The new fort was begun on the summit
of the cliff, almost two hundred feet above the water,
and the guns would command it up and down. A good
deal of stone was used. New houses were being
reared in a much better fashion, the crevices thickly
plastered with mortar, the chimneys of stone, with
generous fireplaces. Destournier had repaired
his small settlement and added some ground to the
“The only way to colonize,”
declared the Sieur. “If we could rouse
the Indians into taking more interest. Civilization
does not seem to attract them, though the women make
good wives, and they are a scarce commodity.
The English and the Dutch are wiser in this respect
than we. When children are born on the soil and
marry with their neighbors, one may be sure of good
The church, too, was progressing,
and was called Notre Dame des Anges.
Madame de Champlain was intensely religious, and used
her best efforts to further the plans. She took
a great interest in the Indian children, and when
she found many of the women were not really married
to the laborers around the fort, insisted that Pere
Jamay should perform the ceremony. The women
were quite delighted with this, considering it a great
mark of respect.
She began to study the Algonquin language,
which was the most prevalent. She had brought
three serving women from France, but they were not
heroic enough to be enamored of the hardships.
There was so little companionship for her that but
for her religion she would have had a lonely time.
The Heberts were plain people and hardly felt themselves
on a par with the wife of their Governor, though Champlain
himself, with more democratic tastes, used often to
drop in to consult the farmer and take a meal.
Madame Giffard was not really religious.
She was fond of pleasure and games of cards, and really
hated any self-denial, or long prayers, though she
went to Mass now and then. But between her and
the earnest, devoted Helene there was no sympathy.
The new house was ready by October.
Helene would fain have had it made less comfortable,
but this the Governor would not permit. It would
be hung with furs when the bitter weather came in.
No one paid much attention to Rose,
who came and went, and wandered about at her own sweet
will. Eustache Boulle was fairly fascinated with
her, and followed her like a shadow when he was not
in attendance on his sister. He persuaded her
to sit for a picture, but it was quite impossible
to catch her elusive beauty. She would turn her
head, change the curve of her pretty lips, allow her
eyes to rove about and then let the lids drop decorously
in a fashion he called a nun’s face; but it was
“I shall not be a nun,” she would declare
“No, Mam’selle, thou art
the kind to dance on a man’s heart and make him
most happy and most wretched. No nun’s coif
for that sunny, tangled mop of thine.”
He would fain have lingered through
the winter, but a peremptory message came for him.
“I shall be here another summer
and thou wilt be older, and understand better what
life is like.”
“It is good enough and pleasant
enough now,” she answered perversely.
“I wonder if thou wilt miss me?”
“Why, yes, silly! The splendid
canoeing and the races we run, and I may be big enough
next summer to go to Lachine. I would like to
rush through the rapids that Antoine the sailor tells
about, where you feel as if you were going down to
the centre of the world.”
“No woman would dare. It would not be safe,”
“Men are not always lost, only
a few clumsy ones. And I can swim with the best
“M. Destournier will not let you go.”
“He is not my father. I
belong just to myself, and I will do as I like.”
She stamped her foot on the ground,
but she laughed as well. He was not nineteen
yet, but a man would be able to manage her.
She did miss him when he was gone.
And it seemed as if Marie grew more stupid and cared
less for her. And that lout of a Jules Personeau
would sit by her on the grass, or help her pick berries
or grapes and open them skilfully, take out the seeds
or the pits of plums, and place them on the flat rocks
to dry. He never seemed to talk. And Rose
knew that M. Destournier scolded because he was not
He was building a new house himself,
and helping the Sieur plan out the path
from the fort up above to the settlement down below.
They did not dream that one day it would be the upper
and the lower town, and that on the plain would be
fought one of the historic battles of the world, where
two of the bravest of men would give up their lives,
and the lilies of France go down for the last time.
Quebec was beginning to look quite a town.
Destournier’s house commanded
his settlement, which was more strongly fortified
with a higher palisade, over which curious thorn vines
were growing for protection. He had a fine wheat
field, and some tobacco. Of Indian corn a great
waving regiment planted only two rows thick so as to
give no chance for skulking marauders.
The house of M. Giffard was falling
into decay. Miladi had sent to France early in
the season for many new stuffs and trinkets, and the
settlement of some affairs, instead of turning all
over to Destournier. The goods had come at an
exorbitant price, but there had been a great tangle
in money matters, and at his death his concessions
had passed into other hands.
“They always manage to rob a woman,” he
“I supposed you were to leave
things in my hands,” he said, a little upbraidingly,
“I make you so much trouble.
And you have so much to do for the Governor and your
settlement, and I am so weak and helpless. I have
never been strong since that dreadful night.
I miss all the care and love. Oh, if you were
a woman you would know how heart-breaking it was.
I wish I were dead! I wish I were dead!”
“And you do not care to go back to France?”
“Do not torment me with that
question. I should die on the voyage. And
to be there without friends would be horrible.
I have no taste for a convent.”
A great many times the vague plan
had entered his mind as a sort of duty. Now he
would put it into execution.
“Become my wife,” he said.
He leaned over and took her slim hands in his and
glanced earnestly into her eyes, and saw there were
fine wrinkles setting about them. What did it
matter? She needed protection and care, and there
was no woman here that he could love as the romances
described. He was too busy a man, too practical.
She let her head drop on his broad
breast. She had dreamed of this and used many
little arts, but had never been sure of their effect.
There were the years between, but she needed his strength
and devotion more than a younger woman.
“Oh, ought I be so happy again?”
she murmured. “There is so much that is
strong and generous to you that a woman could rest
content in giving her whole life to you, her best
He wished she had not said that.
He would have been content that her best love should
lie softly in the grave, like an atmosphere around
the sleeping body of Laurent Giffard, whom he had
admired very much, and who had loved his wife with
the fervor of youth. He drew a long breath of
pity for the man. It seemed as if he was taking
something away from him.
“Is it true?” she asked, in a long silence.
“That I shall care for you,
yes. That you will be my wife.” Then
he kissed her tenderly.
“I am so happy. Oh, you
cannot think how sad I have been for months, with
no one to care for me,” and her voice was exquisitely
“I have cared for you all this
while,” he said. “You were like a
sister to whom I owed a duty.”
“Duty is not quite love,”
in her soft murmurous tone, touching his cheek caressingly.
He wondered a little what love was
like, if this tranquil half pity was all. Madame
de Champlain was like a child to her husband, the women
emigrants thus far had not been of a high order, and
the marriages had been mostly for the sake of a helpmeet
and possible children. The Governor had really
encouraged the mixed marriages, where the Indian women
were of the better sort. A few of them were taking
kindly to religion, and had many really useful arts
in the way of making garments out of dressed deerskins.
He chose rather some of those who had been taken prisoners
and had no real affiliation with the tribes. They
felt honored by marrying a white man, and now Pere
Jamay performed a legal and religious ceremony, so
that no man could put away his wife.
“Oh, what do you think!”
and Rose sprang eagerly to Destournier, catching him
by the arm with both hands and giving a swing, as he
was pacing the gallery, deep in his new plans.
“It is so full of amusement for me. And
I can’t understand how she can do it. Jules
Personeau is such a stupid! And that great shock
of hair that keeps tumbling into his eyes. It
is such a queer color, almost as if much sitting in
the sun was turning it red.”
“What about Jules? He is
very absent-minded nowadays, and does not attend to
his work. The summer will soon be gone.”
“Oh, it isn’t so much
about Jules. Marie Gaudrion is going to marry
“Why, then I think it is half
about Jules,” laughing down into the eager face.
“A girl can’t be married alone.”
“Well, I suppose you would have
to go and live with some one,” in a puzzled
tone. “But Jules has such rough, dirty hands.
He caught me a few days ago and patted my cheek, and
I slapped him. I will not have rough hands touch
me! And Marie laughs. She is only thirteen,
but she says she is a woman. I don’t want
to be a woman. I won’t have a husband, and
be taken off to a hut, and cook, and work in the garden.
M’sieu, I should fly to the woods and hide.”
“And the poor fellow would get
no dinner.” He laughed at her vehemence.
“I suppose Jules is in love and we must excuse
his absent-mindedness. Will it be soon?”
“Why, yes, Jules is getting
his house ready. Barbe is to help her mother
and care for the babies. I like Marie some,”
nodding indecisively, “but I wish there was
a girl who liked to run and play, and climb trees,
and talk to the birds, and oh, do a hundred things,
all different from the other.”
She gave a little hop and a laugh
of exquisite freedom. She was full of restless
grace, as the birds themselves; her blooming cheeks
and shining eyes, the way she carried her head, the
face breaking into dimples with every motion, the
mouth tempting in its rosy sweetness. He bent
and kissed her. She held him a moment by the
“Oh, I like you, I like you,”
she cried. “You are above them all, you
have something,” her pretty brow knit, “yet
you are better than the Sieur even, the best
of them all. If you will wait a long while I might
marry you, but no other, no other,” shaking her
He laughed, yet it was not from her
naïve confession. She did not realize what she
“How old am I?” insistently.
“About ten, I think.”
“Ten. And ten more would be twenty.
Is that old?”
“And Madame de Champlain was
twelve when she was married in France. Well,
I suppose that is right. And two years
more! No, M’sieu, I shall wait until I
am twenty. Maybe I shall not want to climb trees
then, nor scramble over rocks, nor chase the squirrels,
and pelt them with nuts.”
“Thou wilt be a decorous little lady then.”
“That is a long way off.”
“Yes. And Wanamee is calling thee.”
“The priest says we must call
her Jolette, that is her Christian name. Must
I have another name? Well, I will not. Good-night,”
and away she ran.
He fell into rumination again.
What would she say to his marriage? He had a
misgiving she would take it rather hardly. She
had not been so rapturously in love with miladi of
late, but since the death of her husband, the rather
noisy glee of the child had annoyed her. She would
be better now. Of course they would keep the child,
she had no other friends, nor home.
Marie Gaudrion’s marriage was
quite a mystery to Rose. That any one could love
such an uncouth fellow as Jules, that a girl could
leave the comfortable home and pretty garden, for
now the fruit trees had grown and were full of fragrant
bloom in the early season, and the ripening fruit
later on, and go to that dismal little place under
“You see it will be much warmer,”
Jules had said. It was built against the rock.
“This will shield us from the north wind and
the heavy snows, and another year we will take a place
further down in the allotment. I will lay in
a store of things, and we will be as happy as the squirrels
in their hollow tree.”
Marie and her mother cleared it up
a bit. The floor was of rough planks filled in
with mortar, and skins were laid down for carpet.
There was but one window looking toward the south,
and the door was on that side also. Then a few
steps and a sort of plateau. Inside there was
a box bunk, where the household goods were piled away
inside. A few shelves with dishes, a table, and
several stools completed the furnishing.
So on Sunday they went up to the unfinished
chapel on the St. Charles, where a Mass was said,
and the young couple were united. It was a lovely
day, and they rowed down in the canoes to the Gaudrions,
where a feast was given and healths drank to the newly-wedded
couple, in which they were wished much happiness and
many children. The table was spread luxuriously;
the Mere had been two days cooking. Roasts and
broils, game and fish, and many of the early fruits
in preserve and just ripened. Sunday was a day
for gorging in this primitive land, while summer lasted.
No one need starve then.
Afterward the young couple were escorted home.
Rose sat out in the moonlight thinking
of the strangeness of it all. How could Marie
like it? Mere Gaudrion had said, “Jules
will make a good husband, if he is clumsy and not
handsome. He will never beat Marie, and now he
will settle to work again, and make a good living,
since courting days are over.”
The child wondered what courting days
were. Several strange ideas came into her mind.
It was as if it grew suddenly and there were things
in the world she would like to know about. Perhaps
M. Ralph could tell her. Miladi said she was
tiresome when she asked questions, and there was always
a headache. Would her head ache when she was grown
up? And she stood in curious awe of Madame de
Champlain, who would only talk of the saints and martyrs,
and repeat prayers. She was very attractive to
the children, and gathered them about her, letting
them gaze in her little mirror she carried at her
belt, as was the fashion in France. They liked
the touch of her soft hand on their heads, they were
sometimes allowed to press their tawny cheeks against
it. Then she would try to instruct them in the
Catechism. They learned the sentences by rote,
in an eager sort of way, but she could see the real
understanding was lacking.
“It seems an almost hopeless
task,” she said one day to Pere Jamay. “And
though the little girls in the convent seemed obtuse,
they did understand what devotion was. These
children would worship me. When I talk of the
blessed Virgin they are fain to press their faces to
the hem of my gown, taking it to mean that I am our
dear Lady of Sorrows. Neither do they comprehend
penance, they suppose they have offended me personally.”
“’Tis a curious race that
God has allowed to sink to the lowest ebb, that His
laborers should work the harder in the vineyard.
I do not despair. There will come a glorious
day when every soul shall bow the knee to our blessed
Lord. The men seem incapable of any true discernment
of holy things. But we must not weary in well-doing.
Think what a glorious thing it would be to convert
this nation to the true faith.”
The lady sighed. Many a day she
went to her prie-dieu not seven times, but
twice that, to pray for their conversion.
“We must win the children.
They will grow up with some knowledge and cast aside
their superstitions. We must be filled with holy
zeal and never weary doing our Master’s will.”
She had tried to win Rose, as well
as some of the more intelligent half-breeds.
But prayers were wearisome to the child. And why
should you ask the same thing over and over again?
Even M. Destournier, she had noticed, did not like
to be importuned, and why then the great God, who
had all the world to care for, and sent to His creatures
what He thought best.
The child looked out on the wide vault
so full of stars, and her heart was thrilled with
the great mystery. What was the beautiful world
beyond that was called heaven? What did they
know who had never seen it? The splendor of the
great white moon moving majestically through
the blue touched her with a sort of ecstasy.
Was it another world? And how tenderly it seemed
to touch the tree tops, silvering the branches and
deepening the shadows until they were haunts of darkness.
Did not other gods dwell there, as those old people
in the islands on the other side of the world dreamed?
Over the river hung trailing clouds of misty sheen,
there was a musical lapping of the waves, the curious
vibration of countless insects now the
shrill cry of some night bird, then such softness
again that the world seemed asleep.
“Ma fille, ma fille,”
and the half-inquiring accent of Wanamee’s voice
fell on her ear.
“I am here. It is so beautiful.
Wanamee, did you ever feel that you must float away
to some other world and learn things that seem to hover
all about you, and yet you cannot grasp?”
“You cannot, child, until you
are admitted to the company of the saints. And
this life is very comfortable, to some at least.
Thou hast no trouble, little one. But it is time
for the bed.”
“Why can I not sleep out here?
The Indians sleep under the tree. So has M’sieu
Ralph, and the Governor. Oh, I should like to
and have just that great blue sky and the stars over
“They would not show under the
tree branches. And there are wolves and strollers
that it would not be safe to see at this time of the
year, when there are so many drunken traders.
So come in, child.”
She rose slowly. A little room
in the end of the Giffard house was devoted to her
and Wanamee. Two small pallets raised a little
above the floor, a stand with a crucifix, that the
Governor’s wife insisted was necessary, a box,
in which winter bedding was stored, and that served
for a seat, completed the simple furniture.
Rose knelt before the stand.
There were two or three Latin prayers she often said
aloud, but to-night her lips did not move. This
figure on the cross filled her with a kind of horror
“Mam’selle,” said the waiting Wanamee.
The child rose. “You must
pray for yourself to-night,” she said in a soft
voice, throwing her pliant body on the pallet.
“I do not understand anything about God any
more. I do not see why He should send His Son
to die for the thousands of people who do not care
for Him. The great Manitou of the Indians did
not do it.”
“Ma fille, ask the priest.
But then is it necessary to ask God when we have only
“I am afraid I don’t even
believe,” was the hesitating reply.
“Surely thou art wicked. There will be
penance for thee.”
“I will not do penance either.
You are cruel if you torture dumb animals, and it
is said they have not the keen feeling of humans.
I am not sure. But where one thinks of the pain
or punishment he is bearing it is more bitter.
And what right has another to inflict it upon you?”
Wanamee was silent. She would
ask the good priest. But ah, could she have her