Arthur Conan Doyle
Part 5 out of 8
peace; but each carried a short rusty iron bar in his hand. Not a word
did either of them say, but the soldier took two quick steps forward and
struck at the headsman while he was still poising himself for a blow at
the victim. There was a thud, with a crackle like a breaking egg, and
the bar flew into pieces. The heads-man gave a dreadful cry, and
dropped his axe, clapped his two hands to his head, and running zigzag
across the scaffold, fell over, a dead man, into the courtyard beneath.
Quick as a flash De Catinat had caught up the axe, and faced De
Montespan with the heavy weapon slung over his shoulder and a challenge
in his eyes.
"Now!" said he.
The seigneur had for the instant been too astounded to speak. Now he
understood at least that these strangers had come between him and his
"Seize these men!" he shrieked, turning to his followers.
"One moment!" cried De Catinat, with a voice and manner which commanded
attention. "You see by my coat what I am. I am the body-servant of the
king. Who touches me touches him. Have a care for yourselves. It is a
"On, you cowards!" roared De Montespan.
But the men-at-arms hesitated, for the fear of the king was as a great
shadow which hung over all France. De Catinat saw their indecision, and
he followed up his advantage.
"This woman," he cried, "is the king's own favourite, and if any harm
come to a lock of her hair, I tell you that there is not a living soul
within this portcullis who will not die a death of torture. Fools, will
you gasp out your lives upon the rack, or writhe in boiling oil, at the
bidding of this madman?"
"Who are these men, Marceau?" cried the seigneur furiously.
"They are prisoners, your excellency."
"Prisoners! Whose prisoners?"
"Yours, your excellency."
"Who ordered you to detain them?"
"You did. The escort brought your signet-ring."
"I never saw the men. There is devilry in this. But they shall not
beard me in my own castle, nor stand between me and my own wife.
No, _par dieu!_ they shall not and live! You men, Marceau, Etienne,
Gilbert, Jean, Pierre, all you who have eaten my bread, on to them, I
He glanced round with furious eyes, but they fell only upon hung heads
and averted faces. With a hideous curse he flashed out his sword and
rushed at his wife, who knelt half insensible beside the block.
De Catinat sprang between them to protect her; but Marceau, the bearded
seneschal, had already seized his master round the waist. With the
strength of a maniac, his teeth clenched and the foam churning from the
corners of his lips, De Montespan writhed round in the man's grasp, and
shortening his sword, he thrust it through the brown beard and deep into
the throat behind it. Marceau fell back with a choking cry, the blood
bubbling from his mouth and his wound; but before his murderer could
disengage his weapon, De Catinat and the American, aided by a dozen of
the retainers, had dragged him down on to the scaffold, and Amos Green
had pinioned him so securely that he could but move his eyes and his
lips, with which he lay glaring and spitting at them. So savage were
his own followers against him--for Marceau was well loved amongst them--
that, with axe and block so ready, justice might very swiftly have had
her way, had not a long clear bugle-call, rising and falling in a
thousand little twirls and flourishes, clanged out suddenly in the still
morning air. De Catinat pricked up his ears at the sound of it like a
hound at the huntsman's call.
"Did you hear, Amos?"
"It was a trumpet."
"It was the guards' bugle-call. You, there, hasten to the gate!
Throw up the portcullis and drop the drawbridge! Stir yourselves, or
even now you may suffer for your master's sins! It has been a narrow
"You may say so, friend. I saw him put out his hand to her hair, even
as you sprang from the window. Another instant and he would have had
her scalped. But she is a fair woman, the fairest that ever my eyes
rested upon, and it is not fit that she should kneel here upon these
boards." He dragged her husband's long black cloak from him, and made a
pillow for the senseless woman with a tenderness and delicacy which came
strangely from a man of his build and bearing.
He was still stooping over her when there came the clang of the falling
bridge, and an instant later the clatter of the hoofs of a troop of
cavalry, who swept with wave of plumes, toss of manes, and jingle of
steel into the courtyard. At the head was a tall horseman in the full
dress of the guards, with a curling feather in his hat, high buff
gloves, and his sword gleaming in the sunlight. He cantered forward
towards the scaffold, his keen dark eyes taking in every detail of the
group which awaited him there. De Catinat's face brightened at the
sight of him, and he was down in an instant beside his stirrup.
"De Catinat! Now where in the name of wonder did you come from?"
"I have been a prisoner. Tell me, De Brissac, did you leave the message
"Certainly I did."
"And the archbishop came?"
"And the marriage?"
"Took place as arranged. That is why this poor woman whom I see yonder
has had to leave the palace."
"I thought as much."
"I trust that no harm has come to her?"
"My friend and I were just in time to save her. Her husband lies there.
He is a fiend, De Brissac."
"Very likely; but an angel might have grown bitter had he had the same
"We have him pinioned here. He has slain a man, and I have slain
"On my word, you have been busy."
"How did you know that we were here?"
"Nay, that is an unexpected pleasure."
"You did not come for us, then?"
"No; we came for the lady."
"And how did this fellow get hold of her?"
"Her brother was to have taken her in his carriage. Her husband learned
it, and by a lying message he coaxed her into his own, which was at
another door. When De Vivonne found that she did not come, and that her
rooms were empty, he made inquiries, and soon learned how she had gone.
De Montespan's arms had been seen on the panel, and so the king sent me
here with my troop as fast as we could gallop."
"Ah, and you would have come too late had a strange chance not brought
us here. I know not who it was who waylaid us, for this man seemed to
know nothing of the matter. However, all that will be clearer
afterwards. What is to be done now?"
"I have my own orders. Madame is to be sent to Petit Bourg, and any who
are concerned in offering her violence are to be kept until the king's
pleasure is known. The castle, too, must be held for the king.
But you, De Catinat, you have nothing to do now?"
"Nothing, save that I would like well to ride into Paris to see that all
is right with my uncle and his daughter."
"Ah, that sweet little cousin of thine! By my soul, I do not wonder
that the folk know you well in the Rue St. Martin. Well, I have carried
a message for you once, and you shall do as much for me now."
"With all my heart. And whither?"
"To Versailles. The king will be on fire to know how we have fared.
You have the best right to tell him, since without you and your friend
yonder it would have been but a sorry tale."
"I will be there in two hours."
"Have you horses?"
"Ours were slain."
"You will find some in the stables here. Pick the best, since you have
lost your own in the king's service."
The advice was too good to be overlooked. De Catinat, beckoning to Amos
Green, hurried away with him to the stables, while De Brissac, with a
few short sharp orders, disarmed the retainers, stationed his guardsmen
all over the castle, and arranged for the removal of the lady, and for
the custody of her husband. An hour later the two friends were riding
swiftly down the country road, inhaling the sweet air, which seemed the
fresher for their late experience of the dank, foul vapours of their
dungeon. Far behind them a little dark pinnacle jutting over a grove of
trees marked the chateau which they had left, while on the extreme
horizon to the west there came a quick shimmer and sparkle where the
level rays of the early sun gleamed upon the magnificent palace which
was their goal.
THE FALL OF THE CATINATS.
Two days after Madame de Maintenon's marriage to the king there was held
within the humble walls of her little room a meeting which was destined
to cause untold misery to many hundreds of thousands of people, and yet,
in the wisdom of Providence, to be an instrument in carrying French arts
and French ingenuity and French sprightliness among those heavier
Teutonic peoples who have been the stronger and the better ever since
for the leaven which they then received. For in history great evils
have sometimes arisen from a virtue, and most beneficent results have
often followed hard upon a crime.
The time had come when the Church was to claim her promise from madame,
and her pale cheek and sad eyes showed how vain it had been for her to
try and drown the pleadings of her tender heart by the arguments of the
bigots around her. She knew the Huguenots of France. Who could know
them better, seeing that she was herself from their stock, and had been
brought up in their faith? She knew their patience, their nobility,
their independence, their tenacity. What chance was there that they
would conform to the king's wish? A few great nobles might, but the
others would laugh at the galleys, the jail, or even the gallows when
the faith of their fathers was at stake. If their creed were no longer
tolerated, then, and if they remained true to it, they must either fly
from the country or spend a living death tugging at an oar or working in
a chain-gang upon the roads. It was a dreadful alternative to present
to a people who were so numerous that they made a small nation in
themselves. And most dreadful of all, that she who was of their own
blood should cast her voice against them. And yet her promise had been
given, and now the time had come when it must be redeemed.
The eloquent Bishop Bossuet was there, with Louvois, the minister of
war, and the famous Jesuit, Father la Chaise, each piling argument upon
argument to overcome the reluctance of the king. Beside them stood
another priest, so thin and so pale that he might have risen from his
bed of death, but with a fierce light burning in his large dark eyes,
and with a terrible resolution in his drawn brows and in the set of his
grim, lanky jaw. Madame bent over her tapestry and weaved her coloured
silks in silence, while the king leaned upon his hand and listened with
the face of a man who knows that he is driven, and yet can hardly turn
against the goads. On the low table lay a paper, with pen and ink
beside it. It was the order for the revocation, and it only needed the
king's signature to make it the law of the land.
"And so, father, you are of opinion that if I stamp out heresy in this
fashion I shall assure my own salvation in the next world?" he asked.
"You will have merited a reward."
"And you think so too, Monsieur Bishop?"
"And you. Abbe du Chayla?"
The emaciated priest spoke for the first time, a tinge of colour
creeping into his corpse-like cheeks, and a more lurid light in his
"I know not about assuring your salvation, sire. I think it would take
very much more to do that. But there cannot be a doubt as to your
damnation if you do not do it."
The king started angrily, and frowned at the speaker.
"Your words are somewhat more curt than I am accustomed to," he
"In such a matter it were cruel indeed to leave you in doubt. I say
again that your soul's fate hangs upon the balance. Heresy is a mortal
sin. Thousands of heretics would turn to the Church if you did but give
the word. Therefore these thousands of mortal sins are all upon your
soul. What hope for it then, if you do not amend?"
"My father and my grandfather tolerated them."
"Then, without some special extension of the grace of God, your father
and your grandfather are burning in hell."
"Insolent!" The king sprang from his seat.
"Sire, I will say what I hold to be the truth were you fifty times a
king. What care I for any man when I know that I speak for the King of
kings? See; are these the limbs of one who would shrink from testifying
to truth?" With a sudden movement he threw back the long sleeves of his
gown and shot out his white fleshless arms. The bones were all knotted
and bent and screwed into the most fantastic shapes. Even Louvois, the
hardened man of the court, and his two brother priests, shuddered at the
sight of those dreadful limbs. He raised them above his head and turned
his burning eyes upwards.
"Heaven has chosen me to testify for the faith before now," said he.
"I heard that blood was wanted to nourish the young Church of Siam, and
so to Siam I journeyed. They tore me open; they crucified me; they
wrenched and split my bones. I was left as a dead man, yet God has
breathed the breath of life back into me that I may help in this great
work of the regeneration of France."
"Your sufferings, father," said Louis, resuming his seat, "give you
every claim, both upon the Church and upon me, who am its special
champion and protector. What would you counsel, then, father, in the
case of those Huguenots who refuse to change?"
"They would change," cried Du Chayla, with a drawn smile upon his
ghastly face. "They must bend or they must break. What matter if they
be ground to powder, if we can but build up a complete Church in the
land?" His deep-set eyes glowed with ferocity, and be shook one bony
hand in savage wrath above his head.
"The cruelty with which you have been used, then, has not taught you to
be more tender to others."
"Tender! To heretics! No, sire, my own pains have taught me that the
world and the flesh are as nothing, and that the truest charity to
another is to capture his soul at all risks to his vile body. I should
have these Huguenot souls, sire, though I turned France into a shambles
to gain them."
Louis was evidently deeply impressed by the fearless words and the wild
earnestness of the speaker. He leaned his head upon his hand for a
little time, and remained sunk in the deepest thought.
"Besides, sire," said Pere la Chaise softly, "there would be little need
for these stronger measures of which the good abbe speaks. As I have
already remarked to you, you are so beloved in your kingdom that the
mere assurance that you had expressed your will upon the subject would
be enough to turn them all to the true faith."
"I wish that I could think so, father; I wish that I could think so.
But what is this?"
It was his valet who had half opened the door.
"Captain de Catinat is here, who desires to see you at once, sire."
"Ask the captain to enter. Ah!" A happy thought seemed to have struck
him. "We shall see what love for me will do in such a matter, for if it
is anywhere to be found it must be among my own body-servants."
The guardsman had arrived that instant from his long ride, and leaving
Amos Green with the horses, he had come on at once, all dusty and
travel-stained, to carry his message to the king. He entered now, and
stood with the quiet ease of a man who is used to such scenes, his hand
raised in a salute.
"What news, captain?"
"Major de Brissac bade me tell you, sire, that he held the Castle of
Portillac, that the lady is safe, and that her husband is a prisoner."
Louis and his wife exchanged a quick glance of relief.
"That is well," said he. "By the way, captain, you have served me in
many ways of late, and always with success. I hear, Louvois, that De la
Salle is dead of the small-pox."
"He died yesterday, sire."
"Then I desire that you make out the vacant commission of major to
Monsieur de Catinat. Let me be the first to congratulate you, major,
upon your promotion, though you will need to exchange the blue coat for
the pearl and gray of the mousquetaires. We cannot spare you from the
household, you see."
De Catinat kissed the hand which the monarch held out to him.
"May I be worthy of your kindness, sire!"
"You would do what you could to serve me, would you not?"
"My life is yours, sire."
"Very good. Then I shall put your fidelity to the proof."
"I am ready for any proof."
"It is not a very severe one. You see this paper upon the table. It is
an order that all the Huguenots in my dominions shall give up their
errors, under pain of banishment or captivity. Now I have hopes that
there are many of my faithful subjects who are at fault in this matter,
but who will abjure it when they learn that it is my clearly expressed
wish that they should do so. It would be a great joy to me to find that
it was so, for it would be a pain to me to use force against any man who
bears the name of Frenchman. Do you follow me?"
"Yes, sire." The young man had turned deadly pale, and he shifted his
feet, and opened and clasped his hands. He had faced death a dozen
times and under many different forms, but never had he felt such a
sinking of the heart as came over him now.
"You are yourself a Huguenot, I understand. I would gladly have you,
then, as the first-fruit of this great measure. Let us hear from your
own lips that you, for one, are ready to follow the lead of your king in
this as in other things."
The young guardsman still hesitated, though his doubts were rather as to
how he should frame his reply than as to what its substance should be.
He felt that in an instant Fortune had wiped out all the good turns
which she had done him during his past life, and that now, far from
being in her debt, he held a heavy score against her. The king arched
his eyebrows and drummed his fingers impatiently as he glanced at the
downcast face and dejected bearing.
"Why all this thought?" he cried. "You are a man whom I have raised and
whom I will raise. He who has a major's epaulettes at thirty may carry
a marshal's baton at fifty. Your past is mine, and your future shall be
no less so. What other hopes have you?"
"I have none, sire, outside your service."
"Why this silence, then? Why do you not give the assurance which I
"I cannot do it, sire."
"You cannot do it!"
"It is impossible. I should have no more peace in my mind, or respect
for myself, if I knew that for the sake of position or wealth I had
given up the faith of my fathers."
"Man, you are surely mad! There is all that a man could covet upon one
side, and what is there upon the other?"
"There is my honour."
"And is it, then, a dishonour to embrace my religion?"
"It would be a dishonour to me to embrace it for the sake of gain
without believing in it."
"Then believe it."
"Alas, sire, a man cannot force himself to believe. Belief is a thing
which must come to him, not he to it."
"On my word, father," said Louis, glancing with a bitter smile at his
Jesuit confessor, "I shall have to pick the cadets of the household from
your seminary, since my officers have turned casuists and theologians.
So, for the last time, you refuse to obey my request?"
"Oh, sire--" De Catinat took a step forward with outstretched hands and
tears in his eyes.
But the king checked him with a gesture. "I desire no protestations,"
said he. "I judge a man by his acts. Do you abjure or not?"
"I cannot, sire."
"You see," said Louis, turning again to the Jesuit, "it will not be as
easy as you think."
"This man is obstinate, it is true, but many others will be more
The king shook his head. "I would that I knew what to do," said he.
"Madame, I know that you, at least, will ever give me the best advice.
You have heard all that has been said. What do you recommend?"
She kept her eyes still fixed upon her tapestry, but her voice was firm
and clear as she answered:--
"You have yourself said that you are the eldest son of the Church.
If the eldest son desert her, then who will do her bidding? And there
is truth, too, in what the holy abbe has said. You may imperil your own
soul by condoning this sin of heresy. It grows and flourishes, and if
it be not rooted out now, it may choke the truth as weeds and briers
choke the wheat."
"There are districts in France now," said Bossuet, "where a church is
not to be seen in a day's journey, and where all the folk, from the
nobles to the peasants, are of the same accursed faith. So it is in the
Cevennes, where the people are as fierce and rugged as their own
mountains. Heaven guard the priests who have to bring them back from
"Whom should I send on so perilous a task?" asked Louis.
The Abbe du Chayla was down in a instant upon his knees with his gaunt
hands outstretched. "Send me, sire! Me!" he cried. "I have never asked
a favour of you, and never will again. But I am the man who could
break this people. Send me with your message to the people of the
"God help the people of the Cevennes!" muttered Louis, as he looked with
mingled respect and loathing at the emaciated face and fiery eyes of the
fanatic. "Very well, abbe," he added aloud; "you shall go to the
Perhaps for an instant there came upon the stern priest some premonition
of that dreadful morning when, as he crouched in a corner of 'his
burning home, fifty daggers were to rasp against each other in his body.
He sunk his face in his hands, and a shudder passed over his gaunt
frame. Then he rose, and folding his arms, he resumed his impassive
attitude. Louis took up the pen from the table, and drew the paper
"I have the same counsel, then, from all of you," said he,--"from you,
bishop; from you, father; from you, madame; from you, abbe; and from
you, Louvois. Well, if ill come from it, may it not be visited upon me!
But what is this?"
De Catinat had taken a step forward with his hand outstretched.
His ardent, impetuous nature had suddenly broken down all the barriers
of caution, and he seemed for the instant to see that countless throng
of men, women, and children of his own faith, all unable to say a word
for themselves, and all looking to him as their champion and spokesman.
He had thought little of such matters when all was well, but now, when
danger threatened, the deeper side of his nature was moved, and he felt
how light a thing is life and fortune when weighed against a great
abiding cause and principle.
"Do not sign it, sire," he cried. "You will live to wish that your hand
had withered ere it grasped that pen. I know it, sire. I am sure of
it. Consider all these helpless folk--the little children, the young
girls, the old and the feeble. Their creed is themselves. As well ask
the leaves to change the twigs on which they grow. They could not
change. At most you could but hope to turn them from honest folk into
hypocrites. And why should you do it? They honour you. They love you.
They harm none. They are proud to serve in your armies, to fight for
you, to work for you, to build up the greatness of your kingdom.
I implore you, sire, to think again before you sign an order which will
bring misery and desolation to so many."
For a moment the king had hesitated as he listened to the short abrupt
sentences in which the soldier pleaded for his fellows, but his face
hardened again as he remembered how even his own personal entreaty had
been unable to prevail with this young dandy of the court.
"France's religion should be that of France's king," said he, "and if my
own guardsmen thwart me in such a matter, I must find others who will be
more faithful. That major's commission in the mousquetaires must go to
Captain de Belmont, Louvois."
"Very good, sire."
"And De Catinat's commission may be transferred to Lieutenant
"Very good, sire."
"And I am to serve you no longer?"
"You are too dainty for my service."
De Catinat's arms fell listlessly to his side, and his head sunk forward
upon his breast. Then, as he realised the ruin of all the hopes of his
life, and the cruel injustice with which he had been treated, he broke
into a cry of despair, and rushed from the room with the hot tears of
impotent anger running down his face. So, sobbing, gesticulating, with
coat unbuttoned and hat awry, he burst into the stable where placid Amos
Green was smoking his pipe and watching with critical eyes the grooming
of the horses.
"What in thunder is the matter now?" he asked, holding his pipe by the
bowl, while the blue wreaths curled up from his lips.
"This sword," cried the Frenchman--"I have no right to wear it! I shall
"Well, and I'll break my knife too if it will hearten you up."
"And these," cried De Catinat, tugging at his silver shoulder-straps,
"they must go."
"Ah, you draw ahead of me there, for I never had any. But come, friend,
let me know the trouble, that I may see if it may not be mended."
"To Paris! to Paris!" shouted the guardsman frantically. "If I am
ruined, I may yet be in time to save them. The horses, quick!"
It was clear to the American that some sudden calamity had befallen, so
he aided his comrade and the grooms to saddle and bridle.
Five minutes later they were flying on their way, and in little more
than an hour their steeds, all reeking and foam-flecked, were pulled up
outside the high house in the Rue St. Martin. De Catinat sprang from
his saddle and rushed upstairs, while Amos followed in his own leisurely
The old Huguenot and his beautiful daughter were seated at one side of
the great fireplace, her hand in his, and they sprang up together, she
to throw herself with a glad cry into the arms of her lover, and he to
grasp the hand which his nephew held out to him.
At the other side of the fireplace, with a very long pipe in his mouth
and a cup of wine upon a settle beside him, sat a strange-looking man,
with grizzled hair and beard, a fleshy red projecting nose, and two
little gray eyes, which twinkled out from under huge brindled brows.
His long thin face was laced and seamed with wrinkles, crossing and
recrossing everywhere, but fanning out in hundreds from the corners of
his eyes. It was set in an unchanging expression, and as it was of the
same colour all over, as dark as the darkest walnut, it might have been
some quaint figure-head cut out of a coarse-grained wood. He was clad
in a blue serge jacket, a pair of red breeches smeared at the knees with
tar, clean gray worsted stockings, large steel buckles over his coarse
square-toed shoes, and beside him, balanced upon the top of a thick
oaken cudgel, was a weather-stained silver-laced hat. His gray-shot
hair was gathered up behind into a short stiff tail, and a seaman's
hanger, with a brass handle, was girded to his waist by a tarnished
De Catinat had been too occupied to take notice of this singular
individual, but Amos Green gave a shout of delight at the sight of him,
and ran forward to greet him. The other's wooden face relaxed so far as
to show two tobacco-stained fangs, and, without rising, he held out a
great red hand, of the size and shape of a moderate spade.
"Why, Captain Ephraim," cried Amos in English, "who ever would have
thought of finding you here? De Catinat, this is my old friend Ephraim
Savage, under whose charge I came here."
"Anchor's apeak, lad, and the hatches down," said the stranger, in the
peculiar drawling voice which the New Englanders had retained from their
ancestors, the English Puritans.
"And when do you sail?"
"As soon as your foot is on her deck, if Providence serve us with wind
and tide. And how has all gone with thee, Amos?"
"Right well. I have much to tell you of."
"I trust that you have held yourself apart from all their popish
"Yes, yes, Ephraim."
"And have had no truck with the scarlet woman."
"No, no; but what is it now?"
The grizzled hair was bristling with rage, and the little gray eyes were
gleaming from under the heavy tufts. Amos, following their gaze, saw
that De Catinat was seated with his arm round Adele, while her head
rested upon his shoulder.
"Ah, if I but knew their snip-snap, lippetty-chippetty lingo! Saw one
ever such a sight! Amos, lad, what is the French for 'a shameless
"Nay, nay, Ephraim. Surely one may see such a sight, and think no harm
of it, on our side of the water.
"Never, Amos. In no godly country."
"Tut! I have seen folks courting in New York."
"Ah, New York! I said in no godly country. I cannot answer for New York
or Virginia. South of Cape Cod, or of New Haven at the furthest, there
is no saying what folk will do. Very sure I am that in Boston or Salem
or Plymouth she would see the bridewell and he the stocks for half as
much. Ah!" He shook his head and bent his brows at the guilty couple.
But they and their old relative were far too engrossed with their own
affairs to give a thought to the Puritan seaman. De Catinat had told
his tale in a few short, bitter sentences, the injustice that had been
done to him, his dismissal from the king's service, and the ruin which
had come upon the Huguenots of France. Adele, as is the angel instinct
of woman, thought only of her lover and his misfortunes as she listened
to his story, but the old merchant tottered to his feet when he heard of
the revocation of the Edict, and stood with shaking limbs, staring about
him in bewilderment.
"What am I to do?" he cried. "What am I to do? I am too old to begin
my life again."
"Never fear, uncle," said De Catinat heartily. "There are other lands
"But not for me. No, no; I am too old. Lord, but Thy hand is heavy
upon Thy servants. Now is the vial opened, and the carved work of the
sanctuary thrown down. Ah, what shall I do, and whither shall I turn?"
He wrung his hands in his perplexity.
"What is amiss with him, then, Amos?" asked the seaman. "Though I know
nothing of what he says, yet I can see that he flies a distress signal."
"He and his must leave the country, Ephraim."
"Because they are Protestants, and the king will not abide their creed."
Ephraim Savage was across the room in an instant, and had enclosed the
old merchant's thin hand in his own great knotted fist. There was a
brotherly sympathy in his strong grip and rugged weather-stained face
which held up the other's courage as no words could have done.
"What is the French for 'the scarlet woman,' Amos?" he asked, glancing
over his shoulder. "Tell this man that we shall see him through.
Tell him that we've got a country where he'll just fit in like a bung in
a barrel. Tell him that religion is free to all there, and not a papist
nearer than Baltimore or the Capuchins of the Penobscot. Tell him that
if he wants to come, the _Golden Rod_ is waiting with her anchor apeak
and her cargo aboard. Tell him what you like, so long as you make him
"Then we must come at once," said De Catinat, as he listened to the
cordial message which was conveyed to his uncle. "To-night the orders
will be out, and to-morrow it may be too late."
"But my business!" cried the merchant.
"Take what valuables you can, and leave the rest. Better that than lose
all, and liberty into the bargain."
And so at last it was arranged. That very night, within five minutes of
the closing of the gates, there passed out of Paris a small party of
five, three upon horseback, and two in a closed carriage which bore
several weighty boxes upon the top. They were the first leaves flying
before the hurricane, the earliest of that great multitude who were
within the next few months to stream along every road which led from
France, finding their journey's end too often in galley, dungeon and
torture chamber, and yet flooding over the frontiers in numbers
sufficient to change the industries and modify the characters of all the
neighbouring peoples. Like the Israelites of old, they had been driven
from their homes at the bidding of an angry king, who, even while he
exiled them, threw every difficulty in the way of their departure. Like
them, too, there were none of them who could hope to reach their
promised land without grievous wanderings, penniless, friendless, and
destitute. What passages befell these pilgrims in their travels, what
dangers they met, and overcame in the land of the Swiss, on the Rhine,
among the Walloons, in England, in Ireland, in Berlin, and even in
far-off Russia, has still to be written. This one little group,
however, whom we know, we may follow in their venturesome journey, and
see the chances which befell them upon that great continent which had
lain fallow for so long, sown only with the weeds of humanity, but which
was now at last about to quicken into such glorious life.
IN THE NEW WORLD.
THE START OF THE "GOLDEN ROD."
Thanks to the early tidings which the guardsman had brought with him,
his little party was now ahead of the news. As they passed through the
village of Louvier in the early morning they caught a glimpse of a naked
corpse upon a dunghill, and were told by a grinning watchman that it was
that of a Huguenot who had died impenitent, but that was a common enough
occurrence already, and did not mean that there had been any change in
the law. At Rouen all was quiet, and Captain Ephraim Savage before
evening had brought both them and such property as they had saved aboard
of his brigantine, the Golden Rod. It was but a little craft, some
seventy tons burden, but at a time when so many were putting out to sea
in open boats, preferring the wrath of Nature to that of the king, it
was a refuge indeed. The same night the seaman drew up his anchor and
began to slowly make his way down the winding river.
And very slow work it was. There was half a moon shining and a breeze
from the east, but the stream writhed and twisted and turned until
sometimes they seemed to be sailing up rather than down. In the long
reaches they set the yard square and ran, but often they had to lower
their two boats and warp her painfully along, Tomlinson of Salem, the
mate, and six grave, tobacco-chewing, New England seamen with their
broad palmetto hats, tugging and straining at the oars. Amos Green, De
Catinat, and even the old merchant had to take their spell ere morning,
when the sailors were needed aboard for the handling of the canvas.
At last, however, with the early dawn the river broadened out and each
bank trended away, leaving a long funnel-shaped estuary between.
Ephraim Savage snuffed the air and paced the deck briskly with a twinkle
in his keen gray eyes. The wind had fallen away, but there was still
enough to drive them slowly upon their course.
"Where's the gal?" he asked.
"She is in my cabin," said Amos Green. "I thought that maybe she could
manage there until we got across."
"Where will you sleep yourself, then?"
"Tut, a litter of spruce boughs and a sheet of birch bark over me have
been enough all these years. What would I ask better than this deck of
soft white pine and my blanket?"
"Very good. The old man and his nephew, him with the blue coat, can
have the two empty bunks. But you must speak to that man, Amos. I'll
have no philandering aboard my ship, lad--no whispering or cuddling or
any such foolishness. Tell him that this ship is just a bit broke off
from Boston, and he'll have to put up with Boston ways until he gets off
her. They've been good enough for better men than him. You give me the
French for 'no philandering,' and I'll bring him up with a round turn
when he drifts."
"It's a pity we left so quick or they might have been married before we
started. She's a good girl, Ephraim, and he is a fine man, for all that
their ways are not the same as ours. They don't seem to take life so
hard as we, and maybe they get more pleasure out of it."
"I never heard tell that we were put here to get pleasure out of it,"
said the old Puritan, shaking his head. "The valley of the shadow of
death don't seem to me to be the kind o' name one would give to a
play-ground. It is a trial and a chastening, that's what it is, the
gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity. We're bad from the
beginning, like a stream that runs from a tamarack swamp, and we've
enough to do to get ourselves to rights without any fool's talk about
"It seems to me to be all mixed up," said Amos. "like the fat and the
lean in a bag of pemmican. Look at that sun just pushing its edge over
the trees, and see the pink flush on the clouds and the river like a
rosy ribbon behind us. It's mighty pretty to our eyes, and very
pleasing to us, and it wouldn't be so to my mind if the Creator hadn't
wanted it to be. Many a time when I have lain in the woods in the fall
and smoked my pipe, and felt how good the tobacco was, and how bright
the yellow maples were, and the purple ash, and the red tupelo blazing
among the bushwood, I've felt that the real fool's talk was with the man
who could doubt that all this was meant to make the world happier for
"You've been thinking too much in them woods," said Ephraim Savage,
gazing at him uneasily. "Don't let your sail be too great for your
boat, lad, nor trust to your own wisdom. Your father was from the Bay,
and you were raised from a stock that cast the dust of England from
their feet rather than bow down to Baal. Keep a grip on the word and
don't think beyond it. But what is the matter with the old man?
He don't seem easy in his mind."
The old merchant had been leaning over the bulwarks, looking back with a
drawn face and weary eyes at the red curving track behind them which
marked the path to Paris. Adele had come up now, with not a thought to
spare upon the dangers and troubles which lay in front of her as she
chafed the old man's thin cold hands, and whispered words of love and
comfort into his ears. But they had come to the point where the gentle
still-flowing river began for the first time to throb to the beat of the
sea. The old man gazed forward with horror at the bowsprit as he saw it
rise slowly upwards into the air, and clung frantically at the rail as
it seemed to slip away from beneath him.
"We are always in the hollow of God's hand," he whispered, "but oh,
Adele, it is a dreadful thing to feel His fingers moving under us."
"Come with me, uncle," said De Catinat, passing his arm under that of
the old man. "It is long since you have rested. And you, Adele, I pray
that you will go and sleep, my poor darling, for it has been a weary
journey. Go now, to please me, and when you wake, both France and your
troubles will lie behind you."
When father and daughter had left the deck, De Catinat made his way aft
again to where Amos Green and the captain were standing.
"I am glad to get them below, Amos," said he, "for I fear that we may
have trouble yet."
"You see the white road which runs by the southern bank of the river.
Twice within the last half-hour I have seen horsemen spurring for dear
life along it. Where the spires and smoke are yonder is Honfleur, and
thither it was that these men went. I know not who could ride so madly
at such an hour unless they were the messengers of the king. Oh, see,
there is a third one!"
On the white band which wound among the green meadows a black dot could
be seen which moved along with great rapidity, vanished behind a clump
of trees, and then reappeared again, making for the distant city.
Captain Savage drew out his glass and gazed at the rider.
"Ay, ay," said he, as he snapped it up again. "It is a soldier, sure
enough. I can see the glint of the scabbard which he carries on his
larboard side. I think we shall have more wind soon. With a breeze we
can show our heels to anything in French waters, but a galley or an
armed boat would overhaul us now."
De Catinat, who, though he could speak little English, had learned in
America to understand it pretty well, looked anxiously at Amos Green.
"I fear that we shall bring trouble on this good captain," said he,
"and that the loss of his cargo and ship may be his reward for having
befriended us. Ask him whether he would not prefer to land us on the
north bank. With our money we might make our way into the Lowlands."
Ephraim Savage looked at his passenger with eyes which had lost
something of their sternness. "Young man," said he, "I see that you can
understand something of my talk."
De Catinat nodded.
"I tell you then that I am a bad man to beat. Any man that was ever
shipmates with me would tell you as much. I just jam my helm and keep
my course as long as God will let me. D'ye see?"
De Catinat again nodded, though in truth the seaman's metaphors left him
with but a very general sense of his meaning.
"We're comin' abreast of that there town, and in ten minutes we shall
know if there is any trouble waiting for us. But I'll tell you a story
as we go that'll show you what kind o' man you've shipped with. It was
ten years ago that I speak of, when I was in the _Speedwell_, sixty-ton
brig, tradin' betwixt Boston and Jamestown, goin' south with lumber and
skins and fixin's, d'ye see, and north again with tobacco and molasses.
One night, blowin' half a gale from the south'ard, we ran on a reef two
miles to the east of Cape May, and down we went with a hole in our
bottom like as if she'd been spitted on the steeple o' one o' them
Honfleur churches. Well, in the morning there I was washin' about, nigh
out of sight of land, clingin' on to half the foreyard, without a sign
either of my mates or of wreckage. I wasn't so cold, for it was early
fall, and I could get three parts of my body on to the spar, but I was
hungry and thirsty and bruised, so I just took in two holes of my
waist-belt, and put up a hymn, and had a look round for what I could
see. Well, I saw more than I cared for. Within five paces of me there
was a great fish, as long pretty nigh as the spar that I was grippin'.
It's a mighty pleasant thing to have your legs in the water and a beast
like that all ready for a nibble at your toes."
"_Mon Dieu!_" cried the French soldier. "And he have not eat you?"
Ephraim Savage's little eyes twinkled at the reminiscence.
"I ate him," said he.
"What!" cried Amos.
"It's a mortal fact. I'd a jack-knife in my pocket, Same as this one,
and I kicked my legs to keep the brute off, and I whittled away at the
spar until I'd got a good jagged bit off, sharp at each end, same as a
nigger told me once down Delaware way. Then I waited for him, and
stopped kicking, so he came at me like a hawk on a chick-a-dee. When he
turned up his belly I jammed my left hand with the wood right into his
great grinnin' mouth, and I let him have it with my knife between the
gills. He tried to break away then, but I held on, d'ye see, though he
took me so deep I thought I'd never come up again. I was nigh gone when
we got to the surface, but he was floatin' with the white up, and twenty
holes in his shirt front. Then I got back to my spar, for we'd gone a
long fifty fathoms under water, and when I reached it I fainted dead
"Well, when I came to, it was calm, and there was the dead shark
floatin' beside me. I paddled my spar over to him and I got loose a few
yards of halliard that were hangin' from one end of it. I made a
clove-hitch round his tail, d'ye see, and got the end of it slung over
the spar and fastened, so as I couldn't lose him. Then I set to work
and I ate him in a week right up to his back fin, and I drank the rain
that fell on my coat, and when I was picked up by the _Gracie_ of
Gloucester, I was that fat that I could scarce climb aboard.
That's what Ephraim Savage means, my lad, when he says that he is a
baddish man to beat."
Whilst the Puritan seaman had been detailing his reminiscence, his eyes
had kept wandering from the clouds to the flapping sails and back.
Such wind as there was came in little short puffs, and the canvas either
drew full or was absolutely slack. The fleecy shreds of cloud above,
however, travelled swiftly across the blue sky. It was on these that
the captain fixed his gaze, and he watched them like a man who is
working out a problem in his mind. They were abreast of Honfleur now,
and about half a mile out from it. Several sloops and brigs were lying
there in a cluster, and a whole fleet of brown-sailed fishing-boats were
tacking slowly in. Yet all was quiet on the curving quay and on the
half-moon fort over which floated the white flag with the golden
_fleur-de-lis_. The port lay on their quarter now and they were drawing
away more quickly as the breeze freshened. De Catinat glancing back had
almost made up his mind that their fears were quite groundless when they
were brought back in an instant and more urgently than ever.
Round the corner of the mole a great dark boat had dashed into view,
ringed round with foam from her flying prow, and from the ten pairs of
oars which swung from either side of her. A dainty white ensign drooped
over her stern, and in her bows the sun's light was caught by a heavy
brass carronade. She was packed with men, and the gleam which twinkled
every now and again from amongst them told that they were armed to the
teeth. The captain brought his glass to bear upon them and whistled.
Then he glanced up at the clouds once more.
"Thirty men," said he, "and they go three paces to our two. You, sir,
take your blue coat off this deck or you'll bring trouble upon us.
The Lord will look after His own if they'll only keep from foolishness.
Get these hatches off, Tomlinson. So! Where's Jim Sturt and Hiram
Jefferson? Let them stand by to clap them on again when I whistle.
Starboard! Starboard! Keep her as full as she'll draw. Now, Amos, and
you, Tomlinson, come here until I have a word with you."
The three stood in consultation upon the poop, glancing back at their
pursuers. There could be no doubt that the wind was freshening; it blew
briskly in their faces as they looked back, but it was not steady yet,
and the boat was rapidly overhauling them. Already they could see the
faces of the marines who sat in the stern, and the gleam of the lighted
linstock which the gunner held in his hand.
"_Hola!_" cried an officer in excellent English. "Lay her to or we
"Who are you, and what do you want?" shouted Ephraim Savage, in a voice
that might have been heard from the bank.
"We come in the king's name, and we want a party of Huguenots from Paris
who came on board of your vessel at Rouen."
"Brace back the foreyard and lay her to," shouted the captain. "Drop a
ladder over the side there and look smart! So! Now we are ready for
The yard was swung round and the vessel lay quietly rising and falling
on the waves. The boat dashed alongside, her brass cannon trained upon
the brigantine, and her squad of marines with their fingers upon their
triggers ready to open fire. They grinned and shrugged their shoulders
when they saw that their sole opponents were three unarmed men upon the
poop. The officer, a young active fellow with a bristling moustache,
like the whiskers of a cat, was on deck in an instant with his drawn
sword in his hand.
"Come up, two of you!" he cried. "You stand here at the head of the
ladder, sergeant. Throw up a rope and you can fix it to this stanchion.
Keep awake down there and be all ready to fire! You come with me,
Corporal Lemoine. Who is captain of this ship?"
"I am, sir," said Ephraim Savage submissively.
"You have three Huguenots aboard?"
"Tut! tut! Huguenots, are they? I thought they were very anxious to
get away, but as long as they paid their passage it was no business of
mine. An old man, his daughter, and a young fellow about your age in
some sort of livery."
"In uniform, sir! The uniform of the king's guard. Those are the folk I
have come for."
"And you wish to take them back?"
"Poor folk! I am sorry for them."
"And so am I, but orders are orders and must be done."
"Quite so. Well, the old man is in his bunk asleep. The maid is in a
cabin below. And the other is sleeping down the hold there where we
had to put him, for there is no room elsewhere."
"Sleeping, you say? We had best surprise him."
"But think you that you dare do it alone! He has no arms, it is true,
but he is a well-grown young fellow. Will you not have twenty men up
from the boat?"
Some such thought had passed through the officer's head, but the
captain's remark put him upon his mettle.
"Come with me, corporal," said he. "Down this ladder, you say?"
"Yes, down the ladder and straight on. He lies between those two cloth
bales." Ephraim Savage looked up with a smile playing about the corners
of his grim mouth. The wind was whistling now in the rigging, and the
stays of the mast were humming like two harp strings. Amos Green
lounged beside the French sergeant who guarded the end of the rope
ladder, while Tomlinson, the mate, stood with a bucket of water in his
hand exchanging remarks in very bad French with the crew of the boat
The officer made his way slowly down the ladder which led into the hold,
and the corporal followed him, and had his chest level with the deck
when the other had reached the bottom. It may have been something in
Ephraim Savage's face, or it may have been the gloom around him which
startled the young Frenchman, but a sudden suspicion flashed into his
"Up again, corporal!" he shouted, "I think that you are best at the
"And I think that you are best down below, my friend," said the Puritan,
who gathered the officer's meaning from his gesture. Putting the sole
of his boot against the man's chest he gave a shove which sent both him
and the ladder crashing down on to the officer beneath him. As he did
so he blew his whistle, and in a moment the hatch was back in its place
and clamped down on each side with iron bars.
The sergeant had swung round at the sound of the crash, but Amos Green,
who had waited for the movement, threw his arms about him and hurled him
overboard into the sea. At the same instant the connecting rope was
severed, the foreyard creaked back into position again, and the
bucketful of salt water soused down over the gunner and his gun, putting
out his linstock and wetting his priming. A shower of balls from the
marines piped through the air or rapped up against the planks, but the
boat was tossing and jerking in the short choppy waves and to aim was
impossible. In vain the men tugged and strained at their oars while the
gunner worked like a maniac to relight his linstock and to replace his
priming. The boat had lost its weigh, while the brigantine was flying
along now with every sail bulging and swelling to bursting-point.
Crack! went the carronade at last, and five little slits in the mainsail
showed that her charge of grape had flown high. Her second shot left no
trace behind it, and at the third she was at the limit of her range.
Half an hour afterwards a little dark dot upon the horizon with a golden
speck at one end of it was all that could be seen of the Honfleur
guard-boat. Wider and wider grew the low-lying shores, broader and
broader was the vast spread of blue waters ahead, the smoke of Havre lay
like a little cloud upon the northern horizon, and Captain Ephraim
Savage paced his deck with his face as grim as ever, but with a dancing
light in his gray eyes.
"I knew that the Lord would look after His own," said he complacently.
"We've got her beak straight now, and there's not as much as a dab of
mud betwixt this and the three hills of Boston. You've had too much of
these French wines of late, Amos, lad. Come down and try a real Boston
brewing with a double stroke of malt in the mash tub."
A BOAT OF THE DEAD.
For two days the _Golden Rod_ lay becalmed close to the Cape La Hague,
with the Breton coast extending along the whole of the southern horizon.
On the third morning, however, came a sharp breeze, and they drew
rapidly away from land, until it was but a vague dim line which blended
with the cloud banks. Out there on the wide free ocean, with the wind
on their cheeks and the salt spray pringling upon their lips, these
hunted folk might well throw off their sorrows and believe that they had
left for ever behind them all tokens of those strenuous men whose
earnest piety had done more harm than frivolity and wickedness could
have accomplished. And yet even now they could not shake off their
traces, for the sin of the cottage is bounded by the cottage door, but
that of the palace spreads its evil over land and sea.
"I am frightened about my father, Amory," said Adele, as they stood
together by the shrouds and looked back at the dim cloud upon the
horizon which marked the position of that France which they were never
to see again.
"But he is out of danger now."
"Out of danger from cruel laws, but I fear that he will never see the
"What do you mean, Adele? My uncle is hale and hearty."
"Ah, Amory, his very heart-roots were fastened in the Rue St. Martin,
and when they were torn his life was torn also. Paris and his business,
they were the world to him."
"But he will accustom himself to this new life."
"If it only could be so! But I fear, I fear, that he is over old for
such a change. He says not a word of complaint. But I read upon his
face that he is stricken to the heart. For hours together he will gaze
back at France, with the tears running silently down his cheeks.
And his hair has turned from gray to white within the week."
De Catinat also had noticed that the gaunt old Huguenot had grown
gaunter, that the lines upon his stern face were deeper, and that his
head fell forward upon his breast as he walked. He was about, however,
to suggest that the voyage might restore the merchant's health, when
Adele gave a cry of surprise and pointed out over the port quarter.
So beautiful was she at the instant with her raven hair blown back by
the wind, a glow of colour struck into her pale cheeks by the driving
spray, her lips parted in her excitement, and one white hand shading her
eyes, that he stood beside her with all his thoughts bent upon her grace
and her sweetness.
"Look!" she cried. "There is something floating upon the sea. I saw it
upon the crest of a wave."
He looked in the direction in which she pointed, but at first he saw
nothing. The wind was still behind them, and a brisk sea was running of
a deep rich green colour, with long creamy curling caps to the larger
waves. The breeze would catch these foam-crests from time to time, and
then there would be a sharp spatter upon the decks, with a salt smack
upon the lips, and a pringling in the eyes. Suddenly as he gazed,
however, something black was tilted up upon the sharp summit of one of
the seas, and swooped out of view again upon the further side. It was
so far from him that he could make nothing of it, but sharper eyes than
his had caught a glance of it. Amos Green had seen the girl point and
observed what it was which had attracted her attention.
"Captain Ephraim," cried he, "there's a boat on the starboard quarter."
The New England seaman whipped up his glass and steadied it upon the
"Ay, it's a boat," said he, "but an empty one. Maybe it's been washed
off from some ship, or gone adrift from shore. Put her hard down, Mr.
Tomlinson, for it just so happens that I am in need of a boat at
Half a minute later the _Golden Rod_ had swung round and was running
swiftly down towards the black spot which still bobbed and danced upon
the waves. As they neared her they could see that something was
projecting over her side.
"It's a man's head!" cried Amos Green.
But Ephraim Savage's grim face grew grimmer. "It's a man's foot," said
he. "I think that you had best take the gal below to the cabin."
Amid a solemn hush they ran alongside this lonely craft which hung out
so sinister a signal. Within ten yards of her the foreyard was hauled
aback and they gazed down upon her terrible crew.
She was a little thirteen-foot cockle-shell, very broad for her length
and so flat in the bottom that she had been meant evidently for river or
lake work. Huddled together beneath the seats were three folk, a man in
the dress of a respectable artisan, a woman of the same class, and a
little child about a year old. The boat was half full of water and the
woman and child were stretched with their faces downwards, the fair
curls of the infant and the dark locks of the mother washing to and fro
like water-weeds upon the surface. The man lay with a slate-coloured
face, his chin cocking up towards the sky, his eyes turned upwards to
the whites, and his mouth wide open showing a leathern crinkled tongue
like a rotting leaf. In the bows, all huddled in a heap, and with a
single paddle still grasped in his hand, there crouched a very small man
clad in black, an open book lying across his face, and one stiff leg
jutting upwards with the heel of the foot resting between the rowlocks.
So this strange company swooped and tossed upon the long green Atlantic
A boat had been lowered by the _Golden Rod_, and the unfortunates were
soon conveyed upon deck. No particle of either food or drink was to be
found, nor anything save the single paddle and the open Bible which lay
across the small man's face. Man, woman, and child had all been dead a
day at the least, and so with the short prayers used upon the seas they
were buried from the vessel's side. The small man had at first seemed
also to be lifeless, but Amos had detected some slight flutter of his
heart, and the faintest haze was left upon the watch glass which was
held before his mouth. Wrapped in a dry blanket he was laid beside the
mast, and the mate forced a few drops of rum every few minutes between
his lips until the little spark of life which still lingered in him
might be fanned to a flame. Meanwhile Ephraim Savage had ordered up the
two prisoners whom he had entrapped at Honfleur. Very foolish they
looked as they stood blinking and winking in the daylight from which
they had been so long cut off.
"Very sorry, captain," said the seaman, "but either you had to come with
us, d'ye see, or we had to stay with you. They're waiting for me over
at Boston, and in truth I really couldn't tarry."
The French soldier shrugged his shoulders and looked around him with a
lengthening face. He and his corporal were limp with sea-sickness, and
as miserable as a Frenchman is when first he finds that France has
vanished from his view.
"Which would you prefer, to go on with us to America, or go back to
"Back to France, if I can find my way. Oh, I must get to France again
if only to have a word with that fool of a gunner."
"Well, we emptied a bucket of water over his linstock and priming, d'ye
see, so maybe he did all he could. But there's France, where that
thickening is over yonder."
"I see it! I see it! Ah, if my feet were only upon it once more."
"There is a boat beside us, and you may take it."
"My God, what happiness! Corporal Lemoine, the boat! Let us push off at
"But you need a few things first. Good Lord, who ever heard of a man
pushing off like that! Mr. Tomlinson, just sling a keg of water and a
barrel of meat and of biscuit into this boat. Hiram Jefferson, bring
two oars aft. It's a long pull with the wind in your teeth, but you'll
be there by to-morrow night, and the weather is set fair."
The two Frenchmen were soon provided with all that they were likely to
require, and pushed off with a waving of hats and a shouting of _bon
voyage_. The foreyard was swung round again and the _Golden Rod_ turned
her bowsprit for the west. For hours a glimpse could be caught of the
boat, dwindling away on the wave-tops, until at last it vanished into
the haze, and with it vanished the very last link which connected them
with the great world which they were leaving behind them.
But whilst these things had been done, the senseless man beneath the
mast had twitched his eyelids, had drawn a little gasping breath, and
then finally had opened his eyes. His skin was like gray parchment
drawn tightly over his bones, and the limbs which thrust out from his
clothes were those of a sickly child. Yet, weak as he was, the large
black eyes with which he looked about him were full of dignity and
power. Old Catinat had come upon deck, and at the sight of the man and
of his dress he had run forward, and had raised his head reverently and
rested it in his own arms.
"He is one of the faithful," he cried, "he is one of our pastors. Ah,
now indeed a blessing will be upon our journey!"
But the man smiled gently and shook his head. "I fear that I may not
come this journey with you," said he, "for the Lord has called me upon
a further journey of my own. I have had my summons and I am ready.
I am indeed the pastor of the temple at Isigny, and when we heard the
orders of the wicked king, I and two of the faithful with their little
one put forth in the hope that we might come to England. But on the
first day there came a wave which swept away one of our oars and all
that was in the boat, our bread, our keg, and we were left with no hope
save in Him. And then He began to call us to Him one at a time, first
the child, and then the woman, and then the man, until I only am left,
though I feel that my own time is not long. But since ye are also of
the faithful, may I not serve you in any way before I go?"
The merchant shook his head, and then suddenly a thought flashed upon
him, and he ran with joy upon his face and whispered eagerly to Amos
Green. Amos laughed, and strode across to the captain.
"It's time," said Ephraim Savage grimly.
Then the whisperers went to De Catinat. He sprang in the air and his
eyes shone with delight. And then they went down to Adele in her cabin,
and she started and blushed, and turned her sweet face away, and patted
her hair with her hands as woman will when a sudden call is made upon
her. And so, since haste was needful, and since even there upon the
lonely sea there was one coming who might at any moment snap their
purpose, they found themselves in a few minutes, this gallant man and
this pure woman, kneeling hand in hand before the dying pastor, who
raised his thin arm feebly in benediction as he muttered the words which
should make them forever one.
Adele had often pictured her wedding to herself, as what young girl has
not? Often in her dreams she had knelt before the altar with Amory in
the temple of the Rue St. Martin. Or sometimes her fancy had taken her
to some of those smaller churches in the provinces, those little refuges
where a handful of believers gathered together, and it was there that
her thoughts had placed the crowning act of a woman's life. But when
had she thought of such a marriage as this, with the white deck swaying
beneath them, the ropes humming above, their only choristers the gulls
which screamed around them, and their wedding hymn the world-old anthem
which is struck from the waves by the wind? And when could she forget
the scene? The yellow masts and the bellying sails, the gray drawn face
and the cracked lips of the castaway, her father's gaunt earnest
features as he knelt to support the dying minister, De Catinat in his
blue coat, already faded and weather-stained. Captain Savage with his
wooden face turned towards the clouds, and Amos Green with his hands in
his pockets and a quiet twinkle in his blue eyes! Then behind all the
lanky mate and the little group of New England seamen with their
palmetto hats and their serious faces!
And so it was done amid kindly words in a harsh foreign tongue, and the
shaking of rude hands hardened by the rope and the oar. De Catinat and
his wife leaned together by the shrouds when all was over and watched
the black side as it rose and fell, and the green water which raced past
"It is all so strange and so new," she said. "Our future seems as vague
and dark as yonder cloud-banks which gather in front of us."
"If it rest with me," he answered, "your future will be as merry and
bright as the sunlight that glints on the crest of these waves.
The country that drove us forth lies far behind us, but out there is
another and a fairer country, and every breath of wind wafts us nearer
to it. Freedom awaits us there, and we bear with us youth and love, and
what could man or woman ask for more?"
So they stood and talked while the shadows deepened into twilight and
the first faint gleam of the stars broke out in the darkening heavens
above them. But ere those stars had waned again one more toiler had
found rest aboard the _Golden Rod_, and the scattered flock from Isigny
had found their little pastor once more.
THE LAST PORT.
For three weeks the wind kept at east or north-east, always at a brisk
breeze and freshening sometimes into half a gale. The _Golden Rod_ sped
merrily upon her way with every sail drawing, alow and aloft, so that by
the end of the third week Amos and Ephraim Savage were reckoning out the
hours before they would look upon their native land once more. To the
old seaman who was used to meeting and to parting it was a small matter,
but Amos, who had never been away before, was on fire with impatience,
and would sit smoking for hours with his legs astride the shank of the
bowsprit, staring ahead at the skyline, in the hope that his friend's
reckoning had been wrong, and that at any moment he might see the
beloved coast line looming up in front of him.
"It's no use, lad," said Captain Ephraim, laying his great red hand upon
his shoulder. "They that go down to the sea in ships need a power of
patience, and there's no good eatin' your heart out for what you can't
"There's a feel of home about the air, though," Amos answered.
"It seems to whistle through your teeth with a bite to it that I never
felt over yonder. Ah, it will take three months of the Mohawk Valley
before I feel myself to rights."
"Well," said his friend, thrusting a plug of Trinidado tobacco into the
corner of his cheek, "I've been on the sea since I had hair to my face,
mostly in the coast trade, d'ye see, but over the water as well, as far
as those navigation laws would let me. Except the two years that I came
ashore for the King Philip business, when every man that could carry a
gun was needed on the border, I've never been three casts of a biscuit
from salt water, and I tell you that I never knew a better crossing than
the one we have just made."
"Ay, we have come along like a buck before a forest fire. But it is
strange to me how you find your way so clearly out here with never track
nor trail to guide you. It would puzzle me, Ephraim, to find America,
to say nought of the Narrows of New York."
"I am somewhat too far to the north, Amos. We have been on or about the
fiftieth since we sighted Cape La Hague. To-morrow we should make land,
by my reckonin'."
"Ah, to-morrow! And what will it be? Mount Desert? Cape Cod?
"Nay, lad, we are in the latitude of the St. Lawrence, and are more like
to see the Arcadia coast. Then with this wind a day should carry us
south, or two at the most. A few more such voyages and I shall buy
myself a fair brick house in Green Lane of North Boston, where I can
look down on the bay, or on the Charles or the Mystic, and see the ships
comin' and goin'. So I would end my life in peace and quiet."
All day Amos Green, in spite of his friend's assurance, strained his
eyes in the fruitless search for land, and when at last the darkness
fell he went below and laid out his fringed hunting tunic, his leather
gaiters, and his raccoon-skin cap, which were very much more to his
taste than the broadcloth coat in which the Dutch mercer of New York had
clad him. De Catinat had also put on the dark coat of civil life, and
he and Adele were busy preparing all things for the old man, who had
fallen so weak that there was little which he could do for himself.
A fiddle was screaming in the forecastle, and half the night through
hoarse bursts of homely song mingled with the dash of the waves and the
whistle of the wind, as the New England men in their own grave and
stolid fashion made merry over their home-coming.
The mate's watch that night was from twelve to four, and the moon was
shining brightly for the first hour of it. In the early morning,
however, it clouded over, and the _Golden Rod_ plunged into one of those
dim clammy mists which lie on all that tract of ocean. So thick was it
that from the poop one could just make out the loom of the foresail, but
could see nothing of the fore-topmast-stay sail or the jib. The wind
was north-east with a very keen edge to it, and the dainty brigantine
lay over, scudding along with her lee rails within hand's touch of the
water. It had suddenly turned very cold--so cold that the mate stamped
up and down the poop, and his four seamen shivered together under the
shelter of the bulwarks. And then in a moment one of them was up,
thrusting with his forefinger into the air and screaming, while a huge
white wall sprang out of the darkness at the very end of the bowsprit,
and the ship struck with a force which snapped her two masts like dried
reeds in a wind, and changed her in an instant to a crushed and
shapeless heap of spars and wreckage.
The mate had shot the length of the poop at the shock, and had narrowly
escaped from the falling mast, while of his four men two had been hurled
through the huge gap which yawned in the bows, while a third had dashed
his head to pieces against the stock of the anchor. Tomlinson staggered
forwards to find the whole front part of the vessel driven inwards, and
a single seaman sitting dazed amid splintered spars, flapping sails, and
writhing, lashing cordage. It was still as dark as pitch, and save the
white crest of a leaping wave nothing was to be seen beyond the side of
the vessel. The mate was peering round him in despair at the ruin which
had come so suddenly upon them when he found Captain Ephraim at his
elbow, half clad, but as wooden and as serene as ever.
"An iceberg," said he, sniffing at the chill air. "Did you not smell
it, friend Tomlinson?"
"Truly I found it cold, Captain Savage, but I set it down to the mist."
"There is a mist ever set around them, though the Lord in His wisdom
knows best why, for it is a sore trial to poor sailor men. She makes
water fast, Mr. Tomlinson. She is down by the bows already."
The other watch had swarmed upon deck and one of them was measuring the
well. "There is three feet of water," he cried, "and the pumps sucked
dry yesterday at sundown."
"Hiram Jefferson and John Moreton to the pumps!" cried the captain.
"Mr. Tomlinson, clear away the long-boat and let us see if we may set
her right, though I fear that she is past mending."
"The long-boat has stove two planks," cried a seaman.
"The jolly-boat, then?"
"She is in three pieces."
The mate tore his hair, but Ephraim Savage smiled like a man who is
gently tickled by some coincidence.
"Where is Amos Green?"
"Here, Captain Ephraim. What can I do?"
"And I?" asked De Catinat eagerly. Adele and her father had been
wrapped in mantles and placed for shelter in the lee of the round house.
"Tell him he can take his spell at the pumps," said the Captain to Amos.
"And you, Amos, you are a handy man with a tool. Get into yonder
long-boat with a lantern and see if you cannot patch her up."
For half an hour Amos Green hammered and trimmed and caulked, while the
sharp measured clanking of the pumps sounded above the dash of the seas.
Slowly, very slowly, the bows of the brigantine were settling down, and
her stern cocking up.
"You've not much time, Amos, lad," said the captain quietly.
"She'll float now, though she's not quite water-tight."
"Very good. Lower away! Keep up the pump in there! Mr. Tomlinson, see
that provisions and water are ready, as much as she will hold. Come
with me, Hiram Jefferson."
The seaman and the captain swung themselves down into the tossing boat,
the latter with a lantern strapped to his waist. Together they made
their way until they were under her mangled bows. The captain shook his
head when he saw the extent of the damage.
"Cut away the foresail and pass it over," said he.
Tomlinson and Amos Green cut away the lashings with their knives and
lowered the corner of the sail. Captain Ephraim and the seaman seized
it, and dragged it across the mouth of the huge gaping leak. As he
stooped to do it, however, the ship heaved up upon a swell, and the
captain saw in the yellow light of his lantern sinuous black cracks
which radiated away backwards from the central hole.
"How much in the well?" he asked.
"Five and a half feet."
"Then the ship is lost. I could put my finger between her planks as far
as I can see back. Keep the pumps going there! Have you the food and
water, Mr. Tomlinson?"
"Lower them over the bows. This boat cannot live more than an hour or
two. Can you see anything of the berg?"
"The fog is lifting on the starboard quarter," cried one of the men.
"Yes, there is the berg, quarter of a mile to leeward!"
The mist had thinned away suddenly, and the moon glimmered through once
more upon the great lonely sea and the stricken ship. There, like a
huge sail, was the monster piece of ice upon which they had shattered
themselves, rocking slowly to and fro with the wash of the waves.
"You must make for her," said Captain Ephraim. "There is no other
chance. Lower the gal over the bows! Well, then, her father first, if
she likes it better. Tell them to sit still, Amos, and that the Lord
will bear us up if we keep clear of foolishness. So! You're a brave
lass for all your niminy-piminy lingo. Now the keg and the barrel, and
all the wraps and cloaks you can find. Now the other man, the
Frenchman. Ay, ay, passengers first, and you have got to come.
Now, Amos! Now the seamen, and you last, friend Tomlinson."
It was well that they had not very far to go, for the boat was weighed
down almost to the edge, and it took the baling of two men to keep in
check the water which leaked in between the shattered planks. When all
were safely in their places. Captain Ephraim Savage swung himself
aboard again, which was but too easy now that every minute brought the
bows nearer to the water. He came back with a bundle of clothing which
he threw into the boat.
"Push off!" he cried.
"Jump in, then."
"Ephraim Savage goes down with his ship," said he quietly. "Friend
Tomlinson, it is not my way to give my orders more than once. Push off,
The mate thrust her out with a boat-hook. Amos and De Catinat gave a
cry of dismay, but the stolid New Englanders settled down to their oars
and pulled off for the iceberg.
"Amos! Amos! Will you suffer it?" cried the guardsman in French.
"My honour will not permit me to leave him thus. I should feel it a
stain for ever."
"Tomlinson, you would not leave him! Go on board and force him to
"The man is not living who could force him to do what he had no mind
"He may change his purpose."
"He never changes his purpose."
"But you cannot leave him, man! You must at least lie by and pick him
"The boat leaks like a sieve," said the mate. "I will take her to the
berg, leave you all there, if we can find footing, and go back for the
captain. Put your heart into it, my lads, for the sooner we are there
the sooner we shall get back."
But they had not taken fifty strokes before Adele gave a sudden scream.
"My God!" she cried, "the ship is going down!"
She had settled lower and lower in the water, and suddenly with a sound
of rending planks she thrust down her bows like a diving water-fowl, her
stern flew up into the air, and with a long sucking noise she shot down
swifter and swifter until the leaping waves closed over her high poop
lantern. With one impulse the boat swept round again and made backwards
as fast as willing arms could pull it. But all was quiet at the scene
of the disaster. Not even a fragment of wreckage was left upon the
surface to show where the _Golden Rod_ had found her last harbour.
For a long quarter of an hour they pulled round and round in the
moonlight, but not a glimpse could they see of the Puritan seaman, and
at last, when in spite of the balers the water was washing round their
ankles, they put her head about once more, and made their way in silence
and with heavy hearts to their dreary island of refuge.
Desolate as it was, it was their only hope now, for the leak was
increasing and it was evident that the boat could not be kept afloat
long. As they drew nearer they saw with dismay that the side which
faced them was a solid wall of ice sixty feet high without a flaw or
crevice in its whole extent. The berg was a large one, fifty paces at
least each way, and there was a hope that the other side might be more
favourable. Baling hard, they paddled round the corner, but only to
find themselves faced by another gloomy ice-crag. Again they went
round, and again they found that the berg increased rather than
diminished in height. There remained only one other side, and they
knew as they rowed round to it that their lives hung upon the result,
for the boat was almost settling down beneath them. They shot out from
the shadow into the full moonlight and looked upon a sight which none of
them would forget until their dying day.
The cliff which faced them was as precipitous as any of the others, and
it glimmered and sparkled all over where the silver light fell upon the
thousand facets of ice. Right in the centre, however, on a level with
the water's edge, there was what appeared to be a huge hollowed-out cave
which marked the spot where the Golden Rod had, in shattering herself,
dislodged a huge boulder, and so amid her own ruin prepared a refuge for
those who had trusted themselves to her. This cavern was of the richest
emerald green, light and clear at the edges, but toning away into the
deepest purples and blues at the back. But it was not the beauty of
this grotto, nor was it the assurance of rescue which brought a cry of
joy and of wonder from every lip, but it was that, seated upon an ice
boulder and placidly smoking a long corn-cob pipe, there was perched in
front of them no less a person than Captain Ephraim Savage of Boston.
For a moment the castaways could almost have believed that it was his
wraith, were wraiths ever seen in so homely an attitude, but the tones
of his voice very soon showed that it was indeed he, and in no very
Christian temper either.
"Friend Tomlinson," said he, "when I tell you to row for an iceberg I
mean you to row right away there, d'ye see, and not to go philandering
about over the ocean. It's not your fault that I'm not froze, and so I
would have been if I hadn't some dry tobacco and my tinder-box to keep
Without stopping to answer his commander's reproaches, the mate headed
for the ledge, which had been cut into a slope by the bows of the
brigantine, so that the boat was run up easily on to the ice. Captain
Savage seized his dry clothes and vanished into the back of the cave, to
return presently warmer in body, and more contented in mind. The
long-boat had been turned upside down for a seat, the gratings and
thwarts taken out and covered with wraps to make a couch for the lady,
and the head knocked out of the keg of biscuits.
"We were frightened for you, Ephraim," said Amos Green. "I had a heavy
heart this night when I thought that I should never see you more."
"Tut, Amos, you should have known me better."
"But how came you here, captain?" asked Tomlinson. "I thought that
maybe you had been taken down by the suck of the ship."
"And so I was. It is the third ship in which I have gone down, but they
have never kept me down yet. I went deeper to-night than when the
_Speedwell_ sank, but not so deep as in the _Governor Winthrop_. When I
came up I swam to the berg, found this nook, and crawled in. Glad I was
to see you, for I feared that you had foundered."
"We put back to pick you up and we passed you in the darkness. And what
should we do now?"
"Rig up that boat-sail and make quarters for the gal. Then get our
supper and such rest as we can, for there is nothing to be done
to-night, and there may be much in the morning."
A DWINDLING ISLAND.
Amos Green was aroused in the morning by a hand upon his shoulder, and
springing to his feet, found De Catinat standing beside him.
The survivors of the crew were grouped about the upturned boat,
slumbering heavily after their labours of the night. The red rim of the
sun had just pushed itself above the water-line, and sky and sea were
one blaze of scarlet and orange from the dazzling gold of the horizon to
the lightest pink at the zenith. The first rays flashed directly into
their cave, sparkling and glimmering upon the ice crystals and tingeing
the whole grotto with a rich warm light. Never was a fairy's palace
more lovely than this floating refuge which Nature had provided for
But neither the American nor the Frenchman had time now to give a
thought to the novelty and beauty of their situation. The latter's face
was grave, and his friend read danger in his eyes.
"What is it, then?"
"The berg. It is coming to pieces."
"Tut, man, it is as solid as an island."
"I have been watching it. You see that crack which extends backwards
from the end of our grotto. Two hours ago I could scarce put my hand
into it. Now I can slip through it with ease. I tell you that she is
Amos Green walked to the end of the funnel-shaped recess and found, as
his friend had said, that a green sinuous crack extended away backwards
into the iceberg, caused either by the tossing of the waves, or by the
terrific impact of their vessel. He roused Captain Ephraim and pointed
out the danger to him.
"Well, if she springs a leak we are gone," said he. "She's been thawing
pretty fast as it is."
They could see now that what had seemed in the moonlight to be smooth
walls of ice were really furrowed and wrinkled like an old man's face by
the streams of melted water which were continually running down them.
The whole huge mass was brittle and honeycombed and rotten. Already
they could hear all round them the ominous drip, drip, and the splash
and tinkle of the little rivulets as they fell into the ocean.
"Hullo!" cried Amos Green, "what's that?"
"Did you hear nothing?"
"I could have sworn that I heard a voice."
"Impossible. We are all here."
"It must have been my fancy then."
Captain Ephraim walked to the seaward face of the cave and swept the
ocean with his eyes. The wind had quite fallen away now, and the sea
stretched away to the eastward, smooth and unbroken save for a single
great black spar which floated near the spot where the _Golden Rod_ had
"We should lie in the track of some ships," said the captain
thoughtfully. "There's the codders and the herring-busses. We're over
far south for them, I reckon. But we can't be more'n two hundred mile
from Port Royal in Arcadia, and we're in the line of the St. Lawrence
trade. If I had three white mountain pines, Amos, and a hundred yards
of stout canvas I'd get up on the top of this thing, d'ye see, and I'd
rig such a jury-mast as would send her humming into Boston Bay. Then
I'd break her up and sell her for what she was worth, and turn a few
pieces over the business. But she's a heavy old craft, and that's a
fact, though even now she might do a knot or two an hour if she had a
hurricane behind her. But what is it, Amos?"
The young hunter was standing with his ear slanting, his head bent
forwards, and his eyes glancing sideways like a man who listens
intently. He was about to answer when De Catinat gave a cry and pointed
to the back of the cave.
"Look at the crack now."
It had widened by a foot since they had noticed it last, until it was
now no longer a crack. It was a pass.
"Let us go through," said the captain.
"It can but come out on the other side."
"Then let us see the other side."
He led the way and the other two followed him. It was very dark as they
advanced, with high dripping ice walls on either side and one little
zigzagging slit of blue sky above their heads. Tripping and groping
their way, they stumbled along until suddenly the passage grew wider and
opened out into a large square of flat ice. The berg was level in the
centre and sloped upwards from that point to the high cliffs which
bounded it on each side. In three directions this slope was very steep,
but in one it slanted up quite gradually, and the constant thawing had
grooved the surface with a thousand irregularities by which an active
man could ascend. With one impulse they began all three to clamber up
until a minute later they were standing not far from the edge of the
summit, seventy feet above the sea, with a view which took in a good
fifty miles of water. In all that fifty miles there was no sign of
life, nothing but the endless glint of the sun upon the waves.
Captain Ephraim whistled. "We are out of luck," said he.
Amos Green looked about him with startled eyes. "I cannot understand
it," said he. "I could have sworn--By the eternal, listen to that!" The
clear call of a military bugle rang out in the morning air. With a cry
of amazement they all three craned forward and peered over the edge.
A large ship was lying under the very shadow of the iceberg. They
looked straight down upon her snow-white decks, fringed with shining
brass cannon, and dotted with seamen. A little clump of soldiers stood
upon the poop going through the manual exercise, and it was from them
that the call had come which had sounded so unexpectedly in the ears of
the castaways. Standing back from the edge, they had not only looked
over the top-masts of this welcome neighbour, but they had themselves
been invisible from her decks. Now the discovery was mutual, as was
shown by a chorus of shouts and cries from beneath them.
But the three did not wait an instant. Sliding and scrambling down the
wet, slippery incline, they rushed shouting through the crack and into
the cave where their comrades had just been startled by the bugle-call
while in the middle of their cheerless breakfast. A few hurried words
and the leaky long-boat had been launched, their possessions had been
bundled in, and they were afloat once more. Pulling round a promontory
of the berg, they found themselves under the stern of a fine corvette,
the sides of which were lined with friendly faces, while from the peak
there drooped a huge white banner mottled over with the golden lilies of
France. In a very few minutes their boat had been hauled up and they
found themselves on board the _St. Christophe_ man-of-war, conveying
Marquis de Denonville, the new Governor-General of Canada, to take over
IN THE POOL OF QUEBEC.
A singular colony it was of which the shipwrecked party found themselves
now to be members. The _St. Christophe_ had left Rochelle three weeks
before with four small consorts conveying five hundred soldiers to help
the struggling colony on the St. Lawrence. The squadron had become
separated, however, and the governor was pursuing his way alone in the
hope of picking up the others in the river. Aboard he had a company of
the regiment of Quercy, the staff of his own household, Saint Vallier,
the new Bishop of Canada, with several of his attendants, three Recollet
friars, and five Jesuits bound for the fatal Iroquois mission,
half-a-dozen ladies on their way out to join their husbands, two
Ursuline nuns, ten or twelve gallants whom love of adventure and the
hope of bettering their fortunes had drawn across the seas, and lastly
some twenty peasant maidens of Anjou who were secure of finding husbands
waiting for them upon the beach, if only for the sake of the sheets, the
pot, the tin plates and the kettle which the king would provide for each
of his humble wards.
To add a handful of New England Independents, a Puritan of Boston, and
three Huguenots to such a gathering, was indeed to bring fire-brand and
powder-barrel together. And yet all aboard were so busy with their own
concerns that the castaways were left very much to themselves. Thirty
of the soldiers were down with fever and scurvy, and both priests and
nuns were fully taken up in nursing them. Denonville, the governor, a
pious-minded dragoon, walked the deck all day reading the Psalms of
David, and sat up half the night with maps and charts laid out before
him, planning out the destruction of the Iroquois who were ravaging his
dominions. The gallants and the ladies flirted, the maidens of Anjou
made eyes at the soldiers of Quercy, and the bishop Saint Vallier read
his offices and lectured his clergy. Ephraim Savage used to stand all
day glaring at the good man as he paced the deck with his red-edged
missal in his hand, and muttering about the "abomination of desolation,"
but his little ways were put down to his exposure upon the iceberg, and
to the fixed idea in the French mind that men of the Anglo-Saxon stock
are not to be held accountable for their actions.
There was peace between England and France at present, though feeling
ran high between Canada and New York, the French believing, and with
some justice, that the English colonists were whooping on the demons who
attacked them. Ephraim and his men were therefore received hospitably
on board, though the ship was so crowded that they had to sleep wherever
they could find cover and space for their bodies. The Catinats, too,
had been treated in an even more kindly fashion, the weak old man and
the beauty of his daughter arousing the interest of the governor
himself. De Catinat had, during the voyage, exchanged his uniform for a
plain sombre suit, so that, except for his military bearing, there was
nothing to show that he was a fugitive from the army. Old Catinat was
now so weak that he was past the answering of questions, his daughter
was forever at his side, and the soldier was diplomatist enough, after a
training at Versailles, to say much without saying anything, and so
their secret was still preserved. De Catinat had known what it was to
be a Huguenot in Canada before the law was altered. He had no wish to
try it after.
On the day after the rescue they sighted Cape Breton in the south, and
soon running swiftly before an easterly wind, saw the loom of the east
end of Anticosti. Then they sailed up the mighty river, though from
mid-channel the banks upon either side were hardly to be seen. As the
shores narrowed in, they saw the wild gorge of the Saguenay River upon
the right, with the smoke from the little fishing and trading station of
Tadousac streaming up above the pine trees. Naked Indians with their
faces daubed with red clay, Algonquins and Abenakis, clustered round the
ship in their birchen canoes with fruit and vegetables from the land,
which brought fresh life to the scurvy-stricken soldiers. Thence the
ship tacked on up the river past Mal Bay, the Ravine of the Eboulements
and the Bay of St. Paul with its broad valley and wooded mountains all
in a blaze with their beautiful autumn dress, their scarlets, their
purples, and their golds, from the maple, the ash, the young oak, and
the saplings of the birch. Amos Green, leaning on the bulwarks, stared
with longing eyes at these vast expanses of virgin woodland, hardly
traversed save by an occasional wandering savage or hardy
_coureur-de-bois_. Then the bold outline of Cape Tourmente loomed up
in front of them; they passed the rich placid meadows of Laval's
seigneury of Beaupre, and, skirting the settlements of the Island of
Orleans, they saw the broad pool stretch out in front of them, the falls
of Montmorenci, the high palisades of Cape Levi, the cluster of vessels,
and upon the right that wonderful rock with its diadem of towers and its
township huddled round its base, the centre and stronghold of French
power in America. Cannon thundered from the bastions above, and were
echoed back by the warship, while ensigns dipped, hats waved, and a
swarm of boats and canoes shot out to welcome the new governor, and to
convey the soldiers and passengers to shore.
The old merchant had pined away since he had left French soil, like a
plant which has been plucked from its roots. The shock of the shipwreck
and the night spent in their bleak refuge upon the iceberg had been too
much for his years and strength. Since they had been picked up he had
lain amid the scurvy-stricken soldiers with hardly a sign of life save
for his thin breathing and the twitching of his scraggy throat. Now,
however, at the sound of the cannon and the shouting he opened his eyes,
and raised himself slowly and painfully upon his pillow. "What is it,
father? What can we do for you?" cried Adele. "We are in America, and
here is Amory and here am I, your children."
But the old man shook his head. "The Lord has brought me to the
promised land, but He has not willed that I should enter into it," said
he. "May His will be done, and blessed be His name forever! But at
least I should wish, like Moses, to gaze upon it, if I cannot set foot
upon it. Think you, Amory, that you could lend me your arm and lead me
on to the deck?"
"If I have another to help me," said De Catinat, and ascending to the
deck, he brought Amos Green back with him. "Now, father, if you will
lay a hand upon the shoulder of each, you need scarce put your feet to
A minute later the old merchant was on the deck, and the two young men
had seated him upon a coil of rope with his back against the mast, where
he should be away from the crush. The soldiers were already crowding
down into the boats, and all were so busy over their own affairs that
they paid no heed to the little group of refugees who gathered round the
stricken man. He turned his head painfully from side to side, but his
eyes brightened as they fell upon the broad blue stretch of water, the
flash of the distant falls, the high castle, and the long line of purple
mountains away to the north-west.
"It is not like France," said he. "It is not green and peaceful and
smiling, but it is grand and strong and stern like Him who made it.
As I have weakened, Adele, my soul has been less clogged by my body, and
I have seen clearly much that has been dim to me. And it has seemed to
me, my children, that all this country of America, not Canada alone, but
the land where you were born also, Amos Green, and all that stretches
away towards yonder setting sun, will be the best gift of God to man.
For this has He held it concealed through all the ages, that now His own
high purpose may be wrought upon it. For here is a land which is
innocent, which has no past guilt to atone for, no feud, nor ill custom,
nor evil of any kind. And as the years roll on all the weary and
homeless ones, all who are stricken and landless and wronged, will turn
their faces to it, even as we have done. And hence will come a nation
which will surely take all that is good and leave all that is bad,
moulding and fashioning itself into the highest. Do I not see such a
mighty people, a people who will care more to raise their lowest than to
exalt their richest--who will understand that there is more bravery in
peace than in war, who will see that all men are brothers, and whose
hearts will not narrow themselves down to their own frontiers, but will
warm in sympathy with every noble cause the whole world through?
That is what I see, Adele, as I lie here beside a shore upon which I
shall never set my feet, and I say to you that if you and Amory go to
the building of such a nation then indeed your lives are not misspent.
It will come, and when it comes, may God guard it, may God watch over it
and direct it!" His head had sunk gradually lower upon his breast and
his lids had fallen slowly over his eyes which had been looking away out
past Point Levi at the rolling woods and the far-off mountains. Adele
gave a quick cry of despair and threw her arms round the old man's neck.
"He is dying, Amory, he is dying!" she cried.
A stern Franciscan friar, who had been telling his beads within a few
paces of them, heard the cry and was beside them in an instant.
"He is indeed dying," he said, as he gazed down at the ashen face.
"Has the old man had the sacraments of the Church?"
"I do not think that he needs them," answered De Catinat evasively.
"Which of us do not need them, young man!" said the friar sternly. "And
how can a man hope for salvation without them? I shall myself
administer them without delay."
But the old Huguenot had opened his eyes, and with a last flicker of
strength he pushed away the gray-hooded figure which bent over him.
"I left all that I love rather than yield to you," he cried, "and think
you that you can overcome me now?"
The Franciscan started back at the words, and his hard suspicious eyes
shot from De Catinat to the weeping girl.
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