstood him.  She believed that he was telling her that he had
taken the settlement, and she was expected to instruct the Englishmen
that their property had passed away from them.

The white moon ascended the sky.  The wooden bars sprawled where the
Englishmen had left them.  La Salle felt confident that he would be
able to strike down the owners of the place as they passed singly into
the fort.

Suddenly a great hound came out of the forest, sniffed his way to the
palisade, and stopped before the entry, growling and lashing his tail.
Onawa recognised the hound, and called to him.  He heard her voice and
turned his leonine head to snarl fiercely.  Then he headed for the
forest, giving tongue as he ran.  Onawa sprang to the palisade, and
struggled to replace the bars.  For a moment she pulled her blanket
over her face, leaving none of it visible except the eyes and forehead,
and the priest shivered.  He remembered the mysterious swordsman who
had wounded him upon the Rue des Pêcheurs.  He assisted Onawa to put up
the bars.

They heard voices in the forest.  La Salle knew that he would require
his full skill in sword-play to save himself that night.



CHAPTER X.

PILLARS OF THE HOUSE.

The moonlight fell softly upon a clearing where a small fire
smouldered, where the lord of the isles and his son sat in silence, and
between them the great hound full-stretched in sleep.  They were
resting before returning home to their island among the lost waters.
Only the cracking of the fiery wood, the overhead boughs chafing
fitfully, and the snapping of twigs too brittle to survive disturbed
the silence of the night.

The little group made a stern picture in the light of the moon.  The
hound bitten and blemished by many a conquering fight; the lean man
scarred by sword wounds; the boy scarce out of childhood, hungry to
learn--even the boy wore his scars.  He was developing in a hard
school.  He could not know that the work which his father pointed out
would receive, if accomplished, neither thanks nor reward.  The
pioneers of empire might be compared with the insects of the coral
reef, insignificant atoms who have planted a foundation for the sea to
build upon.

"Father," said the boy at length, "shall we not be returning to our
home?"

There was another interval before the stern man looked up.

"Methinks when you spoke that word I saw another home," he said,
raising a hand to his eyes as though he would dispel the vision.  "I
saw methinks a grey house, its chimneys wreathed with ivy.  Lawns
spread far, divided by paths, bound with close-cropped hedges of yew
and lined with flowers, where peacocks lift their feathers to the sun.
Down a green slope to the little river I see orchards of cherry, snowy
with blossom.  A road ends at a church where I may read your name and
mine upon many a stone slab.  There lies your grandfather, there my
mother.  It is peaceful in that garden of Kent, our home at the other
side of the world."

Young Richard leaned forward over his knees.  His father was speaking
in parables.  He had seen only the primæval forest, the river torrents,
the lakes with their land-locked fish, the icefields.  He had supposed
the world to be made of such.  He had heard the clash of swords, the
shouts of war.  He had supposed it was so the world over.  A place of
peace had never entered into the scheme of his boyish calculation.

"It is a dream of which you speak, father?"

"Ay, my lad, for me a dream.  You perchance shall see England with your
own eyes, for when I am gone you shall be the head of a family which
has for its motto, 'Let traitors beware.'  Son, have you never wished
to learn your name?"

"My name is Sir Richard," answered the proud boy.

"I, your father, was called once Sir Thomas Iden.  Formerly we were a
famous family, but now we wane, wielding an influence only over the
Kentish village which has been ours for centuries.  Two hundred years
past the then head of our family, holding the office of sheriff of his
county at the time, slew a traitor named John Cade, who had openly
rebelled against the crown, and for this King Henry the Sixth conferred
upon him the honour of knighthood, presenting him also with a
coat-of-arms.  In return for other services his Majesty bestowed upon
our house an unique privilege: right was granted to the head of the
family in each generation to confer knighthood upon his eldest son, if
that son should be deserving of the distinction.  My father knighted
me, when I returned from an exploit against the Irish; and I handed the
honour on to you, when I found in you the hereditary longing for the
sword."

The boy looked steadily across the fire, with wonder in his eyes.
"This then is not our home," he said, weighing his words with strange
gravity.  "Should we not be in England, fighting for the king?"

"God knows he needs the pillars of our house to help support his
throne," said Sir Thomas.  "But no man can serve in two countries.  I
have made myself a colonist, have married a daughter of the land, here
I can serve England if not my king, and here shall I die like a man of
Kent, with my face to the foe.  I was the first Englishman to make a
home upon this bitter land.  I resolved to build about me a colony, to
do for the north what John Winthrop and the papist Lord Baltimore are
doing in the south.  I have appealed.  I have sent for help.  But
England will not hear."

He paced through the wet grass, his hands clenched behind.

"Is the cry of the colonies nothing to them?  A handful of good men may
only sell their lives dearly in the trust that their example may fire
better men to deeds of conquest.  Here we shall die in exile, and be
sent to haunt the great oblivion of these forests.  Two such
ships-of-war as sailed from Devon in the golden days of Elizabeth, two
such ships as the merchant traders of Cheapside could send us without
loss, with another Hawkins to command, manned by our brave sailors of
the east country, would sweep the French out of their forts and clear
the land of them for ever.  The Dutch hold the seas.  France extends
her arms.  England is again divided, the bloody rivalry between the
houses of York and Lancaster having taught her no wisdom.  The
Parliament is against the king, and the country must bleed for it.  We
are abandoned."

The boy knew nothing of the politics of Europe, neither could he enter
into his father's dream of empire.  He hated the French merely because
they were enemies, and because they had betrayed the Iroquois.  To go
out and fight against them was more exciting, because more dangerous,
than to engage with the beasts of the forest; but the struggle between
the Powers of Europe for the ownership of North America had injected no
venom into his soul.

"Shall I not live here always?" he asked.  "Am I not to choose a maid
from the Cayugas, and settle upon the isles beside you, my father?"

"Talk not of the future, son.  Life is to-day, not hereafter.  That
lies in the hand of God to give or to withhold.  You shall return when
I am gone--return, did I say?  You shall go to England with letters to
a notary in Maidstone, and he shall see that you come into your own.
You are dark of face, but English in heart, my Richard."

The boy lifted his head with a sudden sharp movement.  "Perchance that
day shall never come."

The hound also lifted his head, and as his eyes sought the haunt of
shadows his jaw dropped in a wild howl.

"Spirits sweep across my burying-place," whispered the youth.

The hound lowered his head and howled again.

"Frenchmen," muttered the boy.

The brute slouched a few feet, broke into a trot, and disappeared.

"He goes in the direction of New Windsor," said the knight.  "Hast
heard any sound in the forest?"

"There is no stir," replied the boy, holding his well-trained ear to
the ground.  "The smoke from our fire carries.  Let us go aside into
the shadow of the bush and watch."

They retreated, flashing glances to right and left.  The snap of a
twig, the very crushing of pine needles, sufficed to disturb that calm.
There was no premonitory shiver of the moon-rays, no suggestion of any
human presence upon the chilled air.  Their feet sank audibly into the
white moss.  Their breath made the semblance of a whisper between
father and son, the lion ready, the cub longing.  The rim of the deep
shadow ran behind as they turned to face the clearing they had
abandoned.

"The wind blows from New Windsor," said the knight.  "The wind off
Couchicing."

"If Blood takes hold of a man he shall die," went on the boy.  "He will
hold at the back of the neck, and there hang until his fangs meet.  Ha!
Didst hear that?"

A branch had broken with a dry report.  The trees moaned, and a few
distended cones struck the ground like spent bullets.

"The breeze freshens.  Methinks I hear the waves breaking upon the
beach."

A raven passed before the moon, knelling violently.

"He smells carrion," whispered the boy.  "Already he smells blood upon
my sword."

"Peace, boy," said his father; adding, compassionately, "He is but a
child."

"Nay, father," said Richard, his blood rising.  "I am no child.  See
the mark of my wounds!  Remember that glorious day when we captured the
Dutch privateer.  I have prayed for such another day.  Did I there
acquit myself as a child?  Or did you call, 'Richard, come back!  You
are too bold.'  Hast forgotten, Sir Thomas?"

His father passed the sword into his left hand, and threw his right arm
about his son's shoulder, drawing him upon his own thin body, and
kissed his cheek.  Silence came between them.  It was the first time
that the man had kissed the boy, and both for a moment were ashamed;
then young Richard's heart swelled with the pride of having won his
father's love.

As they stood they moved, and their swords clashed.  They remembered
their other bond of relationship, the brotherhood of the sword, and
each drew back.

The raven had gone, but his note came upon the wind.

The boy stood leaning forward, his ears drinking in the shuddering
noises of the bush, his face sharp with cold.  The smoke stood upright
in the clearing like a swathed mummy.  Now and again a spark drifted,
or a flurry of white wood-ash circled.  There was yet no voice from the
lungs of the forest.

"Blood smelt no animal," said the resolute Richard.  "He does but
tongue softly when he follows a bear.  That howl he gives when he runs
on the track of a man."

"A wanderer lost in the forest.  A spy from the fortress.  One of
Roussilac's creatures," his father muttered.

"They would take possession of the forest," the boy said passionately.
"Along the river I have come upon trees marked by the robbers
with--what is the name of that sign which they bear upon their flag?"

"The fleur-de-lys.  They brand the pines with that mark to signify that
the trees have been chosen for ship-masts and are the property of
France.  Our hut upon the island is faced with logs which bear their
brand."

"The Cayugas fell such trees and burn them, or cut them in half as they
lie.  The Iroquois are yet masters, despite the decrees of King Louis.
How cold is this wind!  Let me but warm my hands in the embers of our
fire."

The boy crossed into the moonlight, and knelt within the smoke, rubbing
the palms of his hands upon the warm ground.  His father stood in the
shadow, and watched every moving line of his son's body, muttering as
he listened to the outside:

"At his age I was learning how to figure and spell in Tonbridge school.
Quarterstaff and tennis were my sports, with mumming and chess at home.
His sport is to hunt the wild beast, to track the deer, to lie in wait
for men.  The sword is his pastime.  His pleasure the dream.  God
pardon me for bringing him into the world."

The breeze bore along in a gust, bringing the muffled bayings of a
hound.

"He calls me!" exclaimed the boy.  "That is Blood's war-cry.  Come!" he
shouted.

"Patience, boy.  Let the dog guide us.  By advancing recklessly we may
fall into a trap."

Each throb of the night brought the wild sounds nearer.  Blood was in
full cry, the foam blowing from his jaws, the hackles stiff upon his
back.  He was coming down the wind full-stretched.  The bush gave, the
dew scattered from the high grass in frosty showers as he leapt the
moss-beds, his foot-tracks far apart.  But no sound followed, except
the play of the branches and the murmur of the rising lake.

"Remember how I brought him from the encampment as a puppy," said
Richard appealingly, "how I have trained him from the time that his
eyes opened.  Whatever he discovers is mine.  Say now that I may go
with him.  He and I can cover the ground together.  You shall follow in
your own time."

"Perchance they shall be too many for you," said the father.

"Nay, we shall advance with care, and hide if there be danger.  The
whole army of France could not follow me in this forest."

"There comes no noise of fighting."

"It is but a spy who has discovered New Windsor.  He must not carry
that secret back to the fortress."

The hound broke forth, clouding the cold air with his breath, his eyes
like lamps.  He leapt at his master, and snatched his sleeve with a
frothing muzzle, pulling him away.

"Say now that I may go," the boy cried.  "The enemy may already have
taken fear, and be retreating as fast as his cowardly feet may carry
him."

The long awaited shout drifted down the wind, and the pale moon
shivered when she heard.

"Go!" granted the stern man.

"St. George!" yelled the maddened child, clutching at the hound's thick
collar of fur.  The cry had no meaning.  It was but a shout of war, a
valve to his passion.  "On, Blood!  St. George!"

At full cry they were gone from the moonlight into gloom.



CHAPTER XI.

THE SWORD IMBRUED

While the pendulum of a clock might have swayed thrice, the four
venturers stood facing Onawa as though her words had turned them into
stone.  Then Hough, forgetting all save rage and lust for vengeance,
broke forward to reach the traitress.  Instantly she ran for the bush,
and the voice of Penfold called his follower back.

"Lift not your hand against a woman," he cried.  "To the forest, my
lads."

"To the forest an you will," Hough shouted.  "I at least shall advance
to smite this woman's partner in sin, be he Frenchman or devil."

"Be it so, neighbour," his captain answered.  "Together let us stand,
or together fall.  Advance, then, and take the place by storm."

As they rushed out, La Salle braced himself to face the odds.  He made
a few passes to free his arm, and trod the beaten ground to make sure
that it would not yield.  Then, loosening the top bar, he flung it
forth as the spidery form of Hough descended, and it struck before the
Puritan's feet and stopped him dead.  The same moment La Salle sprang
upon the lowest bar, but the support weighed down beneath its burden,
and his blade merely stabbed the air.

"A priest, neighbours," Hough shouted.  "Now to avenge our martyrs
burnt at Smithfield by Bloody Mary and the Pope."

Onawa, standing forgotten at the edge of the bush, cast around her a
searching glance.  The encampment of her tribe was far distant.  The
hound had gone out howling.  Danger from that quarter was yet to come.
She stood in shadow, the moonlight whitening the sand in front and
darkening the shapes which hurried to regain their own.  No eyes were
upon her.  She raised her left hand to her right shoulder and with the
same ominous motion dropped upon one knee, falling unconsciously into
the pose of a goddess of the chase.

The attackers hesitated, knowing the reputation of the man with whom
they had to deal.  To attempt to scale the palisade at that point meant
certain loss, and they were not strong enough to take the risk.  Hunted
and hunters glared at each other over the pine bars.  "Get you round,
Jesse," whispered Penfold.  "The dog is bold because he knows his back
is safe."

Woodfield ran beneath the palisading to a place known to him, where he
might scale the fence and so take the priest from behind.

La Salle detected the ruse and taunted his baiters in native French,
while his keen eyes sought an opportunity to strike.  He bent
cautiously and gathered a handful of sand.  Hough sprang upon the bars,
and for the first time swords were clashed; for the first time also the
Puritan realised the power of the priest's wrist.  The point escaped
his forearm by a mere margin, and La Salle laughed contemptuously.

"Brave Lutherans!" he cried.  "Four soldiers against a priest.
Advance, soldiers.  The point a trifle higher.  The elbow close to the
side.  Now you stand too near together."

"Wait until friend Woodfield comes up," muttered Flower.  "Then he
shall laugh his last."

As he spoke there came a sound through the moonbeams, as it were the
vibrating of the wings of a humming-bird, and to the music of this
disturbance Flower flung up his arms with a choking cough and closed
his sentence with a gasp of pain.  His sword darted to the ground.  He
swayed to and fro, his eyes wild, his mouth open in a useless endeavour
to appeal to his comrades, and then plunged down, like a man diving
into the water to swim, and sprawled at their feet, with a rough shaft
topped by a crow's feather springing from his back.

A cloud of sand stung the faces of the survivors, and before they could
recover their eyesight, or awaken to the knowledge of Woodfield's
approaching shout, La Salle was across the bars and bearing down upon
them, his cold face branded with its mocking smile.  He dashed their
opposition aside, and turned, flushed with success, to renew the
struggle, the taunts still ringing from his tongue.

But help was near at hand.  Before the maddened and half stupefied
Englishmen were able to move the night again resounded.  Blood had
scented the foe and could no longer be restrained.  The priest wheeled
round when he heard those howls, and escaped into the shadows with
Penfold and Woodfield at his heels.

There was indeed one man, and he the most vengeful of his enemies, who
might have outstripped the priest, but it so happened that the
long-striding Puritan had lost his reason.  Obeying the first impulse,
he pursued the traitress, mad to avenge the good yeoman who was
stretched to his long sleep at the entrance to New Windsor.  Nor did he
realise his mistake until the shadow, after mocking him for a long
mile, flitted into the unknown depths of the bush, and so disappeared.

"Fear not, masters," called young Richard, as boy and dog passed,
running as freshly as at the start.  "Do but show my father which way I
have gone.  Blood shall hunt the Frenchman down, and I shall slay him.
I shall slay him, friends."

They swept on, flinging the dew across the bars of moonshine.  That
triumphant voice came back to the two men as they slackened speed for
lack of breath: "I shall slay the Frenchman.  I shall slay him,
friends."

Penfold sank upon a bed of moss and panted into his hands.  Woodfield
stood near, his breath coming in white steam, his breast rising and
falling.

"It is God's way, neighbour," he said gently.

The old leader's voice came in a sobbing whisper:

"Through the device of the devil, smitten down foully....  A man of few
words, a good soul, with a smile for all.  I knew him as a boy at home,
a gentle boy, who would never join in stoning birds in the hedgerow or
in killing butterflies, because, quoth he, God made them to give us
song and happiness.  And yet none quicker than he at ball or quintain,
none braver at quarterstaff.  Twice won he the silver arrow in Holborn
Fields, and at home would lead his mother to church a' Sundays, and a'
week-day drive the horses out to field.  A sober lad as ever sang with
the lark beside our Thames....  An arrow in the back, an arrow shot by
an Indian witch.  It passes all.  Call you that God's way?  God wills a
man to die in fair fight, with his death in front.  And this!  Oh,
George!  To fall like a beast hunted for the pot."

"Yet 'twas a soldier's end."

"Tell them not at home," cried Penfold.  "Let them not know, if ever we
see Thames-side again, how George Flower fell.  Ay, like a flower he
came up, and as a grass has he been mown down.  Many are the wiles of
Satan.  The arrow that flieth by night, the coward arrow of treachery.
'Tis a foul wind that blows out a good man's life.  He was a good man.
His old mother, if yet she live, may look upon his past and smile.
Such as George has made our England live.  The strong oaks of the land.
From treachery and sudden death, good Lord deliver us!"

"Amen, captain!"

"Where is friend Hough?" asked the old man sharply, rising and groping
like one awakened from sleep.

"I saw him rushing into the forest as a man possessed."

"His zeal consumes him.  I fear me while the madness last he will
thrust his sword through that witch and so bring us to trouble with the
Indians."

"She will escape from him in the forest."

"Bear with me," said Penfold brokenly.  "To-night I am old.  My leg
pains me so that I may hardly rest upon it.  What is here?  See!  Whom
have we yonder?"

The man of Kent came striding through, with the hot question: "Hast
seen my son?"

As shortly Woodfield answered, and the knight hurried on without a word
along the dim trail where the pursued and the pursuers had passed.

"I am but a useless hulk this night," groaned Penfold.  "Do you follow
and bring me word, while I stay to keep company with our George."

So Woodfield went.  It was but a parting for the hour.  He withdrew
himself from his tough old captain and fellow villager, without a grasp
of the hand, with no word of farewell, nor even a kindly look at the
rugged features that he loved, never dreaming that he and Simon Penfold
would speak again no more.

The knight, more skilled in woodcraft, proceeded faster than the
yeoman.  The clash of steel reached his ears against the wind, the wild
bayings of a dog, and deep French accents mingled with shrill
counter-blasts in an English tongue.  The shuddering forest became
hideous, and the moonbeams came to his eyes red between the branches.

Man La Salle feared not at all, but the fangs and glowing eyes of the
hound appalled.  Any moment the brute might spring upon his back.  He
could not hope to escape from hunters who covered the ground with the
speed of deer and might not be thrown off the scent.  He stopped,
breathing furiously, and set his back against a smooth trunk; but when
his foes swept up, and he beheld the size and innocence of the
sword-bearer, he laughed, even as Goliath laughed when young David came
out against him armed with a sling and a few smooth pebbles from the
brook.

"By the five wounds of God, 'tis but a child!" he muttered, as his
breath returned.  "May it never be said that La Salle ran in fear from
a baby and a dog."

He smiled with compassion for the white face which became visible when
a bar of light crossed it.  "I will deal lightly with the child," he
said, "but the dog must die, or he shall hunt me through the night."

"Down, Blood!" called the young voice; and the brute crouched like a
tiger, sweeping the grass madly with his tail.

"He bears himself like a veteran," muttered La Salle, with a brave
man's admiration for courage.  "The pity that he is so young!"

"On guard, sir!" shouted Richard, stepping up with the challenge which
his father had taught him.

"Back, little one," said the priest in his own tongue.  "Put up your
sword until you become a man, and return to your fishing-lines, and be
young while you may."

The boy could not understand one word of the hated language.  Saving
his breath, he replied by springing forward, to cross swords with his
renowned antagonist as confidently as on the former memorable night he
had faced his father.  A few passes, a turn or so, a quick lunge over
the guard, a rapid bout of skirmishing high upon the breast, and the
astonished Frenchman became assured that his youthful opponent was a
swordsman almost worthy of his steel.

"By St. Denis!" he muttered, playing his sword from side to side with
his inimitable sureness.  "What wonder is this!  Are these Englishmen
soldiers from their cradle?  A doughty stripling!  He fences like a
maître d'armes."

But time was passing, others were upon his track, and, though La Salle
was willing to spare, he knew that he was compelled to strike.

He stepped forward, closed with his antagonist, and by a deft turn of
his iron wrist caught the boy's sword at the hilt and wrested it from
his hand.  Then he raised his point and lightly pricked the near
shoulder.

"Go in peace, my son," he said in English.

That contemptuous manner, naturally assumed before inferior and
superior alike, stung young Richard to the soul.  He ran for his sword,
while Blood sprang up with a deep challenge, and plunged after La
Salle, who again had taken to flight.  Richard followed at full speed,
his blood boiling to avenge the insult to his knighthood.

"They come," said La Salle resignedly.  "He must have the coup de
grâce.  Now God have mercy upon his infant soul."

He came in his flight to a natural opening, one half in deep shadow,
the other lit by the sparkling moon and carpeted by short grass.
Columnar trees stood at regular intervals around this garden in the
forest.  A few night lilies opened their sulphur cups.  The place might
have been a dancing-ring for elves, and the priest crossed himself when
he stopped, looked round, and swiftly wiped his sword.

"The turf like a rich cloth," he murmured.  "The trees falling back,
the moon soft yet sufficient.  An ideal spot for sword-play.  But
methinks somewhat weird."

The peace of the glade was broken in a moment.  Blood dashed out, his
fangs bared, and made two fierce bounds over the turf.  La Salle fixed
his eye upon a white spot in the underpart of the flying body, and at
precisely the critical moment stepped aside, catching the hound upon
his point and running him through from the centre of the white patch to
the stiff hackles of his back.  He turned sharply, lest his sword
should break, and the dying body passed swiftly from his blade and
crashed into the bush.

"When killing is too easy it carries the mask of murder," the priest
muttered.

He turned again, for Richard was upon him with a sob of rage, and
shouting: "Devil!  You shall die for killing my dog, devil that you
are!"

Aware that his time was short, La Salle parried the boy's wild lunges
and replied by his own calculated attack.  In that supreme moment of
his life Richard fought, even as his father might have done, with
strength, accuracy, and cunning manoeuvre.  The swords played together
for little longer than a minute, and then came the _passe en tierce_
outside the guard, which put an end to the unequal fight and left a
body bleeding upon the grass.

A cry came from the forest, a near reassuring cry:

"Hold him out, Richard.  On the defensive.  Do not attack.  Remember
the pass I taught you."

The priest's eyes dimmed.  Hastily he arranged the warm body, closed
the eyes, straightened the legs and folded the stubborn arms, muttering
a prayer the while.

"Heretic though you are, our Lady of Mercy may yet plead for you," he
said; but his words were inaudible to his own ears, because of the
shout which rang behind his shoulders:

"Hold him off, Richard.  I am with you.  Keep your eyes upon his point.
I am here."

As the bush gave before the avenger of blood, La Salle ran swiftly from
that spot.  And all the forest seemed to be moaning for the child thus
cut down before he was grown, and the winds off Couchicing sobbed above
the hemlocks, and the moon sank down as cold as snow, drawing the
purple shadow closer to that white face and the straight, stiff limbs.



CHAPTER XII.

SPLENDOUR.

In one short day the hand of fate had divided the little band of
venturers, destroying the physical life of Flower, leading Woodfield
into the trackless forest and losing him there, and driving Viner into
the unknown country of the south.  Viner's course, during its early
stages, may first be followed, beside the lakes and across the thickly
wooded plains of the land which was later to be known as the northern
part of the State of Maine.

No event marked his journey during the first day.  On the second he saw
in the distance a party of Dutchmen, who also sighted him and gave
chase; but the swift young athlete shook off these slow men with ease.
Later he perceived the smoke of an Indian encampment, and bent off his
course, fearing lest the tribe might be hostile to all of his
complexion.  By doing so he lost his bearings, and while attempting to
regain them wandered at evening into a glorious valley, bright with
flowers, and green with high grass undulating gently in soundless
waves.  Perceiving a line of trees beyond, Geoffrey determined to gain
their shelter, and wait for the stars to guide him back to his
southerly route.

He came to a shallow stream, a mere brook winding through the valley
amid red willow and wild rice and fragrant beds of brown-topped reeds.
A flight of swans passed overhead, their necks outstretched, their
bodies casting gaunt shadows across the grass.  On the near side
patches of bush variegated the plain; beyond, the descending sun cast a
dazzling haze.  The wind was murmuring in the reeds, and the whistlings
of aquatic fowl made a plaintive music.  The lonely boy relieved his
solitude as he walked, by reciting to the tune of the breeze one of the
poetic fables he had learnt at school:

"And when he was unable to restrain his secret, he crept among the
reeds, and murmured, 'King Midas has the ears of an ass.'  But the
reeds betrayed him.  When the wind passed they bent together and
whispered, 'Midas has the ears of an ass--the ears of an ass.'"

Stepping among the sedges, where single stalks shuddered in the cold
water, Geoffrey looked for the ripple which would indicate a place of
crossing.  The reeds inclined their feathery heads towards him, and the
malicious whisper seemed to follow, "Geoffrey has the ears of an
ass--the ears of an ass."  Laughing at the idle fancy, he ran on at the
sight of a line of foam some little way down the stream.  Drawing off
his shoes, he passed across the yellow gravel, the keen water nipping
his ankles, the reeds brushing his head.  Old Thames had often been as
cold, when as a schoolboy he had waded through its weeds hunting the
dive-dapper's nest.

Viner hesitated where the Indian trail split.  That to the left ran
into the sun.  He could scarcely see it, so dazzling was the glory.
That to the right was bare and cold, but leading, had he known it,
direct to the south.  At the foot of a long bank the brook poured away
its water, and above in the fruit-bushes the wild canaries sang away
the hours.  The youth took the bow from his shoulder, held it on end,
and let it fall.  The bow pointed as he wished, as perhaps his fingers
had guided it at the moment of release.  It fell into the sun.

A breath of fire was in the splendour ahead, an acrid smoke crept down,
he heard the crackling of twigs.  It seemed to the traveller that the
sun was consuming the grove before him.  A voice began to sing.
Geoffrey tried to persuade himself that some little yellow bird was
sitting in the sun-grove warbling its soul out to him.  Then an envious
night cloud swooped upon the lord of day and rolled him up in its dewy
blanket, and immediately a palisade, a grass roof, and a thicket
started out like black upon white.  But the song went on.

A log-cabin stood right in the centre of the setting sun, a snaky
palisade winding around, enclosing also a garden planted with corn and
potatoes, where already blade and crinkled leaf pushed from the dark
alluvial soil.  Trees surrounded the house.

Amid the smoke the side of an iron pot showed at intervals.  The singer
held her head back, the slightest frown creasing her forehead.  She was
waiting for the fire to burn clearly, and to encourage it she sang.

Her hair, which hung all about her body, was golden-brown, no one tress
the same shade as another, the whole a bewildering mantle of beauty.
Its wealth became reckless when one crafty ray of sunlight eluded the
cloud and shot across her head.

"Oh, oh!" she sighed, breaking off her bird-like song.  "The sun will
not let my fire burn, and--this wicked wind!"

The breeze, delighting to flirt with so glorious a creature, veered
slyly, and fanned the bitter smoke around her.  She danced away
coughing, her cheeks scarlet, her red mouth gasping for pure air, her
tresses gleaming in their mesh of sunlight.  Her movements were as
supple as the swaying dance of the pine-branch over her.  She tried to
laugh while she caught at her breath, and, failing, fell back panting,
showing her tiny teeth.

Then the violet eyes moved along the path, and all the pretty laughter
went out.  A white hand drifted like falling snow, stole a tress of
hair, and shining pearls began cruelly to bite the silk.

No maid could have desired a fairer vision.

Geoffrey, tall, slender, and flushed, stood between the trees, his bow
in his hands, his Saxon blue eyes meeting the violet glances of
timidity with free admiration.  The maid of the fire-side beheld his
clear complexion, his fair hair tied loosely at the nape of his neck,
his strong figure; and as she watched for a few moments, which were not
measured by time, her bosom began to rise and fall.  Had she not prayed
for such a vision?  She had surely wasted her sweetness long enough
upon the unsatisfying things of her daily life in that lone, hard land.
There was that in her young blood which rebelled against her
convent-like environment, where she had indeed her freedom, but where
the tree of knowledge had not been trained to grow.

Viner stepped out and doffed his feathered cap.

"Fair mistress," he said, bending before this beauty of the grove,
"give me your pardon for coming on you so suddenly.  I am a traveller
on my way to the south."

Madeleine Labroquerie answered him only with her eyes.

"Can you tell me how many English miles I am from Plymouth?"

He looked up, and learnt that the sun had not yet left the grove.  He
saw the cloud of hair waving iridescent.  His gaze wandered over the
beautiful head, until two eyes like purple iris flowers met his.

"But I am not English."

"Yet you speak in English," he protested.

"Why, yes.  In England I was brought up.  I love England; but I am
French, and a Protestant."

Geoffrey looked into the grove as he spoke on softly, mindful of his
duty:

"Tell me, lady, how many days must I travel before I come to the
province of Massachusetts?"

Madeleine Labroquerie had not a word to say.  This handsome stranger
had hardly arrived, and already he suggested departure.

"I must not delay," he faltered.

"My fire!" cried Madeleine, stretching out her hands.  "It will not
burn.  Stranger"--she turned to him with a winsome glance--"will you
_make_ my fire burn?"

She hurried to the smoking pile.  He was beside her instantly.

"You shall not soil those hands."

"They are already smoked and soiled.  And see--a burn!"

Because Geoffrey dared not look Madeleine pouted at his back.  Then she
kicked the smouldering wood, and exclaimed spitefully, "There!"

"Your fire is too closely packed."

"It is not," she snapped, daring him with her eyes.

"You say it is not," he agreed; but loosening the heap.

"I fear that it was," she sighed.  "And the wood is damp."

Geoffrey rebuilt the fire, placing the hot embers to face the wind, and
fanned the sticks until they burst into flame.

The daylight went out like a failing lamp, and a red glow flung about
them as the fire increased.

"I know that you are weary, sir," said the girl winningly.  "Let me
lead you into the house and present you to my mother."

Seeing wonder upon the young man's face, she pointed her shapely hand
through the smoke.

"Down there my father lies," she explained in a hushed voice.  "Deep in
the hollow where the beavers bite the bark at night.  There the Indians
made his grave.  French though we are, the Iroquois have been friendly,
because my father, who was a skilled physician, used them well.  Here
my father hid from the world.  He found a rest here, and yonder he
rests still hidden.  I am with my mother and one native servant, who
loves us because my father saved his life.  And I--I have never known a
friend."

"Lady," said Geoffrey suddenly, "I would serve you if I might."

"Rest you here a few days," she said quickly, "and tell my mother what
is doing in the world."

"I must down to the coast."

"Did you say Plymouth just now?  Learn how ignorant I am.  I did not
know there was a town of that name in all the New World.  I have been
to the English Plymouth.  There I saw the brave ships in her harbour,
and the red and white flags, and the sailors looking over the sea for
what might come sailing by, watching thus and hoping all the day.  That
was a happy time."

"There are yet as good men in Plymouth as ever sailed westward from the
Hoe," said the boy with eager pride.

While he spoke the expression on Madeleine's face altered.  She drew
away, murmuring as she moved, "Here is Madame, my mother."  She added
hurriedly, and as he thought with fear, "I pray you be gracious to her."

Viner turned, and there in the fire glow walked a little old woman in
black, a white cap holding her thin grey hair, her face pale, her eyes
sunken, and her colourless lips a tight line.  She smiled coldly, and
showed no amazement when her daughter presented the traveller.

"You are welcome, sir," she said in English.  "We are poor and lonely
folk left to perish in the wilderness.  My husband was an atheist, a
philosopher, and every man's hand was against him.  He brought his wife
and family to the New World that he might study in peace and learn
somewhat of Nature's secrets.  Last summer he was taken, babbling of
the work of his misspent life, careless of our farewells, heedless of
the state in which he left us.  Philosophy is of a truth the devil's
work, inasmuch as it hardens the heart of man, loses him his God, and
wraps its slave in selfishness."

The old woman signed herself slowly; then suddenly pushed beside the
traveller and snatched at her daughter's arm.

"Cross yourself, girl!  Infidel, cross yourself!" she cried.

"Mother!"  Madeleine shrank back, appealing with her lovely eyes.

"Lutheran!" screamed the little woman.  "Make the holy sign, and so
strive to save your wicked soul from the pit of destruction wherein
your father lies."

"My faith is fixed," murmured the girl.  "Ah, ah!" she panted.

Madame Labroquerie struck the girl thrice upon her fair cheek, staining
the white skin red as a roseleaf.

"Madame, forbear!"  Viner stood between them, his blood hot with shame.
"This is no sight for a stranger and a man to witness."

The little woman smiled at him and abandoned her daughter, who bent
over the fire to hide her crimson face.

"You are English, sir.  Your brave countrymen yield to none in their
respect for a woman, when she be young and fair to see.  Let her be
old, they shall call her witch and fling her in the nearest pond.
There be young witches, good sir, better able to seduce the soul of man
than the old, though they keep neither cat nor toad, nor ride at night
across the face of the moon."

Madame Labroquerie made him a low courtesy, and walked noiselessly to
the gate of the palisade.

"That so lovely a daughter should be cursed with such a mother!"
muttered the youth as he watched her go.

He came to the side of Madeleine, and found her crying.

"My mother has a strange temper.  She has suffered much," the girl
sighed.

There was a pause, one of those rare intervals when ears are opened to
the music of the spheres, and souls may meet.

"You are not happy here," he said.

Her glorious eyes were two blossoms heavy with dew.

"Friend!"  She put out one hand, groping for something to hold.  "I am
miserable."

They stood together, hand in hand.

"She struck you."

There was no answer.  Divine pity dropped upon his heart, sweet and
dangerous pity out of heaven.

"Stay a little," she whispered.  "For the sake of your religion, stay.
If for a day only, stay.  Stay, for a woman's sake."

It was dark in the grove outside the circle of the fire.  He drew at
her fingers.  He bent his head suddenly and breathed upon them.  She
placed her other hand--a cold little hand--upon his.

Then the evening breeze flung itself sportingly into the trees, and all
the branches sprang before it, and the foliage danced and shouted in a
laugh, singing noisily the old secret of the river reeds, singing,
"Midas is a king of gold--a king of gold."

So the fire died down into an angry red, and all the birds of the grove
were songless.  Madame walked alone from the rude house, her small face
white against dark clouds, and passed into the clearing.  The Indian
who worked for the widow and daughter approached with a burden of wood.

"Wind is coming," he said in his own tongue.

"May it blow away heresy and all heretics," muttered the little woman.



CHAPTER XIII.

ENCHANTMENT.

Within the grass-roofed cabin another fire glowed, and beside it
Madeleine entertained the guest, her white hands clasped upon her knee,
her eyes lustrous as she listened to the tale of adventure which her
young companion had to tell.

"And now you would reach the south and bring your countrymen hither,"
she said with the sweet practicability of her sex, after hearing his
story of ventures both by land and sea.  "You would win territory,
perhaps fame.  Then what would you do?"

"Then?  Why, I would return home," answered Geoffrey.

"And then?" the girl pursued, the colour rising in her cheeks.

"Then I would fight for the king."

Madeleine sank back.

"Would your fighting-days never be done?" she sighed reproachfully.
"Friend, the world gives better things than the sword.  Think you," she
went on hurriedly, "we are put upon this world to hate one another and
be always at strife?  Ah no.  We are here to live!  The soldier's day
must pass, his arm grow stiff, and 'tis then he sighs for life--the
sword gives only death.  How wretched is that soldier's lonely end!  It
is love in life that ennobles the body, and 'tis death in love that
clothes the soul in its flight to God."

Her eyes had been fixed upon him.  She cast them down suddenly and sat
trembling.

"My father taught me the use of the sword, and explained to me the
action of the gun," Geoffrey faltered.  "He taught me nothing else."

"Your mother?" Madeleine whispered.

"She died when I was a child."

"She would have taught you.  She would have told you to take the best,"
murmured the girl.

He could see only a rich coil of hair glowing in the firelight.

"But I am untaught," she went on.  "My father was ever a stranger, my
mother has never been a friend.  I grew up with Jean-Marie, my brother,
who was a follower of your creed.  He too believed that life has
nothing better than the sword, so went away to fight, and I have had no
word of him again.  Alone I have taught myself to live, to see that
life is glorious, to find joy in drawing each healthy breath.  I have
studied the birds and animals, and spoken to them, until they have
answered me so that I could understand.  It is so magnificent, this
life!"

A chill crept into the cabin and with it Madame Labroquerie, who peered
at the comely couple, and said in her grating voice: "You are weary,
sir.  Daughter, show our guest where he is to rest."

With another courtesy to the Englishman the bitter little woman passed
into her own room, and almost immediately the muttering of prayers and
clicking of beads disturbed the silence which her entry had created.

"Rest you here," Madeleine whispered, pointing to a palliasse partly
covered by a bear-skin.  "You shall sleep soundly I promise, for I have
filled that palliasse with the sweet-scented grass which grows in
yonder valley.  May you rest there like Endymion, and may his dreams be
yours."

"His dreams were of love--if the old tale be true," said Geoffrey,
flushing at his boldness.

"Soft," she prayed, but she too had flushed.  "My mother's ears are
keen.  God be with you, my friend."

"And with you also," he murmured, and raising her fair white hand he
pressed it reverently to his lips.

No hostile sound disturbed the silence of the grove throughout that
night, and Geoffrey made no stir upon his scented bed, until the sun
streaming into the cabin and the noisy turk, turk, turk of the wild
bush-fowl rendered further sleep impossible.  Having performed the
hasty toilet of that age, when by day and night a man had to be
prepared to fight for his life, he went outside, and was straightway
made welcome to the grove by a brilliant and versatile bluejay, which
obtruded itself upon the stranger and with cheerful chattering
friendliness volunteered to be his guide in return for a little
flattering attention.  But when Madeleine came out into the sun, the
fickle bird deserted the man and paid court to the maid.

It had been Geoffrey's honest determination to proceed that morning
upon his journey, but noon, and then evening, came and found him again
a tenant of the grove.  All day he and Madeleine wandered in the green
valley, like children of innocence in a garden, the girl pointing out
her favourite haunts, the flowery ridges where she would while away
hours in day-dreams, and guiding him along faint paths which her small
feet, and hers only, had trodden into being; and as they so walked
Geoffrey forgot for the time his mission, and became blind to the path
of duty, because the spell of enchantment was over him, and all the
world went far away while Madeleine was laughing at his side, and her
sweet voice was in his ears, and her fragrant presence stirred before
his eyes.  No day had ever been so short, no sun more bright, no
self-surrender ever more complete.

Again the grove was in splendour at the close of the day, and again
Madame Labroquerie met her guest with a grating word of greeting and
her bitter smile; and again the laggard slept upon the scented couch
and had his dreams; and his dreams that night were not of power, nor of
duty, nor of his harassed friends beside Couchicing; but of shaded
bowers, and green valleys, and love in life, and Madeleine.  And once
the girl cried out in her sleep, but neither her mother nor her lover
overheard her unconscious utterance, "I cannot let you go."

But during the day which followed Geoffrey's conscience awoke and
reproached him for this love-in-idleness, and as the evening of that
day drew near his higher self conquered.  Lying at Madeleine's feet, he
told her with averted face that on the morrow he must depart; and she
merely sighed very softly and made no answer, but longed in her heart
that the morrow might never come.

Once again they returned to the grove, where Madame curtsied as before,
and muttered to her guest: "You are welcome, sir.  For the third time I
bid you welcome to my poor home."

Her meaning was unmistakable, and the young man flushed hotly as he
bowed in reply and thanked her for her words.  More he would have said,
but Madeleine touched him lightly and motioned him to keep silent.  He
turned and followed her to the hut, and they partook of food, and
afterwards sat together and talked on, and yearned for one another; and
in the meantime darkness fell, and the fire outside, which was
maintained at night to keep wild beasts at bay, surrounded the cabin
with a roseate glow.


Alone through that twilight Madame walked, muttering as was her wont,
and started in superstitious terror when she saw a tall figure standing
erect, spectral, beside the leaping fire.  A few more steps and the
Frenchwoman recognised a priest.  She hurried forward, and a minute
later genuflected to kiss the cloak of that man of blood, the Abbé La
Salle.

In wonder the priest gave her the blessing which she sought and went on
to question her.  Eagerly Madame responded, telling him her name and
circumstance, explaining her position, and mentioning her longing to
escape from that lonely spot.  Her desires were, like herself, made up
of selfishness.  She did not question the priest concerning the son who
had been driven out by her bitter tongue to join the commandant's
little force; nor did she mention Roussilac's name, because--so
entirely isolated was that shelter in the grove--she was not even aware
that the man who ruled the land was indeed her nephew.  But La Salle
waived her petulant inquiries aside, and asked whether any Englishman
had lately been known to pass that way.  Then Madame shortly acquainted
him with the coming of Viner.


"Bring me here something to eat," said the priest wearily, when he had
obtained the information which he sought.  "Afterwards I will rest me
by this fire."

"Now the saints forbid," cried Madame.  "Shall an infidel lie in my
house, while a holy Churchman sleeps outside?  Out the Lutheran shall
go, and you, my father, must honour my poor home this night."

"'Tis not for me to provoke a quarrel," La Salle replied.  "I may but
fight in self-defence.  Let me have food and a palliasse here."

Madame bent her grey head, and went to do his bidding.

The cabin was in gloom when Madame entered and passed through silently
to procure food for the priest.  Madeleine rose, seeking to be of
service, but the grating voice sent her back to the fireside.  Viner
had also arisen, dimly suspicious.  The girl's head reached his
shoulder, and to put away the thought, which recurred more strongly
when he noted her helplessness, he resorted to selfishness.

"Am I safe?" he asked.

Madeleine gave him a reproachful glance.

"My mother hates all Protestants.  The heathen Indians are merely
animals in her sight; but such as you and I are children of the devil."

"The fire beyond the palisade is burning more strongly," he said.

The door was open, and the glow entered the cabin like moonlight.

"It is to keep away the wolves.  You do not suspect--me?"

"No, no," he said, in a manner that brought a smile to her mouth.  "For
myself I care nothing, but I may not forget my comrades.  I must be
upon my guard for their sake."

The dame reappeared, a mantle over her shoulders and her hands.  She
smiled grimly, and gently addressed her guest:

"I have my birds to feed.  They are the sole companions of my
loneliness, and each night finds them awaiting me beyond the palisade.
They are brighter birds than those of my country, but sadder because
songless.  The saints protect you, sir, in your sleep to-night."

"Shall I come with you, mother?" said Madeleine.

"Why upon this night more than others?" answered Madame bitterly.
"Your way is never mine.  When you shall learn to pray with me then you
may walk with me."

She left the cabin, drawing the door close.

"Stay you here," whispered Madeleine, detaining Viner with a gentle
hand.  "There was that in my mother's manner which makes me fear.  I
will follow her and bring you word."

"I would not have you put yourself to danger."

"For me there is no danger."

"I go with you," he said.

"No!" cried Madeleine, stamping her foot.  "You shall not."

He gave way and let her have her will.

When Madeleine returned with the tidings that a tall French priest was
without, the young man's first impulse suggested that he should rush
out and attempt to silence the spy, but prudence and a girl's hand
detained him.  For the first time Geoffrey shuddered at the thought of
danger.  With those two beautiful eyes watching him tenderly he felt
that it was good indeed to live.

"I shall watch over you," said Madeleine's fearless young voice.  "See,
I will move your palliasse.  Now this thin wall of wattles shall alone
divide us.  We shall be so near that I can listen to your breathing,
and shall hear your faintest whisper.  I pray you trust in me."

"In the morning I shall see you," he urged.  "I shall not depart
without thanking you?"

"Oh, talk not of the morning," she cried.

He seized her fingers, and when he kissed the hand it fluttered like a
bird.

"I shall have my dreams," cried Madeleine, her face uplifted, and her
eyes moistened.  "And they may be so happy that I shall not wake.  See!
Yonder is my resting-place.  The wattle-wall shall separate us.  There
my head will lie.  Give me your sword."

She grasped the hilt, and thrust the blade through the trifling wall.
Then she spoke with averted face: "When you are lying down to rest I
shall tell you why I have done this."

They separated after a few tender words of commendation.  The fire
burnt down, and the north wind played roughly among the trees until the
cabin hummed like a cave.  Madame entered, as noiseless as a cat, and
passed into her room.  The rattling of her beads sounded at intervals,
before sleep deadened the enmity of her mind.

"My hair is long," whispered Madeleine's sweet voice.  "I am passing a
coil through the hole in the wattles.  Hold it, and if you hear
disquieting sounds do not speak, but pull."

"I have it," he whispered, seizing the warm silk enviously.

"The holy angels watch over you," she murmured.

"And you.  As for me, I am already protected by an angel."

"Angel?" she wondered.

"Sainte Madeleine is her name."

"Ah!" she said.

The sound of uneasy breathing arose between the groans of the wind.
After a long pause Geoffrey spoke:

"In sleep I may lose what I am holding."

"Twist it about your fingers," said a whisper.

"Still, I may lose it.  You will draw it away from me when you turn."

"Lie upon it."

"My hair is also long.  I am tying yours to mine."

"I had thought of that," she murmured.

Another period of silence.  Then, in turning, Geoffrey's lips pressed
upon the rich coil, and left it with a kiss.  There came a little
movement and an almost soundless whisper:

"Did you call?"

"You are not yet asleep," he reproved.

"I am watching and listening."

"I would rather you slept while I watched."

"Then I should be the guardian no longer."

"But always the angel."

The glow from without was still over the cabin where Madeleine lay
wide-eyed.  A spider let itself suddenly from the roof, and swung
spinning in wild glee at the end of a silver streak.

"Friend," Madeleine murmured.

"I am listening," he said.

"There is a spider spinning from the cross-beam."

"Would you have me destroy it?"

"No.  Oh, no!  It is so happy in its life.  I do not remember why I
called you.  I had something more to say."

"I shall not sleep until you think of it."

"Shall you go away in the morning?" she whispered suddenly.

There was no reply.

"And leave me?"

"The present is life," he reminded her.

"The thought of the future may destroy the happiness of the present."

"What would you have me do--obey my conscience or my heart?"

"Both," she sighed.

"Let us talk of it in the morning."

"Now.  Oh, the spider is spinning faster--faster."

"The morning," he repeated.

"Now," she breathed.  "But soft!  Set your lips to this hole, and you
shall find my ear."

A sound of restless movement came from Madame's room, and a grating
voice: "From witchcraft, enchantment, and heresy our Lady and the holy
saints protect us."

It was her lips that Madeleine placed to the hole in the wattle wall.



CHAPTER XIV.

FIRESIDE AND GROVE.

Ambition and not chance had brought La Salle thus far from the beaten
track.  He had made it his policy to pursue the Englishmen in that land
until he should have brought about their extermination, knowing well
that any success in that direction would be rewarded by the richest
gift which his master Richelieu had to bestow.  From Onawa he learnt of
Viner's departure for the south on the day following that venture
against New Windsor.  The girl had discovered the young man's track and
gladly accompanied the priest, pointing out the trail, which was
imperceptible to his untrained eyes, and so bringing him to the grove
where Geoffrey tarried in the enchanted sleep.

After Madame Labroquerie had gone to find him food, La Salle
reconsidered his plans by the light of her information.  It was no way
of his to hide his light beneath a bushel, and the slaying of Viner in
that lonely country would, he reasoned, bring him little fame.  If,
however, he should return to lodge the information with Roussilac, all
men would know of his agency.  Therefore, when Madame returned, he
impressed upon her the necessity of detaining Viner for at least three
days within the grove.

"'Tis easy," the little woman muttered.  "I shall be courteous to the
young man, and praise his face and flatter his pride.  Madeleine, my
daughter, shall do the rest.  I warrant you he shall not stir from here
till the soldiers arrive; and then, I trust, a stake shall be prepared
and a goodly pile of faggots for the proper despatch of his heretic
soul."

"I shall see that execution be done upon him," La Salle replied grimly.
"Now get you gone, for I would be alone."

"Your holiness will remain until the morning," Madame prayed.  "I would
then make my confession, and receive the peace of absolution."

"Find me here at the dawn," La Salle answered.  Then, uplifting his
blood-stained hand, he bestowed upon her his benediction and sent her
away.

Not fifty yards distant Onawa stood as a guardian over the man she
loved, staring into the night, heeding every sound in the valley,
dreading the approach of some emissary from her tribe.  The maid had
become an outlaw.  Through her treachery the boy Richard, her own flesh
and blood, had come to his death.  With her own hand she had slain a
man friendly to all her race.  In the forest beyond the river a cruel
death by torture awaited her; her own father would be the first to
condemn her to the fire.  She was thus compelled to stand or fall
beside the priest whom she had aided with that disregard for self which
has ever dominated a woman's actions.

As she stood watching the firelight and the grove, dim ghosts arose and
began her punishment.  She seemed to hear a sound of scuffling, and to
see young Richard and his great hound, Blood, wrestling together, as
they had been wont to do among the pine barrens, to the roar of the
wind and the lost waters.  Again she heard the boyish voice, gasping
and triumphant, "I have beaten him again.  I am stronger than he."  And
as she shivered, there came an echo of her own former words from the
line of tossing trees, "He is brave and strong.  He shall make a man
before he has grown."

Beside the fire La Salle slept, lulled by the wind.  He knew Onawa was
acting as a guard over him, else he had never dared to close his eyes.
Yet his rest became presently broken into by spiritual beings hovering
around in the grove, anxious to point out his future.  The chafing of
boughs, the beating of leaves, the gnawing of the beavers around the
philosopher's grave, with more distant sounds from the country beyond,
were the media these beings employed.  The disturbances passed into his
ear, which pressed upon the palliasse, and entered the torpid brain to
make a dream.

Through the unlighted streets of a city a way was revealed before the
sleeper by means of lightning flashes.  No fellow-creatures were in
sight, and yet the tongues of a multitude shouted as he ran, bells
clashed above, and trumpets blared below.  Before him a vast square
opened, empty and wind-swept, and here the shoutings of the unseen mob
became terrific, here also a mountainous building rose into the clouds,
and midway upon a flight of marble steps sat an old man in white,
crowned with the tiara, extending a red hat towards the yelling
solitude.  The dreamer rushed out to seize the prize; but between the
principality and power, as represented by the scarlet blot rising in
the gale, the silent lightning cut, and between this fire and Urbano
the Eighth a figure descended, and the lightning was a sword, which his
untiring arms flashed between the aspirant and his soul's desires.
"Cardinal-Archbishop!" cried the white figure.  "Bought by blood!"
outcried the man in black, and his sword turned all ways in a flame of
fire.

La Salle awoke with a shudder.  That figure seemed to be upon him,
bending, holding him down with the hands of Briareus.  Casting off the
terrible sleep, he started upright.  A face was indeed over him, and
arms were dragging at his shoulders.  The wind-tossed grove cleared,
with its fire glowing, and sparks flickering like a thousand eyes, and
the sleeper awakened recognised Onawa, who was summoning him to action
in her unknown tongue.

"Perdition!" he muttered.  "The witch haunts me like an old sin."

Onawa went on pleading, pointing wildly at intervals down the wind.

"You shall lead me into no more death-traps!" the priest cried.

The frightened girl brought a knife from her side, and made as though
she would stab him.  Then she pointed again, and, falling to her knees,
indicated her own tracks.

La Salle peered along the glow of the fire and beyond where the sparks
were beaten back, then rose and approached the palisading, Onawa
clinging to him like a shadow.  There was no danger there.  He advanced
to the wattled door, prepared to receive an attack.  When there came no
response to his unspoken challenge he turned back, and Onawa again
pointed along the way she had come.

"Would to God I had spared that child!  His face is there!" the priest
shivered.

"Tuschota!" cried the girl.  She touched the ground, reading him with
her eyes.

A smothered cry broke from the lips of the priest.  Onawa followed his
gaze, which went, not along the trail, nor into the fire-lit grove, but
above where the eastern sky had almost cleared of drift.

"A portent!" moaned the priest.  "'Tis the end of the world, and I am
found with the sword drawn in my hand."

There was war in heaven.  Across the plane of eastern sky hung a wild
picture of forest and rockland where pigmy men rushed together without
shock, where spectral weapons fell silently, and shadowy smoke burst
and rose.  Tiny figures climbed a cliff, and similar grotesques fought
on high and pressed them back.  The combatants appeared ant-like and
ridiculous objects as they swayed reflected upon the floor of heaven.

Onawa watched the spectacle unmoved.  She had witnessed the mirage
before, and by this present vision merely understood that an attack
upon the citadel was even then in progress.  As the weird picture broke
up and scud came flying across a faint grey sky, she prayed in her
treacherous heart that the French might win.

La Salle rose with some shame when he perceived that the sky had
resumed its normal aspect, and light at length dawned upon him as he
sighted a shadowy being stealing within the radius of the fire.

"Tuschota!" warned the voice at his side.

The priest knew then that Onawa had saved him from the knife which
would have avenged the half-breed boy, who had flung himself with such
desperate courage upon death.  Casting away the arms which encompassed
him, he passed swiftly into the shadow of the grove, while Onawa
advanced boldly and met the woman she had wronged so grievously, and
dared to face her without shame.  For a space they stood, gazing at one
another by the firelight, until the younger cast down her eyes and
began to shiver with the coldness of fear.

"Approach me, sister," said the stern woman.  "There is a question I
would have you answer.  Refuse you dare not, for we are flesh and
blood; we are daughters of Shuswap the truthful, and the same mother
gave us birth.  I seek not to know what brings you here this night, but
tell me now have you seen that proud priest who has slain my son?"

"I have not seen him," cried Onawa fiercely; but she was cold to the
heart beneath the gaze of those colder eyes.

"'Tis well.  A daughter of the Cayugas lies not, save to an enemy.  But
why do you slink thus away?  You do not fear me, sister?"

Onawa stared aside speechless.

"After I became wife to the great white man you came often to our home
among the lost waters," Mary Iden went on.  "My Richard loved you.
Remember, sister, how often you played with the child, how many times
you carried him in your arms, and told him the old stories of our race.
Hast forgotten how he would laugh at your coming, how he would run down
to meet you with a gift, and draw up your canoe and bring you to our
shelter by the hand?  Remember when he had committed a fault how you
pleaded for him, calling him _Dear child_ and _Sunlight of the camp_.
Sister, I know that you grieve for the boy."

Chilled at her words Onawa passed to the fire, turning from those
pursuing eyes.

"I shall not forget how Richard loved you.  When you need me, sister,
come, and I will give you your former place beside the fire.  So shall
you rest and forget the strangers in this land.  By the love that you
bore for my boy, sister, I will not forget you."

Onawa looked up and saw only the figure of La Salle emerging from the
grove.  Her sister had drawn back into the night.

The gale circled the embers in whitening eddies.  Onawa wildly snatched
a stick and raked the glowing fragments into a pyramid, upon which she
flung some roots of willow.  A yellow fog ascended, torn hither and
thither by the spirits of the wind.

She crept to La Salle's feet and fawned upon them.  He spurned her and
still she struggled to approach, to cling as the weed upon a rock.  She
had made the sacrifice of her life that she might serve him.  She had
discharged the arrow to slay the Englishman solely that she might win
his love.  She had relied upon her fierce beauty, her youth, and her
strength to conquer the handsome Frenchman.  She had staked her all
upon her heart's desires.

And now he flung her from him, and strode away from the fireside and
the grove.

She followed, crying along the wind.  He motioned her back and even
threatened with his sword, but she pursued, setting her feet in the
marks which his had made.  When he halted for weariness she stood near
to guard him from her sister.  When the grey day came she still
followed him, across open country, and so northward into the hills, and
towards the river, where the wind contained a breath of smouldering
bush.



CHAPTER XV.

GLORIOUS LIFE.

When Madame found La Salle gone and the fire black in the early
morning, she frowned until her eyes became hidden and went back to the
palisade, passing her old servant, who was shredding ears of wild rice.
She entered the windy house calling.  Soon she came out, shaking a
willow stick in her angry hand, and stopped opposite the old man, who
continued his work, grumbling softly to himself, "Ah, Father Creator!
Father Creator!  Why do you send this north wind in summer time?  The
day is dark and cold.  Send us the west wind, Father Creator."

"Have you heard noises in the night?" Madame's voice grated.

"I slept with the wind in my ears," answered the native.

"Have you seen my daughter, or the young Englishman?"

"I have seen the light struggling to break, and the grey heaven
rushing, and the thick wind beating.  I saw a red fox run and a
blue-bird chattering across the wind," said the old man.

"Have you not seen the priest?" urged Madame.

"I was up at the dawn," replied the stolid worker.  "The fire was dead
and the sleeping-place white with rain.  A bear was seeking warmth upon
the embers."

"I have been blind and deaf," cried Madame in a rage.

At the first glance of light the cabin was as noisy as an ocean cave.
Madeleine's brain became too active for sleep when she knew that the
day was at hand.  She rose softly, glowing with her new-found
happiness, and as she stirred she murmured the intensely human line of
that unhappy boy Kit Marlowe, who had perished in a tavern brawl a few
years before her birth, "Whoever loved that loved not at first sight?"
She darted up with that thought, but a coil of her long hair tightened,
and there came a startled movement from beyond the wall.

"Hush!" she whispered, lifting a pink finger, forgetful that he could
not see.

"Is it the day?" said Geoffrey.

"Yes, yes.  Release me.  Let me fly.  Do you not hear the wind?"

"I am listening to you," he answered.

"Forget me.  Listen!  That was like thunder.  Are you listening?"

"I am coming out with you," he said.

Reaching the open, Geoffrey discovered Madeleine, her arms
outstretched, her hair rising in ripples above her head as she bathed
in the wind, battling and panting, her lovely face all heather-pink.

"I can smell the pines," she gasped, "and the salt sea, and the
mountains.  I can hear the roaring of water and see the soaring of
eagles.  Oh, oh!" she panted.  "It is glorious to live!"

She cried as she drew him away impetuously:

"The black priest has gone.  Let us hope that he has been blown away
into a swamp, where the fairies shall bewitch him into a frog to croak
at the world for ever.  Come now away.  Tell me whether you had dreams
in the night.  But stay!"

She drew away from him suddenly.

"Madeleine!" he exclaimed, wondering at her changed face.

"I must remove this mask," she cried in a stately fashion, frowning and
placing her hands upon her sides.  "Sir, who are you that you should
strive to win the heart of Madeleine Labroquerie?  Why, I have sworn to
wed a knight, a man of title and estate, and you, a smooth-faced boy,
with long hair and cheeks as pink as mine, you come and speak to me of
love.  Sir, how dare you thus to use an innocent maid?"

She passed on ahead of her astonished lover and the trees of the grove
closed round them.

"Madeleine----" he began, protesting.

"Madeleine," she imitated.  "Here is free-speech indeed.  Now, sir,
stand and let me show you what you are.  You are an Englishman, an
adventurer, one of a small band who think themselves strong enough to
attack the power of France in this new land, and you, the enemy of my
people, come to me with a tale of love, believing me to be a maid of
the wilds to be won and cast aside at will.  Speak not to me.  I will
not hear you.  I am no simple provincial maid that I should fall in
love with a soldier's handsome face.  Last night, yes, last night,
after an acquaintance of but three days, you dared to own your love,
and to humour you--in truth I was afraid--I confessed that I also loved
you.  I, a French girl, such a traitress as to love an enemy of my
people!  I was but fooling you.  How I laughed to myself at deceiving
you so readily."

She laughed disdainfully and curled her lovely lip.

"I fear I have already tarried here too long," was all that Geoffrey
could say.

"Stay one moment," cried the haughty beauty.  "I should be base did I
not warn you.  Soldiers are waiting for you upon every side.  East,
west, north, and south they lie in wait for you."

"There are no soldiers nearer than the fortress," said Geoffrey wildly.

"You may believe so," replied the traitress.  "But you have learnt
little of this country if you do not know that military posts are set
about from place to place.  One such post is near at hand, and thither
I sent our servant after your coming.  Can you not perceive that I have
betrayed you?"

Had Geoffrey looked he might have seen her shiver as she spoke.

"I thank you for your warning, but I may stay no longer," the young man
said, and he stepped away with his head down.

"Which way do you take?" she demanded.

"I am southward bound."

"You are--brave, friend."

"Friend!" he exclaimed, with a sobbing note of indignation.  "Would you
have me trust in you again?"

"I had forgot," she admitted.  "Are you going now?"

He moved on through the grove; but he had not made a dozen steps before
she called to him.

"Have you, then, no word of farewell?"

He turned, but did not look at her as he said: "May you live to fortune
and a happy future."

"You said you loved me," said Madeleine, her figure drooping.  "Why did
you deceive me?"

"I loved you," he said hotly, moving back a step.  "And I love you
still.  When I first saw you standing by the fire with the sun falling
on your head I loved you.  When I have left you I shall see, not the
girl who desired to betray me, but her who gave me this to hold for my
protection while I slept."

He drew forth a long coil of golden-brown hair and held it in the wind.

"You cut it off," she faltered.  Then her manner changed again.  "Throw
it down.  Stamp upon it.  Tread it into the ground."

"I use it," he said, "as I longed to use you."  And he put the lock
back into his bosom.

At that she ran forward with the cry: "You love me.  Take me there,
Geoffrey.  That is my place.  I will not be held out.  Geoffrey, I love
you.  Oh, blind, blind!  I love you with all my heart and soul."

She tried to force herself into his arms, warm, loving, and
irresistible.

"I am the wickedest of liars," she breathed, twisting her fingers
within his.  "I would not have gone so far, but I thought that you
knew.  I thought that you feigned to hate me in return for my cruelty.
Ah, Geoffrey, I loved you when first our eyes met.  I did so desire
your love, but, sweetheart--foolish, credulous--I--I feared you might
think I was won too easily.  Will you value your prize the more, when I
tell you that my treachery, the story of the soldiers, the
settlement?--Oh, oh!"

He guessed what she would have said, and so had seized her.

"Betray you, blind love!" she whispered.  "Dear foolish sweetheart, I
would open my veins and give my blood for you.  How I tortured you!
Knowing what a cruel nature your love possesses, knowing it, can you
still love her?"

"Madeleine----"

"Stop," she entreated, lifting her violet eyes.  "Repeat that name a
hundred times, and find for it a new attribute of love each time.  But
let the first be false and the second fair."

"Sweet Madeleine!"

"Call me so, Geoffrey," she murmured.  "And I shall not wish to change."

There was a hill beyond, its sides covered with bleached grass, and
above a few gaunt pines beating their ragged heads together and
stabbing one upon the other with jagged arms where limbs had been
amputated by previous storms.  To this place Madeleine led her lover.

It was a strange day.  Though long past sunrise there was barely light.
The clouds swept low, grey or indigo masses rushing south with the
speed of rapids.  The dark, solid wind of the lowlands came in a
furious succession of great waves.  The lovers might have been upon an
island with the ocean roaring round in storm.  Out of the gloom the wet
rocks glimmered and the trunks of long-fallen trees described weird
shapes upon the plain.

"This is life!" cried Madeleine.  "Glorious life!"

Geoffrey held her closely, looking down upon her wet and radiant face.

"We can fight together, you and I," she went on.  "No wind shall
conquer while we hold together.  It may roar at us, but we are young
and strong, and the wind is old and worn.  Think you that you can bear
with me always?  I promise you I will never use deceit again.  We shall
be together when the winds have all passed under heaven, and the trees
are gone, and the seas have dried.  Our souls will live in the same
life and the same love.  Together while the old world crumbles, and the
sun becomes cold, and the moon fades.  There is no death.  We shall
close our eyes one day and change our home.  Life will run on for us,
the same magnificent life of love."

"There is no death," he repeated, as though the idea had not occurred
to him before.

"How many thousand years has this wind rushed upon this hill?  How many
thousand shall it beat after we have changed our home?  We are made to
live, Geoffrey.  It is not we who are sick, not we who are oppressed.
We are made of stuff that does not perish, not flesh and blood which
wither, but breath and love.  Kiss me, Geoffrey, kiss me with your
soul."

"Sweet, you have more knowledge than I," cried Geoffrey as he kissed
her eyes.

"See that huge cloud!  How the monster wishes to smother us!  There it
rushes, flinging its rain to spite us."

"I shall see this wild spot for ever," he murmured.

"In years to come," said Madeleine, "a city perchance may grow in this
solitude, and where we now sit a palace or a cathedral may be built, a
king may command, a pastor teach his people, bells may ring for
Christmas, and heralds sound their trumpets.  But we shall not see that
city, my Geoffrey.  We shall look below the brick and the stir of
people, and we shall see a hill of white grass with old pines atop, and
below streaming rocks and decaying trunks, with beyond a grove all
covered in damp gloom and lashed by wind."

"I can see the faces of my friends," he muttered.

The girl turned upon his shoulder and drew his face lower with her cold
hand, lifting her own until their eyes met.

"Look there," she entreated.  "Tell me what you see."

"Heaven opening."  He paused.  "I see also my duty to my neighbour."

Madeleine's head drooped.  Presently a small voice whispered out of the
wind, "I would have you obey that message, lest by offending God we
wreck our happiness."

"I live upon your will."

"You must leave me.  You shall not see me shed a tear.  But I must have
you for this day, and afterwards"--she caught her breath.  "Had ever a
young soldier so brave a love?"

He kissed her hands, and her cold face, and her hair, which dripped
like seaweed.

"No ifs," she implored, when her ears caught his broken words.  "The
doubter fails.  Look upon the deed as done, and God shall pardon the
presumption, because He was once a young man upon earth, and He knows
the longing of a brave heart.  Already I think of you, not as going
forth to duty, but as returning to claim me for your bride."

"I shall succeed," he cried, in a voice which defied the winds.
"Madeleine, you have made me strong.  Listen, sweet.  I have a home in
Virginia, most fair, they say, of England's colonies, and I come to
take you there.  I have a house in a garden where the sun never sets,
and where a river runs gently to the sea between banks of flowers.
There is no hard winter or rough wind there, neither enemy nor noise of
battle to terrify your dear heart.  There the potato grows, and the
white tobacco blooms scent the night, and there the voice of Nature
sings of peace.  Will come with me, sweet?"

"You have learnt your lesson," she sighed, content.

Misty rain smote them, but they strained at each other and laughed at
it.  The cold numbed their feet, but their hearts were so warm that
they did not heed it.  Nature thundered at them, but the roar of menace
became a triumphal march, and the shriek of the fiends a benediction.

"This one day you shall spare to me," said Madeleine.  "Let us spend it
as a day to be remembered.  I have a cave down yonder, around which I
have trailed the bushes and taught ivy to grow.  There we will build a
fire and I will be your housewife.  Come!  let us run along the wind."

He bent to assist her, and she feigned to be stiff with cold, the
lovely traitor, so that she might feel his arms about her.  Hand in
hand they ran, the rain and wind driven upon their backs, the angry sky
lowering upon the two who thus dared to endure the perils of life so
happily.  But the lovers knew that behind the damp gloom and the storm
smiled the kindly sun; and they knew that he would conquer in good time.

So that happy day drew to its end in mist and rain, and the wind died
down, and the storm clouds went out of the sky one by one.  The moon
broke wanly into light and a pale star of hope gazed serenely down.
Nature wearied of her tumult, and old Æolus drove the turbulent north
wind back into its cave and set his seal upon the mouth.

Geoffrey and Madeleine stood struggling to part.  There was no tear in
the violet eyes of brave beauty as she looked up smiling, dwelling
always upon the future to sweeten the bitterness of the present.  "Love
must be tested," she murmured with her radiant philosophy.  "Hearts
must be tried.  Geoffrey, I love you."

"Madeleine, I love you."

She stood alone, swaying weakly, her face as pale as the moon.  Then
she laughed to drown the beating of her heart, threw out her hands, and
ran breathlessly up the hill where the ragged pines merely nodded, and
down into the plain towards the grove, crying to the solitude:

"Life is glorious--glorious!"



CHAPTER XVI.

CLAIRVOYANCE.

While Geoffrey Viner was winning the love of Madeleine Labroquerie, and
escaping the snare which La Salle had contrived for his capture,
history was being made around the river and the heights.  The priest's
daring venture into the forbidden country acted upon the tribes of the
Iroquois confederacy as a spark upon gunpowder; and when it became
known from one camp-fire to another that George Flower, and Richard,
son of Gitsa, had fallen upon Cayuga territory by the hand of a
Frenchman, the native stoicism was changed into madness and the signal
for a general uprising went throughout the land.  It was the eve of
that great assault upon the French position which lives in oral
tradition among those degraded descendants of a once great people who
occupy the maritime provinces of to-day.

Previous to that struggle, one phase of which was shown through the
portent of the mirage to La Salle while he stood in the haunted grove,
many deeds occurred which the chronicler cannot afford to pass over.
The narrative must therefore be resumed upon the second morning
following the dispersion of the venturers, that morning which saw Mary
Iden set forth on her mission of vengeance, and Oskelano returning to
his fastness in the north to prepare his men for battle.

The sun had fought down the mists, and black craft of the fishermen
were already leaping along the river, when Van Vuren abandoned the
fortress and climbed the cliff, hoping, as every day he hoped, to find
some trace of his missing men.  The night had been cold with north
wind, and the rock country, was still haunted with wet and flickering
shadows.  One shadow, so dark and angular as to attract the Dutchman's
eyes, lurked under a crag, as a patch of sheltered ice might linger in
the midst of a land steaming with sunshine; but when Van Vuren
approached, this shadow moved and took upon itself a semblance of
humanity, and with the dispelling of the illusion the Dutchman beheld
the evil face of Gaudriole.

"Adversity finds hard resting-places, my captain," said the dwarf, as
he crawled forth.  "Your rock makes a bed rougher than a paving-stone,
but methinks a safer.  Here a rogue may snore in his sleep without
bringing the king's men upon him.  I have a message for you, my
captain."

"Hast any tidings of my men?" asked the Dutchman eagerly.

The head of the dwarf was on a level with his elbow; his matted hair
was wet with mist.  His habiliments, partly native, partly civilised,
surrounded his crooked body in a ragged suit of motley; and a long
knife was driven into his belt.

"He who answers must be paid," answered the hunchback, grinning.

"Perchance you have already been paid," said Van Vuren suspiciously.

"The honourable captain possesses the gift of Divination," sneered
Gaudriole.  "See you how low yonder warship sits in the water?" he went
on, pointing down at the _St. Wenceslas_, which had lately arrived at
that coast.  "Is it true, as I have heard the settlers say, that she is
loaded with gold from the shore of Labrador?  'Tis said that a man may
there see the precious metal shining at his feet, and has but to bend
to gather sufficient for a knight's ransom."

"I pray you give me the message, good dwarf," said Van Vuren
flatteringly.

"The cloak upon my captain's shoulders is of a truth a thing to be
desired," Gaudriole went on, fingering the rich stuff with his grimy
fingers.  "Were it upon my back, 'twould handsomely conceal some very
clumsy work of nature.  'Tis the cloth that makes the courtier."  He
burst into a raucous laugh, as he danced the cold out of his limbs.

"His Excellency the commandant shall loosen that insolent tongue,"
cried Van Vuren hotly.

Gaudriole snapped his fingers in the Dutchman's face as he retorted:
"This is not the old world, my brave captain, and there is no restraint
upon lying here.  Gaudriole is now a citizen of the New World.  The
Cardinal himself is but a shadow here.  Even a mountebank of the gutter
may turn traitor in the wilderness.  Gaudriole is a man this side o'
the sea.  Were we in Paris I might bow to kiss your garments, and call
you Holiness an you desired it.  Here the jester is as good as the
general.  Hunt me into yonder forest at your sword-end, bold captain,
and bid me play the will o' the wisp.  I should but disappear into a
thicket ahead, rise up at your back, and this knife and a moss-swamp
would settle all your business.  Doff your hat to a fool, captain, and
give him pipe and tobacco."

Van Vuren clenched his teeth.  He would then have given even his cloak
to effectually silence that biting tongue.  But he was a stranger upon
French territory, and he knew that the slender tie of alliance would
not stand a strain.  He prudently choked down his anger, and satisfied
the dwarf's more reasonable demand.

"Never was a better gift sent to man than this same tobacco," said
Gaudriole.  "See you, captain, how excellent are its qualities.  It
shall manage the warrior beyond the arts of woman.  No man shall use
the good smoke in anger, because at the first taste peace settles upon
his body and his soul desires to be alone.  But 'tis a dangerous drug
upon an empty stomach."

"The message," said Van Vuren impatiently.

"Yonder comes in a good burden of fish," resumed Gaudriole, gazing down
indifferently to indicate a boat grating across the shingle.  "I know
the oaf, one Nichet, who at home had not the wit to make a living.
Here he becomes a man with a name.  This land is Paradise for those not
wanted across sea.  Nichet shall presently leave his boat, to find
himself a stone to anchor her, and then I shall pass that way and take
of his best fish for my breakfast.  The knave profits by the fool's
work.  Fare you well, brave captain."

"The message, villain," broke in Van Vuren.

"Ah!  I grow forgetful.  'Tis said that the Abbé La Salle is to go from
here to the land which the Scotch discovered and the valiant French
took from them, to that country upon the gulf which we call Acadie.  A
happy quittance, say I.  The abbé is too perilously apt with his long
sword.  Let them send the fat pig Laroche after him, and this fortress
shall grow more peaceful than the streets of Versailles.  Let there be
trouble, you shall always find a fat priest at the root of it."

"Let La Salle descend into the bottomless pit," cried the Dutchman
violently.  "And Heaven be praised if he drags you down with him.
Deliver me the message, hunchback."

"Now Nichet moves away to search for a fitting stone," went on
Gaudriole.  "Had I a message for you, captain?  Let me consider.  My
memory is weak of a morning."  He struck out his long arm suddenly.
"Dost see that man signalling from yonder shore?"

Van Vuren turned quickly.  "Where?" he exclaimed.

"This is the message," shouted Gaudriole, and as he spoke he rushed
under the Dutchman's arm, and shambled swiftly down the road.  "To the
man who has to live upon his wits the Dutchman is a gift from Heaven
itself.  Remember, my captain!  The tobacco leaf is a brave cure for
ill humour."

Van Vuren hurled a curse after him, and turned to ascend.  From the
summit of the heights he scanned the prospect, and quickly learnt what
Gaudriole might have told him had he exercised greater forbearance.
The expedition had at last returned.  Almost as soon as Van Vuren
looked out he heard a welcome cry, and presently perceived a figure,
clad in the distinctive dress of Holland, crossing the valley at a
rapid walk.  With an exclamation of relief the captain hastened down,
and met Dutoit, his lieutenant and the leader of the exploration party,
upon the plain.

Hurriedly the survivors collated their gloomy experiences.

"Twenty-eight left of our seventy-five," muttered Van Vuren, when he
had heard Dutoit's report of two men lost and one dead of fever, "our
supplies and ammunition gone, our ship destroyed.  We have nothing now
to hope for, except a safe passage home.  Hast seen any Englishmen?"

"Yesterday we sighted a spy making south, and him we pursued until he
escaped us in the bush," answered Dutoit.

"These men never recognise defeat," went on Van Vuren.  "They shall
spread upward from the south, flow into this land, and push the French
back from fort to fort.  They have a wondrous knack of gratifying the
savages.  Know you if any new expedition has come over?"

"We came upon a man mortally sick, who babbled as he died about a ship
supplied by the wool-staplers, which started from Bristol some nine
months ago and was lost upon the reefs.  This fellow had his face set
due north, and believed that he was travelling towards Boston----"

"Who comes here?" cried Van Vuren, breaking in upon the other's story
with a note of fear.

They saw the tall, stern figure of Mary Iden descending towards them,
armed as for the chase.  She crossed the ridge and halted when she
sighted the men.  Her face was ghastly, and her eyes roved wildly over
the prospect.  Presently she put out her hand, and the Dutchmen waited
when they saw her sign.

"Soldiers," cried a wild English voice, "have you seen the French
priest known as La Salle pass into the fortress?"

Van Vuren, who had touched at most of the New World colonies in his
time, knew the Anglo-Saxon well enough to answer; but he started, and
said bitterly to his subordinate:

"The very savages speak English.  Where is the Indian who has a
knowledge of French in all this country, which the French rule?  Did
not I say to you that it is as impossible to keep the men of King
Charles out of this land as it is to dam the ocean behind a bank of
sand?"

He turned to the Englishman's wife, and demanded further knowledge.

The woman struggled to return the answer which policy advised, but
passion overmastered her.  Her eyes flashed wildly as she answered:

"Your race has ever been friendly with mine.  'Tis true you are foes of
the English, but all nations hate England, even as the birds of the
forest hate the eagle because of the strength of his flight.  Soldiers,
show me where I may find this priest.  I have walked through the night
seeking him.  But a few hours ago I was a mother.  To-day my son gives
no answer to my voice.  He was a great hunter was my son, though but a
boy, and he feared no man.  This day we bury him where the waters
shout.  He was good to look upon, he was strong like the young bear.
He had brave eyes.  Soldiers, it is the priest who has slain my son."

The anguished woman had spoken thus aloud as she walked through the
cathedral-like aisles of the forest, addressing the columnar pines, the
fretted arch of foliage, the dim bush shrines; so she had called as her
heart bled to the climbing tits, the ghostly moths, and the long grey
wolf as he slunk away.

"Who is the father of your son?" pressed the Dutchman.

Awaking to the consciousness that the question was not wholly dictated
by sympathy, Mary Iden drew herself erect, and, pointing over the heads
of the men, indicated the impregnable heights whereon waved the flag
azure a fleur-de-lys or, that emblem which dominated the land from the
islands in the gulf to the country where the foot of white men had
never trod.

"I have learnt the story of the wanderings of the children of England,"
she said in a strained prophetic voice.  "Of the journey of the man
Cabot, who passed into the places of wind, into the great sea of ice,
and reached the land where the Indians dare not walk.  Of the seaman
Frobisher, who touched the iron coast and lived.  These men passed out
like spirits into the unknown, and came back with their great story as
men restored from the dead.  As the crow follows the eagle, to take of
that which the strong bird leaves, so Frenchmen followed the great
adventurers of England.  And now I see the French driven from their
fortress, from Tadousac and St. Croix.  Those who dwell in Acadie shall
be driven out, and go as exiles into a strange country.  I see soldiers
sweeping the great cliffs, freeing the valleys and plains.  I see the
French settled upon their farms, and their flag no longer shines in the
sun, and the people bend themselves to the rule of an English Queen,
whose name is Victory and whose reign is peace.  Many moons shall come
and go, many suns shall heat the Father of Waters before these things
shall be, and I shall not live to see that day."  She pressed her hands
to her aching eyes, and shivered as she swayed, and once more cried:
"Soldiers, have you seen the priest who has slain my son?"

"A witch!" exclaimed Van Vuren hoarsely.  "Let us escape before she
overlooks us."

The superstitious Dutchmen hurried out to rejoin their men, who were
camping in the forest; while Mary Iden made her way across the plain,
and so into the great red eye of the sun.



CHAPTER XVII.

STAMEN.

That knowledge of forest-craft, which enables the traveller to guide
his feet unerringly through pathless bush, was only in rare instances
acquired by the New World venturers, and then only after years of hard
experience.  When Woodfield abandoned his captain to follow the career
of Hough he struck indeed in the right direction, but the native trails
were numerous, and along one of these the yeoman went astray.  By
seeking to set himself right he became hopelessly lost in the labyrinth
of the forest; and at last succumbed to weariness and stretched himself
to sleep upon a bed of moss, until a ray of sunlight stabbed through
the dense roof of foliage and smote him across the eyes.

Woodfield arose and looked around in sore perplexity, knowing not which
way to turn.  The globes of dew gleamed in opal tints upon the grass,
the big robins passed wreathed in filmy gossamers, the earth smoked
with mist and thrilled with the voice of the glad west wind.  But all
the beauty and peace of nature combined made no satisfying meal for an
empty body.  Trusting to Providence, Woodfield started out afresh, and
walked strongly for many hours, but always making direct north and away
from the camping-ground of the Iroquois, away from Couchicing and the
little settlement upon its shore.

The yeoman tramped on, until exhaustion came upon him.  All around the
great white pines lifted two hundred feet in height, interspersed with
dazzling spruce and gleaming poplars.  He smoked to still the pain of
hunger, but the strong tobacco made him dazed.  He staggered on, and
presently heard the voices of approaching men.  The trail bent sharply.
He passed on, with half-opened eyes and wildly throbbing brain, went
round the bend, and started suddenly as from an evil dream.  Half-naked
bodies and painted faces closed round him in a clamorous ring; and
Woodfield awoke fully to the knowledge that he had fallen into the
hands of the Algonquins.

With an effort he drew himself upright, and gazed bravely at an old
warrior with flowing hair, who nodded and smiled at him in a not
unfriendly fashion.

"J'ai faim," the adventurer muttered, trusting that one at least of the
braves might understand the French language.

It was the wily old fox Oskelano who confronted the Englishman.  He
stretched out his hand--the etiquette of handshaking he had acquired
from his visit to the fortress--and articulated with difficulty:

"You ... French?"

Woodfield grasped the brown hand and nodded violently.

"Necessity makes hypocrites of us all," he muttered for the
satisfaction of his stubborn English conscience.

Oskelano grinned amicably and gave an order to his men; and straightway
the warriors closed round and escorted Woodfield to their camp, every
step widening the distance between him and his companions.  They gave
him food and drink; they provided him with a shelter; they built a
smoky fire before him to keep away the flies.  Finally Oskelano himself
came, accompanied by his brother, and the two squatted gravely at the
entrance to the bower and scrutinised their captive with pride and
interest.

"Um," grunted Oskelano, after a long period of silence.

"Ho," muttered the weary Englishman with equal gravity.

The French vocabulary of the Algonquin chief did not extend beyond the
single word _diable_, a word which he uttered constantly in his
subsequent efforts to converse with his guest, without any
understanding of its meaning, but believing, since he had heard it
issue with frequency from the lips of the soldiers in the fortress,
that it was an expression of possibilities.  He endeavoured to convey
by means of gestures that it had come to his knowledge that the
Iroquois were about to attack the fortress at the instigation of the
English.  His spies had seen a messenger bearing the symbol of the
headless bird.  They had also observed the general movement eastward of
the tribes.  The gods had provided him with a rare opportunity for
attacking his enemy.  He was the friend of the great French people--he
slapped his insidious old heart with his treacherous hand--he was eager
to fight for his allies, and in return he doubted not that the chief
far over seas, King Louis to wit, would graciously send to his good
Algonquin friends many of the magic fire-tubes, with an abundant supply
of that unholy admixture of saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal which
possessed such a wondrous property of exploding to the physical
detriment of a foe.

"Diable?" he grunted, staring eagerly at Woodfield.

"Oui," answered the harassed Englishman, though in truth he had
understood nothing.

"Um," grunted Oskelano; and there the interview ended, with nothing
gained on either side.

But as the chief returned to his skin-hut, his brother, a sachem wiser
than he, made the disquieting assertion: "The white stranger is not of
the French tribe."

"How know you so?" cried the perturbed chief.

"He does not lift his hands, nor does he shake his shoulders when he
speaks.  He sits without motion.  He does not laugh.  He is one of the
race they call English."

Woodfield ate the strong bear-meat brought to his shelter by a silent
giant, and turned to compose himself for sleep; but the giant touched
his shoulder and made a gesture which there was no mistaking.  The
Englishman rose, and immediately two other figures glided out of the
forest and cut off his retreat.

They led him along a trail where the fireflies were beginning to light
their lamps, between the big trees, and out into short bush and
sage-brush where the cranes swept overhead, crying mournfully.
Rockland appeared presently, streaked granite overrun with poison-ivy.
The captive noticed that the rock was fretted with caves.

Into one of these he was ushered by the custodians, who then gravely
divested him of his weapons.  A fire was lighted near the mouth of the
cave, and there the bronze guardians squatted, maintaining an
intolerable silence throughout the night.

A change of sentries took place at daybreak; another at mid-day; a
third the following nightfall.  Food and drink were handed in to the
prisoner; but the guards spoke never a word and made him no sign.

Another day went by, but as the time of evening drew near there came
the sound of camp-breaking down the wind.  A host of armed men tramped
beside the cave.  A group of doctors, attired in the fantastic mummery
of their craft, followed; and last of all came Oskelano and his brother
side by side.

Around a solitary poplar men were at work, chopping down the brush with
their tomahawks.  The guard stepped up upon either side of Woodfield,
who watched these preparations with a prisoner's suspicions, and led
him out to the cleared space.

"Um," grunted Oskelano, and shook hands amiably with his victim.

Then the men put aside their tomahawks and bound him to the poplar with
ropes of vegetable fibre.  They piled the moss around him and flung the
sagebrush atop.  Others brought up pine branches and piled them waist
high.  Oskelano watched, his crafty face wrinkled with smiles.

At last the Englishman understood that he was about to be made a
sacrifice to the fierce Algonquin gods.  He uttered no useless prayer
and made no cry.  "They have spared me the torture," he muttered
bravely.  "Let me now show them how to die."  As the silent and supple
natives worked around him, he recalled the tales that old men at home
had told him, of the Protestants who had died for their faith, laughing
at the flames and bathing their hands in them.  The last scene in the
life of the old vicar of Hadleigh had often as a boy moved him to
tears.  He remembered how that the old man had lighted from his horse
to dance on his way to the stake, and he recalled his noble words of
explanation: "Now I know, Master Sheriff, I am almost at home."  The
passing into death through fire was merely a sting sudden and sharp.

Water was dashed over the fuel until the pile gleamed frostily in the
fading rays.  A fiery death for his captive was no part of Oskelano's
plan.  He had discovered that suffocation was more effective and less
rapid than the flames.

Tree and victim became soon hidden in a dense column of cloud, the
doctors resumed their march, the guard followed, the two sachems
brought up the rear, discussing their proposed attack as indifferently
as though that mighty pillar of smoke pouring upward in the still
evening air out of the plain of sage-brush had no existence in fact.

Well-laid as was the cruel Algonquin's plan, he had not the wisdom to
guard against that element of the improbable which rarely fails to
enter into, and mar the working of, the best-contrived plot.

A maid had concealed herself in the bush until the camp became clear.
Then she came forth and ran like the wind, but stopped upon the plain
with a cry of terror when she beheld an old man, who hobbled painfully
through the brush.  The ancient turned, suspicious of every sound, but
when he saw the girl his dry face broke into a weird smile.

"Hasten, child," he quavered, leaning heavily upon his staff.  "The
Mother of God forgets not the good done by man or maid."

He dropped a knife at her feet.  The girl caught it up and sped onward
like a deer.

The old man was a Christian.  The maid was heathen.  Old mind and young
working independently, the former actuated by the religion of altruism,
the latter wrought upon by nature, had entertained in secret the
self-same plan of rescuing the young Englishman from his terrible
plight.



CHAPTER XVIII.

COMMITTAL.

While Woodfield was a prisoner in the camp of the Algonquins, his
comrades, who had searched for him in vain, made their sad parting from
George Flower upon the Windy Arm where the waters mourn for ever.

This promontory had been so named by the Indians because it thrust
itself far out, like an arm, into Lake Couchicing, meeting the full
force of every wind.  It made a suitable spot, thought the survivors,
for an Englishman's grave, being rough and rugged and strong to behold,
like the man whom they had known and loved and lost.

When Hough had done droning his prayers, they heaped the soil into the
form of a mound, which they covered with warm peat.  While thus
employed they beheld Shuswap passing down to the beach, where a dozen
long canoes lay ready for a start.  One, which was covered with green
branches, had already been launched, and was rocking gently upon the
shallows.  The Englishmen hastened to complete their work, when they
discovered that the sachem was awaiting them with impatience.

Then a mournful procession crossed glass-like Couchicing, headed by the
sad canoe where boy and hound slept together as they had been wont to
do at home.  It reached the fringed shore opposite, amid the sorrowful
cries of the paddlers.  The canoes were carried across the strip of
land and down again to the water where the country was in splendour.
Here Nature struck no mourning note.  Only a few stripped trees leaning
out, held from falling by tougher comrades which supported them on
either side, spoke mutely of the presence of death after life; and even
so showed strong green saplings from some living nerve of the
half-decayed roots to proclaim the final triumph of life over death.

So they continued, until wild islets stood out, their banks humped with
beaver mounds, and the lost waters began to shout with the mourners,
and the swelling north wind shook the shore.  The paddlers wrenched the
canoes round, chanting as they worked, and the whitecap waves slapped
the frail birch-bark sides.

No man stood beside young Richard's grave.  A flock of noisy birds
pecked amid the fresh-turned soil and flung themselves away before the
carriers.  Sir Thomas took no part in these last rites.  From that
pierced body of his son the jewel of great price had been snatched, and
the setting he left for others to handle.

The mother stood beside old Shuswap, her bosom heaving vengefully as
the warriors consigned her son to the ground.  After the heathen rites
had been performed, Hough's stern voice repeated the prayers which he
had but recently offered over his brother of the sword, and when he had
done green branches were flung into the grave, then a weight of stones,
and finally the rich, red clay stopped the mouth of earth which had
opened to devour her own.  The Indians swept away, shouting a song of
war.  The waters raced on; and wind and rapids met below with the noise
of thunder.

Penfold walked among the trees; and there, scarce a stone's cast from
the sounding water, he came upon the knight, huddled upon the stem of a
fallen pine, his hands spread out across his knees, his head down, and
on the ground between his feet the two parts of a broken sword.

The old yeoman came near and wrecked the silence by a gruff word of
sympathy; but Sir Thomas did not look at him.  Presently he made a
blind movement and extended one lean arm towards the ground.

"If you would serve me, friend," he said in a hollow voice, "cast these
fragments into yonder water.  My son, whom I should have trained as a
man of peace, took that sword from my hand.  My Richard's blood lies
heavy on me now."

"Not so," said Penfold strongly.  "The boy was his father's son.  Would
you have seen him grow a weakling?  Sons bred beside an enemy's camp
must fight or be found unworthy of their name."

"The sword has fallen," said the knight.  "Last night I had a dream."
A shiver coursed through him.  "Take up the sword with which I killed
my son and bury it in the water.  I have sworn to lay hand on it no
more."

"I have lost a friend," muttered the yeoman.  "One known to me by
hearth and in field, at work and pleasure.  I have buried him this day
in a strange land.  I grow old, and my friends drop from me as acorns
shed from the oak, but while my eye is steady and my arm strong I shall
fight for England's empire over sea.  Old age, when dotage grows, is
time sufficient to mourn for friends.  While strength remains a man
must work.  Country, then friends, myself the last.  'Tis the motto of
the Penfolds of County Berks."

"You have no flesh and blood to mourn."

"What is relationship if it be not friendship?  Know you not that two
brothers may fall in hatred from one another, and yet either have a
friend dear to his heart as his own soul?  Our troubles we carry to our
pastor.  Our highest love to the woman who stays for us on our way
through life.  Such friendship binds more firmly than any tie of blood."

"Speak not to me," cried the bitter man.  "My ambition has fallen to
the ground."

"Stand by yonder mound," cried Penfold.  "The boy shall speak."

"Vengeance shall not bring him back."

"Had you fallen he would have gone upon his way stronger than before."

"He was young and I grow old."

"Yet I am older far."  And the yeoman shook himself like an old lion.
"There is work for me."

The knight lifted his head, and spoke more bitterly:

"Poison stirs in our English blood, driving us from home, leading us
across seas to fight unthanked for our country's cause.  What gadfly of
madness stings us on thus to build the foundations of Empire?  What
honour shall be rendered to pioneers?  Who shall seek our graves and
pause to say, 'Here lies one who fought to plant the red-cross flag in
the face of its enemies'?  Fools, fools, fools!  We forsake home and
kindred in pursuit of a dream, rise up for our unrewarded effort, and
fail.  So we are gone and our deeds lie buried in our graves."

"One leaf makes not a summer," replied Penfold.  "The one cannot be
discerned by the eye, and yet that one does its share in making the
tree perfect.  We also have our part to play.  Our lives are obscure.
Our deeds shall live, if not our names.  Let others reap the harvest."

The knight rose, frowning at the sun-lit scene.

"There is a cave a league away," he said.  "There sorrow and myself
shall dwell.  Seek not to find me."

He placed a hand upon his breast.

"Something has broken there," he said; and then went with drooping
head, striking the trees in the blindness of his flight.

Hough stood low upon the shore between the islets.  He heard the
footsteps of his captain, and spoke:

"See where our friend's wife goes.  Closing her ears to my good
counsel, she went into the hut, and returned with bow and arrows and a
knife.  These she placed in her canoe, and yonder she goes to find the
track of that papist priest who has brought sorrow to us all."

"Said she as much?"

"Ay.  'Onawa, your sister, has brought this trouble upon you and us,'
said I, as she pushed away.  'She it was who smote down George Flower
by treachery, and she it was who brought the Frenchman to our
hiding-place.'"

"Said she anything?"

"Never a word.  But her eyes strained upon the knife."

Then the two lonely men returned to New Windsor, the slow day passed,
and night enwrapped in cloud fell upon the land.  The fires of the
allied tribes spotted the forest with scarlet, and between the black
trees the upright figures of warriors, fully painted and feathered,
crossed as they threaded the mazes of the dance.  Five thousand
fighters were there gathered, the best and bravest of the Oneidas,
Senacas, and Onandagas, mad to avenge their wrongs.  Spies were posted
at every point; a hundred watched the fortress, passing the word from
man to man.  In a chain they stretched from the height above the river
to the council fire, where the nine sachems sat muttering in whispers
and drawing omens from the flight of the smoke and the burning of the
logs.

"Shuswap, great chief of the Cayugas, the woman your daughter would
speak to you," a voice sounded.

"Let her come near," answered the old man.

His keen eyes distended.  He had looked, prepared to behold his younger
daughter, but instead his eyes fell upon Tuschota, her sister.  The
father noted her warlike bearing, the bow slung upon her shoulders, the
arrows and knife thrust through her girdle.  He saw also the sternness
of her countenance.

"What would you, daughter?"

"Where is Onawa, my sister?"

"I know not," said the sachem.

"Find her and bring her forth.  She led hither the Frenchman who has
slain my son."

The sachems turned and their black eyes glittered upon her.

"It is false," cried Shuswap.

"She desires to win the French doctor for husband.  She brought him
therefore to the lake that he might lie in wait to kill the Englishmen.
One man Onawa killed with her own hand.  My son is your son.  Your
daughter, my sister, must die."

She spoke, and passed away into the glow of the forest.

Shuswap dashed his grey head to the ground.

"She must die," muttered the counsellors.

The news travelled like an evil wind from fire to fire.  All the tribes
swore by their gods that the woman who had sought to betray them must
die.  Not till then might Shuswap lift up his head among them.  They
danced more cruelly, maddened by disgrace.

A runner came from the depths of the forest, spots of blood thrown from
his flying heels.  Three hours had he run at that speed.  He passed the
warriors and their fires and reached the council.  All the sachems sat
erect, save only old Shuswap, who lay forward, his head upon the dust.

"Oskelano comes upon us at the head of the tribes of the Algonquins,"
spoke the messenger.  "They carry the fire-tubes given them by the
French."

The sachems sat like figures of stone.

"Which way do they come?" demanded Piscotasin, surnamed Son of the
Weasel, the learned chief of the Oneidas.

"From the north."

"They shall find us ready."

The messenger passed back.  Straightway the forest shivered with a wild
cry for battle until the leaves were shed like rain.

There came another runner.

"A fire-float passes down the Father of Waters."

"It is well," said the Son of the Weasel.  "It is the signal of the
friendly Dutch."

Thereupon commenced that great advance of the confederate tribes which
descendants speak of to this day.  The flower and strength of the
Iroquois, that great people which from time immemorial had ruled the
north-eastern land from the coast to the chain of inland seas, went out
to avenge their wrongs.  The women rushed to find shelter from their
hereditary enemies the pitiless Algonquins.  The army poured away in a
roaring torrent, draining the forest, leaving the fires licking the
sharp breeze with forked tongues, leaving only one man behind:

Old Shuswap, doubled in the dust.



CHAPTER XIX.

ENKINDLED.

The raft of fire, which had been reported to the sachems as visible
upon the river, had indeed been ignited and started upon its course by
the hands of the Dutch, but without any idea of signalling to their
allies.  The man who was chiefly instrumental in giving the signal,
which Van Vuren had arranged for in the time of his power, had never
heard of that secret conspiracy which the action of the English
venturers had brought to nought.

Because the captain shrank from introducing his party into a camp
friendly only in name, where friction between his men and those of
Roussilac might have occurred, the Dutchmen bivouacked upon the
outskirts of the forest, and while darkness surrounded them sat smoking
solemnly and chatting, altogether ignorant of the contemplated native
rising.  These men were of all ages and drawn from almost every station
in life.  The most prominent character was one Pieter von Donck, an
elderly sailor of immense bulk, attired in the shapeless sack-coat,
white tucker, and immense knee-breeches of the period.  This man, so
report went, had touched at every known harbour in the world, had
explored many an unknown tract of country, and was as well acquainted
with the streets of New Amsterdam, its double-roofed church, its
battery upon the hill, its toylike windmills, and its gallows beside
the wharf, as with the old-world town of Holland on the arm of the
Zuyder Zee.  He had been sent out with Dutoit to act as guide for the
expedition, and it was well for the lieutenant that old Pieter had been
with him, otherwise the entire party must have been lost.  Von Donck
was very nearly as skilful as an Indian in picking up a trail, and to
his more unenlightened comrades his knowledge of locality savoured of
witchcraft.  Van Vuren and his lieutenant were conversing at a little
distance from the big circle, the former frequently consulting a scrap
of vellum covered with names and lines, the first map of the great
eastern coast which had ever been designed.

"Yonder is a mighty precipice," observed presently one of the youngest
of the soldiers, nodding his head gravely in the direction of the
heights.  "How the folk at home would marvel, could they but see what
we look upon daily in this land."

"What say you, boy?  What say you?" cried Von Donck, aroused from his
musings by this criticism.  "What! call you yonder hill a precipice?
How would you name the cliffs of Jersey, had you seen them as I, Pieter
von Donck, saw them from the ship _Goede Vrouw_?  Should you but cross
the expanse of Tapaan Bay, as I have done, should you enter the defiles
of the Highlands and see the wigwams of the Iroquois perched among the
cliffs like nests of eagles, should you see the black thunder-clouds
chasing the hobgoblins among the Kaatskills, as I, Pieter von Donck,
have seen them, then methinks, boy, you might sit among old travellers
and talk to them the night."

The old sailor's voice was thick, and he snorted like an ox between his
words.

"'Tis given to few to venture as you have done," spoke a conciliatory
voice from the circle.  "Tell us now somewhat of your journey up
Hudson's River, good Piet."

"A weird river, they tell me," said another voice.

"True! true!" snorted the voyageur.  "A river of ghosts and devils.  A
river which changes the flow of its tide 'gainst all nature.  A river
which shoals or deepens in an hour, to hold the explorer back, or to
lure him into the heart of a storm.  'Tis a river which few dare to
tempt.  But I, Pieter von Donck, went up it under a master who, despite
his English blood, was the bravest man upon this earth.  Ay, but I saw
even his cheek whiten, when we reached the whirlpools at the end of the
known world, and yet saw no sea ahead."

"Who was that master?" asked the young man who had opened the
conversation.

A derisive laugh sounded, followed by Von Donck's booming reproach:

"Young man, have you no pride in the doings of the great?  Hast never
heard the name of Hendrick Hudson?"

"I knew not that you had been with him," muttered the youth.

"Before Marie von Toit, your mother, was weaned I crossed the seas,"
snorted the old man, smiling into the fire.  "What Dutchman has not
heard of the ship which brought me over, the _Goede Vrouw_, which lies
as I speak a-rotting within the wooden harbour of New Amsterdam?  San
Nicolas was her figure-head, the good saint who guided us through all
perils, and to whom upon landing we erected a chapel within sight of
the sea.  He is the patron of our first settlement in this new world,
and shall remain so for ever.  Now they call him Santa Claus, and the
children of New Amsterdam hang up each one a stocking in the
chimney-side on San Nicolas' Eve, for the good saint is a lover of
children, and rides that night over the houses, his wide breeches
filled with gifts, which he lets fall down the chimneys and so into the
stockings hung to receive them.  All the city is a-laughing with
children on the morn of San Nicholas' Day."

"Gives he then nothing to the elder folk?" asked one.

"'Twas once his custom to do so, when he could find an industrious body
who spoke no evil of his neighbour," said Von Donck.  "But he has much
ado to find such now."

"Didst ever see the storm ship upon Hudson's River?" a listener
demanded.

The old sailor pulled himself round to face the speaker.

"What story is this?" he muttered.

"There is a ship which haunts that river and comes a-sailing by night
or day, running 'gainst both wind and tide, her deck crowded with
Dutchmen who neither move nor speak.  She comes before a storm, and
goes while men gaze, like a flash of light."

Pieter von Donck grinned.

"Will call me a phantom, brave boys?  Here you shall find enough sound
flesh to make two men as good as any," he said, slapping his mighty
thighs.  "That ship is surely none other than the _Half Moon_ herself.
Know you not that Hudson and his crew haunt the Kaatskills?  O' nights
the good ship, which lies sunken at the end of the world, rises, and
the ghosts of my master and my mates pass from the phantom deck to
their revels within the mountains, and back ere morning to their
graves.  Peace be to them, brave fellows all!

"Twenty-nine years past," Von Donck went on, in his strident voice,
which brought Van Vuren near to listen, "we cast away from our new city
on the island, and sailed westward to discover the overland passage to
China.  In a day we had left the land of the Manhattoes far astern, and
with a favouring breeze had run under the palisadoes, a wall of rock,
young friend, which makes yonder height seem to my eye no greater than
an ant-mound.  The solitude unmanned all, save Hudson, who walked the
deck, swearing that he would reach the sea if he had to explore till
Judgment Day.  Awful was that silence when our ship entered the shadow
of the Highlands, where the falling of a rope upon deck broke into
echoes among the hills, and over the river came a noise as of demons
laughing.  The terror of the New World was upon us, and when we sang
our chanties, heaving the lead or drawing in sail, we would fain have
stopped our ears, so terrible were the voices which answered us from
the shore."

"Was there no talk of turning back?"

"There was no turning back with Hendrick Hudson.  He strode the deck
day and night, and at his every order the black rocks pealed and the
precipices shrieked, though the weather would be calm and the wind not
more than a whisper.  We held on our course until a storm seized and
flung us upon the shore; and there we made landing, in a place where
snakes darted their heads at us, and having built us a fire under the
basswoods, cooked food and dried our clothes.

"'This mountain country is the place for me,' cried Hudson.  'Here
might we spend a free life, my sailors, hunting by day, and at sport by
night.  Bring out our pipes and liquor from the ship, and in this
hollow let us rest until the storm clouds pass.'

"So we remained there three days, chasing bears by light, spending the
dark hours around the fire, smoking our long pipes, and playing at
bowls, the favourite game of our master; and the mountains thundered,
and the goblin voices shrieked with every gust of wind.  A fearsome
place, that dripping rock-forest at the end of the world.  Upon the
third night came Indians to our camp, two sachems old and cunning, who
demanded by what right we had brought ourselves into their land.  I can
see the face of Hudson now, with its straight black beard and hard
black eyes, and the angry twitch of his mouth, a trick of his when
crossed, as he answered them.  'We are Dutch,' quoth he.  'And if there
be any new passage across this world Dutchmen shall find it.'  Then the
sachems came down from the rocks, and cursed him and his crew, swearing
to call up spirits of river and wind which should fight against our
ship.  Hudson threatened them with the sword--there was methinks too
much hot English blood in our captain--and the next day we remanned the
_Half Moon_, and sailed away against the stream.

"A wind struck us, and the horse-shoe which had been nailed to the mast
before starting dropped with a fearful clanging upon deck.  We sang the
hymn to San Nicolas, and fastened the horse-shoe anew, but again it
fell.  The Indian spirits were making mischief in the wind.  The day
became dark; the sun went out; but Hudson bade us cram on sail, because
every hour he looked to hear the roar of the sea.  'And then for China,
my men,' cried he.

"We ran into whirlpools and cross currents, and the _Half Moon_ struck
full upon a rock in the middle of the stream.  The water roared around,
and I swam for my life through darkness, seeing no man, dreading every
instant lest a hand should seize my heel and drag me down.  I reached
the shore, and there found a companion, who had saved himself as I had
done.  Of our ship and mates we could find no trace, therefore we set
out together, and made a great journey overland, until by the grace of
God we saw the tower of the church of San Nicolas lit by the morning
sun, and the good folk of New Amsterdam coming out to greet us as men
brought back from the dead."

Von Donck drew a flaming stick from the fire and relighted his rolled
tobacco leaf.  A circle of solemn faces was set towards him.

"The _Half Moon_ yet sails upon Hudson's River," remarked the sailor
who had questioned the voyageur concerning the storm ship.  "She rides
out of a thunder-cloud, her sails flying against the wind, the men
staring over her side.  One Sunday in the morn, when the folk were at
church and the dominie was preaching--such is the tale I have
heard--there sounded a mighty wind, and the building grew creeping
dark.  Upon that a man ran in, crying, 'A ship!  A Dutch ship sailing
by!'  The dominie and all ran into the gloom of mid-day and saw a
vessel riding against the tide, full of men in wide breeches and
sugar-loaf hats, with faces as white as wool.  Some of the bolder
youths manned a boat, and rowed out signalling, but the stranger gave
them no heed.  Sometimes she would appear so nigh to them that they
could mark the flakes rotting from her beams and the weeds trailing
round her bows, and the same minute she would appear as though half a
mile away.  And while they still rowed after her, they heard a noise as
of iron ringing upon her deck and straightway she rode into a cloud and
vanished.  And afterwards came a great storm which wrecked close upon a
score of houses."

"The old ship," muttered Von Donck, his eyes astray, his cheeks less
ruddy than their wont.  "'Twas the sound of the horse-shoe falling to
deck which the rowers heard.  Hudson swore in the face of Heaven that
he would make that passage.  Mayhap he still strives, the storm holding
him back from the unknown north-west for ever."

As the old sailor ceased to speak Van Vuren advanced, the strip of
vellum between his fingers, and stood a sharp figure in the firelight.
The men ceased their mutterings and leaned forward to hear what their
leader had to say.

"Our expedition upon this land has failed, my men," he cried.  "Our
ship lies burnt, our comrades are lost, we are not strong enough to
withstand the French.  Shall we now make a journey through the unknown
land, and so down to our own free colony, through which pours Hudson's
river, of which I have heard you speak?  Let us strive together to gain
the island of the Manhattoes, where our city of New Amsterdam smiles
upon the sea."

The Dutchmen did not break into a shout as Englishmen might have done,
nor did they raise a noisy chatter after the manner of the French.
They looked on one another with grave faces, and each man puffed his
smoke more heavily.  Finally old Pieter von Donck snorted and spoke:

"I have played the pioneer before to-day, captain.  'Twould gladden my
eyes to see again the tower of San Nicolas by the sea."

"Then let us away before morning," said Van Vuren.

Boats of the fishermen were drawn along the white road of shore, and
these the Dutchmen requisitioned for crossing.  They worked warily,
fearful of seeing the flash of torches along the path beneath the
cliff.  The river brimmed and the stream flung down with a ceaseless
undertone.

"What have we here?" snorted Von Donck, while he groped under the
gloomy wall.

A number of dry logs, crossed and pinned together by wooden wedges, lay
upon the gravel spit, piled with dry grass and resinous boughs
interlaced.  Beside were lengths of pine to act as rollers for
launching.  The mass of inflammable material rose high.  Torches were
pressed between two stones beside the logs.

"'Tis but the raft made to give signal to the Iroquois tribes,"
explained the lieutenant.

"To the water with it," cried a voice.

"Peace, fool.  The French have sentries posted."

"Fire it," snorted Von Donck.  "Let not so much good work be spent in
vain.  Will float it upon the French man-o'-war for a parting message."

Eager hands set in place the rollers, and soon the unwieldy mass
grumbled riverwards.  It nosed into the water and settled with a
splash, riding deep because the logs had weight.  Flint and steel
struck, a shower of sparks rained upon the catch-fire, the torches were
ignited.  At a word the grass flared, and the raft, released, struck
upon a rock, turned slowly, and raced down stream, a red and yellow
sheet of fire under a whirling canopy of smoke, straight for the
lantern which marked the presence of the man-of-war.

"To the boats!" whispered Van Vuren.

A cry was raised above, and soon the answering voices resembled a
chorus of daws frightened round a dark steeple by the shadow of a bird
of prey.  While the Dutch were floundering in mid-stream a brass gun
thundered.  The column of fire swept on, illuminating the seamed wall,
and throwing into black contrast the trees on the opposite shore.

As the laughing Dutchmen reached land a terrific din from the hemlock
forest shocked the night, and this wild revelry became each moment more
terrible, until the wind seemed to cease to breathe.

The raft was opposite the landing-stage, burning rapidly down to the
water, casting out flakes of fire and wisps of blazing grass.  Lights
flashed confusedly upon the heights, and the tramp of armed men carried
solemnly across the river.

"The Iroquois are coming out!" cried Van Vuren.

"Let us wait like vultures for the pickings," muttered the lieutenant
at his side.

"Vultures!" shrieked a malignant voice.  "A good word, traitors."

The men swung round and stared into the gloom.  Upon a point of rock
they saw Gaudriole, squatting like a toad, his features half lit by the
glow of his pipe.

"The plain of Tophet lies ahead," he snarled at them.  "Others may play
at fire as well as ye."

He sprang up and danced furiously upon the rock.

"Slay me that hunchback," shouted Van Vuren in a rage.

His men ran at the rock.  Gaudriole spat at them like a cat and
vanished among the scrub.

A wave of smoke fanned over the ridge.  A deep glow, waving up and down
like a red rag, grew along the southern sky, advancing storm-like,
deepening in colour.

The bush had been fired.



CHAPTER XX.

SACRAMENTAL.

The military routine of the fortress continued that day as usual, and
the approach of night brought no suspicion of the forthcoming assault.
The absence of La Salle was alone commented upon, yet without
apprehension, for the priest was notoriously lax in the performance of
his ecclesiastical duties, and only Laroche was seriously troubled in
mind for his brother priest.  Roussilac indeed breathed more freely
when La Salle was not present in the fortress.  At eventide two little
bells rang out, that to the east of the citadel being the bell of the
chapel of Ste. Anne, presided over by the junior priest, St Agapit,
that to the west the bell of Ste. Mary Bonsecours upon the hill.  Here
Laroche, in the absence of La Salle, officiated to recite vespers and
hear confessions.

Laroche, though a fighting bully lacking in every priestly quality,
was, among the soldiers at least, more popular than St Agapit.  The
latter was a scholar, a man too learned, and somewhat too honest, for
his age, an ascetic, and a priest in every sense.  It was well known
that he looked with a stern eye upon drunken brawls or vengeful
threats, whereas Laroche, himself a brawler when in his cups, judged
such offences leniently.  St Agapit had no ambition, apart from the
faithful performance of his duty, the carrying out of which rarely
brought him into even remote contact with either of his colleagues.

It was good to feel the cool breath of the evening after the heat and
burden of the afternoon.  The little stone church of Ste. Mary upon the
brow of the hill darkened, and an aged crone passed into the sanctuary
to light the strong-smelling lamps.  Laroche entered to recite vespers,
and rolled away to divest his great body of cope and alb; but as he
appeared again within the church his eyes fell upon some half-dozen
men, who waited to obtain an easier conscience by confession of their
sins.

"A plague on ye," the priest grumbled as he stumbled into his box.
"Why are ye all such miserable sinners?  Ha! is it you that I see,
Michel Ferraud?  What sin now, you rogue?"

The keeper of the cabaret in the Rue des Pêcheurs fell straightway upon
his knees, and began to whimper:

"The former wickedness.  I am driven to the act, my father.  Wine is
scarce, as your holiness knows, and great is the demand therefor.  I
must eke out the supply against the coming of each ship, and it has
ever been but a little aqua puralis added to each keg; but to-day,
father, the devil jogged my elbow, and that which is blended cannot be
separated.  The wine remains a rich colour, holy father, as you shall
see, and none shall know----"

"Vile and shameless sinner that you are," the priest interrupted.  "To
dilute a wine which is already too thin to gladden the heart of man and
make him a cheerful countenance--to do so, I say, is to commit a most
deadly sin."

"Exact not so heavy a fine as at last confession, good father.  Would
not have me close my tavern?  The wine is a good wine," Michel added
professionally, "and the little water added is methinks an aid to
virtue."

"Art so fond of water?" replied the confessor grimly.  "Water you shall
have.  Go down now to the river, swim across, and return in like
manner, and afterwards come to me again.  Go now!  I have lesser
sinners to absolve."

"The river will be villainous cold, my father.  And I cannot swim."

"Learn," said the inexorable priest.  "Come not to me again till you
have crossed the river as I have said.  May you take into your evil
stomach an abundance of cold water while learning."

The taverner retired dissatisfied, and when outside the church rubbed
his head and ruminated.  "The confession was ill-timed," he muttered.
"His reverence is in an evil humour.  The devil shall seize me body and
soul before I set one foot into that accursed river.  But there is
Father St Agapit.  I will go forthwith and confess to him."

The taverner's propitious star was in the ascendant.  When he reached
the chapel of Ste. Anne vespers had not concluded, for the office was
there recited with greater reverence and detail than in the church of
Ste. Mary Bonsecours.  Michel pushed himself into a front place and
hastened to make himself conspicuous by various fussy acts of outward
devotion.  The office over, he lingered until St Agapit came to him,
and the taverner then repeated the confession which he had already
made, with such disastrous consequences, to Laroche.

"Since the evil nature of man drives him to drink much wine, let him
partake of it as weak as may be, for his soul's health," said the
sincere priest.  "But, my son, it behoves you to make known to your
patrons the truth."

"I dare not," said Michel, rejoicing at heart because he saw a prospect
of cheating the devil.

"Then are you guilty of deceit," said the priest.  "Mix water with your
wine no more, and for your deceit you shall say the litany of St.
Anthony of Padua six times before the altar of Ste. Anne.  But see that
you wash before approaching the holy shrine, because I perceive upon
you the odour of wine-casks."

Having brought his duty to an end, St Agapit drew his cloak round him
and went out.  While studying that day the work of a German philosopher
he had been confronted by the startling theory that the brain and
stomach of the human system were possibly connected by means of nerves.
He desired to procure from one of the settler-soldiers a dead rabbit
which he might dissect for his own enlightenment.

As he went a woman met him.

"Father," she cried, "a soldier lies at my house at the point of death,
praying for a priest to confess him."

"Follow me to the church," said St Agapit.

He passed back into the little log-building, took the reserved Host and
the sacred oils from an inlaid case, and wrapping these consolations of
the Church in his cloak accompanied the woman.

Upon a palliasse in one of the cabins on the eastern slope a young man
lay dying of pneumonia, that fell disease which the medical science of
the day could only fight by sage shakings of the head and a judicious
use of the cupping-glass.  The commandant's own doctor stood there, a
man with some knowledge of medicinal plants and skilled by long
experience in the treatment of sword-cuts, helplessly watching the
exodus of his patient.

"I resign him to your charge, good father," he said, bending his back
to the priest.  "He has passed beyond the help of science.  Had I been
summoned earlier"--he shrugged his shoulders--"a discreet use of the
lance might well have relieved the fatal rush of blood to the brain and
saved a life for the king."

"Perchance an incision in the stomach to release the foul vapours----"
began St Agapit.

"Useless, my father.  The disease, I do assure you, is in the blood."

The abbé knelt and administered the last sacraments of his Church.  The
young soldier remained entirely conscious and his confession came in a
steady whisper.

"Father," he concluded, "I would speak with the commandant."

St Agapit looked at the physician by the flickering light of a pine
torch.  The latter shook his head.

"'Tis impossible.  Roussilac is at supper.  But I may leave a message
as I pass."

"Say that Jean-Marie Labroquerie calls on him with his dying breath,"
whispered the soldier.

The physician left; the woman who owned the cabin moved silently in
preparation for the carrying out of the body, because people were
practical in the days when death by violence occurred almost hourly.
St Agapit lowered his thin face to catch the message of the passing man.

"Hidden in the straw you shall find a roll of parchment.  I pray you
take it and use it as you will.  It is the work of my father, a learned
man.  We quarrelled.  I stole his work and left my home.  I repented
and would have taken it back.  It was of no service to me.  I cannot
read.  If it be of value, let my old father gain the profit."

"Does he live within the New World?"

"Two days' journey beyond the river.  In a log cabin surrounded by a
palisade which these hands erected.  My father healed some Indians who
were sick, and thus obtained their friendship.  There was I brought up
with my sister, my fair sister.  Oh, my father, I would see again my
sister.  I would feel the touch of her hand, and see her bright hair
that flamed in the sun.  I would give these my last moments for the
sight of her eyes, and the sound of her voice, saying as she was wont,
'Jean-Marie, my brother!  Life is a glorious gift.'  Ah, my father!"

"Peace, son.  Set your mind upon this suffering."

The abbé held a crucifix into the glow of the torch.

"Jesus is not so jealous, father, that He forbids us to love our own.
I was going back when I could obtain my congé, like the prodigal, to
seek my father's forgiveness.  My mother was to blame for our
unhappiness.  Solitude and disappointment had embittered her life.  She
had a cruel tongue and her hand was rough.  I was a coward.  I fled.
My sister's eyes have pursued me.  I made myself a profligate, to
forget.  But memory is a knife in an open wound."

The minutes passed punctuated by the gasps of the sufferer.  The torch
burnt down to its knot, and another was kindled by the pale woman.  The
sound without was the wash of the tide.

"He comes not," moaned the soldier.  "Bear me a message, father."

The dry rattling of beads broke the silence.

"Speak, my son."

The soldier uttered a piteous cry: "Madeleine!  Madeleine!"

"Oh, son!  Call rather on the name of Mary."

A gust of dark air swept into the cabin, the torch flame waved like a
flag, and a man stood behind muffled to the eyes, breathing as though
he had come with speed.  He threw aside his martial cloak, and
straightway stood revealed.

"Jean-Marie," he muttered.

"Arnaud.  Stand aside, my father.  Let me meet my cousin face to face."

The priest moved back, and the two soldiers, the officer and the
fighting-man, stared into each other's eyes.

"Had I known this, Jean-Marie----" began the commandant; but the figure
upon the palliasse, straining from death as a dog from the leash, broke
in upon him.

"Cousin, you knew.  When I have passed have you not averted your eyes,
ashamed of the man who has had neither the wit nor the opportunity to
rise?  You have made yourself great, and I--but this is no time for
calling up the past.  I am spent.  Come to me, cousin--nearer.  Why,
commandant, art afraid of a dying man?"

"Is he dying?"

"He is in God's hands," the priest answered; and the woman grumbled:
"Yes, yes, and a long time lying there, keeping me from my bed."

"Out!" said Roussilac, turning upon her.  "Out, and repeat not what you
may have heard."

The woman slunk away frightened.

"Ah, cousin, that old manner," smiled Jean-Marie.  "So spoke you as a
boy.  They said you would find greatness.  My father would say, 'He is
a Brutus.  Would condemn his own son.'  I know not who Brutus was, but
my father was a learned man."

He coughed terribly and lay back gasping.

"Say what lies upon your mind and have done," reproved St Agapit.  "I
would have you die with better thoughts."

"Cousin," panted Jean-Marie, "I forgive you as I hope for mercy.  Place
now your hand on mine."

Roussilac did so, shrinking at the freezing contact.

"Your aunt and uncle and Madeleine your cousin dwell in this land, two
days' journey beyond the river.  My father was hunted for his life.
They called him a wizard.  You know?  Yes, once at home you might have
shielded him, but there was your advancement to be thought on.  Swear
to me to find them.  Tell Madeleine how I died.  Be good to her.  Ah,
cousin, be a brother to Madeleine.  You shall find her the fairest
sister in all this world.  Swear to bring them from their solitude, to
protect my father.  Swear before this holy priest to feed and clothe
them if they be in want, to care for them, and be to them a brother and
a son."

Roussilac, who had softened for the moment, grew again stern.  His
position was not so sure that it could withstand the attacks of tongues
that might whisper at home that the young governor of the new colony
sheltered a heretic uncle.  Jean-Marie was quick to note the change.
He knew the hardness of his cousin's heart.

"Swear to me, or have my shadow cursing you through life."

The priest put out his arm with a word of adjuration.

"The crucifix," the commandant muttered.

St Agapit held it over the dying man.

"Touch not the sacred symbol without a prayer, my son.  Beware God's
wrath!"

With one hand grasping the cold fingers, the other pressed fearfully
upon the metal figure thrilling in the priest's grasp, Roussilac took
the oath that was required of him.

"And that I will keep it, I call God, our Lady, and the blessed saints
to witness!" he concluded in a hushed voice.

Hardly had he spoken, and while he still watched his cousin lying white
with the light fading from his eyes, the fortress from end to end
became tumultuous.  A gun roared, a din of shouting, the thud of flying
feet, the shriek of women, the cry of his soldiery swept up the slope
in wave upon wave of uproar.

"An attack!" he cried.  "And I am from my post!"

"Peace!" said St Agapit, with a frown.  "The God of battles is not
here."

"Arnaud," came the hollow whisper out of the tumult, "I have more to
say.  My voice goes.  I pray you bend your head."

"I came secretly," said Roussilac wildly.  "I cannot stay.  Father,
duty is calling me.  My reputation, my position----"

"Your family," said the priest, pointing sternly.

The night air became a storm with the shout: "The Iroquois!  The
Iroquois are upon us!"

"Cousin!" whispered the dying man.

"My position!" cried the commandant; and turning with the confession he
caught up his cloak, saying: "I will return.  I will come back to you,
Jean-Marie.  My country calls me."

"His ambition!" murmured the lean priest, as the door swung back, and
the tumult rolled in like a raging sea flung upon a cave.



CHAPTER XXI.

IRON AND STEEL.

The fortress was invested upon three sides: up the precipitous westward
slope swarmed the Senacas and Cayugas; the fan-shaped body of the
Onondagas advanced from the east, where the ground was broken; eastward
and westerly on the valley side, where the attackers hoped to strike
the victorious blow, the confederate bands of the Mohawks and Oneidas
lay hidden, awaiting the signal which had been agreed upon.  The river
occupied the line to the south, and between its banks and the enemy
ambushed in the valley an outlet was left in order that the French
might be given the opportunity of vacating their position.  Once in
open country, they might be broken up into bands and hunted down.

The attack from west and north had been arranged to draw the French
from the one point where the fortress was vulnerable.  It appeared as
though the besieged were tumbling blindfold into the trap, which a
general of experience would have at once suspected.  Every fighting-man
in the fortress assembled to hold the almost impregnable heights.  In
the absence of the leader this mistake was pardonable.  There the noise
of battle was terrific.  The wild light of the bush fire beyond the
river flung its shadows over the grass hill and cast into detail
figures and flashing tomahawks.  A storm of hissing arrows swept over
the rocks.  The bronze-skinned warriors rushed up and climbed the
heights.  The bravest of the Senacas, that hardy fighting race of the
highlands, were already within the fortress, tomahawking the gunners
with hideous yells.

The man-of-war was useless.  Boats were let down, and the sailors flung
ropes round the ends of the logs which supported the fire-raft, and
towed the flaming peril away.  Then the clumsy ship blundered up
stream, only to find herself helplessly cut off from the enemy by the
sheer wall of rock.  She drifted back, and the master gave the order
for the guns to be beached and dragged up the slope to strengthen the
resources of the besieged.

"'Fore Heaven!" cried Van Vuren.  "The natives win!"

The Dutchmen had perforce returned to watch the progress of the
assault.  They saw the Cayugas dealing blows against the summit,
repulsed, but never actually losing ground.  Each assault found the
height invested more strongly by the overwhelming host.  Similar
success attended the ascent of the Onondagas.  The rival factions
swayed upon the distant summit, lit by the fire of the cannon.

The Dutchmen hovered in uncertainty, until the opposition yielded and
the Indians began to burn the huts which looked down upon the river.
At this signal a shout went up from the valley, and the Mohawks and
Oneidas rushed out to complete the work.  At the same time Van Vuren
gave the word, and the big men re-crossed the river, gained the level,
and joined the sachems and doctors who were dancing and screaming at
the foot of the hill.

Abruptly a line of soldiers formed upon the crest to the roaring of
cannon, and these trained fighters bore down through the smoke,
sweeping away the opposition as wind carries the snow.  Immediately
yells of dismay sounded above, where the Indians who had been trapped
were being put to the sword.  The blind repulse had at length given way
to method.

A report had passed about the fortress that Roussilac had been
assassinated, and the body deprived of its brains became thereupon
powerless to act.  But Gaudriole came hopping from gun to gun, crying:
"Courage, my comrades!  I have seen the commandant.  He did but go down
to the chapel of Ste. Anne to confess his sins.  See where he comes!
Long live our governor!"

The soldiers caught up his cry and fought with new energy when they
beheld Roussilac's slight figure wrapped in a long cloak.  He passed
deliberately from east to north, issuing his orders and rapidly
altering the entire nature of the fight.  The besieged became the
attackers; the hunters became the hunted.  Roussilac's pale face
restored confidence.  His contemptuous coolness brought victory within
sight.  Before setting the trap for the Cayugas and Senacas his martial
eye had lingered upon the silent valley.  There he concentrated his
best fighters, and despatched an order to the ship, directing the
master to bring up the naval guns.  The sailors were soon at their
work, dragging the light guns into position and training the muzzles
upon the suspected valley, while powder-monkeys ran up with charge and
ball, and the gunners arranged their port-fire.

With the attack of the previously ambushed Mohawks, the battle for
possession may be said to have commenced.  Skill, holding a position
which subsequent history proved to be practically impregnable, became
opposed by numbers blindly indifferent to death.

The Dutchmen fled at that repulse when the natives about them had been
flung back almost to the forest.  They halted upon the beach and
deliberated on the practicability of flight through the smoking country
which hemmed the opposite shore.  It was then that Dutoit made the
discovery that two of his men were missing.

"We cannot regain the bodies," said Van Vuren, when the announcement
was made.  "The French mayhap have already discovered them, and thus
know that we have taken arms against them.  Flight is now forced upon
us."

Dawn was near when Hough reached the scene of action.  The din of
battle had carried over the land, driving the birds and beasts
northward in fear, and he and his stout comrade had started out at
once.  Scarce a mile had been traversed when Penfold's leg gave way; he
sent his companion on, and hobbled slowly along his track, hoping to be
in before the end.

At a glance the Puritan perceived the flaw in the attack.

"Why do ye waste your men against that wall?" he shouted at the chiefs.
"Bring every man round to the east.  Follow me, warriors.  Follow, we
shall conquer yet."

He might as profitably have addressed the stones.  He ran in among the
fighters, dealing blows with the flat of his sword, and pointing
through the shadows to the fierce conflict upon the edge of the valley.

"There!" he shouted, trying to recall some scattered words of the
language.  "There, where the sun rises!"

At length he made himself clear, and a section of the fighters, more
cool-headed than the remainder, professed themselves willing to follow,
and some of the hot-headed chiefs, perceiving method in the
Englishman's madness, turned also calling back their men.

Twice had the Mohawks broken through the front line and been repulsed
before reaching the cannon, which spouted its hail down the valley.  A
barrier of French dead piled the space beside the artillery.  Roussilac
strode to and fro, withdrawing men from points where they could ill be
spared that he might throw them upon the side where the lines wavered.
Here the flower of the fighting-men struggled.  Laroche fought here
like the brave man he undoubtedly was, swearing fearfully, but never
ceasing from the skilful sword-play which freed many a brown warrior
from the burden of the fight.  A charm seemed to protect his great
body, the arrows leaving him unscathed, the blows of the tomahawks
seeming to deflect as they descended, until the soldiers fought for the
pride of place at the side of the priest, whom they believed to be
under the special protection of the saints.

"Infidels, unbelieving and unbaptised!  Down, down!" shouted Laroche,
blinking the sweat from his eyes.

Repeatedly the Iroquois turned the line at the weak spot which Nature
had overlooked in her plan of fortification, but Roussilac was prepared
always with a band waiting to stem the rush.  This could not last.  His
soldiers were thinning, and there seemed to be no limit to the numbers
of the Indians.  They pressed up in horde upon horde, their shouts
cleaving the moist wind, their arrows inexhaustible, their courage
undiminished.  Then the word came that the Cayugas and Senacas were
giving way upon the west with the manifest intention of strengthening
their allies.

"Let them come," cried Roussilac loudly, for his men's benefit.  "Only
send me as many soldiers as can be spared from that position."  But to
himself he muttered: "The game is up," and he wrung his brain for a
_ruse de guerre_.

"Send me a dozen men with a cannon yonder to work round and attack
these savages in the rear," he said to one of his captains, who had
been put out of the fight by a wound in the arm.  "If they can but
raise sufficient noise they may appear as a relieving force.  It
disheartens even a brute to fight between two foes."

"We cannot spare the men, Excellency."

"They must be spared," replied Roussilac.

A messenger rushed up, breathless and triumphant.

"Excellency, the Algonquins are coming to our aid in force," he panted.

For the first time in many hours the commandant smiled.

"You spoke truly," he said to the captain.  "We cannot spare those men."

He turned and recoiled with a shiver.  St Agapit, a long, black figure,
stood beside him in the wet wreaths of the dawn.

"Your cousin is dead," said the priest.  "He died but half an hour ago,
with a curse upon his tongue.  You have lost me that man's soul."

He half lifted his hand and moved away, seeing nothing of the great
struggle, heeding the clamour not at all, because the sun was about to
rise and he had his Mass to say.

While light was breaking over the cliffs in the east, where the
fishermen of Tadousac hid themselves throughout that night, Oskelano
brought his men clear of the forest and disposed them upon the plain.
The old man was no mean general.  He sent out his spies, and when the
men returned with the information that the French were being crushed by
superior numbers he divided his force into three bands.  The first he
sent like a wedge between the Onondagas and the force advancing from
the west under Hough's leadership; the second he flung to the north of
the Mohawks and Oneidas; and, having thus completely separated the
allied forces, he threw his third band upon the rear of the men who
were slowly carrying the position from the valley.

The Cayugas and Senacas were beaten back to the river.  The Onondagas,
attacked on two sides and at first mistaking foe for friend, were
shattered at a first charge and fled for the forest.  The fighters in
the valley alone held their ground, until the light became strong; and
then Roussilac drew up his entire force and directed in person a charge
which hurled the stubborn Mohawks back upon the axes of the Algonquins
awaiting them upon the lower ground.  The survivors fled and were
pursued by the northern tribe.  The French flung themselves down
exhausted, while Laroche wiped his sword and streaming face, and panted
a benediction upon dead and wounded and living alike.

Thus the Iroquois Confederacy received a shattering blow from which it
never recovered; and the land was made secure to France for a long two
hundred years.



CHAPTER XXII.

OB AND AZURE.

After that complete repulse of the Iroquois tribes the French found
themselves so weak as to be practically at the mercy of a foe.  Another
resolute attack must have driven them from their position.  But the
Iroquois bands were completely disorganised; the few English scattered
about the maritime provinces, including that remnant of Scots in the
east, who had settled Newfoundland and Nova Scotia only to see their
territories wrested from them, were entirely inadequate even in
combination to menace the supremacy of the House of Bourbon; and it may
be questioned whether, at that time, any Scotsman would have stood to
fight side by side with the English.  Soon another ship would arrive
from Marseilles, bringing, not only provisions and ammunition, but a
reinforcement of men, prepared to till the ground as settlers should,
but far more ready to continue the French error of attempting to
colonise with the sword.  On the heels of the discovery of two Dutch
bodies among the Indian slain, La Salle returned, and conveyed to
Roussilac the information that an English spy was escaping south.
Gaudriole also announced that Van Vuren and his company were bearing in
that same direction.  Roussilac's hand was forced.  If these men
escaped him the fortress might be called upon to resist, not only an
English, but possibly a Dutch invasion also.  He sent out twenty men
immediately to cut off the Hollanders, leaving the garrison depleted to
no more than fifty men available for defence; and the commandant made
haste to reward Oskelano for his services as suitably as his resources
would permit, and sent him home, fearful lest the treacherous Algonquin
might discover, and take advantage of, his weakness.

When La Salle stood before him, and announced that the English spy was
the guest of one Madame Labroquerie, a widow living with her daughter
in the country to the south, the commandant refused to betray himself,
but replied that he would accompany the priest and be a witness to the
hanging of the Englishman.  At the same time, he considered, he might
keep the oath which he had sworn to his dead cousin.  Having given the
order for a troop of men to attend upon his person, he abandoned the
subject which awoke in him unpleasant memories, and bowing haughtily to
La Salle--for he and the priest were in a manner rivals--congratulated
him upon his appointment to the governorship of Acadie, the
confirmation of which, signed by the Cardinal himself, had lately been
delivered by the hand of the master of the _St. Wenceslas_.

"This fortress will be the weaker for your loss, Sir Priest," he said,
feigning a sorrow which he could not feel.  "May I seek to know when
you propose to set forth to the undertaking of your new
responsibilities?"

"If my work here be finished what time the _St. Wenceslas_ sails
homeward I shall depart with her," La Salle replied, flashing a
disdainful glance upon Roussilac.  "But I have yet to rid this land of
its English vermin."

With that implied scorn of the governor, and suggestion of his own
superiority, La Salle departed to make his preparations; and an hour
later a troop of horsemen rode forth, Roussilac at the head, and beside
him Gaudriole jesting for his chief's amusement; on the other side the
two priests--for Laroche accompanied his senior--and behind six
soldiers, riding two abreast on bright bay ponies, their weapons
flashing in the sunlight.

There had been war in the grove.  An angry scene passed between mother
and daughter when Madeleine returned after seeing her lover upon his
way.  For the first time in her life the girl lost her sweet patience,
and returned word for word so hotly that Madame at length became
afraid, and backed away, yet muttering:

"Men shall stay your pride, girl, if a weak woman may not."

"They also shall find that a resolute mind is not quickly broken,"
Madeleine returned.

"The law against heresy is still in being," Madame threatened, made
still more bitter by the knowledge that her daughter and Geoffrey had
together outwitted her.  "I have borne with you, because you are my
child.  Our Lady punishes me for my lack of devotion.  I had speech but
recently with a holy priest.  We shall see, when that priest returns.
We shall see!"

"Drive me from you with that bitter tongue, as you drove out
Jean-Marie," cried Madeleine, her fair throat swelling like a bird in
song.  "So shall you die without son or daughter at your side, and none
but an Indian shall see you to your grave."

At that Madame put up her hand with a superstitious gesture, and limped
away, her yellow face wrinkled with rage; nor did she speak again to
her daughter until the Indian servant entered the cabin to announce the
coming of a warlike band.  Then she croaked at Madeleine: "'Tis the
holy priest.  Know you not, girl, how those are punished who conspire
to aid an enemy of their country?"  Then she hasted away to don the cap
and gown which she had kept against the coming of a change of fortune.

There came a sound of voices, the troop rode into the grove, and
Madeleine, as she stood trembling at the door, was greeted by
Gaudriole, who bowed and grinned as he announced his Excellency the
Commandant to visit the Madame Labroquerie and the fair lady her
daughter.

"I am Madeleine Labroquerie," stammered the girl, frightened for a
moment by the brave show of mounted men.

"Cousin," cried a half-familiar voice, "hast put a friend and relative
out of memory?"

Dazzled by the sunlight after the gloom of the cabin, Madeleine shaded
her eyes.  She saw before her a tall man, sallow and dark, his hair
falling in snaky lines to his shoulders, the golden fleur-de-lys worked
upon his blue surcoat making his face the more sickly by comparison.
Before she could return his salutation he had dropped to his knee and
kissed her hand.

"Years have passed since we parted, cousin," he said.  "The present
finds me with position, and you with beauty.  I knew not that you were
here until your brother told me."

"Arnaud!" she exclaimed, giddy with amazement at finding the boy who
had been the autocrat of childhood's games grown into a man of power.
Then, because her heart was so tender to all that breathed, she forgot
the character of the man who was looking down upon her with increasing
wonder to find how the plain child with the tangle of flaming hair had
blossomed into this lovely creature, and asked quickly:
"Jean-Marie--what of him?"

Roussilac was not a man to tell ill-news gently.  Wasting neither words
nor sentiment, he replied: "Your brother died but recently of fever,
calling upon your name with his last breath."

His final words were intended to show her that he had been by the sick
man's side until the end.

Madeleine turned white and tottered.  Then, as her strong heart
recovered, she said:

"Let me call my mother.  My father has long been dead.  We have
remained poor, Arnaud," she added defiantly.  "But if you have
ascended, we have at least not descended."

"To what higher pinnacle can a woman wish to attain than that of
perfect beauty?" he replied gallantly; but he noticed that she left him
with a frown.

"Had I but known that she had grown so fair!" he muttered.

Gaudriole was grinning at his side.  The dwarf put up his red hand and
showed his chief a dead butterfly, its bright plumage well-nigh worn
away, its wings crushed and wet.

"Short-lived beauty, Excellency," he leered, with the jester's
privilege.  "Yesterday shining in the sun.  To-day!"  He laughed
hoarsely and dropped the ruined insect.  "'Tis a world of change and
contrast," he chuckled.  "Mark this philosophy, my captain.  When old
age sends me white hairs and a reverend aspect you shall perchance call
me beautiful, if you look not too closely at my hump; but when the
bloom of yonder beauteous lady turns to seed----"

"Off, Bossu!" cried Roussilac angrily.  "Learn to turn your jesting
with a better judgment, or your tongue shall be slit and your back
whipped."

"My faith!" the dwarf chuckled.  "I have no back.  I am like the frog,
but shoulders and legs."

Madame herself appeared in a fresh white cap and an antique gown.  It
was not her way to be gracious, nor were her recollections of her
nephew's fidelity of the happiest; so she did but greet him coldly,
asking why he had now come since he had tarried so long.

"Good aunt," came the reply, "I would have sought you earlier, had I
known you were in this land.  I have not long held command, and my
hands have been filled in crushing the strength of the Iroquois.  I
entreat you both to return with me now and take up your abode at the
fortress, not indeed as my guests, but as an honoured mother and
sister."

"Pretty talk," sniffed Madame.  "I said in the old days you would make
a courtier.  So you, the governor of the land, knew nothing of this
home of your poor relations a paltry two days' journey beyond the
river.  There is no man so blind as he who makes a living by that
infirmity.  This girl tells me that my son is dead.  Died he in the
faith of the Church?"

"Surely," said Roussilac.  "But tell me I pray, good aunt, is it true,
as this Indian says, that the English spy has already escaped?"

"Yes, he has gone," cried Madeleine, flushing warmly.  "He has gone,
Arnaud, to--to the west."

Her deceit was so transparent that even Roussilac could not restrain a
smile.

"And why, fair cousin," he asked, addressing her with marked deference,
"why should this Englishman seek the unknown west, where it is believed
none dwell save Indians?  Would he not rather turn towards the south,
and seek New England and his own people?"

"Indeed I know not why he should seek the west," Madeleine replied,
between tears and laughter.  "But I do assure you he has gone in that
direction----"

"Peace, girl," her mother cried.  "The fool lies to you, Arnaud.  She
is a heretic, shame though it be, and her master is the father of lies.
'Tis true the English spy escaped in the early morning, but he knows
not the land, and may yet be secured.  I am surrounded all my life long
by wickedness," the bitter woman continued.  "My husband was perverted
by the sin of science.  Jean-Marie was but a knave.  He left me here.
Madeleine is a heretic, and she has threatened to leave me also.  Well,
I will come with you, Arnaud, but see that you give me a scented pillow
for my head and a cup of warm wine at evening.  Stand not there,
nephew, like a wooden stock, but command one of yonder evil-faced
rogues to bring up a horse fitted for the age and dignity of the first
lady in this thrice-accursed land."

An evil smile curved the thin line of Roussilac's mouth.  His aunt had
indeed not changed; but she had yet to learn that he had advanced.  He
turned to where the priests were talking loudly in the shade of the
grove, noting La Salle's anger at the failure of his mission, and a few
paces beyond his troopers jesting in the sun.  Then he looked upon the
fair face of Madeleine and smiled again.

"Tamalan," he called, dividing his attention between the soldier he was
addressing and his aunt, "prepare your pony for the use of the first
lady in this great colony of France--the lady Madeleine Labroquerie."

He bowed slightly towards the silent girl.

For one instant Madame appeared to stifle.  Then she drew back her lips
and snarled at her nephew, yet without uttering a word.

"This is not Normandy, Madame," said Roussilac calmly.  "And you have
not here the boy whose cheeks you would smite when the angry fit was on
you.  This is the New World, and I am the Representative of his most
sacred Majesty, King Louis the Thirteenth."

Madame started forward, two passionate red spots upon her cheeks, her
bony hand uplifted; but Roussilac indicated the golden fleur-de-lys
upon his breast and said, in the quiet consciousness of power:
"Remember!"

The little woman stood for a moment motionless, grinding her teeth, her
black eyes starting from a ghastly countenance, then flung herself back
into the cabin, tearing at her hair and cap in the madness of her
anger.  Roussilac watched with the same quiet smile, and when she had
gone turned to Madeleine and said:

"My aunt forgets that time may work a change."

"Pardon her," murmured the girl.  "This solitude has touched her brain."

Then La Salle strode up with angry questionings: "Shall we tarry here
all the day, Sir Commandant, while the heretic escapes?  Know you not
that New England swarms with Puritans, who, if they but hear of our
weakness, shall fill this land and compel us forth by their numbers?"

"You speak truly, Sir Priest," Roussilac answered.  "We do but waste
our time."

Crossing to the men, he selected the five strongest ponies and the five
most trustworthy soldiers, and charged the latter to ride out, secure
the Englishman, and hang him out of hand.  These men set forth
immediately, while Roussilac turned himself to the task of soothing La
Salle, and to the pleasure of flattering the fair lady his cousin.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE EVERLASTING HILLS.

After their escape from the dangerous region of the fortress on that
night of battle, Van Vuren and his band made towards the far-distant
country watered by the Hudson, travelling under the guidance of Pieter
von Donck across the unfrequented territory, over balsamic hills of
spruce, through swamps and thickets, and across a desert of dusty
stone, until they reached a range of green mountains which made an
immense backbone along the land.  Here they halted, and the note of
argument was raised.  Van Vuren had developed a sullen mood, induced by
jealousy of Von Donck, who had taken the office of leader upon himself,
and at this point he turned upon the sailor and a heated battle of
words ensued.  The captain indicated the flat district spreading
westward, and confidently declared that the route lay there.  His men
obediently turned to follow, with the exception of Von Donck, who, when
his argument failed, separated himself forthwith from the company.

"Take then your inland path," he shouted at them angrily.  "You shall
in due time come among the savage Adirondacks, where the Mohawks dwell
unconquered, and where all manner of wild beasts fill the fastnesses.
No white man has preceded you there.  This way I smell the sea.  Keep
your course, captain, if you will not be ruled by me.  I am for New
Amsterdam and the hostel beside San Nicolas."

"Pieter knows the land," urged Dutoit.

"Go then with the stubborn fool," replied Van Vuren hotly.  "Follow me,
my men.  This way for the sea!"

The rest of the company succumbed to discipline and followed their
leader, though with manifest unwillingness; while Von Donck gave them
over to their fate and travelled alone into the green hills.

What befell Van Vuren and his company history relateth not.  It is
certain that they were never taken by the French, because the party
which Roussilac had sent out returned in due course to the fortress,
and reported that they had failed to discover any trace of the
traitors.  But at a later date there went a story about Hudson's river,
concerning a party of Dutchmen said to be haunting the spurs of the
Adirondacks, weather-beaten men, wrinkled and long-bearded, their feet
covered with scraps of hide, their clothes eked out by furs,
continually setting out upon a journey, but always returning to their
starting-point.  Still later, after New Amsterdam had been conquered by
the English and had received the name of New York, mothers would often
frighten their errant children with the tale of the lost Dutchmen who
wandered about the north, their beards dragging on the stones and
tangling among the bush, watching the sun by day and the stars by
night, and sometimes separating as though in anger, but only to combine
again and renew the hopeless search.  Probably Van Vuren and his men
were destroyed by the fierce Mohawks; possibly they fell a prey to the
animals which roamed in their thousands among the Adirondacks, or
perished of want after their ammunition became exhausted; the one fact
is certain that not one of them ever reached the sea-blown country of
the Manhattoes.

While this fatal dissension took place Geoffrey was crossing the plains
upon the further side of the green mountains, only a short distance
ahead.  He had made excellent progress, concealing himself cleverly
from bands of marauding Indians, guiding his feet by the constellations
at night, and searching by day for the tree-moss which delicately
furred the north side only of the hemlock boles; but there still
remained over two hundred miles of wild country between him and the
town of Boston.  He tramped on, unheeding sore feet, feeling the spirit
of brave Madeleine at his side, averting the perils of night, guiding
his feet accurately southward.  As time went on, and he reflected how
great was the distance he had already traversed, the joy of life became
so strong that he could have flung away his sword and dared the world
with bare hands.

Two weeks had passed since that parting from his comrades; and on the
evening of the fourteenth day he broke from the bush and for some
moments stood bewildered at the scene before him, blinking his eyes,
and longing to step back into the greenwood shade.

White masses of mountain glowed ahead, peaks and crags all glittering
in the sun like a huge cascade streaming down from the clouds; ranges
of pure crystal, polished like glass, and edged with rose-pink by the
colours of the western sky; snow-white gorges of milky quartz, and
silver cataracts flung in foam from the whiteness above to the green
below.

"These," he said softly, with a thrill of old-world superstition,
"these must surely be the great crystal mountains where the Iroquois
believe that the gods dwell."

He hurried on, his eyes watering because of the dazzling light
reflected from those crystal walls; and as he went he turned to lover's
thoughts, and determined that, after all, the sun glow upon the white
peaks was not one-half so lovely as the flush upon Madeleine's soft
cheek.  Here before him was Nature's finest insentient handiwork.  It
was glowing and full of music, but its loveliness lacked life, and its
warmth was borrowed from the sun.  It was only beautiful as a part of
the environment of the life of the soul.  How he longed for Madeleine
to stand at his side and behold those everlasting hills in splendour
and the sun swimming in red!  And with that longing he half
unconsciously breathed the healthful text to which she had attuned her
happy soul, "It is life--glorious, everlasting life!"

Vitality rose to its full height within Geoffrey's body; and when he
felt no more the weight of his heavy kit, he ran over the broken ground
and up the narrow gorge, until two white walls closed him gently into
the panting bosom of the crystal hills.

"Here is the home of fairies," he exclaimed, when he stopped at a great
height, and looked upon three tiny lakes which made a trinity of
motionless mirrors decked by feathers of cloud, the water like white
wine brimming in great bowls of granite.

Immediately a gentle voice was wafted through the air, "Here is the
home of fairies," and after a pause the information was repeated like
the warble of a weary bird, the last notes dying inaudible around the
cliffs.

Geoffrey dared not speak again.  The genius of the place was over him,
waiting to give a signal to the expectant choir.  Footfalls preceded
the traveller, the echo of his own.  The many-mouthed King of the
Mountains pattered before him, breathing the stranger a gentle welcome
to the district which he ruled.  Geoffrey crept on tiptoe to the edge
of the nearest pool, until he could see the weedless rock-bottom and
the land-locked salmon lying near the surface, gently fanning their red
fins, and watching him with wondering eyes.  Seating himself, the
traveller bathed his weary feet and watched the water swallows, darting
and splashing, snatching the fat flies which spotted the surface like
drops of rain, sucking them in and pushing out their little black noses
for more.

The sun went down and a chill crept into the wind.  Geoffrey left the
enchanted spot, and the salmon shooting like silver arrows through the
darkening pool, and, again ascending, entered a richly-wooded glen
through which a cascade ran in a white thread; and here, close to a
winding path beaten out by the feet of mountain sheep, he pitched his
camp and ate his frugal meal of dried meat, which he eked out by a few
early berries and some sweet roots of the wood althæa.

The light went out from the long day as he sank into dreams of
Madeleine.  He pictured her swaying among the scented grasses of the
lowlands, or breathing a prayer for his welfare while she awaited the
evening star in the faint blue of the sky.  He saw her leaning from the
hill-top watching the southern line, and bounding joyously away when
she found the sky all clear.  He imagined her lying asleep with her
mind awake for him; and he believed that in his sleep her sweet dreams
would cause his lips to open and his tongue to call her name.

A rustling in the near bush recalled him to the present.  He thought
the sound was occasioned by some restless bird, but when the
disturbance became more decided, he rose, alert, and, putting out a
hand for his bow, shrank back into a place of shelter.  Hardly had he
done so when a thicket of willow shivered and parted.

The watcher saw two savage eyes aglow like lamps, and as he sank to the
ground and remained motionless as a figure of stone, a great panther
slouched into the open, with its nose upon the ground.

The creature passed, blowing up the dust as though following a fresh
scent.  Geoffrey noticed with a thrill of relief that the ground it was
intent upon was not that which he had traversed.  When the huge cat had
crawled into the bush, he drew out one of his few remaining arrows and
cautiously followed; but not more than twenty paces had he advanced
into the clinging bush when there came to him for the first time during
his wanderings the exclamation of a human voice.

Geoffrey plunged forward recklessly until he saw a circular opening
such as Nature delights to make in her laying out of the densest
forest.  The cataract formed the left; a bank of trees rose to the
right; opposite him a big man sat in the half light, holding a
smouldering pipe, his eyes fixed in terror upon the panther, which lay
upon its belly half a dozen yards away, growling and lashing its tail
in its savage cat's joy.  The man was unarmed.  He had left his pack
and weapons under a shelf of white rock which gleamed behind.

Viner edged nearer, but as he stirred a twig snapped and the panther
looked round, its eyes full of fire and blood.  At the same moment the
stout man discovered his rescuer and a flush of colour returned to his
bloodless cheeks.  Keeping his eyes upon the enemy, he began to crawl
towards the rock, shouting as he went: "Drive at him, boy.  Send a
shaft through his neck, and Pieter von Donck shall stand your friend
for life."

The bolt, well-aimed by the boy's cool hands, sprang that instant into
the beast's shoulder.  As it felt the sting of the barb, the panther
roared and leapt mightily into the bush, landing upon the exact spot
which Geoffrey had cleverly vacated in time to save his life.  Again
Von Donck bellowed like a bull:

"Let him have one such another, comrade.  Then into the bush and dodge
him.  I have powder here and ball."

Geoffrey hurriedly slipped another arrow along the groove of his
cross-bow and secured the string.  Quick as he was, the great cat was
quicker.  It hurled itself upon the tree behind which its enemy had
taken shelter, and its iron claws wrenched off great flakes of bark.
Again Geoffrey saved himself by leaping back, but the panther was up at
the rebound and on him.  For the third time Geoffrey dodged, and in
doing so released the string, and the bolt, by happy chance, pierced
the demon in the chest as it descended.  The next instant Geoffrey was
felled to the moss.  But this effort was the panther's last.  An
explosion shook the bush, there came a villainous smell of saltpetre, a
whirl of smoke, and the mountain cat fell upon its side, quivered, and
lay dead.

"A brave invention this powder," snorted Von Donck triumphantly out of
the smoke.  "But methinks too costly save for an emergency."  He broke
off and muttered into his beard: "A thousand devils!  The boy is
English."

"A strange meeting, friend," said Geoffrey, as he rose somewhat blindly
to his feet.

"Adventure makes many an alliance," quoth the Dutchman.  "Were you
black, or brown, or yellow man, I would take your hand and swear to
stand your friend.  You have saved my life, boy.  Nay, deny it not, and
at the further risk of your own.  By my soul, the brute has clawed your
shoulder.  This must be seen to.  Come, lie you here, while I bring
water and wash the wound and bind it up as best I can.  A pestilence
destroy these same unholy animals.  They strike a man like lightning."

"If I have saved your life, you have done as much for me," said
Geoffrey.  "Let us divide the honours."

"A hand-shake upon that," cried the hearty Dutchman.  "We are enemies
by blood, boy.  You have fought against my people before this night,
and are like, I doubt not, to do so again.  The Puritans of
Massachusetts have their eyes upon our New Netherlands.  You and I may
yet meet upon opposite sides in the battle; but may God forge a
thunderbolt for my destruction if I do not seek to preserve the life of
one who has shed his blood for me.  I suspect, boy, you are no true
Englishman.  I dare swear your father or mother came of a good Dutch
stock."

"I am English born and bred," said Geoffrey.  "I could wish you were
the same," he boldly added.

"Out, jester!" said the big man as he went down to the cataract.  "It
is your envy speaking.  Black never made itself whiter by longing."

The Dutchman returned with his hat half filled with water and attended
to the injuries of his new friend, with podgy hands which were but a
little less rough than the nature of the man who owned them.  Every
protestation on the part of his patient he silenced by a growl.  When
the slight flesh-wound had been bandaged, he replenished the fire to
keep other mountain cats at bay, and they sat together under the white
wall, Von Donck occupied in skinning the defunct panther, chatting
noisily the while.

"Do you wonder that I speak your language when I have been brought up
to a better?" he observed as the soft night grew upon them.  "A soldier
of fortune must needs pick up all he can, grains and chaff alike.  Many
years past, before that yellow hair of yours had grown to trouble a
maiden's heart--Ah, that blush was good.  Shall repeat the phrase.
Before that yellow hair had grown to win a Dutchman's heart--see how I
spare your blushes to hurt your pride--I served under Hendrick Hudson,
who called himself English, though plague me if I could ever tell what
was English in him save his oaths.  I promise you he could ring an
English oath to drown the best of yours.  To-morrow will tell you how I
sailed with him up the Mohican river which now bears his name.  'Tis a
happy day for you, young comrade.  Your future wife and children shall
bless this day--when you and old Pieter met.  Plague the lad!  His face
is like a poppy in a corn-field.  Shall stand together, young
yellow-head, till the end of this journey.  I do not seek to learn your
business, but you shall know mine.  I am going home, boy, back to San
Nicolas by the sea, and there shall grow a yet rounder belly, and tell
travellers' tales, and toss my neighbours' children upon my knee.  We
shall part in New England, enemies if you will, but until we reach the
fields of the Puritans we stand together, and the Indians that burn you
shall burn me also."

"How come you to be travelling alone?" asked Geoffrey.

"When you reach my age, young whipster, you shall learn that questions
are like thistle-seed, tossed here and there, serving no better purpose
than the sowing of a fresh weed-crop.  I ask no question, but I know
that you carry a despatch to your Puritans in the south.  See how
shrewdly I have hit it.  Until two days back I travelled with my
company, but when they chose the way which leads to destruction I left
them.  They have gone to the devil, and I am for the sea.  At this
present time I am for sleep.  When the moon touches yonder ridge, wake
me and I will take my watch.  This panther's family may be on the
prowl."

"'Tis a fine skin," said Geoffrey, indicating the striped coat which
Von Donck was stretching along the rock.

"Will look well upon my shoulders," said Pieter complacently.  "'Tis
mine by hunter's right.  Shall swagger about New Amsterdam in it and
shame the burgomaster.  At nights will sit in the hostel and say how I
killed him with mine own hand.  The folk shall not believe, but I shall
have the hunter's satisfaction of making a brave show.  By San Nicolas,
the brute shall not die so easily when I come to tell the story."

The garrulous old sailor made a bed of grass and moss, and prepared to
sleep.  Suddenly he broke into a deep laugh, and lifted his hand to
indicate a crystal ridge towards which the moon was drawing.  "See you
how yonder granite is shaped into a man's face?" he said.  "And, as I
live to sin, a likeness of mine own.  See there my crooked nose and
flabby forehead and my hanging lips?  Behold my beauty, boy, and bear
in mind that Pieter von Donck and yourself are the first travellers in
these crystal mountains.  Ah, Pieter von Donck!  Pieter von Donck!" he
continued in a shout, lifting himself upon his elbow, and shaking his
fist at the massive face of granite.  "You sleep well yonder, Piet von
Donck.  May you sleep as soundly for ten thousand years.  Now, boy,
remember me in your prayers, but see that you put me not before your
sweet maid.  God forbid that you should put an ancient rogue before
her.  Forget not to shake me by the shoulder when the moon snuffs the
nose of yonder old man of the mountains."

He fell back and soon began to snore, while Geoffrey watched the stern
stone profile and the moon rolling serenely over the crystal heights;
and as he watched he drifted away into dreams.

These aerial castles toppled and fell when there came to his ears from
the adjoining valley a disturbance, which might have been occasioned by
mountain gnomes beating the rock with hammers of iron.



CHAPTER XXIV.

ART-MAGIC.

Throwing off his sleep with a deep breath so soon as Geoffrey touched
his shoulder, Von Donck stared up at the moon, and then upon the
equally pale face of the watchman, who knelt over him and exclaimed:
"Hear the sounds along yonder valley?"

In a moment the Dutchman was on his feet, alert and listening.

"So," he snorted, when the steady tap-tap of the fairy hammers reached
his ears.  "We are first here by only a little.  How is that shoulder,
young fighter?  Too stiff to draw a bow, or cross a sword?"

"What mean you?" asked Geoffrey.

"Frenchmen are upon us.  The knaves to ride o' night when honest folk
sleep!  They have forgot that the blessed echo carries far beyond them.
Now 'tis for me to contrive some snare for your executioners."

Geoffrey quaked at the ugly emphasis which the big man gave to his
words.  A new feeling of security had come to him with the sealing of
his partnership with the stout Hollander; and it appeared as though his
dream of safety was to be dissipated before it had taken a concrete
form.

"What else think you?" went on Pieter, with his snorting laugh.  "Shall
Roussilac allow a spy to reach New England, there to make known his
weakness, without striking a blow for his capture?  See you that
straight limb on yonder pine?  I tell you that slim body of yours would
have swung there ere sunrise, had you not by good luck fallen in with
Pieter von Donck."

"They shall never hang me," said Geoffrey defiantly.

"Spoken like a Dutchman," said the sailor.  "But now to work.  I have
as little mind as you to die out of season, for my shrift shall be as
short as yours if yonder little men pull me down.  Scatter the fire,
and remove all traces of our camping-place, while I pull at my pipe and
think.  The soldiers have a hard climb before them yet."

Von Donck screwed the pieces of his wooden pipe together, filled the
bowl, and taking a brand from the fire, removed to the edge of the
cataract.  There he sat, puffing great clouds, his eyes settled upon
the ravine, his face stony in thought, while Geoffrey swept the fire
into the cataract and obliterated all traces of the recent struggle
with the wild cat.

"Bring me my panther hide," called Von Donck, rising with leisurely
movements.  "We shall win a bloodless victory, and enjoy a laugh to
boot.  Yonder lies the man to fight for us."

He pointed with the stem of his pipe into the middle of the moon.

Refusing to divulge more of his plan, Von Donck threw the pelt across
his shoulder and strode into the bush.  Geoffrey followed, and the two
men struggled on for upwards of a mile, until the ground went away
sharply and the cataract thundered far below through a neck of rock
scarcely more than four feet in width.  Here Von Donck halted and
steadied his body upon the brink.

"If I fail to make this jump, reclaim my body from yonder depths, and
say that I fell like a soldier," he jested.

Crossing the chasm, they descended, letting themselves from rock to
rock, and running whenever a sheep walk became visible.  As they
entered the ravine the noise over the hills became more definite.

"How is it they have tracked me?" asked Geoffrey as they ran.

"I have no breath for idle talk," gasped his comrade.  "They bring with
them an Indian, one of the cursed Algonquins, who shall tell when even
a bird has hopped across a stone."

The climb began, up the face of the hills to the region of the moon.
The crystal wall was nowhere precipitous.  When the summit had been
attained, Von Donck flung himself between the mighty lips of the
granite face and gasped heavily.  Some minutes elapsed before speech
returned to him.

"I would as soon carry a man upon my back as this weight of flesh," he
growled.  "By San Nicolas, I did never so sweat in my life."

"This is open rock, without tree or shelter," said Geoffrey
wonderingly.  "We could have made a better stand in the bush."

"Hasten yonder," ordered Von Donck.  "Bring me as much dry wood as you
can bear, and ask no question, or I shall heave you down the face of
this cliff, which it has well-nigh killed me to climb."

When Geoffrey returned with a few dry pine sticks, Von Donck was
collecting some moist moss from the underpart of the rocks.  The moon
stood above the granite nose of the colossal face, and by her light the
Dutchman drew an imaginary line from the twin projections, which became
invested by distance with an exact similitude of the human mouth, to a
hole in the rock some twelve yards away.  Here he built a fire, placing
above the grass and dry sticks a pile of white moss.  Then he sat down
and well-nigh choked with laughter.

"Prepare to strike a spark," he whispered.  "But let no smoke arise if
you would escape hanging.  The troop shall carry away with them a tale
to make these crystal mountains feared for ever."

"What plan is this?" said Geoffrey irritably.  "We stand upon the most
exposed spot of these mountains, and do you propose to light a fire so
that all who are concerned may know where we may be found?"

"Control that voice and temper," whispered Von Donck.  "Every sound
carries over yon ravine.  Come, sit near me, and watch as pretty a
piece of art-magic as brain of man ever devised.  Show not yourself
above the great face, or we are undone, and drop no spark into that
fire if you love your life."

Geoffrey crawled along the side of the face and lay flat beside the
Dutchman's knee.  The latter proceeded:

"The Indians have great fear of these mountains.  I promise you yonder
Frenchmen are driving their guide at the point of the sword, and
feeling none too secure themselves at entering the devil's country.  A
man who fights a good sword shall sweat when a bird screams o' night.
So soon as they show themselves the old man of the mountains shall lift
up his voice, and you shall find, boy, that his tongue is mightier than
our swords."

When Von Donck had spoken a breath of wind swept the exposed ridge.  As
it passed a faint groan arose from the rock, and passed, leaving them
staring at each other fearfully.

"It was but the wind," Geoffrey muttered.

"San Nicolas!" stammered the Dutchman.  "This comes of playing with the
powers of darkness.  'Twas the groan of a lost spirit."

"Stay!" whispered Geoffrey.  "I thought that the sound proceeded from
yonder stone."

His comrade regarded the round mass which had been indicated with
starting eyes, but when he saw nothing supernatural, crawled near and
examined it nervously, asking:

"Think you some spirit is imprisoned within?"

"See this hole?" exclaimed Geoffrey, pointing to a small aperture
visible at the base.  "'Tis what they call a blow-stone, if I mistake
not.  Here the wind enters and so makes the noise that we heard."

"Soft," said Von Donck, vastly relieved.  "Soft, or you spoil my plan."

Setting his lips to the hole, Geoffrey sent his breath into the womb of
the rock.  A subdued murmur beat upon the air and settled the matter
beyond dispute.  Von Donck rocked himself to and fro, chafing his legs
with his podgy hands, scarlet with excitement.

"A hundred thousand devils, but they shall run," he chuckled.  "I had
purposed to use my own voice, but this is better far."

The sound of other voices came in a murmur across the ravine.

"To the fire," whispered the Dutchman.  "Nurse the flame, and let it
not burst forth until I give the word."

He scrambled up the side of the rock and looked over the giant's nose.
The opposite cliffs were bathed in moonlight, and the watcher saw two
men standing above the cataract.

"Now, boy," he muttered deeply.  "Let the fire burn, and when the
flames dart up choke them with the moss."

Geoffrey complied with the mysterious command; but as he pressed the
moss down and a cloud of smoke ascended, a mighty bellowing shook the
air, and he started round to behold Von Donck lying flat along the
rock, his grotesque face and bulging cheeks pressed against the
blow-stone, his body heaving like a gigantic bellows as he pumped his
breath into the hole.

"More fire," came a choking whisper.  "A strong flame, then smoke as
before."

The flames darted up and whipped the moonbeams, the smoke followed, and
again the bellowing shocked the night.  Then Von Donck scrambled up,
and his triumphant voice came down:

"They run!  They run!"

The trackers were fleeing wildly from the crystal hills.  Had they not
seen fire and smoke belched up from the mouth of that terrible face of
granite, and heard the giant's awful roars of anger?  Headlong they
went, mad with terror, leaving their ponies in the bush.

"Here is a brave victory," snorted Von Donck; and he gave vent to his
delight by turning a caracole upon the forehead of the giant.

"Now for New Netherlands and Hudson's River!" he chanted, drawing at an
imaginary cable as he danced along the great stone face.  "'Tis scarce
a hundred miles down to the sea.  We have but to keep clear of Indians,
and all shall be well.  Yonder are ponies for us to ride, and, I doubt
not, bags of provisions hanging to the saddles.  We may laugh at
pursuit, boy.  The French shall not dare to return.  Take now my hands
and let me see you make a holiday caper.  Higher!  San Nicolas, the boy
shall make a dancing-master.  Ha, Pieter von Donck!  Pieter von Donck!
'Tis as cunning an old rogue as ever wore shoe-leather!"



CHAPTER XXV.

NOVA ANGLIA.

Good fortune and fair weather smiled upon the two travellers during the
remainder of their journey, and not another notable adventure befell
them before they rode from the forest during the fall of day, and saw
the fenced fields of the Lincolnshire farmers stretching before them
down the Atlantic slope.  Melancholy stumps of trees dotted the
prospect as far as the eye could travel; beyond, the thatched or wooden
roofs of small houses glowed in the strong light; and from the far
distance came the inspiring wash of the sea.

Von Donck reined in his pony and fell from the saddle.  "Dost now feel
at home?" he cried.

Somewhat sadly Geoffrey shook his head.  He was indeed grievously
disappointed to find New England so different from the old.  He had
hoped to see neat hedgerows, compact farms, and sloping meadows, such
as he might have looked on in his native county of Berks.  He had hoped
to see a wain creaking over the fields, to hear the crack of a whip and
the carter's cheery song.  He saw nothing but poverty, small
beginnings, and the signs of a hard struggle for existence.  Some men
were working in the distance.  He could see the quick flash of their
axes and hear the solemn blows as steel bit the wood.  Between dreary
lines of fencing, jagged stubs, patches of corn, showing yellow here
and there, springing from every cultivated foot of ground; beyond, some
acres of burnt ground, and those cold wooden houses with their enormous
chimneys, so altogether unlike the warm brickwork of Old England homes.

"This is not Virginia?" he asked.

"Virginia lies five hundred miles to the south, very far beyond
Hudson's River," replied Von Donck.  "'Tis a fairer province than this,
and better settled, because older.  Be not downcast, boy.  Here thought
is free, and here a man may reap the full reward of his labours.  You
shall find no tax, nor persecution, nor kingly oppression in this land.
Here the people rule for the people; and here you may worship God after
your own inclining, and dwell in peace all the days of your life."

"It is a barren land," protested Viner.

"What would you look for in the new world?  That island of yours was
once a land of forest and swamp.  The first man was put into the garden
to till it.  Labour shall conquer here as elsewhere.  Mark you the
richness of the soil and the purity of the air.  Here you shall fear no
pestilence, and if your hands be not afraid to work you shall raise two
crops of corn in one season.  Gold and silver there are none; but he
who owns an ox and has no corn may exchange with him who has corn but
wants for meat.  In our settlement we use strings of wampum for
currency.  A shell from the beach becomes gold when it shall buy a man
that which he lacks."

The comrades drew back into the forest and waited for evening, because
Geoffrey would not advance alone, and Von Donck dared not risk his life
among the Puritans, who were at war with the people of New Netherlands.
They partook of their last meal together, and when the shadow of night
grew heavy upon the fields, Pieter rose and shook himself.

"We have now come to the parting of our ways," he muttered.  "You are
among your people.  We will together cross yonder fields, and then you
shall wish me God-speed.  The town of Boston lies upon your right hand.
I shall beat inland at the base of Connecticut, until I reach the bank
of Hudson's River, and there I am upon my own territory where no man
shall lead me.  I shall ride beside the river until I come to the
little city of the Manhattoes, where William Kieft rules.  San Nicolas!
How old Will the Testy shall stare and blow at his pipe when he sees
Pieter von Donck on the steps of his bowerie!"

They set out upon the last stage along a trail between the whispering
corn.  Von Donck had grown suddenly silent.  He plucked at the panther
skin, snorting occasionally, and casting side glances at his companion,
who rode close to his side, intent upon the prospect of low houses and
broken bush.  When Geoffrey at length leaned over with a warning to
point out the figure of a man, who was proceeding down a side path with
a dog at his heels, the old Dutchman replied by touching the shoulder
nearest him and saying:

"Dost feel the smart of that wound yet?"

"It is nothing," Geoffrey answered.  "See you not that man advancing?"

"The marks shall remain," went on Pieter solemnly.  "The scar will be
there to remind you of a good friend in New Amsterdam.  My lad, I shall
seek to hear of you.  Each time I look on this skin I shall breathe a
wish for the happiness of the boy who saved my life in the crystal
hills.  When you come to make your home in Virginia, send to Pieter von
Donck at the hostel by San Nicolas, and if he be alive, and not grown
too fat to walk, he will come out to meet you.  Will not forget the old
rogue who tricked the French?"

Geoffrey put out his hand and grasped the podgy fingers.  "May I meet a
traitor's end if I forget my friend," he answered.  "Had it not been
for you my dry body would now be swinging in the wind of the mountains.
I wish you well, Pieter; I shall ever wish you well.  Now ride!  You
would not have me fight for you against my own people."

"There is no English blood in him," snorted Von Donck.  "A Dutchman, I
say, a Dutchman to the ends of his hair."

The dog was bounding towards the travellers, and the farmer put up his
hand and hailed them.

"We are Englishmen," Geoffrey called back.

"Now, by the sack of San Nicolas, out upon you," shouted Von Donck.  "I
am no Englishman.  I am a Hollander, fellow, Hollander from head to
heel."

"Ride!" exclaimed Geoffrey, smiting his comrade's mount.  "God be with
you, Pieter."

"And you, boy."

Von Donck lashed his pony and the nimble animal bounded off to the
west, while Geoffrey dismounted, and, holding the savage dog at bay
with his sword, advanced to meet the owner of the land.

"Do not fear, friend," he said, as they drew together.  "I am no spy,
but an Englishman from the north.  He who rides yonder is a friendly
Dutchman who has accompanied me upon the way.  I pray you tell me is my
Lord Baltimore within the town?"

The settler, a tall man in a quaker hat and black cloak, which fell
from his neck almost to the ground, regarded the speaker with cold,
unfavouring eyes.

"You know little of this country, young sir, if you believe that Lord
Baltimore governs here," he replied at length.  "You stand within the
province of Massachusetts beside the town of Boston, and the lord you
seek rules over the province of Maryland and that country to the west
of the bay of Chesapeake."

Geoffrey's heart sank at this chill reception, and he lowered his eyes
despondently before the stern gaze of the Puritan as he answered:

"I come to pray for a ship and men to be sent against the French, who
hold the north.  He who sent me, charging me to deliver this ring in
his name to Lord Baltimore, believes that his countrymen and mine will
not fail to help us in the time of need."

"Put not your trust in Massachusetts," said the listener dourly.  "We
have much ado to defend ourselves against the Mohicans and the pinch of
famine.  We know not ourselves where to turn for aid, and your cry is
ours also.  You have reached the valley of dry bones, young stranger."

"The dry bones stood up in an exceeding great army," returned Geoffrey
boldly.

"Even so.  If it be God's will, we also shall stand up.  What is the
name of him who sent you?"

"Sir Thomas Iden."

"Of county Kent?"

"The same."

"I have heard of that family as most loyal to the Crown.  Arms, a
chevron between three close helmets, if my memory mistake not.  I also
am from the south, driven out, like many a better man, by the hand of
persecution.  Come now!  I will lead you to the house of John Winthrop,
our governor."

The town of Boston was then a mere village of distressful huts crowded
within a great palisade; the single street, which led to a quay of
closely-packed logs covered by stones with earth atop, was rough ground
over which the tyreless wheels of primitive carts jolted woefully.  The
candle-light from a few windows shed a dreary gleam across the way,
where men closely muffled drifted along with a stern "Good-e'en."
There was neither laughter nor tavern-singing nor play-acting in that
cheerless town, no throwing of dice nor rattle of cups.  The Puritan
mind was dominant; and the only sound of music that disturbed the
unhappy silence was the lugubrious droning of a psalm or sad-toned hymn.

A lamp flickered near the entry, and beside the watchman, who kept the
light burning at the gate, stretched a board; and upon the board
appeared in short black letters the notice:--

"No person within this province, professing to believe in Jesus Christ,
shall be in any ways troubled, molested, or discountenanced for his or
her religion, or in the free exercise thereof."

"See!" said the guide, without a smile.  "Here we have liberty!"

At the entrance to a low house near the end of the street they stopped,
and the guide knocked.  After a long interval a shutter was pushed back
and a voice demanded to know who it was that knocked.

"A stranger from the north to see the governor," said the guide.

The voice grumbled and lessened gradually, still grumbling, until it
sounded more loudly and the door opened.  An old man stood on the
threshold, a lighted candle in his hand, the thick grease running upon
his fingers.  He looked from one to the other, and cried in a shrill
voice: "The governor is with his reverence.  The stranger must wait."

"I am content to wait," said Geoffrey.

Hearing a sound, he looked back, and saw the man who had brought him so
far already receding in the gloom of the street.  The porter bade him
enter, and when he had done so provided him with a seat, and there left
him for a good hour, at the end of which time he reappeared in darkness
and said shortly: "Come!"

The room into which Geoffrey was ushered contained all the marks of
extreme poverty.  The light came from one great log glowing in the big
fireplace, for the night was chill with the breath of the sea and a
sharp north wind.  Two figures occupied this comfortless room, one on
either side of the fire, the older man attired in the simple gown and
bands of a minister of religion; the other, dark, with luminous eyes
and white forehead, leaned forward, the long fingers of his right hand
trifling with his wig.  Both were well-known in their generation.  The
layman was John Winthrop; the minister Roger Williams.

"You are welcome to Boston, sir," said Winthrop, without rising, but
merely lifting his head in the firelight to scan the face of the
visitor.  "Come you to our town by chance?"

"I come from the far north to seek aid," said Geoffrey, with a boyish
pride which caused Williams to frown.

"_Terra incognita_ indeed," he murmured.  "A cold land where Popery is
rampant.  How great is the distance, and how came you thence?"

Geoffrey told his story and delivered his message.  The two men watched
him intently, Winthrop always playing with his wig, Williams leaning
out with hands clasped over a massive Bible held upon his knee.  When
Geoffrey had finished his tale, there was a moment of silence, broken
only by the spitting of the fire.  Then the Puritans looked across the
hearth and smiled.

"The poor man is the helper of the poor," murmured Williams.

John Winthrop laughed bitterly.

"When a poor man begs of me he has my all, and that I give to our poor
brethren in the north.  They have my prayers.  Young man," he went on,
rising and confronting the messenger, "you have nobly performed a noble
duty; but in coming to us you confront poverty indeed.  Here night and
day we struggle for existence.  I myself have gone to rest, knowing not
how to face the morrow.  We have our wives and little ones to feed and
protect, and these are our first charge.  Daily the cry goes out to us:
'We want.'  Nightly we dread to hear the shout of 'Mohican invasion.'
We fight, not for fame nor for honour among nations, but for a foothold
upon this continent, where we are striving to plant a home for the
free, to the glory of God, and the shame of England who has cast us
out.  Young man, you have done your duty."

"And your help shall come from Heaven," murmured the divine deeply.

"I shall proceed to Lord Baltimore.  To him I was sent," said Geoffrey.

"Go to him if you will, but the answer you shall there receive will be
that you have heard already," said Winthrop.  "Virginia is in sore
straits, being unable to convey her tobacco crop to the Old World,
since there are no English ships to cross the seas."

"Nevertheless I shall go," said Geoffrey.

John Winthrop bowed his head.  "You shall sleep under my roof this
night and accept what poor hospitality I have to offer.  My friend and
servant shall minister to your needs."

He made a slight movement of his hand to signify that the interview was
ended, and the messenger retired, sorely depressed at the manner of his
reception.  The old man who had opened the door gave him food and
drink, asking no question and imparting no information; but continually
droning through his nose a hymn, or muttering in gloomy tones some sad
portion of the Scriptures.  He was one of the most zealous of
Winthrop's company, all of whom were Nonconformists, but not
separatists.  Indeed, they esteemed it an honour to call themselves
members of the English Church, and openly admitted that they had
emigrated in order that they might be divided from her corruptions, but
not from herself.  For all his devotion, the old servant was not a
cheerful companion for a man who was already cast down in mind, and
Geoffrey was glad to be rid of him and alone in a cold, bare room,
which was as sad in all its details as the men who occupied the town.

It was long before sleep came to the traveller.  He had become so
accustomed to the open air that the atmosphere of his room stifled him.
When at last he succeeded in finding unconsciousness the boom of the
sea shook the house and occupied his brain.

Morning came, and with it a heavy tramp of feet.  A rough hand struck
the door, and the sleeper awakened with a start, to behold at his side
three men, cloaked and stern, the foremost holding a scrap of paper, to
which was affixed a red official seal.

"Sir stranger, surrender yourself," he said.

"What means this?" exclaimed Geoffrey.  "I am an Englishman in a colony
of the English."

"The charge against you is that of treason," replied the stern Puritan.

"Treason!" repeated the young man; and rose dumbfounded.

"It is suspected that you are a spy, in the employ of our enemies the
Dutch."



CHAPTER XXVI.

STIGMA.

Thus Geoffrey became a prisoner among his own people, owing to the
friendliness of Von Donck, the honest Dutchman having failed to reckon
with the intense suspicion of the Puritan mind.  When the manner of his
guest's arrival had been explained to John Winthrop, that pious
governor raised his eyebrows in astonishment, and did not hesitate to
give instructions for the new-comer to be held in close confinement,
pending an inquiry into the movements of the Dutch.  While this
investigation was being pursued, justly and in good order as the
governor directed, or, in other words, with extreme slowness, many
notable events occurred in the disordered country of the north.

The _St. Wenceslas_ had slipped from her moorings and drifted down the
St. Lawrence, bearing La Salle towards Acadie, and certain despatches
which were destined for the chief minister of France.  Unwillingly
Roussilac had been compelled to record the services rendered to Church
and State by the proud departing priest.

"You have well served yourself, Sir Commandant," La Salle had said,
after insisting upon his right to peruse the detailed history of the
Iroquois defeat, which contained no word of reference to the assistance
rendered by the Algonquins.  "And now, by Heaven, you shall serve me."
And Roussilac, for all his ill will, was not strong enough to dare
resist the priest.

There yet remained in that district the Kentish knight, old Penfold,
and the Puritan; and when the man of Kent came to learn of La Salle's
departure, he left his solitary cave, and buckled on his sword, and
returned to action, though the dream of his life had vanished.  His
younger brother, the fool of the family, who from boyhood had spent his
days in idleness, trolling for pike or chasing with his dogs, would
continue to occupy the old mansion which the elder had abandoned, and
leave it, as he had been empowered to do failing news from the New
World, to his son, when the days of fishing and the chase should be
accomplished.

The knight came to his home beside the lost waters, and his wife, who
had visited him each day with food in the lonely cave, received him
with her proud silence and stood to hear his will.  She it was who had
told him of the sailing of the ship and the going of La Salle.

"Let us also travel to this land of Acadie," the knight said.  "My
Richard haunts me with reproaches.  I go to make ready our canoe for
the long journey.  My mind shall find no rest till I have avenged our
son."

He went out and built a fire upon the beach, and while the lumps of
pitch, prepared from native bitumen mixed with pine resin, were
melting, he peeled soft sheets of bark from the snowy birch trees and
patched the canoe, caulking every seam with pitch.  About the time of
the evening shadow his work was done; but as he was returning to his
home a voice called, and the Puritan hastened to his side.

"Welcome, friend," said the knight.  "How fares it with you and your
brave comrade?"

"We suffer who sojourn in Mesech," said Hough.  "Old Penfold lies
grievously sick of a fever."

"Dwell you far away?" the knight asked.

"Nigh upon two miles by land and water.  We have returned to the cave
which we occupied before our taking of the Dutch ship."

"My wife shall prepare a medicine.  She is well skilled in the arts of
healing," said the other.  "You shall bring us to your cave with all
speed."

"The disease has already taken hold upon his mind," said Hough.  "One
time he is holding his mother's gown, old man though he be, and
wandering in water-meadows to pluck long purples and clovers, muttering
as he picks at his blanket.  'Here is trefoil, good for cattle, but
noisome to witches.'  Another time he reaches for his sword, and
swears--the Lord forgive him--at the weakness which holds him down.
'The French are upon us, comrades,' he calls.  'Let me not lie like an
old dame with swollen legs.'  Then he falls a-crying, and shouts,
'England!  England!'  Methinks if his mind were healed he would stand
up again."

Mary Iden being summoned, and having made her preparations, the three
set forth and came to the cave, which the adventurers had hoped to
exchange for the Dutch vessel, then lying fathoms deep beneath the
cliffs of Tadousac.  There they found Penfold stretched along a heap of
grass, babbling incessantly at the cold walls and the shadows.  When
the figures darkened the entrance, he screamed at them and sprang up,
only to fall back upon the rude bed, a fever-held body agitated by
stertorous breath.

"Build me here two fires," said the quiet woman, as she passed to the
sick man's side.

"Witch!" shrieked Penfold.  "Flower!  Woodfield!  Comrades, where are
ye?  Save me now from sorcery.  Hough!  Go bring the villagers, and bid
them fling this hag into the Thames and pelt her with stones when she
rises.  To me, comrades!  Leave not your old captain to perish by
witchcraft."

"Canst heal him from this madness?" muttered Hough.  "Myself I dared
not let his blood, fearing lest I might do that which should hasten his
end."

"Our people let no blood," came the answer.  "We bring great heat into
the body, so that the evil spirit shall come forth to seek water.  Then
we strengthen the body, so that it may be able to resist his return."

Already Penfold ceased to struggle beneath her soothing hands.  The
fires blazed fiercely, the smoke and hot vapours being drawn upwards
into the natural chimneys.  Obeying instructions, the men placed their
sick comrade between these fires and covered him closely, while the
skilful healer moistened his brow and lips with water in which she had
steeped the young pink bark of the bitter willow, thus wringing the
fever out of his body like water from a sponge.

"I am saving the old man," she whispered in a confident voice.

At the end of another hour the limp rag of humanity was steeped in
sleep.  By then the night was strong and the stars little orbs in
splendour among the clouds.  The breathing which the men heard when
Mary Iden rose from her knees might have been that of a little child.

"The evil spirit has been driven forth to find water.  Lift the man
quickly; for the foul creature travels faster than the moonlight."

Obedient to superior knowledge, the men reconveyed the sleeper to the
grass bed, and there the healer roused him to administer a decoction of
bruised herbs: serrated calamintha, the perfoliate eupator, later more
popularly known as the fever-wort of North America, and the white-rayed
pyrethrum, which lifted its bitter bloom upon the heights.  The sick
man gasped as he swallowed the powerful tonic, and sank back into
untroubled rest.

Presently the knight and his wife departed, and Hough accompanied them
upon the first stage of their return journey; and when they reached the
lake-side, where the canoe sprawled along the shingle, the knight
acquainted his fellow-countryman with his plan of departure.  Hough
listened, gazing dimly over the scintillating surface, where a silver
ribbon of moonlight led away to the Isle of Dreams.

"Where lies that land whither you go?" he asked at length.

"In the far east where Sebastian Cabot first touched," the Kentishman
replied.  "There I may sight the great ocean, which we islanders love,
and scent the good brine and watch for an English sail."

"Here there is nothing we may do," said Hough, removing his eyes from
the dreamy lake.  "There surely we may look for the ship which Lord
Baltimore shall send when Viner comes down to Virginia.  I too would be
near the sea and smell liberty."

With that they parted, and Hough returned to his hole among the rocks
with visions of the sea.  Within that cave, where Penfold slept during
his guardian's absence, the fires darted, tincturing with red the
silver of the moonbeams against the sable wall of cliff.  Between the
granite and the forest of pines a stream of moonlight spread like a
glacier.  A figure stole from the black belt, stepped cautiously into
the white road, and waded, as it were, through the rippling beams.  It
was Onawa, who had watched the two men and her sister making west; she
knew that one of the men would return after a little interval; and she
understood that the work which she had undertaken must be done quickly.

No croaking bird aroused Penfold from his sleep to warn him of the
she-wolf.  It was one of those ironies which run through life that one
sister should have cast the sick man into healthy slumber in order that
the other might stab him as he lay.

A cloud of blood-sucking insects trumpeted around Onawa.  Their thin
noise seemed to her a tumult, and she stopped and looked back along the
cold white stream.  A lean wolf was slinking in her direction, his
muzzle snuffling the dust.  She shivered when she remembered that the
murderess was doomed to become a werewolf after death to prowl about
the scene of her former sin.  The creature howled.  The pale girl
started and ran into the cave.

Her belief remained constant that she might still win the love of La
Salle by destroying his enemies.  She knew that he had gained renown by
her betrayal to him of the English settlement.  Now he had gone in the
great ship to Acadie.  She was about to follow, having neither home nor
people, being indeed hunted for her life; but first she might destroy
another of his enemies.  Then she could learn to say: "I have killed
the old Englishman who stirred up my people to attack yours."  And she
thought that he might welcome her at last for the sake of her good
deeds.

A frightened howl broke upon the night.  The wolf, disturbed by some
enemy of its species, was hurrying for cover.  The crisp snapping of
twigs, succeeded by a rattling of small stones, were caused, not by the
pads of the black loup-garou, but by a body weightier and less
cowardly.  These sounds were deadened by the walls of rock, and Onawa
did not hear them.  Swiftly she drew away the coverings from the
white-faced sleeper, and old Penfold smiled innocently at her in his
drugged sleep.  Onawa drew in her breath, unsheathed her knife, and
felt its point; then leaned back, measuring the distance by the faint
glow, and her arm went up to strike.  That next moment she screamed
with terror, turned, struck wildly at the air, and was carried back to
the granite floor with Hough's iron fingers driven round her throat.

Step by step the grim Puritan dragged the girl back to the mouth of the
cave, and there pinned her to the rock with one arm, while reaching
with the other to the corner, where he had piled a rope taken from the
deck of the privateer.  He bound her hand and foot; and thus helpless
she stared up, and read her death upon his face.

For over an hour Hough paced the floor of the cave, listening to his
captain's gentle breathing, and recalling the violent death of
Athaliah, slain by order of Jehoiada, and the fate of Jezebel, cast
from an upper window at the command of Jehu; for such a man as the
Puritan regulated all the actions of his life by the light revealed to
him from the Bible.  There was, he reasoned, the highest authority to
justify the act which he contemplated; only the manhood in him recoiled
from the slaying of a woman.  At length his mind became fixed.  He bent
and drew together the scarlet embers of the fire.

Onawa made no sign of terror, and no appeal for mercy; but her eyes
followed every movement of her stern captor, as she sought to learn her
sentence without betraying her fear.

"The witch is fair," the Puritan muttered, standing over and regarding
her fawn-coloured skin, her even features, and large dark eyes.  "A
woman takes pride in her beauty.  May the Lord punish me if I act now
unjustly and for vengeance alone."

He pushed a stick into the fire and watched it grow red, then turned
sharply upon his victim.  The girl's eyes flashed defiance when they
met his.

"Behold!" he exclaimed, drawing a thin hand across his terrible face,
upon which the Court of Star Chamber had written its unjust judgment.
The girl saw the slit nostrils, the cropped ears, the branded cheeks,
and the scarred forehead.  Her tongue became loosened at that sight,
and she prayed for instant death, because she knew it was vain to plead
for mercy.

Outside the cave the long black wolf, which if native testimony were
accepted, contained the soul of some sorcerer, or of some vile man who
had slain his friend, crept back to search for scraps of food.  As a
cloud drifted over the moon the brute dropped a bone which it had
snatched, and scurried away like a human thief into the shadows,
terrified by a wild scream from within the granite cave.



CHAPTER XXVII.

REVELATION.

Had Madame Labroquerie continued firm in her resolve never to approach
the fortress while her nephew ruled, all might have been well; but
unfortunately for her daughter, and, as it was to prove, for herself,
the bitter little woman permitted her longing to enter again into the
affairs of the world to prevail over her hatred for the commandant, and
so suffered herself to be brought to the citadel, railing savagely
throughout the journey.  Before a week had passed she revealed herself
fully as an unnatural mother and an implacable foe.  Yet, to do justice
to even a worker of evil, it must be admitted that Madeleine, with all
her sweetness, was a sore trial to a fanatical Catholic and bigoted
patriot, for she refused to be ashamed of her heresy, and was never
weary of singing the praise of her English lover.

Left to themselves, neither Laroche, now the head of the Church in that
district, nor Roussilac would have taken action against the lovely
sinner; but Madame, in one of her fits of ungovernable anger, publicly
preferred two charges against her daughter, accusing her of heresy and
treason, and calling upon the Church to punish her for the one offence
and the State to exact a penalty for the other.

These were grave indictments, but both priest and layman closed their
ears, the former not wishing to be troubled by unpleasant duties, the
latter hanging back, not on account of the tie of relationship, but
because of Madeleine's beauty.  But when Madame, in another fit of
fury, openly denounced the commandant before D'Archand, who for the
second time had arrived at that coast, as a Lutheran at heart, and a
protector of the enemies of the Church, he was driven to act for the
sake of his ambition.  So Madeleine was arrested and confined in a
small stone hut high upon the cliff, and before her door a sentry paced
both by day and night, while Laroche, with many deep grumblings, was
compelled to undertake the uncongenial task of saving the fair girl's
soul.

To the credit of the priest, be it said that he was charitable.  He
believed Madeleine had been perverted from the right way by some spell
of witchcraft, and this belief was strengthened by the fact that, when
he adjured the girl by the tears of the Saviour to weep, she merely
laughed at him.  It was notorious that a guilty witch was unable to
shed tears.  Accordingly Laroche attended himself to the obvious duty
of exorcising the evil spirit which had taken up its abode in her; but,
in spite of all his efforts, the girl remained as wickedly obstinate as
before.

"The Church acts towards her children with wondrous love, and because
of that love may chasten," the abbé preached.  "'Tis the duty of the
faithful within the fold to bring in the wandering sheep, either by
suasion or by force.  Being bewitched, my daughter, you stand in great
peril, and we, by the powers entrusted unto us, may remove that danger,
when reasoning fails, by bodily torment.  Be converted, and your soul
shall live.  Remain in your unbelief, and punishment shall follow,
because a living heretic is a danger to the world and a dishonour to
the holy saints."

Even such sound doctrine as this failed to move the heart of Madeleine,
and each day Laroche grumbled louder at his failure, and Roussilac
shrank yet more from bringing his cousin to trial, and Madame became
more stinging in speech and more furious in her awful passions, because
of the suffering of her mind during lucid moments, when she could see
herself in sunny Normandy once more young and sane.  Her hatred for
Roussilac increased, until she would spit and snarl at him when he
passed, and scream: "Infidel!  This shall be known in France.  Power
shall fall from you, and the people shall curse your name."  And when
the men who had been sent after Geoffrey returned afoot with their tale
of failure, Madame Labroquerie made it known from the ship to the
citadel that it was the commandant who had secured the spy's safety for
the love of his heretic cousin.

Coward as he was in many ways, Roussilac at length saw that he must act
or be dishonoured; he must either release Madeleine or bring her to
trial for treason.  The former alternative was impossible, because the
girl was an ecclesiastical prisoner.  The lightest sentence he could
pass for treason was banishment, and he could not endure the prospect
of losing Madeleine.  Besides, when he had sentenced her, she still
remained to be judged by the clerical court.  It needed a wiser brain
than Roussilac's to solve so tangled a problem.  Nevertheless, he
resolved to attempt it.  After some speech with Laroche, who was
heartily weary of the whole business, the commandant passed from the
church of Ste. Mary, after the hour of vespers, and ascended the
winding path which led towards the hut where the impenitent was
imprisoned.  The sentry saluted as the governor approached, then
resumed his march along the brown scar which the constant tread had
made.

"Withdraw yonder," Roussilac ordered.

A happy voice broke out, as he put up his hand to the door:

"There is the sun upon the side of the wall.  So it is already evening.
Time flies as fast in prison as elsewhere.  I pray you, sun, shine upon
Geoffrey rather than on me!"

Cribbed and confined as the girl was, she steadily refused to be cast
down, because she was assured that life had far better things in store.
Her lover was pursued, but then she knew he would escape.  Her body
might be held in prison, but her spirit was free, flying over forest
and hill, and singing like a lark against the clouds.

Her note changed when Roussilac flung open the door and stood before
her in a flood of light.

"Cousin," Madeleine said coldly.  "You break upon me suddenly.  I had
better company before you came.  Why do you drive my friends away?"

The commandant closed the door and stepped forward, his sallow face
working.

"You are alone," he said.  "None dare visit you without permission."

"I am never alone," she declared.  "My friends left me when you
entered; but they shall return when you depart."

"Am not I a friend?  Nay, more--I am a relation," began Roussilac; but
she checked him with the reproof: "I have no family now that Jean-Marie
is dead."

"Your mother," he reminded her.

"She has delivered me into the power of the Church."

"Because it is best for you.  I would care for your body, Madeleine, as
your mother cares for your soul.  Cousin, think not unkindly of me.  I
would release you; but what power have I to remove the judgment of the
Abbé Laroche?  He has sentenced you to close confinement, until----"

"My lover returns to release me," she finished, and backed from him
with a laugh.

Roussilac clenched his fingers tightly, and jealousy venomed the words
which then left his lips:

"Foolish girl, would you rouse all the evil in me?  Bear with me,
cousin," he went on quickly.  "It is not in me to endure patiently.
Since that day when I stood before you in the grove I have not known
the meaning of peace.  My nights have been long, my days dark, my
position unprofitable----"

Again she interrupted him, to simplify what she knew must follow:

"Because you think that you love me."

He stepped forward to seize her hands; but she drew back and steadied
herself against the wall.

"I do love you, sweet cousin."

"You do not love me.  Need I give you the lie when your own tongue
gives it you?  Is it love when the nights become long, and the day
dark, and position brings no pleasure?  Arnaud, I love, and am held in
prison; but my nights are short, my days warm, and my position is a
happiness.  Believe you that love, however unrequited, takes away from
life?  I tell you it adds, it enriches, it beautifies.  It is a crown
which makes a humble man a king, and the halo which makes the
singing-girl a saint.  Love gives a man strength to use his power, to
defy superstition and false religion, to snap his fingers in the face
of a fat priest who believes that a strong will may be bent and broken
by holding the body in bondage.  Had I my heart to offer I would scorn
your cowardly love."

He had faced her while she spoke, but when she stopped he turned, and,
feeling the sting of her eyes, savagely pulled at the cloak which had
drifted from his shoulders.

"My mother has sent you," said Madeleine.

"She and I are bitter enemies," came the sullen answer.  "I have but
borne with her for your sake.  She seeks to stir up mischief all the
day long."  He turned abruptly.  "Have you no kind word for me, little
cousin?"

He looked worn and old, and the girl pitied him; but she was too honest
to deceive by fair speech.

"You brought me to this place against my will," she reminded him.  "I
was happy in our cabin beyond the river.  You have played into the
hands of my mother, who desires to see me punished because I have
abjured her faith.  Would you have brought me here had you found the
plain country maid you had looked to see?"

"I swore to your brother to protect you."

"Do not recall that death scene, I pray you," she said firmly.  "If the
spirit of Jean-Marie looks down upon us now, he finds you--protecting
me!"

Roussilac winced as that shot struck him.  "Blame me not," he said more
submissively.  "Were you a civil prisoner only, I would open this door,
and you should go as free as air.  My purpose in coming to you is to
urge you to free yourself."

"Never at the price demanded.  Arnaud, I put your courage to the test.
I trow that the man who loves a woman will for her sake perform what
she may demand, even though he lose position for it.  Open the door,
and lead me to Father Laroche, and say to him: 'Father, I have taken it
upon myself to release your prisoner, since it shames me to see flesh
and blood of mine confined against her will in the fortress over which
I rule.'  Do so, Arnaud, and I shall believe in you."

"It is madness to ask it," said Roussilac loudly.

"Let us have the truth.  You dare not."

"It is so," he confessed.  "I dare not set myself against the Church,
which has the power to consign a man's soul to hell."

Madeleine smiled contemptuously.

"If you would search your heart and read truly what there you find, I
should hear a different answer.  You do not fear Father Laroche.  He
does not wish to hold me here.  Rather would he cast me from his mind,
that he might have more time to spend at the tavern and his brawls.  I
will tell you what you fear: your actions are watched, your words
criticised.  If you let me free, it would be rumoured that you were
false to the faith.  That rumour would be wafted across seas, and your
enemies at home would see to it that you were recalled and relegated to
the obscurity from which you have arisen.  You would rather treat your
cousin as a courtesan than abate one fragment of the pitiful power
which shall some day fall from your body like a rag.  Now, my
commandant, are you answered?"

Roussilac said not a word when he saw the scorn in those violet eyes.
He merely put out his hand, and opened the door, muttering, as though
to himself: "That pride shall break when she knows."

"Know?" cried Madeleine.  "What should I know?"

He looked at her savagely, feeling that it was in him to make her
suffer.

"That your lover is hanged at my command."

He closed the door quickly and fastened it, half hoping, half dreading,
to hear the scream of anguish which he believed must follow.  But there
came to him as he waited a peal of joyous laughter, and the happy words:

"Geoffrey, Geoffrey! would that you could hear that!  Dead!  Why, my
love, you are full of life.  Were you to die, which God indeed forbids,
your dear spirit would fly at once to me.  Dead!  Have I not seen you
in my dreams?  Do not I see you now walking within sight of the New
England fields?  Oh, Geoffrey!  Near--how near!  Who is that great man
riding beside you, a panther skin across his shoulder?  How noisily he
talks ... and now leans over, and pats you on the arm.  Ah, gone--gone!
And he would have me think that you are hanged!"



CHAPTER XXVIII.

BODY AND MIND.

Roussilac strode towards the river, and in that hour found it in his
heart to envy the meanest settler in the land.  Like many a man who has
risen from the ranks, he found himself destitute of friends.  He had
cut himself off from his own relations, lest they should hinder his
ascent, and none had come to take their place; the captains of noble
birth, his official equals, having refused to receive into friendship
the son of a Normandy farmer.  The home government was but using what
military talents he possessed to their advantage; and when his services
had been rendered, he would be cast aside by the proud priest who ruled
the destinies of France, and another chosen in his stead.

"Courage!" he muttered.  "'Tis but imagination which makes a weakling
of me.  I will to D'Archand, and inquire of him whether or no my name
be yet in favour.  Then to stand up like a man, and sweep away my
enemies, let them be priests, relations, or demons."

D'Archand was idling upon deck, but at a word from the commandant
entered his curtained cabin and produced a flask of Burgundy as an aid
to conversation.  First Roussilac sought to hear more particularly the
news of the world, and induced the master to expatiate upon the
revolution of the Scottish Covenanters, the struggle of Charles for
money and ships, the resolute stand of John Pym for just law, the
prosperity of France under Richelieu, and the breaking of the short
treaty between that country and Holland.  D'Archand warmed to his
discourse under the influence of the wine and a thrill of patriotism,
as he concluded: "I have but recently crossed the high seas without
sighting a hostile vessel.  The Dutch privateers have gone home empty.
The English coffers are bare.  France now holds the world.  I drink to
the Cardinal and our King."

Abstractedly Roussilac lifted his glass.  When the master leaned over
and emptied the flask between them, the commandant observed, with an
assumption of indifference: "Didst hear any word of praise for my work
in this land?"

"My stay was short," D'Archand answered.  "I heard no talk of you,
commandant--at least, not upon the streets, and to be spoken of in the
street is the only fame, I take it.  But there were rumours afloat
regarding the Abbé La Salle."

"Perdition!" muttered Roussilac.  "Shall these priests never confine
themselves to their own affairs?"

"Your princes of the Church are statesmen now rather than priests,"
said the master.  "The Abbé La Salle comes of a renowned family.  'Twas
said that he is wasted in this colony.  I also heard it said--accept
the rumour as you will--that his Holiness has set a cross against his
name."

"What means that?" asked the commandant hastily.

"Urbano the Eighth, who, I may tell you, has recently bestowed the
title of Eminence upon his Cardinals, having suitably enriched his
family and acquired the Duchy of Urbino, now seeks strong men, priests
who are fighters rather than scholars, to aid him in the execution of
his plans, and he who has the cross set against his name may be assured
of sudden promotion.  A canon of Notre Dame, who is much in favour with
Cardinal Richelieu, informed me that La Salle may immediately be
recalled.  His Holiness will raise a parish priest to the cardinalate,
through the grades of canon, dean, and bishop, in a month or less,
according to his necessity for that man's help."

"The _St. Wenceslas_ now bears for home with my despatches," said
Roussilac moodily.  "I have mentioned the abbé as instrumental in
holding heretics at bay."

"His Holiness loves a fighter," muttered D'Archand significantly, as he
opened another flask of Burgundy.

A light glimmered here and there when Roussilac made his way homeward,
and the murmur of the forest brushed his ears as he passed.  The news
of another man's advancement hurt his selfish nature as though it were
a premonition of his own failure.  He hesitated where the path split,
then hastened to his house, entered, and immediately found himself in
the presence of his aunt, who awaited his coming, knitting her fingers
in the lamplight.

"So!" she snapped, her little face hard and wrinkled like a sour apple.
"We have now open treachery at headquarters.  Treachery against Church
and State.  You, the representative of the King, the upholder of the
faith!  You shall be stripped of your power and be disgraced.  And I
will walk a hundred miles barefoot, if there be need, to see sentence
executed upon you."

Her attack was ill-timed.  The commandant was then in no mood to bear
with a mutinous subject, though she had been his own mother.

"Out of my sight," he said fiercely.  "Out, I say.  Madame, my
forbearance is at an end, and I will be obeyed.  Would you have me
forget that you are a woman and a relative?"

"Since you have forgot your duty to God and the King, forget that
also," screamed the little woman.  "Seducer, what have you done with my
daughter?  Where have you hidden her?  Abductor!  You shall learn what
it means to defy Holy Church.  Tell me, where have you taken her?"

Roussilac's anger cooled at that, and he lowered his voice as he
answered: "I left my cousin not three hours ago in the place where she
is confined as an impenitent by the judgment of the Abbé Laroche.
There you shall find her."

"Arnaud," shrieked Madame, "deceive your men, cheat a priest, you may,
but you shall not so prevail upon me.  I know your deeds and the
vileness of your heart.  As a child you were ever false; as a man you
hated your own people, because you had risen and they remained obscure;
and now you stand before the mother of the girl whose heart you have
helped to harden, whom you have taken and hidden for your own purpose,
and ask her what she means when she demands to know the truth."

"If you have information, I will in my official capacity hear it,"
Roussilac answered.  "But forget not that my nature can be fiercer than
yours, and do not tempt my power."

"Your power!" sneered Madame.  "It has already departed from you.  I
thank you, Arnaud, for having disowned your honest family.  How ill the
cloak of innocence lies upon your shoulders!  Madeleine's cell stands
empty, as you know well.  Beside the door the sentry lies stabbed
through the heart, murdered by your hand as surely as though you
yourself had driven home the dagger.  I have but come from there, and
none know what has been done, save you the doer, and I the accuser."

Roussilac caught up his cloak, and wrapped it about his shoulders.
"What took you to her prison?" he demanded, his own nature being no
less suspicious than hers.

Madame laughed furiously.

"You are a brave rogue, Arnaud.  You plot, and murder, and seduce, and
smile through it all, and act the innocent like a mime.  Know that
Father St Agapit came to me--a haughty priest, with no respect for
age--to recommend that Madeleine should be entrusted to his care, that
he might obtain her conversion by a new method.  'Let her not be
crossed,' quoth he.  ''Tis human nature to offend more deeply in the
front of opposition.  I would let her go free, and win her by gentle
persuasion to the fold.'  What does a priest know of the pride of a
girl's heart?  'Is the branch broken by persuasion for the fire?' said
I.  'No, you shall take it in hand strongly and break it by force.'  To
that the abbé said, 'You shall not compare the inanimate thing with the
living creature whom God has gifted with free-will.  Go now to her and
be gentle.  Try her with mother's milk rather than with the strong meat
of human nature.  I have bidden the sentry admit you.'  So I went to
win my erring child as the priest taught me, for I never yet have
disobeyed a Churchman, and what I found you know."

"You are right, Madame, if what you say be true," said Roussilac
sternly.  "There is treachery here."

"Behold my hand!  It points at the traitor," screamed the pale woman,
her fury surging back upon her.  "You shall not escape with your
fellow-sinner.  You shall not go from me until I hear from your own
lips where you have placed Madeleine, my child."

"Woman, I know nothing," he snarled.  "Is my position nothing to me
that I should play so loosely?"

A cry of animal rage broke that instant from his throat.  Madame had
dashed upon him, and, before he could beat her back, had clawed his
face like a maddened bird from cheek-bones to chin.

At that terrible indignity the pusillanimous spirit of the commandant
was sobered into resolution.  He hurled her back screaming, and put up
a hand to his burning face.  The finger-tips came away reddened.

He shivered from head to foot.  Madame was raving.  Roussilac steadied
himself, then walked from that place, a cold, sinister figure, the
howling of the mad woman pealing into his ears.

Scarce a minute had elapsed before he returned, accompanied by two
soldiers; and again facing Madame Labroquerie, whose bloodless face was
distorted with the fury of her terrible nature, issued his orders in a
pitiless voice:

"Secure that woman, and keep her in ward this night."  He raised his
hand, and smiled vengefully at the marks on his fingers, as he drew off
his ring, which he extended to the man nearest him with the words:
"Take your authority.  Spare not force, if force be wanted.  Restore
this ring to me after sunrise, when you shall have hanged this woman
upon the eastern side of the fortress."

Again Roussilac smiled, and, turning quickly, passed outside.  One
terrible scream made him lift his hands to his ears, then he hurried up
the steep path, to see with his own eyes the cold body of the sentry,
and the empty cell, and to learn that Madame had not lied.

For a few moments he stood, like a man in a trance, seeing indeed his
problem solved, but knowing that Madeleine was lost to him.  He turned
to the dead body, and commanded it to speak; and when he understood
that the spirit had passed for ever from his discipline, he spurned the
cold matter with his foot, and in a fury cried: "I would give my
position and all I have to hear this dead man speak."

"Listen, then," said a cold voice.  "The dead are not silent."  And
Roussilac cried out with superstitious fear, then started, when he
beheld a tall figure proceeding from the shadow of the doorway, and
recognised St Agapit, the priest.

"Who has done this?" he demanded.  "What lover of this girl has dared
to enter the fortress, to stab one of my guards, and carry her off
beneath my eye?"

"I am no reader of riddles," said St Agapit.  "I came here to reason
with the maid, because it seemed to me that her heart, young as it is
and tender, must surely respond to the message of love.  Why she
refuses the only faith by which mortals may be saved passed my
understanding.  But now I know that she has been driven into heresy by
the neglect of a father and the unnatural spirit of a mother, and
strengthened in her sin by the persecution of a cousin."

"Father, I loved her."

"Not so.  You shall find at your heart passion, but not the warmth of
love.  It is not the ice which produces the plant and the flower.  It
is the warm rain and the sunshine.  You offered her the storm, and
wondered because she desired the sun."

"Where has she gone?" cried the blind man.

"To freedom.  My blessing follows her, unbeliever though she be."

The ascetic moved forward, thin and stern, and made the sign of the
cross over the fallen sentry.

"Bless me also," cried Roussilac, catching at his skirt.  "Father, I
have done much evil.  Bless me before you go."

"I may pity where I may not bless," said St Agapit, and passed with
that same dignified step which awed the Iroquois into silence when on a
distant day they led him out to die.  His shadow flickered once upon
the slope, went out, and the governor was alone with the dead.

The soldiers who had been left to execute their commander's unnatural
order glanced fearfully at one another, and he who held the ring
muttered a charm against the evil eye.  That cry of impotent rage,
which had caused Roussilac to stop his ears, fell from the lips of
Madame Labroquerie so soon as her mind caught the meaning of her
sentence; and when the men at length advanced to take her, she writhed
and bit the air, and hurled after her nephew words of execration which
caused the soldiers to draw back and cross themselves in terror.  All
the hate and madness of the unhappy woman's ruined mind poured forth in
one awful torrent, until she sank to the floor and settled there to
silence.

Then the men took courage to seize her, believing that the blood which
they saw issuing from her mouth was produced by the wounds which her
own teeth had inflicted; but when the body fell limp in their arms they
realised that nature had intervened.

One at the head, the other at the feet, they carried through the night
the silent shape of Madame Labroquerie, who was never to move, never to
rave, again.  Yet so blindly obedient to their officer's word of
command were these men in the ranks, that they carried the body out and
executed sentence upon it an hour after sunrise in the valley of St.
Charles.

At that same hour rumour went about the fortress--set in motion by a
sentry, who had seen the governor rushing down to the forest during the
night--to the effect that Roussilac was lying under a spell of
witchcraft.  This rumour became an established fact when the Abbé
Laroche was seen proceeding from the church upon the hill with asperges
brush and a shell of holy water.

"Such is the end of ambition," murmured St Agapit, when they had
brought him the evil tidings.  "Can a clay body resist free spirits of
the dead?"



CHAPTER XXIX.

WOMAN'S LOVE IS LIFE.

Before we leave the fortress, to return thither no more, a glance must
be taken at Madeleine, evading the power of the Church and the secular
arm, escaping from the mother who had grown to hate her and the cousin
who had not courage to shield her.  Her rescuer was not a man--if it be
true that man was made in the image of God--yet his actions upon that
night went far to prove that he owned a human heart.

So soon as Roussilac had gone from his cousin's sight for ever, the
tramp of the sentry's feet began again beating out the seconds like a
clock.  The girl was unable to see the soldier, but at regular
intervals his shadow blackened the cracks along the door, and sometimes
she heard him growl when a mosquito pricked his neck.  Life became
strangely mechanical as she lay half-asleep, her eyes opening and
closing at intervals, her ears half unconsciously admitting the sounds
of the outer world, her body subdued for the time and yielding to
languor.  But soon she stirred, hearing voices outside her cell.  A
grating laugh hurt her nerves, and after it came the order of the
sentry calling on some unwelcome visitant to depart.  Then the heavy
tramp sounded monotonously again.

"Would rather be a toad gnawing the root of a tree, than a machine to
pace a dozen yards of grass," taunted an ugly voice.  "Admit me into
the hut, Sir Sentry.  Know you I have this day been ordained a priest
of Holy Church, and 'tis my duty to reason with the fair impenitent.
Shall defy me, rascal?  I can mutter a spell that shall knock the sword
from your hand and shake your body with ague."

"Begone!" muttered the soldier.  "I talk with none while on my duty."

Madeleine stirred uneasily.  Something fell lightly against her arm,
and she looked up to the aperture which made a window.  Nothing unusual
met her eyes; but when she moved again a soft odour brushed her face,
and her delighted hand caught up a bunch of wild bush roses.

"I go."  The fully aroused girl felt that the hideous voice was
intended for her ears.  "There is no moon to-night, and after dark,
when none shall see, I will be here to ease your duty by a song of
roses and woman's love, brave comrade.  Mayhap I shall then meet with a
less churlish welcome."

"That may be," answered the soldier sullenly.  "Another shall have
taken my place.  Sing to him if you will."

"Oh, the lovely flowers!" murmured Madeleine.  The blooms had opened
since noon and their yellow hearts were wet, because the gatherer had
dipped each one into the river, before tying them together with a blade
of scented grass.

She brushed these sweet companions against her cheek, wondering who
could have dared to show himself her friend.  The time passed happily
while she waited in tingling expectancy for the coming of dark.

First came Laroche, full of bluster and talk of the wickedness of
self-will, of the fate of the unbeliever in the next world, and the
punishment of the heretic in this.  The abbé had employed the afternoon
in putting an edge to his sword with his own clerical hands, and his
mind was fully occupied with the fineness of the bright steel and the
excellence of the point while he talked.

"We must save a soul from the everlasting burning," he said with
menace, as he made to depart.  "When the body is put to pain the mind
is said to yield with wondrous readiness, and there is joy in Heaven
over the sinner that repenteth.  Impenitence in one so young is surely
the work of the devil.  The power of exorcism has been conferred upon
the priests of Holy Church.  Pray to our Lady and the saints, daughter,
that they strengthen you for the ordeal."

Laroche swaggered out conscious of having well performed an unpleasant
duty, and hurried down to the street of fishermen, to convince himself
that Michel had not again dared to adulterate his wine.

After vespers came St Agapit.  He had spent the day over his
manuscripts, endeavouring to unravel some of the perplexities of the
human mind.  The ascetic was liberal beyond his time.  He regarded
Madeleine as rather an object for pity than for punishment.  Her brain
had been worked upon and her mind possessed by some spirit of darkness;
and it became his duty to deliver her from the benumbing influence and
to point out to her the way of life.

But when he came to leave the stone hut, he was for the first moment in
his life a doubter.  Madeleine had spoken with such happiness of the
joy of life; had held out to his colourless face her blushing rosebuds,
bidding him note that their smell was as fragrant to her the Protestant
as to him the Catholic; had dwelt upon her faith, which was pure and
perfect even though it excluded the aid of saints and the help of the
Mother of God.  And thus had she answered his final argument:

"In the free country birds would surround me, and each one had its own
way of showing me affection.  One would peck at my gown, another caress
me with its wings, another, too shy to approach, would sit on a bough
and sing as best it could.  But I loved them all, and the shyest the
best.  Father, if the birds have each a different way of showing us
love, may not we, who are better than many sparrows, be allowed to
worship God after our own different promptings?"

St Agapit blessed her less sternly than usual, and returned perplexed
to his studies, there to search for proof of what Madeleine had said,
praying like the holy man he was for light and understanding.
Reluctantly he was compelled to admit that it was an evil spirit which
had spoken to him out of the mouth of Madeleine.  So he went into his
little chapel and prayed for her and for himself that the doubt of his
heart might be forgiven him.

But in years to come, after those days when the Islanders had stirred
up the Iroquois to avenge their wrongs, a sachem of the Oneidas would
narrate the story of the death of the white doctor, dwelling upon those
last moments when the priest had turned to him to say: "Tell me, is it
true that you worship the sun?"

"Surely," answered the sachem.  "For the sun is our life."

"In worshipping the sun," cried the exultant priest, "you have surely
worshipped the one God."

And over the horde of bloodthirsty natives, who were preparing his
fiery torment, St Agapit made the sign of the cross.

Evening came, soft and fragrant, with a rush of sweet wind when the
door opened to admit food and drink for the prisoner.  Madeleine caught
a glimpse of the sentry who took up his post after the proclamation of
the evening gun; a thick-set man, swarthy and black-bearded, a Cyclops
in appearance, but a Cerberus for watchfulness, as the girl knew; for
once, when she had timidly tried the door, the brute had growled at her
like a dog.

Darker grew the air.  Madeleine stood against the wall, listening to
the rush of water far beneath, the drone of beetles, and the scarcely
audible murmur from the heart of the fortress.  The last beam went out,
the tired day was asleep, and Cerberus tramped, growling out his
thoughts.

It became so dark that the walls disappeared.  Clouds hung low, dark as
the under-world; the stars were blotted out; not a gleam of phosphorus
nor a smoky ray shot upward from the north.  The land whirled blackly
into space.

Madeleine moved her forehead from the cold stone and sighed softly.
She crept to her bed and sat shivering gently, holding fast her
treasured blooms.  The night damp had revived the flowers and drawn out
their odour, so that the girl pleased herself with the fancy that she
was sitting in a rose-bower.

She heard the screech of an owl far away, the rattle and splash of
oars, the running out of a chain, the snap of a belated locust.  She
heard the ticking of an insect in the walls; and she heard the growl of
Cerberus:

"A plague upon that ghost-light!"

She heard a sound which made her shiver, though it might have been
nothing more than a heavy foot struck sharply upon the turf; but hardly
had the thrill passed when a gasp and a great groan made the dark night
wild, and the hill-top and every stone in the building seemed to jar as
the ground was smitten.  The silence that followed was unbroken by the
solemn tramp which had become a part of the girl's life.  The human
clock was broken.

Then a subdued voice began to sing, harsh and unmusical, straining to
be sympathetic, and its song was of peace and love in an old-world
garden.  Harsher grew the voice, though the effort to be tender
underlay each note.

"Friend," whispered Madeleine

The song was stilled.

"Oh, friend, open the door and let me feel the air."

"Prepare your eyes for a hideous sight," muttered the voice, dull and
grating like a saw.

"My deliverer cannot make me fear," she murmured.

The iron bolt grated, the door opened, and Madeleine beheld in the
gloom the shapeless outline of the dwarf.

"Thank the night, lady," he said.  "It is kind because it hides one of
nature's failures.  A spider, they say, once saved a Scotchman.  A
hunchback may do as much for a queen."

Madeleine stepped out to the balmy night.

"What made you come to my aid?" she murmured.  "It is death for you."

"Lady," said Gaudriole, "I bow to the Church, because hypocrisy drives
many a sinner to play the saint.  When the fat Laroche calls me to my
duty, I confess with my tongue in my cheek and burn a rushlight.  That
is for policy.  Before you I am a Protestant.  By myself I am a
believer in living long and cheating the gallows.  That again is
policy.  I hate the Church and its priests, therefore I have released
you.  Also, by some strange mischance, nature has placed a man's heart
within this contemptible body.  But let us hasten."

"The sentry!" exclaimed Madeleine.

"Look not in that direction," said Gaudriole.  "Lady, which way?  I
will guide you to safety, stay by your side while I can serve you, and
when you say, 'Back, dog!' I disappear."

"You have done murder," cried the girl.  "Let me see.  Stand aside.
Ah, poor wretch!  He was but doing his duty, and his blood is on my
head."

"The deed is mine, both in this world and the next," said Gaudriole.
"I had a grudge against the knave.  He stunned me once with his fist
when I stumbled by mischance across his foot.  Lady, you must come
quickly.  I see lights moving yonder.  There is no time to lose."

"Geoffrey!" murmured Madeleine softly to her self.

"For his sake," urged the dwarf.  Then he paused and ground his teeth.

"But you?" she exclaimed.

"I!"  Gaudriole uttered his malevolent chuckle.  "To-morrow I shall be
hopping about the fortress, full of wild fancies which shall mightily
impress the superstitious.  I shall say how, as I lay on the hillside,
I saw lightning strike the sentry dead, and how at the roll of thunder
the door of this hut burst open and you passed out in a flame of fire.
Laroche shall worship you as a saint to-morrow, if he worship aught but
his belly and his sword, and shall keep the day holy in honour of
Sainte Madeleine.  Fear not for me.  I have a clever tongue, lady, and
a brave imagination, and if I am pushed can devise twenty men to do
this deed.  Come!" he whispered sharply.  "The lights approach."

Madeleine permitted herself to be hurried away, and the ill-matched
pair made no stop until the forest had closed behind.  Not a sound came
from the heights; only the watch-fires flickered gently in the wind.

"Which way?" cried Gaudriole.

"The sea," said Madeleine.

"There lies your path.  'Tis a mountainous country yonder.  If you hide
to-night, I will after dark to-morrow bring down a boat, and in that
you may escape."

"I know how to find food, and the Indians will not harm me," she
replied.  "I have made myself friendly with them, and carry a marked
stone which one of their sachems gave me."

"Say now the words, 'Back, dog!' and I leave you."

Madeleine turned reluctantly to the dwarf.

"Go, friend," she said, with her pitying smile Gaudriole went down on
his sharp knees, and his crooked shoulders heaved.

"Lady, I am no man, but a beast who has done you what little service it
might.  My life shall continue as nature has fitted me, but when I come
to die on the gallows, as such as I must end, I would have one blessed
memory to carry with me into hell.  Suffer me to kiss your hand."

Madeleine hesitated, her lips parting pitifully, her eyes wet as the
grass which brushed her skirt.  Then, as the poor villain raised his
hideous face, she bent and swiftly kissed his grimy brow.  Her glorious
hair for a moment streamed upon his elfin locks, then she was gone,
breathing a little faster, while Gaudriole lay humped upon the ground.



CHAPTER XXX.

LAND-LOCKED.

With the life of Master William Grignion, alderman, and subsequently
sheriff, of the City of London, these annals are not concerned.  The
merchant's existence cannot, however, be altogether ignored, owing to a
certain venture on his part, which resulted in an English ship being
cast upon the shore of Acadie at the beginning of winter.  Master
Grignion was an austere man, who, by dint of miserly practice and sharp
dealing, had amassed what in those days was a considerable fortune.
After marrying his only daughter to an impecunious peer, he occupied a
shameful old house upon Thames bank, the greater part of which was
stocked with bales of merchandise.  From the single window of the
living-room, which was furnished below the degree of discomfort, the
old man could view the overtoppling houses upon London Bridge; and here
Master Grignion counted his gains each night, while his starved dog
slunk from corner to corner sniffing uselessly for a scrap of food.

Owing to the scarcity of English ships, no valuable cargo of tobacco,
and none of the products of New World grist-mills or tanneries, had for
many months crossed the seas.  For weeks the alderman had been
engrossed by an idea, which grew in strength upon him--namely, that if
he built for himself a ship and despatched her to Virginia, he might
very possibly add materially to the already considerable store of gold
pieces which were secreted about his house from cellar to attic.  But
Master Grignion knew well that the seas were held by England's foes,
and the nightmare of failure held him back from his project month after
month.  One evening, however, while he watched the muddy Thames after a
good day of business, the finger of inspiration touched him, and,
gazing up into the London sky, which was not murky in those days, he
remarked: "Hitherto ships have been constructed for strength.  Dutch,
French, and Spanish vessels are alike slow and cumbersome.  It has
occurred to no man to build a ship for speed."

Having solved the problem, Master Grignion knew no rest until he had
found an enterprising shipbuilder, who was clever at his business and
at the same time weak in bargaining.  Discovering in Devon the man he
required, the alderman divulged his plan; and from that day forward
until the _Dartmouth_ stood fully decked before Barnstaple the miser's
talk was of sailcloth and sailmaking, with masts, yards, gaffs, booms,
and bowsprits.  The _Dartmouth_, when completed even to the
satisfaction of her avaricious owner, was undoubtedly ahead of the time.

One Silas Upcliff, an old sea-dog with a face red and yellow like a
ripe apple, and a fringe of snow-white whisker below the chin, a native
of Plymouth, and a man well salted by experience, volunteered to raise
a crew and sail the _Dartmouth_ to the Potomac; and, after a vast deal
of haggling over the questions of provisioning and wages, his offer was
accepted.  And one fine day the brigantine shook out her wealth of
canvas and skimmed away westward, over the track of such brave vessels
as the Pelican, the little _Discovery_, and the Puritan _Mayflower_.
Trembling with pride and excitement, and a certain amount of fear lest
at the last moment his ship might be seized for the service of the
king, Master Grignion stood by while the anchor was heaved, shouting
his final injunction: "Fight not with your guns, Master Skipper.
Should an enemy attack you, let out more sail and fly."  Silas Upcliff
nodded in stolid English style, and, as he drew away, turned to his
mate and muttered: "From the French, the storm, but most of all from
misers, good Lord deliver us."

From the French the _Dartmouth_ was indeed delivered, but not from the
storm.  Hostile vessels were sighted, but the brigantine's speed
enabled her to show a particularly dainty stern to these privateers;
and all went well with her until the line of the American coast lifted
ominously distinct above the horizon before being blotted out by a mass
of fiery cloud.  Then came the storm, which flung the little vessel far
from her course, carried her northwards, and finally cast her upon the
coast of Nova Scotia, after failing in its effort to wreck her on the
western spurs of Newfoundland.  When the storm ceased, a freezing calm
set in, and for two days snow descended without intermission.  Upcliff
gave the order to build a house out of pine logs, where he and his men
might take shelter while they repaired the ship; for the little
_Dartmouth_ had been terribly strained by the storm and pierced by the
sharp-toothed rocks.  The skipper believed that he was near his
destined harbour, and was sorely puzzled by the snow and bitter cold;
but, when a sailor came hurriedly to report that he had seen the smoke
of a distant settlement and a tree stamped with the fleur-de-lys, the
captain began to greatly fear that the miserly alderman had lost his
venture, and he bade his men bring out their cutlasses and to see that
they were sharp.

When the snow ceased and the atmosphere became clear, a tall figure
came down among the pines, and gave a hearty welcome to the skipper and
his men.  The visitor was Sir Thomas Iden, and he came not alone to
greet the master of the _Dartmouth_, for none other than Madeleine was
at his side.

The brave girl had travelled far that night of her release, and for two
days hurried eastward, keeping near the river, existing on butternuts
and the different kinds of berry which flourished in abundance at that
season of the year, until on the eve of the second day she saw the
smoke of a camp-fire rising from the beach.  Descending, she revealed
herself boldly to the campers, who were none other than Sir Thomas and
his native wife; and when the former heard her story, and knew that she
was English at heart, if French in name, and further learnt that she
was the affianced of Geoffrey Viner, who had gone out to bring them
help, he bent with knightly grace and kissed her hand, and besought her
to accompany him to the land above the sea.  Madeleine joyously
consented; and from that hour her troubles ceased.

Afterwards Jeremiah Hough came to the land beside the gulf, and with
him Penfold, fully recovered from his fever; and these men also took
Madeleine to their hearts--though the stern Puritan refused to trust
her--when they heard how she had served their comrade.  In the pathless
land above the sea, a little to the east of Acadie, they settled
themselves; the knight, his wife, and Madeleine in one log-cabin in a
hollow; Hough and Penfold in another, placed in the heart of a dense
pine-wood.  No marauding band had been abroad to trouble the land.  The
only danger which appeared to threaten the Englishmen, now that winter
had set in, was the possibility that some Indian spy might carry the
news of their hiding-place into the town; and this danger was a very
real one, for, though they did not know of it, Onawa had followed La
Salle to Acadie.

It was Madeleine who sighted the _Dartmouth_ snowed up beside the
beach.  She had gone out into the storm to run along the cliff and
fight against the mighty buffetings of the wind which had upset the
plans of Master Grignion.  She sped back over the spruce-clad hills,
and coming first to the adventurers' hut stopped to tell them the
tidings.  They ran forth, flushed with the hope that Geoffrey had
succeeded, and, standing upon a hill-top, argued concerning the
stranger's nationality, until they came regretfully to the decision
that she could not be from English shores.

"I saw never a ship so light in build," said Penfold.  "See you the
number of her masts?  She is made to run and not to fight, whereas our
English ships are made to fight and never to run.  She is, if I mistake
not, a Dutch vessel."

"Peradventure the Lord shall deliver her also into our hands," quoth
Hough fervently.

The captain shook his grizzled head, and answered sadly: "Recall not
that day of our triumph.  Then were we five good men.  Now George, our
brother, lies on the Windy Arm, and friend Woodfield is no more, and
young Geoffrey has gone out into a strange country.  Only you and I
remain, and my arm now lacks its former strength."

In the meantime Madeleine had run for her protector; and before the day
was done both Penfold and the Puritan knew of their error, and had
joined hands once again with men from their native land.

When Silas Upcliff learnt that he stood upon the perilous Nova Scotian
coast, he felt more shame than fear--shame to hear that the land was
mastered by the French.  Had not those bold sea-brothers of England the
Cabots discovered it over a century earlier, and had not James the
First conferred his crown patent of the whole of Canada upon Sir
William Alexander, his Scottish favourite?  The honest skipper well
knew that the magnanimous Charles had confirmed the bestowal of that
prodigious gift, acting, it must be assumed, under surprising
ignorance, seeing that the land was no more his to give than were the
New Netherlands or Peru.  And at that time, when Roussilac held the St.
Lawrence and La Salle the priest ruled Acadie, the Scottish peer, who
was nominal lord of all the land, was peacefully engaged in writing
mediocre poetry in his castle of Stirling!  Between the ostensible and
actual ownership spread a vast gulf of difference, as the men upon that
shore were to learn to their cost.

Silas Upcliff gave his compatriots a sailor's hearty handshake, and the
men who knew the land and its occupants rendered the new-comers what
assistance they might, while Hough lost no time in begging them to join
in an attack upon Acadie.  To that Upcliff could only make the reply:
"My services are bought, my ship is armed for defence only, and my men
are sworn to run rather than to fight."

Then Madeleine offered her services as housewife to the crew, and when
the men knew that she loved an English lad, that she was a Huguenot,
and had formerly trodden the streets and lanes of Somerset and Devon,
that she even knew the familiar names above merchants' doors in Bristol
and Plymouth, and could quote them with a pretty accent, they fell in
love with her forthwith, from Upcliff himself to the rogue of a boy
before the mast.  From that time forth she ruled them with a velvet
discipline, joining the workers engaged in repairing the ship's
injuries, and helping them by her happiness and approval.

"Hurry! hurry!" she would cry.  "Ah, but you talk too much.  She shall
float to-morrow.  Then to break the ice and flee away!"

"Art in such hurry to lose us, lass?" said Upcliff on the second day
after the snow.

"But I shall not lose you," cried Madeleine.  "I am going to sail away
with you.  I shall bring good fortune and favouring winds; and if any
man be sick I will nurse him back to strength.  None ever die whom I
watch over.  The sick are ashamed even to think of death when they see
me so full of life.  You will take me to my Geoffrey, in the land of
the free?"

"Ay, and to England if you will," cried the hearty skipper, who had
already heard her story.  "But, my lass, your Geoffrey may be on his
way back, and you may but get south to find him gone."

"No," replied Madeleine, shaking her head decidedly.  "He is not on his
way back.  I think he is in trouble.  I cannot understand, but I feel
that he is being punished for what he has not done, and I know that I
can help him.  No one can help a man like the woman who loves him.
Geoffrey wants me, and I must go."

"You shall go, girl," promised the sea-dog; and, turning half aside,
muttered: "If the boy have played her false, I shall have it in my mind
to run out a line from the cross-tree and see him hanged."

"False!" cried Madeleine, with a scream of laughter.  "Is the sun false
when the clouds will not let him shine?  Why, I would slap your wicked
face, and cook you no supper to-night, if I believed that you spoke in
faith."

She ran away, kicking up the dusty snow, and throwing back a laugh
which filled the winter air with the breath of spring.

Each calm morning the boats of the deep-sea fishermen put out from
Acadie, and returned before evening with their frozen freight.  The
Englishmen stifled their fires and stilled their voices when these
boats drew near.  Their shelter was well hidden among the pines; the
snowed-up brigantine resembled nothing so much as a rock bearing a few
dead and stripped firs.  Every night the sailors laughed at danger; but
each morning found them on the watch.

A week passed without event, until the evening of the eighth day
arrived and found the sailors packed within their log-hut at the back
of the ice-bound bay awaiting the call to supper.  The three
adventurers were also present as the skipper's guests.  The cabin was
warm and well lighted, equipped by the men's handiness with nautical
furniture from their ship.  From the region beyond a curtain, which
divided the interior, came the smell of cookery and the joyful roaring
of a fire.  A feeling of security was upon the company, because
snow-clouds were rolling up outside and the gulf was filled with fog.
As night drew on these grey clouds appeared to melt into feathers
innumerable, and the pines became snow-steeples, and the rocks huge
beds of down.  The brigantine was locked within a sheet of ice, and
that mysterious silence which had so terrified Cabot the pioneer held
all the land in thrall.  But the Englishmen cared for none of these
things.  They knew that the colony of Acadie was being buried in the
snow; the unknown coast had no terrors; nor did they fear the black
winter sea which southwards groaned and tossed.  So they gave each
other good cheer, and listened to Upcliff, who beguiled them with
reminiscences of his seafaring life until his throat was dry.  Then he
paused to refresh himself with a rolled tobacco-leaf, and his sailors
broke the silence which ensued by singing melodiously a soft musical
chanty, which recalled to the mind of each his free and happy life upon
the main and the rollicking days ashore.  This song also stirred into
activity a memory which lay latent in the skipper's mind.

"I saw the man who made that verse," he said, leaning over the circle,
and putting out his hand for silence.  "Will tell you where I saw him.
'Twas on London street beside Globe Theatre, coming by Blackfriars, and
he stood with another honest gentleman watching us wild fellows roll
past.  We were singing like boys on the road from school and making the
fat watchmen run.  London town was a brave place for us young sailors
up from the West Country, and we were bent on having our pleasure,
though we had to pay for it before my Lord Mayor."

"What was the name of master?" asked one of the men.

"A comely gentleman," went on the captain, disregarding the questioner.
"Though methinks as pale as any wench who had lost her lover.  Not a
wrinkle on the face of him, and the forehead of him wide and smooth,
ay, and as cold looking as any slab of stone from Portland cliff.  But
the eyes of man!  I caught the look of them, and they seemed to pass
through my brain learning in one glance more about me than ever I knew
myself.  And the smile of man!  Can see it now as he turned to his
fellow and said: 'The sailor is the man to drive our care away, good
Burbage.'  And then he said softly those words you have now been
singing, 'One foot in sea and one on shore, To one thing constant
never.'  A Christian gentleman, they told me.  A great actor, and a
poet who made money, they told me.  Should watch his 'Tempest' played.
Would make you feel on shipboard, and hold on to a pillar of the pit to
steady your feet withal."

"He loved a mariner," said a voice.  "The Englishman smells of salt
water, say they in France.  'Tis better, so honest Will did say, than
to smell of civet."

"How goes the weather?" demanded the captain suddenly.

"Snowing.  Our little barque is but a drift."

The sailor who had sought to learn the poet's name repeated his
question, and while the information was being driven into his obtuse
head by half a dozen of his mates in concert, the curtain dividing the
cabin became suddenly agitated, a white hand fluttered for an instant,
and a bright voice called:

"Your food is ready, children."

The sailors rose, laughing as heartily at the pleasantry as though they
had not heard it before, and obeyed the summons gladly.  To every man
was set a great bowl of stew, and the fair cook, resting her hands upon
her sides, watched them as they set to work.

"You are idle," she declared.  "I have but little meat left, and you,
great children that you are, require so much feeding.  In the morning I
shall turn you out to hunt.  The snow shall have stopped by then, and
you may follow the deer by their fresh tracks."

Madeleine nodded severely at the sailors as she thus made known to them
her mind.

The crew were still over supper, and Silas was telling one of his sea
stories to ears which had already heard it a score of times, but
listened patiently because it was the master speaking, when a deep
sound broke among the hills and rolled onward through the snow, making
the rough coast throb.

The skipper's mouth was open to laugh at his own excellent wit, but
that sound brought his lips together, as it caused all his listeners to
start for the door.  The same cry was upon every tongue, as their hands
dragged away the sail which stretched across the entrance:

"A gun!"

They poured into the terrible whiteness, huddling as close as sheep.
Nothing was visible, except the steady masses shed from the clouds like
wool.  Not a sound, nor any sign of life.  They waited, straining their
eyes out to sea, but the gun did not roar again.

"Cast your eyes over to the west," called a voice, and the master found
Sir Thomas at his side.

A glow in that direction filled the sky, making the surroundings weird,
and from time to time a red tongue of fire leapt up.

"'Tis a French ship bringing provisions," said the knight, pointing
into the unfathomable mass.  "She has signalled, and yonder fire burns
to guide her in."

"Wreck her!" cried a Cornishman.  "Let us build another fire on the
cliff to the east.  With fortune, she shall steer for our beacon
instead of theirs."

"We should but make ourselves known," growled Upcliff.

A terrified shout broke upon his speech, and one of the men jumped
against the huddled party, shrieking in fear.

"What ails you, Jacob Sadgrove?" cried the skipper.

"God save me!  A foul spirit close at my side.  She grinned out of the
snow and floated away, her feet never touching ground.  A warning--a
death warning, and I a miserable sinner."

The man grovelled upon his knees up to his waist in snow, flapping his
hands and groaning.

"Speak up, man!" said Sir Thomas.  "What is that you saw?"

"He has seen a wyvern," spoke the master contemptuously.  "Was always a
man to see more than other folk."

"Stood at my side and grinned in a fearsome manner," whined the sailor.
"The nose of her was slit like man yonder, and the ears of her were
like a dog's, and she breathed fire out of her mouth."

"Stay!" cried Hough, stepping out.  "Say you that her face was marked
like mine?"

"The same," panted the man.  "But dead and cold, and her eyes like
fish----"

The Puritan drowned his wailings by a bitter cry.

"Forgive me, friends," he cried.  "The Lord delivered me that woman to
slay, and I, weak vessel that I am, drew back, and now am punished, and
in my punishment you must share.  We are discovered."

"The name of that woman?" demanded Sir Thomas.

"The sister of your wife."

"I knew it," groaned the knight.  "The agent of my son's death.  Which
way went she?" he cried at the terrified sailor.

"She flew there--there," stuttered the man.

"Follow the tracks!"

"Nay, there are none.  The snow already covers them."

"Her feet ne'er touched the snow," wailed the man.  "Her feet were hot
from the everlasting fire."

"Peace, fool," said Upcliff.  He turned to Hough.  "Are our lives in
danger?"

"Never in greater.  The woman is an Indian spy, who is now on her way
to the settlement, where rules a hot-headed priest who has sworn to
kill every Englishman in the land.  They will be on us ere morning."

"There is only one way," said the master.  "We must break the ice,
release our barque, and put out.  The sea is calm."

"She will not float."

"She shall float."

Upcliff gave his orders coolly, and the sailors hastened to obey
through the muffling mists.  The greater number attacked the ice with
axe and saw, while the minority dismantled the shelter and reconveyed
its contents to the ghostly ship.  Every man worked his hardest,
longing for the sea.  The blow of axes and the snarl of a long saw
sounded along the hidden coast.

Madeleine came down, all white with snow like a bride, and cheered them
on, and presently brought each man a bowl of soup to renew his
strength.  A narrow lane opened through the ice, an ink-black passage
in the colourless plain, but beyond stretched a long white field before
the jagged edge where the snow wave curled in a monstrous lip.

The brigantine righted herself with a flutter and a plunge, casting the
snow from her yards, and the grinding of her keel made joyful music.
The toilers, sweating as though they had been reaping corn in summer,
laboured to open the path to the stagnant sea.

"The rent in her hold is plugged by solid ice," called the skipper.
"She shall carry that cargo bravely through this calm."

The big feathers of snow became spots of down, which lessened to the
degree of frost points before morning.  The country began to unroll,
all padded with its monstrous coverlet; the trees masqueraded as
wool-stuffed Falstaffs; the cliffs seemed to have increased in the
night; the heavens were nearer the earth.  The coast appalled in its
cold virginity.

"One more hour, and then for the sea," sang Upcliff.  "Is everything
aboard?"

"All but the stove, captain.  We wait for it to cool."

"Bring it out into the snow."

As Upcliff gave the order, a man crossed the brow of a western hill and
floundered knee-deep towards the bay.  It was Hough, and he shouted as
he ran:

"The French are coming out!"



CHAPTER XXXI.

IN THE FALL OF THE SNOW.

Because the Father of Waters was frozen over and its track buried in
snow, despatches from Quebec could only be conveyed by the hand of
overland couriers.  Winter had set in early that year, and with more
than usual severity; and this was probably the reason why no messenger
had lately arrived from the heights to inform the governor of Acadie as
to what had taken place in and around the modest capital of New France.

The priest was not concerned by this silence.  He had indeed lost much
of his interest in the doings of the New World, since D'Archand had
informed him of his popularity at home.  He felt that he had made his
advancement sure.  During the weeks which followed autumn, when the
maples were resigning their gorgeous vestments of red and gold, he had
occupied himself in setting the affairs of his charge in order, looking
to shortly receive a command to proceed to Rome, there to receive the
reward of his stewardship.  Onawa had passed out of his memory, and
with her the brave young boy whom he had smitten in the forest by
Couchicing.  He sent no expedition out to search the land.  He had done
sufficient for glory.  He was not the man to waste his energies upon
works of supererogation.  No slip could lose him that spiritual
principality towards which he had pressed by word and act since the day
of his ordination.  As he strode through the snow the settlement seemed
to shrink from him, and the trees to bow, as though foreseeing the
power which was about to pass into his hands.

La Salle reached his chapel, recited vespers in the arrogant voice
which made him feared, and returned to his quarters.  A spirit of
restlessness was over him, and when he could resist no longer he rose,
and, taking his sword, lunged repeatedly at a knot in the wall,
striking it full until his body began to sweat.

"No falling off," he muttered, as he examined the pricks in the wood.
"No sign of weakness yet."  He lowered the sword, and mechanically
wiped the point in the tail of his skirt, then passed his firm hand
caressingly down the blade, murmuring, with a self-conscious smile: "I
have finished my fighting.  Henceforth my wrist must stiffen and my arm
rust, while the power which has controlled the sword shall pass into
the use of tongue and pen."

A knock fell upon the door, and in response to his reply a personal
attendant entered, and with a low reverence announced:

"A messenger to speak with you, Excellency."

At the governor's word a man was ushered in, clad in furs, his beard
heavy with icicles, a pair of long snow-shoes slung upon his back.  He
made a profound genuflection and stood with bent head awaiting
permission to speak.

"Come you from the upper fortress?" asked La Salle.

"Yes, Excellency, with despatches for France and a letter for your
Holiness."

La Salle put out his hand for the communication, broke the thread,
unfolded the sheet, and, holding it in the lamplight, bent over to read.

"Ha!" he exclaimed, his eyes lifting.  "Laroche.  What means this
signature?"

"The noble commandant Roussilac has been stricken with sickness,"
hesitated the messenger.

"What ails him?" asked the priest.

The man faltered, but finally gained courage to reply: "It is said,
Excellency, that the noble commandant acts strangely, as a man
possessed by some unholy influence."

La Salle brought the letter again to his eyes, and hurriedly scanned
the ill-written lines.

"It is explained here," he said indifferently.  "La tête lui a tourné.
Was never an able man," he muttered to himself.  "Was ambitious, and
thought himself strong enough to stand alone.  'Tis but justice."  He
looked across coldly, and sharply ordered the messenger to withdraw.

The emissary retired, bowing as he backed out, while La Salle ran his
eyes over the remainder of the letter, muttering his comments aloud.

"Gaudriole hanged for murdering a soldier.  So, so!  Was but a brute.
The little Frenchwoman dead of a fit, and her daughter escaped.  A
weeding-out, in faith.  The traitorous Dutch gone beyond capture.  The
English spy also escaped.  The men sent after him returned afoot, and
swore that they had been set upon by demons among a range of white
mountains.  Would have hanged the fools.  The Iroquois tribes gone into
winter hunting-grounds.  The country altogether clear.  The Algonquins
still friendly.  This colony is now settled to France beyond question."

La Salle dropped the letter, and fell into musings.  Once he put his
hand to his brow, as though he could already feel a mitre pressing
there; he fingered his ring, and moved his foot, to frown when his eyes
sighted a rough boot instead of the scarlet shoe of his dreams.  Then
he was awakened by a noisy rattling and a shock.

The crucifix which had hung upon the log wall--more as a sign of
profession, as the gauntlet outside the glove-maker's shop, than as a
symbol he revered--lay broken upon the floor.

The priest rose, muttering a frightened imprecation, and as he
nervously gathered up the shattered symbol his ears became opened to a
hurrying of feet over the fresh snow.  All the soldiers and settlers
appeared to be rushing past afoot, shaking the ground and the walls of
his house.  It was doubtless this disturbance which had detached the
crucifix from its nail.  La Salle pulled a beaver cap over his forehead
and made for the outer door, and there encountered a messenger who came
to inform him that a ship's gun had been heard at sea.

"Bid them fire the beacon," said La Salle.

"It has been done, Excellency.  There is not a breath over the water.
But the snow pours down."

The priest's official bodyguard awaited him; and when he appeared every
man saluted and fell into place, and so accompanied him to the cliff,
where a huge fire was making the sky scarlet.  This fire was a centre
towards which all the settlers were hastening like flies towards a
lantern.  The coming of a ship from the Old World, with supplies, fresh
faces, and news of friends, was a red-letter day in the monotonous
calendar of their lives.  The white figures hurried through the night
like an inferno of chattering ghosts.

"She shall not be in till morning light," quoth a wiseacre.  "There are
rocks, see you, in the gulf, and her master shall run no risk after
escaping the perils of the ocean."

"Will wager to-day's haul of fish that she lies up here before three
hours are gone," cried another.

"And I my fishing-net that we shall not see her before day," retorted
the confident first speaker.

"That net is mine.  Didst not hear the gun?"

"Sounds carry far through the winter air."

"The snow muffles.  She is scarce a mile out."

"Ah, that is indeed a fire!  The light of it shall reach far out at
sea."

The excitable folk laughed loudly whenever a fresh load of wood was
flung upon the flames, and carried away by their feelings danced an
ambulatory ballet in the red mist, a dance, like the Prosperity of the
Arms of France to be given before Richelieu a few months later, not
altogether without political significance.  These settlers danced to
the tune of their song; and their songs were Success to the Ships of
France and Destruction to the English.  While these revels lasted no
one observed a soldier hurrying up behind, with a woman at his side.
The woman was Onawa, breathing quickly as though she had been running
at the top of her speed.

"Yonder stands his Holiness," said the man, stopping to point out La
Salle surrounded by his little band of attendants.

Onawa abandoned her guide and rushed out, maddened and witless with her
foolish passion, until she reached the side of the man she loved and
was warmed by his dark eyes, which yet flashed angrily upon her, as he
turned to shake off the parasite, ejaculating:

"Whom have we here?"

"It is I," she cried wildly in French, having at length acquired some
little knowledge of that language.  "Let me speak."  More she would
have said, but her store of the language failed in the time of need.

"Uncover her face," ordered La Salle.  "Take her into the firelight
that we may see with whom we have to deal."

"Let me speak to you here," prayed the girl, drawing back into the
snow-lit gloom; but she was seized and dragged upward close to the
dancing ring, and rough hands drew the covering from her face.

"Tête de mort!" exclaimed La Salle, and started back when he recognised
the face that had once been handsome set towards him in the wild
firelight, fearfully branded, the nostrils slit, the ears cropped, a
letter seared upon each cheek.  "Cover that horror, and drive her out
lest she bewitch us."

"Hear me," the unhappy girl moaned, holding out her hands in an agony
of supplication.  "Yonder your enemy cover the shore.  Many men and a
ship held in the ice."  She panted forth the syllables in the best
French she could muster, throwing out her hands along the eastern shore.

La Salle's expression altered as he turned to his subordinates with the
old fighting passion in his eye and heart.

"My men," he said, "this woman is but an Indian, but she is
trustworthy, I know.  An English vessel has been cast ashore, and the
sailors seek to make shelter.  What say you?  Shall we warm our blood
and relieve this tedious time of waiting by venturing out to
exterminate the vermin?"

"Should we not first send out a spy?" suggested an old officer.

"It is well thought on.  Choose you a man, and bid him take this woman
for a guide.  Let him stab her if she prove false.  Do you gather
together our fighters," went on the priest, turning to another, "and
bid them make ready to sally out immediately."

"Shall you venture yourself, Excellency?"

"Shall I not!" cried La Salle, his hot blood afire for one more fight
and one more triumph.  "I fear we shall find but poor sport, but such
as it is I shall take my share.  Break up yonder circle of madmen, and
order them to make ready.  Hasten, so that we may have our hunt, and be
ready to receive the ship when she sails out of the fog."

"I go not," cried Onawa, furiously resisting the soldiers who would
have forced her away.  She broke from them, ran to La Salle, and fell
upon her knees, panting: "I go with you, that I may fight with you, and
die for you."

"The woman has yet to learn a soldier's discipline," said La Salle
coldly.  "Secure a rope round her, and if she prove obstinate let her
feel the end of it."

Onawa flung herself forward to grasp his feet, but two soldiers stepped
out and dragged her away.

"Now, my brave comrades!  To arms!" shouted the fighting priest.



CHAPTER XXXII.

ARMS AND THE MAN.

Silas Upcliff groaned bitterly when he heard the Puritan's shout.
Being a brave man, his spirit inclined towards lending aid to his
compatriots, but being honest also, his sense of duty impelled him to
observe the oath which he had made to his niggardly owner.  While he
was thus halting between two opinions, the three venturers left him
upon the shore, the blood tingling in their veins at the prospect of a
glorious death.

Penfold led the way and took command, carrying his burden of years as
lightly as any man upon that coast.  Striking upward from the bay,
where the sailors were fighting the ice, he brought his companions to a
height of three hundred feet above the sea, where the cliffs were
divided by a narrow defile down which in summer coursed a stream.

"I have kept this place in mind," said the old man, when they halted at
the extremity of the pass.  "Here we shall make our stand."

So contracted was the way that the snow, massed heavily upon the sides,
in places nearly touched.  Some pines clung to the rock, hanging over
the defile, straining at their rope-like roots.  At these the old
yeoman pointed with the order:

"Fell me two trees so that they shall fall along the pass."

The others scrambled up the cliff and cut at the snaky roots, while
Penfold occupied himself below in treading the snow into a firm bed.
Soon the tough pines began to crack and sway.  First one crashed down,
then another, and after that Upcliff came running, short of breath,
into the defile, having at length made up his mind that Master Grignion
must lose his ship.

"The enemy show black against the snow yonder, a hundred men if there
be one," he shouted.  "Tell me now, how shall I dispose my men?"

"Return to your ship, Master Skipper, and cut her free with what speed
you may," replied Penfold gruffly.  "We stand here to hold back the
enemy so long as life remains."

"Mayhap they shall not come this way?" suggested Upcliff.

"If they do not, then are ye doubly safe.  Before they can pass round
you shall be away, for I know of no easy path up yonder wall, and on
the south the sea guards us.  See you not that they must here advance
singly, and that one good fighter may hold them all at bay?"

"They have guns," said Upcliff, cocking his ear to listen to the axes
ringing keenly in the bay.

"They shall not use them.  The snow must drench their priming."

The skipper made a step back, but halted again.

"I cannot desert you, comrades," he said hoarsely.  "My owner is also
an Englishman, an alderman of London town, and, close-minded though he
be, I wot he would lose his venture and his ship rather than see
England shamed.  Bid me call my men to the far end of this pass, and
there let us stand together until the end."

"See you not that this is our affair?" replied Penfold.  "We are
fighting for our own hands, having blood of comrades to avenge.  Go,
for you do but waste your time and ours."

"Away," added Hough, pushing the skipper gently back.  "The Lord being
on our side, how should we be afraid?  They come about us like bees,
and are extinct even as the fire among the thorns, for in the name of
the Lord shall we destroy them.  Go, good master, and while we smite
these worshippers of idols do you release your ship."

Thus compelled to observe his oath, Upcliff gave way, though with great
unwillingness, and ran to the end of the pass, where his eyes were
gladdened by the sight of the _Dartmouth_ riding in the black channel,
dressed out in all her canvas.  His sailor's heart warmed at the
spectacle, but sank again when he contemplated the wide white field
which still spread between the deep sea and his ship.  He staggered
down, blowing like a whale, and snatching an axe from the tired hands
of one of his sailors wielded it furiously.

The men in the pass twisted the pine-boughs and snagged the trunks to
form a rough chevaux-de-frise.  Before an hour had passed they heard
footfalls crushing the snow, and then Penfold smiled and rose to his
feet.  The old man had been resting beneath a tree.

"Comrades," he said, "I lead by the privilege of age.  Not more than
one can make a stand in this narrow pass.  Do you ascend the cliff, one
on either side, and as the enemy attempt to climb the barrier cast snow
into their faces.  The rest you shall leave to me."

"Out on you, old Simon," said Hough strongly.  "I am younger than you
by many years, and thus shall last the longer."

"You may fill this place after me," said Penfold.  "But while I live I
rule."

Hough was not satisfied, and the argument was only brought to an end by
the sight of a cap lifting above the ridge.

"To your places," whispered Penfold, stepping quickly to the barrier.

The knight was already upon the cliff, sheltering his spare body behind
a pine.  He awaited the one man who, he felt assured, would not lose
the opportunity of a fight, and he did not desire to risk his life
until he and that man could meet.

"Captain!" called a French voice startlingly, "a barrier is thrown
across the way."

"Over it," ordered the officer.

The man jumped upon the fallen trunk and threw up his hands to grasp
the higher branches; but his fingers merely clutched the air, he gave a
groan, and fell back, pierced through the heart by Penfold's sword,
which had darted from the interlacing branches.  A shout went up from
the pass, which was now a struggling mass of soldiers.

"Information ever costs a man," said the officer coolly.  "Storm the
barrier."

Two soldiers rushed out and flung themselves upon the locked trees,
jostling each other in the constricted space.  A lump of snow hit the
foremost between the eyes, he gasped, and would have turned, but a
sword-thrust sent him to his doom, and his comrade, blinded in the
self-same manner, shared his fate.

"There are men in hiding yonder," rang a voice.  "The villains shelter
behind the trees."

"Find me a way round," roared an angry voice, and La Salle pushed along
the pass.  "Are we to be held here by one man behind a fallen tree?"

"There is no way up, Excellency," said an officer, gazing up the face
of the rock.  "The heretics have well chosen their place."

"Send men round," shouted the priest.

A detachment was sent instantly to find a way over the cliff, while
woodmen with axes went out and laid furiously upon the pines.  Penfold
disabled the first, but another advanced, and after him another, each
unwilling to obey, but unable to hang back.

Three dead bodies were dragged out, and La Salle tried the expedient of
sending his men in rapid succession against the barrier.  The wet snow
dashed upon their faces, one by one they dropped before that stinging
sword, man after man fell back, but another always stood ready to rush
into the gap, to make the attempt, and give way to someone more
confident than he.  Penfold's dogged old tongue counted off the strokes
to the ringing of the ice-axes from the bay.  The soldier-settlers came
faster, each man more fierce than the last, because their blood was
heated by the shame of this defeat.  The old man's misty breath came
streaming between the branches where his untiring sword flickered in
and out.

Two at a time came the Frenchmen, until at length, profiting by a
mis-stroke, a couple gained the summit of the barrier.  The first to
jump down fell a prey to the stout yeoman, but the second reached the
ground unharmed.  A shout of triumph went up, and the soldiers swarmed
the obstacle.

"Excellency, the Indian woman has shown us a way over the cliff,"
exclaimed a voice beside La Salle.  "That way, says she, we shall
encounter no opposition."

"I will myself make the trial," La Salle answered.  "Do you in the
meantime win this pass."

"She says also that we must hasten, because these men are holding the
pass while their comrades free the ship from the ice."

Penfold fought on, grim to the end, but his sword had lost its
deadliness and his arm was growing numb.  His comrades aided him as
best they could, but they too were acting upon the defensive, because
some of the more daring soldiers had scaled the slippery sides of the
pass in a futile endeavour to drag them down.  The old man groaned and
tottered as the light failed gradually from his eyes.

"Let it be said of me," he gasped, "that I gave them half an hour."

Voices roared in his ears, like the waves of a stormy sea about to
close over his head.

"Strike!  He is spent.  Strike him down."

There followed an onward rush.  Over the old man's failing body sped
the bitterness of death.

He felt a sword in his side, another in his shoulder, and at the pain
he revived like an old lion, and roared and plunged forward, feeling
his way with his point, until he found his striker's heart, and then he
shouted with all the strength that was left:

"Stand up in my stead, comrade!  I have made a good fight, and
accounted for the best.  They shall run before us yet.  To me, comrade!
Ha!  St. Edward and St. George!"

With that last shout he fell, deep into the red snow, his old body
spouting blood, and so died like a valiant man of Berks, with his sword
fast held, and his grey head set towards the foe.

Hough hurled back a soldier, who had clambered up the cliff to dislodge
him, and would have flung himself down to stop the way, when on a
sudden a tall figure slid down the side opposite him, and stood
immediately to defy the body of men sweeping through like an inundating
wave, wielding his sword with calm, nervous strength, his keen eyes
starting from a thin, brown face.

Then Hough's courage gave way, and sinking to his knees, while the
enemy rushed through, he cried aloud.  Death had no terror for him; but
the spectacle of that cold man, whom for an instant he had seen,
fighting in the raw light of the dawn, then thrown down and trodden
under foot, made him shiver to the heart.

"The Lord encompasses us with the spirits of our friends," he cried,
knowing that it was Jesse Woodfield who already lay hacked and bruised
and buried in the snow of the defile.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED.

The Acadians swept towards the bay, but their governor was not with
them.  La Salle had gone alone over the cliffs, along the way which
Onawa had revealed, and he went not unseen.  The Kentishman followed,
searching out each footprint in the snow.  Once again the priest was
destined to take up the sword, before assuming the mantle of spiritual
power.  As he passed among the pines the loneliness of the place began
to make him fear, and when he stopped with a curse, because he knew not
which way to turn, he seemed to behold the sword of his dream flashing
like lightning between the mitre and himself.  And while halting he
heard perplexing shouts, lessening, receding, and growing faint, as his
men rushed down upon their foes.

Hearing those shouts Upcliff looked up from the field of ice, and his
heart for an instant ceased when he saw that the enemy had gained the
pass.

"Now, men of Somerset," he shouted, "let our bird fly right soon, or we
shall never sight England again."

"We can do no more than our best, captain," growled the sailor Jacob
Sadgrove.  "My arms are near dead with work."

"Out!" cried Madeleine, sweeping forward.  "Out, and make room for a
woman."

She caught up the axe which the grumbler had dropped, and, lifting her
brave arms, attacked the barrier of ice with never a thought of fear,
until the sailor returned glumly to his work for shame.

"Only a few more yards," the deceiving girl cried, throwing back her
flushed face.  "Look not behind.  To regard work closely is to fear it.
Attack boldly, and it is done.  See how the ship struggles to be free!
Soon we shall fly through the open water, with the wind in our sails.
Then shall you rest, and it shall delight you to remember the work."

So she called, laughing and singing at intervals, and running here and
there to encourage the toilers, a faithful angel of hope, while the
axes rang more strongly and the men cast side-glances towards the foe
and swore breathlessly at their impotence.

"Get you aboard, lass," said Upcliff, loosening his cutlass.  "Here is
work for men.  My lads, we shall make a good fight for country and
faith, and die, if God will, like true men facing odds.  Now we are
taken on both sides."

He pointed to the north-west.  Out of the gloom of dawn and the
fog-wreaths, which ever haunt the Nova Scotian banks, sailed a
full-rigged man-of-war beating against the breeze.  It was the
provision ship making for the settlement now that the helmsman could
see to steer between the rocks.

"Nothing but a miracle can serve," quoth the skipper.  "And the age of
miracles is past."

"Have but faith, and the miracle shall yet be wrought," cried
Madeleine, her magnificent confidence strong within her, even in that
hour when a less bold spirit would have seen the doors of a heretic's
prison reopening.  "God shall yet make a way for us to escape.  I know
we are not doomed.  Help me, captain, and you sailors, with your faith.
We are never to be taken.  We are to escape from our enemies, and God
shall give to us the victory."

Upcliff smiled sadly as he gazed at the radiant face of the prophetess,
shaking his grizzled head as he muttered:

"May the good Lord bless you, girl.  You send us forth strong to fight."

Then again he faced his men and formed them in line; and when they
stood ready to receive the enemy, every man his cutlass in hand, the
master cried out strongly:

"Let no man surrender.  For such the French have a gallows.  Lads, we
shall, by God's grace, leave a deep mark on yonder little army before
the ship comes nigh.  See you how slowly she labours down?  She can
scarce make headway against the tide, and the breeze freshens every
minute.  Now for a bold stand, a stern struggle, and may the Lord have
mercy on us all."

Stout Somerset throats answered him with a cheer.  They had exercised
their privilege of grumbling over the uncongenial work of cutting a way
for their ship through the ice-field while their compatriots fought
upon the cliffs; but not a man drew back from the prospect of that
hopeless battle.

The Acadians struggled down the long hill, floundering in the soft
snow, and, halting upon the flat, drew up in the form of a crescent.
There were signs of unwillingness among the settlers, due in part to
the reputation gained in those days by Englishmen of never shrinking
from a struggle to the death.  They were also perturbed by the absence
of La Salle, whom they had not seen since Woodfield had been
overwhelmed and left for dead in the defile.

While the French thus hesitated, Upcliff and his impetuous men were for
advancing to the attack; but Madeleine came before them, and in a
strained voice, altogether unlike her usual tones, implored the skipper
not to move towards the shore.

"Do not leave the ice," she cried.  "I charge you go not beyond the
ice."

"The maid has surely lost her wits," muttered Upcliff.

"See the eyes of her!" whispered Jacob Sadgrove to his nearest
companion.  "Have seen a horse look so, when he knows of somewhat
coming, and would speak of it if he might."

A roar broke the morning fog.  The ship had fired to encourage her
allies.  The ball splashed into the black water far from the gallant
_Dartmouth_, which quivered and shook her sails in furious helplessness.

"Swear to me that you will not leave the ice-field," cried Madeleine.

"Ay, if you wish it," said Upcliff; adding bluntly: "May die as well
here as yonder.  Stand together, lads.  They come!"

"Oh, why so long?" prayed Madeleine, bending upon the snow.  "It is
time for the miracle.  I know we are to be saved, but it is terrible to
wait.  I know that not a hair upon the head of any of these men shall
be harmed; but they know it not, and they prepare for death because
they cannot see.  Oh, God, send us now the miracle!"

"Stand firm!" shouted Upcliff.  "Let them make the charge, and we shall
smite them as they stumble in the snow."

He spoke, and straightway a mighty report rang along the shore.  The
ice on which the men planted their resolute feet quivered and heaved.
The attackers halted and drew back; the attacked stared at one another
in superstitious wonderment.  No smoke drifted behind.  The guns upon
the ship had not spoken.  But the echoes of that dry, sharp sound still
crashed among the cliffs.

Madeleine rose, and sent her rapturous voice singing into the ears of
all: "The miracle!  The miracle!"

Already a channel of black water frothed and bubbled between the
English sailors and the French settlers, a channel which widened each
moment, as the ice-floe which the change of temperature had parted so
suddenly from the shore drifted seawards, drawn out by the strong gulf
current, bearing the men snatched from death, the little ice-locked
ship, and the girl who had trusted so firmly and so well.

They flocked round her, the rough sailors, crying like children, and
knelt to kiss her hands.

"To work!" she cried, pointing to the silver strip which held the floe
united.

But before the men could again use their axes the strain told.  The ice
cracked again and the field was divided into two parts.  There was a
momentary danger lest the brigantine should be crushed between the
floes, but this peril was averted by the regularity of the current.
The men swung themselves aboard, lifting Madeleine up the ladder of
ropes and so upon deck.  The enemy already had become grotesque black
spots upon the shore.

"Clear the decks for battle!" the captain thundered as the little ship
ran free of the ice.

The Frenchman had altered her course, and was bearing down upon the
_Dartmouth_, roaring with all her guns.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE THIRST.

Onawa, daughter of Shuswap, vagrant and traitress, she who had brought
disaster upon her own people, continued to reap the reward of all her
constancy to the enemy of her race.  Famished and parched, she sank
into a bed of snow, and rested her wildly throbbing head against a
frosted tree.  She had not eaten for many hours, her shelter was more
than a league away, and her strength was gone.  Her reward also was a
maddening thirst.

After tracking down the Englishmen, watching them in the fall of the
snow, enduring every privation until she had learnt their strength, she
had gone at full speed to the settlement, madly hoping even then that
La Salle might look on her with favour, despite her branded cheeks and
mutilated face.  His reward was to give her over to the soldiers, who
had mocked her because she was of the hated race, a savage in their
eyes, and had bound her with a rope and scourged her with the end of
it, and had even struck her with their fists when she halted from
exhaustion, and would have stabbed her to death had she refused to
obey.  Thus she received her full reward.  And now she could do no more.

Neuralgic pains coursed through her head, until the weight of her hair
became a torment.  Feverishly she sucked a handful of snow, but the
awful thirst remained unquenched.  The sounds of the chase entered her
ears dimly from that half-lit region ahead, until drowsiness passed
into her body, and her head dropped, and her eyes closed, and the sleep
which moves imperceptibly into death came upon her.  Her passionate
heart lowered its beat, her pulses throbbed more sluggishly, as she
drew close to the threshold which separates life and its object from
the world of dreams.  Her body collapsed, her head slid down; the soft
snow sucked her in like quicksand.

A figure passed among the slim terebinth columns.  Though the sleeper
had brought down her father into dishonour, had betrayed her tribe, and
called the shadow of death across the home of her kindred, her sister
had not forgotten her.  The figure approached, bent over the huddled
shape, and shook it roughly back to life.

"Tuschota!" muttered the girl, as her eyes opened upon the immobile
brown face.

"Rise," said the woman.  "Lean on me, and I will take you to my hut."

"Leave me here," moaned Onawa.  "I would lie until the great sleep
comes."

"I am your sister.  I may not leave you thus to die.  Yonder food
awaits you, and drink, and the warmth of burning logs."

She assisted Onawa to rise.  The girl staggered and clung with dead
hands.  Together they passed down the slope, and so came to the cabin
cunningly hidden amid snowy bush.  A fire burnt redly, and hard by
stood a stone vessel filled with rice-water.  Towards this Onawa
reached her hands, with the cry:

"I am tortured with thirst."

Without a word her sister gave her drink, and watched her while she
gulped at the tepid liquor.  Suddenly she put out her hand, and grasped
the vessel, saying:

"See!  I have meat ready for you."

Onawa partook of the food like a famished beast, and as strength
returned the former love of life awoke, and she longed to go forth to
renew the hopeless quest; but she felt her sister's eyes reading her
thoughts, and presently she heard that sister's voice:

"It is good to live, Onawa."

She made no reply, but leaned forward, thrusting her hands against the
scarlet wood.

"Even when son and husband are taken away, and the light fails, and all
the ground is dark, it is still good to live," went on the voice.  "Why
the good God gives this love of life we may not know."

"Give me more drink," the girl panted.

"Our father shall soon pass into the spirit land," went on the stern
woman, unheeding her request.  "He is old, but 'tis not age that saps
his strength.  Honour has departed from him.  He has lost the headship,
and another fills his office."

Onawa stared sullenly into the leaping heart of the fire.

"As this life continues we find trouble.  You have lost beauty, and I a
son.  We shall not regain that which we have lost.  Sisters in blood we
are, and sisters in unhappiness also."

"I have brought sorrow into your life," muttered Onawa, less in
penitence than defiance.

"And shall do so again.  This night you have brought the enemy of my
people out from Acadie.  There was a time when you betrayed my son into
the hands of him who now spurns you from his side.  That which is done
cannot be undone, and God shall punish."

"Why, then, have you brought me here?" cried Onawa fiercely.  "Why did
you not leave me to perish, that you might be rid of me for ever?"

"Remember you not the words that I spoke to you in the grove?  I bade
you have in mind that in the time when you should hunger and thirst you
might turn to me.  I have not forgotten, though you turned against me
when your heart followed its own longing.

"I grieved for your Richard."

"So the hunter grieves when he by mischance has slain the bear cub
which has strayed.  And so he avoids the mother if he loves his life."

At that moment there rang in her steady voice a threat.  Onawa looked
up and met a suffering brown face and large quiet eyes.  There was no
menace there, nothing but longing for the dead and charity for the
living.

She pressed a hand upon her burning throat.  "Give me drink," she
gasped.

Her sister poured some of the rice-water into a smaller vessel.  This
she stirred gently with a stick, watching the ruined face of Onawa with
the same patient eyes.  Outside the hut a flight of snow birds whirred
from side to side.

"When you have drunk you shall go forth," said Mary Iden deliberately.
"You shall seek to aid my enemy when he strives to strike down my
husband."

Onawa gave a cry.  In wondering over her sister's forgiveness she had
forgotten La Salle.

"They may already have met," she muttered.

A stern smile crossed her sister's face.

"Can you not hear?" she whispered.  "Yet you say you love the white
priest.  I have heard this long while the noise of sword striking
sword.  I listen without fear, knowing that no man can conquer my
husband when no treachery hangs behind.  Can you not hear the sounds of
the fight?"

"My ears burn," cried Onawa.  "I hear only the cold wind passing among
the pines."

"They fight!" exclaimed her sister triumphantly.  "My Richard shall
rest to-day."

"The water," gasped Onawa for the third time.  "My throat is on fire."

"Drink and go forth."

Grasping the vessel in both hands, Onawa drained it to the dregs.
Then, as her arms fell, and the taste in her mouth became exceeding
bitter, and a strange exaltation visited her brain, and her body began
to burn, and numbness came into her feet, she bent with one terrible
groan, to hide her fear and her shame, and--if it were possible--her
awful knowledge of the wolfsbane poisoning that draught, from the calm
black eyes which stared at her across the fire.

"Aid whom you will," said the steady voice, which was scarce audible
above the furious beatings of the listener's heart.  "The day breaks."

A lifeless winter sun was struggling into the hut.

The pride of her race remained with Onawa to the end.  She would not
show fear, nor useless rage, in the presence of her sister.  She would
not confess what she knew, nor acknowledge that she had met with the
punishment which she deserved and the laws of their race demanded.
Passing into a sad beam of light, she drew herself erect and panted:

"I shall go forth."

"Go, sister," said the poisoner.  "I too go forth, but we shall not
walk together.  For you the west and the forest, for me the south and
the sea."

"I go among the pines."

"Farewell, sister."

"Farewell."

Erect and proud, Onawa passed out with her awful sorrow, through the
opening morning, and so among the trees, still dignified and unbending
because she knew those calm black eyes followed all her movements.  On
she went into the increasing gloom, until the snow carpet appeared to
grow hot, and opalescent colours fringed the trees, and sounds of
sleepy music hummed around her head.  The red and green lights flashed
up and down; solitude closed behind her; the pine-barrens were on fire.
The world was gone.



CHAPTER XXXV.

SWORDCRAFT.

The path taken by La Salle ascended and brought him finally to the
crest of a hill.  Here a wood of storm-beaten pines stood motionless in
the white calm of the long winter sleep.  Between the dimly lighted
trees spread a narrow scar of black earth, which had been protected
from snow by the funereal boughs above.  The spot was as silent and as
sad as a burying-place.  It seemed to the priest that the balsamic
pines might have been planted to neutralise any noxious odours
emanating from the ground.  He shivered at the thought, turned to
retrace his steps and find an outlet which might lead him to the shore;
but straightway a restraint fell upon his feet, and a thrill raced
through his body, when he perceived that the place whereon he walked
was haunted ground.

Before him stood a figure, white-faced and worn, clad in ragged
garments, a man to all outward seeming no more sentient than the pines,
for he moved not at all, nor did he speak, nor make a sign.  As though
rooted and frozen, he stood across the way, showing life and feeling
only in his eyes.

"By all the saints!" the priest muttered.  "'Tis but a half-starved
Englishman."

Then he shouted his ready challenge to the silent man, who passed
immediately with swift movements to the strip of bare ground, and,
halting within touch of his enemy, addressed him sternly in the Gallic
tongue:

"That you may learn, Sir Priest, with whom you have to deal, know that
before you stands Sir Thomas Iden, a squire of England and a knight of
Kent, a man moreover who has sworn to fight you fairly to the death.
Remember you that night on which you put to death a boy in the forest
beside Couchicing?  That boy was my son, my only child.  Sir Priest,
you and I have crossed swords before this day.  I was then a better man
than now; but, with the help of my God and the spirit of my child, I
shall lay out your body in this lonely spot for the winds to howl upon,
and leave your eyes open for the crows to peck at.  I pray you answer
only with your sword."

Hot words came to La Salle's tongue, but he did not utter them.  He
found himself daunted by the horror of the place and the unyielding
attitude of the knight.  As he brought up his renowned right arm, it
shivered and the hand was cold.  But so soon as their blades met, his
fighting spirit arose and conquered the superstitious fear, and a
fierce light shone again in his eyes, and the knowledge was borne back
upon him that he was in truth the finest swordsman in the New World,
and with that he shouted out, "Have at you, heretic dog!" and attacked
with all his might.

Not a bird moved through the air, not an insect lived upon that hill
top, not an animal passed that way.  The two men had the gloomy wood to
themselves.  Not even a breath of wind passed to wave the pines, or
scatter into motion last autumn's rusted leaves, which spotted with red
the sable rent in the great white sheet which Nature had drawn across
the ground.  The rhythm of the swords rang monotonously, as the two
weird figures drifted to and fro, from side to side of the dusky bluff,
struggling the one against the other, with life as the winner's prize.
Before the abbé spread his splendid career of power as a prince of the
Church.  He had but to emerge triumphant from this last taking of the
sword to assume the dignity of his new office and realise the ambition
of his heart.  While the avenger saw neither priest, nor governor, nor
fencer of renown, but merely a fellow-being who had extinguished the
light of his young son's life.

So the momentous minutes passed.  When the sound of quick and furious
breathing began to pulsate around the hill, Mary Iden ascended from the
hollow, after playing her part in the avenging of her son's death, and
watched with bosom heaving rapidly every movement of her husband, sure
in her faith that he was the strongest man alive.  Yet she aided him
with her counsel; and when the passion of the fight had entered also
into her she cast contempt and hatred upon La Salle, and mocked his
skill, though he was on that day the finer swordsman of the pair.

"Wait not, husband," she cried warningly.  "He is more spent than you."

Sir Thomas heard and rushed out.  La Salle, standing sideways, parried
the thrust with a slight motion of his iron wrist, and, rounding, took
up the attack, which ended in a feint and a lunge over the heart.  His
sword glanced under the knight's arm and the point struck a fir and was
almost held.

"Perdition!" he muttered.  "I must use greater caution."

For a few seconds the blades were dazzling as they darted together with
the malignity and swiftness of serpents; then La Salle feigned to
stumble, lowering his point as though he had lost his grip, an old
trick he had often employed successfully, and as the knight leaped
forward to take his opening, the priest recovered and sent the blade
into his opponent's side.  Life had never appeared to him so good as at
that moment, but before his laugh had died the Englishman leaned
forward, grasping the sword and holding it firmly in his side, lunged
out, and ran the priest through the chest, after La Salle had saved his
life by throwing up his arm and deflecting the point from his heart.

They fell apart, gulping the keen air for a taste of new life.  The
watcher advanced, her brown face ghastly, but her husband put out his
hand and motioned her back.

"Away, Mary.  There is life in me yet."

Unwillingly she retired, and a flush of pride crossed her face when her
husband staggered across the snow, his eyes still clear and fierce.  La
Salle, no whit less dauntless, came up also and stood swaying like one
of the trees behind.

"You are brave, Englishman, and a worthy foe," he gasped.  "We have
shed each other's blood.  Let us now cry hold and part."

"There can be no truce between you and me," came the deep reply.  "This
fight is to the death."

"Life has its pleasures," urged La Salle.

"Of such you deprived my son."

"Your blood be upon your own head!"

Again their swords clashed.  No signs of weakening yet upon either
drawn face.  The balance swayed neither to the one side nor to the
other.

Again the watcher started out, appealing to her husband.  It would be
an easy matter to attack La Salle from the rear; to trip his foot with
a stick; to blind him by a handful of snow.  But the knight would not
hear her; and even threatened when she made as though she would disobey.

The priest listened for the tramp of feet and the call of voices.  He
would then have called the meanest settler in Acadie his brother.
Shoutings came to him from the bay, the roar of the ship's gun, and the
splitting of the ice.  He groaned and cursed the folly which had driven
him into this snare.

Courage revived when he scored by a clever stroke; but again his
triumph was short-lived.  The knight answered by driving his point hard
into the open side.  Darkness dropped upon their eyes.  They reeled
like drunken men, fighting the air, feeling for each other, falling
body to body, and pushing apart with a convulsive shudder.

"Where are you?" gasped the abbé.

"Here," moaned the Englishman, striking towards the voice.

"It is enough," said La Salle, the voice gurgling in his throat.
"Flesh and blood can endure no more.  Put up your sword."

"Only in your heart."

They held at each other with one hand while fighting with the other.  A
wound on one side was answered by a wound on the other.  It appeared as
though neither had another drop of blood to shed, not a muscle left
unspent, nor a breath to come.  The chill of the winter was in the soul
of each, and it was also the chill of death.  They crawled at each
other like torn beasts, upon hands and knees.

"You are spent," pulsated La Salle.

"My sword has gone through you twice."

"Husband, bid me strike him," implored the watcher.  "He is scarce able
to lift his arm."

"Back, woman," panted the dying man.

Once more they stood upon their feet, and again their points were
raised, but now against bodies which had lost all consciousness, save
the ruling passion of ambition in the one and vengeance in the other.

"Down!" snarled the abbé, knowing not it was the last word which his
tongue should utter; and, closing with his enemy, threw his remaining
life into one lunge.

The sword left his hand for ever.  By a glimmer of light through the
red darkness he saw the body of the knight stretched black along that
ghastly carpet; he saw the woman running forth with a great cry to
raise it by the shoulders.  Then night fell upon the victor as he
stumbled on among the trees, with a small sane voice of consciousness
singing in his departing soul: "You have fought your last fight.  You
shall win the red hat yet."

So he was found by his defeated soldiers, feeling his way from pine to
pine, leaving in his wake two dotted lines more ruby-red than the
cardinal's soutane.  They bound up his wounds as best they could, and,
raising him upon their shoulders, bore the dead weight of unconscious
matter into Acadie.

At noon the ship came to the landing-stage.  During the excitement
which accompanied and followed her arrival even the governor became
forgotten.  A cadaverous priest was the first to step ashore, casting
around him glances of intolerable pride.  Others were quick to follow,
and soon it became noised abroad that Roussilac was to be recalled and
that Pope Urbano had need of La Salle the priest.  Even such momentous
matters were put aside by the settlers in their anxiety to hear tidings
of home and friends.

In the meantime the pale-faced priest had set forth for the governor's
abode, muttering imprecations upon the bitter country in which it had
become his evil lot to settle.

"His Excellency?" he inquired shortly at the door; and the seneschal,
awed by his morose manner, merely made a reverence and pointed as he
said: "He lies within, Holiness."

More he would have said, but the nuncio passed on quickly and entered
the room, holding forth a missive tied with scarlet thread, calling in
a jealous voice:

"Your Excellency!  A letter from Rome.  A call for your return."

La Salle was lying along the bed.  The messenger came nearer.

"Awake, your Excellency!  His Holiness Pope Urbano sends to you----"

There the strange priest stopped at beholding a broken crucifix beneath
the sleeper's right hand; and a sneering smile curved his lips, and he
shrugged his thin shoulders, as he callously observed:

"Methinks his Holiness has sent in vain."



CHAPTER XXXVI.

SETTLEMENT.

It has now been shown how the golden lilies prospered in the north, and
how the red lion, who should in time tear those gay lilies down, was
laughed at and despised.  The paths of ambition, of treachery, of
vengeance, have brought direct to the same terminus, where that "fell
sergeant death" stood forth to cry "Halt" to soldier and to priest.
The name of La Salle has ever been held in honour, but chiefly to
memorise Robert the explorer, not the ambitious priest his uncle.  The
name of Iden is still revered by Kentish folk; but that respect is won,
not by Sir Thomas, who--if the tradition in his family be true--married
an Indian wife and flung away his life to avenge his son, but to Sir
Alexander, who slew the rebel Cade in a Sussex orchard.  The name of
Onawa is held in memory by none, though for many generations the wood
wherein she died of the poisoned draught administered by her sister was
shunned by the Iroquois, because there sounded amid the pines at night
the howling of a werewolf.

The old chronicles mention two Englishmen who escaped from the French,
and Jesse Woodfield and Jeremiah Hough are the names recorded.  When
the Acadians swept down the defile to secure Upcliff and his men, the
Puritan was ignored, and the yeoman, who had made so startling an
appearance, was left for dead.  So soon as they had gone Hough made for
his companion, and discovered that he was indeed material and alive,
though sorely wounded.  Presently Woodfield revived, and when he was
able to stand the Puritan led him away up the white hills to find a
place of shelter.  The hut in the pine-wood being too far away, they
proceeded by slow stages towards the home of the knight, knowing
nothing of what had occurred, and scarce guessing it when they gained
the bush-filled hollow, which was stirred to its depths by the wailing
of a death-song.

"A fitting welcome for broken-hearted men," said the Puritan.  "By the
waters of Babylon we sat down and wept.  The children of Edom have
smitten us full sore.  Happy shall he be that rewardeth them as they
have served us.  Take courage, old lad.  We are even now at home."

"Home without friends," broke from the pale lips of the man within his
arms.

"Where the graves of comrades are, there is the brave man's home.  In
England we are gone out of mind, and broken like a potter's vessel.
Here amid the snows old Simon and old George lie sleeping well."

The song stopped when they entered the hut and stood between the living
and the dead.  Immediately Woodfield sank down in unconsciousness, and
after one glance upon the sad scene and a few bitter words, Hough knelt
at his comrade's side and searched for his wounds.

"Let a woman perform a woman's work," said the pale watcher, rising
from her husband's side.  "For him"--she inclined her head to the
silent figure--"the light is gone.  He sees no longer the sparkling
air.  His eyes shall not burn again.  The great God knows how well he
lived and how he died."

Seeing the question on the Puritan's lips, she went on:

"The hand that smote our son smote him.  I saw the man go, and death
with him like a cloud above his head.  Give me the water that stands
yonder that I may wash these wounds."

"Who brought him hither?" the Puritan asked.

"These arms carried him.  While he lived he would have me bear no
burden.  The wood for the fire he took from me, saying, 'This is no
woman's work.  A woman shall smile for her husband, prepare him food,
and keep a home for his return.'  These arms carried my son to his
grave.  My husband was not there, or surely he would have said, 'This
is no work for you.'  These arms carried my husband from the place
where he fell.  His eyes looked up to mine, as though again he would
say, 'This is no work for you.'  Once more they shall carry him.
Afterwards I will wait for the coming of the south wind, which carries
the souls of the dead."

She applied her skill in healing to the restoration of the white man.
She cleansed his wounds and cooled his fever, leaving him at length
sleeping with a wan smile of triumph on his face.  By then Hough also
was asleep, his face terrible in its mutilation and sternness.

When he revived, Woodfield told his comrade how he had been captured by
the Algonquins and how they had sought to put him to death.

"I awoke from unconsciousness," he said, "to find myself within a cave,
attended by the maid who had loosed my body from the tree.  An old man
watched the entry and brought me food.  These two had saved my life,
the maid because she loved my white skin, the man because he was
Christian and had lost a son who would have been of my age had he
lived.  I remained in that cave many days, gaining vigour, and on a
certain evening, when left alone, ran out into the shadows and hid
myself in the forest, covering my tracks as best I could.

"The maid pursued and besought me in her own manner to return.  Many
times I escaped from her.  Often she brought me food, or I must have
perished of hunger during my long wanderings through the forest.  I
would hear her calling after me in the still night.  I would from some
hill-top see her following my track, and when she found me she would
hold me by the feet and strive to move my heart.  But resisting the
wiles of Satan, who would have me to forget my own country and my
father's house, I ran from her again."

"We thought you dead these many months."

"It was the will of God that I should seek for you in vain," went on
Woodfield.  "Once I lay in a swamp to hide myself from a band of French
explorers.  Once I was attacked by six men.  One I killed, and the
remainder fled, frightened by lightning which struck down a tree
between us.  Another time I concealed myself in a hemlock while the
soldiers made their camp beneath its branches.  So I fought my way on
towards the east with an Englishman's longing for the sea, and when
winter drew on I made me a shelter in the pine woods on the westward
side of Acadie, and there mourned for you and for Simon Penfold as for
comrades who had fallen in the battle."

"How came you so suddenly to our aid?"

"In the darkness of the falling snow I ventured to approach the
settlement.  Nay more, I entered at the open gate, careless of my life,
and followed the soldiers out, my heart rejoicing when I learnt from
their shouts that countrymen of mine were near at hand.  I climbed
among the cliffs, and, looking down, beheld old Simon fighting in the
defile.  I was descending to give him help when he fell."

"The Lord gives and the Lord has taken away," said the Puritan solemnly.

While the words were on his lips the wattle door was shaken and a soft
voice called.  Another moment a white figure entered with a rush of
smoky air, and Madeleine stood before them, wrapped in a sail which she
had assumed to render her progress across the snow invisible.  She
threw away the covering and laughed triumphantly.

"Say not that the ship is taken?" cried Hough.  Then he muttered: "A
man may tell nothing from the maid's manner.  Sorrow or joy--'tis the
same to her.  She laughs through it all."

"The ship is safe," said Madeleine.  "We were attacked by the
man-of-war, but when we drew clear of the ice we soon left her
lumbering astern, until she gave up the chase and sailed for shore.  We
have not lost a man."

"Then what do you here?"

"Think you that Silas Upcliff would desert friends?" cried Madeleine
indignantly.  "So soon as he knew himself to be safe, he changed his
course and beat up the coast eastward until darkness fell.  Then he
dropped down, and now has sent a boat to bring you off.  I have come
for you, and must take no refusal, else I am sure they shall hang me
upon my return.  I would bear the message myself.  The master at first
crossed me, but, being a wise man, he gave way to a woman's whim.
Come!  The boat waits, and liberty lies beyond."

She moved across the earth floor and grasped the Puritan's arm.

"What maid is this?" asked Woodfield, as he gazed at the vision of
beauty; and when Hough had told him the good soldier's heart swelled,
and he raised his stiff body that he might take her hand, while she
smiled at him through a mist of pity.

"I want you, wounded man," she said.  "There are none sick aboard, and
I must have one to care for, or my hands will hang idle all the day.  I
have thrown in my lot with your people, because mine own have driven me
forth.  You shall call me sister if you will, and you shall be brother
to me, because he who is to be my husband is your true comrade, and
'tis friendship that makes brotherhood rather than blood.  Rise,
brother, and lean on me."

"Girl," said Hough, with his stern smile, "this spell you cast over us
is more potent than witchcraft."

"We come," cried Woodfield, drawing himself upright.  "Say, comrade,
let us flee to Virginia, and settle among our own, that we may hear the
blessed English tongue again."

"We go," answered Hough gloomily.  "Here is no English colony, but we
seek one in the south."

"Go," said Mary Iden, now again Tuschota, daughter of Shuswap, to the
three.  "Take what you desire for your journey, and go forth.  Here are
furs, and here strong medicines.  Take all.  The great God guard you
upon the seas and upon the land whither you go to dwell."

So the two Englishmen and the French girl went forth under the winter
sky, where a shy moon peeped through laced clouds like a fair maid
looking between the curtains of her bed.  A dull glow of firelight
showed when they looked back into the hollow; and once, when they
paused for breath, their ears became filled with the wild sound of
singing for the dead.

Morning dawned, and the brigantine was well away, running with a fresh
breeze from the colony of France, all hearts aboard as light as the
frosty waves which kissed her sides.  Through fog and snow she went,
like a bird flying to the warmth.  Little wonder that the men sang at
their tasks; that Upcliff repeated his old stories of the main with a
fresh delight, none grudging him a laugh; that Woodfield gathered
health at every hour; that Madeleine laughed from morn to night.  They
were as children released from school, playing on the happy home-going.

So the _Dartmouth_ drew down to Boston quay, after one delay on the
unfrequented shore to make repairs, the men clanking at the pumps to
keep the leaking barque above the line of danger.  The citizens flocked
down to meet her, and Hough's approving gaze fell upon Puritan faces
among whom he could feel himself indeed at home.

Winthrop himself was called to give the sailors welcome to New England.
He stepped aboard, and grasped the master's hand; but not a word could
he utter before Madeleine came between them, her beauty all in
splendour, her mouth quivering, as she cried:

"Tell me, sir--tell me quickly, where is my Geoffrey?"

She had forgotten that other men bearing her lover's name walked the
earth.  Winthrop stared in some bewilderment, and the more stern of his
following frowned at so much glorious life and impetuous loveliness.
The majority repeated the name with ominous shakings of bearded chins.

"'Tis our comrade, young Geoffrey Viner, of whom the maid speaks," said
Woodfield in explanation.

"Yea," exclaimed Madeleine.  "Let me off the ship."

"Stay," said Winthrop.  "The young man is here indeed."  He turned to
Hough with the demand: "Is he beyond doubt a true Englishman?"

"True!" exclaimed Madeleine, her violet eyes two angry flashes.  "You
suspect him?  Oh, you false man!"

It was the first time that John Winthrop had been accused of falseness;
and the novelty of the accusation brought a smile to his face.

"The boy is loyal to the faith, and as true an Englishman as yourself,
brother Winthrop," broke in the voice of Hough.

"Let justice prevail where I rule," said the pious governor when he
heard this.  "I thank God that you have come in time.  It has been
proved to our satisfaction against this boy that he has conspired with
the Dutch for the capture of our town, and as I speak he lies under
sentence of death.  Thus the wisest judges err, and the humble of us
ask Heaven to amend our faults."

Madeleine had paled very slightly while Winthrop spoke.  Then she drew
her small dignified self upright, and said very confidently: "I knew
that we should arrive in time."

"Methinks we shall scarcely find any swifter messenger to bear the good
news to the young man----" commenced the quiet voice of Roger Williams,
who had joined his friend and governor upon the quay.

The end of the pastor's sentence became drowned in a shout of hearty
laughter such as had never been heard before in Boston; for immediately
he began to speak Madeleine picked up her skirt, and was already
running like Atalanta, breathlessly demanding from those who stood by
whether her feet were carrying her in the right way.

"Send a cheer after her, men of Somerset," shouted Silas Upcliff.
"For, by my soul, a braver lass ne'er loved an Englishman!"



CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE PLOWSHARE.

It was summer in the year 1647, and over all the colony of Virginia
there was peace.  Fortunate were its settlers to be cut apart from
their brethren in the isle of strife, where the deceitful king was
imprisoned in his palace of Hampton Court, and the London citizens
filled their streets with cries of "Parliament" and "Privilege."  New
England remained untouched by this wave of feeling, of which indeed it
knew nothing, and its people went on planting their crops and gathering
the increase, happy to be removed from the oppression of a king and the
persecution of the Church.

Upon the south side of the Potomac, at no great distance from the sea,
stood a two-storey house overhung with wild vines, and approached by a
ladder-like flight of steps which rose between two borders of flowers.
Behind a plantation stretched in a straight mile, fringed on either
side by sweet-smelling bush, where purple butterflies played through
the long day and a silver stream laughed on its way to the sea.

The Grove, as this homestead was named, had quickly identified itself
among the successful colonial ventures.  The day of small things was
rapidly nearing its close.  Not only were the joint owners of the
plantation able to supply the neighbouring village with wheatmeal and
cheeses, but their export business to the Old World was growing more
profitable each season.  The Virginian exporters, Viner and Woodfield,
were well-known to import merchants of Bristol, and faded invoices of
that firm were to be seen in more than one dusty counting-house a
century later, when change and chance demanded a winding-up of the
business of certain old-time traders across the seas.

This success was due not altogether to the energy of the partners who
gave their names to the undertaking.  It was commonly reported that the
Lady of The Grove was in the main responsible for much of her husband's
prosperity.  According to rumour, Mistress Woodfield was an excellent
housewife, clever at her needle, and with a better knowledge of simples
than any woman in the New World, if methinks somewhat over-inclined to
play the grand dame and careful against soiling her hands.  With
Mistress Viner it was otherwise.  She was never to be found taking her
ease in idleness, or retailing gossip concerning neighbours.  Sloth, as
once she said when rebuking the governor--for she feared no man--is an
epidemic which claims more victims than the plague.  Early in the
morning she walked her garden, inhaling the sweet air, noting what
progress had taken place during the night, ordering and arranging all
things; and should her husband long delay joining her, how
reproachfully she would call: "Geoffrey!  Oh, slug!  You are losing an
hour of life."  At fall of evening she would walk in the plantation
beside her fair-haired lad, as she loved to call her lord and master,
planning fresh improvements, and never failing to note the beauty of
the life which slept around.  Seldom did she speak of the past; never
did she trouble her mind concerning the future.  All would be well she
knew.  There could be no time so good as the present.  "What do we want
with past or future?" she would exclaim, when she caught her Geoffrey
in retrospective or anticipatory mood.  "Cold mirrors in which we see
our silent selves like blocks of wood or stone.  It is this minute
which is our own glorious life."  The cruellest, and falsest, thing
that any woman could say concerning Madeleine Viner was that the fair
mistress of The Grove had been seen wearing a sorrowful face.

The simple inscription, "An American Woman," was carved by her own
desire over Mistress Viner's burying-place at the dawn of the
eighteenth century;' and at a later date an unauthorised and unknown
hand cut upon the shaft of the wooden column which stood upon her
resting-place, and was destroyed by fire before Canada was wrested from
the French, the not unsuitable motto, "Ride, si sapis."

Over the fireplace of the principal room in The Grove a ring was set in
the hard oak woodwork.  This ring contained a sigil engraved with the
arms of the Iden family, a chevron between three close helmets, and was
given a place of honour in the home because through its power Geoffrey
obtained a letter of recommendation and a subsequent patent of land
from that liberal-minded papist, Lord Baltimore, to whom the ring had
been delivered upon the safe arrival of the _Dartmouth_ in the Bay of
Chesapeake.

"Better men never bled for England than the men of Kent," said the
peer, when he had listened to Geoffrey's story.  "Braver men ne'er fled
from her shores to save their loyal lives.  The owner of this ring was
once my honoured friend.  His name has for long been most famous for
devotion to the crown."  The lord sighed and sadly added: "This Charles
shall learn to rue the day when he first cast aside the help of his old
loyalist families, and by oppression and persecution most intolerable
drove them from their homes.  But now, with God's help, we purpose to
build up upon this continent a new people, greater and more
clear-sighted than the old, and the motto of that people shall be,
'Liberty of thought and freedom in religion.'  Tell me now, how shall I
serve you?"

"I would settle, either in Maryland or in Virginia, and help to build
up that new American people of whom you speak," the young man answered.

So Geoffrey Viner obtained favour in the eyes of Lord Baltimore by the
power of the ring; and when the patent for the land issued, he and
Woodfield forgot their former dreams of power, and, exchanging sword
for axe, felled the big trees and cleared away the bush, that they
might plough the virgin soil and plant their seed.  As for stern Hough,
he remained in Boston, to fight Satan, since he might no longer fight
the French, and to preach the gloomy doctrine that he loved; and there
he lived to a great age, and there suddenly died one winter morning in
a bitterly cold church--for the religious feeling of the community
would allow no physical comfort to the worshipper--with a Bible between
his hands and a strained smile upon his face, as the preacher dilated
upon a psalm-singing Heaven reserved for the elect, and a burning fiery
furnace for all else.  Hough had been a good man, according to the
light which he had received, and doubtless the psalm-singing Heaven was
his.

It was evening.  Geoffrey and Madeleine walked hand in hand through
their plantation, inhaling fragrance from the dewy blooms.  Rain had
fallen during the afternoon, but when the sun broke out, to bid the
settlers good e'en, the country became a fairy-land.  A sleepy bird
piped on a distant branch.  A pale evening star rose in the east where
warm vapours were swimming in a silent sea.  The peace was perfect in
that true Arcadia.  Wars were yet to horrify the province, but the
shadow was not yet.  For the present the sword was buried, and the
earth brought forth fruit plenteously.

"If only I might have my wish!" exclaimed Madeleine, breaking a long
silence.

Her husband looked at her, pressing her fingers within his, but
answered nothing.

"I would have the whole world like this," she went on.  "Geoffrey, we
would not, if we could, seek to conceive a world more beautiful than
ours.  Yet how we spoil it by not knowing how to live!  Were it my
world I would banish all hypocrisy, all disputings over religion, all
lust for power, and try to teach my people how to love--how to love,
and nothing else."

"Making us perfect before our time," said Geoffrey, watching tenderly
the evening lights playing across her hair.

"No, husband.  We shall not attain perfection here.  But it is from
this country that a light shall proceed to spread throughout the world.
Are we not already showing others how to live?  What people before us
have ever dared to permit independence in thought and freedom in
religion?  We have already stripped the Church of its mysteries.  We
believe that a man may rise to God without a priest.  We are going to
grow very great on this side of the seas, and fly very high, and our
motto shall always be Peace.  Then we shall destroy all weapons of war,
and break up armies, and settle down in brotherly love, each man upon
his own plot of ground----"

"Envying that of his neighbour," broke in her husband gently.

"Ah, Geoffrey!  Scoffer!  But mayhap 'tis a foolish dream.  Could we
but live in love, it might follow that the wolf would be ashamed to
hunt the lamb, and would feed upon grass, and thus it might happen that
our kine would lack.  It is best as God ordains.  The panther must
remain fierce, the bind-weed choke the flower, the rose grow its thorn,
and the berry retain its poison.  But would you walk in my garden,
husband?"

"And see the devil changed into a monk?" asked Geoffrey, with a smile.

"There is no devil in my garden," cried Madeleine joyously.  "The snake
has no bite, and the devil is dead of idleness.  The angels show
themselves among my roses."

"They are here," said Geoffrey simply.  "Madeleine, sweet wife, before
we met I followed the promptings of the body; but through your eyes I
have seen the soul.  It is not the soldier who wins life with his
sword.  He does but strive in a vain shadow, until that happy day--ill
for him if it comes not--when there dawns upon his heart the light of
love, and his mind is inspired, and his ears hear the stirring of
wings, and his eyes are opened."

"What does he see, husband?" she asked caressingly.

"The sweet spirit of the woman who is sent to be his star."

They returned to their home in the sunset, and Madeleine was singing
softly as she swung her husband's arm.  The young matron ran forward,
to be entranced and transfigured by the last sunrays, and kissed her
fingers to the departing orb with a blithesome cry:

"Wake us before the morning bell, bright sun, and come not in clouds as
you came to-day."

Upon entering the flower garden a resonant voice, alternating with
tremendous bursts of glee, destroyed the stillness of the evening.
Husband and wife looked at each other in complete understanding, and
Madeleine held a finger to her lips, and motioned Geoffrey to advance
on tip-toe.  They pressed through a bower of roses, beneath a tangle of
creepers, through tall rye-grass, and as they advanced the great voice
came more strongly to their ears.  At length they stood unseen within
sight of their house front, and, drawing close together, laughed
restrainedly.

Upon the topmost step, in a line with the entrance, sat a man of
immense bulk, holding a pretty fair-haired child upon his mighty knee;
and this child he was dancing up and down, shouting a quaint
accompaniment meantime.  Around his head trailed the luxuriant vines,
covered with their fluffy white blooms, and the dainty humming-birds
went whirring by, chasing in sport the hivebound bees.

Leaning back, and heaving his knee up and down, the big man continued
to serenely bellow his nursery refrain:

"Ha!  Pieter von Donck!  Pieter von Donck!  'Tis as cunning an old
rogue as ever wore shoe-leather!"

"Funny man!  Do it again," chirruped Geoffrey Viner the younger.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

VALEDICTORY.

And now in the days when the world is small, and ships of iron rush to
and fro upon the seas, and the sword has become a burden, and the
mightier plowshare ripples the plain, gone are the golden lilies, gone
the power of the soutane rouge, gone the House of Bourbon; and two
small islands of the gulf, St. Pierre and Miquelon, bound by their
rocks and beaten by the waves, gather the harvest of the sea under the
lion's protection, and mourn in their loneliness over that proud
supremacy which has passed away for ever.



  PRINTED BY CASSELL & COMPANY, LIMITED,
  LA BELLE SAUVAGE, LONDON, E.C.





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