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Title: Roger the ranger: A story of border life among the Indians

Author: Eliza F. Pollard

Release date: August 5, 2022 [eBook #68694]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: S. W. Partridge & Co, 1893

Credits: Roger Frank, Al Haines and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at





A Story of Border Life among the Indians


“It is of no use, Father Nat; we have gone over the same ground again and again. I shall never settle down as a New England farmer, and there are other reasons why I should go forth from among you. Mother, you have Marcus; he will stand you in good stead: he has almost reached man’s estate, and he is old for his years; he will be a better son to you than I have ever been. Don’t, Loïs, my darling;” and the speaker, a tall, handsome man of four- or five-and-twenty, in the picturesque dress of the New England hunter, sought to unclasp from round his neck the clinging hands of a young girl, down whose face the tears were flowing fast.

“You are my firstborn, and like Esau you are selling your birthright, and surely even as he did you will lose the blessing,” exclaimed his mother, wringing her hands.

Martha Langlade was still a handsome woman, not yet fifty years of age, her brow unwrinkled, no silver thread visible in the bands of her soft brown hair, smoothed back under a snowy cap, round which was tied a broad black ribbon, token of her widowhood.

“Then even as Esau I shall be a great hunter before the Lord,” answered her son. “I am not leaving you comfortless, mother; you have the children and Loïs and Marcus;” and turning towards a youth standing beside Martha, he held out his hand to him, saying, “Marcus, you must take my place.”

“I am too young, Charles; think better of it and stay with us,” he replied.

The young man’s features worked; there was a moment’s hesitation, then he shook his head, stooped and kissed again his sister’s upturned face, and, pushing her gently towards a grey-headed man who had stood a silent spectator of the scene, said huskily,—

“Take care of her, take care of them all, Father Nat.”

“A man has no right to shift his burdens upon other men’s shoulders. You will live to rue this day, Charles Langlade,” was the stern answer.

“I trust not,” said the young man; “but this I know, go forth I must! Farewell, mother; farewell, Father Nat; farewell, all of you. If troubles threaten you I will come to your aid. Farewell;” and turning away, he strode rapidly across the greensward in front of the house, bounded over the paling, and, dashing down the hill-side, entered the forest, and so disappeared. As they lost sight of the tall lithe figure, fully accoutred in his hunting garb, his blanket rolled round him, his gun and ammunition slung across his shoulders, Martha and the two little girls who were clinging to her wept aloud.

“Don’t, mother dear,” said Loïs, throwing one arm round Martha’s neck and kissing her.

“Ah, Loïs, I never thought he’d do it—never! It is your poor father’s fault, taking the lads amongst the heathen. I told him no good would come of it,” and her sobs redoubled.

Father Nat had kept silence since his last words to Charles Langlade; he seemed oppressed with a weight of care. He had never really believed in the oft-threatened desertion, and now the blow had fallen he was for the time stunned; but he roused himself, gave vent to a long deep sigh, then, laying his hand kindly on Martha’s arm, said,—

“It’s no use fretting; what is to be will be. Come, mother, be brave. Don’t ye grieve over much; remember the little ones. We’ve done all we could to hold him back. It seems almost as if the Spirit constrained him. And ye know it is not well to fight against the will of God.”

“The will of God!” exclaimed Martha angrily, wiping her eyes and checking her sobs. “Call it rather the machinations of the Evil One! How can you dare say it is the will of God that a son of mine, my eldest born, should choose to go and live amongst those cannibals, forsaking his father’s house and taking to himself a wife from amongst the idolaters? I never thought to hear you say such a thing, Father Nat! I’m minded you’ll think differently when your Roger goes off after him.”

“My Roger will never do that,” said Father Nat. “I know the two lads love each other dearly—it’s in the blood—as I loved your husband, and as it has ever been from generation to generation, since the first Charles Langlade saved the life of a Roger Boscowen from the Red Indians, and the two joining hands established themselves together on this then waste land.”

“That proves what I say,” answered Martha doggedly; “or would you sooner see our homesteads burnt and ruin threatening us? Have you forgotten the prophecy of the Indian woman, the first who died under the shelter of your ancestor’s roof? ‘When Langlade and Boscowen part, then shall the land be riven.’”

“Nay, nay,” said Nathaniel uneasily. “The lads will love each other still, though they be parted; but Roger will never do as Charles has done—he will never bring my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. He is my only son.”

“Tut, tut! What is to prevent him, if, as you say of Charles, it should happen to be the ‘will of God’?”

She spoke bitterly—such an unusual thing for Martha that Father Nat looked at her with surprise, and Loïs exclaimed,—

“Oh, mother! surely you do not mean it!” and the girl’s fair face flushed and her lips quivered.

“I mean no harm,” said Martha; “but what more natural? They’ve been like brothers all their lives.”

“But because Charles has gone astray there is no need for Roger to do the same,” said Loïs gently. “It was not kindly spoken, mother, and yet I know you love Roger dearly.”

“Ay, surely she does,” said Nat; “who better, save myself, and his dead mother? Come, Martha woman, shake hands; we be too old friends to quarrel! Making my heart sore will not heal yours.”

“Forgive me, Nat,” said Martha, bursting into tears. “You are right, my heart is very sore. He was such a bonnie boy; and to think I’ve lost him, for truly it is worse than if he were dead!”

“Nay, nay,” answered Father Nat; “while there is life there is hope. Cheer up, mother; who knows? he may come back to us a better and a wiser man.”

“God grant it!” said Martha tearfully, her eyes turning wistfully towards the dark forest, which seemed to have swallowed up her son.

“You’d best come and have supper with me, Martha,” said Father Nat. “It’s near upon eight o’clock,” and he looked at the sky, crimson with the glow of the setting sun. On one side lay the dark forest, and far away the long line of hills encompassing the valley; a broad shining river flashed like a line of silver through the plain, where nestled the two villages of East and West Marsh. On the slope of a hill-side overlooking the whole country stood two houses, built exactly alike, separated from each other originally by a light garden fence, which in the course of years had changed into a thick shrubbery. The “Marshwoods” they were called, and had been so named by the first Langlade and Boscowen who had penetrated with a few followers across the borderland of New England, far away from human habitations, and had struck root on this virgin soil. No one had disputed the land with them, save the Red Indian. Log huts had given place in time to these two homesteads, in front of one of which the scene we have just described had taken place.

Built of the great trees hewn down in the primeval forest, neither storm nor tempest had done them injury. Time had rather beautified than marred their outward seeming. The shingled roofs were thickly overgrown with greeny yellow lichen; the woodwork of the dormer windows, carved balconies, and deep projecting porches had grown dark with age, thus showing off to greater advantage the wealth of creepers which clambered in luxurious profusion from basement to roof. Great clusters of purple and white clematis mingled with the crimson flowers of the dark-leaved pomegranate. Over the porches, stretching up to the casement windows, as if courting soft maiden hands to gather them, clusters of white and pink roses vied with each other in perfume and beauty.

Both houses were so exactly alike! The same spirit seemed to have devised, the same hand to have carried out the work, and yet the founders were of a different people and a different race.

The Langlades were descended from a certain Chevalier de Langlade who had fought in the great wars under Turenne, and when the armies were disbanded the then French Minister, Colbert, had bestowed upon his regiment, as a reward for its services, all the lands lying on the shores of the great Lake of St. Lawrence—“Canada,” as the Indians called it; “New France,” the colonists baptised it, when as far back as 1535 a French explorer, Jacques Cartier, ascended the St. Lawrence.

In 1608 the brave and tender-hearted Samuel Champlain laid the foundations of the City of Quebec, standing proudly on her rock overlooking land and sea. France was then virtually mistress of North America, from Hudson’s Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, by right of precedence. Therefore these warriors, when they landed on the shores of the St. Lawrence, felt that they were not wholly aliens from their beloved country, for which they had fought and bled. Ceasing to be soldiers, they became great hunters. Most of them belonged to the Reformed Church, and though Henry IV. had renounced his faith to become King of France, he so far favoured his former co-religionists as to decree that New France was to welcome the Calvinists, and that they were to be allowed to worship after their own fashion; but Cardinal Richelieu, who by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes drove the Huguenots out of France, thus depriving her of the most industrious of her population, extended his spirit of intolerance even to New France, and decreed that the Calvinistic worship was no longer to be tolerated there. The result was that many influential families left Canada, seeking a new home. Amongst these was a Charles Langlade, with the young wife he had but lately wedded. It was a perfect exodus, for he was much beloved and had many followers. They went south, past the great Lake Champlain, into the dense forests of the west. The Indians swarmed along their path, and daily, hourly, the exiles were exposed to the danger of the tomahawks of the savages.

One memorable day the French Canadians suddenly came upon a group of Englishmen defending themselves as best they could against an overwhelming number of redskins. Charles Langlade fired, at what proved to be the Indian chief, as with raised arm he was in the act of bringing his tomahawk down on the head of a tall, largely built man, whose rugged features and great strength marked him out from his companions. This man was Roger Boscowen. Their chief slain, the Indians fled. Then Charles Langlade and Roger Boscowen, who had thus seemingly met by chance, joined hands, and a great and strong affection grew up between them, so that they cast in their lots together. Roger Boscowen had but lately landed upon the shores of New England; he too had left his Lincolnshire fens, with other well-to-do, God-fearing yeomen, for conscience’ sake, to find a country where they might glorify God. They were not “broken men,”—adventurers or criminals driven from their fatherland by earthly want,—but men who were constrained by their fear of God and their zeal for godly worship.

They had no dreams of gold-fields, but were resolute and industrious, quiet and stern, recognising from the first that nothing was to be expected from the land but by labour. So the representatives of the two races united, and marched onward together along the wavy line of the New England border, until they reached a spot which seemed to possess all the most essential qualifications for a new colony. Forest land, deep hills and dales, pastures sloping down to a broad shining river which watered all the land, lay stretched out before them; and here they pitched their tents, and in time multiplied and prospered, upholding from generation to generation the characteristics of their Puritan and Huguenot forefathers—namely, piety and simplicity of life. The “Marshes” had become one of the largest and most prosperous of the border settlements.

Thus it was that the Langlades and Boscowens were alike proud of their descent, and strove ever to prove themselves worthy in all things of those who had gone before and were called “Fathers of the land.”

That an eldest son should have gone astray and have forsaken his ancestral home was therefore a bitter sorrow. Alpha and Omega had been added to the name of Marshwood to distinguish the homesteads. The Langlades owned Alpha, the Boscowens Omega. As son succeeded father the tie which bound the heads of the two houses together was never once broken; no word of dissension ever arose between them. Younger sons and daughters went forth into the busy world; some were lost sight of, others returned from time to time with a curious longing to see once more the home of their race, and were made welcome and treated hospitably; but, up to the present time, the eldest son of either branch had never deserted his post.

The present generation was less fortunate in their domestic relations than their predecessors. Nathaniel Boscowen lost his wife when his only son Roger was still a child, and Louis Langlade died in the prime of life from an accident he met with while hunting. With his dying breath he commended his wife and children to the care of his life-long companion and friend Nathaniel, who became forthwith “Father Nat,” not only in the settlement, but amongst the Indians, who came to barter the skins of wild beasts for English goods. He was still a man in the prime of life, and he strove nobly to fulfil his charge; but Louis Langlade himself had early inspired his son and Roger with a love for hunting and the wild Indian life, and after a time Nat found it impossible to exercise any control over Charles. He would disappear for days together, and at last announced his intention of dwelling entirely with the Indians and taking a wife from amongst them.

Up to the very last no one believed he would really carry out the threat, and when he did the blow, as we have seen, fell heavily upon them all.

In answer to Father Nat’s invitation to supper, Martha said,—

“Yes, I shall be glad to come; at least I shall not see his empty chair at my own table. Come, children; we will go and see after the men’s supper, and then betake ourselves to Omega Marsh.”

Marcus followed his mother, and so Nathaniel and Loïs were left standing alone in the porch. For a time they both kept silence; suddenly Father Nat asked,—

“Do you know where Roger is, Loïs? He has been absent since dawn.”

“No, I do not,” she answered. “But he will come home; have no fear, Father Nat,” and she turned her young face towards him, bright, notwithstanding the shadow resting on lips and brow. She was barely eighteen, tall and slim, but with those delicately rounded limbs which denote perfect health and strength; her features were regular, her large grey eyes fringed with long lashes, the tips of which curling up caught the sunlight, even as did the rich golden hair which, waving back behind the small ears, fell in two long thick plaits below her waist. She, like her mother, wore a black gown, a large white bibbed apron, and sleeves turned back to the elbow, with facings of linen, scarcely whiter than the rounded arms thus exposed to view.

“I believe he will,” said Father Nat, in answer to her assertion; “but he will never be content, never be satisfied again.”

“We will trust he may, in time,” answered Loïs. “Why look ahead, dear Father Nat?”

“You are right, lass. ‘Sufficient unto the day.’ There’s the gong for supper; come, the mother will follow.”

Even as he spoke Martha and her children joined them, and together they passed through the wicket gate which alone separated the two gardens.

The meal was, according to the good old custom, taken in common, masters and servants sitting at the same board. When the master entered the great kitchen, some ten or twelve men and women employed on the home farm were standing about in groups awaiting Nat’s appearance, and naturally discussing the great event of the day. Doffing his broad wideawake, he bade them “Good-evening,” as did also Martha and her children. The salutation was heartily returned, and then he took his place at the head of the long table, upon which great joints of cold viands and huge pasties were already exciting the appetites of those about to partake thereof. When they were all gathered round the board, Father Nat raised his hand to enforce silence, and in a solemn voice called upon God to bless the fruits of the earth. When he had finished his prayer, before uttering the usual “Amen” he paused; evidently some strong emotion checked his power of speech, but all present felt he had something more to say, and waited respectfully.

“My friends,” he said at last, with a slight quiver in his manly voice, “you all know that one we love has gone out from amongst us, to our great sorrow. I commend him to your prayers. May the God of his fathers watch over him, and guide his footsteps in the right way. Amen.”

“Amen,” repeated all present, and then they seated themselves and the meal began, but not gaily as usual, the cloud which rested on the master overshadowing them all.


The sun was setting, and the rays of crimson light tinged the topmost branches of the forest trees, but scarcely could be said to penetrate through the closely interlaced branches. The long grass and thick undergrowth made walking difficult, whilst the tightly entwined boughs of the trees formed a thick, leafy canopy, perfectly impenetrable, added to which parasitic plants twined up the huge trunks in luxuriant wildness.

After he had, so to speak, fled from his home and his people, Charles Langlade walked straight before him through the forest. He was a handsome man, his mouth firm set, his nose rather large, and his chin prominent, cleft in the middle. His eyes were grey, like those of his sister Loïs, and his eyebrows marked. He wore, what was unusual among the hunters, his hair rather long. Altogether his appearance was remarkable; there was something about him which reminded one of the heroes of old, knights and crusaders. Suddenly he stopped, and passed his hand across his brow as if trying to remember.

“It has unnerved me,” he said aloud. “I shall lose my way if I don’t take care.”

As he spoke he stretched out his hand, and, passing it lightly over the trunk of the nearest tree, knew instantly by the feel of the bark the direction he was in, whether north or south, east or west. Satisfied, he strode forward, stopping from time to time to make sure he was on the right track.

This following a trail is perfectly simple to the Indian and the Canadian hunter. They read every mark and sign in the wood as clearly as if they were written; the moss, the lichen, tell their tale. No foot-print, however light, can escape their notice; they know whether it be a white or red man’s foot, whether it be of to-day or yesterday.

It was thus with Charles Langlade. He walked unhesitatingly through the darkness, until suddenly the forest came to an end, and he found himself standing on an elevated plain overgrown with a sort of heather, sloping gradually down to a river which flowed at its base. The moon had risen and was shining with a clear light over the country, making visible the long line of distant hills and the silvery stream, running low down through the land. He waited a few seconds considering; then he gave a long, low whistle. Immediately he was answered in the same way, and at some little distance a figure rose from out of a clump of bushes and advanced quickly towards him.

The individual was a man taller even than Charles, and in every way of larger build, his clothes being of the same fashion. The two men clasped hands when they met, and Charles said,—

“I’ve kept you waiting, old fellow.”

“You’ve had a bad time of it, I expect,” said Roger Boscowen. “Is it really over, and for good?”

“Yes, indeed,” answered Charles, “and none too soon. I nearly gave in when Loïs put her arms round my neck and entreated me to remain. I should not care to go through that ordeal every day,” and he heaved a sigh. Even whilst speaking they had both unfastened the skins and blankets they carried, and, throwing them on the ground, lay down full length and rolled themselves in them.

“The chiefs will not be here till dawn,” said Charles; “we shall have a long last night together, friend.”

“Not long enough for all we have to say to each other,” answered Roger sadly.

Charles Langlade turned his face towards him and stretched out his hand; Roger laid his in it, and with only the pale light of the moon and stars shining down upon them, they looked steadily into each other’s eyes. Two finer specimens of early manhood it would have been difficult to find; they both came of races who for generations had lived sober, healthy lives, fearing God, and, as far as in them lay, keeping His commandments.

Living hard lives, and frequently sleeping out in the open air, had made these two young men vigorous and powerful beyond even what might have been expected.

After a somewhat lengthened silence, Charles said gently,—

“We shall remain friends, Roger, for ever and for ever; my going will make no difference between us?”

“How can you imagine that should be possible?” answered Roger sombrely. “You are going where I neither can nor will follow you. When the sun rises to-morrow morning we shall bid each other farewell; you will go your way, I shall go mine, and in all probability we shall not meet again, except it be as enemies in the fray.”

“Let us hope not that,” answered Charles, with a touch of sadness in his voice; “and yet it is this pending conflict which must break out before long which has in a great measure constrained me to take my present step. I cannot bear arms against France; I hold they have the right of precedence in Canada.”

“What is that to you ?” said Roger harshly. “You have been born under British rule; if need be, it is your duty to fight for England, to protect your home against the invader. That is all we ask you to do.”

Charles Langlade shook his head.

“You know as well as I do, Roger, that before long there will be a great and mighty struggle between France and England; it is no fault of mine, but I honestly tell you that all my instincts, all my feelings, are with the Canadians. I believe they will defend the colony to their very uttermost; and if only France send them help, they will probably be successful.”

“Why then do you not join the Canadians openly, instead of allying yourself to the Indians who are devoted to the French interests?” said Roger.

“Because I will not give up my liberty,” answered Charles. “By remaining with the Indians, and becoming probably in time a chief amongst them, I am free. I trust to attain great influence in their councils, and perhaps prevent much cruelty. If I offered myself for service to the present Government of Canada, I should have to wink at much of which I disapprove. Peculation and robbery are the order of the day. Vaudreuil is a fool, and Bigot, his Controller of Finance, a knave. No, thank you; I prefer my savage chiefs to such civilised rascals. You know I went to both Quebec and Montreal to see for myself how matters stood, and I came away disgusted. If France loses Canada, it will be through the incapacity of the men she has placed at the helm.”

“And you will marry Ominipeg’s daughter?” said Roger.

“Yes, such is my intention,” answered Charles. “The Indian maiden is gentle and possessed of all good instincts, and she loves me. She will become a Christian, and I shall wed her. She knows no will but mine; surely she will make me happier than any other girl, who might worry me with her humours. I know all you have to say against it—the fate of the children who may be born to me; but that is a matter for after consideration.”

“I have done,” said Roger, and he threw himself back on the ground with a gesture of despair.

“Nay, but, Roger, we shall not be wholly parted; you will come out to my wigwam in the hunting season, and we shall be together. You are no stranger to the tribe I am about to join; you will be always welcome.”

“Not if war break out and we are on opposite sides,” said Roger.

“Listen,” said Charles; “I have something to tell you, which I will confide only to you,” and drawing closer still he whispered into Roger’s ear, and for a time they conversed in low voices together.

“Wrong can never be right,” said the latter at last. “The Indians are a treacherous race. If you offend them, mark my word, they will be revenged. Now let us sleep; it will soon be morning;” and side by side, with their hands clasped in each other’s, as they were wont to lie when boys, they fell asleep.

The day was just dawning, and the soft hazy light of early morn was creeping over the land, when suddenly and simultaneously they awoke. They cast one questioning look at each other, and sprang to their feet.

Paddling slowly down the river which ran below were some fifty canoes, filled with Indians in their most gorgeous array, uttering, as they moved slowly on, loud cries of delight, and gesticulating wildly.

“They have come for me,” said Charles, his voice quivering with the multitude of his emotions.

Do we ever take a decisive step in life without a momentary hesitation—a backward glance of regret at the past we are leaving behind, and an instinctive fear of the unknown future?

Roger saw it, and a wild hope flashed through his heart. “There is yet time to hold back!” he said, in a low, eager voice, laying his hand on his friend’s arm, as if to detain him.

“Nay,” answered Charles, throwing back his head. “I have passed my word and I will not now draw back. Farewell.” He wrung Roger’s hand; then, drawing himself up to his full height, he repeated the Indians’ cry, and, bounding down the slope, stood at the river’s edge in full view of the canoes, which stopped paddling, the Indians in them showing signs of satisfaction at the sight of their new ally.

Two canoes came close up to the bank. In the first stood a chief, more gorgeously arrayed than his fellows, with ceremonial paint, scalp locks, eagle plumes, and armed with steel hatchet and stone war-club. He stretched out his hand to Charles, who immediately entered his canoe, renewed shouts from the Indians making him welcome.

And Roger, standing where his friend had left him, with his arms folded, saw Charles, as he stood beside the chief, look up at him and wave his cap in token of farewell, as his frail bark, taking the lead, was paddled down the stream, the others following in compact order.

Roger never moved until the last of the crews had disappeared and silence had once more fallen on the land; then he threw himself down on the spot where they had passed the night together, and, strong, brave man though he was, wept bitterly for the friend who had departed from him.


“Well, Loïs, I think it’s pretty nearly time Roger was back amongst us; he’s been gone over two months,” said Father Nat, standing beside Loïs, as she sat on the broad window-seat, a large basket of household linen beside her, which she was carefully sorting and arranging. She and her mother managed Father Nat’s household matters as well as their own, whilst he looked after the outdoor work of the two farms. Virtually they really formed but one community: all their interests were in common; but they maintained their separate establishments. Nokomis, a coloured woman, ruled in the kitchen of Omega Marsh, and in her department suffered no interference; but the linen was Loïs’ care: twice every week she spent the whole day putting it in order. When Father Nat made the above remark, she paused in what she was doing and said,—

“Two months, Father Nat! It is ten weeks since he started for Oswega.”

“Ten weeks, is it?” answered Nat. “He ought to be back, Loïs;” and turning away from her, he looked steadily out of the window.

“Yes, he ought,” she answered; “I understood he had left Oswega a month ago?”

“So he did,” answered Nat; “he went with some other traders to Miamis, you know—the village of Old Britain.”

“He’s safe there,” said Loïs. “I thought you always said Old Britain was a fast friend of the English?”

“So he is, but the French don’t half like it; they are always trying to get him on their side. But what with presents and selling our goods dirt cheap, we’ve managed somehow to keep him and his tribe satisfied; but I expect every day to hear the French have either bought him over or destroyed and plundered the village.”

“I believe you’ve heard something already,” said Loïs, and she went and stood beside him. “What is it, Father Nat?” she asked anxiously.

He did not answer immediately. At last, in a hurried voice, he said,—

“There is a rumour, but it may be false. I don’t want to give heed to it.”

“What is it?” repeated Loïs. “Tell me quickly, Father Nat,” and in her excitement she laid her hand on his arm.

“The news has come,” said Nathaniel slowly, “that a fleet of canoes manned by two hundred and fifty Ottawa and Ogibwa warriors have paddled down the lakes from Green Bay and so up the Maumee, and when last heard of they were marching through the forests against the Miamis.

“This news is three weeks old. If it be true, they will have surprised Old Britain and made short work of him, for you know most of the men of the tribe are away at this time for the summer hunting; only the old men, squaws, and children remain in the village. Roger, as I said, was going there with other traders; it strikes me if all had gone well he would have been home by this time.”

“Do you know anything else?” asked Loïs, and the very way in which she put the question was proof that she expected something more.

Nathaniel hesitated.

“Hush, do not say it,” she said, throwing back her head, whilst tears filled her eyes. “Charles was at Green Bay when last we heard of him,” and she wrung her hands.

“It is of no use, Loïs; we must make up our minds to it,” said Father Nat with a sigh. “He has passed away from us; he is gone over to the enemy, and in the war which is threatening us his hand will be against his own home and against his own people. I have heard that in the two years he has dwelt amongst them he has become a great man with the Indians; and the French hold him also in much esteem, partly because of his influence with the tribes, partly on account of his knowledge of Indian warfare and his forest lore. It is certain that an expedition did start from Green Bay commanded by a white man; they stopped at the fort at Detroit; but whether the white man was Charles, and whether they pushed on as far as Old Britain’s, we do not know.”

Loïs had listened in silence, with bowed head. Suddenly she looked up, a light in her eyes.

“Father,” she said, “Charles would defend Roger with his own life; he would never suffer any one to touch a hair of his head.”

“If he happened to come across him! But with two hundred devils rushing into a half-deserted village, ten chances to one they would never meet; they would have scalped him before Charles came up. Besides, he could not restrain them. I know too well what Indians are like when they have once tasted blood. And to think that a Langlade should consort with such devils! There is little doubt, Loïs, if Old Britain has been attacked, and Roger happened to be there, as I am pretty sure he was, I shall never see my son again,—and he is my only son!”

“Father, I am here.”

Nathaniel and Loïs turned sharply round, the latter with a faint cry, and there, leaning against the wall close by the door, stood Roger. He could move no farther. His clothes were torn almost to rags, one arm was in a sling, his head was bandaged, his face colourless; but worse than all was the look of despair in his eyes. Loïs crossed the room rapidly, and, pushing a chair towards him, said,—

“Sit down, Roger.”

Mechanically he obeyed, and from his parched lips came in a hard guttural voice the one word, “Water.”

Loïs hastened away, and Nathaniel, laying his hand on his son’s shoulder, said with ill-disguised emotion,—

“Thank God you’re back, lad; but you’ve had a hard time of it.”

Roger made no answer; he merely bowed his head, and, taking from Loïs the bowl she now offered him, drained it at one draught.

“Fetch your mother,” said Nat, and once more the girl disappeared. “Now, Roger, cheer up, lad,” he continued. “When Martha has looked at your wounds, go straight away upstairs and sleep it off. Don’t try to tell us anything at present. I guess pretty well what has happened. It’s been rough work; but you’ve escaped with your life, and that’s more than I expected. Will you eat something?”

Roger shook his head, and rising to his feet he almost wailed forth,—

“He was my friend—my own familiar friend!”

It was terrible to see the agony in his face. Physical pain is as nothing compared with the wrench of the heart’s strings. Roger had gone away a young man; he came back with heavy lines across his brow, and a drawn, hard look about his mouth.

Martha now came in, followed by Loïs.

“There, don’t ye fret, Roger,” she said; “the thing’s done, and there’s no mending of it. Sit ye down, and let me see what ails your head and arm. I’d like to think it were none of his doing?”

Martha uttered the last words wistfully, almost questioningly; but Roger made no answer, and a deep sigh escaped her as she proceeded to unbandage his head. He was as docile as a little child under her hands.

“Get plenty of water and linen, Loïs, and be quick about it,” said Martha sharply; “and you, Nat, just hand me those scissors.” As they both turned away to obey her she bent over Roger, and whispered in a quivering voice, “It can’t hurt you as it hurts me, his mother.”

“He saved my life,” said Roger.

“Thank God for that,” answered Martha; and turning round, she added, “Do you hear, Father Nat? My poor boy saved Roger’s life,” and great tears ran down her cheeks.

“I said he would!” came from Loïs, who returned with basin and ewer just as her mother uttered the last words.

“But I’d rather have died than have seen him as he now is,” said Roger.

“Nay, lad,” returned Nat; “your dying would not have given him back to us: it would but have made our hearts the sorer. Live to prove yourself the better man. Now be quick, Martha; the sooner he’s in bed the better.”

The wound on Roger’s head was both deep and painful; it had been caused by a blow from a steel hatchet—how it had not killed him was the marvel. His arm had a deep flesh wound. But what ailed him most was the great moral depression. He had evidently received a shock, from which he had not been able as yet to recover. Loïs as she helped her mother watched him closely, but she kept silent, knowing the sorrow was still too fresh to allow of comfort. When the dressing was over and he had drunk another bowl of fresh water, he rose, saying,—

“I will follow your advice, father, and go to bed. Call me at suppertime.”

And without uttering another word, looking neither to the right hand nor to the left, he quitted the kitchen. They heard him go slowly up the stairs, and, crossing the floor of the room overhead, fall heavily upon his bed.

Father Nat gave a deep groan, and Martha, sinking on a settle, threw her apron over her head and sobbed bitterly.

Loïs, kneeling down beside her mother, laid her head on her shoulder. No one spoke; they were realising for the first time how great the barrier must needs be which had arisen between them and Charles Langlade, the Indian chief.

“I’d sooner have seen him lying dead before me,” moaned Martha.

“Nay, nay, Martha, say not so; life is life—there is no hope in the grave! Remember David, who ‘fasted and wept while the child was yet alive’ in the hope that ‘God might be gracious and that the child might live, but after he was dead he ceased all outward signs of mourning and bowed his head and worshipped God.’ Is it nothing that we can still pray the Father to bring our dear one home to us again?”

Father Nat’s voice was full of deep emotion, and taking up his hat he too went forth.


Supper was over; the men and women employed about the house and home farm had dispersed. Father Nat sat in his large wooden armchair within the great fireplace, his pipe between his teeth; but it had gone out, and in his preoccupation he had not noticed the fact. Opposite him sat Martha Langlade knitting, and the click of her needles was heard above the murmuring voices of the two younger girls, who were busy conning over their lessons for the morrow. In marked distinction to the Canadians, and French colonies, education was held in high esteem, and indeed enforced, in the New England states. Whenever a settlement mustered a sufficiently large population to be able to support a minister, there, beside the church or chapel, a schoolhouse was sure to spring up, the functions of minister and schoolmaster being generally united in the same person. In the broad window-seat Loïs was telling Marcus the particulars of Roger’s return. The young man was now nearly twenty. Physically he resembled his brother, but in character he was the very opposite. Warfare was hateful to him; had he lived in quiet times he would have been a student. John Cleveland, the minister of the Marshes, had earnestly desired that he should be brought up to the ministry; but when his elder brother left them, Marcus knew that his place was at home, that his mother and sisters needed him, and quietly, without a murmur, he had put his own wishes on one side, and applied himself to the management of the farm. He was not brilliant like either Roger or Charles, but he was doggedly industrious, and Father Nat seldom had reason to complain. He was also a good son, and Martha, though she often grumbled at what she termed his slowness, knew it well; but he was not her firstborn, and he was fully aware that, labour as he might, he never succeeded in filling the vacant place in his mother’s heart; he never could replace the eldest son after whom she yearned! Loïs and he were great friends; they had always been so, trusting and supporting each other in all things.

“He’s slept over eight hours,” said Father Nat at last.

Loïs turned round, listened for a moment, then said,—

“He’s moving now; he’ll surely be wanting some food. I’ll go and see to it;” and rising she went into the outer kitchen, listening all the time for his step on the stairs as she and Nokomis prepared the supper. At last it came, not firm and quick as usual, but slow and heavy, as if the soul of the man were also heavy within him.

“Give me the scones, Nokomis,” said Loïs; and, taking the dish, she entered the front kitchen by one door as Roger came in by the other.

“You’ve had a good sleep and must need your supper,” she said with a smile. “Nokomis has kept some scones hot for you.”

“Thank you,” he answered, and then lifting his eyes he looked round the room. Marcus held out his hand.

“I’m glad you’re back, Roger,” he said, “but desperately sorry for the cause which kept you away.”

“I knew you would be,” answered Roger, as he seated himself at the table, where one of the younger girls had hastened to spread a snowy cloth, upon which Loïs placed the food.

“Are your wounds easier, Roger?” asked Martha.

“I scarcely feel my arm, but my head aches badly,” he answered.

“You want food; you’ll be better after supper,” said his father.

“Maybe,” answered Roger carelessly, and he took up his knife and fork and began mechanically to eat the food Loïs put upon his plate. But after the first few mouthfuls, nature asserted her rights. He was young and strong, had fasted all that day, and the fever of his wounds having left him, his appetite returned, and Loïs had the satisfaction of seeing the food disappear.

With infinite tact she told him of little events which had taken place in the settlement during his absence. Father Nat, Marcus, and the others joined in, so that the conversation became general. Roger kept silence, but he was evidently listening. Suddenly the door opened, and John Cleveland, the minister, entered. He and Nathaniel had been friends ever since he had been elected minister of the Marsh villages. The young Langlades and Boscowens had had no other teacher; he had married a Boscowen, a cousin of the present head of the house, and was therefore one of the family.

Every evening, summer and winter alike, he smoked his pipe in the chimney corner of Omega Marsh. Roger Boscowen and Charles Langlade had been great favourites with him, and both the young men returned his affection. He had done his best to prevent the latter taking the fatal step which had plunged them all into sorrow; failing to do so, he had grieved for him almost as bitterly as Nat had done.

Whilst Roger was sleeping, his father had gone over to the minister’s house and told him of the boys’ return.

“But I don’t like the look in his eyes,” he had said; “the meeting with Charles, under present circumstances, has unhinged him terribly. It’s not the fighting, nor the wounds; it’s the moral shock. I don’t think he ever really realised the change before. You’ll see what you think of him when you come up to-night.”

Entering the kitchen, John Cleveland went straight up to Roger, and laying his hand on his shoulder said earnestly,—

“Thank God you’re home again! Your father and I have been in trouble about you, Roger. You’ve had a hard time of it, lad. But it’s well, perhaps, you should look things straight in the face; you know now for certain that he we loved so well is lost to us, unless God in His great goodness vouchsafes to bring him home. In the meantime you are our hope and stay, Roger. Your name is in every mouth throughout the towns and villages of New England, as the man most capable of defending us against the French and Indians. The vote has been given; you are to be elected Captain of the Rangers, because of your superior knowledge in woodcraft. Within the last few days the story of Old Britain’s massacre has spread terror everywhere. There are those who still remember the massacre of Haverhill, when their minister was beaten to death and the men, women, and children murdered in cold blood, upwards of forty years ago. I am a man of peace and I preach peace; but if the heathen assail us, we must arise and defend ourselves: we cannot see our wives and children massacred or led captives before our eyes. Therefore I say to you, Roger Boscowen, Arise and gird on your sword, for it is a righteous cause you are called upon to defend. All the young men of New England and along the border are prepared to obey you as their leader, and to aid you in the defence of our hearths and homes. Let not your heart faint within you,” he continued kindly, lowering his voice, “because he you loved has gone over to the enemy. Jonathan and David fought not in the same camp, yet they loved each other to the end. If you cannot tear out the brotherly affection which has grown with your growth and has been so sweet to you, make up your mind to sacrifice it at the call of duty.”

He ceased, and there was a moment’s silence; then Roger arose, and standing in the midst of them said,—

“You are right, Mr. Cleveland, and I thank you for putting into words the struggle which has been going on within me. But it is over. From henceforth he and I are strangers one to another.”

He paused, drew a long breath, and then, as if he had cast something far away from him, crossed over to where his father sat, and, taking the seat beside him, said,—

“Now, if you will let me, I will tell you all that has happened since I left home: it is a long and painful story.”

In a few minutes all those present had gathered round him. Martha laid her knitting down and folded her hands to listen. It was of her son, her firstborn, she was about to hear, and it seemed to her as if her heart were like to break.

When they were all settled Roger began. “I found upon reaching Oswega that trade was far from flourishing. The French are growing very aggressive, and are daily becoming better friends with the Indians; they are liberal with both presents and promises, whereas we are neither; indeed, the Indians accuse us of not keeping faith with them. I and a dozen other traders decided therefore to go and see what we could do with Old Britain and the Miamis. It was the end of May when we reached the village. Most of the Indians were away on their summer hunt; but Old Britain received us well, and persuaded us to remain till some of the tribe should return. Thinking this might prove advantageous, as they were sure to bring fresh skins with them, we agreed to do so. Everything went well for the first fortnight; then we heard rumours of raids farther up the country, and I saw Old Britain was anxious. Once or twice he sent men out as scouts; but they came back saying they had seen no enemy, that the land was quiet; so, though he took every precaution against being surprised, he was satisfied there was no immediate danger to fear. He was not made aware by any sign that on the night of June 20th the enemy slept quietly in the near forest. They had come down the lakes in a fleet of canoes, two hundred and fifty picked warriors of the Ottawa and Ogibwa tribes. Silently, as only Indians can march, they made their way through the forest. At daybreak we were aroused by the shrill cry we all know so well, and then they were upon us, spreading terror through the village. The rifle rang out, the cry of the dying arose. Old Britain and his Indians fought bravely; but of course from the first it was hopeless—numbers were against them. They were slain or taken prisoners every one of them: it was a hideous spectacle. We traders had taken refuge in the warehouse, where till five in the afternoon we defended ourselves against fearful odds. Early in the day I had seen and recognised their chief. No need for me to tell you who he was! Three of our men managed to get out, hoping to reach the forest and escape: they failed, and were massacred before our eyes. Then the Indians swarmed over the palisades into the warehouse, and we knew that our last hour had come; but foremost, trying to hold them in check, came their chief. When he saw me he sprang wildly forward, covering me with his own body. ‘For God’s sake surrender!’ he said. ‘Never!’ I answered, and fired over his head. An Indian fell; it was a signal for all the others to rush on. He turned upon me. I never shall forget the look in his face. I saw the glittering steel in his hand as he threw the whole weight of his body upon me and struck me down.

“When I recovered consciousness I found myself in a log hut in the middle of the forest, he standing over me bathing my head.

“‘I couldn’t help it, old fellow,’ he said. ‘It was the only way of saving your life.’”

Roger paused. His voice failed him, so deep was his emotion; but when he spoke again he had mastered himself.

“I stayed in that hut a whole week unable to move; he kept guard over me and nursed me night and day. At the end of that time I was fit to travel. He brought me on my way until I was out of danger; then we parted. Ask me not what we said one to the other during those days and nights we were alone together; from henceforth we have agreed to strive our very uttermost never to meet again, never to look into each other’s faces. We are dead to one another. He told me that not for worlds would he again go through the agony he endured when he felled me to the earth, and stood over my body to prevent his Indians scalping me. Was I dead or alive? Had the curse of Cain descended upon him? He had conquered me; I was his captive,—that was all he knew, and by that right he saved me from the Indians. Not till night had fallen and they were deep in their disgusting orgies did he and John Stone, the lad who followed him as his servant, venture to do more than thrust me into an outhouse, lock the door, and threaten vengeance upon any one who should molest me. I was his prize and he was chief! They dared not disobey. During the night he and John carried me to a deserted hut in the forest, where I was comparatively safe. It is a week since we parted company. I have travelled slowly, from weakness, and because I was only able to carry a small amount of food. More than once I thought I must lie down and die after he left me.”

Roger stopped short. “That is all,” he said, looking round. The womenkind were weeping, the men’s faces were stern. Then John Cleveland stood up.

“Let us pray,” he said; and, after the fashion of the old Puritans, they all arose and stood with clasped hands and bowed heads whilst the minister prayed.

“O Lord, we thank Thee for Thy great mercy in delivering our dear brother from the jaws of the lion and bringing him back amongst us. In Thy great wisdom Thou hast done this thing, that he may be as Moses of old, a deliverer of Thy people. Strengthen him, O Lord; enlighten him, that he may overcome in Thy might the heathen and the oppressor. Give us peace, O Lord, we pray Thee; but if because of the wickedness in the land war cometh upon us, then give us the victory. Teach Thou ‘our hands to war’ that we may glorify Thy Name, and that the strange nations may do likewise. And over this household we pray Thee stretch forth Thine hand. Be merciful to the widow and fatherless in their affliction, and in Thy good time bring back the wandering sheep into the fold. Enable us to cast out all affections which tend not to Thy glory, and to worship Thee alone, the only true God, for Thy Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.”

“Amen,” answered the little congregation.

“Peace be with you all,” said the minister, stretching forth his hand.

And so, without further speech, but with silent hand-clasping, they parted for the night. When all were gone, and Father Nat and Roger stood alone on the hearth, the former said,—

“It will be war, Roger.”

“Ay, father; it will be a terrible war,” he answered. “Brother against brother. How shall I endure?”

“The Lord’s will be done. He will surely give you strength. Now let us go to rest, my son,” said the elder man; and, putting out the lights, father and son went up the broad oak staircase together, the summer moon shining in through the casement window lighting their darkness. But their hearts were heavy within them.


“Grandmother, where is Canada?” and a small dark girl of about sixteen years of age leant, as she asked the question, over the back of a garden chair, in which sat an old lady of nearly seventy years of age.

The scene was the terrace of the Château of Candiac in Languedoc. It was evening, and the crimson light of the setting sun illumined the whole valley, and was reflected in the numerous windows of the Castle, until the ancient fortress seemed almost on fire. It was the setting of a Southern sun, which had poured down the whole livelong day, scorching up the grass and driving men and beasts to seek refuge in sheltered spots; no breath of air stirred the trees, no animal had even yet ventured abroad. A dead silence still reigned over the landscape, as if exhausted nature were waiting patiently for the soft and refreshing night dews to restore her energies.

“Canada, Mercèdes, is at the other end of the world, my child,” answered Madame de St. Verin. “And I greatly fear if your father goes thither he will never return again. It is a land of savages, where they eat one another;” and her eyes filled with tears, and the white bejewelled hands resting on her lap were clasped together with nervous energy.

“Nay, madame,” said a younger lady, turning round, for she had been gazing earnestly along the white road which ran through the valley, “why terrify the children? If their father accepts this post of danger and of honour, surely it is more for their sakes than his own! We are noble, but we are poor, and there are many children to establish in the world—a serious matter as times go.”

“I know, my daughter,” said Madame de St. Verin gently; “but if you have six sons and daughters, I have only one son left to me in my old age.”

“Pardon me, dear madame,” replied Madame de Montcalm. “It is a hard necessity for us all; if it were not a necessity my dear husband would assuredly not separate himself from us, for you know how well he loves his home.”

“Well said, wife!” and an arm was thrown round her and a kiss imprinted on her forehead by a cavalier, dusty and travel-stained.

“Father, dear father!” and Mercèdes clung to him. “How did you come? We have been straining our eyes to catch the first glimpse of you on the high road.”

“Have you forgotten the short cut through the village at the back of the Château, Mercèdes? I left my escort to come on by the high road, and myself came across country, through the pine forest. I did this to gain time. I have not an hour to lose. I must leave you the day after to-morrow; for you may congratulate me, I have received my nomination as General-in-Chief of his Majesty’s army in Canada.”

“Oh, father!” exclaimed Mercèdes.

“My dear husband!” said Madame de Montcalm, holding his hand.

“Mother,” said the General, embracing the old lady, from whose eyes tears fell fast.

“It will be a last farewell between thee and me, my son,” she said.

“Nay; wherefore take this gloomy view of the situation?” he answered. “If I remained here I should be nominated to a regiment, and should, I hope, see some service. It is only a change of country, with the superior advantages of a higher position and better chances for the future. My eldest son is to go back with me to Versailles, to be presented to the King and given a commission. Why, mother, I thought you would rejoice, and hurried on to bring you the good news. I may be absent a year—two perhaps, if the English prove very stubborn. Who knows? I may be Military Governor of Canada when the war is over, and come home and fetch you all out, and you will hold your court like a queen in the Government House at Quebec,” and he laughed so brightly that the clouds seemed to break and the natural fears of those who loved him to dispel in the sunshine of his presence.

“You were always hopeful, Louis,” said his mother.

“Why should I be otherwise?” he answered. “We have desired this appointment; and though at first I hesitated because of the heavy responsibilities it entails, I have come to the conclusion that I am as capable as another, and that Canada is worth fighting for. It is a French colony, inhabited for generations past by our own people. It is ‘New France.’ Surely it were a national disgrace to let it slip through our fingers.”

He spoke enthusiastically: all his patriotism, all his ambition, was aroused; a fresh life was opening out before him, and he rejoiced in the prospect.

Louis, Marquis de Montcalm, the new Commander-in-Chief of Canada, was in stature rather short than tall, but his bearing was dignified and his manners courteous. His eyes were dark and wonderfully brilliant; indeed, the whole expression of his face inspired confidence and affection. He had married in early life Mademoiselle Louise de Roulay, and the marriage had proved a happy one. Ten children had been born to them; but six only were living at the time of our story.

Throughout life, in the midst of the corrupt court of Louis XV., the Marquis de Montcalm had remained a good man and a true Christian, an example in all things to the young officers and soldiers under him. His courage and sympathetic brightness won the hearts of all who came in contact with him, and he was beloved, both in life and after death, as it is given to few men to be.

“Where are all my other children?” he asked, looking around, when by his words and manner he had succeeded in calming his mother’s fears.

“They went to meet you; see, they are coming through the chestnut grove, and here is Toto,” said Madame de Montcalm, lifting up a three-year-old child who came running along the terrace towards them, and placing her in her husband’s arms. He kissed the child tenderly, waited till the others came up—two sons and two daughters—who, as soon as they caught sight of him, ran forward with joyous welcome. When the glad greetings were over, and they had all calmed down, he said,—

“Now I will go to my room and brush off some of the dust of my journey, and then to supper. I must see neither tears nor sad faces, remember; it is a good thing and a great honour which has befallen me. Come, mother,” and with exquisite gallantry he put his mother’s arm within his own, took his wife’s hand, and, followed by his troop of sons and daughters, entered the Castle. In the great hall the servants, many of whom had grown old in the family, stood ranged on either side to welcome him, for the news of his arrival had spread rapidly. He smiled and nodded to them with pleasant familiarity, saying in his cheery voice, “You may congratulate me, my friends. Your lord is indeed nominated to high office as ‘General to his most gracious Majesty’s army in Canada.’ Who will go with me?”

A murmur of congratulation followed these words; and instantly three men, all young, stepped out from amongst the servitors, and, bowing low before the marquis, the foremost one said,—

“We are ready to follow our gracious master to the world’s end.”

“My good Estève,” said the marquis, holding out his hand to his secretary, who carried it to his lips, “thanks a thousand times; I should be lost without you. And you, Joseph and Déjean! you too are willing to brave the dangers of the sea to accompany your master?”

“We are, if our master will graciously accept our services,” said Joseph, his valet.

“I should be indeed churlish if I refused,” said Montcalm. “Thanks, my friends; be ready to start to-morrow. It will be sharp work; the troops are even now at Brest, ready to embark.” And so saying, he passed on till he reached his own apartments and disappeared from view.


“Father, are there no convents in Canada?” asked Mercèdes.

“At Quebec, my daughter, I believe the Ursuline Convent is a very fine establishment,” said the General. “It was founded more than a hundred years ago, in 1640, by a very rich and very beautiful woman, Madame de Peltrie. It is a romantic story. Her home was near Caen, in Normandy, and her husband dying soon after her marriage, she desired to enter a nunnery; but her father, who was old, opposed her wishes, and she remained with him until his death. Then she sold all her possessions, and with another lady like-minded, Marie de l’Incarnation, set sail with a party of Jesuit missionaries for Canada. After untold hardships they arrived at Quebec; and there she built a convent and opened a school for Indian children, which she dedicated to St. Ursula.”

“How do you know all this, father?” asked the young girl, as she walked beside him on the terrace early the following morning.

Mercèdes was the General’s especial favourite, and when he was at home was always with him; nevertheless, being the third daughter, from an early age she had been destined to a convent life. She was perfectly happy, and looked upon her future with complacent satisfaction; it was the fate of many highborn girls in those days. She closely resembled her father, was small, sallow of complexion, with dark, sparkling eyes, full of intelligence and sweetness.

“I learnt the story through a Jesuit whom I met the other day at Court,” answered her father. “He had just returned from Canada, and when he heard who I was, and my position, he gave me much useful information. He is a remarkably intelligent man, and very devoted to the interests of the colony. He has been a missionary amongst the Indian tribe of the Iroquois for over twenty years. He will probably return with me. His name is Father Mathevet.”

“And he said the convent was a good one? Are the nuns French?” asked Mercèdes.

“French Canadians mostly; but I believe he mentioned that two or three ladies from the mother country had joined the community within the last year.”

“Father, let me go.”

“You, Mercèdes? My child, it is impossible!”

“Why impossible?” she said, in a coaxing voice. “It is settled for me to begin my novitiate at the Augustines; why should I not go out to Canada with you and enter the Ursulines? I should like it much better. It would be rather amusing teaching Indian children; and then you would not be alone.”

He looked down at her. The plan seemed to chime in with his dearest wishes. The General was a man devoted to his home and his children, and the thought of being separated from them all, though he accepted it as a necessity, was very painful to him. The sudden idea of having this child, his little Mercèdes, within reach, to whom he might speak of the dear absent ones, who in all things would sympathise with and understand him, was such an unexpected joy.

“Do you really mean it?” he asked.

“If I did not, should I propose it?” she answered. “You know I am of small account in the house, as it has always been settled I should be a nun; whether I am here or in Canada it can make no difference. I do not belong to the world, but to God; you and my mother gave me to Him when I was an infant; and think how happy I shall be if, whilst fulfilling my vocation, I can be a comfort to you, my dearest father,” and she clung to his arm.

“That you would most assuredly be,” he said; “the very fact of having you near me would be a comfort. But shall you not be afraid to go so far—to cross the sea, Mercèdes?”

She laughed such a bright, happy laugh. “Afraid of what?” she said. “Is not God with us always on sea or on land? And your daughter! Shall I dare to be afraid?”

Her father smiled. “Brave heart!” he said; “truly I do not see why you should not have your wish. A convent in France or in Canada, it cannot make much difference—except to me,” he added, and, stooping, he kissed the young, eager face.

“You will speak to mother then?” she said.

“Yes,” he answered thoughtfully. “If only I knew of some woman going out to Canada!”

“I know some one who would gladly go,” said Mercèdes.

“Who?” asked the General.

“My foster-mother, Marthe Dervieu. You know her husband is dead, and all her children; she is quite alone, and loves no one in the world as she loves me. Only last week she told me that when I entered the Augustines, she should go there also as serving sister.”

“That would indeed be just the thing; she is of a good age, neither too young nor too old. Why, Mercèdes, everything seems to combine to carry out your wishes,” said her father.

“Marthe is just thirty-five; she was only nineteen when she nursed me,” answered Mercèdes. “She will be so glad to go away from here, where she has had so much sorrow. Here comes my mother; I will leave you with her, my dear father. I am so happy!” and catching up his hand, she pressed it to her lips, and then ran lightly down the steps leading from the terrace into the Château gardens.

That evening, after supper, it was announced to the assembled family that Mercèdes was going out to Canada to become a novice in the Convent of the Ursulines, and that her nurse Marthe Dervieu had agreed to accompany her. The mother’s eyes were red with weeping, and the old grandmother, Madame de St. Verin, held Mercèdes in her arms murmuring, “My poor lamb!”

“Nay, grandmother,” said the girl, though tears choked her own voice. “You are giving me to God; what matters it whether it be here or there, so that I do Him service? And my dear father needs me; he will feel that I am near him, praying, always praying for him; and when he is weary he will come into the quiet cloister, and we shall speak of home and of you all. Nay, rather rejoice that such high honour is accorded to me. Instead of an easy life of personal devotion, which would be mine if I stayed here, I shall teach little Indian children to worship Christ and show them the way to heaven. Give me your blessing, grandmother;” and she sank on her knees before Madame de St. Verin, who, touched by the girl’s devotion and enthusiasm, laid her thin white hands on the dark hair, saying,—

“May God bless thee, my child, and have you in His holy keeping now and for evermore.”

“Amen,” said all present; and then they gathered round Mercèdes and embraced her, and it was even as she desired, a scene more of joy than of sorrow.

The following day the General left, accompanied only by his son the Chevalier and Estève, his secretary. He decided at the last moment that his two servants should wait to escort Mercèdes and Marthe when the time came for them to join him.

He would not allow the parting to be a sad one, reminding his children that they were descended from heroes, and must demean themselves accordingly.

The Montcalms traced their lineage back to Dieudonné Gozon, Grand-Master of the order of St. John of Jerusalem, who in the sixteenth century delivered the island of Rhodes from a monstrous serpent, which had long been the terror of the inhabitants. For this service he was made Lieutenant-General, and continued to distinguish himself so greatly that, when he died, at a good old age, he was honoured and revered by all men. His race was continued by a long line of knights and noble gentlemen, and so the Montcalms came to be reckoned as a race of heroes, and were proud of their descent.

The present Marquis, Louis de Montcalm, General-in-Chief of his Majesty’s army in Canada, had entered upon his military career at the early age of fourteen, as did also his great opponent General Wolfe. Boys were men in those days by the force of circumstances. At the battle of Plaisance, in 1746, Montcalm was three times wounded, and at the combat before Exiles twice.

When still very young, he had stated in a letter to his father his idea of what his aim and object in life ought to be. It is characteristic and worthy of record.

“First, to be an honourable man, of good morals, and a Christian.

“Secondly, to read in moderation, to know as much Greek and Latin as most men of the world; also to know the four rules of arithmetic, and something of history, geography, and belles lettres, and have a certain knowledge of the arts and sciences.

“Thirdly, and above all things, to be obedient, docile, and very submissive to your orders and those of my dear mother, and also to defer to the advice of Monsieur Dumas.

“Fourthly, to fence and ride as well as my small abilities will allow.”

The above-mentioned Monsieur Dumas was the family preceptor, and he and the young heir were somewhat antagonistic, Louis not responding as readily as Dumas could have desired to the educational pressure to which he would have subjected him. The tutor found a more apt pupil in the younger brother, who is stated to have been an infant prodigy, but died at the early age of seven years of water on the brain, having acquired during his short life, besides a fair knowledge of his own maternal language, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, geography, history sacred and profane, and various other minor studies. Probably his early death by no means incited his brother to follow in his steps.

Throughout life the Marquis de Montcalm maintained his code of honour, and, as his ancestors had done before him, left to his children an untarnished name.


Not till the beginning of March of the following year did the expectant household at the Château of Candiac receive the order for Mercèdes and her party to set out and join her father at Rennes. He wrote thus to his wife:—

Dearest,—The delay has been painfully trying; the Ministers have been hard to rouse. I have obtained money, men, and ammunition with great difficulty; but now the worst is over. I arrived at Rennes this morning, and shall remain here until my little Mercèdes appears, which will not be long now. I hope we shall be at Brest on the 21st of March, and everything will be on board by the 26th.

“My son has been here since yesterday, for me to coach him and get him a uniform made, in which he will give thanks for his regiment at the same time as I take my leave in my embroidered coat. Perhaps I shall leave debts behind; I wait impatiently for the bills. You have my will; I wish you would get it copied, and send it to me before I sail. I have much business on hand still. My health is good, and the passage will be a time of rest. I shall write up to the last moment. It is pleasant, I know, to hear particulars of those we love, and my mother, and you, my dearest and most beloved, will gladly read even the dullest details of my life. I am much pleased with my second officer in command, Chevalier Levis; he is brave and upright, full of expedients, and a man to be trusted. I might say the same of Chevalier Bougainville, the third in command. My greatest difficulty is getting sufficient troops to face such a campaign. Only twelve hundred men will embark with me. Now farewell; I embrace you, my dearest, my mother, and my daughters. Love to all the family,

“Your devoted husband,
Louis de Montcalm.”

Poor Mercèdes! When she saw the sea and the great ships, the troops of soldiers, and all the noise and bustle of the port, her heart sank for a moment within her. But she soon recovered herself, and when her father looked at her to see what impression the scene made upon her, she smiled and said quite quietly,—

“I suppose one can get accustomed to everything, but it does seem strange after our beautiful calm Candiac; I shall at least have seen something of the world before I bid it farewell.”

“The idea of crossing the sea does not then alarm you, my daughter?” asked the General.

“With God and with you, my father, what have I to fear?” she answered.

It was a bright spring day, the second of April, when they went on board. Six large vessels—large for those days—were in the harbour; their names have come down to us—the Léopard, Héros, Illustre, Licorne, Sauvage, and Sirène. Very different were they from the transport ships of to-day—devoid of every comfort, sailing vessels, subject to wind and weather. The General, with his officers Levis and Bougainville, and of course Mercèdes and Marthe, took passage in the Licorne; but they waited to see the troops go on board, which they did with incredible gaiety, so much so that Chevalier Bougainville exclaimed, “What a nation is ours; happy is he who commands it and commands it worthily!” And so, bravely with strong hearts, officers and men sailed for the first time across the Atlantic, at the command of a country which virtually forsook them in their hour of need.

Poor Marthe Dervieu was very ill during the whole voyage, but Mercèdes after the first few days recovered from the sea-sickness, and was so well and bright that she put the men to shame. Whenever she could leave Marthe she came with her father on deck, thankful to breathe the fresh sea-breeze in lieu of the dark, stuffy cabin.

“We are sure to arrive safely; we have a saint on board,” said the sailors. Nevertheless, when they were in mid-ocean a fearful gale overtook them, which lasted ninety hours. Many deemed their end was near. Mercèdes, as she lay lashed into her hammock, thought of the sunny plains of Provence, now bright with flowers; of the dear mother and grandmother, brothers and sisters; and it seemed to her that she could hear their prayers above the howling of the winds and the sound of many waters. Truly they were terrible nights and days, never forgotten by those who passed through them; but at last the winds and the waves were calmed, and the travellers breathed freely once more. Mercèdes was unlashed; but she was so stiff that, upon trying to stand, she would have fallen had not her father upheld and carried her on to the deck, to see the wonderful icebergs which, as they approached the St. Lawrence, threatened them with destruction, and made navigation so difficult that the ships advanced but slowly, those on board being in continual fear lest the floating masses should crash down upon them.

General Montcalm was fast losing patience. But for Mercèdes he would have landed, and made his way as best he could across country to Quebec; and one day, as Mercèdes was standing behind him, he gave expression to this wish with a certain amount of irritability.

“Father,” said she unhesitatingly, “I have not come to be a hindrance, but a help and comfort to you; if you hold back because of me, your duty will suffer. I am young and strong, and Marthe is well now and will be much better off the ship than on it. Let us land with you and make our way to Quebec.”

The General looked down upon the brave little creature and smiled. “You do not know what you are proposing, my child; it would be a difficult journey for men, impossible for you: it is not to be thought of.”

“General, do you see that canoe paddling towards us? I have been watching it for some time; it is bearing down upon us, and, if I mistake not, is full of Indians,” said Chevalier Levis, and he handed the General his long glass.

“You are right; they are coming straight up the river. I wonder whether it means peace or war. If I only knew the temper of the tribes towards us!” said Montcalm.

“That remains for us to find out in the future,” answered the Chevalier; “but they are decidedly gaining upon us, and if I mistake not there is a white man amongst them. Do you see that fellow standing up with the skin round his shoulders toga fashion, and the fur cap on his head?”

He had hardly finished speaking when the canoe glided up alongside the Licorne, and the man they had been observing called out in French:

“We are friends.”

“It is well,” said Montcalm, stooping over the bulwarks; “you are welcome. Will you come on board?”

“Willingly,” answered Charles Langlade, for it was he; and easily, without the slightest apparent effort, he swung himself up the sides of the great ship and stood in their midst, such a noble specimen of humanity that the General, stepping forward, held out his hand, saying,—

“Who are you? and what are you doing amongst those savages?”

A ringing, joyous laugh responded to this question. “I am Charles Langlade,” he said, “descended from the first French colonists, and now an Indian chief. They are my people, and I belong to them,” and then he rapidly told such portions of his story as he deemed advisable.

“But if you so desired to serve France, why did you not join the regular Canadian government and army?” asked the Chevalier Levis.

“When you have been in Quebec six weeks, and have made acquaintance with those who at present govern Canada, you will have no need to ask me that question,” answered Charles. “For months I have been waiting for your coming. If Canada is to be saved, it will be by you and not by them. And now I am on my way to Quebec with some six hundred men of my tribe; and when I saw your ships coming up the St. Lawrence, I knew that at last the old country had remembered us, and so I put off to see if I could be of any service to you.”

“Indeed you can,” said Montcalm eagerly. “I am very anxious to get to Quebec myself as quickly as possible; but being utterly ignorant of the country and the mode of travelling, I am at a loss how to proceed.”

“If you are willing to entrust yourself to me, I think the journey can be accomplished without great difficulty. Alone you would find it almost impossible. It is the season of the year when we take our furs up to Quebec for sale: if you will accompany us, I will ensure your reaching the city in safety, and as rapidly as may be.”

“I should be very grateful,” said the General, “but I am not alone. I cannot well leave my daughter and her servant to land with the troops.”

“Your daughter!” exclaimed Charles; for wrapped in a great cloak, with the hood drawn down over her face to protect it from the wind, Mercèdes, standing behind the officers, had escaped observation. Now she stepped forward, threw back her hood, and showed a small white face, whiter and thinner than when she left France, and with eyes which looked preternaturally large and brilliant.

“I can travel,” she said; “I am not afraid either of the cold or of the fatigue. I am very strong.” The pure intonation of the gentle voice, the delicate refinement of the high-bred girl, were evident, even in these few simple words, and came home to Charles Langlade with peculiar force, unaccustomed as he was to civilised life.

“Mademoiselle wishes to travel by land to Quebec?” he said, looking at her and instinctively baring his head before her.

“Yes,” she answered. “If my father goes I must go too; I cannot be a hindrance to him.”

“It will be difficult,” he said. “The snow and ice are only partially melted; there are still large fields of ice. You do not know our Canada; it is a rude country. If it were mid-winter it would be better than now; then the rivers are frozen over and the land is covered with snow, and with skates, sleighs, and snowshoes we can travel easily and rapidly; but now the thaw has set in, and the rivers are no longer safe, the floods are rising, and the land is inundated.”

“You said you could take my father by land to Quebec,” she answered, speaking imperatively; “therefore you must do it, and I and Marthe must go likewise. You know you can if you will to do so.”

He could not help smiling; she appeared such a child to him, so utterly fearless because so utterly ignorant of danger.

Take her! Of course he could take her, if, as she said, he so willed it; and it seemed suddenly as if he had no will but hers.

“It can be done, General,” he said, turning to the Marquis. “If you will trust me, I will conduct your party to Quebec.”

“Will it be safe?” said Chevalier Levis. “You do not know this man,” he added in a low voice to the General.

“If I say it is safe, who will dare gainsay me?” said Charles Langlade haughtily.

“We will go, father,” said Mercèdes, laying her hand on the General’s arm.

He hesitated one moment; then he looked up at the Canadian hunter, saying, “I will trust you. Go I must, for my duty calls me. When shall we start?”

“It is too late to-day; to-morrow at dawn I will be here to fetch you.”

“It is well; we will await you,” said the General.


The dawn had hardly broken over the land when a low prolonged whistle intimated to General Montcalm and his party that Charles Langlade, true to his promise, awaited them. The cold was intense, more especially to those born and bred in the sunny plains of Provence, and Mercèdes and her foster-mother Marthe, notwithstanding all their resolution, shivered under their thick furs, as they stood on the deck of the Licorne for the last time. Charles Langlade leapt on board, saluted the General and his officers, and then, turning to Mercèdes, said,—

“You are still quite decided to make the venture, Mademoiselle?”

“Quite,” she answered in a clear, sweet voice, which struck like the notes of a silver bell on the Canadian’s ear.

“It is well,” he answered. “I think we shall be fortunate. Snow has fallen all night; it is freezing now; travelling will be easier than I expected.” He left her, and helped to hand what little luggage the travellers ventured to take with them into the canoe. No Indians had accompanied him on the present occasion; he had only brought his faithful John Stone, who had rarely left him since together they had bidden adieu to New England.

He was standing up in the canoe now, ready to receive the strangers. Mercèdes was the first to be lowered; Marthe, Estève, and the two servants followed. The General lingered to say a few parting words to the officers he left in command; then he, too, dropped into the canoe, and took his place beside his daughter. A few seconds later the canoe was paddled to the shore.

“Excuse me, Mademoiselle,” said Charles Langlade, and quietly he took Mercèdes in his arms and leapt on land with her. John Stone did as much for Marthe. Two Indians were awaiting them; one picked up the canoe, the other the luggage, and all disappeared in the direction of the forest. It was the middle of April, but the land was still snow-bound, though the thaw which had set in had begun to loosen the ice on the lakes and rivers: it had been an unusually severe and prolonged winter.

Charles Langlade produced snowshoes for the party, and having duly adjusted them they started.

“As soon as we have crossed the forest we shall gain the open country for some miles,” Charles explained to the General, “and sleighs will then carry us rapidly over the ground.” But after their long confinement on the ship, the travellers found walking for miles over the snow-covered ground so fatiguing that, after a couple of hours’ march, they were obliged to rest before entering the forest. A clearance was made, a huge fire lighted, round which they all gathered, wrapped in skins and blankets to protect them from the cold winds. Mercèdes was so exhausted that, after partaking of some food, she lay with her head on her father’s shoulder and fell asleep.

When she awoke she found herself being carried by two strong arms. She was so muffled up that she could not in the least see who her bearer was, and a sensation of unreasoning fear crept over her. “Father,” she called out, trying to move.

“Gently, Mademoiselle,” said a voice which she recognised at once. “You have had a good rest, and will be glad to walk now, I daresay,” and she felt herself placed on the ground, and her wraps loosened from around her.

The whole party had stopped, and, as she stood in their midst, her father said, smiling,—

“You’ve had the best of it, Mercèdes; we are nearly done up again, and you are fresh as a young colt, or ought to be. Thank Monsieur; he has carried you for the last two hours.”

“Oh, how could you let him?” exclaimed Mercèdes reproachfully.

“We could not leave you behind, and you were sleeping so deeply that it would have been impossible to rouse you sufficiently for you to walk. Monsieur is kind enough to say that your weight is nothing compared to that of a deer.”

Charles laughed. “Indeed no,” he said; “you need not fear having wearied me, Mademoiselle. I hardly knew I had a burden, you are so small and light. But now we must hurry forward; we have still some distance to go before we reach the log hut where we shall put up for the night.”

“Poor Marthe! Let me help you; you can hardly drag yourself,” said Mercèdes to her foster-mother.

“I’m not so bad as that, Mademoiselle,” answered the patient peasant woman; “the man’s like the master, he’s helped me along;” and she pointed to John Stone, who smiled and nodded without understanding her, and, once more taking her arm, he almost carried her over the ground.

The day was drawing to a close when they reached the log or lumber camp, and saw the smoke rising straight in the air, giving promise at least of shelter and of warmth.

These log or lumber camps were and are still all constructed on much the same model, being composed of pine trunks, placed lengthwise one above the other, with a sloping roof covered over with pine boughs, and often, as on the present occasion, with a thick layer of snow. The fire is in the centre, and the inmates lie on pallets made of the soft twigs of the spruce, with their feet inwards, and well wrapped up in rugs and blankets. None but those who have experienced it can conceive the comfort of a log hut in the depths of a primeval forest. When Charles Langlade and his party arrived it was already fairly crowded: but room was instantly made for the new-comers; they were welcomed with true, genuine hospitality, such as is often lacking in more civilised countries. They were offered a share of the coarse but wholesome food—salt pork, bread, and potatoes, washed down with a weak decoction of a sort of herb tea. Mercèdes and Marthe, with the wife of the lumber-man, were the only women, amidst a score of men; but they were treated with the most perfect respect, the warmest and most secluded corner being assigned to them; and although every available space was occupied, there was no impurity in the atmosphere, as an enormous log fire was kept constantly burning, and the apartment was thus freely ventilated through the large smoke flue of the roof. It would have required far greater discomfort to have prevented any of the party from resting, so thoroughly were they all worn out with the unaccustomed method of travelling and the exhilarating air they had inhaled all day. So it came to pass that, wrapped in furs and blankets on the primitive pallets, they fell asleep, and did not awake till with the dawn of day their companions began to move; then they arose, and, after a frugal meal, started off once more.

There had been a heavy frost that night, which enabled them to run with ease on snowshoes, with which they had now become familiar; therefore the fatigue was less, and before noon they had reached the border of the forest. Here they found the two Indians awaiting them with sleighs, in which, after resting for a couple of hours, they started off again. This new way of travelling appeared to them simply delightful, notwithstanding the cold wind which cut their faces as they flew across the country.

“We must hurry on,” said Charles Langlade to the General, who, with Mercèdes and Marthe, occupied his sleigh; “the thaw is coming, and then the roads will be impassable.”

Several times they were stopped by rivers or broad streams, but they always found the Indians waiting for them with the canoe or raft.

“How have you done it? It is wonderful, such forethought,” said the General on one occasion to Charles.

“There is nothing wonderful in it,” he said. “The Indians know where I am bound for and my needs; they are swift of foot, and every inch of the way is familiar to them; it is child’s play.”

The last part of the journey was comparatively easy; their road lay through many a Canadian village, where they found ready hospitality; and when by chance the General made himself known, the enthusiasm of the inhabitants was unbounded. The population was entirely French, and intensely patriotic, loving the old France with a, so to speak, idealised affection.

“You may rest assured they will rise to a man when you call upon them to do so,” said Charles Langlade; and then he added, with something very like a sigh, “To-morrow you will reach Quebec.”

“Thanks to you,” said the General. “I do not know how to express my gratitude for your services!”

“By making use of me whenever you can,” said Charles hastily. “Remember, I am always ready. I ask for nothing better than to serve the cause of France, to keep Canada for the old country. But the English are strong; they are determined. Pitt is Minister, and he is sending out troops. It will be a hard struggle, a desperate struggle; but if you conciliate the Indians they will side with France, and they are a power in themselves. You do not know me yet; but in Quebec Charles Langlade’s name is familiar, and you will learn that I am a true man, ready to support you, and that you may have faith in me.”

“You have no need to tell me that; you have proved it,” said the General. “You are the first friend I have made in this country; from henceforth you will rank first in my estimation and affection.”

So saying, he held out his hand, and Charles Langlade clasped it, saying solemnly, “It is a covenant between thee and me.”

“Let it be so,” answered Montcalm. “And now we must hurry forward. I cannot express to you my anxiety to begin operations. What I have already seen convinces me that we must conquer in the long run.”

“I trust so,” answered Charles; but, nevertheless, in his heart there was a doubt. He knew better than the sanguine General all the difficulties and stumbling-blocks which awaited him—party spirit, jealousies, corruption, treason in high places. But he restrained himself, and would not give utterance to the warning note. “Time enough; he will find it out for himself,” he murmured, as he turned away to give the final orders for their last day’s march.

The thaw had set in now, and a south wind was blowing. The journey was to be finished by boat up the St. Lawrence; there was no danger, and it was the quickest mode of transport.

“I am sorry it is over,” said Mercèdes, as she stood beside her father waiting to embark.

The General looked down upon her and smiled.

“Decidedly Canadian travelling agrees with you; you are looking remarkably well. I think your mother would hardly know you.”

And he was right. The sallow-faced, thin girl had utterly changed: a rich softness, a glow of colour now tinged her cheeks; her lips were red, her eyes clear and bright like stars; the sharpness of feature had given place to a rounded symmetry. She was not beautiful, she could never be that; but she was pleasant to look upon—a picture of youth, wrapped in the dark sable cloak, the hood fastened underneath her chin framing the young face with its dark outline. Ten days of life and exercise in the open air had transformed Mercèdes.

“She’s never looked thus, Monsieur le Marquis, since she was a baby,” said Marthe, “and I used to carry her out into the vineyards. I never could imagine why from a brown rosy child she grew so pale; it’s air she wanted.”

“Yes; I suppose so,” replied the Marquis carelessly, and then they descended the bank and entered the boats.

Charles Langlade sat in the stern behind Mercèdes, but he was silent. Had it been summer-time the scenery up the stately river would have been lovely, but winter still rested on all things. Not a green hue so much as tinged the black branches of the trees; only the groves of pines, upon the summits of which the snow still rested, gave colour to the landscape. They shot past the snowy fall of Montmorenci, with its perpetual leaping avalanche, along the low shores of the beautiful Isle of Orleans, where the wild grape festooned the primitive forest, and won from old Cartier the name of the Isle of Bacchus. Here and there villages clustered round slim-spired churches in the vales, or on some gentle height; it was no longer the wild desolation of the forest, but the gradual growth of civilisation creeping upon them, until at last Quebec with its “mural-crowned” and castled rock rose before them.

It had been decided that they should land just outside Quebec, rest for the night at a farmhouse tenanted by friends of Charles Langlade, and enter the city the following morning. It was almost dark when they reached their destination, and as they left the boat and walked up to the farm, Charles found himself beside Mercèdes and Marthe.

“Mademoiselle,” he said, in a low tone, his voice trembling slightly, “I am glad of this opportunity of wishing you adieu. I shall be far on my way to join my tribe before the sun is risen to-morrow.”

“Will you?” said Mercèdes. “I am so sorry; you have been so good to me. I wish it were all to come over again. Cannot you go with us to Quebec?”

“Thank you,” he answered; “your words give me great happiness. I can go no farther with you now, but it will not be long before we meet again, I trust.”

“Meet again!” answered Mercèdes; and if he could have looked into her face he would have seen a shadow cross it. “Who can tell? It is not very likely we shall meet again. I am going to the Convent of St. Ursula to be a nun.”

“Ah no!” he exclaimed; “you must not; you are too brave and good to shut yourself away from the world.”

“But I must,” she said; “it was decided long ago, when I was a child.”

He made no answer, but set his teeth hard.

“Adieu, Mademoiselle,” he murmured; then caught her hand, raised it to his lips, dropped it, and was gone.

Mercèdes stood still with a pained feeling at her heart, and a regretful longing for the world which had suddenly become so pleasant in her eyes. She drew a short, impatient sigh.

“Come, Marthe,” she said; “my father will be wondering why we linger;” and they hurried forward.

“He need not have bidden me adieu to-night,” she thought, when an hour later she stood at the window of the room which had been allotted for her use, and looked up at the sky, brilliant with myriads of stars. She could not guess that he was gazing up at her from behind the garden fence—the star of his life, although he knew it not.


“Loïs, there are five or six men on horseback just come up through the village; they are outside the gate, and are asking for Roger. Where’s mother?” and Marie Langlade dashed into the kitchen, where Loïs, her sleeves tucked up above the elbows, was busy kneading the bread.

“Roger won’t be back till to-morrow; he’s gone up country with Stark and Bradstreet after some cattle which are missing. There was a rumour of the Indians having been seen down the river, and he’s gone to reconnoitre. Mother is with Mistress Cleveland; she was ailing, and sent Charlie up to ask her to come down. She went an hour ago.”

“Then you must come out and speak to the strangers,” said Marie. “They are different from the men who usually come this way; they are neither hunters nor merchants, and they sit so straight on their horses and look so grand, and their speech is soft and pleasant.”

“I will come,” said Loïs, smiling at the description; and taking her hands out of the kneading-trough, she quickly washed them, drew down her sleeves, and went out into the porch, followed by Marie.

They were a great contrast, those two sisters,—Loïs in the dawn of early womanhood, with her soft dark hair and rich, ripe complexion, quiet and composed, as eldest daughters, upon whom tired mothers are often wont to shift a portion of their burdens, frequently are; whilst Marie was not yet seventeen, and fair as a northern maiden, with rippling golden-hued hair, a rose-leaf complexion, forget-me-not blue eyes; not beautiful in feature, but fresh and pure and lovable. Very pleasant they looked as they came out together, and at sight of them the foremost horseman sprang to the ground, opened the garden gate, and, doffing his military cap, came towards them.

“You are asking, my sister tells me, for Roger Boscowen,” said Loïs, returning his salute. “He is not at home; he is gone on an expedition, and will not be back for some days perhaps; we can never tell how long he may absent himself.”

“I am sorry,” said the stranger, in a rich, musical voice, and with an accent which told Loïs that he was no colonist, but an Englishman fresh from the old country; “doubtless,” he continued, “there is some inn where we can put up our horses and remain until his return?”

“Oh, yes,” answered Loïs; “but if you have come on business to Roger, you had better wait and see Father Nat. You look travel-stained; have you come from far?”

“We have come all the way from Albany,” answered the stranger, smiling pleasantly, “and we wish to take up our abode in your village—at least, for a time.”

“Indeed,” said Loïs, looking surprised; but too modest to question him further, she added, “If you will go with your men to the house yonder I will send for Father Nat, and you can explain your business to him.”

“But is not this Roger Boscowen’s house?” asked the traveller.

“No,” said Loïs; “this is Alpha Marsh, the Langlades’ homestead; the Boscowens live next door at Omega Marsh. But indeed it is much the same, only as you ask for Roger you had better go to his own place. I will send men to take your horses, and Nokomis will provide refreshments for your men.” She bent her head with a certain stately grace, and re-entered the house.

“Quick, Marie,” she said; “find Jim and tell him to go in search of Father Nat, and let him know of the arrival of the new-comers. I will go round to Nokomis and see that she deals out proper hospitality; she is not over given to generosity.”

Half an hour later the strangers were seated in Omega Marsh kitchen, partaking of a plentiful meal, which was rendered still more palatable served as it was by two such handmaids as Loïs and Marie. Father Nat had returned in haste when he heard of the arrival of the strangers, but he would not allow their chief to enter into any explanations until he had refreshed himself.

They were five in number: four men in the prime of life, and one lad of seventeen, whom Nathaniel recognised immediately as the son of an old acquaintance, William Parkmann, of Massachusetts. He was a mere boy in appearance, unusually tall and lanky, overgrown one might say, with an almost girl’s face—he looked so very young: yet there was no lack of character in it; the mouth and chin were firm, and the hazel eyes intelligent and even searching.

When the supper was cleared away, and the jar of tobacco and long clay pipes had been placed upon the table, the evident leader of the party turned to Nathaniel, and said with infinite courtesy,—

“After having partaken of your generous hospitality, it is time we introduced ourselves to you, my host; especially as it is our intention to remain some time in the settlement, if you will suffer us to do so.”

“Why should I hinder you? If I mistake not, you are officers in his Gracious Majesty’s army,” said Nathaniel.

“You have guessed rightly,” answered the same speaker. “I am Brigadier Howe, and my companions are Lieutenants Pringle, Philips, and Roche. I need scarcely tell you the importance of the struggle going on between France and England; it has not yet reached its height, but it will ere long, and it behoves us all to be prepared to fight to the best of our abilities for our country and her honour. I am of opinion that the ordinary system of European warfare will prove a failure when pitted against Indian and Canadian fighting; and unless we can acquire some practical knowledge of their tactics, we run a very great chance of being worsted. For the last three years you have suffered frightful aggressions along the borderland from the Indians and French, and have only been protected by the courage and abilities of your volunteer men, your Rangers, as they are called, whose captain, Roger the Ranger, is, I believe, your son. His name is in everybody’s mouth as the man of all others the most capable of rendering assistance to the colony in its present straits. Thirley, the Governor of Massachusetts, and William Johnson, of New York, Commander of the Massachusetts Volunteers, cannot say too much in his favour; and therefore we four officers of his Majesty’s army have come to him with a request that, during the present winter, he will enroll us as members of his corps of Rangers, subject us to their training, and allow us to accompany him on all his expeditions; thus we shall learn forest warfare and the ways of the enemy, and know how to deal with them. Your son will be doing inestimable service to the regular army by thus initiating us. Do you think he will consent to do this?”

“I cannot say,” answered Nathaniel. “My son has thrown himself heart and soul into the defence of the colony. But for his fame I scarcely think our settlement would have remained so long unmolested. You are acquainted with the frightful rapine and murder which the red warriors have committed in the border settlements of Virginia and Pennsylvania. The Quakers even, much against their will, have been driven into passing a militia law, by the sight of the bodies of the massacred men paraded about the streets of Philadelphia. Massachusetts has been foremost in resisting French and Indian aggression, and has taken the lead in the preparation for war. I have heard Roger say that the British army, disciplined as it is, and with officers of unrivalled bravery, will, from their ignorance of the country and of the style of warfare, be subject to many reverses. I think he would approve of your plan, but you must await his return; he will answer you himself.”

“We are quite willing to remain here,” answered Brigadier Howe, “if you will tell us where we can put up.”

Nathaniel smiled. “You are unacquainted with our New England hospitality,” he said. “We never turn a stranger from our door; we deem it would bring us ill-fortune. The Lord has sent you hither, and until your business with Roger be settled, your place is laid for you at my table and the guest-chamber is at your service.”

“But we are so numerous, and our horses will encumber your stables,” said the Brigadier.

“What Omega cannot accomplish Alpha will,” he answered quietly. “The Boscowens and Langlades, though they live each under different roofs, form but one household: it has been so for over four generations.”

“If such hospitality be amongst your traditions, far be it from me to gainsay you,” said the Brigadier. “But that name of Langlade struck me just now. I heard it lately at Albany; there was much talk of a Charles Langlade and a certain La Corne, both of them French Canadians, who had joined the Indians, taken squaw wives, and become of great importance in the tribes. Surely that Langlade has no connection with this family?”

Nathaniel’s brow darkened.

“Speak not of it,” he said sternly. “He is our eldest son. Above all things do not utter his name before Roger; they were as brothers, and he has become a thorn in his flesh.”

He had hardly finished speaking when the door opened, and Martha, accompanied by the minister and his wife, entered. Mistress Cleveland’s ailments were frequent, but never of a very serious nature—often little more than an excuse for sending to Alpha Marsh and getting Martha Langlade down for a good day’s gossip. When, therefore, the news came that strangers had arrived, she declared herself quite equal to the exertion of accompanying her husband and Martha—indeed, the walk she felt sure would be beneficial to her; and so they set forth together, curious to know who the newcomers might be. Marcus and the younger members of the family soon followed, so that the kitchen was full; and the murmur of many voices and occasional laughter struck pleasantly on the ear.

Marcus, though some years older, promptly made friends with William Parkmann, and heard with interest all that was going on in the States.

The young man spoke with enthusiastic affection of Brigadier Howe; to his young imagination he was evidently a hero.

“He will save the colonies,” he affirmed, “because he’s young and goes to work in the right way. He is not likely to fall into an ambuscade, as General Braddock did.”

“We will hope not,” said Marcus; “one such experience is sufficient.”

“I wish you would talk of something besides fighting and Indians,” said Marie, leaning her elbows on the table. “It is the same thing every day. I am so tired of it.”

“I am afraid you will be much more tired before it is over, Marie,” said her brother; “the great struggle has yet to come. One thing is certain, French and English cannot live together as neighbours unless the former will take the oath of allegiance, and that their priests will never allow them to do.”

“I hope we shall never hear again of anything so dreadful as the expulsion from Grandpré two years ago,” said Loïs. “Fancy husbands and wives, parents and children, torn away from each other, sent hundreds of miles apart, never to meet again! That seems to me worse than death; the yearning and the longing, the never-ceasing anxiety, must be so very terrible!” and tears filled her eyes, whilst her voice trembled with emotion.

“Yes, worse than death,” said a low, deep voice behind her. “Death means peace, reunion, love. Why should we fear it, if we but remember His promise, ‘Fear not, I am with thee’?” Loïs turned round, and met the kindly eyes of Brigadier Howe bent on her.

“Yes,” she answered, “there are many worse things than death—this continuous warfare, the horrors of the savages, brother warring against brother. Oh! when will it end? when shall we have peace?” and the tears which she had striven to restrain rolled down her face.

“There, there, Loïs,” said Marcus soothingly. “It will come in due time; we are all striving after it.”

“The war is drawing to a close,” said Brigadier Howe. “England has taken up the gauntlet in good earnest at last; William Pitt is at the helm, and he will not rest until Canada is a settled English Protestant colony.”

“Amen,” said Minister Cleveland; “and now, mistress, it’s time we went home; it is getting late, and the travellers will be glad to go to rest. Good-night to you all,” and there was a great hand-shaking. Loïs helped Mistress Cleveland on with her cloak and hood, commending her to be careful not to take a chill; then the lantern was lit, and the young people trooped down to the gate to start them on their way home. Martha took this opportunity of speaking to Father Nat.

“You must not take all the five guests, father,” she said; “have you forgotten that we also have our guest-chamber?” and she drew herself up with dignity.

“Not likely I should forget,” he answered; “choose which of them you will have, Martha, or shall they cast lots? Women rule the roost here, sir, as they do elsewhere,” he said, turning to Howe. “Mistress Martha will have it she has a right to the honour of entertaining some of your party; you went to her gate first, it seems.”

“True,” said Howe, smiling. “We are flattered by your desire, madam. We think there is one amongst us who has already found a flame, and is trying to singe his wings; if she lead the way, he will not refuse to follow,” and as he spoke he looked towards where Marie and William Parkmann were talking to each other.

“Tut!” said Martha. “Marie’s only a child.”

“To our mothers we are always children,” said Howe sweetly.

“He’s a nice lad,” said Martha kindly; “let him come, and one other.”

“The young with the young,” said Howe, smiling. “What do you say to Roche?”

“He is welcome,” said Martha, smiling.

“Roche and Parkmann,” said Howe, speaking with a tone of military command, “you are billeted on Dame Martha Langlade.”

“Very good, sir,” answered the two young men gladly.

A general move followed, good-nights were exchanged, Marcus helped Father Nat show his guests to their rooms, and then they all separated; only Father Nat and Brigadier Howe remained in the chimney corner.

“If you’ve no objection, we’ll smoke one pipe together before we part company, Father Nat. I am anxious to ask you a few questions,” said Howe.

“You can ask,” answered the father; “maybe I’ll answer you, maybe I won’t.”

“I think you will answer me,” said Howe gently, as he filled his pipe from the jar of tobacco Father Nat pushed towards him. Stooping, he picked an ember out of the hearth and lit it, and then he leant back thoughtfully in the old armchair as the white smoke slowly curled up the wide open chimney.


“What I am about to ask you is from no idle curiosity, but because my interest has been aroused for some time past by all I have heard of your son and his exploits. He is spoken of as a hard man, a splendid disciplinarian, reckless of his own life, fearing neither God nor man, with but one object in life—the driving of the Indian and the French out of the country. Is this so?”

A moment’s hesitation, then Father Nat answered: “It is true. Until three years ago there was not a more God-fearing, braver, brighter lad along the length and breadth of the New England border than Roger Boscowen. He and Charles Langlade were cited as model young men; there were no better farmers, no better hunters than they, and their conduct was irreproachable. I seem to hear them still whistling as they went and came about the place. Roger is my only child, and somehow it grew to be a sort of accepted thing that in due time he should marry Loïs. You saw her to-day, the eldest Langlade girl; a sweeter woman it would be impossible to find on the face of the earth. They were very fond of each other: when the young men were at home the three were always together. Ah! those were happy days; but from the hour Charles Langlade left his home the change began. Roger struggled against it at first; but after the affair at Miamis, in which Old Britain was killed and Roger nearly met his death by the hand of Charles himself, he has been a changed man, sombre and stern. He told Loïs in a few words that all was over between them. What actually passed no one knows, but since that day, beyond a simple ‘good day’ or ‘good evening,’ they have never been seen to speak together. He has never recrossed the threshold of Alpha Marsh, and when he is at Omega Marsh, neither her mother nor Loïs comes here. He endures the younger ones, but he seldom looks at or speaks with them. He is rarely at home, and has not been to chapel for more than three years. When the minister would have exhorted him, he turned away with a bitter laugh. His heart is hardened, his whole nature is changed!”

And Nat shook the ashes out of his pipe and relapsed into silence.

“It is a sad story; something I had heard of it before coming here,” said Howe. “But cheer up, father. God’s ways are not man’s ways: it is hard for us to understand His dealings with us,—better not try; better in simple faith believe that what ‘He doeth is well done.’ I have heard Roger’s exploits spoken of as something marvellous. His knowledge of Indian warfare is so perfect that it is almost impossible for them to waylay him. It is averred that he could conduct an army through the forest on the darkest night. Probably had he continued to lead the life of an ordinary hunter he would never have attained this degree of perfection; and we need such a man now. Surely God has raised him up for our deliverance.”

“Maybe, maybe,” answered Father Nat; “Loïs has said as much, and she is far-sighted.”

“She seems a right noble woman,” said Howe. “Has she taken Roger’s desertion much to heart?”

“You have seen her; does she look like a love-sick girl?” said Father Nat, almost indignantly. “Nay, nay; our Loïs is a brave, God-fearing maiden. She never even winced at the pain he gave her, but went about her work as if naught had happened. And she has never changed; she keeps my house in order, and is her mother’s right hand. No one ever touches Roger’s things but herself; she comes and goes from early morning till late at night, and there is no shadow on her brow. Ah, she’s a bonnie woman, God bless her!” and Father Nat’s voice was husky.

“Truly she must be,” answered Howe; and, remembering the words she had spoken, “There are many things worse than death,” he recognised that here, at least, was one who had early learnt the lesson “to suffer and be strong.”

Suddenly the silence was broken by the loud barking of dogs, and men’s steps were heard coming across the courtyard, followed by a shrill whistle.

“It’s Roger!” said Nathaniel, rising. “I never thought he’d be back so soon; either he has found the rumours false or he wants more men.”

He left the kitchen, and Howe heard the back door unbarred, and by the sounds he could guess that three or four men had entered the house. They conversed for some time in low voices; then there was a clatter of knives and forks. The officer felt his presence was causing inconvenience; yet he sat on, so intense was his desire to see this man of whom he had heard so much.

His patience was rewarded after a time; he heard leave-taking, and the outer door open and shut. A few minutes after Father Nat reappeared, and behind him towered a man of unusual height, broad-shouldered, large-limbed, dressed in a plain grey hunting suit with tan-leather leggings. His face was rough-hewn, cut in a large mould; hair and beard, both of a reddish hue, were cropped close; his eyes were of that peculiarly dark grey showing blue in some lights, and black when the feelings were wrought to an unusual pitch. In childhood and youth they had been remarkable for their brightness, now at most times they were sombre with a lurid light. Taken as a whole, it was a passionate face, as of a man at war with himself and with the world. His brow was broad and massive; there was intellect and strength in every line; but the predominant expression was one of pain, of suffering, of revolt, indicated more especially by the two deep lines between his eyebrows. He went straight across the room and held out his hand to Howe, who rose and came forward to meet him.

“My father has told me your purpose,” he said, “and I know who you are. I will not insult you by asking you if you really mean to subject yourself to such training; you have said it, that is enough. If, when you have tried it for one month, you or your companions find yourselves physically unequal to withstand the hardships of such a life, you can stop; you will at all events have learnt enough to help you to avoid the mistakes which have already been made, and which have proved so disastrous.”

“That is just what I desire,” answered Howe; “and I need say no more, for I see you recognise how important it is that we British officers should have the knowledge necessary to enable us to discipline and command our men in this new warfare.”

“I do fully; I have thought so for a long time. I have often wondered why you failed to take steps to acquire that knowledge,” answered Roger.

“Because officers are scarce,” said Howe. “I have at last, with difficulty, obtained the leave necessary to permit me to join your scouting parties this winter. In the spring, of course, we shall have active engagements, and, I hope, soon make an end of the war. Pitt is determined to carry things with a high hand, and is sending out reinforcements, whereas France is satisfied to leave everything to her general; and though Montcalm is a splendid officer, and the Canadians and Indians are devoted to him, he must in the long run give in, unless he receives fresh troops from home.”

“Which is not likely,” answered Roger, seating himself, and throwing a fresh log of wood on the dying embers.

Brigadier Howe was at this time three-and-thirty years of age—nearly six years Roger’s senior, but he looked much younger. They represented two distinct types: the delicately nurtured, high-bred Englishman, with less actual physical strength than his New England brother, but possessed of an equal power of endurance, because of the stronger moral principle, the higher spiritual and mental perfection to which he had attained, bringing the body into subjection.

That night those two sat long over the fire. Father Nat wisely left them together; and when they parted both recognised in the other a kindred soul. Their interests were in common, their object the same: the conquest of Canada, the driving out of an alien power; only the incentives differed. Brigadier Howe fought for England and for the Protestant faith, Roger because he hated the Indian and the Canadian. No personal feelings animated Howe; with Roger they were entirely personal—vengeance for the loss of his friend, and hatred because of the pain that loss inflicted on him. Neither of them recognised these shades of difference; their aim, and the end they had in view, united them, and they were both satisfied with each other.


“Monsieur, it is quite impossible for us to allow you to carry such a plan into execution. If you are barbarous enough to even dream of shutting this poor child up in a convent, give her time at least first to live and to enjoy her youth. New France is not like old France: we are not over-burdened with young maidens here; indeed, they are greatly in request!”

The speaker, Madame Péan, was a very beautiful woman, a Canadian by birth, who had married a French officer, Major Péan, and because of her beauty was the acknowledged leader of fashion in Quebec. All the world bowed down before her, from the Governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, to the ugly hunchback Maurier, the ally of the two men, Bigot and Varin, who for some time past had been growing rich on the misery of Canada.

Immediately upon his arrival at Quebec Montcalm had been introduced to Madame Péan, and was astonished to find there a salon which might have rivalled any at Versailles. “The ladies are graceful and elegant,” he wrote to his wife, “and by no means behind the fashion.” Having heard that Mercèdes had accompanied her father, Madame Péan took the first opportunity which offered to ask the General if he would bring his daughter to one of her receptions, to which request he replied by saying that Mercèdes would not go into society, that when he left Quebec for his first campaign, which would be in the course of the next fortnight, she would enter the Convent of the Ursulines.

“She came over with me,” he said, “that I might have the consolation of seeing her from time to time during my exile, and as her vocation was a religious life it mattered little whether she followed it in the new or the old country.”

It was this speech which had called forth Madame Péan’s somewhat indignant protest.

“But, Madame,” answered the General, “my daughter is very young, and is only accompanied by her nurse. I cannot look after her. I shall not even have an establishment in Quebec; my duties will call me here, there, and everywhere. I shall live with my soldiers. What would you have me do with a young girl under such circumstances?”

Madame Péan laughed, such a pleasant, easy laugh, and, seating herself, signed the General to take a place on the sofa beside her.

“Certainly those are difficulties,” she said, “but by no means insurmountable. Tell me honestly, General, would you have any objection to a rich husband for your daughter, if one could be found?”

“I have never thought of such a thing. Mercèdes has always been our little nun,” he answered.

“But would you object?” she persisted.

“Not if the child wished it, and if, besides being rich, the man were honourable and of good family,” said the General.

“Leave that to me,” answered the lady. “You must let your ‘little nun,’ as you call her, take up her abode under my roof during your absence, General. It will be quite the right thing. This is a great barrack of a place, and there are three empty rooms just above my own apartments; now I think of it, they overlook the gardens of the Ursulines. She can contemplate at her leisure her future abode, in case my matrimonial scheme should fail, which I do not think probable; I am proverbially fortunate,” and she tossed her fair head and smiled with conscious power.

“I cannot sufficiently thank you for the interest you take in my daughter,” answered Montcalm. “I will consider the matter, and, if you will allow me, will bring you my answer to-morrow at this same hour; in any case, my daughter shall tender you her thanks in person.” He rose, and bowed low before the reigning beauty; she smiled graciously, and extended her hand, which, according to the custom of those days, he raised to his lips; then once more bowing, he withdrew to make room for others who were waiting to pay their homage, for Madame Péan held a mimic court, and it was rumoured, indeed, that with many in high places her word was law.

The General did not remain long in the salons, and as soon as he had disappeared there arose an excited murmur in the group surrounding Madame Péan. She rose. “You will never tell me again I am no diplomate, Monsieur,” she said, turning to the Marquis de Vaudreuil.

The Governor smiled. “Who is your last conquest, Madame?” he said. “Not Montcalm? He is as impregnable as Quebec itself!”

“We shall see,” said the lady. “There is a weak point in every fortress. Have you heard that he has been mad enough to bring a daughter out here, to make her a nun at the Ursulines opposite?”

“And you are bent upon frustrating such pious designs?” said the Intendant Bigot, who, notwithstanding his unprepossessing appearance, managed to ingratiate himself with all sorts and conditions of men; and by his lavish hospitality and readiness to oblige was able with impunity to plunder the populace and secure for himself and his friends immense fortunes. It is affirmed that one company, with which Major Péan, the husband of the fair lady we have just introduced to our readers, was associated, made in the course of one year a net profit of twelve millions. This was done, to a great extent, by monopolies. Bigot, himself a native of Bordeaux, traded under the name of Clavarie with the firm of Gradis & Son of that city. He was known to have made a colossal fortune, and lived with royal splendour, dispensing lavish hospitality at the king’s expense.

General Montcalm was too new a comer, and himself of a too spotless integrity, to even suspect such dealings; he had already been made aware that the Governor and native authorities of Canada viewed him with jealous suspicion, as a stranger and an intruder. They did not recognise the necessity of his presence amongst them. The Governor was especially irate at having to yield precedence to him in military matters; but the General was determined to do his utmost to conciliate all parties, and he was ably seconded by his first and second officers, the Chevaliers Levis and Bougainville.

In answer to Bigot’s half-mocking query, Madame Péan nodded her head, and the sparkling face laughed acquiescence.

“I should rather think so,” she said. “I mean to have and to hold her as a fair hostage. When the war is over, and the Marquis sails from our coast, we will let her go home, or to the convent, unless she become one of ourselves.”

“Not a bad idea,” said her husband, curling his moustache, “and you are quite capable of carrying it into effect.”

“What Madame wills the gods prosper,” said Bigot gallantly. “Has any one seen the new importation?”

“I caught sight of a little sallow-faced girl, with big black eyes, walking with the General and Charles Langlade in the lower town yesterday,” said a young officer.

“Did not Charles Langlade bring the whole party across country to Quebec?” asked Bigot.

“Yes,” answered the Governor; “Montcalm would not wait till the ships could get up the St. Lawrence, so he hurried on in front. He’s in a perfect fever to begin operations.”

“He will learn to take things more quietly presently,” said Bigot. “In the meantime, let Madame take the little girl in hand. According to the natural course of events, she and Charles Langlade ought to have managed to fall in love with each other during their somewhat rough excursion across country. If they have, that will be another string to our bow; if they have not—well, dear Madame, you must manage that they should.”

“And Charles Langlade’s squaw?” said Madame.

“Oh, she would be easily disposed of,” said Bigot carelessly.

And then, as if the subject had grown unpleasant to him, he changed the conversation.

In the meantime the General went slowly and thoughtfully through the narrow, tortuous streets, past the magnificent Jesuit College on one side and the Ursuline Convent on the other. He was feeling depressed; his reception by the authorities had by no means been as hearty as he had been led to expect, and this new proposition concerning Mercèdes also worried him.

“I should have done better to leave the child at home,” he thought.

At that moment he was met by Chevalier Levis, who had arrived with the troops, and was camped outside the town in the plain of Montmorenci.

“Well, General,” he said gaily, “are things going pretty smoothly?”

“By no means,” answered Montcalm; “at every step I find impediments in my way. These Canadians take life easily; while the Indians and the English are fighting for dominion, they seem to think nothing of so great importance as balls and picnics.”

“All that will change before long,” said the Chevalier cheerfully. “You cannot expect everybody to view events as seriously as you do, General. I certainly am agreeably surprised. I did not expect to find such pleasant society and such pretty women in Quebec; but you are above such trifles! Still, if you will allow me to say it, do you not think it would be wise to conciliate the powers that be?”

“As far as possible I most certainly do,” answered Montcalm. “A proposition has just been made me which puts me in an awkward position. If I refuse I am afraid I shall give great offence, and yet I am unwilling to agree to it.”

“What is it?” asked the Chevalier.

They were entering the Rue St. Louis, in which street the General had taken a small, one-storied house; here he had settled Mercèdes and her nurse for the time being at least.

“If you will come in I will tell you; your opinion may help me to decide,” he said.

A few minutes later they were seated in a plainly furnished room, the principal ornament of which was the large white porcelain stove used to warm the apartment during the severe Canadian winters.

In a few words the General told Levis his conversation with Madame Péan. “Do you think it possible for me to leave Mercèdes in her charge? You must remember the child is utterly ignorant of the world, and it seems to me it is a very gay world here in Quebec, notwithstanding the war.”

“You cannot afford to offend Madame Péan” answered Levis; “she is a power in herself, like others at Versailles. Her salon is the centre of every intrigue; her will is law. It will not harm Mademoiselle Mercèdes to spend the next few months under the same roof as Madame Péan, and to take her share in the gaieties. It will be time enough when you return in September for her to take up her abode at the Ursulines, if she be still so minded. At least, you might explain the position to her, and let her decide for herself.”

“And if Mercèdes refuses the invitation, how shall I explain the fact satisfactorily to Madame without incurring her anger?” asked Montcalm.

“Mademoiselle is to call on Madame herself to-morrow, I believe; let her explain,” said Levis. “But I am very much mistaken if she refuse to accept the offer.”

“I will call her,” said Montcalm.

He did so, and at the sound of his voice Mercèdes came running into the room.

“Have you been in long, father?” she asked, as he kissed her brow.

“No, my child,” he said. “But I have something of importance to say to you, Mercèdes; and, remember, before you decide one way or the other you must reflect seriously.”

He had reseated himself, and, putting his arm round her, drew her towards him.

“It was settled that before I left Quebec you should go to the Ursulines. Supposing I thought it better to delay your entering the convent, would it grieve you very much, my daughter?”

Mercèdes looked at him with surprise. “Where else should I go, my father? I could not remain here alone,” she said.

“I do not suppose you could,” he answered. “This is what has happened,” and he explained to her his interview with Madame Péan. “She is a very great lady, and much considered here in Quebec,” he said. “I do not wish to offend her, and yet I honestly tell you, Mercèdes, you will have to be very circumspect in your conduct. You will be like a lamb in the midst of wolves, I am afraid.”

“You need not be afraid for me,” said Mercèdes. “If it be useful to you that I should go to this lady, I am quite willing; Marthe will, of course, be with me, and I shall only await your return.”

A sense of relief came over the General. He had so much to combat with the men, that he had felt very loth to incur female wrath.

“Then it is settled,” he said, “and I am very glad; to-morrow I will introduce you. I am afraid, however, you are badly off for fine clothes, my little nun: it would be well for you to sally forth with Marthe and purchase what is needful; it will not do for you to appear in beggarly fashion before all these fine ladies. Are you not of my opinion, Chevalier?”

“Assuredly. Mademoiselle Mercèdes represents Versailles here at Quebec,” he answered, smiling.

“I never was at Versailles, and never expect to go there,” said the young girl, laughing. “I should be terrified. But here there is neither king nor queen. These people are not even noble,” she said, with a touch of old aristocratic pride.

“True, my Mercèdes,” answered her father, smiling; “but you must not tell them so.”

“I understand,” she answered; “and now, if you will give me a few louis, I will buy what is necessary for me to have, so that I may do you credit. I only wish I were beautiful, like my sisters.”

“It is as well, perhaps, that you are not,” thought her father, giving her the gold she asked for; then she embraced him, bowed to the Chevalier Levis, and left the room.

It was with a certain degree of excitement that Mercèdes started on her expedition. As far as she was concerned, dress had always been a very minor consideration. She did not belong to the world, and therefore anything was good enough for her—mostly her mother’s or sisters’ left-off clothing; but she had a French-woman’s natural knack for arranging them, and so not unfrequently her sisters observed that Mercèdes looked better in old clothes than they did in new ones. She felt half guilty also at the fact that she was not more sorry at the delay occasioned by these new plans to her entering the convent; but she satisfied her conscience by the fact that it was her father’s will. As she and Marthe went quickly towards the upper town, where she believed the best stores were to be found, she was suddenly aware of a tall figure coming towards her, stopping in front of them, and saying, “Mademoiselle, where are you thus hurrying?”

“Monsieur Langlade,” she answered, holding out her hand, “we have met just in time for you to tell me the best stores for stuffs; we are at a loss.”

“Why, Mademoiselle, are you going to the ball at the Intendance? I thought you were to retire to the Ursulines as soon as the General left Quebec.”

“My father has decided otherwise,” answered Mercèdes. “I am going to be the guest of Madame Péan during his absence.”

Charles Langlade started, hesitated for a moment, then he asked,—

“What is the reason of this sudden change?”

“That I cannot tell you,” answered Mercèdes. “My father does not, apparently, wish to give offence, which, if he refuse to allow me to accept Madame Péan’s invitation, he most certainly will. After all, it will not make much difference; it is the case of a few months only. But I have to buy clothes and make myself generally fitted to properly represent the family—a difficult and unexpected task.”

“Which you will surely accomplish creditably,” answered Charles, “as you will anything you set your heart on doing.”

“I am glad you have such a good opinion of me,” answered Mercèdes. “I shall certainly try, for my dear father’s sake. And now, where can I go to make my purchases?”

“Having no womankind of my own to clothe in fashionable attire, I am somewhat at a loss,” said Charles. “But if you will follow me I think I know a good draper who will sell you stuffs, and may perhaps be able to direct you where to go for your other purchases.”

So saying, he preceded them through the tortuous thoroughfares of the lower town, and in a side street came to a quaint old wooden house, the upper story projecting over the basement, throwing a deep shadow over the interior of what proved to be the storehouse.

Charles Langlade spoke a few words in a low voice to the master, who came forward, the result of which was that he bowed low before Mercèdes, assuring her that his poor store was highly honoured by her patronage, which, being unaccustomed to such homage, disconcerted her not a little. Charles Langlade, feeling his presence was no longer needed, took his leave, if truth be told, with a strangely lightened heart at the thought that Mercèdes was not so soon to disappear behind the Convent walls.

Not till the store man asked Mercèdes what she desired, did she at all realise the difficulties which lay before her. She looked helplessly at the rich stuffs he spread out on the counter, seeing which he smiled. “Mademoiselle is not accustomed to make purchases for herself,” he said. “Shall I fetch my wife or daughter? They are in the habit of dressing the great ladies of Quebec, and will know exactly what it is desirable for the daughter of our General to wear.”

“Do, I pray you,” said Mercèdes; and a few minutes later Madame Thomas appeared with a young girl, two or three years older than Mercèdes, both of them excited and delighted at the sight of the General’s daughter. Madame was perfectly at home in her business, and, besides, she was motherly, with such pleasant, homely ways that Mercèdes exclaimed at last,—

“You had better send me just what you think right and proper. I must spend as little as possible, for my father is not rich, and has many expenses; you will please to bear that in mind. If you could let me have a visiting costume to-morrow, I should be glad. I am to pay my first visit to the Intendance.”

“Mademoiselle, if we sit up all night, you shall have everything you require. Are you not our General’s daughter, whom it is our duty as well as our pleasure to serve?” answered Madame Thomas. “Annette shall herself bring you your costume, and if you will allow her she will wait and dress you.”

“A thousand thanks,” said Mercèdes, with her bright, winning smile. “Now I am quite at rest. Remember, everything is to be plain, very plain. I have come to Canada to be a nun at the Convent of the Ursulines; it is only for a little while I am going into the world.”

“Ah, Mademoiselle, I shall be much surprised if some gallant gentleman does not succeed in making you change your mind,” said Madame Thomas.

“Oh no, indeed,” answered Mercèdes, blushing; and with a pleasant adieu she left the stores and went home to the little house in St. Louis Street, feeling as if a strange new life were opening out before her.


It did not take the English officers and William Parkmann long to settle down in their new home; the life was so free and easy. Before they had been a week at Marshwood they knew and were known of the whole colony, and were immense favourites. The dangers which surrounded the colonists were becoming daily more and more evident. Scarcely a week passed but what news came of villages burnt and sacked, and of the atrocious cruelties perpetrated by the Indians. So far Marshwood had been unmolested, owing, it was generally supposed, to Roger’s renown and the number of scouts or Rangers always about. Roger began at once to put the new recruits into training, taking them out into the forests, and organising mimic fights. Brigadier Howe, as he chose to be called, though Roger knew full well that his real title and rank were Brigadier-General Lord Howe, was in right good earnest, and applied himself thoroughly to the study of forest warfare. His companions followed his example; they had their hair cut close like the Rangers, dressed themselves after the same fashion, wearing leggings to protect them from the briers. As soon as Roger considered them sufficiently trained, they accompanied him on expeditions to the frontier; upon which occasions each man had to carry in his knapsack thirty pounds of meat,—this being the only food they had to depend upon, and which they cooked themselves,—one blanket, and a bearskin.

Before the middle of November the snow lay thick upon the ground, and the rivers were icebound. A great stillness seemed to descend upon the land, and the Rangers dispersed to their homes, with the exception of a certain number of scouts, who remained on guard. Roger was mostly with them, and Brigadier Howe was always in his company. A great feeling of sympathy grew up between the two men. Different as their characters were, yet they understood each other, Howe’s gentle, energetic nature tending to soften and hold in check the violence and strong-headedness of his companion. Roger learned to admire the indomitable will which enabled this delicate nobleman, accustomed to all the luxury and refinement of civilised life, to face the greatest hardships willingly, and without a murmur. Nothing held him back; where Roger went he went, always bright and cheery, seeming to have no thought of self. There was an undercurrent running through his life which Roger was slow to recognise, because he was unwilling to do so—namely, an unobtrusive piety.

He made no religious boast, he was seldom heard to speak of those things which were in very truth nearest his heart, but his daily life bore testimony to his faith. A small pocket Bible was his never-failing companion, and often by the camp fire, when his comrades lay sleeping, wrapped in their blankets and bearskins, Roger watched him draw it forth, and by the flickering flame peruse the sacred volume.

Whenever it was possible, he coaxed Roger to cease warfare on the Sabbath Day, and to return to Marshwood, often accomplishing the homeward journey under very adverse circumstances and with great fatigue; but nevertheless he was sure to be in his place in chapel, an attentive listener to John Cleveland’s exhortations. The minister was his most devoted admirer, and declared to Nathaniel that the Englishman’s example had worked a wonderful change on the young men in the colony. Only Roger held aloof in sombre pride. Yet, notwithstanding the coming danger which threatened them all, and which at any moment might overtake them, it was impossible to check the natural enjoyment which sprang up, the result of youth and health. The clear atmosphere was so exhilarating that the young people could not remain within doors. Sleighing parties, tobogganing, skating on the lakes and rivers, occupied every spare minute of the short winter day. Shouts of merry laughter rang out on the frosty air. All the inhabitants of the village would turn out on fine afternoons, making their way in snowshoes down to the icebound river, and there disporting themselves, sometimes till the moon and stars shone out; and then back home to the warm kitchens and the hospitable boards.

“We are having a fine time of it. I never had a finer in my life,” said young William Parkmann, as he flew over the ice side by side with Marie Langlade.

“Yes, we always have a good time in winter,” she answered; “but this year it seems better than usual,” and she looked shyly at her companion.

“I’m glad to hear you say that,” he answered. “I shall never forget how happy I have been; and perhaps, Marie, when this war is over, if God spare my life, I may come back and ask something of you!” and as he skated close up to her, he slipped his arm into hers, and so bore her on even more rapidly than before. There was joy for both of them at that moment in the mere fact of living. The sun shone brightly on the glistening snow, which covered alike the hills and plains, weighing down the branches of the forest trees; but to William Parkmann Marie’s eyes shone brighter than the rays of the sun, and her voice was very sweet, though somewhat serious, as she answered,—

“When the war is over, William Parkmann—not till then—must you ask or I answer you aught.”

“Let it be so,” he replied; and they skated on in happy silence, dreams of a bright future dancing before their eyes. They were so young—

“Hope at the helm
And pleasure at the prow”—

they could not realise the possibility of a great disaster coming upon them; but their elders both could and did.

The head members of the settlement met every evening, and took counsel for the general safety. To these meetings Howe was readily admitted; they were generally held in the great kitchen of Omega Marsh, and Father Nathaniel presided. He knew the ways of the Indians as well as his son, and patrols were organised, and everything done to prevent a sudden surprise of the enemy. He and John Cleveland and Marcus took the command of the home brigade, as they called it, which consisted chiefly of youths, and of men past their prime; all the really able-bodied men were enrolled in Roger’s corps of Rangers, and were liable at any moment to be called into action.

When the meeting dispersed, Father Nat and Brigadier Howe would open the latchet gate which separated the two homesteads, and go over to Alpha Marsh and sit with Martha and Loïs, who were always busy making and mending for the two households. Howe watched Loïs as she went and came day after day, caring for everybody, the young and the old, without apparently one selfish thought; and he felt inclined to be angry with Roger for visiting upon this inoffensive, brave-hearted woman the sorrow which had entered into his own soul. She did not resent his conduct; to all outward appearance she was indifferent to his comings or his goings, doing her daily work methodically, interested in every one and in everything, from a sick baby in the village to the last bit of news from Quebec or from the New England States.

But news did not travel quickly in those days or in those parts, and the winter was far advanced when they first heard of the taking of Fort William Henry by the French. Some scouts of Roger’s arrived one night, with an account of the frightful massacre by the Indians which had followed the surrender of the fort. Montcalm and the French officers had been powerless to restrain them. The English officer, Colonel Monro, who was in command of the fort, held out as long as there was any hope of relief; but when General Webb from Fort Edward failed to come to his assistance, and he found himself on all sides surrounded by a French army commanded by Montcalm in person, hoping to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, he hoisted the white flag.

Montcalm thereupon summoned the Indian chiefs, and explained to them the honourable terms of capitulation which he had agreed to, requesting their adhesion to the same. They gave their consent, promising to restrain their men; but no sooner had the garrison evacuated the fort than the Indians, drunk with rum, rushed in a surging rabble, which, even if the French guards had exerted themselves to their utmost—which they did not, owing either to fear of the Indians or indifference—it would have been impossible to restrain. A terrible scene of murder and rapine ensued. Montcalm tried to restore tranquillity, and by evening some sort of order reigned in the terrified fortress, and the Canadians, under their general, De la Corne, agreed to conduct the English the following morning to Fort Edward. But a panic came over the unfortunate inhabitants, and in their terror they started without waiting for the escort. Instantly the Indians rushed down upon them, and an indescribable scene of plunder followed. The savages carried off upwards of two hundred prisoners, men and women, tomahawking and scalping hundreds more, before the very eyes of De la Corne and his Canadians.

Montcalm, Levis, and the French officers rushed down into the midst of the fight, and, throwing themselves upon the English, positively tore them out of the hands of the Indians.

“Kill me, but spare the English, who are under my protection!” shouted Montcalm, snatching a young officer away from a savage who had just seized him, and covering him with his own body.

Montcalm has been severely blamed for not ordering up the regular French army to save the English; but being very inferior in number to the Indians and Canadians, doubtless he considered that if he turned his arms against his allies, the massacre would be even more sanguinary.

This is partly proved by the fact that the column of the English army offered no resistance: true, they had no ammunition; only a few of the colonial troops had bayonets. Had they shown fight they would probably all have been massacred; as it was, they were carried off alive by the savages, and later Montcalm was able to recover five or six hundred. Some of the fugitives found their way back to the fort; and all these were sent by Montcalm under a strong escort to Fort Edward. The remnant of the column dispersed into the woods, and found their way, after many days and great perils, to Fort Edward.

“I am dishonoured,” said Montcalm that night, pacing up and down his tent, brushing away the tears from his eyes. “The sights I have seen, the sounds I have heard this day, will haunt me all my life long!” Nothing Chevalier Levis or his other officers could say consoled him. He refused to see De la Corne or any of the Canadian officers; only once he exclaimed, “If Charles Langlade had been here, this dishonour would not have fallen upon me!”

Such was the news which reached Marshwood.


“I must leave at once,” said Lord Howe, “and make my way as best I can to Louisburg. Loudon has failed in his attack on that place; but I am certain it will be renewed without delay—therefore I will go there.”

“I will take you; it is impossible for you to attempt the journey without a proper escort; besides, we must push forward in the same direction,” said Roger. “The Indians have tasted blood; we shall have them swarming by thousands all over the land.”

“I expect we shall,” said Howe. “When will you be ready to start?”

“We are always ready,” answered Roger sternly; “make your own preparations, and by dawn to-morrow we will be on our way;” and having so spoken he left the house, and was not seen again till suppertime.

Soon the whole settlement was astir. The indignation of the colonists was unbounded, and they swore to be revenged. Before nightfall upwards of three hundred men had taken to the woods, and scouts had been sent out in every direction to call the Rangers together. Every precaution was taken to ensure the safety of the settlement. Knowing they were watched, instead of going into the woods by twenties, or even by tens, they went forth by twos and threes, giving each other a wide berth; but each man was acquainted with the ultimate place of meeting; besides, though apparently dispersing, they were within rallying distance of each other, and knew the signal agreed upon.

There was quiet weeping that night in many households. Marcus had entreated to accompany Roger, but Martha interfered. “Not brother against brother,” she said, clinging to him, with tears running down her face.

“Stay, Marcus, my friend,” Lord Howe had said. “It may be that you will be needed here more than you think for; it is not well to leave Father Nat alone without a lieutenant;” and so Marcus remained.

“I shall come back, Marie; don’t cry so, dear,” said William Parkmann, ready to cry himself at sight of her grief. “As soon as the war is over John Cleveland shall marry us, and, darling, I’ll take you right down to my father’s house in Boston; and you shall never set eyes on these ugly savages again if I can help it.” And stooping, he kissed the pretty, fair face of his little sweetheart, as they stood together for the last time under the great oak tree at the back of Alpha Marsh.

Ah, when would those two meet again, and how? Well might they linger side by side, the wings of their young love drooping sadly as they gazed through the bare branches of the great tree up to the starry heavens. He led her back into the house, and they parted at the foot of the staircase, he standing below watching her, as slowly, with bowed head, she crawled up and up out of his sight; then with a sigh he turned away.

“Now I must be a man!” he said, and entered the kitchen, where his chief, Brigadier Howe, and his companions, with Nathaniel, Roger, and others, were in council.


It was still pitch dark, at that hour between night and morning when the light of the moon and stars is dimmed and yet the sun has not risen. Roger had opened the back door, and was passing out to go down to the village, having forgotten the night before to order three canoes to be in readiness in case of need. He started when he heard himself called. How long had Loïs been waiting there for him? and how could she know he would come out?

“What is it you want?” he asked, in a low, hard voice.

“Roger, I have been warned; you and your party are watched. The danger is great; do not go forth.”

He laughed. “What nonsense, Loïs! Brigadier Howe must go, and I must accompany him; he is my guest. Tell your informant he must have forgotten the laws of honour, or he would not have sent me that message.”

A sigh escaped Loïs.

“Anything more?” he asked roughly; “if not, let me pass.”

“Roger, won’t you say good-bye, maybe for the last time? He was not there; he did not do those cruel deeds. Oh, will you never forgive?”

“Never,” he answered, and passed on.

The first dawn of day found them all assembled in Father Nat’s kitchen, partaking of their last meal. It was soon over, and then a quick farewell, a silent pressure of hand in hand, and the travellers crossed that hospitable threshold, many of them never to return again.

“God speed you. His blessing be with you all!” said Father Nat, standing in the porch; and so they went forth. As Lord Howe passed Loïs he took her hand, and said gently,—

“Be of good courage; you will win him yet.”

Her face was very white, with a strained, weary look about the soft blue eyes. A short sigh, almost like a gasp of pain, escaped her. “Thank you,” she said.

When the last of the troop had disappeared into the wood, the women returned to their work with quiet, animal-like patience, and Nathaniel and Marcus went into the village with John Cleveland to see that their orders for the proper protection of the settlement had been carried out.

Striking straight across the woods, Roger and his followers walked rapidly, but with great care, for some miles without speaking. Their object was to escape the redskins; and to do this they must needs mislead them—a most difficult task. To conceal their track they walked as lightly as possible, avoiding even brushing against a tree, lest its bark should betray them; winding in and out, taking a circuitous road, and practising many other devices. They did not dare to stop and rest even after several hours’ tramp, because if they had lain down their bodies would necessarily have left marks on the ground; so they went forward till nightfall, when they found themselves on a high open plain, where it would have been impossible for an enemy to take them unawares. Here they rested, not venturing even to light a fire, but eating a portion of the dried meat, with which each man had been supplied; and then, wrapped in their bearskins and blankets, they slept. The following morning they started off again, and at midday were joined by a party of their own men, who reported that the Indians were swarming in the woods, and were only kept at bay by the knowledge that Roger’s Rangers were abroad.

“We shall have to take to the river,” said Roger; “the banks are thickly wooded down to the very edge. We have scouts on either bank: if the red men see us, which they are sure to do, they will not dare attack us.”

The following day three canoes were launched, into which Roger, Howe and his companions, with two or three of the scouts, entered, and the remainder of the corps dispersed. Noiselessly and rapidly the canoes were paddled forward, for some time without their perceiving any sign betokening the presence of the Indians. Before long they entered the vast solitudes of the forests; a solemn silence reigned over all, broken only by the sound of the beaver or the otter as it plunged into the water, or the cries of the birds as they flew from tree-top to tree-top.

After the second day’s journey the river gradually narrowed, and the roots of the trees which grew down close to the water’s edge resembled the twisted bodies of huge serpents. Lord Howe was lying at the bottom of the foremost canoe, whilst Roger at the head kept a vigilant look out. Suddenly Howe saw him stoop over the edge, plunge his hand into the water, and draw something forth, uttering a low exclamation of surprise.

“What is it?” said Howe, lifting himself up.

Roger did not answer immediately; his eyes were straining into the depths of the forest; then he raised his head and looked up to the summits of the trees, upon the upper branches of which the sun cast its golden light.

“See what I have found,” he said, bending forward and showing Howe a thong in red leather similar to what the Indians use for fastening on their mocassins. “They are in front of us,” he said, with an almost imperceptible movement of his head towards the forest.

And now, as they watched, a curious thing occurred. A couple of hundred yards in advance of them the river was filled in by pointed rocks, over which the water rushed with foaming rapidity; only on one side was a narrow passage, leaving room for one or two canoes to pass through abreast. Suddenly they heard a loud cracking, and saw a tree slowly bend and then fall right across this passage, the upper branches resting on the pointed rocks.

“We have been betrayed,” said Roger between his teeth. “Lie down, sir,” he said to Howe; “they will open fire upon us.” At the same time he signed to the rowers in his boat to stop paddling, and thus to allow the two other canoes to draw up on either side of his. “Lie down, all of you,” he said; “and now paddle slowly.” At that moment a troop of Indians, with arms shining in the sunlight and with savage cries, dashed down the river bank, launched their canoes, and directed them towards the three which were floating almost motionless on the waters.

Lost! Assuredly they were lost!

They were all brave men, and had looked death many a time before in the face; but, nevertheless, at this supreme moment the horror of a defenceless death overwhelmed them all.

“Land us, and let us at least fight it out,” said Howe. But Roger made no answer; he understood the tactics of his enemies. Having barred the passage, there was nothing left for them to do but to surround and massacre the occupants of the three canoes. They did not even shoot at them, so certain were they of their prey. The Indian canoes now advanced in a semicircle, widening out, somewhat slowly, because their boats were heavily laden. Each man had his hatchet in his hand and his knife between his teeth, ready to slay or to scalp his victims. By degrees the Indians approached so close upon the three canoes that a few yards alone lay between them and their prey; they uttered a hideous cry of victory, which was re-echoed in the woods.

“Row for your lives!” said Roger suddenly. “If we reach the tree before the Indians we are saved!”

Instant obedience followed his command, though to all appearance they were going to their destruction; the frail barks must necessarily be dashed to pieces against the huge trunk of the tree barring their way. Calm and immovable, his eyes fixed upon the Indian canoes gradually coming nearer and nearer, Roger stood ready, as it seemed, to throw himself into the river. Indians lined the banks, but they dared not shoot, for fear of injuring their own people. It was only a question of seconds; their enemies must inevitably be dashed to pieces, and then they would swim across the stream and be in at the death. Two of the Indian canoes in their haste knocked against each other; there was a moment’s check. The English were within six feet of the fatal tree. In a second it would be over. Every man held his breath and uttered a last prayer to God for mercy. In that second Roger had disappeared. And then slowly but surely the tree was lifted as by a lever, and the three canoes, driven by the current and by the quick impulse of the rowers, passed underneath. The Indians were close behind; but as suddenly as it had been lifted so suddenly it fell again, crushing beneath its weight the warriors and their overladen barks.

Terrible cries arose from the woods and from the surging waters. The evil spirits had interfered; it was a supernatural intervention. Superstitious terror seized the Indians, and those on land fled into the interior of the forest. The thickness of the foliage had prevented their seeing Roger clamber up the highest rock and raise the tree on to his broad shoulders, holding it there just long enough to let his friends pass underneath.

In the almost unconscious excitement which followed, the rowers had continued their course with marvellous rapidity, forgetful of the one who had saved them, until Howe, rising, held up his hand and bade them cease rowing.

“We must wait for Roger,” he said, and his voice was tremulous with suppressed emotion. A few minutes later they saw him swimming towards them; every hand was stretched out to seize his as he hoisted himself into the canoe.

“I’ve cheated those devils once more,” he said, in his rich, deep voice.

“It is marvellous,” answered Lord Howe. “With God’s help you have saved us from an awful death, Roger.”

“A mere question of time and strength,” he answered carelessly. “We must keep to the river now for a few miles, then land and take to the woods. I don’t think we shall hear much more of the red gentlemen for the present; they’ve had a fright,” and he laughed. His shirt was torn to pieces, and his shoulders were bruised and bleeding; but his companions thought they had never seen a grander man than Roger the Ranger!


From the first General Montcalm’s position was one of great difficulty. All the Canadian officials were opposed to him. Their conduct was so dubious, and would bear so little looking into, that they feared his clear-sightedness and uprightness. Vaudreuil, the governor, was jealous of him, and it was not long before the General was made to feel this. False reports concerning him were sent to the court of France; any advantages he gained over the enemy Vaudreuil attributed to himself and the civil government.

“My real crime,” Montcalm wrote to his wife, “is to have more prestige than Vaudreuil, and, above all things, more virtue than he has. I much fear time will only increase his dislike of me.”

Montcalm’s popularity with the colonists and with the Indians was another cause for Vaudreuil’s displeasure. The General was incapable of dissimulation, and as he had received full military power, he was naturally impatient of interference, and showed it. His second officer, Chevalier Levis, was far more popular: he ingratiated himself with all the government men—Vaudreuil, Bigot, Varin, etc. He knew exactly what they were worth; but, as he observed to Montcalm more than once, “We shall not make them better by opposition; all we have to do is to make use of them.” He also did what Montcalm failed to do, courted the good graces of the ladies. When in the camp and field, there was not a better officer, and his devotion to his general knew no bounds; he stood between him and his enemies, trying to conciliate all parties; but when off duty he threw himself into the gaieties both of Quebec and Montreal, attending the balls and picnics, always gracious and gallant, and therefore an immense favourite with the fair sex.

Montcalm, on the contrary, held himself aloof from all such dissipations. Notwithstanding his buoyant nature, the opposition he met with, and the difficulties which seemed to crowd ever thicker and thicker around him, weighed upon his spirits, and at times caused deep depression. He seemed to have a presentiment that his mission would prove a failure.

“Ah, when shall I see my dear Candiac again, my avenue of chestnut trees, and you, my dearest?” he wrote in one of his letters to his wife.

Contrary to what might have been expected, Mercèdes settled down to her new life under Madame Péan’s roof easily and happily. Certain characters have a strange admixture of good and evil in them. Madame Péan had been early spoilt by adulation; she lived entirely for the world and society. Her husband was in receipt of immense sums of money, through the influence of his commercial partners, Bigot and Varin. His fortune was estimated at three to four millions. His wife, therefore, could satisfy her passion for luxury, dress and dissipation. When she proposed taking Mercèdes into her house, during the General’s first campaign, it had, as we know, been to get a hold over Montcalm; but when she saw the little dark-eyed girl, with the impetuosity of an undisciplined nature she was taken with a sudden fondness for her, which day by day grew more intense. Had Mercèdes been beautiful, jealousy and rivalry might have arisen between them; but with this simple, nun-like maiden it was impossible. Her presence in the house gradually became a necessity to Madame.

“We are supposed, all of us, to have our guardian angels,” she said to Mercèdes one day, “and I think you must be mine. I believe I am a better, and I am quite sure I am a happier woman, since I have had you beside me.”

The suite of rooms at the top of the house which she had destined for Mercèdes were plain, almost comfortless, when the latter was first introduced to them; but before long it was converted into a perfect nest of comfort and luxury.

“I don’t want all this, you know; I shall only have a cold bare cell when I am a nun. You are spoiling me,” said Mercèdes.

“It is my pleasure; indeed, my happiness,” answered Madame. “Sacrifice yourself to me, Mercèdes, my child. I have been spoilt and adored ever since I can remember, but I have never cared for anything before. Let me spoil you; it is a novel pastime.” And so it came to pass that when the General returned to Quebec he found Mercèdes settled; and at the first word he uttered about her leaving, and going to the Ursulines, Madame exclaimed,—

“You cannot take her away from me; she is my guardian angel. She is of more use to me than she would be in the convent; there she could only pray, here she is a living example. When I see her little figure going morning and evening across the road to the Ursuline Chapel, I feel as if a saint had entered my house and sanctified it. You need not fear, Monsieur; nothing evil shall approach her, either by word or sight. She is my almoner. Somehow she seems to find out the poor and sick; they come to her, and she and Marthe are now familiar figures in the back streets and poor quarters of Quebec. ‘The little nun, the good General’s daughter,’ she is called. What would you have more? Let her do her work: it is a blessed work. She never appears at my grand receptions. She knows nothing of our world; but when I am weary I go up to her, and it is as if I breathed a new life. I am better for it. Leave her under my roof, General; she is in the world, but not of it.”

Still the General hesitated. He knew now that much that went on at Madame Péan’s was contrary to his ideas, and in direct opposition to his and his wife’s code of morals; but the Chevalier Levis added his persuasions to Madame’s.

“You will give mortal offence if you remove her,” he said; “and surely you have enemies enough already. It is quite true what Madame says: Mademoiselle Mercèdes lives a life utterly apart from hers. She is never seen in the salons of the Intendance, and only appears when it is a quiet home party. You can judge for yourself.”

And the General did so. His happiest moments during his short stay in Quebec were spent in Mercèdes’ rooms, the windows of which looked upon the convent gardens, where the silent nuns were pacing up and down the paths, turning their backs, with their heavy sable coiffures sweeping their black robes, and anon their still, mask-like faces, set in that stiff framework of white linen, towards these windows; and he felt almost relieved to keep his Mercèdes a little longer a free agent; she looked so happy and so well, as she stood beside him in the little greenery which Madame Péan had created for her of house plants, tall geraniums, an over-arching ivy, and delicate roses.

“You are content to remain here, Mercèdes?” he asked.

“Only too content,” she answered. “I try always to remember it is but for a time, and because she wants me; and I look across the road and know that my true home is there.”

“And you have no regrets for the world you will leave behind, Mercèdes?” he asked.

She turned her head slightly on one side, so that the General could not see the colour which mantled her face.

“I think not,” she answered quietly. “Why should I?”

And so, when the General left her for the winter campaign, it was an understood thing that for the present at least she was to remain with Madame Péan. Events followed so rapidly—defeats, victories, hair-breadth escapes—that, feeling she was in safe keeping, the General had no time to be even anxious about Mercèdes; and so she led a strange though by no means an unhappy life in that upper story. Both her and Marthe’s time was spent working and fashioning clothes for the poor; for, alas! only too quickly the poverty and distress grew to be severe. Bread rose to an exorbitant price; meat there was none save horseflesh. At least, so Mercèdes saw and heard in her visits among the poor; but at Madame Péan’s table there was every luxury both in and out of season. She remarked upon this more than once, and was told she must not be too credulous, the poor were so improvident! At Montreal everything was at famine price, and the public indignation was so great against the government that the populace mobbed the Governor, the troops joining in the mutiny, and it was with difficulty that Chevalier Levis, by his authority and tact, succeeded in quelling the rebellion.

Occasionally, at rare intervals, Mercèdes and Charles Langlade met. Often months elapsed between these interviews; then suddenly at the corner of a street, or maybe as she rose from her knees after service in the cathedral, Mercèdes would become aware of the Canadian hunter’s presence. He would salute her, enquire after her well-being, and walk with her and Marthe part of the homeward way; but at the door they parted.

One day, as Charles Langlade was still standing cap in hand looking after Mercèdes’ retreating figure, Madame Péan’s coach drove up. A light came into her eyes, and she hastened to descend. “At last,” she murmured, and going quickly up to the young officer, she said,—

“Monsieur Langlade, why are you such a stranger? Major Péan was speaking only yesterday of your services, how inestimable they are. Will you not come in and partake of supper? We happen to be almost alone to-night, and our little nun will then come out of her shell. You and she are great friends, if I mistake not.”

“You honour me too much, Madame,” answered Charles. “I am but a poor hunter, a chief among savages. I can scarcely venture to call myself the friend of my illustrious General’s daughter. When, as now, I have been with her father, if I happen to meet her, I give her news of him—that is all.”

Madame looked at him steadily for a minute, then said, “But you will come in to supper?” He shook his head, bowed low, and was gone. And Mercèdes from her window, looking down, watched the tall figure as it strode up the street, and at last disappeared. These interviews made her feel strangely bright and happy, and she gradually grew to look forward to them. She knew that he was her father’s right hand, that, so to speak, he kept guard upon all the country for many miles round Quebec down the St. Lawrence. The General himself had told her that, out of his own army, there was no one he trusted like Charles Langlade and the tribe he commanded.

Events were crowding upon each other; and the General knew full well that unless France came to his assistance, England must gain the mastery. Pitt was determined to win and to carry on the colonisation of the continent under the auspices of Protestantism, rather than allow France leagued with the Roman Catholics to gain the ascendency. His policy was popular; he invited the colonies to co-operate willingly, and entirely rejected the coercive policy of his predecessors. He was eminently successful; and whilst Montcalm wrote in 1758, “New France needs peace, or sooner or later it must fall—such are the numbers of the English, such the difficulty of our receiving supplies,” the colonies were making immense sacrifices to levy, pay, and clothe the provincial army.

Massachusetts set a noble example; she was the frontier and advance-guard of all the colonies against the enemy. Notwithstanding the extreme poverty of her population, which lived mainly by fishing, farming, and a trade hampered by the British navigation laws, she still imposed taxes to the amount of thirteen shillings in the pound, and there was no murmuring. The war gradually assumed almost the character of a crusade, and was viewed with religious enthusiasm. All sects for the time being sank their differences, and the chaplains exhorted their congregations to unite together, themselves setting the example of good fellowship.

“Be courageous, for no cowards go to heaven,” said Dr. Caleb Rea, chaplain of a Massachusetts regiment, in his last sermon to a young band of volunteers; and they went forth, like the Puritans of old, singing hymns and psalms.

The Canadian population were not less desirous of supporting Montcalm and maintaining their independence; but they had two parties to contend with, the civil and military government, between whom there was no union. Besides which, vice, luxury, and an exorbitant love of gain were rampant among those who ought to have set the example of moderation and self-sacrifice; and thus their resources were undermined. In vain Montcalm applied to the mother country for help, despatching Bougainville to represent the state of affairs to the Court at Versailles; but the sins which were to cause the loss of Canada were in full force there; and to Bougainville’s earnest pleading he received for answer, “Eh, Monsieur, when the house is on fire, one cannot occupy one’s self with the stable.”

And so the French officer returned sadly to Canada and gave this message. Montcalm recognised that from henceforth he was forsaken by the Court, and could reckon only upon God’s mercy and his own genius and courage.

“Poor king, poor France, cara patria,” was his only answer; and he prepared for what he knew to be an almost hopeless struggle.


When Roger had conducted Lord Howe to within a comparatively safe distance of his destination, he left him to pursue his journey in company with another party of scouts, who were going in that direction, whereas Roger was anxious to gain the mountains on the western shore of Lake Champlain, where he foresaw a struggle would shortly take place.

“We shall meet probably at Ticonderoga, or thereabouts,” said Howe, as he wrung Roger’s hand at parting.

He left the three young officers, Philips, Pringle, and Roche, with Roger, to complete their apprenticeship, he said; but William Parkmann accompanied Howe. The young man’s devotion to his general was such that he was never happy away from him. And truly Howe was a man worthy of the affection which he won at every stage of his short career. A very Spartan in private and public life, a Christian in word and deed, a character of ancient times, and a model of military virtue: such was he. Of him, Wolfe, his great contemporary, said, “He is the noblest gentleman who has appeared in my time, and the best soldier in the British army.”

Regretfully Roger saw Howe depart. They had lived together for many months, and each appreciated the other. Howe grieved for the sorrow and the bitterness which had come into the young hunter’s life; but he hoped and believed time would soften the rebellious temper which made him visit so unjustly Charles Langlade’s offence upon innocent heads. “If you go back to Marshwood, remember me at both Alpha and Omega,” he said at parting; and so each went his way.

The news of Roger’s last deed of prowess had spread rapidly. The Indians attributed it to the power of the spirits, but the Canadians knew better. When Charles Langlade heard the story, a feeling of pride filled his heart, almost of regret that he had not been with him—his friend, his brother; but Roger and his Rangers had now assumed such importance that they were looked upon as representing a greater danger than the regular forces.

Understanding Indian warfare, with a perfect knowledge of the whole country, led by a fearless leader, if they were not kept in check or crushed the results would certainly be of such a nature as to threaten the free action of the French and Canadian armies. It was therefore decided in a council of war that an expedition of Indians and Canadians should be sent to meet the Rangers, and, if possible, stop their progress. Charles Langlade saw the necessity and justice of the step, but naturally he was loth to take part in it, and would gladly have remained in the neighbourhood of Quebec; but his knowledge of the country where the New England Rangers were likely at the present moment to be was a reason for his being called to command the expedition sent against them. In all honour he could not hold back; he had cast in his lot with France, and he must needs stand steadfast to the bitter end.

This war resembled in many ways a civil war—of all afflictions which can visit a country the most terrible! Father against son, brother against brother, the crushing beneath one’s feet of every domestic tie—a moral agony from first to last. Rome and Alba, the Horatii and Curiatii, the Wars of the Roses and the great English civil war of the seventeenth century, stand out in the history of the world as times of sore distress and anguish. Blood flowed freely. Some of the best and noblest in the land were laid low; but who reckons the women’s tears of blood, the agony of those hearts torn with divided affections? Fathers and husbands, brothers and lovers, drawing their swords against each other—truly it needed an Amazonian nature to love a country which demanded such sacrifices. The great French poet Corneille understood the natural weakness of a woman’s heart when he pictured Camille, the sister of Horace, kneeling over her dead lover’s body, cursing Rome and the arm that had laid him low. So let us ever pray for peace at home and abroad, the peace which reigned on earth when the Saviour was born, and which we believe He will bring with Him at His second coming.

It was with a heavy heart that Charles Langlade, true to his sense of duty, took the command of the Indian and Canadian contingent, and set out to meet the Rangers, passing up the valley of Trout Brook, a mountain gorge that opens upon the valley of Ticonderoga.

After leaving Howe, Roger had rejoined his men at the west point of the mountain known as “Roger’s Rock,” thus named from an exploit in which he had outwitted the Indians and saved his own and comrades’ lives when still a mere youth. The rough and rocky ground was still partially covered with snow, and all around stood the grey trunks of the forest trees, bearing aloft their skeleton arms, a tangled intricacy of leafless twigs.

Here Roger encamped, knowing full well that the Indians were in the neighbourhood; but the spot had natural advantages. Close on the right was a steep hill, and at a little distance on the left a brook still partially covered with snow and ice. He sent scouts out into the woods, and several skirmishes took place; but he did not believe that at this point the Indians were in any considerable force. He therefore determined to rid himself of these enemies by pushing them farther back, and, being informed through his scouts of the arrival of a reinforcement from one of the Iroquois tribes, he judged it would be best to attack them at once.

Desiring Lieutenant Philips to remain in the rear, he himself advanced through a mountain pass, at the farther extremity of which a party of Indians were encamped. He took them by surprise, and after a short but desperate skirmish they fled before him. Determined to drive them farther off, he pursued them, when suddenly with a loud war-whoop they turned upon him, and from the surrounding forest Indians came pouring down on him and his company. Philips hurried to the rescue; but the little force was overwhelmed by numbers, and eight officers, beside a hundred Rangers, lay dead in the snow.

The young lieutenants Pringle and Roche fought beside Roger.

“There is nothing left but for you to escape into the mountains,” he said at last. “Make your way through the forest to Fort Edward. Do you see there to the left a narrow pass? Escape whilst you can; in five minutes it will be too late. I am responsible for your lives.”

“Where you go, we go,” said Pringle.

They were crouching with some twenty men behind a clump of trees firing upon the savages, but their ammunition was running short. Philips in his turn was being overwhelmed. From every part of the forest the redskins came pouring down.

“It is of no use; we must run for it,” said Roger. “Load once more, and when I say ‘fire’ give it them all together; then up the pass and into the mountains: it is our only chance.”

He was obeyed. They poured a volley of shot into the ranks of the savages, who fell back for a second; and before they had recovered themselves or the smoke had cleared away, Roger and a score of his companions were in full flight. To keep together was impossible; the Indians harassed them on every side. They scaled mountains, forded streams, and at last, by nightfall, Roger, with a handful of followers, had out-distanced his pursuers and lay hidden in a cave; but, to his distress, Pringle, Roche, and his own faithful servant, William Smith, were missing.

They had no food, and lay all night on the bare ground. When day dawned they crept out, only to find traces of the enemy all around. Still it was impossible to remain in the cave.

“Listen,” said Roger, “there is only one way of escape. Once, as you all know, when a mere lad I scaled yonder mountain. On the opposite side there is a precipice; it is perpendicular, and the chances are ten to one of breaking your neck in the descent. I prefer that to being tomahawked. I advise no one to follow me. The Indians, who are on the watch, will be sure to see me, and that will make a diversion in your favour. If I succeed, once on the other side, I shall have little difficulty in reaching Fort Edward. My presence amongst you rather adds to than takes from the danger of your position. They know I am here, and Roger’s scalp is, it seems, worth having. We will go forth together, and make a run for it, till we come to the foot of Roger’s Mountain; then I will turn off and begin the ascent. The Indians are sure to follow me. Let them. I think I know a dodge or two to keep them at bay. You, in the meantime, take to the woods. If you get well in and across to the other side you may escape, but as long as I am with you your chances are small; they are after me, and will not lose my track. Are you all agreed?”

They answered in the affirmative. Two or three were for accompanying Roger, but he dissuaded them.

“You would but hamper my movements,” he said, “and probably come to grief. I know every inch of the mountain, but you do not; you run less risk in keeping together; and if I can get round in time I may muster a band and come to your help. I wonder what has become of Philips?”

Alas! like many others, the brave young lieutenant had been cruelly murdered.

Moving in and out of the forest, dodging the Indians in every possible way, the little party at last reached the foot of the mountain, grey and bare, its summit rising to the clouds.

Suddenly, with a shout, Roger was seen scaling it. To follow him was the natural instinct of the savages. He let them for a time; then suddenly he turned round and fired down upon them. Several fell, but, nothing daunted, they responded. Gradually, as the ascent grew more and more precipitous, they dropped off, and the last they saw of Roger was standing on the edge of what they knew to be a fathomless precipice. They saw him throw himself forward and disappear from their sight. Half-way up the mountain they discovered his bearskin, which he must have thrown off, and they carried it back in triumph. Its owner was doubtless lying dashed to pieces in the abyss.

His companions had followed his advice, and most of them managed in the course of two or three days to reach Lake St. George, and from thence Fort Edward. The young lieutenants Pringle and Roche fared the worst. Separated from their party, they got hopelessly lost in the woods. In the brushwood, among the low branches of the trees, their clothes were soon reduced to rags. They had no food except a small portion of dried sausage and a little ginger. After two days’ and two nights’ wandering they had nothing to subsist upon but juniper berries and the inner bark of trees. They fell in with Roger’s own servant, William Smith, by whose help they made snowshoes of forked branches, twigs, and leather strings; for their feet were torn to pieces and half-frozen. The three struggled on together, wandering over nameless mountains, climbing over fallen trees, until on the sixth day they discovered that they had circled round to their starting-point! But at least now they knew their bearings, and they reached the bank of Lake St. George. Here suddenly a heavy snowstorm arose. They dared not stop; so, bending their heads to the storm, they fought their way forward into the valley of Ticonderoga, not eight miles distant from the French fort. In the struggle Pringle had lost his gun, and almost his life; they determined therefore to surrender. Night found them once more in the forest. Here, utterly exhausted, William Smith became delirious, laid down, and died. To keep their blood in motion, and fearful lest if they moved backwards or forwards they should once more lose themselves in the depths of the forest, the two officers walked all night round and round a tree! In the morning, half-dead, they made for the French fort. When they came in sight of it, they hoisted a white handkerchief. Instantly two or three French officers dashed forward and saved them from the Indians, who had almost laid hands upon them.

They were conducted to the fort as prisoners of war, and kindly treated and tended. Later on they were exchanged.

Note.—Pringle died in 1800, senior Major-General of the British army.


“There’s a man asking for you, sir!” said a servant to Lord Howe, as he sat in the verandah of his friend Colonel Schuyler’s house in Albany.

It was a lovely day at the end of May. Winter had given place to a sudden burst of spring, or rather early summer. The woods were rich with green foliage; sunshine bathed the land, giving promise of a rich harvest of grains and fruit, which in this climate ripen almost as quickly as they spring forth from mother earth.

“A man asking for me?” said Lord Howe. “What sort of man?”

“Well, sir, he’s rather rough-looking: a border man, I should say,” answered the servant.

“Better show him up here,” said Colonel Schuyler. “In these times one has to deal with such a queer lot.”

Howe nodded assent, and the servant disappeared. The General rose and went over to where his hostess, Madame Schuyler, sat in a low rocking-chair, somewhat apart from the men, gazing sadly over the town and country. She and Lord Howe were great friends. He had been a guest in this hospitable home for several weeks, and both husband and wife had become deeply attached to him.

“What are you thinking of, Madame?” said Howe.

She looked up at him with tears in her eyes.

“I was thinking,” she answered, in a low voice, “that soon you will be leaving us. Will you ever come back again?”

“That is as God wills,” said Howe reverently. “Why trouble? Life and death are in His hands, not in ours. The great call may come to me here in your happy home as quickly as on the battle-field. I never feel nearer death there than elsewhere.”

Before she could answer him, a quick step was heard on the verandah. Howe turned round.

“Roger!” he exclaimed, holding out both his hands.

“Yes; I’ve turned up again,” said the hunter, as he returned the greeting. “I suppose, like others, you reckoned I had taken my last leap?”

“I did indeed,” answered Howe. “You are almost like one come back to us from the dead. Let me introduce you to my friends, and then tell us how it happens that you are now standing before us alive, and, what is still more wonderful, sound of limb, if I mistake not!” and he looked at his friend critically from head to foot.

Roger threw his head back and laughed. “Yes, there are no broken bones,” he answered.

“Madame,” said Howe, turning to Madame Schuyler, “allow me to present you to a man I am proud to call my friend, ‘Roger the Ranger.’”

“The name is enough,” said the Colonel, coming up. “The whole country is alive with the story of your exploits; but your last beats them all. Do your Rangers know of your escape, sir?”

“Yes; I joined a party of my men as soon as possible, but purposely kept quiet for some time,” answered Roger. “Though not wounded, I was frightfully bruised; sliding down that rock was no small matter. I was more dead than alive when I got to the bottom, and had two or three ugly cuts. I believe I must have lain unconscious for several hours. When I gathered myself together I could hardly drag my limbs. I had to remain hidden in the forest for upwards of a week, living on juniper berries and anything I could pick up; fortunately the less a man gets to eat in a case like mine the better. I knew of a stream, and was able to get fresh water; so by degrees the fever went down, and I crawled to Fort Edward. I gave them a startler there; they thought it was my ghost.”

“Do you know what has become of Philips?” asked Lord Howe.

“Murdered,” answered Roger shortly. “Pringle and Roche are prisoners of the French, but they are well treated, and will in all probability be exchanged before long. Where’s William Parkmann? Gone home?”

“No fear of that,” answered Howe; “he is my faithful esquire, and will not leave me. He has just gone down the town, but he will be back before long. He has been in terrible trouble about you. Of course at the Marshes they know you are safe? You’ve taken care of that?”

“Yes; as soon as I was able I sent a party of men to let them know,” answered Roger; “but it was a good two months after the mishap. However, fortunately, news travels slowly out there, and it was some weeks before they knew anything especial had happened; and as they are pretty well accustomed to my hair-breadth escapes, they were not over-ready to believe the rumour of my death. However, the assurance that I was alive and well was none the less welcome.”

“I should rather think not,” said Madame Schuyler; “but do you really consider it safe for your family to remain in such an out-of-the-way place? Every day we hear of villages and settlements burnt and pillaged. At least, it seems to me it would be better for your womankind if they came into a city for protection.”

“I have no womankind,” said Roger sternly, looking straight before him, so as to avoid Lord Howe’s eye; “and no power on earth would drag my father away from the Marshes as long as there is one stone left upon another. The settlement is large and well defended. I should say they ran less danger than most of the border villages; and, in any case, it would not do for the heads to take flight.”

“But at Alpha Marsh they are only women,” said Lord Howe.

“Marcus is there; he must decide. I have no word in the matter,” said Roger, turning away to greet William Parkmann.

In the course of the evening, to Roger’s annoyance, the danger to the colonists on the border was again discussed.

“My father has offered to send an escort to bring Mistress Langlade and her daughters to Boston,” said William Parkmann; “but neither Loïs nor her mother will move, and of course the younger girls will not leave them. Surely you might use your influence and represent to them the risk they are running,” he said, turning to Roger.

“I have no influence,” was the stony answer. “My father and Marcus will do all that can be done to protect them; besides, as I told you before, I hardly think the Indians will attack the Marshes. Their chief has surely power enough to protect his own people!”

“I doubt it; besides, Langlade cannot be everywhere,” said Howe; “and the Indians will owe you a worse grudge than ever now. Be warned, Roger, and send word for the women to be sent to Boston.”

“If I did, Loïs would not obey me,” he said slowly. Neither Lord Howe nor William Parkmann had ever heard him pronounce her name before. “He who ought to have been there to defend his own has forsaken them; can she do likewise?” he added, turning away with an angry gesture.

“There is nothing for it, William,” said Howe gently, “but to leave them in God’s hands and trust to His mercy.”

“Ah, Madame Schuyler,” said William Parkmann to their hostess, “if you could only see my pretty Marie! She is like a white lily. To think of those savages approaching her is agony.”

“Try and not think of it,” said the lady gently. “Surely their brother will take care they are not molested?”

“He cannot prevent the tribes making raids on the settlements,” said Lord Howe; “and, besides, I have heard that Montcalm keeps him as much as he can with him. It is St. Luc de la Corne and Nivernelle who were at the head of the late expeditions. But here comes Roger; better say nothing more at present.”

The next few weeks were spent in hard, matter-of-fact preparation for the coming campaign. Roger’s Rangers came from all parts, and gathered round him a stronger force than ever, delighted to have once more found their leader, and prouder than ever of his exploits. They were to take up their position on Lake St. George, and to drive Montcalm from several advantageous positions he held there, more especially from the plateau of Ticonderoga.

“Yes, dear lady, we shall part to-morrow,” said Lord Howe, the eve of the day fixed for the departure of the army. “I have come to bid you farewell and to thank you for my happy holiday. I trust before many weeks are over to return to you victorious. Everything is in our favour; we have a splendid army, 6367 officers and soldiers, regulars, and 9054 colonial troops.”

“If they are well disciplined, I wonder who is to thank for it!” said Madame Schuyler significantly.

“Certainly not Mrs. Nabby-Cromby, the ‘Aged One,’”[1] said William Parkmann, who had accompanied Howe, on his farewell visit.

[Footnote 1: This nickname was generally applied to Abercromby throughout the army, though he was only fifty-two years of age; but he was incapable and infirm.]

“Whatever may be your private opinion, it would be more agreeable to me if you would express yourself, when speaking of our General-in-Chief, more respectfully,” said Lord Howe severely.

“I am sorry,” said William Parkmann, who knew full well that the least breach of discipline was an unpardonable offence in the eyes of his leader.

Brigadier-General Howe was in reality the soul of the expedition; the soldiers were devoted to him, and ready to follow him to the death. Yet he was a strict disciplinarian. He had brought to bear upon the army all the experience he had gathered during his months of forest warfare under Roger. He made the men under his command dress according to their work. The coats of both regulars and provincials were cut short at the waist; they wore leggings to protect them from the briers. He did away with the long hair which was still the fashion in the English army. All these details would have rendered many men unpopular; but in Howe’s case it had the contrary effect: the sweetness of his temper, his own personal example, and the excessive charm of his manner carried all before him. With the exception of the few weeks he had been persuaded to spend with the Schuylers whilst in the neighbourhood of Albany, he lived in camp with his men, simply and roughly, sharing their hardships, and, one and all, they appreciated his self-sacrifice.

“Nevertheless, though you are too modest to care to hear it, what William Parkmann says is true,” said Madame Schuyler. “Without you there would be neither order nor discipline in the army. If anything were to happen to you, there would be an end to all things.”

“We might throw down our arms at once,” said William Parkmann. “General Montcalm would have a fine chance.”

“I don’t think there’s a man I’m so sorry for as that man, though he be our enemy!” said Howe. “But for him we should walk over the ground. He’s a splendid general, and is holding his own against desperate odds, Vaudreuil is jealous of him, and thwarts him at every step; and the other Canadian officials are thieves and robbers. If Montcalm held all the power in his own hands, and was properly seconded, we should have but little chance; as it is he may yet win!”

“You don’t really think he will?” said Madame Schuyler.

“No, I do not,” answered Howe; “but still he is a splendid fellow, and as long as he holds Quebec he is master of Canada. If he were sole master, then I should say the odds were for him and against us. And now, dear lady, farewell. I have still much to see to to-night, and to-morrow at daybreak we shall start. Never doubt but what as we pass by I shall look upwards to your white house on these sunny upland meadows, and think of the happy hours I have spent here, and the dear friends I leave behind.”

“Farewell, and God be with you,” said Madame Schuyler, her voice choked with tears, as she gave him her hand; he bent for a second over it.

“God bless you and yours,” he said; then he turned away, ran down the terrace, and disappeared from sight.

William Parkmann hastened to follow his chief’s example; but as he took leave of Madame Schuyler he said,—

“You need not fear for him; he is so beloved; we all keep watch and ward over him.”

“It will be of no avail,” she answered sadly. “I saw him last night in a dream, lying dead in the long green grass;” and, turning away to hide her emotion, she slowly re-entered the house.


It was the 5th of July, 1758. The sun shone forth in all his glory, gilding the mountain tops and lighting up the deepest valleys. The English and Colonial troops had embarked the previous evening on nine hundred troop-boats; a hundred and thirty-five whale-boats and a large number of flat boats carried the artillery.

It was a superb spectacle, never forgotten by those who witnessed it, when the boats filed forth and entered the narrows, a long line extending for six miles. The flash of oars and glitter of weapons, the banners, the varied uniforms, the notes of the bugle, the bagpipes, trumpets, and drums, prolonged by a hundred woodland echoes, enhanced the brightness of the summer day and the romantic beauty of the scenery. The sheen and sparkle of the crystal waters, the countless islets tufted with pine, birch, and fir, the bordering mountains, with their green summits and sunny crags, united to impress this scene upon the minds of all present.

“I never beheld such a delightful prospect,” wrote an eye-witness to his friends at home. There was something triumphant in it; and the spirits of both men and officers responded to the general impression. The boats advanced rapidly down Lake St. George, and it was still daylight when they halted to await the baggage and artillery, which were in the rear. After sunset they started afresh, and by daybreak the next morning had reached the end of the lake.

Here they became aware that they were being watched by an advance party of the French. Roger immediately landed with his company of Rangers, and drove the enemy back into the wood, after which the whole army went on shore. A council of officers was then called, of whom Howe and Roger were the leading spirits.

When the council was over the two men lay side by side on their outstretched bearskins resting. The scene was lovely. A plain covered with forest stretched half a mile or more to the mountains, behind which lay Trout Brook, whilst ruddy in the warm sunrise rose the vast bare face of Roger’s Rock.

“I marvel how you did it!” said Lord Howe to his companion.

“It looks worse than it really is,” answered Roger. “One only needs a steady head, a good eye for distances, and a firm foot. Nevertheless, I should not care to try it again. And now what is to be our next move? Langy and his French have retreated to the woods. He will probably join Montcalm at the Saw Mills up by the falls. My advice is to cross the forest, dislodge the French, and make for Ticonderoga. I know positively that Montcalm’s army only numbers a fourth of ours; of course, Levis may bring up reinforcements, but at present he is at Montreal, and Vaudreuil may, and probably will, think proper to detain him there. It is for us to advance without delay.”

“Then let us do it at once!” said Lord Howe, springing up; and, going to the group of officers, he imparted Roger’s opinion to them.

It was immediately decided that the Royal Rangers should take to the woods under Roger, and that Lord Howe and Major Putman should follow with two hundred Rangers and scouts, the remainder of the army in four separate columns bringing up the rear.

In less than an hour the plan was carried into effect; and soon through the silent primeval forest an army was groping its way, buried in foliage so thick that no sound of waggons or artillery could be heard, only “the cawing of the crows, flapping their black wings over the sea of tree-tops.” The forest was dense; the way was obstructed by undergrowth, and it was impossible to see the fallen trees which lay about in every stage of decay. The sun, even when at its height, could hardly pierce the canopy of boughs. Roger, who was in advance, was himself fairly puzzled; but he knew the direction he had to take, and was able to guide his men, fully believing Howe was on the same track; and so in truth he was, only at a greater distance than Roger had supposed. Suddenly Lord Howe and those nearest to him heard voices close upon them, and recognised that they were French. They checked their advance and listened.

“We are caught in an ambush,” said Lord Howe, “or else it is the advance party under Langy who are in retreat, and have lost their way. One thing is in our favour: in the darkness they cannot recognise friend from foe. We must try to push through them. Let no man speak. If they challenge us the word is ‘Français.’ I’ll give it!”

He was right in his surmise. It was Langy with his three hundred and fifty men who had got lost in the woods, and now found themselves in the very centre of the English army, dividing it, so to speak, Roger and the Royal Rangers in front, Howe and the remainder of the English army behind. For a few minutes the two armies were mingled, until a suspicion of the truth dawned on the French.

Qui vive?” shouted Langy.

Français!” came from the English; but Langy was not deceived. A volley of musketry was the immediate answer. William Parkmann, who was close beside Howe, saw by the flash of the muskets his chief stagger. He caught him in his arms, and carried him out of the ranks. Alas! in that second the noble spirit had winged its flight to another world. Those nearest him had seen him fall, and the ill news spread like wild-fire. A sort of panic seized the soldiers. They believed they had fallen into an ambush, and that Montcalm’s whole force was upon them; but fortunately the Rangers stood firm and fought steadily. The sound of the musketry reached Roger. A faint inkling of the truth dawned upon him, and without hesitation he turned round and took the French in the rear. Thus, between two fires, their position was desperate. Nevertheless, they fought with unrivalled bravery, and of the three hundred and fifty men of Langy’s corps, fifty only escaped: one hundred and sixty were made prisoners; the remainder being killed or drowned in trying to cross the rapids. The English had lost comparatively few men. But Howe’s death was an irreparable disaster. “The death of this one man,” a contemporary observes, “was the ruin of fifteen thousand!” The soul of Abercromby’s army expired with this young officer; an almost general languor crept over the men. Order and discipline became lax. Abercromby himself seemed paralysed. Montcalm had retreated to the base of the peninsula upon which Ticonderoga stands, and had intrenched himself there.

The peninsula of Ticonderoga consists of a rocky plateau, with low grounds on each side, bordering Lake Champlain on the one hand, and the outlet of Lake St. George on the other. A ridge is formed across the plateau. Montcalm decided to defend this ridge by abattis. Men and officers worked together, making a barricade of trees eight or nine feet high; every tree in the neighbourhood was hewn down as if laid flat by a hurricane.

Abercromby, fearing Montcalm’s position would be further strengthened by reinforcements, ordered an immediate attack; but he himself remained at the Mill, a mile and a half away in the rear. The English were therefore virtually without a leader, and nothing was left them in the coming struggle but blind, headlong valour. As they advanced to the attack they could see the top of the breastwork, but not the men who fought behind it; and when they attempted to penetrate through the breastwork, or climb over it, they were stopped by sharpened branches and by a cross fire which poured down upon them. The French fought with intrepid gaiety, shouting, “Long live our King! Long live our General!” Montcalm, with his coat off, was everywhere. Six times the English returned to the attack. Campbell Duncan, laird of Inveraw, belonging to the 42nd regiment, called the “Black Watch,” with others jumped down the abattis into the midst of the French, and were killed, bayoneted.

The English lost nineteen hundred men and forty-four officers; the French three hundred and seventy-seven; but their officers Bourlamaque and Bougainville were both wounded, while Levis, who came up at the end, had his hat twice shot through. Abercromby was at last obliged to retreat, and Ticonderoga remained in the hands of the French. Montcalm, in gratitude to God for having given him the victory over so brave an enemy, erected a cross on the spot.

Roger and his Rangers had taken no active part in the attack upon Ticonderoga; the loss of Howe hung like a heavy cloud over them. Roger, with Putman, had remained in the woods, keeping up a border warfare, pursuing the French and shooting any who came in his way; and they pursued these tactics so persistently and aggressively that the French at last openly attacked the Rangers. With the aid of the Indians, they succeeded in taking Putman prisoner. He was, however, rescued from the hands of the Indians by a French officer, and conveyed under escort to Ticonderoga, where Montcalm received him and treated him with kindness. Here he made friends with Colonel Schuyler, who was also a prisoner, and together they lamented the death of their friend.

This victory was to be the last great success of the French. Slowly but surely they were being pushed back upon their great fortress, the key of Canada: Quebec. Still there was no thought of surrender—Montcalm stood firm at the helm.


The first grey light of morning was creeping through the white curtains of Loïs’ bedroom, where she was still sleeping, when suddenly, without any apparent reason, she awoke and sat straight up.

“I am certain I heard something or some one,” she said to herself, and bent forward to listen. For a few seconds there was silence, save for the twitter of the awakening birds; then there came a slight rattling on the window-pane, as if earth or dust had been thrown.

“I knew I was right,” said Loïs. She got out of bed, slipped on a wrapper, and, bare-footed as she was, went softly across the room to the window; this she opened noiselessly and bent forward. What a lovely autumn morning it was, the air so fresh and full of vitality! The many-tinted leaves of the creepers clambering up the house thrust themselves forward, kissing Loïs’ cheek as if to wish her “good morrow.”

It was scarcely three o’clock. A soft white haze hung like a veil over the land, precursor of a fine day; but this effectually prevented Loïs distinguishing any distant object. A few of the great forest trees had been left standing in the garden, and their thick foliage cast deep shadows, whilst a hedge of oleanders screened the house from the high road leading down to the village. On the other side was the dark forest, stretching out farther than the eye could see.

Still Loïs strained both eyes and ears; some one was there, she felt sure. To a certain extent she had been trained by Roger and Charles, when, in the days of her early girlhood, she had accompanied them on their forest excursions; her hearing was therefore keen and her sight penetrating, and she knew now that she was being watched though she could distinguish no one. She bent farther out of the casement window and showed herself. Then from beneath the shrubs, which grew low down on the ground, she saw the dim outline of a human face. It was dark, and the black, straight hair hung about it, whilst the eyes shone forth like coals of fire. Loïs started, and raised her hand in token that she was aware of the strange presence; instantly the dark face disappeared, and Loïs closed the casement.

“What can she want? Has she brought a message from him? Her coming never bodes good!” Even while uttering these words, she had been hastily dressing herself; and throwing a dark shawl round her head and taking her shoes in her hand, she cautiously opened her door and crept down the stairs. It was evidently not the first time she had thus manœuvred. Passing out by the back door, she kept close up against the house wall until she reached the corner; there she waited. No one, unless accustomed to Indian ways, would have heard or seen anything moving in that garden, and yet before many seconds had elapsed the figure of a woman rose up beside her.

“Nadjii!” said Loïs.

The woman smiled, and, taking the hand Loïs held out to her, stroked it gently, as if the softness and the whiteness pleased her.

“Is it bad news, Nadjii?” asked Loïs.

She nodded. Loïs sighed.

“Come this way,” she said; and skirting round the house, they came to a sort of shed, used for putting away garden tools and general rubbish.

“We shall be quiet here for a time,” said Loïs; “but it is getting late; you must be quick, Nadjii. Charles is surely not ill?”

The Indian shook her head.

“No, you ill,” she said softly, in broken English; and then she continued, speaking rapidly, “They will come; they will kill and burn. Run, run far away.”

Every particle of colour left Loïs’ face. “Do you mean your people are coming down to murder us? Where is Charles?” she said.

“Away with the white man on the great sea. Nadjii follow her own people, to watch for you; he say ‘Go,’ and Nadjii went. My people angry because your white brother kill them, and the great Onontio angry. He escape always, over mountains, rivers; no Indian catch him.”

“Are you speaking of Roger?” said Loïs.

“Yes,” answered the Indian. “Just kill Indians in wood; Onontio angry, revenge.”

“But Roger is not here; he is far away. If your people attack the settlement, thinking to find him they will be disappointed. When are they coming? Does Charles know of it?”

“No, no. They not dare come, if he knew,” said Nadjii. “I tell you, he with the other white nation. My people revenge.”

“And when are they going to attack us?” said Loïs, trying to speak calmly.

“To-night,” answered Nadjii.

“My God!” said Loïs, burying her face in her hands.

“No hurt you,” said the Indian gently. “Nadjii watch over you.”

“What do I care for myself!” exclaimed Loïs passionately. “It is my poor mother, the children, the whole settlement! Oh, how can Charles let them!” and she wrung her hands.

“He not know,” said Nadjii. “Great chief sent for him to help, he go. Indians promise no hurt you, but Roger kill; Ominipeg angry, they kill too.”

“And you say they will attack us to-night?” said Loïs.

“Ugh,”[2] said Nadjii. “I walk all night to tell you, brothers other end of forest.”

[Footnote 2: Indian for yes.]

“But if they miss you they will guess you have come to warn us, and be angry,” said Loïs.

Nadjii shook her head; then, looking at Loïs, she said, “Run, run quickly. My brothers will not come while the sun shines; they wait till the gushkewau.”[3]

[Footnote 3: Indian for darkness.]

“I will get you some milk and bread,” said Loïs, ever thoughtful of others even in her sore trouble. “Where have you left the child?” she added, in a low voice.

Nadjii smiled and pointed to the forest.

“Are you not afraid to leave him so long?” said Loïs.

Æava-yea,” said Nadjii softly, meaning thereby “lullaby, he is sleeping.”

Loïs left her and went back into the house, reappearing with bread and fruit and a can of milk. She gave them to the Indian, saying,—

“You are sure they will not come till night?”

“Kaween, gushkewau,”[4] answered Nadjii. “Watch!” and once more she pointed to the forest.

[Footnote 4: No indeed, darkness.]

“You will be there?” asked Loïs.

“Ugh,” said the Indian.

“Are they many?” asked Loïs.

Nadjii stooped, picked up a handful of loose gravel, and let it run slowly through her fingers. If it were possible, Loïs’ face grew a shade paler.

“Go now,” she said; “the men on the farm are beginning to stir; they must not see you. You are faithful at least, and I thank you;” and stooping, she kissed the Indian woman.

A flood of light came into the dark face, the glow of a great love surging up in this savage nature.

“The Great Spirit tell Nadjii die for you and him!” she said, in a low voice; and before Loïs could answer she had wrapped the otter skin she wore round her, and darted away, disappearing behind the trees and bushes with an incredible swiftness.

For one second Loïs stood still; then she roused herself. “There is no time to lose. Shall I rouse Marcus or Father Nat?” She came forth out of the shed, and, as she did so, found herself face to face with Marcus.

“Loïs, has anything happened?” he asked, looking anxiously at her pale face.

“Nadjii has been here,” she answered. “The Indians are going to attack us to-night.”

The fear was so constantly present with them all, that the statement did not elicit even an exclamation of surprise from Marcus; he only said,—

“I knew it must come sooner or later. I only wish you women had accepted William Parkmann’s offer, and were safe at Boston.”

“Neither mother nor I would have gone. You know it, Marcus. More than ever are we bound to stay by our people.”

“Well, you must go now; it won’t do for you to be caught by the redskins. We’ve kept the cattle pretty close. The best of the herds can be got in easily, and then we must defend the old place as best we can; but the first thing to be done is to get the women and children out of the place. I’ll go and call Father Nat.”

The inhabitants of the settlement were beginning to show signs of life. Cocks crowing, dogs barking, and the soft lowing of the cattle came gently up from the valley above which the two homesteads stood.

Without further speech the brother and sister parted, Marcus crossing over to Father Nat, whom he met on the threshold of his house.

“Well, lad, what’s brought you over so early?” asked Nathaniel, taking his pipe from his mouth. “We’re going to have a fine day. This sort of weather is good for the land; we shall have a splendid autumn.”

“I doubt if there’ll be much left to rejoice over by this time to-morrow,” answered Marcus. “They’re coming at last, Father Nat!”

“Who? The Indians?” exclaimed Nathaniel.

“Who else should I mean?” said Marcus. “Loïs has seen Nadjii, Charles’ squaw, and she says they will be down upon the settlement to-night.”

There was a moment’s silence; then Nat said, “We must lose no time; the waggons must be got out, and the women and children sent off. They’ll be safe before nightfall at Zanisville. Quick! send one of the men to John Cleveland, and do you go down to the village, and give the alarm; but above all things, there must be no noise—the red men have their spies about, you may be sure. The women must be got out of the village quietly, through the valley on the other side,” and he turned away.

Loïs had already spoken to her mother, and Father Nat found Martha standing in the kitchen with the two younger girls, Marie and Susan, clinging to her.

“The waggons will be ready in half an hour,” he said, “but you must go off on foot to avoid observation. They will meet you on the other side of the valley and take you to Zanisville, where you will be in safety. Quick! make up your bundles and go. The Indians are coming through the woods; happily, they be still a good way off.”

“And you?” said Martha.

“Forewarned is forearmed,” answered Nathaniel. “We shall not be attacked in the daytime; we are well prepared. I hope we may teach these savages a lesson. It would have been different if they had surprised us. You need not go farther than Zanisville. We shall be sending for you as soon as it is safe to do so.”

“I thought it was decided we were to remain,” said Loïs.

“As long as it was safe to keep you,” said Nathaniel. “Now the care and thought for you would be a hindrance to us men. I mean to give these savages a peppering which they shall remember, and you’re best out of the way. We’ve settled it long ago. We’re not taken unawares. The women and children will be escorted by some thirty of our men over the hills; the waggons will go round to meet you, and take you the rest of the way: there’ll be no danger then; they’ll be too busy with us. Don’t make any trouble; it’s got to be as I say, Loïs.”

In view of an attack of the Indians, the elders had arranged that a certain number of men should be told off to protect the women and screen their retreat. They had now the advantage of not being surprised, and having time before them. Some of the women were very unwilling to go, not believing the rumour—there had been so many false alarms—but the men insisted, and soon little groups were seen crossing the valley and directing their steps through the mountain gorges towards the spot where the waggons were to be in waiting. So numerous were the outlets to the valley, the roads were so zigzag, and the country was so thickly wooded, that it was easy for the fugitives to pass out unperceived; besides, the Indians were still at a great distance, separated from the settlement by a dense forest.

By noon the women and children were far on their way; some had joined company, and on the whole they were not as depressed as they might have been. In two or three days they hoped to be recalled. The settlement they were going to was comparatively at a short distance, though better protected than the Marshes, which lay quite on the borderland.

Nathaniel Boscowen and the men generally were in good spirits; they had plenty of ammunition and were prepared. The great danger of these night attacks was in being surprised, and, thanks to Nadjii, this had been avoided. Very quietly and without any display they took their precautions. To all outward appearance the usual daily life went on: the men drove the cattle into the meadows, they worked in the fields, some even fished in the river, and towards evening they returned to the village, and apparently rested from their labours, standing smoking and talking outside their houses, and a few gathered in groups on the square in front of the church; but a close observer might have noticed that there was a strained look on most of the men’s faces, as if they were listening for some distant sound, and their eyes seemed to turn instinctively towards the dark forest. In the kitchen of Omega Marsh sat Father Nat, Marcus, the minister, and half a dozen of the principal men of the settlement. At Alpha Marsh lights were lit when night fell, and for some time figures moved to and fro in the rooms, so that its uninhabited condition should not be perceptible from outside.

The clock had struck nine, when suddenly the kitchen door opened, and some one entered. There was no mistaking who it was. Father Nat and Marcus both rose.

“Loïs!” they exclaimed together, in a tone of reproach.

She went straight up to the elder man, and, laying her hands on his shoulder, said,—

“Dear Father Nat, my place is surely beside you and Marcus. I am the eldest of my race. That my mother should seek safety in flight for the sake of Marie and Susie was right. I knew she would not go without me, so I went; but when we got into the waggons and she was safely off, I slipped out and came home. She will probably not miss me for some hours, so she will be spared all anxiety.”

“I am sorry you have done this thing, Loïs,” said Father Nat anxiously.

“I am not,” said Loïs; “and now give me some supper. I have had nothing since morning, and it has been a long tramp.”

“It has indeed,” said the men present, looking at her with affectionate pride. They had all known her from her birth, and loved her almost as well as their own children, and somehow they were glad to have her back amongst them.

“Are you ready?” asked Loïs.

“Yes, we are quite ready,” answered Father Nat. Loïs ate the supper they hastened to place before her, and then told them something of the day’s journey.

“We saw no one on the road,” she said; “it seems difficult to imagine such danger is threatening us.”

“Nevertheless, I have heard sounds in the forest which tell me plainly the Indians are not far off,” said Nathaniel.

“Now,” said Loïs, rising, “I will lie down and sleep for an hour; there is yet time.”

“Do,” said Father Nat, and Loïs went to her own room and knelt beside her white bed and prayed, as she had done all the years of her life, from childhood to womanhood. Then, throwing herself on her bed, she slept.


The lights were extinguished; the inhabitants of the Marshes were apparently sunk in slumber. It was near upon midnight, but the moon was shining so brightly that it seemed almost as if it were daylight.

Loïs had risen, and, standing in the darkness at a window of an upper room at Omega Marsh, looking down into the valley, was almost tempted to think she must have been mistaken, that her interview with Nadjii was an evil dream, the scene was so peacefully lovely. The church spire rose in the midst of the surrounding houses. She knew every one of them; their inhabitants had been familiar to her since her childhood, from the old grandfather to the toddling child she had helped to carry on the road that morning. By the light of the moon and stars she saw the outline of the hills, and farther on the mountain ridges; whilst the river gleamed here and there as it wound through the meadows. But what riveted her gaze was that dark, impenetrable forest. What did it conceal? She knew full well that all around the garden men belonging to the village lay on the ground watching, even as she was watching. Would to God it might be in vain! but Nadjii had spoken, and Loïs had implicit confidence in the Indian woman.

Suddenly, without warning, a loud shout arose. Then Loïs knew the enemy was at hand, and in the space of a few seconds the settlement was surrounded. The Indians poured down into the valley like a flock of locusts. Nat had issued the order that no man was to stir until the savages should have passed the boundaries, and then to fire on them simultaneously. Up towards the Marshes they swarmed, never doubting that the inhabitants were sleeping; but they were soon undeceived—a murderous fire came pouring down upon them. Shrieks, howls of pain and anger, filled the air, and the dark figures, with their waving headgears, leapt the barriers, striking out to the right and left with their murderous hatchets.

To Loïs, as she shrank back, it was as if all the devils of hell had been suddenly let loose. Steadily the fire continued; but so numerous were the assailants, that even as they fell others poured in over them, filling up the gaps. The settlement was surrounded on all sides. The besieged were not long in perceiving this, for the triumphant yells of the red men were heard on every side.

“They are too many for us, Marcus,” said Father Nat; “they are murdering our people wholesale down yonder. Good Heavens! they are setting fire to the barns; they’ll burn the village down!”

“I’m afraid they will,” said Marcus. Even whilst speaking they had not ceased firing. With a score of other men they were crouching behind the trees in the garden, just in front of Omega Marsh. Other groups were scattered here and there, protecting the homestead. The dead and wounded lay around, but the assailants still came on, the circle narrowing as they pressed forward.

“Where is Loïs?” asked Father Nat.

“Here,” she answered; and raising her gun, she fired over his shoulder at an Indian, who had leapt to within a yard of them.

“We must back into the house and bar the doors,” she said; “it is our only chance.”

“I think she’s right,” said the minister, and slowly they began to move backwards. A yell of delight from the savages greeted this retrograde movement, and one leapt forward, and, raising his tomahawk, would have brought it down on Father Nat’s head, if a thrust from a knife had not made the uplifted arm drop helpless, and with a shriek of agony the man sprang back. At the same moment Loïs felt herself lifted from the ground and carried into the house. With a sudden rush the others followed her. To bolt and bar the doors and windows of the ground floor was the work of a few seconds. Some of the men had ascended to the first story, and were firing from the windows upon the savages.

“We can only hold out a certain time,” said John Cleveland; “and even that depends upon their being kind enough not to set fire to the place.”

It seemed very unlikely that the Indians would refrain from doing so. The village was burning; and by the light of the flames the terrible fight which was going on below and around was clearly visible.

It was evident they had some reason for not setting fire to the homestead, probably the desire of taking the inhabitants alive for the purpose of torturing them “Father Nat” more especially, their anger being directed against Roger. The house was strongly built, the doors and windows secured by heavy iron bars, and so far the savages had been kept at bay by the incessant firing of the beleaguered. Suddenly they appeared to retreat, making a rush round to the back of the house. At the same moment Nadjii stood by the side of Loïs.

“See!” she whispered. “Roger;” and even as she spoke, running swiftly up the hill with shouts of “Hurrah, hurrah!” they saw the well-known red shirts of the Rangers.

“Saved,” said Father Nat, turning round quickly. “My brave lad!” He had hardly uttered the words when he was felled to the earth, and the room was filled with savages, yelling, hewing to the right hand and to the left. The settlers were grouped together in a corner of the room, keeping the savages at bay with their guns and rifles.

The last thing Loïs saw was Nadjii, who, thrusting her behind her, with blood flowing down her own half-naked body, held aloft a glittering steel knife stained with gore.

The sun rose upon a scene of utter devastation. The village of Marshwood lay in ruins; upwards of one hundred men had been killed, or, worse still, were missing.

Almost the only house which stood uninjured was Alpha Marsh; evidently the Indians had their reasons for respecting it. Their own loss was immense. The sudden appearance of the Rangers had been totally unexpected. When the savages had forced an entrance at the back and had swarmed into the house, Roger and his men took them in the rear and cut them to pieces, at the same time as they were being fired on by the besieged; retreat was therefore impossible, and they perished to a man. A few threw themselves out of the windows in the hope of escaping, but were either killed in the fall or bayoneted by their opponents stationed below; the same thing went on throughout the village. In less than an hour after the Rangers appeared, the Indians were swept away, leaving their dead and wounded to the mercy of the conquerors.

Of the group of men who had defended Omega Marsh only a few escaped unwounded. When the fight was at an end, and Roger forced his way over the dead into the room where the besieged had taken refuge, an awful sight met his eyes. Father Nat lay apparently killed, Loïs was close beside him senseless, and almost covering them with her naked body, gashed with wounds, lay Nadjii.

The scene was one of indescribable horror. For a second Roger’s spirit failed him. The survivors, faint and exhausted, hardly believing they were saved, still stood with their weapons in their hands. Marcus, badly wounded himself, was striving to get at Loïs, but the Indian woman’s body had to be moved first, and he had no strength left. Stern and agonised was Roger’s face, as John Cleveland, clasping his hand, said, with a sob in his voice,—

“He knew you had come to the rescue. A minute sooner and you would have saved him.”

“Are you sure he is dead?” said Roger, in a hoarse voice, as he helped Marcus to move Nadjii and Loïs; and then he raised his father in his arms. Apparently dead he certainly was; but the face was so swollen and disfigured by a ghastly wound on the forehead that it was impossible to say positively.

“He and the women had better be carried over to Alpha Marsh,” he said; “the flames are spreading below. I must go and help my men.”

At that moment Loïs opened her eyes, and consciousness came back to her immediately. She sat up and looked around.

“Oh, Roger!” she exclaimed; and for the first time for years he did not turn away from her, but asked,—

“Are you hurt, Loïs?”

She tried to rise. John Cleveland gave her his hand.

“No,” she answered, “I think not; it is their blood,” and she shivered, pointing to her blood-stained garments.

“Alpha Marsh is uninjured; we are going to carry Father Nat there.”

“And she?” said Loïs, looking down at Nadjii.

“If you wish it,” answered Roger, turning away.

And so Nathaniel was laid in the best chamber of Alpha Marsh, and Nadjii in Loïs’ own bedroom.

Nokomis, the Huron woman who had served Nathaniel ever since he rescued her from another tribe of Indians, who had slain her son and her husband, came out of hiding, and with a few other women, some old, some sick, who had refused to leave the settlement, set to work to tend the wounded.

“He no dead, she no dead,” said Nokomis, after washing the blood from Father Nat’s head and body, and, with Loïs’ help, performing the same office for Nadjii. “But,” she added, shaking her head, “they both die; no meda[5] save her.”

[Footnote 5: Medicine-man.]

“But you are as good as a meda,” said Lois. “You know of herbs and salves, Nokomis; you must try what you can do.”

“For my Nosa[6] perhaps,” she said, as she bound up the ghastly wound which had lain Father Nat’s head open; “but for the Nadjii, she dead;” and yet as Loïs bent over the dark face, and held a feather to her lips, she knew that Nadjii still lived.

[Footnote 6: Master.]

“Oh, Nokomis,” she said, tears running down her face, “she tried to save us all; if I am living it is because she stood between me and death. She has a brave heart.”

“She is a chief’s daughter,” answered Nokomis, with certain dignity; “but she must die; her hour is come.”

Suddenly a thought struck Loïs; her pale face flushed.

The child—where had Nadjii left the child?


“How did you know they were coming against us?” said Minister Cleveland. “We heard a fortnight ago that you were up on the shores of Lake Champlain.”

“I was not far from there,” answered Roger. “We have had a hard time of it lately, harassed on all sides by the French, the Canadians, and Indians. I had drawn my men off, to give them a few days’ rest; for in our last skirmish we had lost several men, and others had been wounded. I was lying half-asleep and half-awake at the foot of a tree one night, when I became conscious of some one creeping round from behind. In a second I was on foot, and at the same moment an Indian youth rose up before me. I seized him, and knew at once he was an Iroquois. I had seen him before; he was Nadjii’s half-brother.

“‘What are you doing here?’ I asked.

“‘Nadjii tell me come,’ he answered, in his native dialect. ‘Find the “Brave Heart,”’ she said, ‘and tell him to be near the old Nosa before the moon is at its full.’

“‘There’s mischief brewing against the Marshes then?’ I asked.

“‘I do not know; Nadjii say come,’ he answered.

“‘Where is she? and where is the white chief, her husband?’ I asked.

“‘Nadjii watch the white maiden. The white chief with the white men up at the City on the Rock.’

“Then I knew that Charles was with General Montcalm, and that a tribe, probably the one I had escaped from, was about to attack the Marshes out of revenge.

“‘It is well,’ I answered. ‘You stay with me. If you speak truly, good; if you deceive us——’ and I made a well-known sign of punishment. He only smiled, and sat down on the ground in token of consent.

“An hour later we were on our way; but it is a long journey, and we had to keep clear of the Indians. The nearer we got to Marshwood, the more we became aware of their presence. We had to take a circuitous path, which delayed us and made us late.”

“Yes,” said the minister; “but for that poor creature dying upstairs, we should all of us have been murdered in cold blood.”

This conversation had taken place in Alpha kitchen, where, late at night, the two men found themselves alone for the first time: the call upon both of them from within and without had been incessant. They had not only to attend to the living, but had to arrange for the removal of the dead bodies of the killed—no light task.

Father Nat had shown unmistakable signs of life, but was still insensible. A messenger had been despatched to the nearest town for a doctor, and was expected to return next day; in the meanwhile Nokomis had brewed herbs, and, with Loïs, done what she could for the sufferers. Now Loïs was watching beside Nadjii. It was midnight, and still they had no news of the child. Where had the mother hidden it when she came to the rescue? With Marcus’ help Loïs had searched the house and outhouses, and assured herself it was not there. It lay probably in the forest in the trunk of some tree.

Evidently having become possessed of the secret of the tribe, Nadjii had travelled alone with her child through the forest, crossing rivers and rapids as only an Indian woman could, to reach the Marshes in time and warn the inmates. On the night of the attack she must have lain the child to sleep in some hidden place; but where? It would surely die if its mother could not tell.

Nadjii was wounded unto death, and Loïs knew it; a few hours at most and she would cease to live, carrying her secret away with her, and her child’s hope of life! Loïs, as she knelt beside Nadjii, seemed to hear the wailing of the infant, the helpless cry for mother’s milk and mother’s kisses. “O Father, have mercy on the innocent babe,” she prayed; “let it not die this terrible death! My poor Nadjii has been faithful and true, and has laid down her life for her husband’s people, moved by the great love she bears him.”

Truly love, the great purifier, entering this poor heathen’s heart, had taught her many things, lightening her darkness! To her, though she knew it not, had been revealed the primary laws of love, obedience, and self-sacrifice! Her husband had bidden her watch over Loïs and his mother, and report to him if harm threatened them; and she had done what she could—she had laid down her life for them. All these thoughts crowded through Loïs’ mind as she knelt and prayed. She had all the early Puritan’s faith in prayer. No conflicting doubts troubled her. God would surely hear her!

“Spare the child, O God!” she repeated again and yet again, her clasped hands stretched out over the body of the dying mother. Her eyes were closed, her pale face raised, she was as one wrestling with God. Suddenly a word fell on her ear, “Nenemoosha.”[7] She turned quickly and looked at the Indian woman. Her eyes were open, and from out the swollen lips came in a voice almost inaudible the same word repeated, “Nenemoosha.” Tears sprang to Loïs’ eyes. She understood the meaning; and, bending over Nadjii, said, “Tell me where he is and I will fetch him.” The answer came, but in quick Indian words; and though Loïs understood a few, she could not follow her.

[Footnote 7: Sweetheart.]

“Wait! I will fetch some one,” she said; but before leaving Nadjii she gave her a cordial and damped the cloth that was bound round her head, whispering, “Never fear, Nadjii; we will find Nenemoosha.” Then she left her, smiling back at her as she went, though her heart was very sore. She had thought to fetch Nokomis, but the old Indian had been called away from Father Nat’s bedside to tend another wounded man, and had left an ancient village crone in charge. Hastily Loïs ran into the kitchen, where John Cleveland the minister and Roger were together.

“Roger,” said Loïs, going up to him, “Nadjii, the squaw, has spoken, but I cannot understand her; you must come. She left her and his child somewhere in the forest when she came to our rescue. You must go for it. Come!”

Roger started back from her, anger flashing from his eyes.

“A child of such a brood! Better let it die, Loïs. Would you nurture a viper in your bosom?” he said.

“It is my brother’s child, and its mother is dying for me!” said Loïs passionately, and she burst into tears.

A great struggle was visible in the hunter’s face. He hated this Indian woman, who, to his mind, had helped to decoy his friend. Why should he save her child?

“She is dying; fetch the child for her, Roger, and then I will depart with it, and you shall see our faces no more!” and Loïs threw herself on her knees before him. “By our old love,” she murmured. He turned away and strode up to the room where he knew they had laid Nadjii. Loïs and the minister followed.

All the soul of the dying woman was reflected in her eyes. When she saw Roger she strove to lift herself, but Loïs sprang to her side and laid her hand upon her, saying,—

“Tell him where to find Nenemoosha. He will go for him,” she said.

Nadjii lay motionless, wounded from head to foot, tortured with awakening agony.

Loïs moistened her lips, and smiled down on her dark sister as an angel might.

Then Nadjii spoke, quickly, gaspingly, looking at Roger. When she ceased, he bowed his head and left the room.

“Shall you be able to find it?” asked the minister.

“Yes,” answered Roger. “She has hidden it in the trunk of a tree about a mile distant, and she has marked the trees leading to the one where the child lies by an arrow cut in the bark; if it be still there I shall find it;” and he strode out of the house.

In less than an hour he came back, but his arms were empty.

“They have stolen it,” he said to Loïs, who met him. “She had made a bed of leaves for it, and I saw where it had been; but I also saw the track of a man’s foot round the tree, and the hands of a man had touched the child’s resting-place. It is gone.”

“What shall I say to her?” said Loïs, wringing her hands and weeping.

“You will not need to say anything,” answered the minister; “she is even now passing away. Come.”

They re-entered the room, and truly they knew that death was there before them. The veil was slowly being drawn across things earthly for the poor Indian woman; her eyes were already dim, her senses failing. The minister knelt down and prayed that the departing soul might awaken in another world to new knowledge and new light; and even as he prayed the answer came. A flash of light shot from Nadjii’s eyes, and a cry went up from her lips, “Jesus! Nenemoosha!” and she looked straight before her, as if she saw a vision; and so looking, the light died out of her face, and Nadjii slept.


After his repulse from Ticonderoga, General Abercromby made no marked effort to retrieve his position; his troops were disheartened, and fearing another attack by the French, he hastened to retire down Lake St. George, and to protect himself in an intrenched camp. In October, after the taking of Louisburg, General Amherst joined him; but it was then too late in the year to renew active service. Montcalm with his army withdrew for the winter to Montreal, and the English returned to Albany.

The English were, however, slowly gaining ground. Fort Duquesne, after immense labour and many hardships, was wrested by Brigadier-General Forbes from the French, and re-baptised, in honour of the great statesman, Pittsburg. Fort Frontenac was also captured, and this was more especially important as it gave the English a footing on Lake Ontario. And so the year 1758 came to a close, and the nations knew, both at home and abroad, that the great contest was likely to be fought out during the ensuing year; but whilst the land lay under its white covering of snow, with ice-bound rivers, there was peace, or rather a cessation of hostilities, and the leaders at home and abroad looked around to see who were the men most fitted to place at the helm.

Pitt had for some time past had his eye on a man who had already distinguished himself at the siege of Louisburg, James Wolfe. After the taking of that fortress he had desired to push on at once to Quebec; but he was overruled by the other generals, and a far more disagreeable task was allotted to him. It was considered necessary to destroy all the French settlements on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and he was deputed to carry out the order.

It is difficult for us now to realise the extent of misery this decision entailed; certainly it was more especially repugnant to a sensitive, humane nature such as Wolfe’s. It meant laying waste hundreds of pleasant homesteads, driving their inhabitants forth shelterless! The wailing of women and children, the low, bitter curses of the men—all this had to be borne with apparent stoicism. Always delicate, already suffering from the disease to which he was to succumb, Wolfe’s health entirely broke down under the severe mental and moral strain, and it was found necessary to grant him a prolonged leave of absence. He immediately set sail for England, hoping in the quiet of his home and his much-loved mother’s society to recruit his shattered health. His was a peculiar nature, a strange mixture of tenderness and passion; loving and sensitive beyond measure, yet at times strangely fierce and stern. His mother was wont to say he was a living barometer, his spirits rising and falling with every change of weather.

With such a character it was hardly possible for him to have been what we generally term a happy man; there were too many contradictions in his nature. When still quite young he either was, or imagined himself to be, in love; the result was a bitter disappointment, and for some time afterwards he plunged into a life of dissipation. At the early age of twenty-three he was already lieutenant-colonel (he had entered the army at fourteen), and was sent in garrison to Inverness. Here he remained five years, a great favourite with both his men and fellow-officers, but so entirely isolated from society that, as he expressed it himself, “He feared lest he should become a ruffian.” Once more he went to the other extreme, like a pendulum, and for six months took up his residence in Paris, devoting himself to the study of the French language and to the acquirement of every social accomplishment.

He was, we are told by those who knew him most intimately, possessed of only moderate abilities; but his diligence and perseverance were so remarkable that he accomplished anything he set his heart upon. Effeminacy was hateful to him; he was essentially a high-principled man, with a strong sense of duty, ever faithful to his ideal of what a true soldier ought to be—“always ready to meet the fate we cannot shun, and die gracefully when my hour comes,” he said on one occasion, and truly he carried this axiom out through life unto death!

In personal appearance he might almost have been considered an ugly man. He had a retreating forehead and chin; his nose was upturned, and formed with other features the point of an obtuse triangle. His mouth was by no means shaped to express resolution. The redeeming point in his face was his eyes; they were clear, bright, and piercing, full of spirit. His hair was red, and, according to the custom of the time, tied in a queue, and he always wore a black three-cornered hat. His physique denoted less than ordinary strength. He is represented with narrow shoulders, slender body, long thin limbs cased in scarlet frock-coat with broad cuffs and ample skirts, which reached down to his knees. Such was the outward seeming and character of the man who played so conspicuous a part in a war which ultimately gave to England one of her richest and most loyal colonies.

It was with a sense of relief that after the capture of Louisburg Wolfe set sail for England. His experiences of the last few months had impressed him so painfully that he hoped never to return to Canada. He had strong domestic tastes, his affection for his mother was the dominant passion of his life, and he had been but a few weeks in England when he proposed to and was accepted by a Miss Lowther; and so life seemed to be dawning for him in roseate hues. He was only thirty-three years of age, and was beloved both at home and abroad; his delicate health was the only shadow on his horizon, but it was hoped that perfect rest and good nursing would restore that. Therefore, throughout that winter Wolfe remained at home, perfectly happy, ignoring the fact that William Pitt’s eagle eye had already marked him out, and that his name was destined to be handed down to posterity among those men who have deserved well of their country.

But, whilst physically Wolfe was being thus strengthened for the fray, his great opponent was losing heart. Throughout that winter Montcalm recognised more than ever the many discordant elements by which he was surrounded.

The Governor’s jealousy had increased; he took every opportunity in his power for disparaging Montcalm, even going the length of demanding from the Court at Versailles that he should be recalled. But indifferent as the French king and his ministers were to the real interests of Canada, they were still sufficiently clear-sighted to know that General Montcalm was the right man in the right place, and to a certain extent to appreciate the services he had rendered the state. They therefore raised his rank to that of lieutenant-general, as also his officers Bourlamaque and Levis, who were made colonel and major-general.

But in his own heart Montcalm knew that when the Forts of Niagara, Crown Point, and Duquesne fell into the hands of the English, the end could not be far off. Little by little he was becoming isolated and cut off on the St. Lawrence, the British holding the command of the seas. He was possessed, however, of great military genius, and displayed to the last extraordinary skill in defending the French possessions.

During the winter the social life at Montreal was wholly in contradiction to the General’s feelings, so that he withdrew himself entirely from society, remaining in his own quarters, occupied with combining plans for the spring campaign, which he foresaw would decide the fate of Canada. This conduct was of itself a cause of complaint against him, being a reproach to Bigot and his associates, in whose palace at Quebec every night high revelry reigned. Supper parties, dances, and masquerades were of nightly occurrence; and worse still, gambling was carried to such a pitch that the results had in many cases to be hushed up.

Mercèdes lived in her rooms at the Intendance, ignorant of what was going on below. Like her father, retiring more and more from public life, seldom seen except on her way to church or on her visits to the poor, without knowing it she was a sort of hostage for her father. Probably she would not have been allowed to remain so entirely in the background but for Madame Péan’s open protection. That lady reigned supreme in the gay world at Quebec, and she would not suffer her protégée to be annoyed. “She is in my charge; she shall not be molested,” she was wont to say when it was hinted by the government officials that it would strengthen their arguments against Montcalm if his daughter could be persuaded to join in their revelries.

“It is quite useless,” Madame Péan declared; “she would not understand our ways. You would scare her quite away.”

But one night the revelry had attained even wilder proportions than usual. A sumptuous supper succeeded a masquerade ball. Towards morning the guests dispersed, and only about twenty intimates remained. Some one suddenly said,—

“What a joke it would be if we were to surprise Monsieur de Vaudreuil and General Montcalm at Montreal!”

There was a general laugh.

“Why not do so?” said Intendant Bigot. “We could be there in three days’ sleighing. If it would afford the ladies any pleasure, they have but to command. I am their humble servant.”

“It would cost a fortune,” said Madame Péan.

“You are growing economical, my dear,” retorted Madame Marin; “there is the king’s exchequer! I vote we do it, and we will take Mademoiselle Mercèdes with us to see her father. This gentle attention will soften the old bear, and he will not have the heart to reproach us. What do you say to my plan, Monsieur Bigot?”

“Only what I said before, that if you ladies wish it we will start at midday, reach Pointe-aux-Trembles in time for supper, sleep there, and go on the next day to St. Anne. Our next halt might be at the Isle des Castors, where Rigaud would entertain us, and finally Montreal. If you will decide at once, I will despatch couriers to have everything in readiness. What are your wishes, Madame?” he added, addressing himself to Madame Péan, whose beauty and accomplishments always ensured her the first place in every project for the general amusement.

“I am willing,” she said carelessly.

“And you will persuade Mademoiselle Mercèdes to join us?” insisted Madame Marin.

“If she knows she is likely to see her father she will not refuse,” answered Madame Péan. “She will go in my sleigh.”

“I wish you joy!” said one of her lady friends. “What you see in that little dull thing, to have her always about with you, is more than I can imagine. Why, I saw you out sleighing with her and that Indian hunter, Charles Langlade, last week, near the village of Beauport. Are you trying to make a match of it?”

“I wish I could,” answered Madame Péan; “but you know as well as I do he has his Indian squaw. Now, good-night, or rather good-morning; I am off to get a few hours’ sleep.”

There was a general leave-taking, and it was agreed they should all meet at midday on the morrow; and so the ladies retired, but the gentlemen remained in consultation as to ways and means.

“I intend it to be a grand affair,” said Bigot ostentatiously. “We will spare no expense, eh, Marin?”

“Certainly not! Why should we? It is necessary for the good of the country. You require to see Vaudreuil; De Martet and Varin have to look after the army and navy supplies. We are going on the king’s service, therefore the king must pay. Long live the King!”

“Long live our Gracious Master the King!” they all shouted in high spirits, and forthwith began arranging for the projected excursion. The light of the dim November morning was slowly creeping into the palace when they separated to snatch a brief repose.


“Go to Montreal and see my dear father? You do not really mean it!” exclaimed Mercèdes, clapping her hands in sheer childish delight.

“Indeed I do. We are starting in a few hours,” said Madame Pèan, smiling. “Can you be ready?”

“Ready? I should think so indeed! I have nothing to do,” said Mercèdes. “I suppose Marthe will stay here. You will not mind being alone for a few days, shall you?” she said, turning to her nurse.

“No, Mademoiselle, assuredly not. Go and amuse yourself; your life is dull enough, and yet the General——”

“Oh, Marthe!” interrupted Mercèdes reproachfully. “Do you think I would care to go if it were not to see my father, and perhaps have news of the dear ones at Candiac? It is so long since I heard from them.”

“Of course, of course,” said Madame Péan. “I will take good care of her, Marthe; and only think how delighted the General will be to see his daughter.”

“I hope the General will be satisfied,” answered Marthe doubtfully; “but he particularly desired I should never leave Mademoiselle, and you know he does not approve——”

“That is enough, Marthe; I will take all responsibility on myself; and, after all, Mademoiselle is in my charge, and you know, I think, by this time, that I love her dearly.” Then turning to Mercèdes, Madame Péan continued, “You will be ready by twelve o’clock, dearest. Mind you have plenty of furs and wraps of all sorts. It is freezing hard; it is grand weather. Fancy sleighing from Quebec to Montreal! It will be something to say one has accomplished such a feat! Now, good-bye; come down to my rooms when you are ready. Adieu, Marthe. You need not be anxious about your nursling.” And she left them.

Two years and a half had elapsed since Mercèdes first set foot in Canada, and from a mere girl she had developed into a woman. She was small and slender, and still looked very young; indeed, though she was now eighteen years of age, she was but little altered. She had more colour, and was healthier in appearance, which, with her bright dark eyes and soft smile, made her almost good-looking. She and Marthe had settled down to their quiet way of living, and by degrees had been nearly forgotten by the outside world. The General had ceased to worry about her, and was only too glad when he visited Quebec, which he did not do sometimes for several months at a time, to find Mercèdes, with her ready sympathy and warm affection. It was the only real relaxation he knew of; and many a happy hour was passed in those little rooms overlooking the convent. By degrees they had come to a sort of tacit agreement that she should not enter the convent until the war was ended. If the truth must be told, Mercèdes experienced a sense of relief when this was decided; she had grown to love Canada, for the defence of which her father was giving the best years of his life, and all the genius with which nature had endowed him.

She had made many excursions in the neighbourhood of Quebec, sometimes in company with Madame Péan, sometimes alone with Marthe, and was never tired of admiring the lovely scenery. The village of Beauport, with its whitewashed dwellings, situated on the curving shore of the river St. Charles, and stretching down to the rocky gorge of Montmorenci, charmed her. The fields on either side were studded with huts and Indian wigwams. In the short summer and early autumn the varied colour of the trees lent great brilliancy to the landscape. The hills, which had shrunk almost out of sight on one hand, looking like a long purple line against the horizon, drew suddenly so near the shore that at one point they seemed to rise almost out of the water.

In the winter the scene was changed, but she loved it still; the joyous sleigh bells, making music as the sleighing parties flew through the villages and hamlets lying beneath their snowy shroud, filled the girl’s heart with gladness, and she realised to the full the joy of living. And so time had passed quickly with her, and she had been happy, with the quiet, unreasoning happiness of the young, to whom the past has brought little sadness, and upon whom the future smiles with all the enchanting fascination of unbounded hope. And then Mercèdes was not given to anticipate trouble. Her strong religious sentiments gave her a calm faith which never deserted her, and next to God she believed in her father. The struggle might be long, might be difficult, but assuredly he would come forth a conqueror.

It was with feelings of unmitigated delight that she prepared for her journey; but her astonishment was great when she became aware of the proportions the party had assumed. When the hour for their departure came, no less than twenty sleighs were drawn up along the length of the street. Crowds gathered to see them start; but amidst the general laughter and mirth some bitter speeches were overheard, such as, “The Intendant, M. Bigot, was going to Montreal to see the Governor and the General. It was a strange necessity that he must needs have such a goodly company of ladies and gentlemen to escort him.”

But when M. Bigot appeared with Mercèdes and Madame Péan, there was a respectful silence. It was the great General’s daughter he was conducting; of course it must be all right. Thus the effect he had anticipated was attained; and he took his place beside the ladies in high spirits, bowing and smiling on the people, addressing one or two by name, and thus by word and manner propitiating them; so that he drove off with the good wishes of those who at first had seemed hostile, and to the friendly cry of “Bon voyage.”

The three days’ journey resembled a royal progress. Couriers had been sent on in advance, and at each resting-place the most elaborate preparations had been made for the reception of the company. Mercèdes was bewildered. She was the object of the most marked attention; she had never been so surrounded, so courted in her life. When they reached Montreal, almost the whole population turned out to see them; but from amidst the crowd murmurs of discontent were rife at such unnecessary display on the part of the Government, when the people were oppressed by taxes, and the most ordinary articles of daily consumption were at famine prices. Anger, and even threats, were not lacking. Mercèdes was startled by the cold severity of her father’s manner when he became aware of her presence.

“You here, Mercèdes!” he said, as she threw her arms round his neck.

“Yes, father. Are you not glad to see me?” she answered, tears filling her eyes.

“I am glad to see you, my child, but not under present circumstances,” he answered. “You should not have left Quebec without my permission. In the present state of Canada it is a disgrace to the Government to incur such unnecessary expenses, and it is not well that my daughter should be mixed up with such dissipation. I shall not allow you to join in the gaieties which are probably about to take place. As soon as I can find an escort to take you back to Quebec you will return thither; but not to Madame Péan’s house. You will enter the Ursulines, and commence your novitiate at once. I have temporised too long. Whatever happens, you will be safer there.”

He conducted her straight to the apartment he occupied. His annoyance was very great. He perfectly understood that Mercèdes had been used as a tool by his enemies, to give the appearance of his sanction to what was wanton extravagance and display.

That night there was a grand ball, followed by a sumptuous supper, at the Government House, but neither Montcalm nor his daughter was present. For the first time he explained the difficulties of his position to Mercèdes, and she responded, showing herself intelligent, and capable of understanding the annoyances to which he was daily subject.

“I am sorry I came, dear father,” she said; “but I only thought of the pleasure of seeing you, and the journey with Madame Péan seemed such a simple thing, that I attached no importance to it. For myself, I am such an insignificant little personage; I forgot I was your daughter!”

He smiled. “We will say no more about it, my child. Do not doubt for one moment that it is a great delight to have you with me, even for a few days, especially as indirectly I have had news from Candiac. Your brother the Count is betrothed to an heiress, and will be married shortly; and your eldest sister is already Madame d’Espineuse. You know that has been an attachment of long standing; it is a great pleasure to me to think of her happiness.”

“I am indeed glad!” said Mercèdes. “Dear Louise! This good account of the family ought to cheer you, father. Soon, very soon perhaps, you will join them,” and a sigh escaped her.

Her father heard it, and, putting his arm round her, kissed her affectionately. “If I return to my dear Candiac, Mercèdes, I shall certainly not leave you behind. Had you taken the veil immediately upon your arrival in Canada, the case would have been different: you would have become accustomed to your life; but now you would feel yourself forsaken—besides, it is too late. The war must come to a close before next autumn, and you will not then have completed your novitiate: therefore your residence at the Ursulines can only be temporary; but I think it decidedly safer for you to take refuge there at once. What does my daughter say?”

“That you are quite right; and, besides, you have brought your children up to obey, and not reason, father. As soon as I return to Quebec I will enter the convent. I am no stranger there; the good sisters know me; and from my window I have looked down for months past into the convent gardens, feeling always that my home was there.”

“I am glad you are content,” answered her father. “I have blamed myself for leaving you so long in the world, fearing it might have taken hold of you and robbed you of your peace of mind.”

She coloured slightly. “I am satisfied,” she said, “to do what you think best, father.”

At that moment there was a knock at the door, and the General’s servant entered and handed his master a slip of folded paper. It was from Charles Langlade, requesting an interview with the General.


“Certainly, tell Monsieur Langlade I shall be most happy to receive him,” said the General; and turning to his daughter, he added, “You will be glad to see your old friend. He has done me good service: at Ticonderoga he conducted several scouting parties; now he is in the neighbourhood of Montreal. I always feel that I have some one I can depend upon when he is near. I shall never understand how he came to join the Indians. Love of freedom, I suppose.”

He had scarcely finished speaking when the door opened and Charles Langlade entered. Mercèdes was sitting in the shadow, so that he did not see her immediately, but she noticed at once that a great change had come over him. There was a look of pain—even more than pain, of great sorrow—in his face. The General was also quick to see that something was wrong; and, holding out his hand to welcome him, as if moved by some instinct, he asked,—

“What has happened?”

“Ah! you see it!” answered the young man, drawing his brows together and compressing his lips. “My mother told me I should repent of my self-will, and now I am truly punished. God has humbled me. My people are slain and the home of my fathers is in ruins.”

“I suppose you mean the Indians have made a raid on the Marsh settlement and destroyed it?” said the General.

“Yes,” answered Charles sadly. “I am given to understand that a tribe of the Iroquois attacked the Marshes. I believe it is the same tribe which has been following up my old friend Roger the Ranger, and from which he twice escaped. They were fearfully irritated against him, and of course in my position I could not interfere to protect him; but the Marshes they knew to be my home, and it was an understood thing they were to respect them. I suppose they were, as usual, carried away by their desire for vengeance. The man who brought me the news says most of the women and children escaped; but the men have perished or been taken prisoners, which is worse, and the village was in flames when he left. He has been stopped on the road by illness, or I should have known this a month ago. It appears that at the last moment some one, I do not know who, warned those at the Marshes that an attack was meditated, and so to a certain extent they were prepared; as I said, the women and children were got rid of, and the men defended themselves to the death. Some must have escaped, but my informant was unable to tell me who they were.” And having spoken, he stood with his head bent and his eyes fixed on the ground, with all the appearance of a man who has lost heart.

“It is indeed a terrible misfortune,” said the General; “but, who knows? perhaps you have heard an exaggerated account. Come and sit down. We are just going to supper; stay and have it with us. You have not noticed my daughter; she came with Bigot and Co. from Quebec to-day. You may imagine I am not best pleased.”

On hearing of Mercèdes’ presence, Charles looked up, and a light came into his eyes; and going up to her, he said quietly,—

“This is unexpected; it does me good, if anything can do me good.”

“I am so sorry for you,” said Mercèdes, holding out her hand. “Won’t you sit down and tell us more about it? Surely you will cease to live with the Indians now, and return to your own people.”

“Alas! I cannot,” answered Charles; “I am bound to them.” He hesitated. “I married Ominipeg’s daughter. I have a squaw wife.”

If any one had observed her closely they would have seen Mercèdes’ cheek pale for a second—only for a second; it was her father who answered.

“It seems incredible,” he said; “how came you to commit such an act of folly?”

“As early as I can remember,” said Charles thoughtfully, “my father took me with him on his hunting expeditions. He was very popular with the Indians, delighted in sport of every kind; and I grew accustomed to the freedom. I was more at home in an Indian wigwam than at Alpha Marsh. There I was impatient of restraint. I set myself against a regular life with the headstrong self-will of youth; and when my father died it was worse still. More was then expected of me. I was the heir, and had to stay at home and attend to the business of the settlement. Father Nat humoured me, Roger and Loïs screened me; but it was of no use, I was like a spoilt child. I wanted my own way, my liberty, and nothing short of it could satisfy me. Besides, my sympathies were enlisted on the side of the French. You know I am descended from a Chevalier de Langlade, one of the earliest French colonists, and I considered, and do still consider, that by right of pre-occupation Canada belongs to France and not to England; and yet for no consideration would I have served under the present Canadian Government. I am willing to fight for France freely and independently, but not with those who are robbing her and virtually bringing about her ruin. This was my excuse to my own conscience for breaking the bonds which had become irksome to me; and yet I loved my mother and sisters—above all, Loïs; and of Roger I cannot speak. I do not think, if I had realised how completely this contemplated act of mine would have parted us, I should have had the courage to go through with it. But I imagined time would reconcile him to the change, and that he would continue to join our hunting parties and visit me in my wigwam; instead of which he entirely withdrew himself, and after the expedition against Old Britain it was open enmity between us. From that time to this he has waged incessant war against the tribes. He is greatly feared; his name is coupled with a sort of superstitious terror, and his unusual strength, and the way in which he always manages to escape capture, tend to make the Indians believe him invulnerable, and so they are set upon destroying him. When I joined the Indians my first act was to marry Nadjii, the chief Ominipeg’s daughter.”

He said this in a low voice, with averted head.

“You mean to say you deliberately married one of those wild Indian women?” exclaimed Montcalm.

“Yes, in all honour, according to Indian rites, I took Nadjii for my squaw. We have a son. I am irrevocably bound to her,” he continued. “Fully as I recognise the mistake I have made, I would not have you misjudge her. Nadjii is no wild Indian woman: she is very gentle, tender, and true; her devotion to me is unbounded. I believe she would lay down her life for me. No, she is not to blame; if a wrong has been done it has been of my own doing, and in all honour I must abide by it.”

“I pity you with all my heart,” said the General.

“I never felt the need of pity until now,” answered the hunter. “Of course you cannot understand the charms of such a life as I have led for nearly seven years. It is purely physical. To gallop over the prairies, to hunt in the forests, to penetrate into mountain fastnesses and deep, glorious valleys—no one who has not partaken of it can conceive the delight of such an existence. The mere fact of living is in itself a joy. You, with your high European civilisation, have mental and intellectual enjoyments; but we colonists have nothing of all that—we know only the primitive pleasures of hunting, fishing, and warfare. And then there is a strange poetry, a wonderful charm, in this Indian life. To lie in a birch canoe throughout the calm summer days upon the bosom of some great inland lake, to cast the line into its deep, pellucid waters, and, gazing down into its depths, watch the trout glide shadowy and silent over the glistening pebbles, has a mysterious fascination; or, again, to explore the forests, floating down rivers or lakes beneath the shadows of moss-bearded firs, to drag the canoes up on the sandy beach, and, lighting the camp fire, recline beneath the trees, and smoke and laugh away the sultry hours, in a lazy luxury of enjoyment, indescribable, and which you cannot realise, but which I have lived and revelled in, forgetful, alas? that there are higher duties incumbent upon man than mere personal indulgence. And now I reap the bitter fruit. If I had remained at my post, all this would not have happened.”

“But where was the Ranger?” asked Montcalm.

“In October he was, you know, somewhere up by Ticonderoga. You remember he had a skirmish with one of our scouting parties about that time?”

“Yes,” said Montcalm, “and he punished our men terribly, driving them back with such heavy loss that I determined that for the winter, at least, no more scouting parties should be sent out. But now what are your plans? What do you propose doing?”

“I came to let you know that I am going down to the Marshes to reconnoitre, and see with my own eyes the extent of the misfortune. As you say, there may be exaggeration in the account I have received, which was by no means through a direct channel. You will not begin operations till March, and I shall be back long before that.”

“I hope so,” answered the General; “for I depend greatly upon you to keep the Indians in order. I expect the English will attack us by way of Lakes Champlain and Ontario; in any case, I am preparing even now to resist them.”

“I am more inclined to think they will attack Quebec itself.”

“Hardly,” answered Montcalm; “the navigation of the St. Lawrence is too difficult and dangerous for any hostile fleet to attempt. Besides, the position of Quebec renders it impregnable unless we are betrayed. I have a plan of defence which will prevent the enemy approaching Quebec.”

“I am satisfied to believe such to be the case,” said Charles; “and now, farewell, sir; you may trust me to be back before the rivers and lakes are unthawed.”

“Will you not stay to supper?” said Montcalm. “We are alone; all my officers are dancing attendance upon the Quebec ladies.”

“Thank you,” answered Charles; “I have still certain things to settle with the chiefs, and I start to-morrow before dawn. I must therefore take leave of you now. Farewell, Mademoiselle,” he said, approaching Mercèdes.

“Adieu,” she answered; and for one second as their fingers touched their eyes met. He bowed his head over her hand; then turned away, and, with a hurried salutation to the General, left the room.


The moon was shining brightly on the snow-covered earth, causing the outlines of the houses and buildings of the Marshes to stand forth in bold relief, while the snow hid under its whiteness the ruins of the late invasion. Not a sound was heard; perfect stillness reigned over the land, even as it reigns in the chamber of death where the still figure lies beneath the white shroud, soon to be put away out of sight, until the dawn of the great resurrection day, when earth and sea shall give up their dead.

In springtime the earth bursts forth, leaf and bud and flower, and the heart of man rejoices and is made glad. Surely it is but the shadow of that joy which shall be ours when the graves shall give up their dead, and we shall see our loved ones glorified, made perfect, released from the bondage of earth, knowing but one law, the great law of Love, by the divine power of which their chains have been broken and they have been loosed. Truly then, and then only, shall we give utterance to the cry, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

Oh! how the heart aches and strains after that consummation. Our loved ones, who are gone before, whose spirits are still with us by night and by day, in the busy crowd as in the solitude of our chamber, whose voices we long to hear, whose hands we long to press—what agony of patient waiting!

But there was one standing out in the snow looking up at the Marshes travel-stained and worn, not daring to approach the home of his fathers. He had come many miles over a trackless country, over ice-bound rivers, through deep forests, over mountains and valleys covered with snow, enduring hardships which would have seemed intolerable to a less hardy nature, until at last he stood before the home of his childhood; and tears blinded his eyes when he saw that it was not utterly destroyed, that all had not perished, that still the village steeple rose in the moonlight, telling of God’s mercy.

Suddenly the loud bark of the house-dog warned him that, unless he retreated, his presence would be discovered. He had been standing in the high road; he moved quickly behind a clump of trees, only just in time. The front door opened, and a stream of light poured forth as Marcus stepped out on to the garden path and looked around, cautiously peering into the dark shadows cast by the house and the trees. He heard him say, “I can see no one. Had I better let Bob loose?” The dog’s bark had changed into a whine, which Charles Langlade knew full well to mean that his instinct had discovered a friend, not a foe, in the night watcher.

“It might be as well,” said a woman’s voice; and a second later there was a rush and a bound, and Charles Langlade felt two great paws upon his shoulders, and a loud whine of welcome went up into the still night air.

“Who’s there?” asked Marcus, in a clear, loud voice.

“Down, Bob; down, old boy,” said Charles, stepping out of the shadow; and crossing the road, he opened the wicket gate and entered.



And the two brothers clasped hands.

“My poor boy! Will you ever forgive me?” said the elder.

“I have nothing to forgive,” answered Marcus; “you did what you thought right.”

“Nay, I did what pleased me,” answered Charles. “But tell me who is living and who is dead?”

At this moment Loïs came out of the house.

“Oh, Charles, my brother!” and her arms were round his neck.

The three stood there in the snow, so deeply moved they could give no utterance to their feelings, and Bob leapt around them, giving vent to his delight in short, sharp barks.

“Come in,” said Loïs. “We have so much to tell you.”

“My mother, the children?” said Charles.

“Are unhurt,” said Loïs.

“And Father Nat?”

“Ah! that is the worst of all; still, he is living. Come,” and she drew him across the threshold of what had been his home; and as he stood once more in the old familiar place, the glamour fell from his eyes, and he exclaimed bitterly,—

“How could I forsake you?”

The front kitchen was empty; but there was fire on the hearth, and the lighted lamp showed Loïs how worn and travel-stained he was. His face was thin and haggard, his lips shrivelled with exposure and cold; his bearskin partially hid the dilapidated condition of his clothes. He drew near the fire and stretched out his hands to the flame. Marcus, looking at him, said,—

“You will eat, Charles?”

“I have had no food since yesterday,” he said; “my provisions have come to an end, and there is no game abroad in this weather.”

“Sit down and warm yourself,” said Loïs, pushing him gently into the chair which had been his father’s. “All are gone to rest. I will get your supper.”

“Tell me first what of Father Nat. Does Roger know?”

“Father Nat was terribly wounded,” said Loïs; “and for a long time we despaired of saving him; but within the last fortnight there have been signs of gradual improvement; he has seemed to recognise us at times. But now ask no more until you are refreshed,” and she left the kitchen, whilst Marcus filled a pipe and handed it to his brother.

“It is the calumet of peace,” he said.

“You heap coals of fire on my head.”

But nature was so exhausted that he sank back in his chair, and, putting the pipe to his lips, slowly smoked.

The relief of finding that those nearest and dearest to him were living was so great, that in his weariness he seemed powerless to realise anything more; mind and body were alike benumbed; and when Loïs brought in the supper they had to rouse him and force him to eat. It was evident he had no idea of what had occurred, by the words to which he had already given utterance. After he had eaten, looking up at Loïs, he said,—

“I heard the settlement was burnt to the ground, and you were all slain. The man who told me said he was an eye-witness, and had fled when the village was in flames.”

“But for Nadjii’s warning and Roger’s sudden arrival, such would have been the case,” answered Loïs.

“Nadjii! what had Nadjii to do with it?” said Charles sharply.

“She told me you had bidden her watch over us. She came to me, and gave us notice that the Indians were coming to attack us; and so they did not surprise us, and we were able to defend ourselves until Roger came. It seems he had been warned by one of her people.”

“My true-hearted Nadjii, my brave little squaw!” said Charles, his whole face lighting up with pleasure and emotion. “Where is she? What has become of her? Has she returned to her tribe?”

There was a moment’s silence; he was quick to notice it.

“What has become of her? Where is she?” he asked hastily.

“She saved my life, she saved Father Nat’s life,—she died for us;” and standing before him, Loïs burst into tears.

He started; every particle of colour forsook his face.

“Tell me all,” he said, in a low voice.

And Marcus told him, for Loïs could not, how Nadjii had covered them with her own body, and how she had been wounded unto death.

“And the child?” said Charles, burying his face in his hands. “She would not have left it behind.”

Again there was a moment’s silence; then Loïs knelt down beside him, and, laying her hand on his arm, said,—

“When she was dying, she told us where to find it—in the trunk of a tree in the forest where she had laid it. Roger went to fetch it.”

“Roger did that?” exclaimed Charles. “Let me see my boy, Loïs!”

She hesitated just for one moment, then continued slowly, not daring to raise her tearful eyes to his face,—

“He looked for the child carefully; he found the spot where Nadjii had told him the babe was, but it was gone.”

Charles sprang up. “Stolen!” he exclaimed, his eyes flashing.

“We fear so,” said Loïs. “Certainly there was no trace of any bodily harm having befallen him; he had simply been taken away.”

“Did Nadjii know of this before she died?” asked Charles, with set teeth.

“No,” answered Loïs; “she thought she saw him. Her last words were ‘Jesus, Nenemoosha.’ Was she a Christian, Charles?”

“Yes, thank God, I taught her all she could understand,” he answered, “and her gentle soul delighted in the stories of Christ’s love. She was a better Christian than many who enjoy far greater privileges than did my squaw wife. I am glad she thought the child was safe. The Indians must have found and taken him. If they have wrought him harm, then his mother’s tribe will avenge him. He was such a bonnie two-year-old boy, Loïs;” and as one oppressed with a weight of sorrow, he let his head sink on to his bosom, and heavy tears fell from his eyes. It was the strong man’s agony.

His past life of physical enjoyment, without thought of the morrow, was fading as a mirage fades away even as he gazed, and his soul was steeped in stern reality. Ruin and death were around him. He had deemed himself all-powerful, capable of choosing his own way, shaping his own course, unmindful of any will save his own. A rebellious son! Even as the prodigal he had gone forth in the pride of his youth and manhood, feeling himself strong, and he had wasted his life, forgetful, or ignorant perhaps, that there is in man, made in God’s image, a higher, nobler nature than in the brute creation. Soul, heart, intellect, are surely given to bring the body into subjection—not doing away with material enjoyment, but tempering it; and as years go on we recognise that our bodies are but the caskets made to contain the never-dying spirit which God breathed into man, even the breath of life.

“My son was dead and is alive again.” Dead, though full of life and health, clothed in rich raiment, going forth, having gathered together all his substance, rich in friends and in all the world can give; yet he was dead!

“Alive again!” when hungry and athirst, his rich raiment in tatters, his head bowed in sorrow, and his lips giving utterance to the words, “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee!” And his father rejoiced over him.

Suddenly Charles rose to his feet, threw one arm round Loïs, and drew her close up to him.

“Dearest,” he said, “if I have sinned in the past, God pardon me! I will find the boy and bring him to you; and when this war is over I will come home, and ease the burden from your shoulders, Marcus, so that you may take up your calling and be a minister of God, according to your heart’s desire, and I will care for our mother and the younger ones, and strive to do my duty in the land, as you, my younger brother, have done in my stead.”

He held out his hand to Marcus, who grasped it, saying,—

“Why not stay with us now, Charles?”

“Because my honour is pledged,” he answered. “Not to the Indians; I shall never again dwell among them or be one with them; but to Canada, to General Montcalm. I have sworn to stand by him to the end, and I will do so, not as an Indian chief if I can help it. I shall join the Canadian militia as a volunteer, as I ought to have done from the first, and fight for the cause which I still believe to be the right one. Tell Roger this; he will understand. And now let me have one look at Father Nat, after which I will lie down and sleep, for I am terribly weary. I have been three weeks on the road from Montreal, and must return as quickly as possible. Is Roger still here to protect you?”

“He will not leave us till the spring,” said Marcus. “He is gone now for a couple of days to Cauterets on business; when he does go for good he will leave us well protected. You need not fear; we have sentries out by night and by day now.”

“It is well; let me see Father Nat,” said Charles; and they led the way to the room where Nathaniel Boscowen lay sleeping. Shading the lamp she carried in her hand, Loïs approached the bed, and was surprised to see that his eyes were open and that he moved restlessly.

“Is that you, Loïs?” he asked.

“Yes, father,” she answered; “shall I arrange your pillows?” and signing to the two young men to keep in the shadow, she bent over him.

He lifted his hand. “My pillows are all right,” he said; “but I heard voices in the room below, and it seemed to me I recognised Charles’s. I would it were so; I loved the lad: if only I might see him before I die!”

“You are not going to die, Father Nat; you are getting well, and will be as hale and hearty as ever. Do you wish to see Charles so very much?” said Loïs.

“Yes,” answered Nathaniel shortly, as if the question irritated him.

“Then I will tell you something. It was his voice you heard; he is here,” said Loïs.

“Where?” asked Father Nat, trying to lift his head, but Charles was quickly beside him.

“Dear Father Nat,” he said, “forgive me.”

“Ay, my lad, I forgive thee,” and he clasped his hand. “I always told you they were a treacherous people. You will come back to us now?”

“Please God I will,” said Charles.

“Then I am content. The breach is healed; Langlade and Boscowen are not riven!” and closing his eyes, he settled himself to sleep. They watched him for a few minutes, and then crept softly out of the room.


At the first sign of spring, General Montcalm prepared to take the field and oppose a steady resistance to an attack which it was generally believed would be made upon Quebec by way of Lakes Champlain and Ontario.

He was sitting in his tent one afternoon, in company with General Bougainville and Chevalier Levis. On a table before them maps were spread out, and Montcalm was explaining his plan of defence, supposing the English should attempt a regular siege of Quebec.

“I do not believe it possible for the English to approach the town,” he said. “All round, on the high ground overlooking it, I shall station the principal part of the army; the right wing will extend along the river St. Charles and the left on to Montmorenci; by this means our troops will cover an area of from seven to eight miles. The steep ground rises almost from the water’s edge, and the guns from the citadel itself will do the rest. Are you not both of my opinion?”

“We are,” said Levis. “If we can hold out till the winter, I believe we shall see the last of the English.”

Even while he was speaking, voices were heard outside the tent, and the sentinel, looking in, said,—

“A soldier with a despatch for the General.”

“Let him come in,” said Montcalm, looking up.

A Canadian, recognisable as such by his dress, entered. He was covered with dust, and had evidently ridden hard. He laid a letter on the table before the General.

“Who has sent you?” asked Montcalm, as he opened the despatch.

“Captain Langlade,” was the ready answer.

The General’s face grew visibly sterner as he read, and when he had finished, he laid the letter on the table, kept his hand upon it, and said emphatically,—

“The decisive moment is approaching, gentlemen. This letter is to inform me that the English with a great fleet are within three leagues of Quebec; they have on board a large army, commanded by the young General Wolfe. We know full well what sort of man he is! The fate of Canada is now in the balance.”

“And you will come forth victorious, General, as you did at Fort William Henry and Ticonderoga,” said Levis.

“God grant it!” answered the General. “I think our measures are well taken,” he said, turning to the two officers. “In my opinion, unless there be treason in the camp, the English will never make themselves masters of the town. I believe it to be impregnable.”

“I am certain that, with intrenchments, I could hold the city with three or four thousand men,” said Bougainville; adding, “In a few days we shall muster sixteen thousand men in and round its walls. There is nothing to fear; let the English come!”

“I am satisfied you are right,” answered the General.

Then, turning to the man who had brought the message, he said, “You will return at once to Captain Langlade, and tell him we shall join the army at Quebec as quickly as possible. And now, gentlemen, we will call a general council of officers, and then to-morrow at dawn en route; we are approaching the end.”

“And a good thing too,” said Bougainville. “We have shilly-shallied long enough. It is time the English understood once for all that we intend to remain masters of Canada, and to hold the fortress upon which old Samuel Champlain first planted the French flag.”

The following day the whole forces of the French and Colonial army were on their way to Quebec. Only three battalions were left at Ticonderoga, and a strong detachment placed so as to resist any possible attack by Lake Ontario. The French took up positions at the mouth of the St. Charles on the east, and the river Montmorenci on the north-east, which Montcalm had fortified with the greatest possible skill. Across the mouth of the St. Charles a boom of logs chained together was placed, protected by mounted cannon. A bridge of boats crossing the river connected the city with the camp. All the gates of Quebec except that of St. Charles were closed and barricaded. A hundred and six cannon were mounted on the walls, whilst on the river there was a floating battery of twelve heavy pieces, a number of gunboats, and eight fireships.

The army for the defence mustered, they posted sixteen thousand men, for the most part advantageously, behind defensive works. A large portion of these were Canadians, who were of little use in the open field, but fought well behind intrenchments; there were also upwards of a thousand Indians from the brave tribes of the Iroquois, or five nations. It was at the end of June, and the country round Quebec, naturally fertile, was in the height of its summer glory. On the curving shore from the St. Charles to the rocky gorge of Montmorenci, for a distance of seven to eight miles, were to be seen the whitewashed dwellings of the parish of Beauport, and the fields on both sides studded with tents, huts, and Indian wigwams. Midway between the little river of Beauport, on a rising ground, stood a large stone house, round which tents were thickly clustered. Here Montcalm had his headquarters.

Looking down upon her defenders, Quebec sat perched upon her rock, a congregation of stone houses, palaces, convents, and hospitals; the uniformity being broken by the green trees of the seminary gardens, the spires of the cathedral, the Convent of the Ursulines, and the monastic buildings of the Recollets and the Jesuits. A firm, solid mass she looked in the summer sunshine, unconquered, and it seemed unconquerable. A lovable town, quaint even then, with its one-storied houses, built heavily of stone and stuccoed brick, with two dormer windows full of house plants in each roof. Here and there, higher still, a weather-worn wood-coloured gallery was seen, pent-roofed and balustered, geraniums showing through the balusters, and white doves circling around and cooing upon the windowsills. Such as she was in her homely fashion, French and English alike looked up to her—the one with loving pride, the other with covetous desire.

On the 26th of June the English fleet anchored off the Island of Orleans, a few miles below Quebec. A small party attempting to land was opposed by the Canadians, but they were beaten off, and the whole army then landed.

When William Pitt gave the command of the English army in Canada to General Wolfe, it was but natural that such an act should arouse feelings of jealousy in men older than himself, and under whose orders he had served in the earlier part of the campaign. Wolfe himself was more alive to the responsibility than to the honour which was almost thrust upon him. The state of his health was most precarious; in fact, he was rarely free from acute pain, and it required an immense power of self-command and energy to enable him to bear up against fatigue and mental anxiety. Nevertheless, he had accepted the command unhesitatingly, and with the determination of conquering Quebec and adding this new jewel to the English crown.

To accomplish this he knew that half measures were no longer feasible. From the end of the Island of Orleans he could see and judge the full strength of the enemy; three great batteries frowned down upon him from above Quebec, behind which rose the redoubts and parapets of Cape Diamond, whilst three other batteries down to the river’s edge guarded the lower part of the town. The whole country round was covered with earthworks, redoubts, and intrenchments; the river with floating batteries, fireships, and other engines of war. His first act was to issue a proclamation in the king’s name:—

“His Excellency Major-General James Wolfe, Commander-in-Chief of his Britannic Majesty’s troops now stationed in the river St. Lawrence, to the people of Canada.

“My king and master George III., justly irritated against France, has resolved to humble her pride and to revenge the insults she has inflicted on the English colonies. With this purpose in view he has sent me, at the head of a formidable army, with a fleet which has already advanced almost into the centre of their chief city, to deprive France of all her establishments in North America, and to proclaim British rule. This is my mission, and by the grace of God I hope to carry it into effect.

James Wolfe.

This done, he took possession of Point Levis, a promontory on the south bank of the St. Lawrence, where the current narrows into a deep stream of only a mile in breadth. General Monckton occupied this point with four battalions, and shelled the lower town across the river, but the citadel was beyond his reach. Wolfe’s army consisted of nine thousand troops: it should have amounted to fourteen thousand, but at the last moment the orders for some of the West Indian troops to join were countermanded; this was probably partly due to jealousy at Wolfe’s having been nominated to the chief command.

The two armies were stationed opposite each other on either side of the river. Vaudreuil, as Governor of Canada, still held command, and by his mistakes frequently hampered Montcalm’s action. Had he planted guns in such a manner as to fire down on the English fleet, it could never have taken up a position so near the city; he failed to do this, however, and the result was that the English fleet passed up the river in safety, to the astonishment of the Canadians, who, until then, had believed it impossible for large ships to be brought up the St. Lawrence.

Again, very shortly after the landing of the English army on the Island of Orleans, Vaudreuil made a desperate attempt to destroy the English fleet by launching fireships against it. The English sentries at the farther end of the island saw in the middle of the night vessels coming down the river. These ships were really filled with pitch, tar, and all sorts of combustibles mixed with shells and grenades, and the decks crowded with a number of cannon crammed with grape shot and musket balls. Suddenly they became like pillars of flame, and advanced with tremendous explosion and noise. But the French officers had lost their nerve, and set fire to the ships too soon. The English, after their first surprise, recovered their coolness, lowered their boats, and the sailors rowed out to meet the fireships, and by means of grapnels they towed them towards land, where they were stranded and left to burn themselves out.

Thus the fight might truly be said to have begun. To lookers on, and at this distance of time, it almost bears the aspect of a duel, the two principal actors standing out boldly in relief, fighting not for themselves, but for their countries, and, to a certain extent, for their religion. Catholic France, Protestant England! Noble men in every sense of the word, worthy of each other, their names have come down to posterity linked together—“Wolfe and Montcalm.”


General Montcalm was slowly pacing up and down the room he occupied at his headquarters on the St. Charles; the only other person present was Langlade, called by courtesy Captain Langlade. A look of great annoyance was on the General’s face.

“You cannot do this,” he said. “What you have engaged to accomplish you must carry out to the end. If you withdraw yourself from the Indians, you will do our cause incalculable harm. They know you; they obey you; you are a power with them. With the Canadians you are no one; they have their own officers. In my opinion, you are bound to retain your present position until the end of the campaign; the wrongs you deplore would be greatly increased if your influence were withdrawn. I entreat of you, make no change at the present critical moment. As far as lies in my power, I will lighten your duties; but you must remain with your Indians, to hold them in hand and to restrain them.”

“I have promised my people I would have nothing further in common with the Indians,” said Charles.

“You pledged yourself first to me,” said the General. “You cannot desert me; you would do far greater harm by withdrawing yourself. I entreat of you not to do this thing.” And he went up to the young man, and took his hand with the persuasive eloquence for which he was so noted.

Charles knew full well that the General was right; that, once his authority removed, the Indians would be more difficult than ever to hold under restraint, and that their natural cruelty would have free scope. Scalps without number! they had no other ambition. The Iroquois, if they were foremost in war and in eloquence, were also foremost in savage acts. They were proud to have a white man as their leader, and would revenge his desertion, perhaps even by withdrawing themselves from the French cause. He realised for the first time how difficult it is to retrace false steps, and to undo wrongdoing. He had joined himself to the Indians, he had sworn to serve the French cause, of his own free will and for his own personal ends: was he justified in withdrawing himself at so critical a moment for reasons equally personal? His sense of justice told him he was not. After a few minutes’ reflection, during which the General watched him anxiously, he said, in serious, measured tones, very different from the eager, impetuous voice of old,—

“I will remain with you. I have done harm enough already. It is no longer with me a question of right, but what is least wrong. I have studied my own inclinations all my life; now I am going against them.”

“And you do well, believe me,” said Montcalm. “No one can hate the Indians more than I do; my whole soul recoils from them. How you ever came to join them has been a wonder to me; but having done so, it is but fair that you should remain at your post until the war is over. I should never know an hour’s tranquillity if you were not their leader. Thank you for your decision; some day I may perhaps find means of proving my gratitude.”

“You could render me a service now at once, if you would,” said Charles.

“Name it,” answered the General.

“I told you I had a son,” said Charles quickly; “his mother died trying to save the Marshes. She had carried the child with her in her long journeyings, and when the Indians attacked the village, she hid him in the trunk of a tree while she went to the rescue. When the fray was over she told my sister Loïs where to find the child, but when she sent to look for it, it had disappeared. I have been a long time tracing it, but at last discovered that a half-brother of Nadjii’s, the lad who had warned Roger of the meditated attack, had found the child, brought it up here, and given it in charge of a Huron woman, living at Lorette. At first I doubted the story; but I went to see the child two days ago, and recognised him as my son. I cannot leave him where he is—it is not safe; and, moreover, I never wish him to know that he has Indian blood in his veins. I have thought that at the Convent of the Ursulines they would take him in, and care for him, if you would obtain admission for him.”

“Nothing can be simpler,” answered Montcalm. “You know that three months ago Mercèdes entered as a novice. After that affair of Montreal I never allowed her to return to Madame Péan: indeed, she had no desire to do so; she begged me to let her enter the convent at once. In fact, she pined and drooped from that time, until I brought her back to Quebec, and she and Marthe both entered the Ursulines together. Since then she has recovered, and whenever I can manage to find time to go and see her, she is as bright and happy as I can wish. Yes, certainly, I will give you a letter to the Superior. Take your child there; it will be well cared for. I will write it at once;” and sitting down, he drew the writing materials towards him. “There,” he said, handing the letter to Charles, “if you present yourself to-morrow, and ask to see the Superior in my name, you will gain admittance. Give her this. I have explained everything; the child will be safe there.”

“Thank you,” said Charles; “and now I will leave you. I shall be in Quebec to-morrow. You may trust me; I am yours until the war is over,” he added.

“I have your word,” answered Montcalm; “surely that is enough,” and accompanying him to the door, they shook hands, and then he watched the young man go down the hill-side, on his way to the Indian quarters.

“A fine fellow, but a ruined life,” he thought. “Thank goodness I have persuaded him to remain with his Indians; the game would have been as good as played out if he had deserted us.”

It was early morning as Charles Langlade strode rapidly along the road leading from the hamlet of Lorette to Quebec. Through meadows and rye-fields it wound, crossing and recrossing the swift St. Charles, a somewhat lonely road with a few cottages scattered here and there, and irregular, shabby-looking cabins along the lanes, at the doors of which lounged Indian boys and girls of all shades and colours. This was the Huron village of Lorette. They were Christians after their fashion, the poor remnant of the mighty Huron nation, converted by the Jesuits and crushed by the Iroquois in the far western wilderness.

But Charles Langlade was not alone. He carried on his shoulder a boy of some three years old. The two resembled each other most curiously, except that the child’s skin was still fair and soft, whilst the father’s was bronzed and weather-beaten. There were the same deep blue eyes and curling chestnut hair, the same pose of the head slightly tossed back. They looked very picturesque, the hunter in his crimson shirt, one arm raised, holding the half-naked child, who sat proudly aloft, clutching at his father’s hair, beating his little bare feet against the broad chest, and laughing aloud for glee; so bubbling over with life, that the passers-by turned to look back at them.

It was a goodly sight; and so they reached the heavy stone gateway leading into the city, set thick with mighty bolts and spikes. Here Charles Langlade paused, and showed his pass before he could gain admittance; but he was not detained long, and went his way through a squalid lane, the old “Sault au Matelot,” looking its best this bright summer morning, creeping under the shelter of the city walls and overhanging rock, from which drooped weeds and grass, with just a few rays of sunlight penetrating here and there, glistening on the abundant moisture which slowly trickled down, until at last he reached the flight of steps leading from the lower to the upper town, and having climbed them stood at the convent gates. He paused a moment before pulling the great bell, lifted the child from off his shoulder, and placed it on the ground. As it stood thus beside him he looked at it, and passed his hand over the rough curly head, straightening the short crimson cotton blouse, which, with innumerable strings of coloured beads round its neck, was all the clothes it boasted; then with an impatient sigh he pulled the rope dangling at the gateway. The sound rang through the silent court and garden, and presently a small panel was pushed on one side, and a voice asked,—

“Who is there?”

“From his Excellency General Montcalm. I am the bearer of a letter to the reverend mother,” said Langlade.

The little panel was clapped quickly to again, and he heard the receding footsteps of the doorkeeper.

He was not kept long waiting. This time the little door let into the big gateway was unbarred, and he was bidden to enter; and, after she had carefully rebolted the door, the nun preceded him through the garden, full of flowers, clumps of lilac bushes, roses, and hollyhocks, blossoming within the shelter of the high surrounding walls, while the bright morning sun poured down on the alleys and greensward with all the glory of the short Canadian summer.

He was ushered into a long whitewashed room, the only furniture of which was a deal table, a few common chairs, and a tall crucifix on the wall.

The nun pointed to a chair, and disappeared with that soft gliding movement habitual to her class; but Charles Langlade, picking the child up, carried it to the open window and looked out on the quiet scene; and as he caught a glimpse of black robes moving among the trees, he wondered in his secret heart if Mercèdes were there. A strange longing had been upon him all that day to see her face once more, and then—well, then it would be over.

The door opened, and a tall thin woman in black robes and veil, her face framed in white linen, entered noiselessly. Behind her was another figure dressed in the same fashion, only she wore a long white robe and veil; her face was very pale and her eyes downcast, but in her Charles Langlade recognised Mercèdes; and thus it was these two stood once more in each other’s presence.

“I have read the General’s letter, Mr. Langlade, and understand that you wish to leave your child with us for a time. You can do so; we will take all care of it, and when this terrible war is over you can claim it of us.”

So said the reverend mother, and advancing, she tried to take the little hand; but the child, terrified, clung to his father, uttering Indian words indicative of fear at the strange figure before him, such as he had never seen before.

“He will soon get accustomed to us,” said the mother gently. “Sister Mercèdes, will you try your influence?”

Charles whispered a few words to the boy, and, sitting down, placed him on his knee, and as Mercèdes approached, he said,—

“Mademoiselle, your father bade me enquire after your health and well-being.”

“Tell my dear father I am well and happy,” she answered; “and that we pray unceasingly for his success.”

She spoke quite calmly, and the colour had come back into her face.

“I will not forget,” he answered; then again he spoke to the child. The boy looked up at the young novice, who, trembling slightly, held out her arms and smiled upon him, speaking a few soft words such as she had been wont to use to her little sister at home, and he answered with a wild cry, like a bird.

“He is only a little savage; you must tame him,” said Charles, rising and placing the child in her arms; and bowing low before her and the mother, he went towards the door. He paused one second on the threshold, and the last thing he saw was the white figure of the nun, clasping in her arms the child in its red robe and gaudy beads.

Would they ever meet again?


Late one evening Loïs was startled by an Indian youth creeping round the house. Going out to him, he gave her a folded paper, which proved to be a letter from Charles. It ran thus:—

“Yes, Loïs, I have found the boy, and I have placed him in safety in the Ursuline Convent in Quebec, with Mercèdes Montcalm. When the war is over, if you will have him he shall be conveyed to you; at present it would be impossible to do so with any safety. After my assurance to you that I would separate myself from the Indians, you will be surprised to hear that at General Montcalm’s entreaty I have retained my command. He represented to me, and I think justly, that I had no right for any private consideration, any personal quarrel, to bring disunion into his army, which, by throwing up my Indian command, and attaching myself to the Canadian contingent, I should most assuredly do. It would be a breach of honour. My first engagement was made to him. The Indians are only held in check by my influence; if that were removed, their cruelty and licence would be unbounded.

“All this I know to be true, and therefore I have decided not to inflict further wrong on others; what is done I must abide by. Bitterly as I deplore the past, at the present moment I feel bound to those who, knowing nothing of my private life, have placed confidence in me. It cannot last long. General Wolfe is pushing on towards Quebec, but our positions are strong. It is now July. In less than three months the winter will force the English to retreat, probably to return to England; the Indians will then disperse and I shall be released. In the meantime, I am almost face to face with Roger. I am stationed with General Levis on the heights of Montmorenci, and I have every reason to believe that Roger, with his Rangers, is in the forest, trying to discover a ford across the river. We are on the same search. If it be so, we can scarcely do otherwise than meet one day. Pray for us, Loïs, and that this cruel war may end, and that we may once more all dwell together in peace!

“Your loving brother,
Charles Langlade.

“P.S.—An Indian will be the bearer of this letter; you may trust him to send me back news of what is going on at the Marshes. I am watching over you; you need fear no fresh aggression.”

The question of this ford, alluded to in the above letter, was of great importance, and it was only discovered after many days of close watching by the French. Early one morning, General Levis’s aide-de-camp, a Scotchman, appeared in his tent bringing with him a peasant, who explained that he had crossed a ford a few hours earlier.

“Then you shall serve us as guide,” said Levis, and he told off eleven thousand Canadians under their officer, Repentigny, with orders to intrench themselves opposite the ford. Charles Langlade, with four hundred Indians, went in advance, crossed the ford, and discovered the English in the forest; not considering himself sufficiently strong to attack, he returned and told Repentigny, who sent to Levis, who again sent to Vaudreuil!

The Indians, thinking they would be baulked of their prey, became mutinous at the delay, and Langlade found it impossible to restrain them; they declared that if he would not lead them, they would attack the Rangers without him, and, to avoid this, he recrossed the ford.

So savage was their onset that they drove the Rangers back on the regulars, who, however, stood their ground and repulsed the Indians with considerable loss. Nevertheless, they carried off thirty-six scalps. Montcalm and Vaudreuil determined to remain on the defensive; the English were powerless to injure them. Wolfe’s position was a dangerous one; his army was separated into three parts, at such distances that it would have been impossible for any one of them to come to the assistance of the other.

The deep and impassable Montmorenci flowed between the two camps, but from the cliffs on either side a gunshot might easily reach and hit a man.

The Canadians were also growing daily more and more dispirited. They were ready for active service, but the inaction to which they were condemned tried their patience severely.

It was summer-time. The harvest was at hand, and the militia men thought of the crops waiting to be gathered in. Many deserted and went home to their villages, notwithstanding the exhortations of their priests; what was found most efficacious to keep them from so doing was the Governor’s threat to let the Indians loose upon any who should waver in their allegiance.

But in the midst of all these difficulties it was the characters of the men who stood at the helm which filled those around them, and indeed their enemies, with admiration.

Montcalm’s career in Canada was a struggle against an inexorable destiny. He bore hunger, thirst, and fatigue without a murmur, caring for his soldiers, but with no thought for himself. In the midst of general corruption he stood forth immaculate, having but one thought, the good of the colony; the savages themselves declared they learnt from him patience in suffering.

A story is told of an Indian chief, when presented to Montcalm, expressing his astonishment that a man who was capable of such great deeds should be so diminutive in stature.

“Ah! how small thou art!” he exclaimed; then added, “but I see reflected in thy eyes the height of the oak and the vivacity of the eagle.”

His own soldiers and his officers worshipped him, but such men as the Governor Vaudreuil and his satellites, Bigot, Cadet, and the rest, both hated and feared him, as the evil man hates and fears the just one.

In the opposite camp a dying man held sway. James Wolfe knew that he was doomed; and his heart sank within him as the days went by, and at the end of July he found himself no nearer taking Quebec than upon the first day on which he landed. He could not move Montcalm to attack. On the 31st of July he made a desperate attempt on the French camp, on the heights of Montmorenci; but notwithstanding acts of the most daring courage, the English were driven back with enormous loss. The blow was such a severe one that Wolfe, thoroughly disheartened, meditated fortifying the Île-aux-Coudres, and then sailing for England with the remainder of his army, to return the following year. But the following year! could he even reckon on a month of life? and he had so hoped, when he accepted his office from William Pitt, to return triumphant, having blotted out and repaired the faults of his predecessors. Imbued with an ardent love of glory, what must have been the feelings of such a man at the prospect of issuing the order for the army he had expected to lead to victory to sail homewards—if not conquered, at least foiled! He could not make up his mind to such a step as long as there still remained the shadow of a chance.

In the middle of August he issued another proclamation, couched in the following terms:—

“Seeing that the people of Canada have shown so little appreciation of my mercy, I am resolved to listen no longer to the sentiments of humanity which have so far ruled me. It is a cause of bitter sorrow to me to be obliged even remotely to imitate the acts of barbarity perpetrated by the Canadians and Indians; yet in justice to myself and my army, I feel bound to chastise the Canadian people. From henceforth therefore any village or settlement which offers resistance to British rule will be razed to the ground.”

The churches were to be respected, and women and children treated with due honour. “If any violence is offered to a woman, the offender shall be punished with death.”

The Rangers and Light Infantry were charged to carry out these orders, and soon on the sunny plains around Quebec flames and smoke arose from many a farmhouse and peaceful village, and the population went forth in flocks, victims of the scourge of war. The Governor Vaudreuil wrote despatches home in which he dilated at great length upon the barbarity of the English, utterly ignoring the fact that for years past he had sent his savages the length and breadth of the English colonies to waste and murder at will, without regard to either age or sex. Quebec was itself greatly injured; many families had forsaken the city, and taken refuge at Pointe-aux-Trembles, some eighteen miles up the river on the north shore. Colonel Carleton landed here with six hundred men, and took upwards of a hundred ladies, old men, and children prisoners. They were conducted to Wolfe’s camp, where they were courteously treated, the ladies being invited to dine at his table, and the following day they were sent under escort back to Quebec.

The general aspect of affairs grew daily more and more serious for English and French alike. Dysentery and fever broke out in the English camp. On the French side the Canadians were deserting in great numbers, and food was becoming daily so scarce that the rations had to be again and again reduced. English ships prevented food arriving from Montreal by the river, and the conveyance by land was both slow and expensive. In Quebec there was real suffering.

To add to the English troubles, General Wolfe became so seriously ill that it was feared the end could not be far off. He was utterly prostrate, and could only at times rouse himself to attend to business. But in his own mind he was maturing long-conceived plans; and when at last an alleviation to his sufferings had been obtained, he dictated a letter to Brigadier-Generals Monckton, Townshend, and Murray, laying three different plans for attacking the enemy before them. They answered that they considered none of them feasible, but proposed placing part of the English army between Quebec and its means of supply, thus forcing Montcalm either to fight or surrender. Wolfe accepted this alternative; but he was utterly dependent even for the power to act upon his physician.

“I know you cannot cure me,” he said; “but pray make me up so that I may be without pain for a few days, and able to do my duty. That is all I ask.”

“I will do my best,” answered the physician; and he so far succeeded, that by the first days of September Wolfe was able to mount his horse and show himself to his men. But the difficulty still remained unsolved. How could they land the troops so as to surprise the French and approach Quebec? As Montcalm had said, only by treason could it be accomplished.


“If you will allow me, I will reconnoitre. Disguised as an Indian, I can approach both the Indian and Canadian camps. I can even penetrate into Quebec itself. I know the language, I know their ways; I am the man most fitted to undertake this task. Information you must have before risking the safety of the whole army.”

“He is quite right, and Captain Roger is the only man who, with the least chance of success, can undertake to procure us that information, without which it is almost madness for us to attempt a landing. If he is willing to risk his life, we shall be his debtors,” said Colonel Howe.

“I am willing,” answered Roger. “With my knowledge of Indian and Canadian warfare, I run very little danger of being caught. You have decided, I think, to take the fleet up the St. Lawrence, and to effect a landing on the other side of Quebec. That there is a footpath or a subterraneous passage somewhere in the neighbourhood of what is called L’Anse de Foulon I am certain. I have heard that it is a spot much favoured by smugglers. The Jesuits had a depôt in the neighbouring cliffs; and since then Bigot and his crew are said to make it their hiding place. The whole thing lies in a nutshell—to discover the path and to assure myself to what extent it is fortified.”

“Just so,” exclaimed Wolfe excitedly. “If only we could secure a footing on the plain and force the French to fight us!”

“In two days at latest if I am alive I will report to you; if I fail in my attempt I will at least try to send you a message,” said Roger.

“Of all the services you have rendered us, Captain Roger, and they have not been a few, this will be the greatest,” said the General, holding out his hand. “If I could only bring this war to a close I should die happy.”

“Let us hope you may live to enjoy the fruits of your long anxiety, General,” said Roger; and he took his leave.

As the door closed upon him Colonel Howe turned to Wolfe, saying, “He’ll do it. There’s not such another fellow in the army; and now my advice is to break up the camp here and embark a great portion of the troops. The French will imagine we are preparing to sail for England.”

This plan was carried out, General Wolfe going on board the Sutherland.

Admiral Holmes’ fleet, with three thousand six hundred men on board, sailed up and down the river, The French were thus kept night and day on the watch to oppose their landing; and Montcalm, though he fully believed the English were on the eve of their departure, never for one moment relaxed his vigilance, feeling sure Wolfe would not be satisfied to withdraw without striking one decisive blow. So by night and by day he was on foot, trusting no one’s supervision save his own. He had sent three thousand men to Bougainville, above Quebec. Captain de Vergor, with a hundred Canadians, was posted on the heights near the town; this spot was looked upon as perfectly safe, being inaccessible, and was therefore considered sufficiently protected.

The town of Quebec was suffering greatly from the effects of the English fire. The handsome houses which adorned the quay were in ruins, literally shelled out. Many of the churches were destroyed, the cathedral dome was laid open, and the convent and garden of the Ursulines were torn up by the falling bombs.

The nuns had dispersed, some taking refuge at the General Hospital, going sadly from their cloistered schoolrooms and little ones to the sad hospital wards, now filled with the wounded and dying, and where their services were needed by night and by day. Mercèdes with Marthe had found refuge in their old rooms, and had taken with them Charles Langlade’s boy. They had managed to inform the father of this, and he had sent back word entreating them to guard the child, as Nadjii’s father Ominipeg—the “Black Eagle,” as he was surnamed—was seeking for him, fearful lest he should fall a prisoner into the hands of the English.

Charles himself had to feign ignorance of the child’s whereabouts, so as not to rouse the chief’s anger at a moment when his services were so requisite; therefore he commended the boy to their care until such time as he could send for or fetch him, and they accepted the charge, and from henceforth kept him concealed, never leaving him.

When Roger quitted General Wolfe’s presence, he was determined at any risk to discover something, let it be what it might, which would enable the English to reach the French. He was heartily sick of the war; the ruined homesteads, the misery he saw at home and abroad, and the many hardships he himself had endured, made him long for peace, almost at any price.

If Wolfe set sail for England it would all have to be begun over again. The Indians, encouraged by the French Government, would once more commit depredations on the frontier settlements, and rapine and ruin would ensue; and then with the spring the war would be renewed. No, much as he might regret the alternative, he felt that either the English must conquer, or they must be so beaten as to allow of no return. It was France or England.

There was very little difference between the Rangers’ dress and that of the Canadian scouts. The militia had a sort of uniform, but it was never very strictly adhered to; especially as time went on, and the difficulty of procuring materials of any sort increased.

The French guarded the river banks, and it would require great skill to land; yet that night, after sunset, a boat ran along the coast, and when the sentries challenged it, the answer seemed satisfactory; for it passed on up the river towards Quebec, without apparently attempting to avoid observation. One or two shots were fired at it from English ships, but in the darkness they evidently missed it, for the boat shot past and suddenly disappeared in a sort of cove, on either side of which high cliffs rose almost perpendicularly.

Roger had been absent four days. It was the evening of the 11th of September. Autumn was settling down over the land, to be succeeded by the bitter Canadian winter.

“He’s failed, probably been killed; he’d have been back before now if he had discovered anything,” said Wolfe, in a voice of hopeless despair, standing on the foredeck of the Sutherland. John Jervis, Earl of St. Vincent, and George Carleton, Lord Dorchester, the friends of his boyhood, were beside him.

“You have no right to speak so positively. It is only four days since he started, and a man like Roger is certain to have taken his precautions; he is not likely easily to allow himself to be trapped,” said the former; and even while he spoke a shrill whistle fell on their ears, and, looking down, they saw a canoe with an Indian in it lying close under the bulwarks.

“It’s he!” said Lord Dorchester; and a few seconds later Roger stood in their midst.

“Well, any news?” said Wolfe, coming forward.

“I should not be here now if I had none,” said Roger, in a low voice; “but first let me take off these trappings and give me some food. I have touched nothing for twenty-four hours, and then only a crust of bread.”

“Come into my cabin,” said Wolfe, and he led the way.

Half an hour later the chief officers on board the Sutherland were summoned to the General’s cabin.

Wolfe was walking up and down, two deep red spots on his pale thin cheeks, his eyes glittering.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “Captain Roger will tell you what he has seen and heard. You will judge whether the plan he proposes be possible; myself I tell you at once that, notwithstanding all the apparent difficulties, I consider it the only thing open for us to attempt; there is a possible chance of success. Will you explain your plan, Captain?”

“It is not necessary for me to tell you,” said Roger, “how I came by the facts I am going to lay before you, and from them to the conception of a plan which, though desperate, is in itself simple. You saw my disguise. I have assumed several during the last few days, by means of which, and by my knowledge of Indian and Canadian habits, I have managed to approach the different camps, and at last penetrated even into Quebec. Here, by means of bribery, I succeeded in being introduced into Captain Vergor’s own quarters on the heights overlooking Quebec, and can now assure you from personal evidence that, fully persuaded of their secure position, they are left practically unguarded. The officer in command goes quietly to bed, and has, moreover, weakened his guards by allowing the Canadians to go home to their villages to help get in their harvest.”

“But, taking all this for granted,” said Lord St. Vincent, “we have still those heights to scale before we can dislodge even so poor a watch.”

“I am coming to that,” said Roger. “Food is not only lacking in Quebec, but the soldiers in camp are absolutely without bread, or even flour. The commissariat declared yesterday it could distribute no further rations. You may imagine the effect of this; but they were buoyed up with the assurance that a number of boats are coming from Quebec to the camp with provisions. Where these boats land, we can,” said Roger, “and I discovered that the spot fixed upon is the Anse de Foulon, the old smuggling cove. Last night, disguised as an Indian, I paddled into it, accompanied by a man I have sworn not to name. He pointed out to me what he called a path, and then left me in terror lest we should be surprised. The moon was fitful, if you remember, last night; nevertheless, it sufficed me to discover what we want. It is a steep, precipitous ascent; half-way up trees have been felled and laid across, forming a thick abattis; then there is a deep gap some ten feet across and six feet deep; after this the road widens out, and though the ascent is steep, it is comparatively easy. I will undertake to lead a body of men to the top to-morrow night, if you consent. We shall take Vergor and his guard by surprise; and when this is accomplished you can land your troops under cover of night, and by morning you can range them in order of battle on the heights overlooking Quebec.”

“Land a whole army! It is incredible!” said Lord St. Vincent. “Allowing that the path be unguarded, there are sentries all along the river.”

“But they are expecting their own provision boats,” said Wolfe. “If our boats go down in advance, they may easily mistake us for them in the darkness. Howe, will you take the lead with Captain Roger? He will show you the way.”

“Certainly I will,” said Colonel Howe. “I have implicit confidence in the Captain. Give us a score of men, and we will see if we cannot reach the top and dislodge a parcel of sleepy Frenchmen;” and he laughed lightly, as if he had been proposing a pleasure party.

“Then, gentlemen, that is settled; to-morrow night we make the attempt,” said Wolfe, in a decided voice. “Captain Roger, you had better turn in and take a good long rest,” and he held out his hand to Roger.

“Thank you, I shall be all the better for a good sleep;” then, turning to Colonel Howe, he added, “Unless I am very much mistaken, Colonel, you and I shall see the sun rise over Quebec the day after to-morrow. I am glad it should be so.”

“So am I,” answered the Colonel heartily, and they shook hands.

“I think we are all glad,” said several voices.

“Even if it be the dawn of my last day on earth, I shall greet it with thankfulness,” said Wolfe, and the council broke up for a few hours.


The following day the English vessels and boats drifted up the river with the tide, within sight of the French sentinels, as if they were seeking a landing place; they had done this more or less for the last week, so Bougainville, who was encamped on the St. Charles, watched them without anxiety, satisfied that they would repeat the same manœuvre on the morrow.

As night drew on, Admiral Saunders, stationed opposite Beauport, opened fire upon the French, under cover of which the troops were embarked. Whether due to the excitement or to the remedies administered by his physician, Wolfe certainly for that day seemed to have taken a new lease of life. But in his own mind, we are told, the certainty that his end was near never for one moment forsook him. As he paced up and down the Sutherland, gazing at the deep blue autumnal sky overhead, to those who watched him his pale face seemed almost transfigured by the light and fire in his eyes. A young midshipman, John Robinson, to whom he had shown especial kindness, standing near him, heard him slowly recite those words which may truly be called his death elegy, so inseparably have they become linked with his name:—

“The boast of Heraldry, the pomp of Pow’r,
And all that Beauty, all that Wealth e’er gave
Await alike the inevitable hour:
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”

And, seeing that the lad was watching him, he laid his hand on his shoulder, adding, “I had rather be the author of that poem than take Quebec.”

At two o’clock on the morning of the 13th, the signal was given for the troops to enter the boats, and seventeen hundred men took their places in them, and slowly drifted down the stream to their destination.

The French sentries placed along the shore, notwithstanding the darkness, became aware of a more than usual traffic on the river, and challenged them.

Qui vive?

“France,” answered Colonel Howe.

“Which regiment?”

La Reine,” answered the same officer, who knew that Bougainville commanded part of that regiment, and so they passed on. Lower down the river they were once more challenged. This time the answer was, “Provision boats. Don’t make a noise, the English will hear us.”

In the darkness, Captain Roger, Colonel Howe, and twenty-four volunteers rowed up to the low sandy beach at the foot of the crags, which seemed to rise perpendicularly from the water’s edge.

The volunteers were picked men. A few of Roger’s best Rangers were amongst them. No sentry was on the shore; no alarm was given.

The order for perfect silence had been issued, and Roger leading the way, as noiselessly as possible the ascent was begun. Like shadows they moved up the pathway, crawling often on their hands and knees, the foremost removing obstacles for those who came after, till at last they gained the top, and saw before them the cluster of white tents. No word of command was given. That silent group of brave men realised to the full at that moment that victory or defeat was in their hands, and with the impulse to conquer or to die in the attempt, they rushed into the sleeping camp before the slightest sound announced their presence. Captain Vergor was in bed; he was shot, but not mortally, and made prisoner. The same fate awaited others, but in the darkness the greater number of the French fled. Then there arose from the heights such a cheer as only true-born Britons can give forth in the hour of triumph, and it was answered from below by men waiting breathlessly in the boats to know whether they too might scale the long dark slope of the woody precipice—the path to victory! General Wolfe was the first to leap ashore, and in his excitement he struck the earth with his sword’s point, as if claiming it for Old England.

And then the ascent began, each man with his musket slung over his shoulder. Trenches were leapt, abattis were broken through; the stream of men came pouring up from the boats, which, as soon as they were emptied, rowed back to the ships and brought more, until all the troops were landed.

The day was hardly dawning when Wolfe stood with the advanced troops on the heights. Anxiously, with penetrating eyes, he gazed in the direction from whence he supposed the French would come. At the expiration of an hour, when almost all the English troops had reached the summit, a cloud of dust, like smoke, with flashes of light, was seen on the horizon.

“The French!” said Wolfe calmly, pointing to the long line growing ever more and more distinct in the increasing morning light. On an open tract of grass, interspersed with cornfields, having on one side the St. Lawrence, and sloping down on the other to the St. Charles, General Wolfe and his officers stationed the English army, numbering in all three thousand five hundred men; and there, on the ever-celebrated Plains of Abraham, they awaited their adversaries.

Montcalm, when first informed of the landing of the English, exclaimed,—

“It can be but a small party come to burn a few houses and retire.”

He sent at once to Vaudreuil, who was quartered near Quebec, but receiving no answer, at six o’clock he mounted, and, accompanied by Langlade and Johnstone, rode towards the town. As he crossed the St. Charles, he saw on the heights above Quebec the long red line of the English army calmly awaiting him. He knew now that it must be fought out. He turned his horse’s head to the Governor’s quarters; a short and sharp altercation ensued, and then Montcalm, joining his army, rode towards the battle-field, where already the battalion of Guienne had taken up its position. The white-and-blue uniforms of the regular French army, flanked by the sombre-clad Canadians, were clearly visible; whilst the Indians in their war-paint, with their waving plumes and steel hatchets, were stationed some twenty paces in advance, with orders to throw themselves into the first breach made in the English ranks by the French balls.

To the sound of the drums the five battalions of Grenadiers, in their long black gaiters, marched to the front. Arrived within forty paces of the English, they halted, and the two armies, face to face with each other, waited in solemn, silent hesitation. Old enemies on a new soil, on how many a European battle-field had their forefathers fought for dominion! And now they waited, awed, on this virgin soil, who should begin this mortal duel.

In a clear voice the word of command flew along the English line. A sound as of thunder broke forth, rolling along, to be repeated in continuous roar; and as the smoke cleared off, in the French ranks there were deep gaps, as if a scythe had passed through cutting them down. The battle was begun.

Another volley, and yet another. The militia, which was interspersed with the regular French troops, unable any longer to stand the fire, hesitated. Montcalm saw it.

“Forward, forward!” he cried, showing with the point of his sword the English ranks still unmoved. At the same moment a ball struck him.

“You are wounded, General,” said an officer beside him.

“It is of no account, sir. Ride forward and rally the Canadians; they are retreating.” Himself he sprang forward into their midst.

“Courage, my children, courage!” he cried; but another ball struck him, and his white uniform was stained with blood.

“Support me; do not let them see me fall,” he murmured, striving with a superhuman will to keep himself erect.

At that moment Wolfe gave the order to charge, and the wild yell of the Highlanders, mingled with the British cheer, rose loud and fierce.

A shot shattered Wolfe’s wrist; he wrapped his handkerchief round it and went on. A second shot struck him; he still advanced. A third pierced his breast; he staggered and fell. Then the officers surrounding him carried him to the rear.

“Send for a surgeon,” said Lord St. Vincent.

“There is no need; it is all over with me,” he answered.

“They run; see how they run!” cried some one.

“Who run?” asked Wolfe, with a sudden return to life.

“The enemy, sir; they give way everywhere.”

“Tell Colonel Burton to cut off their retreat from the bridge,” he said; and turning on his side, he added, “Now, God be praised, I will die in peace.”

A few minutes later, for him the battle of life was over.

But to his country he left a rich heritage, with which his name is ever linked in high honour. Canada became then and is now one of the brightest jewels of the British Empire. She was bought with the price of many a young and noble life, but, ever loyal and true to England and her sovereigns, she has proved herself worthy of the sacrifice.

Canada has, moreover, taught the world the lesson that two peoples, supposed to be antagonistic, can live together in perfect peace and harmony, side by side in the same cities, each speaking their own language and retaining their own customs. The wisdom and conciliatory policy of the British Government effected this union, which has been pacifically maintained ever since. The French population, which far outnumbered the English, finding themselves treated with justice, and, instead of being driven forth, encouraged to remain in the land, assured of religious freedom and the equity of the laws, willingly submitted to the new rule, and have proved as faithful subjects as their English brethren.


The Indians had fought bravely. Charles Langlade and their chief Ominipeg had kept them steady. Long after the Canadians were in full retreat they lay behind a mound firing without ceasing on the English, who were advancing upon them. Then a strange thing happened.

Ominipeg stood on a grassy knoll, on the left side of which were high bushes, and looked around upon the battle-field. He knew that Montcalm was wounded; he saw the Canadians flying before the English: the cause was lost; he and his tribe would ere long be prisoners.

The Black Eagle could not brook defeat. Charles Langlade, lying on the ground at a little distance firing on the English, saw him suddenly stoop behind the bushes and gather something in his arms. A cry, a child’s cry, even through the din of battle reached his ears, and a terrified baby face, round which the soft fair curls clustered, appeared before his agonised gaze. To spring forward to seize him would have been the work of a second, but Ominipeg was too quick for him. Clasping the child tightly in his arms, with horrible cries, brandishing his enormous battle-axe, the Indian chief, followed by his whole tribe, dashed into the midst of the enemy.

The yells and war-whoops of the savages gradually died out as the English bayonets pierced their naked bodies, and they lay upon the ground a bleeding mass of humanity. They had fulfilled their code of honour; they had died for the cause they could not save!

And the Black Eagle, with his daughter’s child, the little “White Chief,” as he had been surnamed, lay foremost among the slain. A shot had struck Charles Langlade to the ground before he could advance a step to save the child.

That morning, at early dawn, when the first alarm had reached Quebec, a young Indian had passed rapidly through the streets, gained the house inhabited by Mercèdes, and knocked loudly at the door of her apartment.

“Who is there?” asked Marthe.

“Langlade; open quickly,” was the answer. She hastened to obey; the Indian glided into the room, looked round, and saw the child sleeping in its little bed. To snatch it in his arms, smothering its cries, and disappear with it, was the work of a second.

Roused by the noise, Mercèdes came running in, but the child was gone. Marthe was wringing her hands, and in short, incoherent phrases told Mercèdes what had happened.

But events were to succeed each other so rapidly that they had hardly time to breathe, much more think. So accustomed had they become to the bombardment of the city that, though it sounded more continuous and louder than usual that morning, they attached no especial importance to it; but a nun with a white, terrified face came to them from the Superior, bidding them repair at once to the General Hospital, that the English were on the Heights of Abraham, and that a great battle was being fought. Wrapping their black cloaks around them, and drawing their hoods over their heads in such a way as to conceal their faces, they hastened to obey, passing quickly through the streets, in some parts crowded by frightened citizens driven forth from their half-ruined houses, in others swept clean by the bombs which came whizzing down from the English batteries. Very white and fixed was the young novice’s face as she glided along. She suddenly came to a standstill, almost in front of the Church of the Ursulines, where a crowd was gathered, which opened to let a party of soldiers, carrying a litter which had been hastily constructed out of guns crossed one over the other, pass on their way.

The brilliant rays of the sun fell full upon the livid face of the man who lay thereon. The waxen features were thrown into relief by the black military cloak around him.

Not a cry escaped Mercèdes’ lips, though in that second she had had time enough to recognise her father; but like an arrow she flew to his side. One of the officers knew her, and gently and pityingly made way for her, and she entered the church with the litter; then the heavy doors were closed to keep back the surging crowd. Slowly, with measured steps, surrounded by his officers, they bore him up the nave; in front of the high altar the soldiers laid down their precious burden, and Mercèdes, kneeling beside him, raised his hand to her lips. He made no sign of being even aware of her presence; his eyes were fixed, his features immovable; his soul was still on the battle-field in the agony of that first moment of defeat. A surgeon had been hastily summoned, who examined the patient and probed the wound; but not a muscle of Montcalm’s face moved even under that agony. When it was over, and a temporary dressing had been applied, he said, “Well, sir, how long have I to live?”

“General,” answered the surgeon, in a low, pained voice, “a few hours only.”

“All the better,” he said. “I shall not see the English enter Quebec,” and he closed his eyes. Notwithstanding the wounds received on the battle-field, borne by the tide of the fugitives the General had ridden into Quebec at the head of the army, crossed the bridge under the northern rampart, and entered the palace gate. At that moment another shot reached him, which, passing through his body, proved fatal, and he was half lifted, half fell from his horse; and so it came to pass that his soldiers bore him into the Church of the Ursulines.

Mercèdes and Marthe tended him. Quiet and loving were the words which from time to time he spoke to them. A few only of those who surrounded them knew that the pale-faced novice was his daughter. Michel, the gardener of the Ursuline Convent, fetched and carried for them, and so that fatal day drew to an end.

Towards evening, Ramsay, the new Governor, came and asked Montcalm’s advice as to how he might best defend Quebec.

“Have you any orders to give me, General?” he asked.

“Sir,” answered Montcalm, “I deliver into your hands the honour of France. I shall spend my night with God preparing to die.”

Then he asked for pen and paper, and desired one of his officers to write at his dictation:—

General,—The humanity of the English sets my mind at peace concerning the fate of the French prisoners and the Canadians.

“May you feel towards them as they have caused me to feel for them. Do not let them feel that they have changed masters. Be their protector, as I have been their father.”

“Let this letter be sent without delay to General Wolfe,” he said, when with difficulty he had succeeded in signing it.

“It is rumoured that James Wolfe is either dead or dying,” replied one of his officers.

“He also!” said Montcalm. “At least he is happier than I am,” he added; “he dies in the midst of his country’s triumph.”

Shortly after this his face became livid. His sufferings were intense; he could only from time to time give utterance to a few words in a low voice to Mercèdes, tender remembrances for the loved ones at home! About midnight the Bishop Pont Briand administered the last Sacraments of the Church in which he had lived and was now dying.

Gently, almost painlessly, he lingered until the dawn of a new day, and as the light began to creep into the sacred building his eyes closed. When the surgeon, who had never left him, saw the eyelids droop, he shook his head sadly, slipped his hand under the white uniform so deeply stained with blood, and waited a few minutes, then he rose.

“Gentlemen,” he said, turning to the group of officers who stood watching, “that great heart has ceased to beat.”

Mercèdes never moved, her head was bowed low on her father’s bier; Marthe alone wept, kneeling there beside her master.

Then suddenly the doors of the church were thrown open, and the crowd which had been waiting patiently outside came flocking up the nave. Soldiers of that poor defeated army, inhabitants of Quebec, Canadians, savages, pressed around to take a last look at the brave General who had so gallantly defended them. In the dim morning light the torches flared, showing the half-ruined church, the roof laid open, through which the sky looked down, shattered pillars, the pavement torn up by bombs which in bursting had made deep holes; and in the centre of all this ruin, surrounded by his officers, lay that still figure wrapped in his black mantle, looking grander in death than he had done in life.

In the afternoon of the same day they carried him into the forsaken garden of the Convent of the Ursulines. The bursting of a shell dug his grave, and there they laid him, all who had known and loved him grieving, not for the hero so much as for the man.

Throughout that night two women knelt and prayed beside that lonely grave.


“No news of the lads yet, Martha! Will they never come home?” said Nathaniel impatiently, as he sat in the wide porch of Alpha Marsh one bright autumn day.

“No, there be no news,” answered Martha sadly; “and yet they say the fighting’s over for the present. I’m minded, if they’ve not both been killed, they’ll be here before long.”

“Both killed! Our bonnie lads, Martha? Nay, I cannot think God would have spared my life and taken them. I’m not of much account now,” and he looked at his arm, which hung helpless in his coatsleeve.

“You’ve no need to fret; you’re wonderfully better,” said Martha. “And as for the lads, it isn’t likely they’re together; they’ll be dropping in when we least expect them, one after the other.”

“God grant it,” said Nat; “but somehow I always see them together;” and he rose from his chair, and went and stood by the wicket gate, looking down the road which skirted the forest and led to the village.

During the year which had elapsed since the Indians invaded Marshwood, it had gradually resumed its former appearance of happy prosperity. Most of the houses destroyed by the fire had been rebuilt; a fresh harvest had been gathered in; and if some hearts still ached for those who had fallen, time was gradually softening the horrors of that terrible night, and casting a halo over the memory of the lost.

Early the previous spring Martha Langlade had returned to Alpha Marsh, bringing little Susie with her, though in truth she was “little Susie” no longer, but a tall fine girl, very proud of her knowledge of city life, and only desirous of returning to Boston, where they had left Marie, the happy bride of young William Parkmann.

Nathaniel Boscowen had to a great extent recovered his health; his arm alone was still powerless; but as time went on his restless longing for the return of the “lads,” as he called them, grew painfully intense. The news of the fall of Quebec, and of both Montcalm’s and Wolfe’s death, had reached him in due time, and from that hour he had, so to speak, waited by night and by day.

“They’ll be here to-morrow,” he would say, with a sigh, when Loïs bade him “Good-night”; and she would answer with a smile which grew every day fainter,—

“Yes, Father Nat; they’ll be here to-morrow.”

Several companies of Rangers had returned to their homes, bringing the assurance that Roger was alive, that they had seen him after the battle; but of Charles there was no news, and Loïs, like Nathaniel, waited, going patiently about her daily work, with that look of hungry longing which grows in women’s eyes from “hope deferred.”

Between her and Roger there had been no words of reconciliation, but, beside Nadjii’s grave, when they laid her to rest under the shadow of the great oak tree in the home meadow, and in the long night watches by Father Nat’s bedside, the hardness had melted out of Roger’s face; their hands had touched, their eyes had looked into each other’s; once more it was “Loïs” and “Roger.” And so, through all the months of sadness and loneliness after he left them, Loïs bore up bravely, for hope, blessed hope, was hers.

She worked as she had never done before, comforting the widows and clothing and feeding the orphan children. Love gave her strength as only love can. Through the bright short spring and long summer days she waited, with the never-ceasing prayer upon her lips for “Peace, blessed peace.” But now for many weeks she had had no news, save what the stray home-comers had brought; and yet the war was over—the English were masters of Quebec. Why then did Roger linger?

Of late the habit had come to her of going to the upper windows and looking out over the country. Vague rumours of Charles’ death had reached both her and Marcus, but by common consent they hid it from Martha and Father Nat, who always repeated, “The two will come together. Many things may have happened to detain them on the road,” and both she and Marcus were thankful he should think thus. But the winter was fast approaching, and then the land would be icebound, and long dreary months must elapse before they could hope to see the wanderers. Oh, how earnestly Loïs prayed for news, only for news, of them, and it came to pass that her prayer was granted. But alas, how?

Loïs was always up betimes. All the dairy work fell to her lot, and Martha had been ailing lately, fretting for Charles, they all knew. As she stood in the dairy, pouring the new milk, which the maids had just brought in, from the pails into the earthen pans for setting, the old Indian woman Nokomis crept up to her with a mysterious look on her face.

“Well, Nokomis, what has happened? Have you burnt the cakes for breakfast?” asked Loïs.

She shook her grisly head and answered slowly, “Alas, alas, mistress! there be those who will never eat of my cakes again, and yet he loved them! Old Nokomis’ cakes—he’d take them half-baked out of the oven, for the smell of them!”

“Who are you speaking of?” said Loïs, hastily putting down the half-empty pail.

“Who should I speak of if not of the young master? Ah, it was an evil day when Boscowen and Langlade parted; they’ll never come together again.”

“What have you heard?” said Loïs, turning deadly pale.

“The boy’s there; he can speak,” said Nokomis.

“What boy?” asked Loïs. “Oh, Nokomis, if there be news of Roger and Charles, do not keep me waiting.”

Thus adjured, the Indian woman went to the door, made a sign to some one, and in another minute an Indian youth entered and stood before Loïs.

“What have you to tell me?” she asked tremulously.

The boy answered,—

“I am Nadjii’s brother. I carried the boy away, but the White Chief, his father, found him, and would have hidden him from Ominipeg, but he could not; the ‘Black Eagle’ took him, and carried him into the battle, and they were killed together. And last of all the White Chief was killed; I saw him fall. They are all gone into the land of the Great Spirit.”

“Do you mean to say my brother is dead?” said Loïs, leaning against the wall to keep herself from falling.

“Yes, I mean it; they are all dead, and I will stay here and serve you. I loved the White Chief, and I served him. He told me many things. I will live with the white man, and pray to the Great Spirit Jesus”; and suiting the action to the word, he sat down upon the floor, in token that he meant to abide there.

Silence, a dead silence, fell upon them. The early morning light came creeping in through the windows, a pale autumn light with no warmth or brightness in it. A chill feeling of despair overpowered Loïs; she looked at the dark messenger. Could he be speaking the truth? Might he not be mistaken? But she knew the Indian lad; he had often brought her messages from Charles, even when he was a mere child; now he was about fifteen, and there was no reason why he should deceive her. What should she do with him? If she took him into the kitchen the rest of the family would see him, and the news he brought would spread from mouth to mouth, until it reached the ears of her mother and Father Nat. At present this must be avoided.

“How have you travelled?” she asked. “And how long have you been on the road?”

“I travelled the same way as the hunters, through the forests. I have come often before; I know the way,” said the boy. “The moon was new when I started; it is full now.”

“You must be tired; you had better rest. Nokomis, take him to the attic next yours in Omega Marsh, and be careful that neither my mother nor Father Nat sees him, until I tell you. Give him bread and meat, and all he needs. You will keep quiet for a day or two, until I know what to do,” she said to the boy.

Her eyes were full of tears, her lips trembled; she never for one moment doubted the truth of the story he told. Her brother was dead, the child was dead, and Roger—where was he?

Nokomis signed to the Indian to follow her, and skirting the outhouses, they reached the back entrance to Omega Marsh, which was at present only inhabited by herself and one or two men, Father Nat having remained since his illness at Alpha Marsh.

“You lie quiet here. Nokomis bring you food: you sleep; no work.” And to this pleasant prospect the Indian readily acquiesced. Nevertheless Nokomis, when she left him, took the precaution of turning the key and putting it in her pocket.

Two days later, when she went in the early morning to take him his food, he was gone; the dormer window was open, and, looking out, she knew he had escaped by the roof. Here and there a creeper had been loosened, and in the grass and on the ground below she saw traces of feet—not the Indian’s naked feet only, but the print of a woman’s shoe; and she stood and looked, then went across to Alpha Marsh, her eyes fixed on the ground, like a dog on the scent. As she passed Bob’s kennel she saw it was empty.

“Bob, Bob!” she called. There was no answer. “He gone too,” she muttered between her teeth. Taking the key of the back kitchen from the hiding place where she put it every night, she entered, looked round, went into the pantry, examined the safe in which cold meats and other provisions were kept, lifted the cover of the bread-bin, and counted the loaves. While she was thus occupied Marcus entered.

“What are you doing, Nokomis?” he asked, watching her curiously for a few seconds.

“Where’s Loïs?” she asked, looking up at him.

“Not yet up, I suppose,” he answered. “She’s overslept herself—an unusual thing for her.”

“You go and look in her room. I tell you she’s gone.”

“Gone! Where should she be gone?” said Marcus.

“To bring the lads home,” said Nokomis; and then for the first time Marcus heard of the arrival of the Indian lad, the story he related, and how he had disappeared.

“Why did she not tell me?” he thought bitterly; and yet his faith in Loïs was so great that he checked the angry feeling, and went straight up to her room. There he found the confirmation of Nokomis’ words. The bed had not been slept in; Loïs was gone! But surely not without a word! No, there on the table was a letter addressed to himself.

Dear Marcus,—Forgive me,” she wrote. “For the last two days and nights I have prayed unceasingly for God to guide me, and it has been borne in upon me that, notwithstanding all the Indian lad tells me, Charles and the child are still living. At first I did not think so; but now I do. I know where Charles put the child—in the Convent of the Ursulines at Quebec; I am going there. Tell Father Nat and the mother that I have had news of Charles; that he needs me, therefore I am gone to him. They shall hear soon; but do not let them know the rumour of his death. Why should they grieve, perhaps without a cause? I have taken money, my Indian guide, and Bob. Have no fear for me; God and His angels will guide my steps. I am going forth in His strength, without fear, to bring our dear ones home. Pray for me, and tell John Cleveland to pray for me in the congregation on the Sabbath Day, until I come back to you all, and we settle down in peace. I go without warning you; not from mistrust, but because I know you would wish to go in my stead, and that must not be. You are all that is left to us. If harm befell you, the Marshes would indeed be without a master and desolate. I am only a woman!

“Your loving sister,

“And truly a brave one!” said John Cleveland, when he had read the letter, which Marcus took straight down to the minister’s house. “You can but do as she says; tell Father Nat she has been sent for, and is gone on the road to meet Charles. You may be sure she’ll manage to send us news before many days are over; we’ll just live from day to day in hope and prayer. If any one can bring the lads home, Loïs can. Go about your work as usual, Marcus; tell Nokomis to keep a silent tongue in her head. I’ll come up and see your mother and Father Nat. No need to say she’s gone to Quebec: we don’t know whether she’ll ever get there; maybe she’ll meet them on the road.”

Marcus shook his head.

“I do not think there is much chance of that,” he said.

“How dare you say so?” said John Cleveland sharply; “and you who would be a minister and teach others. With God nothing is impossible. Have faith, lad—faith which can remove mountains,” and he clapped him on the shoulder, adding, “And now I’ll just let my missis know I’m going to breakfast up at the Marshes. I won’t leave you to face Father Nat alone. How he’ll live the day through without Loïs, his right hand, is more than I can tell. She thinks she’s of no account because she’s a woman, but we men should be badly off without our womankind, even though there are not many like our Loïs. I only want to live long enough to give her and Roger my blessing on their wedding-day, and I believe I shall, and that before long.”

It was no easy matter to hoodwink Father Nat. But she was gone; there was no remedy: they could not go after her, not knowing which way she had taken; and so, when Martha wept and wailed “that all her children were going from her,” Nathaniel said quietly,—

“She’s a wise and a good lass, and the Lord is with her. No harm will come to her, and maybe she’ll bring both the lads back.”

And so they watched and waited at the Marshes, and the snow fell covering the earth, and the rivers were icebound, and still there was no news of the wanderers.


The silver light of the moon was shining down on the battle-field, where the dead and dying lay in hideous confusion, the night after the fray. Dark figures moved stealthily to and fro, lanterns flashed on ghastly upturned faces, piteous voices called for help, hands were stretched out praying for mercy, too often only to meet death and spoliation. Birds of prey hovered overhead. Alas for poor human nature! there were those abroad who reverenced neither heroism nor death, but laid rude hands on their fellow-men, robbing and mutilating the prostrate forms as they lay writhing in death’s agony.

A group of half a dozen men in the well-known dress of the Royal Rangers had found their way to that part of the battle-field where the Indians had made their last fierce onslaught. The near approach of death had not extinguished the passionate instincts of hatred and revenge; more than once the treacherous knife gleamed in a dying hand seeking still to slay. Every precaution had to be taken by the searchers, as they picked their way over the ground strewn so thickly with the dead and dying, to avoid the murderous thrusts.

“Look here, Captain!” and the speaker, a young man, pointed to where a red chief lay, with a little child clasped in his arms. A shot had pierced the baby heart, in kindly mercy quieting for ever its wild fluttering; but the blue eyes were wide open still, and retained that look of terror mirrored in them which gleamed there when death came, and the long fair curls were dabbled in blood.

The man who had been addressed as Captain stood looking down upon the group. Pain, bitter pain, was visible in every line of his face. “It is Ominipeg,” he said, and stooping, he lifted the dead child in his arms and wrapped it in his bearskin. He and his companions knew enough of Indian customs to understand how that infant came by his death—a chief’s son in the foremost ranks of the slain!

They renewed their search; and, at last, amidst those dark naked figures, with their wild headgear and strange fantastic war-paint, they found him they sought. He was lying propped up against a tree; evidently, when the battle was over, he had dragged himself thither. Was he dead? Roger bent eagerly over him, and took the hand which hung listlessly by his side.

“Charles,” he said; and the strong man’s voice trembled.

“Roger, am I dreaming, or have you come to take me home?”

The drooping head is raised, and the cold fingers close over Roger’s.

“We will go home together,” he said. “Are you much hurt, Charles?”

“I do not know,” he answered dreamily. “Is the battle over? Are we beaten?”

“The battle is ended,” said Roger; “and God grant it may be our last,” and he signed to his men that the search was finished, that their help was needed. They lifted the wounded man in their arms and slowly bore him off the battle-field to where in the moonlight clustered the white tents of the Rangers, and there they laid him down.

Quebec had capitulated, notwithstanding Levis’ rapid march to its relief. Ramsay paid but little attention to Montcalm’s last words, and, encouraged by Vaudreuil, on the 18th surrendered to the English. Honourable terms were granted. The garrison was to march out with the honours of war, and the troops be carried back to France on English ships; the inhabitants to have protection in person and property, free exercise of their religion, and all other privileges of British subjects. These conditions having been formally agreed to and signed, the British flag was raised on the heights near Mount Street, and General Murray was named Governor of Quebec.

As soon as he could do so, Roger had brought Charles into the city. He was unconscious at the time, and the military surgeon gave but faint hope of his recovery. It was a battle between life and death, but youth and a strong constitution aiding, Roger was at last rewarded by seeing Charles enter upon what might be called convalescence; but by that time winter had set in, and there was no possibility of communicating with Marshwood. “I ought to have thought of sending a messenger immediately after the battle,” Roger said; “but I didn’t know quite what you meant to do, so I waited, and now it is too late.” So time passed on.

One evening, a lady, deeply veiled, came to the house where the two friends lodged, and, asking to see Mr. Langlade, was admitted.

Charles was seated in an armchair near the large open fireplace; he turned as the stranger entered, and, when she raised her veil, exclaimed, “Madame Péan!”

“Yes,” she said, coming forward; “I heard you were in Quebec, where I myself have been detained by severe illness, and I have come to you with a message from Mercèdes Montcalm.”

“She is well, I trust?” said Charles, in a low voice.

“Yes, she is,” answered Madame Péan, “and the day after to-morrow she takes the veil. I have done the best I could to dissuade her, offering to take her back with me to France in the spring, but she will not listen to me; her place, she says, is by her father’s grave, in the convent garden, and the Bishop and Mother Superior have consented to shorten her novitiate. One thing troubles her, the loss of the child committed to her care by you. When I heard you were in Quebec I told her, and she entreated me to come to you without delay, to hear what had become of the child.”

“He is dead,” said Charles; “his mother’s tribe stole him, lest he should be made a prisoner, and he was killed. Tell her this, or not, as you deem best.”

“If you will, you can tell her yourself,” said Madame. “She bids farewell to her friends to-night; if you come to the convent, you can have speech with her for the last time.”

“I will come,” said Charles, his pale face flushing.

“She thought you would,” said Madame; “she has not many friends to whom to bid farewell, and the General loved you.”

“Not better than I loved him,” said Charles, rousing himself. “Tell Mademoiselle Mercèdes I will be at the convent to-night after vespers; and thank you a thousand times for coming to me. I would not have missed seeing her once more, for all the world,” and he held out his hand to Madame Péan.

“I guessed as much,” she answered. Their eyes met, and she slowly shook her head. “It is too late,” she said; “all that was earthly in her heart and soul has dropped away from her and lies buried in her father’s grave. She has no thoughts left which are not of heaven. And now I will leave you. As soon as to-morrow’s ceremony is over I go to Montreal. Is there any service I can render you? any request you have to make to Chevalier Levis? He is well aware how you have behaved throughout the war, and would be only too glad if you would join his poor remnant of an army, with which he still hopes to wrest Canada from the English.”

Charles shook his head.

“He will never do that,” he said. “The cause is lost; he will only uselessly sacrifice fresh lives. Is it not so, Roger?”

“Most certainly it is. But, Madame,” said Roger, “if you would do my friend a real service, it would be to obtain from the Chevalier for him and for me a free pass through all the country still occupied by the French troops. We are anxious to return to our people, but without this it would be almost impossible during the winter; we should have to take such a circuitous route, and my friend’s health is not sufficiently recovered to resist the cold and fatigue; if we can pass through Montreal, it will shorten the journey greatly.”

“I will do my best,” said Madame Péan. “And now farewell; we are none of us likely to meet again in this world. When the last French ship leaves the shores of Canada, I shall sail in her, and go back to old France.” She dropped her veil and rose. Charles also rose, and silently they shook hands; then Roger re-conducted her to her carriage, and they took leave of each other.

She had said truly they were never to meet again.

That evening, as he had promised, Charles went alone to the convent. He waited what seemed to him an eternity in the parlour, watching anxiously a grated window in the wall, across which was a dark curtain; at last he saw it slowly drawn back, and on the opposite side, with a face almost as white as her veil, stood Mercèdes.

“Thank you for coming,” she said, in a low, calm voice. “Before bidding my last farewell to the world, I desired greatly to see you, to tell you how I have grieved for the child you committed to my care. I loved him very dearly. I would not have parted from him if I could possibly have done otherwise; but we were taken by surprise. Before even Marthe, who was in the room with him, was aware of it, he was gone; we had no time to prevent it; he was truly spirited away. I pray you forgive me: it has been a bitter grief to me.”

“Forgive you!” exclaimed Charles. “Surely you never for one moment thought I blamed either you or Marthe? Knowing the Indians would use every means in their power to get hold of my poor little son, I placed him with you, believing he must be safe in the convent. How could either of us imagine you would be driven out into the world again? How can I harbour one thought of blame against you! Indeed, I almost think it best for him to be at rest. Had he lived, his would have been a very divided life. He must have suffered, and I for him. I am content. It is well with the child.”

“I am thankful to hear you speak thus,” answered Mercèdes. “Truly all God does is well done. And now, Monsieur Langlade, I will bid you farewell. You will go back to the world to which, to-morrow, I shall for ever bid adieu; but I wish to thank you for many pleasant hours and for much kindness, but, above all things, for your faithfulness to my dear father. I beg you to cherish his memory, and be assured I shall ever remember you in my prayers.”

“No one who has ever lived with General Montcalm as I have can possibly forget him. I shall cherish his memory as long as I live,” said Charles, with deep emotion.

“Thanks, I am glad to think it will be so,” and a faint smile lighted up her pale face. “Adieu!” and she passed her hand between the iron bars. “Wear this in remembrance of him,” she added, slipping a ring of great price on his finger.

“I will never part with it. Adieu,” repeated Charles, and stooping, he touched the tips of her fingers with his lips. When he raised his head she had disappeared.

The following morning he was amongst the spectators who witnessed the ceremony of Mercèdes Montcalm taking the veil, and as he left the chapel his heart was very sad within him.


“Reverend Mother, there is a woman at the gate with an Indian lad and a big dog. She is asking to speak with one ‘Mercèdes Montcalm,’” said old Michel, the gardener and doorkeeper of the convent.

“It is late, Michel; we cannot let strangers in at this hour. Tell her she must return to-morrow,” said the Reverend Mother of the Ursulines.

“I told her as much,” said Michel; “but she bade me say she had travelled from the far west, that she was very weary, and knew not where to go. She gave me this,” and he handed her a slip of paper.

“I am Loïs Langlade, Charles Langlade’s sister, and am come to fetch the child my brother gave in charge to Mercèdes Montcalm.”

“Poor thing!” said the Mother; “she does not know. This will grieve our new sister, Marie Mercèdes; but you must bring the stranger in, Michel. Charles Langlade’s sister cannot remain in the streets.”

“And the Indian and the dog?” said Michel.

“Keep them at the lodge,” said the Reverend Mother. The man went out. The Mother rang a small bell beside her, which was answered by a serving sister.

“Go to Sister Marie Mercèdes’ cell, and tell her to come here without delay,” she said. As the sister went out, a tall figure wrapped in a thick cloak with a hood drawn over her head entered, and with her a large wolf-hound, which she held by its collar.

“It was no use, Reverend Mother; he would have torn me to pieces rather than leave her,” said Michel.

“He knows I have only him to protect me,” said a gentle voice. “Indeed, he is quite harmless as long as no one lays hands on me. Lie down, Bob,” and, obedient to her word, the animal stretched himself at her feet.

“My child,” said the Reverend Mother, “you have asked to see Mercèdes Montcalm. She bade adieu to the world this morning; she is dead to all things earthly.”

“Dead,” repeated Loïs slowly; “it seems to me that every one is dead.”

“Dead to the world, I said,” continued the Superior. “There is no Mercèdes Montcalm, only Sister Marie Mercèdes. What do you want with her, my child? You look very weary; sit down,” and she pointed to a chair.

“I have come many hundred miles,” said Loïs, “in search of my brother and my brother’s child. He sent me word that he had placed the boy here with Mercèdes Montcalm.”

“So he did,” answered the Reverend Mother.

At that moment the door opened, and Loïs saw the small, darkly-clad figure of a young nun enter. The face was very pale; the eyes had a strained look in them, and were bright as if with fever.

“Come hither, my daughter,” said the Reverend Mother. “I grieve to have disturbed you at your devotions, but here is one who has come from afar to fetch Charles Langlade’s little child. Will you tell her what you know concerning it, so that she may be satisfied?”

“Are you Loïs Langlade?” said Sister Marie, in a low voice.

“Yes,” said Loïs; “tell me, where is the child?”

“Why have you come to me instead of going to your brother? He would have told you, and spared me the pain. Forgive me, Reverend Mother; it is still pain,” said Sister Marie, bowing her head.

“My brother!” said Loïs, rising quickly, and with such a ring of joy in her voice,—“he is alive then, and you have seen him. Oh, tell me where to find him!” and taking the nun’s hand, she pressed it to her lips.

Sister Marie shivered slightly; she had not had time yet to forget. The Reverend Mother answered for her.

“He is alive, my child; but where he lodges we do not know, only there is one who does. We will enquire to-morrow.”

“To-morrow!” exclaimed Loïs. “Oh, Reverend Mother, I have waited so many to-morrows! I am not weary; let me go to him to-night. And the child?”

“Is at rest; him you cannot find,” said Sister Marie Mercèdes. “But your brother is in Quebec,” she continued. “Madame Péan, in the Rue St. Louis, will tell you where to find him. You must go to her to-night; to-morrow she leaves Quebec.”

“Thank God I am in time,” said Loïs, and bending her head in token of farewell, she went towards the door. Bob rose and followed her. But suddenly her strength seemed to fail her, and she staggered; Sister Marie Mercèdes was beside her.

“Lean on me,” she said gently, and placing her in a chair, she held some water to her lips. Loïs drank eagerly.

“Are you in want of food?” asked the Reverend Mother.

“We have travelled all day,” said Loïs faintly; and hardly knowing that she did so, she let her head rest on Sister Marie’s bosom. Once more the Reverend Mother rang her bell.

“See if there be some hot soup in the kitchen, and send Michel here,” she said to the serving sister. Then, going up to Loïs, she added, “We will do what we can for you, my child. What food we have you are welcome to, and I will send Michel to find out where your brother lodges. It is snowing fast; you cannot wander to and fro in the streets of Quebec to-night.”

An hour later, warmed and comforted, Loïs rose to depart. Michel was to conduct her to the address which Madame Péan had given.

“May I kiss you?” said Loïs, holding the young nun’s hand in hers; and not doubting what the answer would be, she kissed her in the old French-Canadian fashion, on both cheeks. “Farewell, Madame,” she said, turning towards the Reverend Mother.

“God bless thee, my daughter. It grieves my heart to send you forth on such a night; but you would not rest even if I sought to detain you, therefore go in peace. Michel will see you safely to your journey’s end!”

And so once more, with the snow whitening her black cloak and the Indian lad’s bearskin, and followed by Bob, Loïs went forth. Surely she was nearing the end!

“Roger, do you not hear some one knocking at the outer door? I could almost think I heard old Bob bark. There it is again.” And truly a dog’s sharp imperative bark rose loud and clear on the still night air.

Without answering, Roger rose, left the room, and opened the front door, which led out into the street. He was almost thrown backwards by the sudden rush of the big wolf-hound, which sprang upon him with a bark of recognition, and then bounded past. He was followed by two figures, and then the door was quickly pushed back to keep out the snow which came drifting in.

“Roger!” and Loïs, throwing back her hood, stood before him.

“Oh, Loïs, my darling!”

In the unexpected joy of that moment, the strong man’s pride gave way; the love which had been so long kept in check rose all powerful, and without uttering a word more, he gathered her in his arms and held her in a passionate embrace.

“Who is it? What has happened?” said Charles, coming out, the dog leaping round him.

“Look!” said Roger proudly, his voice trembling with emotion, as, still encircling Loïs with his arm, he almost carried her into the sitting-room, and, placing her in the armchair Charles had vacated, began loosening her cloak.

In that second of time the man’s face had utterly changed. His youth seemed to have come back to him; the smile on his lips, the light in his eye, shone down upon Loïs until she could hardly bear it, and, closing her eyes, the tears rolled down her face. It was more than she had dared hope for. Together! she had found them together, and it was as if all her strength forsook her with the accomplished task. She who had been so brave broke down now; she had no longer any need for strength. The touch of his hand, the few caressing words which escaped him, told her that from henceforth the burden of life was lifted from her shoulders, that the great harmony of perfect love for which she had so patiently waited was hers at last.

“Oh, Roger!” she repeated, and her arms were round his neck, her head upon his shoulder, and, as if the floodgates of her soul had opened, her sobs filled the room. Truly the clouds had broken at last, and even as she wept she saw the rift and the blue sky shining forth, and she knew that the light of a new day was dawning for her and for Roger.

“Well, Loïs, have you no word for me?” said Charles reproachfully.

She sprang up, exclaiming,—

“My dear brother, forgive me. I came to find you and take you home.”

“And instead of one you have found two,” said Charles, kissing her. “My brave sister, you deserve to be rewarded after such a quest. We will all go home together. Surely if you came through the snow alone with Jim, we can return the same way. What do you say, Roger?”

“As soon as your strength permits it we will go,” answered Roger. “I saw that Madame who came here yesterday again this morning, and she promised to send me the passes necessary for us to get through that part of the country still held by the French; once we receive them we can start—at least, as soon as you feel strong enough.”

“Then we shall not be here much longer,” said Charles. “The sight of Loïs seems to have given me back my strength. We must be home for Christmas. Jim, good Jim,” he said, patting the Indian boy’s head, as he crouched before the fire.

“I called him Jim when he was quite a little chap,” said Charles. “He has run my commissions ever since he was able to run at all. You’ll stay with us always now, Jim? After this last exploit of bringing Loïs up to Quebec we can’t part with you.”

“Jim never leave you, Nosa,”[8] answered the lad, raising his eyes, full of a dog-like devotion, to Charles’ face.

[Footnote 8: Father—Master.]

“That is well. We will all go home together.”

For the first time in her life Loïs knew what it was to be made much of, to be cared for and thought for; she who had always cared for others. They remained a week in Quebec, during which time Charles regained his strength with marvellous rapidity. It seemed almost as if Loïs had brought the breath of life with her from the old home. During that week Loïs visited the battle-field on the Plains of Abraham, and all the spots which from henceforth would be landmarks in the history of Quebec. Roger was, moreover, busy making preparations for the homeward journey; sleighs were bought, strong horses to draw them, furs to wrap themselves in, and a goodly store of provisions for the journey. They were not going alone; besides his two faithful servants, a company of Roger’s Rangers volunteered to accompany them; so that when they started from Quebec they mustered about a score of souls. Loïs was like a queen amongst them. General Levis had sent them free passes through the French lines, so that no difficulties arose to impede their rapid progress.

The land was icebound, the cold intense, but the weather brilliant. Down the great St. Lawrence they went; across country, as only men born in the land and knowing every inch of the ground they traversed could have done. Home, home, was the watchword, before which every hardship seemed of no account.

“Father Nat! mother! here they are coming up the hill!” and Susie dashed into the kitchen.

No need to say who were coming.

“Oh, my lads, my lads!” cried Father Nat, and bareheaded as he was, he strode out through the garden into the high road, and stood with his arms stretched out to welcome the children home.

From far and near, from villages and lonely farmhouses, in sleighs, on foot, by land in the most primitive conveyances, skating along the icebound lakes and rivers, the people came flocking to Marshwood to celebrate Roger the Ranger’s and Loïs Langlade’s wedding-day.

Never in the memory of man had such a Christmas Eve been witnessed. Brightly the sun shone on the glistening snow, as the bride in her sleigh, decorated with holly and evergreens, with white bearskins wrapping her round, was driven by Father Nat himself down to the village church, amid the shouts and joy-wishes of the crowd lining the hill-side and the long village street. Roger’s Rangers had mustered in full force to do their Captain honour, and very gay they looked in their red shirts and tan gaiters as they filed into the church after the bridal party.

There were few dry eyes in that assembly as the old minister rose to address them, and in simple, strong words reminded them of the dark days and the sorrows through which they had all passed. He spoke of the noble examples which had been set to them by men such as Wolfe and Howe, and others whose nameless graves were not without due honour. “And surely,” he added in conclusion, “we New Englanders are more than ever bound to bring up our children in the true faith, free men, lovers of that liberty for which so many have bled, remembering always that the lives of great men are landmarks, pointing those that come after to like deeds of high honour, not of idle acquiescence in the past, but to be up and doing, regenerating the earth by love, peace, and goodwill, even as the Christ, whose birthday we shall celebrate to-morrow, brought peace and goodwill to man.”

The merry-making lasted a whole week, and many of those who had come from afar lingered still longer. Amongst the number were William Parkmann and his young wife, and with them they had brought a sister of the former, Elizabeth Parkmann, who took so kindly to the homely life of the Marshes, and more especially to the master of Alpha Marsh, that Father Nat, radiant with joy, said to John Cleveland, as they sat together in the chimney corner, “We shall see Marcus in the pulpit yet, and Charles and Roger reigning in my stead.”

“Amen, so be it!” answered the minister.


Six days after the battle on the Plains of Abraham, General Levis appeared before Quebec, to find that the fortress had capitulated. His indignation knew no bounds. He had been educated in General Montcalm’s school, and would not recognise that France was defeated. With a handful of about three thousand men, the remnant of the French army, he retired at first to Jacques Cartier, and afterwards to Montreal, and coolly decided that he would continue the war and re-conquer Quebec. Of such stuff heroes are made. They do not know when they are vanquished!

In the month of April 1760, two French ships, the Atalanta and Pomona, having on board ammunition and the necessary siege materials, slowly descended the St. Lawrence, profiting by a narrow channel which a sudden thaw had opened out right through the middle of the river. The troops, consisting of three thousand regulars and two thousand Canadians and savages, marched with great difficulty through the half-melted snow, until one morning they reached that very Plain of Abraham where Wolfe and Montcalm had fought their mortal duel.

General Murray, Governor of Quebec, immediately ordered a sortie, and offered battle to the little French army. He had at his command four or five thousand men and twenty-two pieces of artillery.

It was the 28th of April, 1760.

The assault of the French was terrific, the very impetus of despair. The Canadians charged, having fastened knives into the ends of their guns to supply the want of bayonets. The English artillery mowed down their ranks, but still they advanced with drums beating furiously to the charge. To repair their defeat, to die or to conquer, that was their sole object, and, thus animated, they threw themselves on the English with such fury that they forced them to retreat, and take refuge in Quebec; but not before they had left twelve hundred dead upon that fatal field. The French themselves had their brave general, Bourlamaque, severely wounded, and lost eight hundred men, the whole corps of Grenadiers!

Nothing daunted, General Levis laid siege to Quebec. The cannon which had been taken from the English served him well, but he lacked ammunition.

“If only one ship would come from France to our assistance before the English fleet arrives, Quebec would once more be ours, and the white lilies of France would float from her ramparts,” exclaimed General Levis, gazing out to sea, watching with the yearning of his heroic heart for the succour which would restore his lost prestige.

It was on the evening of the 15th of May when in the distant horizon sails were visible. Besieged and besiegers alike strained their eyes to recognise from whence they came. Were they English or French ships? It is easy to conceive the agonising suspense which filled every heart. The English historian and eye-witness, Knox, has graphically described it as follows:—

“We stood gazing for some time up the river in an inexpressible state of anxiety, until the sails became clearly visible, and we knew they were the advance ships of the English fleet! It is impossible to describe the scene which followed. Men and officers leapt on to the ramparts facing the French army, and, waving their hats, gave vent for upwards of an hour to hurrahs and shouts of delight. We had suffered much during the siege, and our deliverance was therefore doubly welcome.”

The news was greeted in England with almost equal enthusiasm.

“Happy, happy day!” wrote Pitt. “My joy and satisfaction are beyond all expression.”

But still, though forced to raise the siege, having lost their two solitary ships, and obliged to retire once more to Montreal, the remaining handful of French soldiers and Canadians would not yield. Under the influence of a fixed idea these last defenders of Canada seemed literally to have gone mad. Three English armies of forty thousand men surrounded General Levis and his three thousand six hundred soldiers who had taken refuge in Montreal. Montreal was an open town, having round it only a low wall, originally intended to defend it from the attacks of the savages. Of course all idea of defence was impossible. Vaudreuil consented therefore to capitulate.

But Levis, indignant at a clause in the capitulation in which General Amherst refused the honours of war to his heroic troops, would not lay down his sword, and retired with two thousand men to the Island of St. Helen; and only upon the Governor Vaudreuil’s formal command did he at last yield, and laid down his arms on September 8th, 1760, protesting to the last against the treatment of the French troops, who, he declared, “merited more attention from Monsieur de Vaudreuil, and more esteem from General Amherst.”

Thus this terrible war, which had caused such a fearful sacrifice of human life, and such great suffering, was over. The unhappy French soldiers were sent on board English ships, and, in the midst of one of the most terrific storms on record, bade adieu to the land they had fought so bravely to retain for their own. But they left behind them a reputation which, as time goes on, and events are seen through the halo of the past, grows in magnitude. England herself glories in having vanquished such almost unconquerable defenders of the soil; and their beloved General Montcalm lies in no unhonoured grave. In raising a monument to their own victorious Hero, the conquerors did not forget the great vanquished Hero. Side by side they stand in the fair city of Quebec, telling of noble deeds and spotless fame—“Wolfe and Montcalm. With courage they faced death. History has united them in glory, and Posterity has erected this monument to their memory.” A noble epitaph, for noble men!