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Chapter 17 WHAT THE SHIP HENRI IV BRINGS TO QUEBEC

  • The ship Henri IV dropped anchor before Quebec on the seventh day of August.
  • This being the Company's vessel, hundreds of Canadians flocked to the wharves.
  • And again flags decked the château and town, and cannon roared. The Henri I_as part merchantman and part man-of-war. Her ports bristled with cannon, he_arines wore formidable cutlasses, and the law on board was military in th_trictest sense. Stores and ammunition filled her hull; carpenters' tools, tea-chests, bags of plaster, uniforms, cannon, small arms, beads and trinket_f no value save to the Indian, silk and wool and a beautiful window for th_athedral. And in return she was to carry away mink, otter and beaver skins.
  • Breton had been left behind by the Chevalier, who had joined a scouting part_p the river. Love and anxiety had made the lad thin. Any night might brin_isastrous news from Three Rivers, the burning of the settlement and th_assacre. Such speculation counteracted his usually good appetite. So Breto_ooned about the wharves day by day, always looking up the river instead o_own.
  • To-day he lingered to witness the debarkation. Besides, the Henri IV was _reat ship, bringing with her a vague perfume from France. Listlessly h_atched the seamen empty the hold of its treasures; carelessly he observed th_eeting of sweethearts and lovers, wives and husbands. Two women in mask_eant nothing to him… Holy Virgin! it was not possible! Was his brain foolin_im? He grew faint. Did he really see these two old men climbing down th_hip's ladder to the boats? He choked; tears blinded him. He dashed aside th_ears and looked once more. Oh! there could be no doubt; his eyes had no_eceived him. There was only one face like that in the world; only one fac_ike that, with its wrinkles, its haughty chin, its domineering nose. He ha_een that lean, erect figure, crowned with silver-white hair, too many time_o mistake it. It was the marquis, the grim and terrible marquis, the ogre o_is dreams. The lad had always hated the marquis, taking his master's side; but at the sight of that familiar face, he felt his heart swell with joy an_ove and veneration. For intuition told him why Monsieur le Marquis was i_uebec. It was to seek Monsieur le Chevalier. And together they would all g_ack to France, beautiful France. He burst into hysterical tears, regardles_f the wonder which he created. And there was the kindly Jehan, who ha_andled him on his knee, long years ago before trouble had cast its blightin_hadow over the House of Périgny. Blessed day!
  • Very slowly and with infinite pains the marquis climbed from the boat to th_harf. It was evident to Breton that the long voyage at sea had sapped hi_itality and undermined his vigor. He was still erect, but, ah! how lean an_rail! But his eye was still the eye of the proud eagle, and it swept th_rowd, searching for a familiar face. Breton dared not make himself know_ecause of that eye. An officer who had formerly resided in Rochell_ecognized the marquis instantly, and he pressed forward.
  • "Monsieur le Marquis in Quebec?" he cried.
  • "You are of the fort?" replied the marquis. His voice was thin and high, lik_hat of old men whose blood is turning to water.
  • "Yes, Monsieur," answered the officer.
  • "Will you lead me to his Excellency the governor? I have letters to presen_rom her Majesty the queen."
  • "Follow me, Monsieur;" and the officer conducted the marquis through th_rowd, politely but firmly brushing aside those who blocked his path. He foun_he governor quickly. "Your Excellency, the Marquis de Périgny wishes t_resent to you letters from her august Majesty."
  • "Monsieur le Marquis here?" exclaimed the governor. He embraced the ol_obleman, whom he held in genuine regard.
  • "So your Excellency remembers me?" said the marquis, pleased.
  • "One does not forget a man such as you are, Monsieur. And I see you here i_uebec? What twist of fortune brings you to my household?"
  • "I have come in search of a prodigal son, Monsieur," smiling. "Know you on_ho calls himself the Chevalier du Cévennes?"
  • "The Chevalier du Cévennes?" The governor was nonplussed. The marquis here i_earch of the Chevalier?
  • "I see that he is here," said the marquis, with a note of satisfaction.
  • "No, Monsieur; not here, but has been."
  • "He can be found?"
  • "Within sixty hours."
  • "That is well. I am very fortunate."
  • "You will be my guest during your stay?" suggested the governor.
  • "Her Majesty asks that good favor of you."
  • "A great honor, Monsieur, truly;" and the governor was elated at the though_f having so distinguished a guest at his table.
  • The marquis turned to the patient Jehan. "Jehan, you will see to th_ortmanteaus."
  • "Yes, Monsieur."
  • A priest elbowed his way toward them. On seeing him, the marquis raised an_owered his bushy white brows. It was the handsome Jesuit whose face ha_tolen into many a dream of late. Brother Jacques was greatly astonished. Th_arquis greeted him, but without marked cordiality. At a sign from th_overnor the quartet moved up the path toward the cliffs, which the marqui_easured with the eye of one who understood thoroughly the art and value o_ilitary strategy.
  • "Superb!" he murmured. "With a few men and plenty of ammunition, I could hol_ven England at bay."
  • "I am proud of it," acknowledged the governor; but there was a twinge of env_hen it occurred to him that a handful of savages had worried him more tha_nce. And here was a man who would defy the whole world.
  • Jehan felt a pressure on his arm. Turning, he beheld the shining face o_reton. He caught the lad in his arms and kissed him on the cheek.
  • "I expected to find you, lad. Ah, but you have done wrong. You should hav_old us. You should not have run away with Monsieur le Comte…"
  • "Monsieur le Comte?" bewildered.
  • "Yes; you should not have run away with him as you did."
  • "Had I told you, you would have prevented my coming," Breton confessed.
  • "You would have saved Monsieur le Marquis and myself a great deal of trouble."
  • "But Monsieur le Chevalier was in trouble, too. I could not leave him."
  • "Which speaks well for your heart, lad, but not for your reason. Where i_onsieur le Comte?"
  • "At Three Rivers; a day and a night's ride from here, with good paddlers."
  • "Good. We shall start out in the morning."
  • "To bring him back to France?"
  • "Nothing less, lad. The count has been greatly wronged by Monsieur le Marquis, and it is to be set to rights forthwith. Can you read?"
  • "Yes."
  • "Here is a letter which Monsieur le Curé wrote at Périgny. It was from ol_artin's daughter."
  • "God bless you, Monsieur," cried the happy Breton. He would have shouted fo_oy had not the quiet dignity of the old lackey put a damper on hi_nthusiasm.
  • "Monsieur le Comte was well when last you saw him?"
  • "Yes; physically."
  • "He is troubled?"
  • "Who would not be?" burst forth Breton, indignantly. "But why do you cal_onsieur le Chevalier the count?"
  • "Is not that his title?" quietly.
  • "But …"
  • "Would Monsieur le Marquis take all this trouble if Monsieur le Chevalier wa_nything but Monsieur le Comte?"
  • "I shall offer a dozen candles!" cried Breton, joyously.
  • Meantime the governor conducted the marquis around the fortress and th_hâteau; and together they stood upon the highest balcony and looked down upo_he river, which was dotted with canoes and small boats.
  • "Magnificent!" repeated the marquis time and again.
  • "And not even in the Cévennes, Monsieur, will you see such sunsets," said D_auson.
  • "This should not be managed by speculators," unconsciously pricking th_overnor's quick, "nor by the priest's cold hand. It should be wholly th_ing's. It would be France's salvation. What are they doing there in Paris?"
  • "Spending money on lace for the Swiss and giving masks at the Palais Royal."
  • "Richelieu died too soon; here would have been his fame." The marquis neve_nderestimated an enemy. "If your Excellency will excuse me now, I will sleep.
  • I am an old man, and sleep calls to me often. I will join you at supper."
  • "The ladies will be delighted. There is but little here of the life of th_ourt. When we are not guarding against Indians, we are celebrating religiou_êtes."
  • "Till supper, then, your Excellency."
  • And the governor departed to read the messages from the queen. She had place_ll Quebec at the disposal of the marquis in the search for his son. Th_overnor was greatly mystified. That the marquis should still call th_hevalier by his former title of count added to this mystery. Since when di_athers set out for sons of the left hand? He soon gave up the riddle, confident that the marquis himself would solve it for him.
  • The marquis rose before sundown and with the assistance of his aged valet mad_is toilet. He was dressed in black satin, with white lace ruffles, and acros_is breast he flung the ribbon of the Chevalier of the Order, in honor of th_overnor's attentions. Presently, from his window he saw the figure of _oman—young and slender; doubtless some relative of the governor's. Patientl_e waited for her to turn. When she did so, a subdued exclamation fell fro_is lips. He had seen that face before, once or twice on board the Henri IV.
  • It was the woman in the grey mask. He stared hard and long. Where else had h_een this face? He was growing old, and sometimes his memory failed him.
  • Without being conscious of the act, he readjusted his wristbands and th_uffles at his throat. A handsome young woman at the table would be _ecompense for the dullness of the hour. But he waited in vain at supper fo_he appearance of the exquisite face. Like the true courtier he was, he mad_o inquiries.
  • When they were at last alone, the governor said: "I am truly glad you hav_ome to make the Chevalier return to France. He will never be at peace here."
  • "Why?" asked the marquis, weakening his burgundy with water.
  • "The … That is …" But the governor foundered.
  • "Why?" repeated the marquis. "Has he made a fool of himself here as i_rance?"
  • "No, Monsieur," warmly. "He has proved himself to be a gentleman and a brav_oldier."
  • "He drinks?"
  • "Only as a gentleman might; neither does he gamble."
  • "Ah!"
  • The governor drew figures on the dusty bottle at the side of his plate.
  • "If he does none of these things," said the marquis, "why can not he live i_eace here?"
  • "His … unfortunate history has followed him here."
  • "What?" The marquis's glass crashed upon the table and the wine crept amon_he plates, soaking the marquis's sleeves and crimsoning his elegan_ristbands.
  • "What did you say?"
  • "Why," began the governor, startled and confused, "the history of his birth i_nown." He looked at the walls, at the wine running about, at the floor, a_verything save the flashing eyes opposite.
  • "So the fool has told it here?" harshly. "Bah! let him rot here, then; fool!"
  • "But he has said nothing; no one knew till …"
  • "Oh! then it was not Monsieur le Comte who spoke?"
  • "Monsieur le Comte?"
  • "That is the title which my son bears."
  • "Good God, Monsieur, then what is all this about?"
  • "It will take some time to tell it, Monsieur," said the marquis, shaking hi_leeves and throwing salt upon the table. "First, I wish to know the name o_he man who started the story."
  • "Monsieur de Leviston, of Montreal, prompted by I know not whom."
  • "De Leviston. I shall remember that name."
  • "There was a duel fought."
  • "A duel? Who were the participants?"
  • "The Vicomte d'Halluys against the Comte d'Hérouville, and Monsieur d_aumaise against De Leviston. D'Hérouville and De Leviston are both i_ospital."
  • "D'Hérouville? What had he to do with the affair?"
  • "He laughed," said the governor; "he laughed when De Leviston accused your so_f not knowing who his mother was."
  • "Thank you, Monsieur. I see that you are in great puzzle. Let me solve th_uzzle for you. I have always been a man of quick and violent temper, an_ometimes this temper has been that of the fool. The wisest of us mak_istakes. I have made a grievous one. In a moment of anger …" He ceased, taking up the stem of the broken glass and twirling it. "In a moment of anger, then, I did Monsieur le Comte a most grievous wrong, a wrong for which I ca_ever fully atone. We have never been on friendly terms since his refusal t_ed a young woman of my choice, Mademoiselle de Montbazon. I had never see_his daughter, nor had my son. Paris life, Monsieur, as doubtless you know, i_uinous to youth. Monsieur le Comte was much in wine; he gambled recklessly.
  • It was my desire to change his course, but I went at it either too late o_unglingly. In February he was exiled from court in disgrace. I have neve_scertained the character of this disgrace. One night in March we had a_xchange of opinions. My faith, your Excellency, but that boy has a terribl_ongue. There was not a place in my armor that he did not pierce. I shall no_epeat to you the subject of our conversation. Suffice it to say that h_oused the devil and the fool in me, and I told him that he had no right t_is name. I am here to correct that wrong as much as lies within my power. H_id not give me an opportunity at home. It is not sentiment; it is my sense o_ustice that brings me here. And I truly admire the lad's spirit. To plung_nto the wilderness without calculation; ah, well, it is only the fool wh_tops to weigh the hazards of fortune. The boy is my son, lawfully; and I wan_im to know it. I am growing old, and this voyage has written a shorter ter_or me."
  • "Monsieur," said De Lauson, "what you tell me makes me truly happy. But I a_fraid that you have destroyed the Chevalier's trust in humanity. If you as_e to judge you, I shall be severe. You have committed a terrible sin, unnatural and brutal, unheard of till now by me."
  • "I bow to all that," said the marquis. "It was brutal, cruel; it was all yo_ay. But the fact remains that it is done and that a part of it must b_ndone."
  • "Your sense of justice does credit to a great noble like yourself. Worldl_eparation you may make, but you have wounded his heart and soul beyond al_arthly reparation."
  • "The worldly reparation quite satisfies me," replied the marquis, fumblin_ith his lips. "As I observed, sentiment is out of the question. Monsieur l_omte would not let me love him if I would," lightly. "I wish to undo as muc_s possible the evil I have done. If he refuses to return to France, that i_is affair, not mine. I shall be the last to urge him. This Monsieur d_aumaise is a poet, I understand."
  • "Who writes equally well with his sword."
  • "I should like to meet him. How long before De Leviston and D'Hérouville wil_e out of hospital?"
  • "D'Hérouville, any day; De Leviston has a bad fever, having taken cold."
  • The marquis had not acquired the habit of smoking, so the governor lit hi_ipe and smoked alone.
  • "Your Excellency, who is this handsome young priest who goes by the name o_rother Jacques; of what family?"
  • "That I do not know; no one knows; not even Father Chaumonot, who is hi_ponsor. The good Father picked him up somewhere in Italy and placed him in _onvent."
  • "Monsieur le Comte, then, is at Three Rivers?"
  • "Yes; and to-morrow we shall set out for him; though he may return at an_our."
  • "I thank your Excellency. The Henri IV sails by next week, so I understand. _aresay that we both shall be on it. At any rate, I shall wait."
  • The door opened and Jehan, expressing as much excitement as his weather-beate_ace made possible, stood before them.
  • "Well?" said the marquis.
  • "Monsieur le Comte is returned from Three Rivers, and is about to dine in th_itadel."
  • "Tell a trooper that the presence of Monsieur le Chevalier is requested her_t once. Do not let the Chevalier see you," and the governor rose and lai_own his pipe. "I will leave the room at your service, Monsieur."
  • "It is very kind of you." If the marquis was excited, or nervous, there wa_othing on his face to indicate it.
  • Jehan and the governor made their exits through opposite doors; and Monsieu_e Marquis sat alone. Several minutes passed. Once or twice the marquis turne_is attention to his wine-soaked sleeve. Steps were heard in the corridor, bu_hese died away in the distance. From time to time the old man's hand wandere_o his throat, as if something was bothering him there. Time marked off _uarter of an hour. Then the door opened, and a man entered; a man bronzed o_ountenance, tall, and deep of chest. He wore the trapper's blouse and fringe_eggings. From where he stood he could not see who sat at the table.
  • "Come toward the light, Monsieur," said the marquis, "where I may see you t_etter advantage." The marquis rose and stood with the fingers of his righ_and pressing lightly on the table.
  • At the sound of that voice, the Chevalier's heart leaped. He strode forwar_uickly, and, leaning across the table, stared into his father's eyes.