THE RIVALS OF ACADIA,
AN OLD STORY OF THE NEW WORLD.
When two authorities are up, Neither supreme, how soon confusion May enter 'twixt the gap of both, and take The one by the other.
Boston: WELLS AND LILLY, COURT-STREET.
THE RIVALS OF ACADIA
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS, TO WIT
District Clerk's Office.
BE IT REMEMBERED, that on the twenty sixth day of January, A.D. 1827, in the fifty-first year of the Independence of the United States of America, Wells and Lilly of the said district, have deposited in this Office the Title of a Book, the Right whereof they claim as Proprietors in the Words following, to wit:
"The Rivals of Acadia, an Old Story of the New World.
When two authorities are up, Neither supreme, how soon confusion May enter 'twixt the gap of both, and take The one by the other Shakspeare."
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled "An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned," and also to an Act, entitled "An act supplementary to an Act, entitled, 'An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies during the times therein mentioned,' and extending the Benefits thereof to the Arts of Designing, Engraving, and Etching Historical, and other Prints."
JNO. W. DAVIS. Clerk of the District of Masachusetts.
RIVALS OF ACADIA
Far on th' horizon's verge appears a speck— A spot—a mast—a sail—an armed deck! Their little bark her men of watch descry, And ampler canvas woos the wind from high.
On a bright day in the summer of 1643, a light pleasure-boat shot gaily across the harbor of Boston, laden with a merry party, whose cheerful voices were long heard, mingling with the ripple of the waves, and the music of the breeze, which swelled the canvas, and bore them swiftly onward. A group of friends, who had collected on the shore to witness their departure, gradually dispersed, till, at length, a single individual only remained, whose eyes still followed the track of the vessel, though his countenance wore that abstracted air, which shewed his thoughts were detached from the passing scene. He seemed quite unconscious of the silence that succeeded this transient bustle, and a low murmur, which soon begun to spread along the shore, was equally disregarded. Suddenly a confused sound of many voices burst upon his ear, and hurried steps, as of persons in alarm and agitation, at once aroused him from his reverie. At the same moment, a hand was laid heavily on his shoulder, and a voice exclaimed, with earnestness,
"Are you insensible, Arthur Stanhope, at a moment, when every man's life is in jeopardy?"
"My father!" replied the young man, "what is the meaning of all this excitement and confusion?"
"Do you not know?" demanded the other; "a strange sail is approaching our peaceful coast; and, see! they have unfurled the standard of popish France."
"It is true, by heaven!" exclaimed young Stanhope; "and, look, father, yonder boat is flying before them; this is no time to gaze idly on; we must hasten to their rescue."
The vessel, which produced so much alarm, was, in fact, a French ship of considerable force, apparently well manned, and armed for offensive or defensive operations. The national flag streamed gaily on the wind, and, as it anchored just against Castle Island, the roll of the drum, and the shrill notes of the fife, were distinctly heard, and men were seen busied on deck, as if preparing for some important action. The little bark, already mentioned, was filled, chiefly, with females and children, bound, on an excursion of pleasure, to an island in the bay; and their terror was extreme, on thus encountering an armed vessel of the French, who had, on many occasions, shewn hostility to the colonists. The boat instantly tacked, and crowding sail, as much as prudence would permit, steered across the harbor towards Governor's Island. But it had evidently become an object of interest or curiosity to the French; their attention seemed wholly engrossed by it, and presently a boat was lowered to the water, and an officer, with several of the crew sprang into it, and rowed swiftly from the ship's side. They immediately gave chase to the pleasure-boat, which was however considerably ahead, and so ably managed, that she kept clear her distance; and with all the muscular strength, and nautical skill of the enemy, he found it impossible to gain upon her.
In the mean time, the alarm had spread, and spectators of every age, and either sex, thronged the shore, to witness this singular pursuit. The civil and military authorities prepared for defence, should it prove necessary; a battery, which protected the harbor, was hastily manned, and the militia drawn up, in rank and file, with a promptitude, not often displayed by the heroes of a train-band company. For several years, no foreign or internal enemy had disturbed the public repose, and the fortifications on Castle Island gradually fell into decay; and, from motives of economy, at this time not a single piece of artillery was mounted, or a soldier stationed there. The enemy, of course, had nothing to oppose his progress, should he choose to anchor in the inmost waters of the bay.
Governor's Island, however, at that moment, became the centre of anxiety, and every eye was fixed upon the boat, which rapidly neared the shore. The governor, as was often his custom, had on that day retired there, with his family; and, attended only by a few servants, his person was extremely insecure, should the French meditate any sinister design. In this emergency, three shallops were filled with armed men, to sail for the protection of the chief magistrate, and ascertain the intentions of the French. Young Stanhope was invested with the command of this little force; and perhaps there was no man in the colony, who would have conducted the enterprize with more boldness and address. He had entered the English navy in boyhood; and, after many years of faithful service, was rapidly acquiring rank and distinction, when the unhappy dissensions of the times threw their blighting influence on his prospects, and disappointed his well-founded hopes of still higher advancement in his profession. His father, an inflexible Puritan, fled to New-England from the persecution of a church which he abhorred, and, with the malevolence of narrow-minded bigotry, the heresy of the parent was punished, by dismissing the son from that honorable station, which his valour had attained. Deeply wounded in spirit, Arthur Stanhope retired from the service of his country, but he carried with him, to a distant land, the affection and esteem of his brother officers,—a solace, which misfortune can never wrest from a noble and virtuous mind.
On the present occasion, Stanhope made his arrangements with coolness and precision, and received from everyone, the most prompt and zealous assistance. The alarm, which the appearance of the French at first excited, had gradually subsided; but still there were so many volunteers in the cause, that it was difficult to prevent the shallops from being overloaded. Constables with their batons, and soldiers, with fixed bayonets, guarded the place of embarkation, till, at a given signal, the boats were loosed from their moorings, and glided gently over the waves. A loud shout burst from the spectators, which was succeeded by a stillness so profound, that, for several moments, the measured dash of the oars was distinctly heard on shore. An equal silence prevailed on board the shallops, which were rowed in exact unison, while the men, who occupied them, sat erect and motionless as automatons, their fire-arms glancing in the bright sun-shine, and their eyes occasionally turning with defiance towards the supposed enemy.
Arthur Stanhope stood on the stern of the principal vessel, and beside him Mr. Gibbons, a young man, who watched the progress of the pleasure-boat with eager solicitude,—for it contained his mother and sisters. It had then nearly reached the island; their pursuers, probably in despair of overtaking them, had relaxed their efforts, and rested on their oars, apparently undecided what course to follow.
"They are observing us," said Stanhope's companion, pointing to the French, "and I doubt they will return to the protection of their ship, and scarce leave us the liberty of disputing the way with them."
"They will consult their prudence, in doing so," replied Stanhope, "if their intentions are indeed hostile, as we have supposed."
"If!" returned the other, "why else should they give chase to one of our peaceable boats, in that rude manner? But, thank heaven!" he added, joyfully, "it is now safe; see! my mother has this moment sprung on shore, with her frightened band of damsels and children! ah! I think they will not now admire the gallant Frenchmen, as they did last summer, when La Tour's gay lieutenant was here, with his compliments and treaties!"
"I begin to think yonder vessel is from the same quarter," said Arthur, thoughtfully; "Mons. de la Tour, perhaps, wishes to renew his alliance with us, or seeks aid to carry on his quarrel with Mons. d'Aulney, his rival in the government of Acadia."
"God forbid!" said a deep, rough voice, which proceeded from the helmsman, "that we should have any fellowship with those priests of the devil, those monks and friars of popish France."
"Spoke like an oracle, my honest fellow!" said Gibbons, laughing; "it is a pity that your zeal and discernment should not be rewarded by some office of public trust."
"Truly, master Gibbons, we have fallen upon evil days, and the righteous no longer flourish, like green bay trees, in the high places of our land; but though cast out of mine honorable office, there are many who can testify to the zeal of my past services."
"I doubt not there are many who have cause to remember it," returned Gibbons, with a smile; "but bear a little to the leeward, unless you have a mind to convert yonder papists, by a few rounds of good powder and shot."
This short dialogue was broken off, by an unexpected movement of the French, who, after lingering, as in doubt, at some distance from the island, suddenly recommenced rowing towards it, and at the same time struck up a lively air on the bugle, which floated cheerily over the waves. Soon after, their keel touched the strand, close by the pleasure-boat, which was safely moored, and deserted by every individual. The principal officer then leaped on shore, and walked leisurely towards the house of governor Winthrop. Stanhope also landed in a short time, and, with Mr. Gibbons, proceeded directly to the governor's. The mansion exhibited no appearance of alarm; the windows were thrown open to admit the cooling sea-breeze, children sported around the door, and cheerful voices within announced, that the stranger, who had just preceded them, was not an unwelcome guest. He was conversing apart with Mr. Winthrop, when they entered, and they instantly recognized in him, a lieutenant of M. de la Tour, who had, on a former occasion, been sent to negociate a treaty with the magistrates of Boston. He was believed to be a Hugonot, and, on that account, as well as from the personal regard which his conduct and manners inspired, he had been treated with much attention, during the time that he remained there. Mons. de Valette,—so he was called,—had been particularly intimate with the family of Major Gibbons, a gentleman of consideration in the colony, and he quickly espied his lady in the pleasure-boat, which he discovered in the bay. Gallantly inclined to return her civilities, he endeavoured to overtake her, with the intention of inviting her aboard the ship, quite unconscious that she was flying from him in terror. But the formidable array of armed shallops, with the assemblage of people on shore, at length excited a suspicion of the truth, and he determined to follow the lady to her retreat, to explain the motives of his conduct. His apology was graciously accepted, and the late alarm became a subject of general amusement.
De Valette also improved the opportunity, to prepare governor Winthrop for the object of La Tour's voyage to Boston. M. Razilly, governor-general of the French province of Acadia, had entrusted the administration to D'Aulney de Charnisy, and St. Etienne, lord of La Tour. The former he appointed lieutenant of the western part of the colony, the latter of the eastern; they were separated by the river St. Croix. La Tour also held possession in right of a purchase, confirmed by the king's patent; and, on the death of Razilly, which happened at an early period of the settlement, he claimed the supreme command. His pretensions were violently disputed by D'Aulney; and, from that time, each had constantly sought to dispossess the other; and the most bitter enmity kept them continually at strife. Both had repeatedly endeavoured to obtain assistance from the New-England colonists; but, as yet, they had prudently declined to decide in favor of either, lest the other should prove a dangerous, or at least an annoying enemy. La Tour was, or pretended to be, a Hugonot,—which gave him a preference with the rulers of the Massachusetts; they had shewn a friendly disposition towards him, and permitted any persons, who chose, to engage in commerce with him. He had just returned from France, in a ship well laden with supplies for his fort at St. John's, and a stout crew, who were mostly protestants of Rochelle. But he found the fort besieged, and the mouth of the river shut up, by several vessels of D'Aulney's, whose force it would have been temerity to oppose. He sailed directly to Boston, to implore assistance in removing his enemy; bringing with him a commission from the king, which established his authority, as lieutenant-general in Acadia.
It was under these circumstances, that the French vessel appeared in the harbor of Boston, the innocent cause of so much alarm to the inhabitants. Governor Winthrop heard the details and arguments of De Valette, with polite attention; but he declined advancing any opinion, till he had consulted with the deputy, and other magistrates. He, however, desired Mr. Stanhope to return with the young officer to his ship, and request M. de la Tour to become a guest at the house of the chief magistrate, until his question was decided.
Fit me with such weeds As may beseem some well-reputed page.
The tardy summer of the north burst forth in all its splendor on the woods and scattered settlements of Acadia, and even the harassed garrison at St. John's, revived under its inspiriting influence. La Tour had been compelled to return to France in the autumn, for a reinforcement and supplies, leaving the fort defended only by a hireling force, which could scarcely muster fifty men, fit for active service. They were a mixture of Scotch and French, Protestants and Catholics; their personal and religious disputes kept them at continual variance; and the death of an experienced officer, who had been left in command, produced a relaxation of discipline, which threatened the most serious consequences. The protracted absence of La Tour became a subject of bitter complaint; and, as their stores, of every kind, gradually wasted away, they began to talk loudly of throwing down their arms, and abandoning their posts. In this posture of affairs, the courage and firmness of Madame la Tour alone restrained them from open mutiny. With an air of authority, which no one presumed to question, she assumed the supreme command, and established a rigid discipline, which the boldest dared not transgress. She daily witnessed their military exercises, assigned to every man his post of duty, and voluntarily submitted to the many privations which circumstances imposed on those beneath her.
M. d'Aulney, in the mean time, kept a vigilant eye on the movements of the garrison. As spring advanced, his light vessels were sent to reconnoitre as near as safety would permit; and it was evident that he meditated a decisive attack. Mad. la Tour used the utmost caution to prevent a surprise, and deceive the enemy respecting the weakness of their resources. She restricted the usual intercourse between her people, and those without the fort; and allowed no one to enter unquestioned, except a French priest, who came, at stated times, to dispense ghostly counsel to the Catholics.
On one of these occasions, as the holy father issued from a small building, which served as a chapel for his flock, he encountered the stiff figure and stern features of a Scotch Presbyterian, whom the lady of La Tour, a protestant in faith, had received into her family, in the capacity of chaplain to her household. It was on a Sabbath morning, and both had been engaged in the offices of religion with their respective congregations. Each was passing on, in silence, when the Scot suddenly stopped, directly in the other's path, and surveyed him with an expression of gloomy distrust. An indignant glow flashed across the pale features of the priest, but instantly faded away, and he stood in an attitude of profound humility, as if waiting to learn the cause of so rude an interruption. In spite of passion and prejudice, the bigoted sectary felt rebuked by the calm dignity of his countenance and manner; but he had gone too far to recede, without some explanation, and therefore sternly said,
"Our lady admits no stranger within these gates, and wo be to the wolf who climbs into the fold in sheep's clothing!"
"The priest of God," he replied, "is privileged by his holy office to administer reproof and consolation, wherever there is an ear to listen, and a heart to feel."
"The priest of Satan," muttered the other, in a low, wrathful tone, "the emissary of that wicked one, who sitteth on the seven hills, filled with all abominations."
The priest turned from him with a look of mingled pity and scorn; but his reverend opponent caught his arm, and again strictly surveying him, exclaimed,
"It is not thou, whom my lady's easy charity permits to come in hither, and lead poor deluded souls astray, with the false doctrines of thy false religion! Speak, and explain from whence thou comest, and what are thy designs?"
"Thy wrath is vain and impotent," said the priest, coolly withdrawing from his grasp; "but the precepts of my master enjoin humility, and I disdain not to answer thee, though rudely questioned. Father Ambrose hath been called to a distant province, and, by his passport I come hither, to feed the flock which he hath left."
Still dissatisfied, the chaplain was about to prosecute his interrogatories, but the singular rencontre had already collected a crowd around them, and the Catholics, with the vivacity of their country, and the zeal of their religion, began loudly to resent the insult offered the holy father. Voices rose high in altercation; but as the worthy Scot was totally ignorant of their language, he remained, for some moments, at a loss to conjecture the cause of this sudden excitement. But the menacing looks which were directed towards him, accompanied by gestures too plain to be misunderstood, at length convinced him, that he was personally interested, and he commenced a hasty retreat, when his progress was arrested by the iron grasp of a sturdy corporal, from which he found it impossible to free himself. With a countenance, in which rage and entreaty were ludicrously blended, he turned towards the priest, whose earnest expostulations were addressed, in vain, to the exasperated assailants. The corporal kept his hold tenaciously, questioning him with a volubility known only to Frenchmen, and, enraged that he was neither understood nor answered, he concluded each sentence with a shake, which jarred every sinew in the stout frame of the Scotchman. It is doubtful to what extremes the affray might have been carried, as the opposite party began to rally with equal warmth, for the rescue of their teacher; but, at that moment, a quick and repeated note of alarum sounded in their ears, and announced some pressing danger. Thrown into consternation by this unexpected summons, the soldiers fled confusedly, or stood stupified, and uncertain what course to pursue. Nor was their confusion diminished, when Madame la Tour appeared in the midst of them, and, with a look, which severely reproved their negligence, exclaimed,
"Why stand ye here, my gallant men, clamouring with your idle brawls, when the enemy floats before our very gates? fly to your posts, or stay and see what a woman's hand can do."
The appeal was decisive; in a moment every man filled his proper station, and throughout the fort, the breathless pause of suspense preceded the expected signal of attack or defence. M. d'Aulney had entered the river with a strong force, and owing to the negligence of the sentinels, appeared suddenly before the surprised garrison. Emboldened by meeting no resistance, he drew up his vessels against the fort, and incautiously approached within reach of the battery. Perceiving his error too late, he immediately tacked, and gave a signal to bear off, which was promptly obeyed by the lighter vessels. But before his own, which was more unwieldly, could escape, Madame la Tour seized the favourable moment, and, with her own hand, discharged a piece of artillery, which so materially damaged the vessel, that it was found difficult to remove her from the incessant fire, which was then opened upon her. It was, however, effected; but, though repulsed at that time, it was not probable that D'Aulney would relinquish his designs; and, apprehensive that he might attempt a landing below the fort, a double guard was set, and every precaution taken to prevent another surprise.
Madame la Tour, till the last moment of danger, was every where conspicuous, dispensing her orders with the cool presence of mind, which would have honored a veteran commander. It was near the close of day, when she retired from the presence of the garrison, to seek repose from her arduous duties. In passing an angle of the fort, she was attracted by the sound of light footsteps; and, as she paused an instant, a figure bounded from the shadow of the wall, and stood before her, wrapped in a military cloak, which completely enveloped its person.
"Who are you?" demanded Madame de la Tour.
"I am ashamed to tell you," replied a soft, sweet voice, which the lady instantly recognized; "but if you can forgive me, I will uncover myself, for, indeed, I am well nigh suffocated already."
"Foolish child! where have you been, and what is the meaning of all this?"
"I was coming to seek for you; but I lingered here a few moments, for, in truth, I have no fancy to approach very near those formidable guns, unless they are more peaceably disposed than they have been to-day, and, now I must see if you forgive my cowardice!"
With these words the cloak was hastily unloosed, and the young page of Mad. la Tour sprang lightly from its folds. A tartan kirtle, reaching below the knees, with trews of the same material, and a Highland bonnet, adorned with a tuft of eagle feathers, gave him the appearance of a Scottish youth;—but the sparkling black eyes, the clear brunette complexion, and the jetty locks which clustered around its brow and neck, proclaimed him the native of a warmer and brighter climate. Half laughing, yet blushing with shame, the boy looked with arch timidity in his lady's face, as if deprecating the expected reproof; but she smiled affectionately on him, and said,
"I have nothing to forgive, my child; God knows this is but a poor place for one so young and delicate as you, and I wonder not, that your courage is sometimes tested beyond its strength. I would not wish you to share the dangers which it is my duty to encounter."
"I should fear nothing could I really be of service to you," replied the page, "but, to-day, for instance, I must have been sadly in your way, and I am very sure the first cannon ball would have carried me off the walls."
"The enemy would doubtless aim at so important a mark," said the lady, smiling, "but go now,—your valour will never win the spurs of knighthood."
"I am not ambitious of such an honour," he answered gaily; "you know I am but a fair-weather sort of page, fit only to hover around my lady's bower, in the season of flowers and sunshine."
"Mine is no bower of ease," said Mad. la Tour; "but with all its perils, I am resolved to guard it with my life, and resign it only into the hands of my lord. You have promised to assist me," she added, after a moment's pause, "and I wish you to redeem your word by remaining here till I return. I care not to trust the faith of those idle soldiers, who, perchance, think they have done enough of duty to-day, and your keener eyes may keep a closer watch on the landing place, and sooner espy the motions of the enemy, who still hold their station below."
"This I can do with pleasure," said the page, "and I am as brave as heart can wish, when there is no danger nigh. I love to linger under the open sky in the twilight of these bright days, which are so cheering after the damp fogs of spring, that I can hardly regret the eternal sunshine of my own dear France."
"Well, do not forget my commission in your romantic musings," replied Mad. la Tour.
The page promised obedience, and, left to himself, assumed the post of observation, retreating as far as possible from the view of the soldiers. The soft and brilliant tints of twilight slowly faded away, and the smooth surface of the river gradually darkened as its waves beat in monotonous cadence against the walls of the fort. A slight breeze, at intervals, lifted the silken folds of the banner, which drooped from the tall flag-staff, displaying the escutcheon of La Tour, surmounted by the arms of France. Far up, the noble stream, on either side, was skirted by extensive intervals, covered with the rich, bright verdure, peculiar to early summer, and occasionally rising into gentle acclivities, or terminating in impervious forests. Tufts of woodland, and large trees scattered in groups, or standing singly, like the giants of past ages, spreading their broad arms to the winds of heaven, diversified the scene; while here and there, the smoke curled gracefully from the humble cabin of the planter, and at times, the fisherman's light oar dimpled the clear waves, as he bounded homeward with the fruits of successful toil. A bright moonlight, silvering the calm and beautiful landscape, displayed the vessels of D'Aulney, riding at anchor below the fort, while a thin mist, so common in that climate, began slowly to weave around their hulks, till the tall masts and white top-sails were alone visible, floating, like a fairy fleet, in the transparent atmosphere. The page had gazed long in silent admiration, when his attention was arrested by the appearance of a human figure, gliding cautiously along beneath the parapet on which he stood. His tall, attenuated form was clothed in the loose, black garments of a monk, and the few hairs which the rules of a severe order had left on his uncovered head, were white as the snows of winter. A cowl partially concealed his features, his waist was girt by a cord of discipline, and, as he moved with noiseless steps, he seemed counting the beads of a rosary, which he carried in his hand. The page was at first on the point of speaking, believing it to be father Ambrose, the Catholic missionary; but a second glance convinced him he was mistaken, and with curiosity, mingled with a degree of awe, he leaned forward to observe him more attentively. After proceeding a few paces, he stopped, and threw back his cowl, and as he did so, his eye encountered the page, whom he surveyed strictly for a moment, then turned slowly away, and disappeared by an aperture through the outer works. The boy looked over the wall, expecting the return of this singular intruder; nor was he aware how fixedly he remained in that position, till the touch of a hand, laid lightly on his arm, recalled him to recollection. Turning quickly round, he involuntarily started back, on perceiving the object of his curiosity close beside him. His gliding footsteps and peculiar appearance awakened a transient feeling of dread; but instantly repressing it, he ventured to raise his head, and as he did so, the clear light of the moon fell full on his youthful face. The stranger was about to speak, but as the page looked towards him, the words died away on his lips, his cheeks were flushed, and his cold features glowed with sudden and strong excitement.
"Holy St. Mary, who are you?" he asked, in an accent of deep feeling, as he grasped the arm of the trembling youth.
"I am called Hector, the page of Mad. la Tour," he answered, in a voice scarce audible from terror, and shrinking from the hand which held him.
"May God forgive me!" murmured the monk to himself, as he relaxed his grasp; while, evidently by a strong effort, every trace of emotion was banished from his countenance and manner. Hector still stood before him, longing, yet afraid to flee, till the other, apparently comprehending his feelings, said, in a slow, solemn voice,
"Fear me not, boy, but go, bear this message to the lady of La Tour. Tell her, that her lord hath already spread his homeward sails, and a few hours, perhaps, will bear him hither. Tell her, that M. d'Aulney will send to parley with her for surrender; but bid her disdain his promises or threats; bid her hold out with a brave heart, and the hour of succor will surely arrive."
So saying, he turned away; and Hector hastened to the apartment of his lady.
Herald, save thy labor; Come thou no more for ransom, gentle herald;
The arrival of some fishermen on the following morning confirmed the intelligence of father Gilbert—the name by which the priest, who succeeded Father Ambrose, had announced himself at the fort. They had eluded the enemy by night, and reported that several vessels lay becalmed in the Bay of Fundy; and, though they had not been near enough to ascertain with certainty, no doubt was entertained, that it was the little fleet of M. la Tour, returning with the expected supplies.
The holy character and mission of father Gilbert was his passport in every place; and, as his duty often called him to remote parts of the settlement, and among every description of people, it was natural that he should obtain information of passing events, before it reached the ears of the garrison. The mysterious manner in which he had communicated his intelligence on the preceding evening, occasioned some surprise; but Mad. la Tour, in listening to the relation of her page, made due allowance for the exaggerations of excited fancy; and she was also aware, that the Catholic missionaries were fond of assuming an ambiguous air, which inspired the lower people with reverence, and doubtless increased their influence over them. Till within a day or two, father Gilbert had never entered the fort; but he was well known to the poor inhabitants without, by repeated acts of charity and kindness, though he sedulously shunned all social intercourse, and was remarked for the austere discipline, and rigid self-denial to which he subjected himself.
The spirits of the garrison revived with the expectation of relief, which was no longer considered a matter of uncertainty. In the fulness of these renovated hopes, a boat from M. d'Aulney approached with an officer bearing a flag of truce. He was received with becoming courtesy, and immediately shewn into the presence of Mad. la Tour. In spite of his contempt for female authority, and his apathy to female charms, a feeling of respectful admiration softened the harshness of his features, as the sturdy veteran bent before her, with the almost forgotten gallantry of earlier years. At that period of life, when the graces of youth have just ripened into maturity, the lady of La Tour was as highly distinguished by her personal attractions, as by the strength and energy of her mind. Her majestic figure displayed the utmost harmony of proportion, and the expression of her regular and striking features united, in a high degree, the sweetest sensibilities of woman, with the more bold and lofty attributes of man. At times, an air of hauteur shaded the openness of her brow, but it well became her present situation, and the singular command she had of late assumed. She received the messenger of D'Aulney with politeness, but the cold reserve of her countenance and manner, convinced him, that his task was difficult, if not hopeless. For an instant, his experienced eye drooped beneath her piercing glance; and, perceiving her advantage, she was the first to break the silence.
"What message from my lord of D'Aulney," she asked, "procures me the honor of this interview? or is it too bold for a woman's ear, that you remain thus silent? I have but brief time to spend in words, and would quickly learn what brave service he now demands of me?"
"My lord of D'Aulney," replied the officer, "bids me tell you, that he wars not with women; that he respects your weakness, and forgives the injuries which you have sought to do him."
"Forgives!" said the lady, with a contemptuous smile; "thy lord is gracious and merciful,—aye, merciful to himself, perhaps, and careful for his poor vessels, which but yesterday shivered beneath our cannon! Is this all?"
"He requires of you," resumed the officer, piqued by her scornful manner, "the restoration of those rights, which the lord of la Tour hath unjustly usurped; he requires the submission of this garrison, and the possession of this fort, and pledges his word, on such conditions, to preserve inviolate the life and liberty of every individual."
"Thy lord is most just and reasonable in his demands," returned the lady, sarcastically; "but hath he no threats in reserve, no terrors wherewith to enforce compliance?"
"He bids me tell you," said the excited messenger, "that if you reject his offered clemency, you do it at your peril, and the blood of the innocent will be required at your hands. He knows the weakness of your resources, and he will come with power to shake these frail walls to their foundations, and make the stoutest heart within them tremble with dismay."
"And bid him come," said the lady, every feature glowing with indignant feeling, and high resolve; "bid him come, and we will teach him to respect the rights which he has dared to infringe; to acknowledge the authority which he has presumed to insult; to withdraw the claims, which he has most arrogantly preferred. Tell him, that the lady of La Tour is resolved to sustain the honor of her absent lord, to defend his just cause to the last extremity, and preserve, inviolate, the possessions which his king hath intrusted to his keeping. Go tell your lord, that, though a woman, my heart is fearless as his own; say, that I spurn his offered mercy, I defy his threatened vengeance, and to God, the defender of the innocent, I look for succor in the hour of danger and strife."
So saying, she turned from him, with a courteous gesture, though her manner convinced him that any farther parley would be useless; and endeavoring to conceal his chagrin by an air of studied civility, the dissatisfied messenger was reconducted to the boat.
The vessels of M. d'Aulney left their anchorage below the fort, at an early hour in the morning; but it was reported, that they still lay near the mouth of the river, probably to intercept the return of La Tour. The day passed away, and he did not arrive, nor were any tidings received from him. Mad. la Tour's page remarked the unusual dejection of his lady, and, emulous perhaps of her braver spirit, resolved, if possible, to obtain some information, which might relieve her anxiety. With this intention he left the fort soon after sunset, attended only by a large Newfoundland dog, which was his constant companion, whenever he ventured beyond the gates. For some time, he walked slowly along the bank of the river, hoping to meet with some fishermen, who usually returned from their labors at the close of day, and were most likely to have gathered the tidings which he wished to learn. The gloom of evening, which had deepened around him, was gradually dispersed by the light of the rising moon; and as he stood alone in that solitary place, the recollection of his interview with the strange priest on the preceding evening, recurred to his imagination with a pertinacity, which he vainly endeavored to resist. He looked carefully round, almost expecting to see the tall, ghost-like figure of the holy father again beside him; but there was no sound abroad, except the sighing of the wind and waves; and the shadows of the trees lay unbroken on the velvet turf. From this disquiet musing, so foreign to his light and careless disposition, the page was at length agreeably roused by the quick dash of oars, and in a moment he perceived a small bark canoe, guided by a single individual, bounding swiftly over the waves. As it approached near the place where he stood, Hector retreated to conceal himself in a tuft of ever-greens, from whence he could, unseen, observe the person who drew near. He had reason to congratulate himself on this precaution, as the boat shortly neared the spot which he had just quitted, and in the occupant he discovered the dark features of a young Indian, who had apparently been engaged in the labor or amusement of fishing. Not caring to disclose himself to the savage, the page shrunk behind the trunk of a large pine tree, while the dog crouched quietly at his feet, equally intent on the stranger's motions,—his shaggy ears bent to the ground, and his intelligent eyes turned often inquiringly to his master's face, as if to consult his wishes and inclination.
The Indian leaped from his canoe, the instant it touched the strand, and began hastily to secure it by a rope, which he fastened around the trunk of an uprooted tree. From his appearance, he belonged to one of those native tribes, who, from constant intercourse and traffic with the French Acadians, had imbibed some of the habits and ideas of civilized life. His dress was, in many respects, similar to the European's; but the embroidered moccasins, the cloak of deer-skins, and plume of scarlet feathers, shewed that he had not altogether abandoned the customs and finery of his own people. His figure was less tall and athletic than the generality of Indian youth, and his finely formed features were animated by an expression of vivacity and careless good-humour, very different from the usual gravity of his nation. The page looked at him with a degree of curiosity and interest which he could neither suppress nor define. Half ashamed of his own timidity, he resolved to address him, and seek the information he was so desirous of obtaining, if, indeed, he had been sufficiently conversant with the French settlers to communicate his ideas in that language. While he still hesitated, the Indian had secured his canoe, and as he stooped to take something from it, he began to hum in a low voice, and presently, to the great surprise of Hector, broke into a lively French air, the words and tune of which were perfectly familiar to his ear. The dog also seemed to recognize it; he started on his feet, listened attentively, and then, with a joyful bark, sprang towards the Indian, and began to fawn around him and lick his hands, with every demonstration of sincere pleasure.
"By our lady, you are a brave fellow, my faithful Hero," said the Indian, in very pure French, as he caressed the animal; then casting a searching glance around, he continued to address him, "But how came you here, and alone, to greet your master on his return?"
The page could scarcely repress an exclamation of surprise, as he listened to the well-remembered voice; but drawing his cloak more closely round him, and confining his dark locks beneath the tartan bonnet, which he pulled over his brow, he advanced nearer, though still unseen, and said in a disguised tone,
"Methinks thou art but a sorry actor, to be thrown off thy guard by the barking of a dog; if I had a tongue so little used to keep its own counsel, I would choose a mask which it would not so readily betray."
"Thou art right, by all the saints," replied the other; "and be thou friend or foe, I will see to whom I am indebted for this sage reproof."
So saying, he darted towards the place where the page was concealed, and Hector, hiding his face as much as possible, bowed with an air of profound respect before him.
"Ha! whom have we here?" he asked, surveying the page with extreme curiosity.
"The page of my lady De la Tour;" returned Hector, his laughing eye drooping beneath the inquisitorial gaze.
"A pretty popinjay, brought out for my lady's amusement!" said the stranger, smiling; "you make rare sport with your antic tricks, at the fort yonder, I doubt not, boy."
"I am but a poor substitute for my lord's lieutenant, whose mirth was as far-famed as his courage;" returned the page, gravely.
"Thou art a saucy knave!" said the other, quickly; but instantly checking himself, he added, "and how fares it with your lady, in the absence of her lord?"
"She is well, thank heaven, but"—
"But what?" interrupted the stranger, eagerly; "is any one—has any misfortune reached her?"
"None, which she has not had the courage to resist; the baffled foe can tell you a tale of constancy and firmness, which the bravest soldier might be proud to emulate."
"Bravely spoken, my little page; and your lady doubtless found an able assistant and counsellor in you! ha! how fared it with you, when the din of battle sounded in your ears?"
"Indifferently well," said the page, with a suppressed smile; "I am but a novice in the art of war. But have you learned aught that has befallen us?"
"A rumour only has reached me, but I hope soon to obtain more accurate and satisfactory information."
"You will hardly gain admittance to the fort in that harlequin dress," said Hector; "and I can save you the trouble of attempting it, by answering all the inquiries you may wish to make."
"Can you?" asked the other, with an incredulous smile; "then you are more deeply skilled than I could think, or wish you to be."
"It may be so," returned the page, significantly; "but you will soon find that the knowledge which you seek to gain, is as well known to me, as to any one whom you hope to find there."
"You speak enigmas, boy," said the other, sharply; "tell me quickly to whom, and what you allude?"
"Go, ask my lady," said the page, with provoking calmness; "I may not betray the secrets of her household."
"You!" said the other, scornfully; "a pretty stripling, truly, to receive the confidence of your lady."
"If not my lady's," replied the page, "perhaps her young companion has less discretion in her choice of confidants."
"Ha!" said the stranger, starting, and changing colour, in spite of his tawny disguise; "what say you of her? speak; and speak truly, for I shall soon know if thou art false, from her own lips."
"Her lips will never contradict my words," returned the boy; "but go, take the pass-word, enter the fort, and see—you will not find her there."
"Not find her there?" he repeated in astonishment, and with a bewildered air; then suddenly grasping the page's arm, he said, in no gentle tone,
"Now, by my faith, boy, you test my patience beyond endurance; if I thought you were deceiving me"—
He stopped abruptly, and withdrew his hand, as a laugh, which he could no longer repress, burst from the lips of Hector, and at the same instant the heavy cloak fell from his shoulders to the ground.
"What mountebank trick is this?" demanded the stranger, angrily; but, as his eye glanced over the figure of the page, his countenance rapidly changed, and in an altered tone, he exclaimed,
"By the holy rood, you are"—
"Hush!" interrupted Hector, quickly pressing his finger on the other's lips; and, with a feeling of instinctive dread, he pointed to father Gilbert, who was approaching, and in a moment stood calmly and silently beside them. As the young man turned to scan the person of the priest, Hector hastily gathered his cloak around him, and before they were aware of his intention, fled from the spot, and was soon secure within the walls of the fort. The pretended Indian would have pursued, when he perceived the page's flight, but his steps were arrested by the nervous grasp of the priest.
"Loose your hold, sirrah!" he said, impatiently; but instantly recollecting himself, added, with a gesture of respect, "Pardon me, holy father, my mind was chafed with its own thoughts, or I should not have forgotten the reverence due to your character and office."
"Know you that boy?" asked the priest, in a tremulous voice, and without appearing to notice his apology.
"I once knew him well," returned the other, looking at the monk in surprise; "a few months since, we were companions in the fort of St. John's. But why do you question me thus?"
"Ask me not," returned the priest, resuming his habitual calmness; "but, as well might you pursue the wind, as seek to overtake that light-footed page."
"You have kept me till it is too late to make the attempt;" murmured the other; and, his thoughts reverting to what had just passed, he continued to himself, "A pretty page, truly! and who, but a fool, or a mad-cap, like myself, could have looked at those eyes once, and not know them again?"
"You are disturbed, young man," said the priest, regarding him attentively; "and that disguise, for whatever purpose assumed, seems to sit but ill upon you."
"You speak most truly, good father; but I hope to doff these tawdry garments before morning, if the saints prosper my undertaking."
"Time is waning, my son, and that which you have to do, do quickly; the dawn of day must not find you lingering here, if your safety and honor are dear to you."
"You know me!" said the young man, surprised, "but I am totally unconscious of having ever seen you before."
"I am not sought by the young and gay," replied the priest, "but we may meet again; yonder is your path," pointing towards the fort, "mine leads to retirement and solitude."
With these words he turned from him; and the young man, with hasty steps, pursued his lonely way to the fort of St. John's.
I am sick of these protracted And hesitating councils:
The appearance of M. de la Tour at Boston, became a subject of serious inquiry and discussion to the inhabitants of that place. Time had rather increased than mitigated the religious prejudices, which separated them from the parent country, and the approach of every stranger was viewed with distrust and jealousy. The restless spirit of fanaticism and faction, curbed within the narrow limits of colonial government, gladly seized on every occasion to display its blind and pertinacious zeal. The liberal temper, and impartial administration of governor Winthrop, had been often censured by the more rigid Puritans, and his open espousal of La Tour's cause, excited much discontent and animosity. Though avowedly a Hugonot, there was reason to believe La Tour embraced the sentiments of that party from motives of policy, and it was rumored that he entertained Romish priests in his fort, and permitted them to celebrate the rites of their religion. This was sufficient food for passion and prejudice; and though La Tour, and his principal officer, De Valette, were entertained with the utmost hospitality at the house of the chief magistrate, his cause obtained few advocates, and his person was, in general, regarded with suspicion and dislike. But the actions of Mr. Winthrop were always dictated by principle; he was, therefore, firm in his resolves, and the voice of censure or applause had no power to draw him from the path of duty.
La Tour had always shown himself friendly to the New-England colonists; but M. d'Aulney, who was openly a papist, had in several instances intercepted their trading vessels, and treated the crews in a most unjustifiable manner. He had also wrested a trading house, at Penobscot, from the New-Plymouth colonists, and established his own fort there, unjustly alleging, that it came within the limits of Acadia. This conduct rendered him extremely obnoxious, particularly to the inhabitants of the Massachusetts; but his vicinity to them gave him so many opportunities of annoyance, that they dreaded to increase his animosity by appearing to favor a rival. With the most discordant views, and widely differing feelings, the magistrates and deputies of Boston convened, at the governor's request, to consult on the propriety of yielding to the wishes of La Tour. A stormy council at length broke up, with the decision, that they could not, consistently with a treaty, which they had lately ratified with the neighboring provinces, render him assistance in their public capacity; neither did they feel authorized to prevent any private individuals from enlisting in his service, either on his offer of reward, or from more disinterested motives.
"We owe them thanks, even for this concession," said La Tour to his lieutenant; "and, by my faith, we will return with such a force as shall make the traitor D'Aulney fly before us to the inmost shelter of his strong hold;—aye, he may thank our clemency if we do not pursue him there, and make the foundations of his fort tremble like the walls of Jericho."
"It must be with something more than the blast of a trumpet," returned De Valette; "if common report speaks truth, he has strongly intrenched himself in this same fort that he took from the worthy puritans, some few years since. In truth, I think we do them good service by avenging this old grievance, which they have so long complained of, and I doubt if we are not indebted in some measure to this same grudge for the benefit of their assistance."
"I care not by what motives they are actuated," said La Tour, "as long as my own designs are accomplished; and our chief concern, at present, is to take advantage of this favourable crisis, and, if possible, to get under sail, before the enemy hears of our success, and makes his escape."
"Yes," said De Valette, "and before our friends have time to change their minds, and withdraw the promised assistance."
"Why do you suggest such an idea?" asked La Tour, his brow darkening with displeasure; "by heavens, they dare not provoke me by so gross an act of treachery!"
"I do not think they intend it," returned De Valette; "but you know there is a powerful opposition to our interest in this good town, and if any of their worthy teachers should chance to hit upon a text of scripture which they could interpret against us,—farewell to the expected aid! Nay," he added, laughing, "I believe there are already some, who fancy they see the cloven foot of popery beneath our plain exterior, and, if that should once shew itself, why, they would as soon fight for the devil, to whom they might think us very closely allied."
"You forget, Eustace," said La Tour, lowering his voice, and looking cautiously around, "that we stand on open ground, and a bird of the air may carry our secrets to some of these long-eared, canting hypocrites! but go now, muster your volunteers as soon as possible, and our sails once spread to a fair wind, their scruples will avail them little."
The apprehensions of De Valette were not without foundation, and his keen observation had detected symptoms of retraction in some who were at first most forward in their proffers of service. The decision of the magistrates had been very generally condemned by the graver part of the community; its advocates were principally found among the young and enterprising, who gladly embraced any opportunity to signalize their courage and activity. With these, Arthur Stanhope was conspicuous for his zeal and perseverance, though he had many difficulties to contend against, arising from the inveterate prejudices of his father.
"It is a cause, in which we have no lot or portion," said the elder Stanhope, in reply to his son's arguments; "neither is it right that we should draw upon ourselves the vengeance of M. d'Aulney, by strengthening the power of a rival, who, perchance, hath no more of justice, or the king's favor, than himself."
"The public," said Arthur, "is not responsible for the act of a few individuals; and the evil, if any exists, must fall entirely on our own heads."
"It is an idle distinction, which the injured party will never acknowledge," returned the father; "and I much wonder that the governor and magistrates suffer themselves to be blinded by such vain pretences."
"We shall at least serve a good cause," replied Arthur, "by humbling the arrogant pretensions of a papist,—one who has set up a cross, and openly bowed before it, on the very borders of our territory."
"And are you sure that the adventurer, La Tour, is free from the idolatry of that abominable church?" asked Mr. Stanhope.
"We should, I think, have the charity to believe so, till it is fully and fairly contradicted," said Arthur; "we know that the crew of his vessel are mostly protestants from Rochelle, and would they follow the standard of a popish adventurer?"
"You are young, Arthur," returned his father, "and know not yet the wiles of the deceiver; God forgive me, if I am uncharitable, but the testimony of many worthy persons goes to prove, that this same La Tour hath openly employed a monkish priest, dressed in the habit of a layman, as his agent in important concerns."
"These persons may have been mistaken, father; at any rate, if we do sin, it is in ignorance, and we are certainly not accountable for the errors of others."
"So, doubtless, reasoned Jehoshaphat," his father replied, "when he was tempted, by a lying spirit, to join with Ahab, an idolater, against Ramoth-Gilead; and was he not reproved for helping the ungodly?"
"The cases appear to me widely different," said Arthur; "and, in the present instance, I think we only obey the dictates of Christian charity, which enjoins us to assist the stranger in his distress."
"You know my opinion, Arthur," returned his father, "and I shall not prohibit you from following your inclination, as you are of an age to act and judge for yourself; but I require you to weigh the matter maturely, and not yield, without due consideration, to the impulse of an adventurous disposition."
Arthur Stanhope readily promised to deliberate, and decide with the utmost caution; and the result of this deliberation was, to accept the command of a vessel of respectable force, which La Tour had taken into his service. Three, of smaller size, the whole manned by about eighty volunteers, completed the equipment. Thus successful, M. la Tour sailed from Boston, expressing the utmost respect and gratitude to its citizens, for the friendly aid they had granted to him.
The little fleet made a gallant show, spreading its white sails to woo the summer breeze, and boldly ploughing the deep waters of the bay. A parting salute rolled heavily along the adjacent shores, and was succeeded by the sprightly notes of a French horn, which floated merrily over the waves. The town, and its green environs, shortly receded, the distant hills faded in the horizon, and the emerald isles lay, like specks, on the bosom of the ocean. Soon, the blended sky and water were the only objects on which the eye could rest; and Arthur Stanhope felt his spirits rise, as he again launched forth on the changeful element which he had loved from childhood. Nothing occurred to interrupt their passage, till they had advanced far up the Bay of Fundy, when the wind suddenly died away, and left them becalmed, within a few hours sail of the St. John's. This accident was a seasonable warning to D'Aulney, who then lay near the mouth of the river, waiting for La Tour's return; but, being apprized of his reinforcement, he prudently retreated from the unequal conflict. With the caution of experience, he successfully avoided La Tour's track; and the latter, who felt already sure of his prey, had at last the vexation to discover him, at a safe distance, and when the wind and tide rendered pursuit impossible. A thick fog, which soon began to rise, entirely separated them; and approaching night rendered it expedient to anchor, until the return of day. A report of M. d'Aulney's menaced attack on the fort had already reached La Tour, though it was too confused to convey much information, or relieve his extreme anxiety. But he endured the suspense far better than his lieutenant, who made no attempt to conceal his vexation at the necessary delay. After pacing the deck for some time in silence, he suddenly exclaimed to La Tour,
"It is tedious beyond measure to lie here, becalmed almost within sight of the fort! and then so little reliance can be placed on the flying reports which we have heard! I wish, as nothing can, at any rate, be done to-night, you would allow me to push off in a boat by myself and reconnoitre with my own eyes."
"And leave me to meet the enemy without you in the morning;—is that your intention?" asked La Tour, pettishly.
"You do not ask that question seriously, I presume?" said De Valette.
"Why, not exactly, Eustace," he answered; "though I confess I think it rather a strange request to make just at this time."
"Why so?" asked De Valette; "I would only borrow a few hours from repose, and my plan may be accomplished with ease;—nor shall you have reason to complain, that I am tardy at the call of duty."
"I understand you now, my brave nephew and lieutenant," said La Tour, smiling; "you would play the lover on this moonlight night, and serenade the lady of your heart, to apprise her of your safe return."
"There was not quite so much romance in my plot," replied De Valette; "but if you permit me to execute it, I pledge myself to return before midnight; and though you are not a lover, I am sure you are far from being indifferent to the intelligence which I may bring you."
"Go, if you will, if you can in safety," said La Tour; "though, could your impatience brook the delay of a few short hours, it would be well—well for yourself, perhaps; for if I remember right, you could ill bear a look of coldness, and Lucie is not always lavish of her smiles."
"I fear it not," said De Valette; "she would not greet me coldly after so long an absence; and though you smile at my folly, I am not ashamed to confess my eagerness to see her."
"She already knows her power over you but too well," said La Tour; "shew her that you are indifferent—disdainful, if you like—and trust me, she will learn to prize the love, which she now pretends to slight."
"The heart of woman must be wayward indeed," said De Valette, "if such is its nature or artifice; but my hopes are not so desperate yet, and if my memory serves me truly, I have more smiles than frowns on record."
With these words, De Valette threw himself into a small boat, and in a few moments reached the shore. He entered the hut of a half-civilized Indian, and to avoid being recognized by any of D'Aulney's people whom he might chance to encounter, borrowed his savage attire, and in that disguise proceeded to the fort, near which he met the page of Mad. la Tour, as has been already related.
He that depends Upon your favours, swims with fins of lead, And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye? With every minute you do change a mind.
De Valette was true to his engagement, and before the promised hour, returned in safety to his ship. With the first dawn of day, the vessels were put in readiness to weigh anchor, and sail at a moment's warning. At that crisis, La Tour had the vexation of finding his plans well nigh frustrated by the stubborness of his New-England allies. Alleging that they were restricted by their engagement to see La Tour in safety to his fort, a large majority resolutely declined committing any act of aggression, or joining in an attack which might be considered beyond the limits of their treaty. Excessively provoked at what he termed their absurd scruples, La Tour sent his lieutenant to request a few of the leading men to meet aboard his vessel, hoping to prevail with them to relinquish their ill-timed doubts. He walked the quarter-deck with impatient steps, while waiting the boat's return, and even his French complaisance could not disguise the chagrin and anger which he felt.
"I have desired your attendance here, gentlemen," he said in a haughty tone, as they approached him, "to learn how far I may rely on the services which have been so freely proffered to me."
"As far as our duty to God and our country will permit, sir," replied one, whose seniority entitled him to take a lead in the discourse.
"Mr. Leveret hath spoken rightly," said another; "and I question if it is our duty to draw the sword when we are not expressly called to do so, and especially, as in this instance, when it would seem far better for it to remain in the scabbard."
"I am ignorant," said La Tour, contemptuously, "of that duty which would lead a man to play the coward in a moment of difficulty, and tamely turn from an enemy, who has insultingly defied him, when one effort can crush him in his grasp."
"We are not actuated by revenge," returned Mr. Leveret; "neither have we pledged ourselves to support your quarrel with M. d'Aulney; but touching our agreement to convoy you to your fort of St. John's, we are ready to fulfil it, even at the peril of our lives."
"These are nice distinctions," said La Tour, angrily; "and had you explained them more fully at the outset, I should have known what dependence could be placed on your protection."
"We abhor deceit," said Mr. Leveret, calmly; "and that which we have promised, we are ready to perform; but we are not permitted to turn aside from this design, to pursue an enemy who flees before us."
"As our conduct in this affair is entirely a matter of conscience and private opinion," said Arthur Stanhope, "I presume every one is at liberty to consult his own wishes, and follow the dictates of his own judgment; for myself, I have freely offered to assist M. de la Tour to the extent of my abilities, and I wait his commands in whatever service he may choose to employ me."
"I expected this, from the honour of your profession; and the frankness of your character," said La Tour, with warmth; "and believe me, your laurels will not be tarnished, in the cause you have so generously espoused."
"I trust, young man," said Mr. Leveret, "that you are aware of the responsibility you incur, by acting thus openly in opposition to the opinion of so many older and more experienced than yourself."
"I have no doubt that many will be ready to censure me," returned Stanhope; "and some, perhaps, whose judgments I much respect; but I stand acquitted to my own conscience, and am ready to give an answer for what I do, to any who have a right to question me."
"And the crew of your vessel?"—asked Mr. Leveret.
"I shall use no undue influence with any one," interrupted Stanhope; "though I think there is scarcely a man in my service, who is not resolved to follow me to the end of this enterprise."
"We part, then," said Mr. Leveret; "and may heaven prosper you in all your lawful undertakings."
"Your emphasis on the word lawful," returned Stanhope, "implies a doubt, which I hope will soon be discarded; but, in the mean time, let as many as choose return with you, and I doubt not there will be enough left with us to assist M. de la Tour on this occasion."
The conference was shortly terminated; and it was amicably settled, that those who hesitated to depart from the strict letter of their agreement, should proceed in three of the English vessels, with M. de la Tour, to fort St. John's. De Valette and Stanhope were left in command of the two largest ships, with discretionary powers to employ them as circumstances might render expedient.
The delay which these arrangements necessarily occasioned, was improved to the utmost by M. d'Aulney. Convinced, that he was unable to cope with the superior force, which opposed him, he took advantage of a favorable wind, and, at an early hour, crowded sail for his fort at Penobscot. De Valette and Stanhope pursued, as soon as they were at liberty; but, though they had occasional glimpses of his vessels through the day, they found it impossible to come up with them. Night at length terminated the fruitless chase; they were imperfectly acquainted with the coast, and again obliged to anchor, when day-light no longer served to direct their course in the difficult waters they were navigating.
Morning shone brightly on the wild shores of the Penobscot, within whose ample basin the vessels of De Valette and Stanhope rode securely at anchor. The waves broke gently around them, and the beautiful islands, which adorn the bay, garlanded with verdure and blossoms, seemed rejoicing in the brief but brilliant summer, which had opened upon them. Dark forests of evergreens, intermingled with the lighter foliage of the oak, the maple, and other deciduous trees, covered the extensive coast, and fringed the borders of the noble Penobscot, which rolled its silver tide from the interior lakes to mingle with the waters of the ocean. The footsteps of civilized man seemed scarcely to have pressed the soil, which the hardy native had for ages enjoyed as his birthright; and the axe and ploughshare had yet rarely invaded the hunting grounds, where he pursued the wild deer, and roused the wolf from his lair. A few French settlers, who adhered to D'Aulney, had built and planted around the fort, which stood on a point of land, jutting into the broad mouth of the river, and these were the only marks of cultivation which disturbed the vast wilderness that spread around them.
The local advantages of this situation, rendered it a place of consequence, and its possession had already been severely contested. As a military post, on the verge of the English colonies, its retention was important to the French interest in Acadia; and the extensive commerce it opened with the natives in the interior, through the navigable streams, which emptied into the bay, was a source of private emolument, that D'Aulney was anxious to secure. To retain these advantages, he wished to avoid an engagement with La Tour, whose newly acquired strength rendered him, at that time, a formidable opponent. He was, therefore, anxious to preserve his small naval force from destruction, and, for that purpose, he found it necessary to run his vessels into shallow water, where the enemy's heavier ships could not follow.
This plan was accomplished during the night; and when De Valette and Stanhope approached the fort, at an early hour, they were surprised to find that D'Aulney had drawn his men on shore, and thrown up intrenchments to defend the landing-place. Though baffled in their first design by this artifice, they were but the more zealous to effect some object which might realize the expectations of La Tour. With this intention, they passed up the narrow channel to the north of the peninsula, in boats; and landing a portion of their men, attacked M. d'Aulney in his intrenchments. The assault was so sudden and determined, that every obstacle yielded to its impetuosity, and D'Aulney in vain endeavored to rally his soldiers, who fled in confusion to the shelter of the fort, leaving several of their number dead and wounded in the trenches. Convinced, that it would be rashness to pursue, as the fort was well manned, and capable of strong resistance, the young officers drew off their men in good order, and returned to their vessels without the loss of an individual. They remained in the bay of Penobscot for several days, when, convinced that nothing more could be done at that time, they thought it advisable to return to St. John's.
Night was closing in, as the vessels drew near the entrance of the river; every sail was set, and a stiff breeze bore them swiftly onward. A bright streak still lingered in the western horizon, and in the east, a few stars began to glimmer through the hazy atmosphere. The watch-lights of the fort at length broke cheerfully on the gloom, and strongly contrasted with the dark line of forests, which frowned on the opposite shore. The boding notes of the screech-owl, and the howling of wild beasts, which came from their deep recesses, were silenced by the animating strains of martial music, which enlivened the solitary scene. They anchored before the walls, and the friendly signal of De Valette was quickly answered by the sentinel on duty. With light footsteps the young Frenchman sprang on shore, and followed by Arthur Stanhope, passed the gateway, which led to the interior of the fort.
"Methinks the garrison have retired early to-night," said De Valette; "there is scarcely a face to be seen, except a few long-favored Presbyterians;—it is a Catholic holiday, too, and our soldiers are not wont to let such pass by without a merry-making. Ho, Ronald!" he continued, addressing the guard, "what is in the wind now, my honest fellow? are you all dead, or asleep within here?"
"Neither, please your honor," he answered, in a dolorous accent; "but what is worse, they have all gone astray, and are, even now, looking with sinful eyes upon the wicked ceremonies of that abominable church of Rome."
"You are warm, good Ronald; but where is your lord?"
"Even gone with the multitude, in this evil matter; and, as our worthy teacher, Mr. Broadhead, hath observed, it is a double condemnation for one like him—"
"Hush, sirrah!" interrupted De Valette, sharply; "not a word of disrespect to your lord and commander, or I will throw you, and your worthy teacher, over the walls of the fort. Speak at once, man, and tell me, what has taken place here."
"It is a bridal, please your honor, and—"
"A bridal!" exclaimed De Valette, rapidly changing color; "and where have you found a bride and bridegroom, in this wilderness?"
"My lady's young—" Ronald began; but De Valette waited not to hear the conclusion, for at that moment a light, streaming from a low building opposite, attracted his attention, and, with nervous irritability, he advanced towards it. It was the building used for a Catholic chapel, and the light proceeded from a nuptial procession, which was then issuing from it. Two boys walked before it, in loose black garments, with white scarfs thrown over their shoulders, and bearing flaming torches in their hands. Next came father Gilbert, with slow, thoughtful steps; and La Tour beside him, with the stern, abstracted countenance of one, who had little concern in the ceremonies, which he sanctioned by his presence. Behind them was the bridegroom, a handsome young soldier, who looked fondly on the blushing girl, who leaned upon his arm, and had just plighted her faith to him, by an irrevocable vow. The domestics of La Tour's household followed, with the Catholic part of the garrison; and, as soon as the door of the chapel closed, a lively air was struck up, in honor of the joyful occasion.
"I am a fool," murmured De Valette to himself, when a full examination had satisfied him,—"an errant fool; 'tis strange, that one image must be forever in my mind; that I should tremble at the very sound of a bridal, lest, perchance, it might be her's."
Ashamed of the emotion he had involuntarily betrayed, De Valette turned to look for Stanhope, who remained on the spot, where he had left him, engrossed by a scene, which was amusing from its novelty, and the singularity of time and place where it occurred.
"You must excuse me, Stanhope," he said; "but my curiosity, for once, exceeded my politeness; it is not often that we 'marry, and give in marriage,' in this wilderness,—though I will, by and by, shew you a damsel, whom kings might sue for."
"My curiosity is excited now," returned Stanhope; "and, if beauty is so rare with you, beware how you lead me into temptation. It is an old remark, that love flies from the city, and is most dangerous amidst the simplicity of nature."
"Forewarned, forearmed; remember," said De Valette, laughing, "I am a true friend, but I could ill brook a rival."
Good my complexion! dost thou think, though I am caparisoned like a man, I have a doublet And hose in my disposition?
De Valette and Stanhope continued to watch the procession till it stopped before the door of a comfortable house, which was occupied by La Tour and his family. There, the music ceased, the soldiers filed off to their respective quarters, and the new married pair received the parting benediction of father Gilbert. That ceremony concluded, the priest retired, as if dreading the contamination of any festive scene, attended only by the two boys who had officiated as torch-bearers,—a service generally performed in the Catholic church by young persons initiated into the holy office.
"By our lady, my good uncle," said De Valette to La Tour, who had seen, and lingered behind to speak with him, "our Puritan allies would soon withdraw their aid from us, should they chance to see, what I have witnessed this evening;—by my faith, they would think the devil was keeping a high holiday here, and that you had become his chief favorite, and prime minister."
"Your jesting is ill-timed, Eustace," returned La Tour; "you have, indeed, arrived at an unlucky hour, but we must make the best of it; and, be sure that none of the New-England men leave the ships to-night. I hope we shall not need their succors long, if you have aimed a true blow at D'Aulney. Say, where have you left him?"
"We have driven him back to his strong hold. But more of that hereafter,—Mr. Stanhope waits to speak with you."
"Mr. Stanhope is very welcome," said La Tour, advancing cordially to meet him; "and I trust no apology is necessary for the confusion in which he finds us."
"None, certainly," returned Stanhope; "and I trust you will not suffer me to cause any interruption. I am not quite so superstitious," he added, smiling, "as to fear contagion from accidentally witnessing forms, which are not altogether agreeable to my conscience."
"You deserve to be canonized for your liberality," said De Valette; "for I doubt if there could be another such rare example found, in all the New England colonies. We Hugonots," he continued, with affected gravity, "account ourselves less rigid than your self-denying sect, and are sometimes drawn into ceremonies, which our hearts abominate."
"No more of this, Eustace," said La Tour; "Mr. Stanhope must know that all of us are, at times, governed by circumstances, which we cannot control; and he has heard enough of my situation, to conceive the address which is necessary to control a garrison, composed of different nations and religions, who are often mutinous, and at all times discordant. I should scarcely at any other time have been so engaged, but Mad. de la Tour, who is really too sincere a protestant to attend a Catholic service, prevailed on me to be present at the marriage of her favorite maid,—I might almost say companion,—with a young soldier, who has long been distinguished by his fidelity in my service."
Before Stanhope could reply to this plausible explanation, their attention was attracted by the sound of approaching voices, and the sonorous tones of Mr. Broadhead, the Presbyterian minister, were instantly recognized.
"I tell thee, boy," he said, "thou art in the broad way which leadeth to destruction."
"Do you think so, father?" asked his companion, who was one of the torch-bearers, and still carried the blazing insignium of his office—"and what shall I do, to find my way out of it?"
"Abjure the devil and his works, if thou art desirous of returning to the right path," he replied.
"You mean the pope and the church, I suppose," said the boy, in a tone of simplicity; "like my lady's chaplain, who often edifies his hearers on this topic."
"It would be well for thee to hearken to him, boy; and perchance it might prove a word in season to thy soul's refreshment."
"It has sometimes proved a refreshment to my body," said the boy; "his exhortations are so ravishing, that they are apt to lull one to sound repose."
"Thou art a flippant youth!" said the chaplain, stopping abruptly, and speaking in an accent of displeasure. "But I pity thy delusion," he added, after a brief pause, "and bid thee remember, that if thou hast access to the word, and turnest from it, thou can'st not make the plea of ignorance, in extenuation of thy crime."
"It is no fault in me to believe as I have been taught," said the boy, sullenly; "and it would ill become me, to dispute the doctrines which I have received from those who have a claim on my respect and obedience."
"They are evil doctrines, child; perverse heresies to lead men astray, into the darkness of error and idolatry."
"I could not have believed it!" answered the other, gravely; "I thought I was listening to the truth, from the lips of my lady's chaplain."
"And who says, that I do not teach the truth? I, who have made it my study and delight from my youth upwards?"
"Not I, truly; but your reverence chides me for believing in error, when, my belief is daily confirmed by your own instructions and example."
"Who are you, that presumes to say so? and, with these vestments of Satan on your back, to bear witness to your falsehood?" demanded the chaplain.
"Now may the saints defend me from your anger! I did not mean to offend," said the boy, shrinking from his extended hand, and bending his head, as if to count the beads of a rosary which hung around his neck.
"Did I teach you this mummery?" resumed the irritated Scot; "did I teach you to put on those robes of the devil, and hold that lighted torch to him, as you have but now done?"
"I crave your pardon," returned the boy; "I thought it was my lady's chaplain, whom I was lighting across the yard, but your reverence knows the truth better than I do."
As he spoke, he waved the torch on high, and the light fell full upon the excited features of Mr. Broadhead. A laugh from De Valette, who had, unobserved, drawn near enough to overhear them, startled both, and checked the angry reply, which was bursting from the chaplain's lips. He surveyed the intruder a moment in stubborn silence, then quietly retreated; probably aware, from former experience, that the gay young Catholic had not much veneration for his person or character. The boy hastily extinguished his torch, murmuring, in a low voice,—
"His reverence may find his way back in the dark, as he best can; and it will be well if he does not need the light of my torch, before he is safe in his quarters: light the devil, indeed! he took good care not to think of that, till he had served his own purpose with it!"
"What are you muttering about, boy?" asked De Valette.
"About my torch, and the devil, and other good Catholics, please your honor," he answered, with a low bow.
"Have a care, sirrah!" said De Valette; "I allow no one, in my presence, to speak disrespectfully of the religion of my country."
"It is a good cloak," returned the boy; "and I would not abuse a garment, which has just been serviceable to me, however worthless it may be, in reality."
"It may have been worn by scoundrels," said De Valette; "but its intrinsic value is not diminished on that account. Would you intimate that you have assumed it to answer some sinister design?"
"And, supposing I have," he asked; "what then?"
"Why, then you are a hypocrite."
"It is well for my lord's lieutenant to speak of hypocrisy," said the boy, laughing; "it is like Satan preaching sanctity; tell the good puritans of Boston, that the French Hugonot who worshipped in their conventicle with so much decorum, is a papist, and what, think you, would they say?"
"Who are you, that dares speak to me thus?" asked De Valette, angrily.
"That is a question, which I do not choose to answer; I care not to let strangers into my secret counsels."
"You are impertinent, boy;" said De Valette, "yet your bearing shews that you have discernment enough to distinguish between right and wrong, and you must be aware that policy sometimes renders a disguise expedient, and harmless too, if neither honour or principle are compromised."
"I like a disguise, occasionally, of all things," said the boy, archly; "are you quick at detecting one?"
"Sometimes I am," returned De Valette; "but—now, by my troth," he exclaimed, starting, and gazing intently on him, "is it possible, that you have again deceived me?"
"Nothing more likely," answered the other, carelessly; "but, hush! M. de la Tour, and the stranger with him, are observing us. See! they come this way: not a word more, if you have any wish to please me."
"Stay but one moment," said De Valette, grasping his arm; "I must know for what purpose you are thus attired."
"Well, release me, and I will tell you the whole truth, though you might suppose it was merely some idle whim. I wished to see Annette married, and as Mad. de la Tour thought it would be out of character for her page to appear in a Catholic assembly, I prevailed on a boy, whom father Gilbert had selected to officiate in the ceremony to transfer his dress and office to me: this is all;—and now are you satisfied?"
"Better than I expected to be, I assure you; but, for the love of the saints, be careful, or this whimsical fancy of your's may lead to some unpleasant consequences."
"Never fear; I enjoy this Proteus sort of life extremely, and you may expect to see me in some new shape, before long."
"Your own shape is far better than any you can assume," said De Valette; "and by these silken locks, which, if I had looked at, I must have known, you cannot impose on me again."
"Twice deceived, beware of the third time," said the page, laughing; and, breaking from De Valette, he was in a moment on the threshold of the door.
"Here is a newly made priest, as I live!" said La Tour, catching the page by his arm, and drawing him back a few paces. "But methinks your step is too quick and buoyant, my gentle youth, for your vocation."
The page made no reply, but drooping his head, suffered a profusion of dark ringlets to fall over his face, as if purposely to conceal his features.
"This would be a pretty veil for a girl," said La Tour, parting the hair from his forehead; "but, by my troth, these curls are out of place, on the head of a grave priest; the shaved crown would better become a disciple of the austere father Gilbert.—What, mute still, my little anchorite? Speak, if thou hast not a vow of silence on thee!"
"And if I have," said the page, pettishly, "I must break it, though it should cost me a week's penance!"
"Ha! my lady's soi-disant page!" exclaimed La Tour, struck by the sound of his voice,—which, in the excitement of the moment, he had not attempted to disguise,—and drawing him towards a lamp, he bent his searching eye full upon the boy's face.
"I pray you let me begone, my lady waits for me," said the page, impatiently.
"A pretty, antic trick!" continued La Tour, without regarding his entreaty, "and played off, no doubt, for some sage purpose! Look, Eustace!" he added, laughing, "but have a care, that you do not become enamoured of the holy orders!"
"Look till you are weary!" said Hector, reddening with vexation; and dashing his scarf and rosary to the ground, he hastily unfastened the collar of his long, black vest, and throwing it from him, stood before them, dressed as a page, in proud and indignant silence.
"Why, you blush like a girl, Hector," said La Tour, tauntingly; "though I think, by the flashing of your eye, it is rather from anger, than shame. Look, Mr. Stanhope, what think you of our gentle page, and ci-devant priest?"
Mr. Stanhope was regarding him, with an attention, which rendered him heedless of the question; he met the eye of Hector, and instantly the boy's cheeks were blanched with a deadly paleness, which was rapidly followed by a glow of the deepest crimson. An exclamation trembled on Stanhope's lips, but he forcibly repressed it, and his embarrassment was unremarked. De Valette had noticed Hector's changing complexion, and, naturally attributing it to the confusion occasioned by a stranger's presence, he took his hand with an expression of kindness, though greatly surprised to feel it tremble within his own.
"Why," asked De Valette, "are you so powerfully agitated?"
"I am not agitated," said Hector, starting as from a dream; "I was vexed,—that is all; but it is over now," and resuming his usual gaiety of manner, he turned to La Tour, and added,
"I have played my borrowed part long enough for this evening, and if your own curiosity is satisfied, and you have amused your friends sufficiently at my expense, I will again crave permission to retire."
"Go," said La Tour,—"go and doff your foolish disguises; it is, indeed, time to end this whimsical farce."
"I shall obey you," returned the page; and gladly retreated from his presence.
Fort St. John's, on that evening, presented a scene of unusual festivity. La Tour permitted his soldiers to celebrate the marriage of their comrade, and their mirth was the more exuberant, from the privations they had of late endured. Even the joy, which the return of their commander naturally inspired, had been prudently repressed, while the New-England vessels were unlading their supplies, from respect to the peculiar feelings of the people who had afforded them so much friendly assistance. These vessels had left the fort, on the morning of that day; and their departure relieved the garrison from a degree of restraint, to which they were wholly unaccustomed.
La Tour remained conversing with Arthur Stanhope, where the page, who was soon followed by De Valette, had left them, till a message from his lady requested their presence in her apartment. The scene without, was threatening to become one of noisy revel. Many of the soldiers had gathered around a huge bonfire, amusing themselves with a variety of games; and, at a little distance, a few females, their wives and daughters, were collected on a plat of grass, and dancing with the young men, to the sound of a violin. The shrill fife, the deep-toned drum, and noisy bag-pipe, occasionally swelled the concert; though the monotonous strains of the latter instrument, by which a few sturdy Scots performed their national dance, were not always in perfect unison with the gay strains of the light-hearted Frenchmen. Here and there, a gloomy Presbyterian, or stern Hugonot, was observed, stealing along at a cautious distance from these cheerful groups, on which he cast an eye of aversion and distrust, apparently afraid to venture within the circle of such unlawful pleasures.
"Keep a sharp eye on these mad fellows, Ronald," said La Tour to the sentinel on duty; "and, if there is any disturbance, let me know it, and, beshrew me, if they have another holiday to make merry with!"
"Your honor shall be obeyed," said the sentinel, in a surly tone.
"See you to it, then," continued La Tour; "and be sure that none of those English pass the gates to-night. And have a care, that you do not neglect my orders, when your own hour of merriment arrives."
"I have no lot nor portion in such things," said Ronald, gruffly; "for, as the scripture saith"—
"Have done with your texts, Ronald," interrupted La Tour; "you Scots are forever preaching, when you ought to practice; your duty is to hear and obey, and I require nothing more of you."
So saying, he turned away, leaving the guard to the solitary indulgence of his thoughts, which the amusements of that evening had disturbed, in no ordinary degree.
Mad. de la Tour, had condescended to entertain the bride and bridegroom at her own house; and permitted such of their companions as were inclined, to join them on the festive occasion. These were sufficient to form a cheerful group; apart from them, Mad. la Tour was conversing with De Valette, and a lovely girl, who seemed an object of peculiar interest to him, when La Tour entered the room with Mr. Stanhope.
"I bring you a friend, to whose services we are much indebted," said La Tour to his lady; "and I must request your assistance, in endeavoring to render this dreary place agreeable to him."
"I shall feel inclined to do all in my power, from selfish motives," returned the lady, "independently of our personal obligations to Mr. Stanhope; and, I trust, it is unnecessary to assure him, that we shall be most happy to retain him as our guest, so long as his inclination will permit him to remain."
Stanhope returned a polite answer to these civilities; but his thoughts were abstracted, and his eyes continually turned towards the young lady, whose blushing face was animated by an arch smile of peculiar meaning. La Tour observed the slight confusion of both, but, attributing it to another cause, he said,
"Allow me, Mr. Stanhope, to present you to my fair ward, Mademoiselle de Courcy, whom, I perceive, you have already identified with the priest, and page, who acted so conspicuous a part this evening."
"My acquaintance with Mr. Stanhope is of a much longer date," she said, quickly, and rising to offer him her hand, with an air of frankness, which, however, could not disguise a certain consciousness, which sent the tell-tale blood to her cheeks.
"It has been far too long," said Stanhope, his countenance glowing with delight, "to suffer me to be deceived by a slight disguise, though nothing could be more unexpected to me, than the happiness of meeting with you here."
"My aunt looks very inquisitive," said the young lady, withdrawing her hand; and, turning to Mad. de la Tour, she continued, "I have been so fortunate as to recognize an old friend in Mr. Stanhope; one, with whose family my aunt Rossville was on terms of the strictest intimacy, during our short residence in England."
"My sister's friends are doubly welcome to me," said Mad. la Tour; "and I shall esteem the arrival of Mr. Stanhope particularly fortunate to us."
"It is singular, indeed, that you should meet so very unexpectedly, in this obscure corner of the earth!" said De Valette, endeavouring to speak with gaiety, though he had remarked their mutual embarrassment with secret uneasiness;—"how can you account for it, Lucie?"
"I am not philosophic enough to resolve such difficult questions," she answered, smiling; "but, yonder are the musicians, waiting to sooth us with the melody of sweet sounds; we are all prepared for a dance, and here is my hand, if you will look a little more in the dancing mood,—if not, I can choose another."
"Do as you like," said De Valette, carelessly; "strangers are often preferred before tried friends."
"Yes, when tried friends look coldly on us," said Lucie, "as you do now,—so, fare thee well; there is a plump damsel, with an eye like Juno's, I commend her to thee for a partner."
She turned quickly from him, and speaking a few words to Stanhope, they joined the dancers together. De Valette remained standing a few moments in moody silence; but the exhilarating strains of the violin proved as irresistible as the blast of Oberon's horn, and, selecting a pretty maiden, he mingled in the dance, and was soon again the gayest of the gay.
I deem'd that time, I deem'd that pride Had quench'd at length my boyish flame; Nor knew, till seated by thy side, My heart in all, save hope, the same
"Then you do not think Mademoiselle de Courcy very beautiful?" asked De Valette, detaining Stanhope a moment after the family had retired.
"Not exactly beautiful," replied Stanhope; "though she has,—what is in my opinion far more captivating,—grace, spirit, and intelligence, with beauty enough, I allow, to render her—"
"Quite irresistible, you would say!" interrupted De Valette; "but, in good truth, I care not to hear you finish the sentence, with such a lover-like panegyric!"
"Your admiration of her is very exclusive," said Stanhope, smiling; "but you should not ask an opinion, which you are not willing to hear candidly expressed."
"I have no fear of the truth," answered De Valette; "and, after a voluntary absence of two years, on your part, I can scarcely suspect you of feeling a very tender interest in the lady."
"Your inference is not conclusive," returned Stanhope; "and I should much doubt the truth of that love, or friendship, which could not withstand the trial of even a more prolonged absence."
"I suspect there are few who would bear that test," said De Valette, who evidently wished to penetrate the real sentiments of Stanhope; "and one must have perseverance, indeed, who can remain constant to Lucie, through all her whims and disguises."
"Her gaiety springs from a light and innocent heart," replied Stanhope; "and only renders her more piquant and interesting;—but, speaking of disguises,—how long, may I ask, has she played the pretty page, and for what purpose was the character assumed?"
"It was at the suggestion of Mad. de la Tour, I believe, and Lucie's love of frolic induced her readily to adopt it. You know the fort was seriously threatened before our return; and Mad. de la Tour, who had few around her in whom she could confide, found her little page extremely useful, in executing divers commissions, which, in her feminine attire, could not have been achieved with equal propriety."
"I do not think a fondness for disguise is natural to her," said Stanhope; "though she seems to have supported her borrowed character with considerable address."
"Yes, she completely deceived me at first; and this evening, I again lost the use of my senses, and mistook her for the sauciest knave of a priest, that ever muttered an ave-marie."
"Long as it is, since I have seen her," said Stanhope, "I think I could have sworn to that face and voice, under any disguise."
"You obtained a full view of her features, at once," said De Valette; "when I first met her, they were carefully shaded by a tartan bonnet, and she entirely altered the tones of her voice; and this evening, again, she would scarcely have been recognized in the imperfect light, had she not suffered her vexation to betray her. But the night wanes, and it is time for us to separate; I must go abroad, and see that all things are quiet and in order, after this unusual revelling."
De Valette then quitted the house, and Stanhope gladly sought the solitude of his own apartment, where he could reflect, at leisure, on the agitating events of the few last hours. He walked to and fro, with rapid steps, till, exhausted by his excitement, he threw himself beside an open window, and endeavoured to collect the confused ideas, which crowded on his mind and memory. The noise of mirth and music had long since passed away, and the weary guard, who walked his dull round of duty in solitude and silence, was the only living object which met his eye. No sound was abroad, but the voice of the restless stream, which glittered beneath the rising moon;—the breath of midnight fanned him with its refreshing coolness, and the calm beauty of that lonely hour gradually soothed his restless spirits.