MARY HARTWELL CATHERWOOD
With illustrations by Andre Castaigne
Indianapolis The Bown-Merrill Company Publishers
"My name is Eagle," said the little girl.
The boy said nothing.
"My name is Eagle," she repeated. "Eagle de Ferrier. What is your name?"
Still the boy said nothing.
She looked at him surprised, but checked her displeasure. He was about nine years old, while she was less than seven. By the dim light which sifted through the top of St. Bat's church he did not appear sullen. He sat on the flagstones as if dazed and stupefied, facing a blacksmith's forge, which for many generations had occupied the north transept. A smith and some apprentices hammered measures that echoed with multiplied volume from the Norman roof; and the crimson fire made a spot vivid as blood. A low stone arch, half walled up, and blackened by smoke, framed the top of the smithy, and through this frame could be seen a bit of St. Bat's close outside, upon which the doors stood open. Now an apprentice would seize the bellows-handle and blow up flame which briefly sprang and disappeared. The aproned figures, Saxon and brawny, made a fascinating show in the dark shop.
Though the boy was dressed like a plain French citizen of that year, 1795, and his knee breeches betrayed shrunken calves, and his sleeves, wrists that were swollen as with tumors, Eagle accepted him as her equal. His fine wavy hair was of a chestnut color, and his hands and feet were small. His features were perfect as her own. But while life played unceasingly in vivid expression across her face, his muscles never moved. The hazel eyes, bluish around their iris rims, took cognizance of nothing. His left eyebrow had been parted by a cut now healed and forming its permanent scar.
"You understand me, don't you?" Eagle talked to him. "But you could not understand Sally Blake. She is an English girl. We live at her house until our ship sails, and I hope it will sail soon. Poor boy! Did the wicked mob in Paris hurt your arms?"
She soothed and patted his wrists, and he neither shrank in pain nor resented the endearment with male shyness.
Eagle edged closer to him on the stone pavement. She was amused by the blacksmith's arch, and interested in all the unusual life around her, and she leaned forward to find some response in his eyes. He was unconscious of his strange environment. The ancient church of St. Bartholomew the Great, or St. Bat's as it was called, in the heart of London, had long been a hived village. Not only were houses clustered thickly around its outside walls and the space of ground named its close; but the inside, degraded from its first use, was parceled out to owners and householders. The nave only had been retained as a church bounded by massive pillars, which did not prevent Londoners from using it as a thoroughfare. Children of resident dissenters could and did hoot when it pleased them, during service, from an overhanging window in the choir. The Lady Chapel was a fringe-maker's shop. The smithy in the north transept had descended from father to son. The south transept, walled up to make a respectable dwelling, showed through its open door the ghastly marble tomb of a crusader which the thrifty London housewife had turned into a parlor table. His crossed feet and hands and upward staring countenance protruded from the midst of knick-knacks.
Light fell through the venerable clerestory on upper arcades. Some of these were walled shut, but others retained their arched openings into the church, and formed balconies from which upstairs dwellers could look down at what was passing below.
Two women leaned out of the Norman arcades, separated only by a pillar, watching across the nave those little figures seated in front of the blacksmith's window. An atmosphere of comfort and thrift filled St. Bat's. It was the abode of labor and humble prosperity, not an asylum of poverty. Great worthies, indeed, such as John Milton, and nearer our own day, Washington Irving, did not disdain to live in St. Bartholomew's close. The two British matrons, therefore, spoke the prejudice of the better rather than the baser class.
"The little devils!" said one woman.
"They look innocent," remarked the other. "But these French do make my back crawl!"
"How long are they going to stay in St. Bat's?"
"The two men with the little girl and the servant intend to sail for America next week. The lad, and the man that brought him in—as dangerous looking a foreigner as ever I saw!—are like to prowl out any time. I saw them go into the smithy, and I went over to ask the smith's wife about them. She let two upper chambers to the creatures this morning."
"What ails the lad? He has the look of an idiot."
"Well, then, God knows what ails any of the crazy French! If they all broke out with boils like the heathen of scripture, it would not surprise a Christian. As it is, they keep on beheading one another, day after day and month after month; and the time must come when none of them will be left—and a satisfaction that will be to respectable folks!"
"First the king, and then the queen," mused one speaker. "And now news comes that the little prince has died of bad treatment in his prison. England will not go into mourning for him as it did for his father, King Louis. What a pretty sight it was, to see every decent body in a bit of black, and the houses draped, they say, in every town! A comfort it must have been to the queen of France when she heard of such Christian respect!"
The women's faces, hard in texture and rubicund as beef and good ale could make them, leaned silent a moment high above the dim pavement. St. Bat's little bell struck the three quarters before ten; lightly, delicately, with always a promise of the great booming which should follow on the stroke of the hour. Its perfection of sound contrasted with the smithy clangor of metal in process of welding. A butcher's boy made his way through the front entrance toward a staircase, his feet echoing on the flags, carrying exposed a joint of beef on the board upon his head.
"And how do your foreigners behave themselves, Mrs. Blake?" inquired the neighbor.
"Like French emmy-grays, to be sure. I told Blake when he would have them to lodge in the house, that we are a respectable family. But he is master, and their lordships has money in their purses."
"French lordships!" exclaimed the neighbor. "Whether they calls themselves counts or markises, what's their nobility worth? Nothing!"
"The Markis de Ferrier," retorted Mrs. Blake, nettled by a liberty taken with her lodgers which she reserved for herself, "is a gentleman if he is an emmy-gray, and French. Blake may be master in his own house, but he knows landed gentry from tinkers—whether they ever comes to their land again or not."
"Well, then," soothed her gossip, "I was only thinking of them French that comes over, glad to teach their betters, or even to work with their hands for a crust."
"Still," said Mrs. Blake, again giving rein to her prejudices, "I shall be glad to see all French papists out of St. Bat's. For what does scripture say?—'Touch not the unclean thing!' And that servant-body, instead of looking after her little missus, galloping out of the close on some bloody errand!"
"You ought to be thankful, Mrs. Blake, to have her out of the way, instead of around our children, poisoning their hinfant minds! Thank God they are playing in the church lane like little Christians, safe from even that lad and lass yonder!"
A yell of fighting from the little Christians mingled with their hoots at choir boys gathering for the ten o'clock service in St. Bat's. When Mrs. Blake and her friend saw this preparation, they withdrew their dissenting heads from the arcades in order not to countenance what might go on below.
Minute followed minute, and the little bell struck the four quarters. Then the great bell boomed out ten;—the bell which had given signal for lighting the funeral piles of many a martyr, on Smithfield, directly opposite the church. Organ music pealed; choir boys appeared from their robing-room beside the entrance, pacing two and two as they chanted. The celebrant stood in his place at the altar, and antiphonal music rolled among the arches; pierced by the dagger voice of a woman in the arcades, who called after the retreating butcher's boy to look sharp, and bring her the joint she ordered.
Eagle sprang up and dragged the arm of the unmoving boy in the north transept. There was a weeping tomb in the chancel which she wished to show him,—lettered with a threat to shed tears for a beautiful memory if passers-by did not contribute their share; a threat the marble duly executed on account of the dampness of the church and the hardness of men's hearts. But it was impossible to disturb a religious service. So she coaxed the boy, dragging behind her, down the ambulatory beside the oasis of chapel, where the singers, sitting side-wise, in rows facing each other, chanted the Venite. A few worshipers from the close, all of them women, pattered in to take part in this daily office. The smithy hammers rang under organ measures, and an odor of cooking sifted down from the arcades.
Outside the church big fat-bellied pigeons were cooing about the tower or strutting and pecking on the ground. To kill one was a grave offense. The worst boy playing in the lane durst not lift a hand against them.
Very different game were Eagle and the other alien whom she led past the red faced English children.
"Good day," she spoke pleasantly, feeling their antagonism. They answered her with a titter.
"Sally Blake is the only one I know," she explained in French, to her companion who moved feebly and stiffly behind her dancing step. "I cannot talk English to them, and besides, their manners are not good, for they are not like our peasants."
Sally Blake and a bare kneed lad began to amble behind the foreigners, he taking his cue smartly and lolling out his tongue. The whole crowd set up a shout, and Eagle looked back. She wheeled and slapped the St. Bat's girl in the face.
That silent being whom she had taken under her care recoiled from the blow which the bare kneed boy instantly gave him, and without defending himself or her, shrank down in an attitude of entreaty. She screamed with pain at this sight, which hurt worse than the hair-pulling of the mob around her. She fought like a panther in front of him.
Two men in the long narrow lane leading from Smithfield, interfered, and scattered her assailants.
You may pass up a step into the graveyard, which is separated by a wall from the lane. And though nobody followed, the two men hurried Eagle and the boy into the graveyard and closed the gate.
It was not a large enclosure, and thread-like paths, grassy and ungraveled, wound among crowded graves. There was a very high outside wall: and the place insured such privacy as could not be had in St. Bat's church. Some crusted stones lay broad as gray doors on ancient graves; but the most stood up in irregular oblongs, white and lichened.
A cat call from the lane was the last shot of the battle. Eagle valiantly sleeked her disarrayed hair, the breast under her bodice still heaving and sobbing. The June sun illuminated a determined child of the gray eyed type between white and brown, flushed with fullness of blood, quivering with her intensity of feeling.
"Who would say this was Mademoiselle de Ferrier!" observed the younger of the two men. Both were past middle age. The one whose queue showed the most gray took Eagle reproachfully by her hands; but the other stood laughing.
"My little daughter!"
"I did strike the English girl—and I would do it again, father!"
"She would do it again, monsieur the marquis," repeated the laugher.
"Were the children rude to you?"
"They mocked him, father." She pulled the boy from behind a grave-stone where he crouched unmoving as a rabbit, and showed him to her guardians. "See how weak he is! Regard him—how he walks in a dream! Look at his swollen wrists—he cannot fight. And if you wish to make these English respect you you have got to fight them!"
"Where is Ernestine? She should not have left you alone."
"Ernestine went to the shops to obey your orders, father."
The boy's dense inertia was undisturbed by what had so agonized the girl. He stood in the English sunshine gazing stupidly at her guardians.
"Who is this boy, Eagle?" exclaimed the younger man.
"He does not talk. He does not tell his name."
The younger man seized the elder's arm and whispered to him.
"No, Philippe, no!" the elder man answered. But they both approached the boy with a deference which surprised Eagle, and examined his scarred eyebrow and his wrists. Suddenly the marquis dropped upon his knees and stripped the stockings down those meager legs. He kissed them, and the swollen ankles, sobbing like a woman. The boy seemed unconscious of this homage. Such exaggeration of her own tenderness made her ask,
"What ails my father, Cousin Philippe?"
Her Cousin Philippe glanced around the high walls and spoke cautiously.
"Who was the English girl at the head of your mob, Eagle?"
"What would Sally Blake do if she saw the little king of France and Navarre ride into the church lane, filling it with his retinue, and heard the royal salute of twenty-one guns fired for him?"
"She would be afraid of him."
"But when he comes afoot, with that idiotic face, giving her such a good chance to bait him—how can she resist baiting him? Sally Blake is human."
"Cousin Philippe, this is not our dauphin? Our dauphin is dead! Both my father and you told me he died in the Temple prison nearly two weeks ago!"
The Marquis de Ferrier replaced the boy's stockings reverently, and rose, backing away from him.
"There is your king, Eagle," the old courtier announced to his child. "Louis XVII, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, survives in this wreck. How he escaped from prison we do not know. Why he is here unrecognized in England, where his claim to the throne was duly acknowledged on the death of his father, we do not know. But we who have often seen the royal child cannot fail to identify him; brutalized as he is by the past horrible year of his life."
The boy stood unwinking before his three expatriated subjects. Two of them noted the traits of his house, even to his ears, which were full at top, and without any indentation at the bottom where they met the sweep of the jaw.
The dauphin of France had been the most tortured victim of his country's Revolution. By a jailer who cut his eyebrow open with a blow, and knocked him down on the slightest pretext, the child had been forced to drown memory in fiery liquor, month after month. During six worse months, which might have been bettered by even such a jailer, hid from the light in an airless dungeon, covered with rags which were never changed, and with filth and vermin which daily accumulated, having his food passed to him through a slit in the door, hearing no human voice, seeing no human face, his joints swelling with poisoned blood, he had died in everything except physical vitality, and was taken out at last merely a breathing corpse. Then it was proclaimed that this corpse had ceased to breathe. The heir of a long line of kings was coffined and buried.
While the elder De Ferrier shed nervous tears, the younger looked on with eyes which had seen the drollery of the French Revolution.
"I wish I knew the man who has played this clever trick, and whether honest men or the rabble are behind it."
"Let us find him and embrace him!"
"I would rather embrace his prospects when the house of Bourbon comes again to the throne of France. Who is that fellow at the gate? He looks as if he had some business here."
The man came on among the tombstones, showing a full presence and prosperous air, suggesting good vintages, such as were never set out in the Smithfield alehouse. Instead of being smooth shaven, he wore a very long mustache which dropped its ends below his chin.
A court painter, attached to his patrons, ought to have fallen into straits during the Revolution. Philippe exclaimed with astonishment—
"Why, it's Bellenger! Look at him!"
Bellenger took off his cap and made a deep reverence.
"My uncle is weeping over the dead English, Bellenger," said Philippe. "It always moves him to tears to see how few of them die."
"We can make no such complaint against Frenchmen in these days, monsieur," the court painter answered. "I see you have my young charge here, enjoying the gravestones with you;—a pleasing change after the unmarked trenches of France. With your permission I will take him away."
"Have I the honor, Monsieur Bellenger, of saluting the man who brought the king out of prison?" the old man inquired.
Again Bellenger made the marquis a deep reverence, which modestly disclaimed any exploit.
"When was this done?—Who were your helpers? Where are you taking him?"
Bellenger lifted his eyebrows at the fanatical royalist.
"I wish I had had a hand in it!" spoke Philippe de Ferrier.
"I am taking this boy to America, monsieur the marquis," the painter quietly answered.
"But why not to one of his royal uncles?"
"His royal uncles," repeated Bellenger. "Pardon, monsieur the marquis, but did I say he had any royal uncles?"
"Come!" spoke Philippe de Ferrier. "No jokes with us, Bellenger. Honest men of every degree should stand together in these times."
Eagle sat down on a flat gravestone, and looked at the boy who seemed to be an object of dispute between the men of her family and the other man. He neither saw nor heard what passed. She said to herself—
"It would make no difference to me! It is the same, whether he is the king or not."
Bellenger's eyes half closed their lids as if for protection from the sun.
"Monsieur de Ferrier may rest assured that I am not at present occupied with jokes. I will again ask permission to take my charge away."
"You may not go until you have answered some questions."
"That I will do as far as I am permitted."
"Do Monsieur and his brother know that the king is here?" inquired the elder De Ferrier, taking the lead.
"What reason have you to believe," responded Bellenger, "that the Count de Provence and the Count d'Artois have any interest in this boy?"
Philippe laughed, and kicked the turf.
"We have seen him many a time at Versailles, my friend. You are very mysterious."
"Have his enemies, or his friends set him free?" demanded the old Frenchman.
"That," said Bellenger, "I may not tell."
"Does Monsieur know that you are going to take him to America?"
"That I may not tell."
"When do you sail, and in what vessel?"
"These matters, also, I may not tell."
"This man is a kidnapper!" the old noble cried, bringing out his sword with a hiss. But Philippe held his arm.
"Among things permitted to you," said Philippe, "perhaps you will take oath the boy is not a Bourbon?"
Bellenger shrugged, and waved his hands.
"You admit that he is?"
"I admit nothing, monsieur. These are days in which we save our heads as well as we can, and admit nothing."
"If we had never seen the dauphin we should infer that this is no common child you are carrying away so secretly, bound by so many pledges. A man like you, trusted with an important mission, naturally magnifies it. You refuse to let us know anything about this affair?"
"I am simply obeying orders, monsieur," said Bellenger humbly. "It is not my affair."
"You are better dressed, more at ease with the world than any other refugee I have seen since we came out of France. Somebody who has money is paying to have the child placed in safety. Very well. Any country but his own is a good country for him now. My uncle and I will not interfere. We do not understand. But liberty of any kind is better than imprisonment and death. You can of course evade us, but I give you notice I shall look for this boy in America, and if you take him elsewhere I shall probably find it out."
"America is a large country," said Bellenger, smiling.
He took the boy by the hand, and made his adieus. The old De Ferrier deeply saluted the boy and slightly saluted his guardian. The other De Ferrier nodded.
"We are making a mistake, Philippe!" said the uncle.
"Let him go," said the nephew. "He will probably slip away at once out of St. Bartholomew's. We can do nothing until we are certain of the powers behind him. Endless disaster to the child himself might result from our interference. If France were ready now to take back her king, would she accept an imbecile?"
The old De Ferrier groaned aloud.
"Bellenger is not a bad man," added Philippe.
Eagle watched her playmate until the closing gate hid him from sight. She remembered having once implored her nurse for a small plaster image displayed in a shop. It could not speak, nor move, nor love her in return. But she cried secretly all night to have it in her arms, ashamed of the unreasonable desire, but conscious that she could not be appeased by anything else. That plaster image denied to her symbolized the strongest passion of her life.
The pigeons wheeled around St. Bat's tower, or strutted burnished on the wall. The bell, which she had forgotten since sitting with the boy in front of the blacksmith shop, again boomed out its record of time; though it seemed to Eagle that a long, lonesome period like eternity had begun.
I remember poising naked upon a rock, ready to dive into Lake George. This memory stands at the end of a diminishing vista; the extreme point of coherent recollection. My body and muscular limbs reflected in the water filled me with savage pride.
I knew, as the beast knows its herd, that my mother Marianne was hanging the pot over the fire pit in the center of our lodge; the children were playing with other papooses; and my father was hunting down the lake. The hunting and fishing were good, and we had plenty of meat. Skenedonk, whom I considered a person belonging to myself, was stripping more slowly on the rock behind me. We were heated with wood ranging. Aboriginal life, primeval and vigor-giving, lay behind me when I plunged expecting to strike out under the delicious forest shadow.
When I came up the sun had vanished, the woods and their shadow were gone. So were the Indian children playing on the shore, and the shore with them. My mother Marianne might still be hanging her pot in the lodge. But all the hunting lodges of our people were as completely lost as if I had entered another world.
My head was bandaged, as I discovered when I turned it to look around. The walls were not the log walls of our lodge, chinked with moss and topped by a bark roof. On the contrary they were grander than the inside of St. Regis church where I took my first communion, though that was built of stone. These walls were paneled, as I learned afterward to call that noble finishing, and ornamented with pictures, and crystal sockets for candles. The use of the crystal sockets was evident, for one shaded wax light burned near me. The ceiling was not composed of wooden beams like some Canadian houses, but divided itself into panels also, reflecting the light with a dark rosy shining. Lace work finer than a priest's white garments fluttered at the windows.
I had dived early in the afternoon, and it was night. Instead of finding myself still stripped for swimming, I had a loose robe around me, and a coverlet drawn up to my armpits. The couch under me was by no means of hemlock twigs and skins, like our bunks at home: but soft and rich. I wondered if I had died and gone to heaven; and just then the Virgin moved past my head and stood looking down at me. I started to jump out of a window, but felt so little power to move that I only twitched, and pretended to be asleep, and watched her as we sighted game, with eyes nearly shut. She had a poppet of a child on one arm that sat up instead of leaning against her shoulder, and looked at me, too. The poppet had a cap on its head, and was dressed in lace, and she wore a white dress that let her neck and arms out, but covered her to the ground. This was remarkable, as the Indian women covered their necks and arms, and wore their petticoats short. I could see this image breathe, which was a marvel, and the color moving under her white skin. Her eyes seemed to go through you and search all the veins, sending a shiver of pleasure down your back.
Now I knew after the first start that she was a living girl holding a living baby, and when my father, Thomas Williams, appeared at the door of the room, it was certain I could not be in heaven. It came over me in a flash that I myself was changed. In spite of the bandages my head was as clear as if all its faculties were washed and newly arranged. I could look back into my life and perceive things that I had only sensed as a dumb brute. A fish thawed out after being frozen, and reanimated through every sparkling scale and tremulous fin, could not have felt its resurrection more keenly. My broken head gave me no trouble at all.
The girl and baby disappeared as soon as I saw my father; which was not surprising, for he could not be called a prepossessing half-breed. His lower lip protruded and hung sullenly. He had heavy brows and a shaggy thatch of hair. Our St. Regis Iroquois kept to the buckskins, though they often had hunting shirts of fulled flannel; and my father's buckskins were very dirty.
A little man, that I did not know was in the room, shuffled across the floor to keep my father from entering. Around the base of his head he had a thin curtain of hair scarcely reaching his shoulders. His nose pointed upward. Its tip was the shape of a candle extinguisher. He wore horn spectacles; and knee breeches, waistcoat and coat of black like the ink which fades to brown in a drying ink-horn. He put his hands together and took them apart uncertainly, and shot out his lip and frowned, as if he had an universal grudge and dared not vent it.
He said something in a language I did not understand, and my father made no answer. Then he began a kind of Anglo-French, worse than the patois we used at St. Regis when we did not speak Iroquois. I made out the talk between the two, understanding each without hesitation.
"Sir, who are you?"
"The chief, Thomas Williams," answered my father.
"Pardon me, sir; but you are unmistakably an Indian."
"Iroquois chief," said my father. "Mohawk."
"That being the case, what authority have you for calling yourself Thomas Williams?" challenged the little man.
"Thomas Williams is my name."
"Impossible, sir! Skenedonk, the Oneida, does not assume so much. He lays no claim to William Jones or John Smith, or some other honest British name."
The chief maintained silent dignity.
"Come, sir, let me have your Indian name! I can hear it if I cannot repeat it."
Silently contemptuous, my father turned toward me.
"Stop, sir!" the man in the horn spectacles cried. "What do you want?"
"I want my boy."
"Your boy? This lad is white."
"My grandmother was white," condescended the chief. "A white prisoner from Deerfield. Eunice Williams."
"I see, sir. You get your Williams from the Yankees. And is this lad's mother white, too?"
"Why, man, his body is like milk! He is no son of yours."
The chief marched toward me.
"Let him alone! If you try to drag him out of the manor I will appeal to the authority of Le Ray de Chaumont."
My father spoke to me with sharp authority—
"What do you call him?" the little man inquired, ambling beside the chief.
"Eleazer Williams is his name. But in the lodges, at St. Regis, everywhere, it is Lazarre."
"How old is he?"
"About eighteen years."
"Well, Thomas Williams," said my fretful guardian, his antagonism melting to patronage, "I will tell you who I am, and then you can feel no anxiety. I am Doctor Chantry, physician to the Count de Chaumont. The lad cut his head open on a rock, diving in the lake, and has remained unconscious ever since. This is partly due to an opiate I have administered to insure complete quiet; and he will not awake for several hours yet. He received the best surgery as soon as he was brought here and placed in my hands by the educated Oneida, Skenedonk."
"I was not near the lodge," said my father. "I was down the lake, fishing."
"I have bled him once, and shall bleed him again; though the rock did that pretty effectually. But these strapping young creatures need frequent blood-letting."
The chief gave him no thanks, and I myself resolved to knock the little doctor down, if he came near me with a knife.
"In the absence of Count de Chaumont, Thomas," he proceeded, "I may direct you to go and knock on the cook's door, and ask for something to eat before you go home."
"I stay here," responded my father.
"There is not the slightest need of anybody's watching beside the lad to-night. I was about to retire when you were permitted to enter. He is sleeping like an infant."
"He belongs to me," the chief said.
Doctor Chantry jumped at the chief in rage.
"For God's sake, shut up and go about your business!"
It was like one of the little dogs in our camp snapping at the patriarch of them all, and recoiling from a growl. My father's hand was on his hunting knife; but he grunted and said nothing. Doctor Chantry himself withdrew from the room and left the Indian in possession. Weak as I was I felt my insides quake with laughter. My very first observation of the whimsical being tickled me with a kind of foreknowledge of all his weak fretfulness.
My father sat down on the floor at the foot of my couch, where the wax light threw his shadow, exaggerating its unmoving profile. I noticed one of the chairs he disdained as useless; though when eating or drinking with white men he sat at table with them. The chair I saw was one that I faintly recognized, as furniture of some previous experience, slim legged, gracefully curved, and brocaded. Brocaded was the word. I studied it until I fell asleep.
The sun, shining through the protected windows, instead of glaring into our lodge door, showed my father sitting in the same position when I woke, and Skenedonk at my side. I liked the educated Iroquois. He was about ten years my senior. He had been taken to France when a stripling, and was much bound to the whites, though living with his own tribe. Skenedonk had the mildest brown eyes I ever saw outside a deer's head. He was a bald Indian with one small scalp lock. But the just and perfect dome to which his close lying ears were attached needed no hair to adorn it. You felt glad that nothing shaded the benevolence of his all-over forehead. By contrast he emphasized the sullenness of my father; yet when occasion had pressed there never was a readier hand than Skenedonk's to kill.
I tossed the cover back to spring out of bed with a whoop. But a woman in a high cap with ribbons hanging down to her heels, and a dress short enough to show her shoes, stepped into the room and made a courtesy. Her face fell easily into creases when she talked, and gave you the feeling that it was too soft of flesh. Indeed, her eyes were cushioned all around. She spoke and Skenedonk answered her in French. The meaning of every word broke through my mind as fire breaks through paper.
"Madame de Ferrier sent me to inquire how the young gentleman is."
Skenedonk lessened the rims around his eyes. My father grunted.
"Did Madame de Ferrier say 'the young gentleman?'" Skenedonk inquired.
"I was told to inquire. I am her servant Ernestine," said the woman, her face creased with the anxiety of responding to questions.
"Tell Madame de Ferrier that the young gentleman is much better, and will go home to the lodges to-day."
"She said I was to wait upon him, and give him his breakfast under the doctor's direction."
"Say with thanks to Madame de Ferrier that I wait upon him."
Ernestine again courtesied, and made way for Doctor Chantry. He came in quite good natured, and greeted all of us, his inferiors, with a humility I then thought touching, but learned afterwards to distrust. My head already felt the healing blood, and I was ravenous for food. He bound it with fresh bandages, and opened a box full of glittering knives, taking out a small sheath. From this he made a point of steel spring like lightning.
"We will bring the wholesome lancet again into play, my lad," said Doctor Chantry. I waited in uncertainty with my feet on the floor and my hands on the side of the couch, while he carefully removed coat and waistcoat and turned up his sleeves.
"Ernestine, bring the basin," he commanded.
My father may have thought the doctor was about to inflict a vicarious puncture on himself. Skenedonk, with respect for civilized surgery, waited. I did not wait. The operator bared me to the elbow and showed a piece of plaster already sticking on my arm. The conviction of being outraged in my person came upon me mightily, and snatching the wholesome lancet I turned its spring upon the doctor. He yelled. I leaped through the door like a deer, and ran barefooted, the loose robe curdling above my knees. I had the fleetest foot among the Indian racers, and was going to throw the garment away for the pure joy of feeling the air slide past my naked body, when I saw the girl and poppet baby who had looked at me during my first consciousness. They were sitting on a blanket under the trees of De Chaumont's park, which deepened into wilderness.
The baby put up a lip, and the girl surrounded it with her arm, dividing her sympathy with me. I must have been a charming object. Though ravenous for food and broken-headed, I forgot my state, and turned off the road of escape to stare at her like a tame deer.
She lowered her eyes wisely, and I got near enough without taking fright to see a book spread open on the blanket, showing two illuminated pages. Something parted in me. I saw my mother, as I had seen her in some past life:—not Marianne the Mohawk, wife of Thomas Williams, but a fair oval-faced mother with arched brows. I saw even her pointed waist and puffed skirts, and the lace around her open neck. She held the book in her hands and read to me from it.
I dropped on my knees and stretched my arms above my head, crying aloud as women cry with gasps and chokings in sudden bereavement. Nebulous memories twisted all around me and I could grasp nothing. I raged for what had been mine—for some high estate out of which I had fallen into degradation. I clawed the ground in what must have seemed convulsions to the girl. Her poppet cried and she hushed it.
"Give me my mother's book!" I strangled out of the depths of my throat; and repeated, as if torn by a devil—"Give me my mother's book!"
She blanched so white that her lips looked seared, and instead of disputing my claim, or inquiring about my mother, or telling me to begone, she was up on her feet. Taking her dress in her finger tips and settling back almost to the ground in the most beautiful obeisance I ever saw, she said—
Neither in Iroquois nor in Iroquois-French had such a name been given to me before. I had a long title signifying Tree-Cutter, which belonged to every chief of our family. But that word—-"Sire!"—and her deep reverence seemed to atone in some way for what I had lost. I sat up, quieting myself, still moved as water heaves. She put the missal on the lap of my single garment, and drew back a step, formally standing. My scarred ankles, at which the Indian children used to point, were exposed to her gaze, for I never would sit on them after the manner of the tribe. There was no restraining the tears that ran down my face. She might have mocked me, but she remained white and quiet; while I sat as dumb as a dog, and as full of unuttered speech. Looking back now I can see what passionate necessity shook me with throbs to be the equal of her who had received me as a superior.
De Chaumont's manor house, facing a winding avenue, could be seen from where we were. It was of stone, built to enclose a court on three sides, in the form that I afterwards recognized as that of French palaces. There were a great many flowers in the court, and vines covered the ends of the wings. All those misty half remembered hunting seasons that I had spent on Lake George were not without some knowledge. The chimneys and roofs of Le Ray de Chaumont's manor often looked at me through trees as I steered my boat among the islands. He was a great land owner, having more than three hundred thousand acres of wilderness. And he was friendly with both Indians and Americans. His figure did not mean much to me when I saw it, being merely a type of wealth, and wealth extends little power into the wilderness.
The poppet of a child climbed up and held to the girl's dress. She stooped over and kissed it, saying, "Sit down, Paul." The toy human being seemed full of intelligence, and after the first protest examined me fearlessly, with enchanting smiles about the mouth and eyes. I noticed even then an upward curling of the mouth corners and a kind of magic in the liquid blue gaze, of which Paul might never be conscious, but which would work on every beholder.
That a child should be the appendage of such a very young creature as the girl, surprised me no more than if it had been a fawn or a dog. In the vivid moments of my first rousing to life I had seen her with Paul in her arms; and he remained part of her.
We heard a rush of horses up the avenue, and out of the woods came Le Ray de Chaumont and his groom, the wealthy land owner equipped in gentleman's riding dress from his spurs to his hat. He made a fine show, whip hand on his hip and back erect as a pine tree. He was a man in middle life, but he reined up and dismounted with the swift agility of a youth, and sent his horse away with the groom, as soon as he saw the girl run across the grass to meet him. Taking her hand he bowed over it and kissed it with pleasing ceremony, of which I approved. An Iroquois chief in full council had not better manners than Le Ray de Chaumont.
Paul and I waited to see what was going to happen, for the two came toward us, the girl talking rapidly to the man. I saw my father and Skenedonk and the doctor also coming from the house, and they readily spied me sitting tame as a rabbit near the baby.
You never can perceive yourself what figure you are making in the world: for when you think you are the admired of all eyes you may be displaying a fool; and when life seems prostrated in you it may be that you show as a monument on the heights. But I could not be mistaken in De Chaumont's opinion of me. He pointed his whip handle at me, exclaiming—
"What!—that scarecrow, madame?"
"But look at him," she urged.
"I recognize first," said De Chaumont as he sauntered, "an old robe of my own."
"His mother was reduced to coarse serge, I have been told."
"You speak of an august lady, my dear Eagle. But this is Chief Williams' boy. He has been at the hunting lodges every summer since I came into the wilderness. There you see his father, the half-breed Mohawk."
"I saw the dauphin in London, count. I was a little child, but his scarred ankles and wrists and forehead are not easily forgotten."
"The dauphin died in the Temple, Eagle."
"My father and Philippe never believed that."
"Your father and Philippe were very mad royalists."
"And you have gone over to Bonaparte. They said that boy had all the traits of the Bourbons, even to the shaping of his ear."
"A Bourbon ear hears nothing but Bonaparte in these days," said De Chaumont. "How do you know this is the same boy you saw in London?"
"Last night while he was lying unconscious, after Doctor Chantry had bandaged his head and bled him, I went in to see if I might be of use. He was like some one I had seen. But I did not know him until a moment ago. He ran out of the house like a wild Indian. Then he saw us sitting here, and came and fell down on his knees at sight of that missal. I saw his scars. He claimed the book as his mother's—and you know, count, it was his mother's!"
"My dear child, whenever an Indian wants a present he dreams that you give it to him, or he claims it. Chief Williams' boy wanted your valuable illuminated book. I only wonder he had the taste. The rings on your hands are more to an Indian's liking."
"But he is not an Indian, count. He is as white as we are."
"That signifies nothing. Plenty of white children have been brought up among the tribes. Chief Williams' grandmother, I have heard, was a Yankee woman."
Not one word of their rapid talk escaped an ear trained to faintest noises in the woods. I felt like a tree, well set up and sound, but rooted and voiceless in my ignorant helplessness before the two so frankly considering me.
My father stopped when he saw Madame de Ferrier, and called to me in Iroquois. It was plain that he and Doctor Chantry disagreed. Skenedonk, put out of countenance by my behavior, and the stubbornness of the chief, looked ready to lay his hand upon his mouth in sign of being confounded before white men; for his learning had altered none of his inherited instincts.
But as for me, I was as De Chaumont had said, Chief Williams' boy, faint from blood letting and twenty-four hours' fasting; and the father's command reminded me of the mother's dinner pot. I stood up erect and drew the flowered silk robe around me. It would have been easier to walk on burning coals, but I felt obliged to return the book to Madame de Ferrier. She would not take it. I closed her grasp upon it, and stooping, saluted her hand with courtesy as De Chaumont had done. If he had roared I must have done this devoir. But all he did was to widen his eyes and strike his leg with his riding whip.
My father and I seldom talked. An Indian boy who lives in water and forest all summer and on snowshoes all winter, finds talk enough in the natural world without falling back upon his family. Dignified manners were not lacking among my elders, but speech had seemed of little account to me before this day.
The chief paddled and I sat naked in our canoe;—for we left the flowered robe with a horse-boy at the stables;—the sun warm upon my skin, the lake's blue glamour affecting me like enchantment.
Neither love nor aversion was associated with my father. I took my head between my hands and tried to remember a face that was associated with aversion.
"Father," I inquired, "was anybody ever very cruel to me?"
He looked startled, but spoke harshly.
"What have you got in your head? These white people have been making a fool of you."
"I remember better to-day than I ever remembered before. I am different. I was a child: but to-day manhood has come. Father, what is a dauphin?"
The chief made no answer.
"What is a temple? Is it a church, like ours at St. Regis?"
"Ask the priest."
"Do you know what Bourbon is, father,—particularly a Bourbon ear?"
"Nothing that concerns you."
"But how could I have a Bourbon ear if it didn't concern me?"
"Who said you had such an ear?"
"Madame de Ferrier."
The chief grunted.
"At least she told De Chaumont," I repeated exactly, "I was the boy she saw in London, that her father said had all the traits of the Bourbons. Where is London?"
The chief paddled without replying. Finding him so ignorant on all points of the conversation, or so determined to put me down, I gazed awhile at our shadow gliding in the water, and then began again.
"Father, do you happen to know who Bonaparte is?"
This time he answered.
"Bonaparte is a great soldier."
"Is he a white man or an Indian?"
"He is a Frenchman."
I meditated on the Frenchmen I dimly remembered about St. Regis. They were undersized fellows, very apt to weep when their emotions were stirred. I could whip them all.
"Did he ever come to St. Regis?"
The chief again grunted.
"Does France come to St. Regis?" he retorted with an impatient question.
"What is France, father?"
"Shall we ever go there to hunt?"
"Shall we ever go the other side of the sunrise to hunt? France is the other side of the sunrise. Talk to the squaws."
Though rebuked, I determined to do it if any information could be got out of them. The desire to know things was consuming. I had the belated feeling of one who waked to consciousness late in life and found the world had run away from him. The camp seemed strange, as if I had been gone many years, but every object was so wonderfully distinct.
My mother Marianne fed me, and when I lay down dizzy in the bunk, covered me. The family must have thought it was natural sleep. But it was a fainting collapse, which took me more than once afterwards as suddenly as a blow on the head, when my faculties were most needed. Whether this was caused by the plunge upon the rock or the dim life from which I had emerged, I do not know. One moment I saw the children, and mothers from the neighboring lodges, more interested than my own mother: our smoky rafters, and the fire pit in the center of unfloored ground: my clothes hanging over the bunk, and even a dog with his nose in the kettle. And then, as it had been the night before, I waked after many hours.
By that time the family breathing sawed the air within the walls, and a fine starlight showed through the open door, for we had no window. Outside the oak trees were pattering their leaves like rain, reminding me of our cool spring in the woods. My bandaged head was very hot, in that dark lair of animals where the log bunks stretched and deepened shadow.
If Skenedonk had been there I would have asked him to bring me water, with confidence in his natural service. The chief's family was a large one, but not one of my brothers and sisters seemed as near to me as Skenedonk. The apathy of fraternal attachment never caused me any pain. The whole tribe was held dear.
I stripped off Doctor Chantry's unendurable bandages, and put on my clothes, for there were brambles along the path. The lodges and the dogs were still, and I crept like a hunter after game, to avoid waking them. Our village was an irregular camp, each house standing where its owner had pleased to build it on the lake shore. Behind it the blackness of wooded wilderness seemed to stretch to the end of the world.
The spring made a distinct tinkle in the rush of low sound through the forest. A rank night sweetness of mints and other lush plants mixed its spirit with the body of leaf earth. I felt happy in being a part of all this, and the woods were to me as safe as the bed-chamber of a mother. It was fine to wallow, damming the span of escaping water with my fevered head. Physical relief and delicious shuddering coolness ran through me.
From that wet pillow I looked up and thought again of what had happened that day, and particularly of the girl whom De Chaumont had called Madame de Ferrier and Eagle. Every word that she had spoken passed again before my mind. Possibilities that I had never imagined rayed out from my recumbent body as from the hub of a vast wheel. I was white. I was not an Indian. I had a Bourbon ear. She believed I was a dauphin. What was a dauphin, that she should make such a deep obeisance to it? My father the chief, recommending me to the squaws, had appeared to know nothing about it.
All that she believed De Chaumont denied. The rich book which stirred such torment in me—"you know it was his mother's!" she said—De Chaumont thought I merely coveted. I can see now that the crude half-savage boy wallowing in the spring stream, set that woman as high as the highest star above his head, and made her the hope and symbol of his possible best.
A woman's long cry, like the appeal of that one on whom he meditated, echoed through the woods and startled him out of his wallow.
I sat up with the water trickling down my back. The cry was repeated, out of the west.
I knew the woods, but night alters the most familiar places. It was so dark in vaults and tunnels of trees and thickets that I might have burrowed through the ground almost as easily as thresh a path. The million scarcely audible noises that fill a forest surrounded me, and twigs not broken by me cracked or shook. Still I made directly toward the woman's voice which guided me more plainly; but left off running as my ear detected that she was only in perplexity. She called at intervals, imperatively but not in continuous screams. She was a white woman; for no squaw would publish her discomfort. A squaw if lost would camp sensibly on a bed of leaves, and find her way back to the village in the morning. The wilderness was full of dangers, but when you are elder brother to the bear and the wildcat you learn their habits, and avoid or outwit them.
Climbing over rocks and windfalls I came against a solid log wall and heard the woman talking in a very pretty chatter the other side of it. She only left off talking to call for help, and left off calling for help to scold and laugh again. There was a man imprisoned with her, and they were speaking English, a language I did not then understand. But what had happened to them was very plain. They had wandered into a pen built by hunters to trap bears, and could not find the bush-masked and winding opening, but were traveling around the walls. It was lucky for them that a bear had not arrived first, though in that case their horses must have smelled him. I heard the beasts shaking their bridles.
I found my way to the opening, and whistled. At once the woman ceased her chatter and drew in her breath, and they both asked me a question that needed no interpretation. I told them where they were, and the woman began talking at once in my own tongue and spoke it as well as I could myself.
"In a bear pen? George, he says we are in a bear pen! Take us out, dear chief, before the bear family arrive home from their ball. I don't know whether you are a chief or not, but most Indians are. My nurse was a chief's daughter. Where are you? I can't see anything but chunks of blackness."
I took her horse by the bridle and led him, and so got both the riders outside. They had no tinder, and neither had I; and all of us groped for the way by which they had come to the bear pen. The young man spurred his horse in every direction, and turned back unable to get through.
Though we could not see one another I knew that both the adventurers were young, and that they expected to be called to severe account for the lawless act they were committing. The girl, talking English, or French, or Mohawk almost in one breath, took the blame upon herself and made light of the boy's self-reproaches.
She laughed and said—"My father thinks I am with Miss Chantry, and Miss Chantry thinks I am with my father. He will blame her for letting me ride with George Croghan to meet him, and lose the way and so get into the bear pen. And she will blame my father, and your dearest Annabel will let the Count de Chaumont and Miss Chantry fight it out. It is not an affair for youth to meddle with, George."
Having her for interpreter the boy and I consulted. I might have led him back to our hunting camp, but it was a hard road for a woman and an impossible one for horses. There was no inhabited house nearer than De Chaumont's own. He decided they must return to the road by which they had come into the bear pen, and gladly accepted my offer to go with him; dismounting and leading Annabel de Chaumont's horse while I led his. We passed over rotten logs and through black tangles, the girl bending to her saddle bow, unwearied and full of laughter. It was plain that he could not find any outlet, and falling behind with the cumbered horse he let me guide the party.
I do not know by what instinct I felt my way, conscious of slipping between the wild citizens of that vast town of trees; but we finally reached a clearing and saw across the open space a lighted cabin. Its sashless windows and defective chinks were gilded with the yellow light that comes from a glowing hearth.
"I know this place!" exclaimed Annabel. "It is where the Saint-Michels used to live before they went to my father's settlement at Le Rayville. Look at the house! Nobody lives there. It must be full of witches."
Violin music testified that the witches were merry. We halted, and the horses neighed and were answered by others of their kind.
"George Croghan's grandmother was struck by a witch ball. And here her grandson stands, too tired to run. But perhaps there aren't any witches in the house. I don't believe wicked things would be allowed to enter it. The Saint-Michels were so pious, and ugly, and resigned to the poverty of refugees. Their society was so good for me, my mother, when she was alive, made me venerate them until I hated them. Holy Sophie died and went to heaven. I shall never see her again. She was, indeed, excellent. This can't be a nest of witches. George, why don't you go and knock on the door?"
It was not necessary, for the door opened and a man appeared, holding his violin by the neck. He stepped out to look around the cabin at some horses fastened there, and saw and hailed us.
I was not sorry to be allowed to enter, for I was tired to exhaustion, and sat down on the floor away from the fire. The man looked at me suspiciously, though he was ruddy and good natured. But he bent quite over before De Chaumont's daughter, and made a flourish with his hand in receiving young Croghan. There were in the cabin with him two women and two little girls; and a Canadian servant like a fat brown bear came from the rear of the house to look at us and then went back to the horses.
All the women began to speak, but Annabel de Chaumont could talk faster than the four others combined, so they knew our plight before we learned that they were the Grignon and Tank families, who were going into the west to find settlement and had made the house their camp for one night. The Dutch maid, dark and round-eyed, and the flaxen little Grignon, had respect for their elders and held their tongues while Madame Tank and Madame Grignon spoke, but Annabel de Chaumont was like a grove of sparrows. The world seemed swarming with young maids. The travelers were mere children, while the count's daughter was startling as an angel. Her clothing fitted her body like an exquisite sheath. I do not know what it was, but it made her look as slim as a dragon fly. Her white and rose pink face had a high arched nose, and was proud and saucy. She wore her hair beaten out like mist, with rich curly shreds hanging in front of her ears to her shoulders. She shook her head to set her hat straight, and turned her eyes in rapid smiling sweeps. I knew as well then as I ever did afterwards that she was bound to befool every man that came near her.
There were only two benches in the cabin, but it was floored and better made than our hunting lodges. The temporary inmates and their guests sat down in a long row before the fire. I was glad to make a pillow of a saddle near the wall, and watch their backs, as an outsider. Mademoiselle de Chaumont absorbed all eyes and all attention. She told about a ball, to which she had ridden with her governess and servants a three days' journey, and from which all the dancers were riding back a three days' journey to join in another ball at her father's house. With the hospitality which made Le Ray de Chaumont's manor the palace of the wilderness as it existed then, she invited the hosts who sheltered her for the night, to come to the ball and stay all summer. And they lamented that they could not accept the invitation, being obliged to hurry on to Albany, where a larger party would give them escort on a long westward journey.
The head of the house took up his bow, as if musing on the ball, and Annabel de Chaumont wriggled her feet faster and faster. Tireless as thistledown that rolls here and there at the will of the wind, up she sprang and began to dance. The children watched her spellbound. None of us had ever seen the many figures through which she passed, or such wonderful dancing. The chimney was built of logs and clay, forming terraces. As if it was no longer possible for her to stay on the ground she darted from the bench-end to the lowest log, and stepped on up as fearlessly as a thing of air, until her head touched the roof. Monsieur Grignon played like mad, and the others clapped their hands. While she poised so I sat up to watch her, and she noticed me for the first time by firelight.
"Look at that boy—he has been hurt—the blood is running down his cheek!" she cried. "I thought he was an Indian—and he is white!"
She came down as lightly as she had gone up, and caused me to be haled against my will to the middle of a bench. I wanted the women to leave me alone, and told them my head had been broken two days before, and was nearly well. The mothers, too keen to wash and bandage to let me escape, opened a saddle pack and tore good linen.
George Croghan stood by the chimney, slim and tall and handsome. His head and face were long, his hair was of a sunny color, and his mouth corners were shrewd and good natured. I liked him the moment I saw him. Younger in years than I, he was older in wit and manly carriage. While he looked on it was hard to have Madame Tank seize my head in her hands and examine my eyebrow. She next took my wrists, and not satisfied, stripped up the right sleeve and exposed a crescent-shaped scar, one of the rare vaccination marks of those days. I did not know what it was. Her animated dark eyes drew the brows together so that a pucker came between them. I looked at Croghan, and wanted to exclaim—"Help yourself! Anybody may handle me!"
"Ursule Grignon!" she said sharply, and Madame Grignon answered,
"Eh, what, Katarina?"
"This is the boy."
"But what boy?"
"The boy I saw on the ship."
"The one who was sent to America—"
Madame Tank put up her hand, and the other stopped.
"But that was a child," Madame Grignon then objected.
"Nine years ago. He would be about eighteen now."
"How old are you?" they both put to me.
Remembering what my father had told Doctor Chantry, I was obliged to own that I was about eighteen. Annabel de Chaumont sat on the lowest log of the chimney with her feet on a bench, and her chin in her hand, interested to the point of silence. Something in her eyes made it very galling to be overhauled and have my blemishes enumerated before her and Croghan. What had uplifted me to Madame de Ferrier's recognition now mocked, and I found it hard to submit. It would not go well with the next stranger who declared he knew me by my scars.
"What do they call you in this country?" inquired Madame Tank.
I said my name was Lazarre Williams.
"It is not!" she said in an undertone, shaking her head.
I made bold to ask with some warmth what my name was then, and she whispered—"Poor child!"
It seemed that I was to be pitied in any case. In dim self-knowledge I saw that the core of my resentment was her treating me with commiseration. Madame de Ferrier had not treated me so.
"You live among the Indians?" Madame Tank resumed.
The fact was evident.
"Have they been kind to you?"
I said they had.
Madame Tank's young daughter edged near her and inquired in a whisper,
"Who is he, mother?"
"Hush!" answered Madame Tank.
The head of the party laid down his violin and bow, and explained to us:
"Madame Tank was maid of honor to the queen of Holland, before reverses overtook her. She knows court secrets."
"But she might at least tell us," coaxed Annabel, "if this Mohawk is a Dutchman."
Madame Tank said nothing.
"What could happen in the court of Holland? The Dutch are slow coaches. I saw the Van Rensselaers once, near Albany, riding in a wagon with straw under their feet, on common chairs, the old Patroon himself driving. This boy is some off-scouring."
"He outranks you, mademoiselle," retorted Madame Tank.
"That's what I wanted to find out," said Annabel.
I kept half an eye on Croghan to see what he thought of all this woman talk. For you cannot help being more dominated by the opinion of your contemporaries than by that of the fore-running or following generation. He held his countenance in excellent command, and did not meddle even by a word. You could be sure, however, that he was no credulous person who accepted everything that was said to him.
Madame Tank looked into the reddened fireplace, and began to speak, but hesitated. The whole thing was weird, like a dream resulting from the cut on my head: the strange white faces; the camp stuff and saddlebags unpacked from horses; the light on the coarse floor; the children listening as to a ghost story; Mademoiselle de Chaumont presiding over it all. The cabin had an arched roof and no loft. The top was full of shadows.
"If you are the boy I take you to be," Madame Tank finally said, sinking her voice, "you may find you have enemies."
"If I am the boy you take me to be, madame, who am I?"
She shook her head.
"I wish I had not spoken at all. To tell you anything more would only plunge you into trouble. You are better off to be as you are, than to know the truth and suffer from it. Besides, I may be mistaken. And I am certainly too helpless myself to be of any use to you. This much I will say: when you are older, if things occur that make it necessary for you to know what I know, send a letter to me, and I will write it down."
With delicacy Monsieur Grignon began to play a whisper of a tune on his violin. I did not know what she meant by a letter, though I understood her. Madame Tank spoke the language as well as anybody. I thought then, as idiom after idiom rushed back on my memory, that it was an universal language, with the exception of Iroquois and English.
"We are going to a place called Green Bay, in the Northwest Territory. Remember the name: Green Bay. It is in the Wisconsin country."
Dawn found me lying wide awake with my head on a saddle. I slipped out into the dewy half light.
That was the first time I ever thought about the mountains. They seemed to be newly created, standing up with streamers of mist torn and floating across their breasts. The winding cliff-bound lake was like a gorge of smoke. I felt as if I had reared upon my hind feet, lifting my face from the ground to discover there was a God. Some of the prayers our priest had industriously beaten into my head, began to repeat themselves. In a twinkling I was a child, lonely in the universe, separated from my dim old life, instinct with growth, yet ignorant of my own needs.
What Madame de Ferrier and Madame Tank had said influenced me less than the intense life of my roused activities.
It was mid forenoon by the sun when I reached our lodges, and sat down fagged outside my father's door, to think longer before I entered. Hunger was the principal sensation, though we had eaten in the cabin the night before, and the Indian life inures a man to fasting when he cannot come by food. I heard Skenedonk talking to my father and mother in our cabin. The village was empty; children and women, hunters and fishermen having scattered to woods and waters.
"He ought to learn books," said Skenedonk. "Money is sent you every year to be spent upon him: yet you spend nothing upon him."
"What has he needed?" said my father.
"He needs much now. He needs American clothes. He wept at the sight of a book. God has removed the touch since he plunged in the water."
"You would make a fool of him," said my father. "He was gone from the lodge this morning. You taught him an evil path when you carried him off."
"It is a natural path for him: he will go to his own. I stayed and talked with De Chaumont, and I bring you an offer. De Chaumont will take Lazarre into his house, and have him taught all that a white boy should know. You will pay the cost. If you don't, De Chaumont will look into this annuity of which you give no account."
"I have never been asked to give account. Could Lazarre learn anything? The priest has sat over him. He had food and clothing like my own."
"That is true. But he is changed. Marianne will let him go."
"The strange boy may go," said my mother. "But none of my own children shall leave us to be educated."
I got up and went into the cabin. All three knew I had heard, and they waited in silence while I approached my mother and put my hands on her shoulders. There was no tenderness between us, but she had fostered me. The small dark eyes in her copper face, and her shapeless body, were associated with winters and summers stretching to a vanishing point.
"Mother," I said, "is it true that I am not your son?"
She made no answer.
"Is it true that the chief is not my father?"
She made no answer.
"Who sends money to be spent on me every year?"
Still she made no answer.
"If I am not your son, whose son am I?"
In the silence I turned to Skenedonk.
"Isn't my name Lazarre Williams, Skenedonk?"
"You are called Lazarre Williams."
"A woman told me last night that it was not my name. Everyone denies me. No one owns me and tells whose child I am. Wasn't I born at St. Regis?"
"If you were, there is no record of your birth on the register. The chief's other children have their births recorded."
I turned to my father. The desolation of being cut off and left with nothing but the guesses of strangers overcame me. I sobbed so the hoarse choke echoed in the cabin. Skenedonk opened his arms, and my father and mother let me lean on the Oneida's shoulder.
I have thought since that they resented with stoical pain his taking their white son from them. They both stood severely reserved, passively loosening the filial bond.
All the business of life was suspended, as when there is death in the lodge. Skenedonk and I sat down together on a bunk.
"Lazarre," my father spoke, "do you want to be educated?"
The things we pine for in this world are often thrust upon us in a way to choke us. I had tramped miles, storming for the privileges that had made George Croghan what he was. Fate instantly picked me up from unendurable conditions to set me down where I could grow, and I squirmed with recoil from the shock.
I felt crowded over the edge of a cliff and about to drop into a valley of rainbows.
"Do you want to live in De Chaumont's house and learn his ways?"
My father and mother had been silent when I questioned them. It was my turn to be silent.
"Or would you rather stay as you are?"
"No, father," I answered, "I want to go."
The camp had never been dearer. I walked among the Indian children when the evening fires were lighted, and the children looked at me curiously as at an alien. Already my people had cut me off from them.
"What I learn I will come back and teach you," I told the young men and women of my own age. They laughed.
"You are a fool, Lazarre. There is a good home for you at St. Regis. If you fall sick in De Chaumont's house who will care?"
"Skenedonk is my friend," I answered.
"Skenedonk would not stay where he is tying you. When the lake freezes you will be mad for snowshoes and a sight of the St. Lawrence."
"Perhaps so. But we are not made alike. Do not forget me."
They gave me belts and garters, and I distributed among them all my Indian property. Then, as if to work a charm which should keep me from breaking through the circle, they joined hands and danced around me. I went to every cabin, half ashamed of my desertion, yet unspeakably craving a blessing. The old people variously commented on the measure, their wise eyes seeing the change in one who had been a child rather than a young man among them.
If the wrench from the village was hard, the induction into the manor was harder. Skenedonk took me in his boat, skirting the long strip of mountainous shore which separated us from De Chaumont.
He told me De Chaumont would permit my father to pay no more than my exact reckoning.
"Do you know who sends the money?" I inquired.
The Oneida did not know. It came through an agent in New York.
"You are ten years older than I am. You must remember very well when I was born."
"How can that be?" answered Skenedonk. "Nobody in the tribe knows when you were born."
"Are children not like the young of other creatures? Where did I come from?"
"You came to the tribe with a man, and Chief Williams adopted you."
"Did you see the man?"
"No. I was on the other side of the ocean, in France."
"Who saw him?"
"None of our people. But it is very well known. If you had noticed anything you would have heard the story long ago."
What Skenedonk said was true. I asked him, bewildered—"Why did I never notice anything?"
The Oneida tapped his bald head.
"When I saw you first you were not the big fellow with speaking eyes that you are to-day. You would sit from sunrise to sunset, looking straight ahead of you and never moving except when food was put in your hand. As you grew older the children dragged you among them to play. You learned to fish, and hunt, and swim; and knew us, and began to talk our language. Now at last you are fully roused, and are going to learn the knowledge there is in books."
I asked Skenedonk how he himself had liked books, and he shook his head, smiling. They were good for white men, very good. An Indian had little use for them. He could read and write and cast accounts. When he made his great journey to the far country, what interested him most was the behavior of the people.
We did not go into the subject of his travels at that time, for I began to wonder who was going to teach me books, and heard with surprise that it was Doctor Chantry.
"But I struck him with the little knife that springs out of a box."
Skenedonk assured me that Doctor Chantry thought nothing of it, and there was no wound but a scratch. He looked on me as his pupil. He knew all kinds of books.
Evidently Doctor Chantry liked me from the moment I showed fight. His Anglo-Saxon blood was stirred. He received me from Skenedonk, who shook my hand and wished me well, before paddling away.
De Chaumont's house was full as a hive around the three sides of its flowered court. A ball was in preparation, and all the guests had arrived. Avoiding these gentry we mounted stairs toward the roof, and came into a burst of splendor. As far as the eye could see through square east and west windows, unbroken forests stretched to the end of the world, or Lake George wound, sown thick with islands, ranging in size from mere rocks supporting a tree, to wooded acres.
The room which weaned me from aboriginal life was at the top of the central building. Doctor Chantry shuffled over the clean oak floor and introduced me to my appointments. There were curtains like frost work, which could be pushed back from the square panes. At one end of the huge apartment was my huge bed, formidable with hangings. Near it stood a table for the toilet. He opened a closet door in the wall and showed a spiral staircase going down to a tunnel which led to the lake. For when De Chaumont first came into the wilderness and built the central house without its wings, he thought it well to have a secret way out, as his chateau in the old country had.
"The tunnel is damp," said Doctor Chantry. "I never venture into it, though all the corner rooms below give upon this stairway, and mine is just under yours."
It was like returning me the lake to use in my own accustomed way. For the remainder of my furniture I had a study table, a cupboard for clothes, some arm-chairs, a case of books, and a massive fireplace with chimney seats at the end of the room opposite the bed.
I asked Doctor Chantry, "Was all this made ready for me before I was sure of coming here?"
"When the count decides that a thing will be done it is usually done," said my schoolmaster. "And Madame de Ferrier was very active in forwarding the preparations."
The joy of youth in the unknown was before me. My old camp life receded behind me.
Madame de Ferrier's missal-book lay on the table, and when I stopped before it tongue-tied, Doctor Chantry said I was to keep it.
"She gives it to you. It was treasured in her family on account of personal attachment to the giver. She is not a Catholic. She was brought up as good a Protestant as any English gentlewoman."
"I told her it was my mother's. It seemed to be my mother's. But I don't know—I can't remember."
My master looked at the missal, and said it was a fine specimen of illumination. His manner toward me was so changed that I found it hard to refer to the lancet. This, however, very naturally followed his examination of my head. He said I had healthy blood, and the wound was closing by the first intention. The pink cone at the tip of his nose worked in a whimsical grin as he heard my apology.
"It is not often you will make the medicine man take his own remedy, my lad."
We thus began our relation with the best feeling. It has since appeared that I was a blessing to Doctor Chantry. My education gave him something to do. For although he called himself physician to Count de Chaumont, he had no real occupation in the house, and dabbled with poetry, dozing among books. De Chaumont was one of those large men who gather in the weak. His older servants had come to America with his father, and were as attached as kindred. A natural parasite like Doctor Chantry took to De Chaumont as means of support; and it was pleasing to both of them.
My master asked me when I wanted to begin my studies, and I said, "Now." We sat down at the table, and I learned the English alphabet, some phrases of English talk, some spelling, and traced my first characters in a copy-book. With consuming desire to know, I did not want to leave off at dusk. In that high room day lingered. The doctor was fretful for his supper before we rose from our task.
Servants were hurrying up and down stairs. The whole house had an air of festivity. Doctor Chantry asked me to wait in a lower corridor while he made some change in his dress.
I sat down on a broad window sill, and when I had waited a few minutes, Mademoiselle de Chaumont darted around a corner, bare armed and bare necked. She collapsed to the floor at sight of me, and then began to dance away in the opposite direction with stiff leaps, as a lamb does in spring-time.
I saw she was in pain or trouble, needing a servant, and made haste to reach her; when she hid her face on both arms against the wall.
"Go off!" she hissed. "—S-s-s! Go off! I haven't anything on!—Don't go off! Open my door for me quick!—before anybody else comes into the hall!"
"Which door is it?" I asked. She showed me. It had a spring catch, and she had stepped into the hall to see if the catch was set.
"The catch was set!" gasped Mademoiselle de Chaumont. "Break the door—get it open—anyway—Quick!"
By good fortune I had strength enough in my shoulder to set the door wide off its spring, and she flew to the middle of the room slamming it in my face.
Fitness and unfitness required nicer discrimination than the crude boy from the woods possessed. When I saw her in the ball-room she had very little more on than when I saw her in the hall, and that little clung tight around her figure. Yet she looked quite unconcerned.
After we had eaten supper Doctor Chantry and I sat with his sister where we could see the dancing, on a landing of the stairway. De Chaumont's generous house was divided across the middle by a wide hall that made an excellent ball-room. The sides were paneled, like the walls of the room in which I first came to my senses. Candles in sconces were reflected by the polished, dark floor. A platform for his fiddlers had been built at one end. Festoons of green were carried from a cluster of lights in the center of the ceiling, to the corners, making a bower or canopy under which the dancers moved.
It is strange to think that not one stone remains upon another and scarcely a trace is left of this manor. When De Chaumont determined to remove to his seat at Le Rayville, in what was then called Castorland, he had his first hold pulled down.
Miss Chantry was a blunt woman. Her consideration for me rested on my being her brother's pupil. She spoke more readily than he did. From our cove we looked over the railing at an active world.
"Madame Eagle is a picture," remarked Miss Chantry. "—— Eagle! What a name for civilized people to give a christened child! But these French are as likely as not to call their boys Anne or Marie, and it wouldn't surprise me if they called their girls Cat or Dog. Eagle or Crow, she is the handsomest woman on the floor."
"Except Mademoiselle Annabel," the doctor ventured to amend.
"That Annabel de Chaumont," his sister vigorously declared, "has neither conscience nor gratitude. But none of the French have. They will take your best and throw you away with a laugh."
My master and I watched the brilliant figures swimming in the glow of wax candles. Face after face could be singled out as beautiful, and the scant dresses revealed taper forms. Madame de Ferrier's garments may have been white or blue or yellow; I remember only her satin arms and neck, the rosy color of her face, and the powder on her hair making it white as down. Where this assembly was collected from I did not know, but it acted on the spirits and went like volatile essence to the brain.
"Pheugh!" exclaimed Miss Chantry, "how the French smell!"
I asked her why, if she detested them so, she lived in a French family, and she replied that Count de Chaumont was an exception, being almost English in his tastes. He had lived out of France since his father came over with La Fayette to help the rebellious Americans.
I did not know who the rebellious Americans were, but inferred that they were people of whom Miss Chantry thought almost as little as she did of the French.
Croghan looked quite a boy among so many experienced gallants, but well appointed in his dress and stepping through the figures featly. He was, Miss Chantry said, a student of William and Mary College.
"This company of gentry will be widely scattered when it disperses home," she told us. "There is at least one man from over-seas."
I thought of the Grignon and Tank families, who were probably on the road to Albany. Miss Chantry bespoke her brother's attention.
"There he is."
"Who?" the doctor inquired.
"His highness," she incisively responded, "Prince Jerome Bonaparte."
I remembered my father had said that Bonaparte was a great soldier in a far off country, and directly asked Miss Chantry if the great soldier was in the ball-room.
She breathed a snort and turned upon my master. "Pray, are you teaching this lad to call that impostor the great soldier?"
Doctor Chantry denied the charge and cast a weak-eyed look of surprise at me.
I said my father told me Bonaparte was a great soldier, and begged to know if he had been deceived.
"Oh!" Miss Chantry responded in a tone which slighted Thomas Williams. "Well! I will tell you facts. Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the worst and most dangerous men that ever lived. He sets the world by the ears, and carries war into every country of Europe. That is his youngest brother yonder—that superfine gallant, in the long-tailed white silk coat down to his heels, and white small-clothes, with diamond buckles in his shoes, and grand lace stock and ruffles. Jerome Bonaparte spent last winter in Baltimore; and they say he is traveling in the north now to forget a charming American that Napoleon will not let him marry. He has got his name in the newspapers of the day, and so has the young lady. The French consul warned her officially. For Jerome Bonaparte may be made a little king, with other relations of your great soldier."
The young man who might be made a little king was not as large as I was myself, and had a delicate and womanish cut of countenance. I said he was not fit for a king, and Miss Chantry retorted that neither was Napoleon Bonaparte fit for an emperor.
"What is an emperor?" I inquired.
"A chief over kings," Doctor Chantry put in. "Bonaparte is a conqueror and can set kings over the countries he has conquered."
I said that was the proper thing to do. Miss Chantry glared at me. She had weak hair like her brother, but her eyes were a piercing blue, and the angles of her jaws were sharply marked.
Meditating on things outside of my experience I desired to know what the white silk man had done.
"Then why should the emperor give him a kingdom?"
"Because he is the emperor's brother."
"But he ought to do something himself," I insisted. "It is not enough to accept a chief's place. He cannot hold it if he is not fit."
"So the poor Bourbons found. But they were not upstarts at any rate. I hope I shall live to see them restored."
Here was another opportunity to inform myself. I asked Miss Chantry who the Bourbons were.
"They are the rightful kings of France."
"Why do they let Bonaparte and his brothers take their place?"
Doctor Chantry turned from the promenaders below and, with slow and careful speech, gave me my first lesson in history.
"There was a great civil war in France called the Revolution, when part of the people ran mad to kill the other part. They cut off the heads of the king and queen, and shut up the two royal children in prison. The dauphin died."
"What is a dauphin?"
"The heir to the throne of France was called the dauphin."
"Was he the king's son?"
"The king's eldest son."
"If he had brothers were they dauphins too?"
"No. He alone was the dauphin. The last dauphin of France had no living brothers. He had only a sister."
"You said the dauphin died."
"In a prison called the Temple, in Paris."
"Was the Temple a prison?"
Madame de Ferrier had said her father and some other person did not believe the dauphin died in the Temple.
"Suppose he was alive?" I hazarded.
"Suppose who was alive?" said Miss Chantry.
"Did all the people believe he was dead?"
"They didn't care whether he was dead or not. They went on killing one another until this man Bonaparte put himself at the head of the army and got the upper hand of them. The French are all fire and tow, and the man who can stamp on them is their idol."
"You said you hoped you would live to see the Bourbons restored. Dead people cannot be restored."
"Oh, the Bourbons are not all dead. The king of France had brothers. The elder one of these would be king now if the Bourbons came back to the throne."
"But he would not be king if the dauphin lived?"
"No," said Miss Chantry, leaning back indifferently.
My head felt confused, throbbing with the dull ache of healing. I supported it, resting my elbow on the railing.
The music, under cover of which we had talked, made one of its pauses. Annabel de Chaumont looked up at us, allowing the gentleman in the long-tailed silk coat to lead her toward the stairs.
Miss Chantry exclaimed, and her face stiffened with an expression which I have since learned to know as the fear of dignitaries; experienced even by people who profess to despise the dignitaries. Mademoiselle de Chaumont shook frizzes around her face, and lifted the scant dress from her satin shod feet as she mounted the stairs. Without approaching us she sat down on the top step of the landing with young Bonaparte, and beckoned to me.
I went at her bidding and stood by the rail.
"Prince Jerome Bonaparte wants to see you. I have told him about the bear pen, and Madame Tank, and the mysterious marks on you, and what she said about your rank."
I must have frowned, for the young gentleman made a laughing sign to me that he did not take Annabel seriously. He had an amiable face, and accepted me as one of the oddities of the country.
"What fun," said Annabel, "to introduce a prince of the empire to a prince of the woods!"
"What do you think of your brother?" I inquired.
He looked astonished and raised his eyebrows.
"I suppose you mean the emperor?"
I told him I did.
"If you want my candid opinion," his eyes twinkled, and he linked his hands around his white satin knees, "I think my brother rules his family with a rod of iron."
"What will you do," I continued, "when your family are turned out?"
"My faith!" said Annabel, "this in a house favorable to the Empire!"
"A very natural question," said Jerome. "I have often asked myself the same thing."
"The king of France," I argued, "and all the Bourbons were turned out. Why shouldn't the Bonapartes be?"
"Why shouldn't they, indeed!" responded Jerome. "My mother insists they will be. But I wouldn't be the man who undertakes to turn out the emperor."
"What is he like?"
"Impossible to describe him."
"Is he no larger than you?"
Annabel gurgled aloud.
"He is not as large."
"Yet he is a great soldier?"
"A great soldier. And he is adored by the French."
"The French," I quoted, "are all fire and tow."
"Thank you!" said Annabel, pulling out her light frizzes.
"You seem interested in the political situation," remarked Prince Jerome.
I did not know what he meant by the political situation, but told him I had just heard about the Bonapartes.
"Where have you lived?" he laughed.
I told him it didn't matter where people lived; it all depended on whether they understood or not.
"What a sage!—I think I'm one of the people who will never be able to understand," said Jerome.
I said he did not look as if he had been idiotic, and both he and Mademoiselle de Chaumont laughed.
"Lazarre Williams," supplemented Annabel.
"Monsieur Lazarre Williams, whatever your lot in life, you will have one advantage over me; you will be an American citizen."
"Haven't I that doleful advantage myself?" mourned Annabel. "A Baltimore convent, an English governess—a father that may never go back to France!"
"Mademoiselle, all advantages of nationality, of person, of mind, of heart, are yours!"
So tipping the interview with a compliment he rose up, and Annabel rose also, making him a deep courtesy, and giving him her hand to be led back to the floor. He kissed her white forefinger, and bowed to me.
"You have suggested some interesting thoughts, monsieur prince of the woods. Perhaps you may yet take your turn on the throne of France. What would you do in that case?"
"I would make the people behave themselves if I had to grind them to powder."
"Now there spoke old Louis XIV!" laughed young Jerome Bonaparte. We both bowed, and he passed down with Annabel into the hall.
I did not know what made Madame de Ferrier watch me from her distant place with widened eyes.
Miss Chantry spoke shrilly to her brother behind me.
"You will never be able to do anything with a lad who thrusts himself forward like that! He has no sense of fitness!—standing there and facing down the brother of a crowned head!—bad as the head is. Of course Mademoiselle Annabel set him on; she loves to make people ridiculous!"
I walked downstairs after Prince Jerome, threaded a way among gazing dancers, and left the hall, stung in my pride.
We do strangely expand and contract in vital force and reach of vision. I wanted to put the lake—the world itself—between me and that glittering company. The edge of a ball-room and the society of men in silks and satins, and of bewitching women, were not intended for me.
Homesickness like physical pain came over me for my old haunts. They were newly recognized as beloved. I had raged against them when comparing myself to Croghan. But now I thought of the evening camp fire, and hunting-stories, of the very dogs that licked my hand; of St. Regis, and my loft bed, of snowshoes, and the blue northern river, longing for them as the young Mohawks said I should long. Tom betwixt two natures, the white man's and the Indian's, I flung a boat out into the water and started to go home faster than I had come away. The slowness of a boat's progress, pushed by the silly motion of oars, which have not the nice discrimination of a paddle, impressed me as I put the miles behind.
When the camp light shone through trees it must have been close to midnight, and my people had finished their celebration of the corn dance. An odor of sweet roasted ears dragged out of hot ashes reached the poor outsider. Even the dogs were too busy to nose me out. I slunk as close as I dared and drew myself up a tree, lying stretched with arms and legs around a limb.
They would have admitted me to the feast, but as a guest. I had no longer a place of my own, either here or there. It was like coming back after death, to realize that you were unmissed. The camp was full of happiness and laughter. Young men chased the young maids, who ran squealing with merriment. My father, Thomas Williams, and my mother, Marianne, sat among the elders tranquil and satisfied. They were ignorant Indians; but I had no other parents. Skenedonk could be seen, laughing at the young Mohawks.
If there was an oval faced mother in my past, who had read to me from the missal, I wanted her. If, as Madame Tank said, I outranked De Chaumont's daughter, I wanted my rank. It was necessary for me to have something of my own: to have love from somebody!
Collapsed and dejected, I crept down the tree and back to the life that was now forced upon me whether I wished to continue it or not. Belonging nowhere, I remembered my refuge in the new world of books.
Lying stretched in the boat with oars shipped, drifting and turning on the crooked lake, I took exact stock of my position in the world, and marked out my future.
These things were known:
I was not an Indian.
I had been adopted into the family of Chief Williams.
Money was sent through an agent in New York for my support and education.
There were scars on my wrists, ankles, arm and eyebrow.
These scars identified me in Madame de Ferrier's mind and Madame Tank's mind as a person from the other side of the world.
I had formerly been deadened in mind.
I was now keenly alive.
These things were not known:
Who I was.
Who sent money for my support and education.
How I became scarred.
What man had placed me among the Indians.
For the future I bound myself with three laws:
To leave alone the puzzle of my past.
To study with all my might and strength.
When I was grown and educated, to come back to my adopted people, the Iroquois, draw them to some place where they could thrive, and by training and education make them an empire, and myself their leader.
The pale-skin's loathing of the red race had not then entered my imagination. I said in conclusion:
"Indians have taken care of me; they shall be my brothers."
The zigzag track of the boat represented a rift widening between me and my past. I sat up and took the oars, feeling older and stronger.
It was primitive man, riding between the highlands, uncumbered, free to grasp what was before him.
De Chaumont did not believe in and was indifferent to the waif whom his position of great seigneur obliged him to protect. What did I care? I had been hidden among the Indians by kindred or guardians humane enough not to leave me destitute. They should not trouble my thoughts, and neither—I told myself like an Indian—should the imaginings of women.
A boy minds no labor in following his caprices. The long starlit pull I reckoned as nothing; and slipped to my room when daylight was beginning to surprise the dancers.
It was so easy to avoid people in the spaciousness of De Chaumont's manor that I did not again see the young Bonaparte nor any of the guests except Croghan. They slept all the following day, and the third day separated. Croghan found my room before leaving with his party, and we talked as well as we could, and shook hands at parting.
The impressions of that first year stay in my mind as I have heard the impressions of childhood remain. It was perhaps a kind of brief childhood, swift in its changes, and running parallel with the development of youth.
My measure being sent to New York by De Chaumont, I had a complete new outfit in clothes; coat, waistcoat, and small-clothes, neckwear, ruffles, and shirts, buckle shoes, stockings of mild yarn for cold weather, and thread stockings. Like most of the things for which we yearn, when I got them I did not like them as well as the Indian garments they obliged me to shed.
Skenedonk came to see me nearly every day, and sat still as long as he could while I toiled at books. I did not tell him how nearly I had disgraced us both by running secretly away to camp. So I was able to go back and pay visits with dignity and be taken seriously, instead of encountering the ridicule that falls upon retreat.
My father was neither pleased nor displeased. He paid my accounts exactly, before the camp broke up for the winter, making Skenedonk his agent. My mother Marianne offered me food as she would have offered it to Count de Chaumont; and I ate it, sitting on a mat as a guest. Our children, particularly the elder ones, looked me over with gravity, and refrained from saying anything about my clothes.