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Lazarre
by Mary Hartwell Catherwood
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Our Iroquois went north before snow flew, and the cabins stood empty, leaves drifting through fire-holes in the bark thatch.

There have been students greedy of knowledge. I seemed hollow with the fasting of a lifetime. My master at first tried to bind me to times; he had never encountered so boundless an appetite. As soon as I woke in the morning I reached for a book, and as days became darker, for tinder to light a candle. I studied incessantly, dashing out at intervals to lake or woods, and returning after wild activity, with increased zest to the printed world. My mind appeared to resume a faculty it had suspended, and to resume with incredible power. Magnetized by books, I cared for nothing else. That first winter I gained hold on English and Latin, on French reading, mathematics, geography, and history. My master was an Oxford man, and when roused from dawdling, a scholar. He grew foolishly proud and fond of what he called my prodigious advance.

De Chaumont's library was a luscious field, and Doctor Chantry was permitted to turn me loose in it, so that the books were almost like my own. I carried them around hid in my breast; my coat-skirts were weighted with books. There were Plutarch's Lives in the old French of Amyot, over which I labored; a French translation of Homer; Corneille's tragedies; Rochefoucauld; Montaigne's essays, in ten volumes; Thomson's poems, and Chesterfield's letters, in English; the life of Petrarch; three volumes of Montesquieu's works; and a Bible; which I found greatly to my taste. It was a wide and catholic taste.

De Chaumont spent nearly all that autumn and winter in Castorland, where he was building his new manor and founding his settlement called Le Rayville. As soon as I became a member of his household his patriarchal kindness was extended to me, though he regarded me simply as an ambitious half-breed.

The strong place which he had built for his first holding in the wilderness thus grew into a cloistered school for me. It has vanished from the spot where it stood, but I shall forever see it between lake and forest.

Annabel de Chaumont openly hated the isolation of the place, and was happy only when she could fill it with guests. But Madame de Ferrier evidently loved it, remaining there with Paul and Ernestine. Sometimes I did not see her for days together. But Mademoiselle de Chaumont, before her departure to her Baltimore convent for the winter, amused herself with my education. She brought me an old book of etiquette in which young gentlemen were admonished not to lick their fingers or crack bones with their teeth at table. Nobody else being at hand she befooled with Doctor Chantry and me, and I saw for the first time, with surprise, an old man's infatuation with a poppet.

It was this foolishness of her brother's which Miss Chantry could not forgive De Chaumont's daughter. She was incessant in her condemnation, yet unmistakably fond in her English way of the creature she condemned. Annabel loved to drag my poor master in flowery chains before his relative. She would make wreaths of crimson leaves for his bald head, and exhibit him grinning like a weak-eyed Bacchus. Once he sat doting beside her at twilight on a bench of the wide gallery while his sister, near by, kept guard over their talk. I passed them, coming back from my tramp, with a glowing branch in my hand. For having set my teeth in the scarlet tart udder of a sumach, all frosted with delicate fretwork, I could not resist bringing away some of its color.

"Did you get that for me?" called Annabel. I mounted the steps to give it to her, and she said, "Thank you, Lazarre Williams. Every day you learn some pretty new trick. Doctor Chantry has not brought me anything from the woods in a long while."

Doctor Chantry stirred his gouty feet and looked hopelessly out at the landscape.

"Sit here by your dearest Annabel," said Mademoiselle de Chaumont.

Her governess breathed the usual sigh of disgust.

I sat by my dearest Annabel, anxious to light my candle and open my books. She shook the frizzes around her cheeks and buried her hands under the scarlet branch in her lap.

"Do you know, Lazarre Williams, I have to leave you?"

I said I was sorry to hear it.

"Yes, I have to go back to my convent, and drag poor Miss Chantry with me, though she is a heretic and bates the forms of our religion. But she has to submit, and so do I, because my father will have nobody but an English governess."

"Mademoiselle," spoke Miss Chantry, "I would suggest that you sit on a chair by yourself."

"What, on one of those little crowded chairs?" said Annabel.

She reached out her sly hand for mine and drew it under cover of the sumach branch.

"I have been thinking about your rank a great deal, Lazarre Williams, and wondering what it is."

"If you thought more about your own it would be better," said Miss Chantry.

"We are Americans here," said Annabel. "All are equal, and some are free. I am only equal. Must your dearest Annabel obey you about the chair, Miss Chantry?"

"I said I would suggest that you sit on a chair by yourself."

"I will, dear. You know I always follow your suggestions."

I felt the hand that held mine tighten its grip in a despairing squeeze. Annabel suddenly raised the branch high above her head with both arms, and displayed Doctor Chantry's hand and mine clasped tenderly in her lap. She laughed until even Miss Chantry was infected, and the doctor tittered and wiped his eyes.

"Watch your brother, Miss Chantry—don't watch me! You thought he was squeezing my hand—and he thought so too! Lazarre Williams is just out of the woods and doesn't know any better. But Doctor Chantry—he is older than my father!"

"We wished to oblige you, mademoiselle," I said. But the poor English gentleman tittered on in helpless admiration. He told me privately—"I never saw another girl like her. So full of spirits, and so frank!"

Doctor Chantry did not wear his disfiguring horn spectacles when Annabel was near. He wrote a great deal of poetry while the blow of parting from her was hanging over him, and read it to me of mornings, deprecating my voiceless contempt. I would hear him quarreling with a servant in the hall; for the slightest variation in his comfort engendered rages in him that were laughable. Then he entered, red-nosed, red-eyed, and bloodlessly shivering, with a piece of paper covered by innumerable small characters.

"Good morning, my lad," he would say.

"Good morning, Doctor Chantry," I answered.

"Here are a few little stanzas which I have just set down. If you have no objection I will read them."

I must have listened like a trapped bear, sitting up and longing to get at him, for he usually finished humbly, folding his paper and putting it away in his breast. There was reason to believe that he spent valuable hours copying all these verses for Annabel de Chaumont. But there is no evidence that she carried them with her when she and her governess departed in a great coach all gilt and padding. Servants and a wagon load of baggage and supplies accompanied De Chaumont's daughter on the long journey to her Baltimore convent.

Shaking in every nerve and pale as a sheet, my poor master watched her out of sight. He said he should not see his sister again until spring; and added that he was a fool, but when a creature of light came across his path he could not choose but worship. His affections had been blighted by a disappointment in youth, but he had thought he might at least bask in passing sunshine, though fated to unhappiness. I was ashamed to look at him, or to give any sign of overhearing his weakness, and exulted mightily in my youth, despising the enchantments of a woman. Madame de Ferrier watched the departure from another side of the gallery, and did not witness my poor master's breakdown. She came and talked to him, and took more notice of him than I had ever seen her take before.

In a day or two he was quite himself, plodding at the lessons, suddenly furious at the servants, and giving me fretful histories of his wrongs when brandy and water were not put by his bedside at night, or a warming-pan was not passed between his sheets.

About this time I began to know without being taught and without expressing it in words, that there is a natural law of environment which makes us grow like the company we keep. During the first six months of my stay in De Chaumont's house Doctor Chantry was my sole companion. I looked anxiously into the glass on my dressing-table, dreading to see a reflection of his pettiness. I saw a face with large features, eager in expression. The eyes were hazel, and bluish around the iris rims, the nose aquiline, the chin full, the head high, and round templed. The hair was sunny and wavy, not dark and tight fitting like that of my Indian father and mother. There would be always a scar across my eyebrow. I noticed that the lobe of my ear was not deeply divided from my head, but fashioned close to it in triangular snugness, though I could not have said so. Regular life and abundant food, and the drive of purpose, were developing all my parts. I took childish pleasure in watching my Indian boyhood go, and vital force mounting every hour.

Time passed without marking until January. The New England Thanksgiving we had not then heard of; and Christmas was a holy day of the church. On a January afternoon Madame de Ferrier sent Ernestine to say that she wished to see Doctor Chantry and me.

My master was asleep by the fire in an armchair. I looked at his disabled feet, and told Ernestine I would go with her alone. She led me to a wing of the house.

Even an Indian boy could see through Annabel de Chaumont. But who might fathom Madame de Ferrier? Every time I saw her, and that was seldom, some change made her another Madame de Ferrier, as if she were a thousand women in one. I saw her first a white clad spirit, who stood by my head when I awoke; next, a lady who rose up and bowed to me; then a beauty among dancers; afterwards, a little girl running across the turf, or a kind woman speaking to my master. Often she was a distant figure, coming and going with Paul and Ernestine in De Chaumont's woods. If we encountered, she always said, "Good day, monsieur," and I answered "Good day, madame."

I had my meals alone with Doctor Chantry, and never questioned this custom, from the day I entered the house. De Chaumont's chief, who was over the other servants, and had come with him from his chateau near Blois, waited upon me, while Doctor Chantry was served by another man named Jean. My master fretted at Jean. The older servant paid no attention to that.

Madame de Ferrier and I had lived six months under the same roof as strangers. Consciousness plowed such a direct furrow in front of me that I saw little on either side of it. She was a name, that I found written in the front of the missal, and copied over and over down foolscap paper in my practice of script:

"Eagle Madeleine Marie de Ferrier." "Eagle Madeleine Marie de Ferrier."

She stood in her sitting room, which looked upon the lake, and before a word passed between us I saw she was unlike any of her former selves. Her features were sharpened and whitened. She looked beyond me with gray colored eyes, and held her lips apart.

"I have news. The Indian brought me this letter from Albany."

I could not help glancing curiously at the sheet in her hand, spotted on the back with broken red wafers. It was the first letter I had ever seen. Doctor Chantry told me he received but one during the winter from his sister, and paid two Spanish reals in postage for it, besides a fee and some food and whisky to the Indian who made the journey to deliver such parcels. It was a trying and an important experience to receive a letter. I was surprised that Madame Tank had recommended my sending one into the Wisconsin country.

"Count de Chaumont is gone; and I must have advice."

"Madame," I said, "Doctor Chantry was asleep, but I will wake him and bring him here."

"No. I will tell you. Monsieur, my Cousin Philippe is dead."

It might have shocked me more if I had known she had a Cousin Philippe. I said stupidly:

"Is he?"

"Cousin Philippe was my husband, you understand."

"Madame, are you married?"

"Of course!" she exclaimed. And I confessed to myself that in no other way could Paul be accounted for.

"But you are here alone?"

Two large tears ran down her face.

"You should understand the De Ferriers are poor, monsieur, unless something can be saved from our estates that the Bonapartes have given away. Cousin Philippe went to see if we could recover any part of them. Count de Chaumont thought it a favorable time. But he was too old for such a journey; and the disappointments at the end of it."

"Old! Was he old, madame?"

"Almost as old as my father."

"But you are very young."

"I was only thirteen when my father on his deathbed married me to Cousin Philippe. We were the last of our family. Now Cousin Philippe is dead and Paul and I are orphans!"

She felt her loss as Paul might have felt his. He was gurgling at Ernestine's knee in the next room.

"I want advice," she said; and I stood ready to give it, as a man always is; the more positively because I knew nothing of the world.

"Cousin Philippe said I must go to France, for Paul's sake, and appeal myself to the empress, who has great influence over the emperor. His command was to go at once."

"Madame, you cannot go in midwinter."

"Must I go at all?" she cried out passionately. "Why don't you tell me a De Ferrier shall not crawl the earth before a Bonaparte! You—of all men! We are poor and exiles because we were royalists—are royalists—we always shall be royalists! I would rather make a wood-chopper of Paul than a serf to this Napoleon!"

She checked herself, and motioned to a chair.

"Sit down, monsieur. Pardon me that I have kept you standing."

I placed the chair for her, but she declined it, and we continued to face each other.

"Madame," I said, "you seem to blame me for something. What have I done?"

"Nothing, monsieur."

"I will now ask your advice. What do you want me to do that I have not done?"

"Monsieur, you are doing exactly what I want you to do."

"Then you are not displeased with me?"

"I am more pleased with you every time I see you. Your advice is good. I cannot go in midwinter."

"Are you sure your cousin wanted you to make this journey?"

"The notary says so in this letter. Philippe died in the farm-house of one of our peasants, and the new masters could not refuse him burial in the church where De Ferriers have lain for hundreds of years. He was more fortunate than my father."

This interview with Madame de Ferrier in which I cut so poor a figure, singularly influenced me. It made me restless, as if something had entered my blood. In January the real spring begins, for then sap starts, and the lichens seem to quicken. I felt I was young, and rose up against lessons all day long and part of the night. I rushed in haste to the woods or the frozen lake, and wanted to do mighty deeds without knowing what to undertake. More than anything else I wanted friends of my own age. To see Doctor Chantry dozing and hear him grumbling, no longer remained endurable; for he reminded me that my glad days were due and I was not receiving them. Worse than that, instead of proving grateful for all his services, I became intolerant of his opinion.

"De Chaumont will marry her," he said when he heard of Madame de Ferrier's widowhood. "She will never be obliged to sue to the Bonapartes. The count is as fond of her as he is of his daughter."

"Must a woman marry a succession of fathers?"—I wanted to know.

My master pointed out that the count was a very well favored and youthful looking man. His marriage to Madame de Ferrier became even more distasteful. She and her poppet were complete by themselves. Wedding her to any one was casting indignity upon her.

Annabel de Chaumont was a countess and Madame de Ferrier was a marquise. These names, I understood, meant that they were ladies to be served and protected. De Chaumont's daughter was served and protected, and as far as he was allowed to do so, he served and protected the daughter of his fellow countryman.

"But the pride of emigres," Doctor Chantry said, "was an old story in the De Chaumont household. There were some Saint-Michels who lived in a cabin, strictly on their own means, refusing the count's help, yet they had followed him to Le Rayville in Castorland. Madame de Ferrier lived where her husband had placed her, in a wing of De Chaumont's house, refusing to be waited on by anybody but Ernestine, paying what her keeping cost; when she was a welcome guest."

My master hobbled to see her. And I began to think about her day and night, as I had thought about my books; an isolated little girl in her early teens, mother and widow, facing a future like a dead wall, with daily narrowing fortunes. The seclusion in which she lived made her sacred like a religious person. I did not know what love was, and I never intended to dote, like my poor master. Before the end of January, however, such a change worked in me that I was as fierce for the vital world as I had been for the world of books.



VII

A trick of the eyes, a sweet turning of the mouth corners, the very color of the hair—some irresistible physical trait, may compel a preference in us that we cannot control; especially when we first notice these traits in a woman. My crying need grew to be the presence of Madame de Ferrier. It was youth calling to youth in that gorgeous winter desert.

Her windows were hoar-frost furred without and curtained within. Though I knew where they were I got nothing by tramping past and glancing up. I used to saunter through the corridor that led to her rooms, startled yet pleased if Ernestine came out on an errand. Then I would close my book and nod, and she would courtesy.

"Oh, by the way," I would turn to remark, "I was passing, and thought I would knock and ask how Madame de Ferrier is to-day. But you can tell me."

When assured of Madame de Ferrier's health I would continue:

"And Paul—how is Paul?"

Paul carried himself marvelously. He was learning to walk. Ernestine believed the lie about knocking, and I felt bolder every time I told it.

The Indian part of me thought of going hunting and laying slaughtered game at their door. But it was a doubtful way of pleasing, and the bears hibernated, and the deer were perhaps a day's journey in the white wastes.

I used to sing in the clear sharp air when I took to the frozen lake and saw those heights around me. I look back upon that winter, across what befell me afterwards, as a time of perfect peace; before virgin snows melted, when the world was a white expanse of innocence.

Our weather-besieged manor was the center of it. Vaguely I knew there was life on the other side of great seas, and that New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New Orleans were cities in which men moved and had their being. My country, the United States, had bought from Napoleon Bonaparte a large western tract called Louisiana, which belonged to France. A new state named Ohio was the last added to the roll of commonwealths. Newspapers, which the Indian runner once or twice brought us from Albany, chronicled the doings of Aaron Burr, Vice-President of the United States, who had recently drawn much condemnation on himself by a brutal duel.

"Aaron Burr was here once," said my master.

"What is he like?" I inquired.

"A lady-killer."

"But he is next in dignity to the President."

Doctor Chantry sniffed.

"What is even the President of a federation like this, certain to fall to pieces some fine day!"

I felt offended; for my instinct was to weld people together and hold them so welded.

"If I were a president or a king," I told him, "and men conspired to break the state, instead of parleying I would hang them up like dogs."

"Would you?"

Despising the country in which he found himself, my master took no trouble to learn its politics. But since history had rubbed against us in the person of Jerome Bonaparte, I wanted to know what the world was doing.

"Colonel Burr had a pleasant gentleman with him at the manor," Doctor Chantry added. "His name was Harmon Blennerhassett; a man of good English stock, though having a wild Irish strain, which is deplorable."

The best days of that swift winter were Sundays, when my master left off snapping, and stood up reverently in our dining-room to read his church service. Madame de Ferrier and Paul and Ernestine came from their apartment to join in the Protestant ritual; and I sat beside them so constantly that the Catholic priest who arrived at Easter to dress up the souls of the household, found me in a state of heresy.

I have always thought a woman needs a dark capping of hair, whatever her complexion, to emphasize her beauty. For light locks seem to fray out to nothing, and waste to air instead of fitly binding a lovely countenance. Madame de Ferrier's hair was of exactly the right color. Her eyebrows were distinct dark lines, and the lashes were so dense that you noticed the curling rim they made around her gray eyes. Whether the gift of looking to your core is beauty or not, I can only say she had it. And I could not be sworn what her features were; such life and expression played over and changed them every moment.

As to her figure, it was just in its roundness and suppleness, and had a lightness of carriage that I have never seen equaled. There was charm in looking at without approaching her that might have satisfied me indefinitely, if De Chaumont had not come home.

Ernestine herself made the first breach in that sacred reserve. The old woman met me in the hall, courtesied, and passed as usual. I turned behind the broad ribbons which hung down her back from cap to heels, and said:

"Oh, by the way, Ernestine, how is Madame de Ferrier? I was going to knock—"

And Ernestine courtesied again, and opened the door, standing aside for me to enter.

Madame de Ferrier sat on a bearskin before the hearth with Paul, who climbed over her and gave her juicy kisses. There was a deep wood fire, upheld by very tall andirons having cups in their tops, which afterwards I learned were called posset cups. She was laughing so that her white teeth showed, and she made me welcome like a playmate; remaining on the rug, and bidding Ernestine set a chair for me near the fire.

"It is very kind of you to spare me some time, monsieur," said Madame de Ferrier. She admonished Paul—"Don't choke your little mother."

I told her boldly that nothing but the dread of disturbing her kept me from knocking every day. We had always walked into the lodges without knocking, and I dwelt on this as one of my new accomplishments.

"I am not studying night and day," she answered. "Sophie Saint-Michel and her mother were my teachers, and they are gone now, one to heaven and the other to Castorland."

Remembering what Annabel de Chaumont said about holy Sophie I inquired if she had been religious.

"The Saint-Michels were better than religious; both mother and daughter were eternally patient with the poor count, whose troubles unsettled his reason. They had no dear old Ernestine, and were reduced to the hardest labor. I was a little child when we came to America, yet even then the spirit of the Saint-Michels seemed to me divine."

"I wish I could remember when I was a little child."

"Can you not recall anything?"

"I have a dim knowledge of objects."

"What objects?"

"St. Regis church, and my taking first communion; and the hunting, the woods and water, boats, snowshoes, the kind of food I liked; Skenedonk and all my friends—but I scarcely knew them as persons until I awoke."

"What is your first distinct recollection?"

"Your face."

"Mine?"

"Yes, yours, madame. I saw it above me when you came into the room at night."

She looked past me and said:

"You have fortunately missed some of the most terrible events that ever happened in the world, monsieur. My mother and father, my two brothers, Cousin Philippe and I, were in prison together. My mother and brothers were taken, and we were left."

I understood that she spoke of the Terror, about which I was eager to know every then unwritten detail. Doctor Chantry had told me many things. It fascinated me far more than ancient history, which my master was inclined to press upon me.

"How can you go back to France, madame?"

"That's what I ask myself every day. That life was like a strange nightmare. Yet there was our chateau, Mont-Louis, two or three days' journey east from Paris. The park was so beautiful. I think of it, and of Paul."

"And what about this country, madame? Is there nothing beautiful here?"

"The fact has been impressed on me, monsieur, that it does not belong to me. I am an emigre. In city or country my father and Cousin Philippe kept me with them. I have seen nothing of young people, except at balls. We had no intimate friends. We were always going back. I am still waiting to go back, monsieur—and refusing to go if I must."

It was plain that her life had been as restricted as mine, though the bonds were different. She was herded with old people, made a wife and mother while yet a child, nursed in shadow instead of in the hot sunshine which produced Annabel de Chaumont.

After that we met each other as comrades meet, and both of us changed like the face of nature, when the snow went and warm winds came.

This looking at her without really approaching was going on innocently when one day Count de Chaumont rode up to the manor, his horse and his attendant servants and horses covered with mud, filling the place with a rush of life.

He always carried himself as if he felt extremely welcome in this world. And though a man ought to be welcome in his own house, especially when he has made it a comfortable refuge for outsiders, I met him with the secret resentment we bear an interloper.

He looked me over from head to foot with more interest than he had ever before shown.

"We are getting on, we are getting on! Is it Doctor Chantry, or the little madame, or the winter housing? Our white blood is very much in evidence. When Chief Williams comes back to the summer hunting he will not know his boy."

"The savage is inside yet, monsieur," I told him. "Scratch me and see."

"Not I," he laughed.

"It is late for thanks, but I will now thank you for taking me into your house."

"He has learned gratitude for little favors! That is Madame de Ferrier's work."

"I hope I may be able to do something that will square our accounts."

"That's Doctor Chantry's work. He is full of benevolent intentions—and never empties himself. When you have learned all your master knows, what are you going to do with it?"

"I am going to teach our Indians."

"Good. You have a full day's work before you. Founding an estate in the wilderness is nothing compared to that. You have more courage than De Chaumont."

Whether the spring or the return of De Chaumont drove me out, I could no longer stay indoors, but rowed all day long on the lake or trod the quickening woods. Before old Pierre could get audience with his house accounts, De Chaumont was in Madame de Ferrier's rooms, inspecting the wafer blotched letter. He did not appear as depressed as he should have been by the death of his old friend.

"These French have no hearts," I told Doctor Chantry.

He took off his horn spectacles and wiped his eyes, responding:

"But they find the way to ours!"

Slipping between islands in water paths that wound as a meadow stream winds through land, I tried to lose myself from the uneasy pain which followed me everywhere.

There may be people who look over the scheme of their lives with entire complacence. Mine has been the outcome of such strange misfortunes as to furnish evidence that there is another fate than the fate we make ourselves. In that early day I felt the unseen lines tighten around me. I was nothing but a young student of unknown family, able to read and write, to talk a little English, with some knowledge of history, geography, mathematics, and Latin. Strength and scope came by atoms. I did not know then as I know now that I am a slow grower, even when making gigantic effort. An oak does not accumulate rings with more deliberation than I change and build myself.

My master told me a few days later that the count decreed Madame de Ferrier must go back to France. He intended to go with her and push her claim; and his daughter and his daughter's governess would bear them company. Doctor Chantry and I contemplated each other, glaring in mutual solemnity. His eyes were red and watery, and the nose sharpened its cone.

"When are they going?" I inquired.

"As soon as arrangements for comfortable sailing can be made. I wish I were going back to England. I shall have to save twenty-five years before I can go, but the fund is started."

If I saved a hundred and twenty-five years I could not go anywhere; for I had nothing to save. The worthlessness of civilization rushed over me. When I was an Indian the boundless world was mine. I could build a shelter, and take food and clothes by my strength and skill. My boat or my strong legs carried me to all boundaries.

I did not know what ailed me, but chased by these thoughts to the lake, I determined not to go back again to De Chaumont's house. I was sick, and my mother woods opened her arms. As if to show me what I had thrown away to haunt the cages of men, one of those strange sights which is sometimes seen in that region appeared upon the mountain. No one can tell who lights the torch. A thread of fire ran up like an opening seam, broadened, and threw out pink ravelings. The flame wavered, paled by daylight, but shielding itself with strong smoke, and leaped from ledge to ledge. I saw mighty pines, standing one moment green, and the next, columns of fire. So the mass diverged, or ran together until a mountain of fire stood against the sky, and stretched its reflection, a glowing furnace, across the water.

Flecks of ash sifted on me in the boat. I felt myself a part of it, as I felt myself a part of the many sunsets which had burned out on that lake. Before night I penetrated to the heart of an island so densely overgrown, even in spring when trees had no curtains, that you were lost as in a thousand mile forest. I camped there in a dry ravine, with hemlock boughs under and over me, and next day rolled broken logs, and cut poles and evergreens with my knife, to make a lodge.

It was boyish, unmannerly conduct; but the world had broken, to chaos around me; and I set up the rough refuge with skill. Some books, my fish line and knife, were always in the boat with me, as well as a box of tinder. I could go to the shore, get a breakfast out of the water, and cook it myself. Yet all that day I kept my fast, having no appetite.

Perhaps in the bottom of my heart I expected somebody to be sent after me, bearing large inducements to return. We never can believe we are not valuable to our fellows. Pierre or Jean, or some other servants in the house, might perforce nose me out. I resolved to hide if such an envoy approached and to have speech with nobody. We are more or less ashamed of our secret wounds, and I was not going to have Pierre or Jean report that I sat sulking in the woods on an island.

It was very probable that De Chaumont's household gave itself no trouble about my disappearance. I sat on my hemlock floor until the gray of twilight and studied Latin, keeping my mind on the text; save when a squirrel ventured out and glided bushy trained and sinuous before me, or the marble birches with ebony limbs, drew me to gloat on them. The white birch is a woman and a goddess. I have associated her forever with that afternoon. Her poor cousin the poplar, often so like her as to deceive you until ashen bough and rounded leaf instruct the eye, always grows near her like a protecting servant. The poor cousin rustles and fusses. But my calm lady stands in perfect beauty, among pines straight as candles, never tremulous, never trivial. All alabaster and ebony, she glows from a distance; as, thinking of her, I saw another figure glow through the loop-holes of the woods.

It was Madame de Ferrier.



VIII

A leap of the heart and dizziness shot through me and blurred my sight. The reality of Madame de Ferrier's coming to seek me surpassed all imaginings.

She walked with quick accustomed step, parting the second growth in her way, having tracked me from the boat. Seeing my lodge in the ravine she paused, her face changing as the lake changes; and caught her breath. I stood exultant and ashamed down to the ground.

"Monsieur, what are you doing here?" Madame de Ferrier cried out.

"Living, madame," I responded.

"Living? Do you mean you have returned to your old habits?"

"I have returned to the woods, madame."

"You do not intend to stay here?"

"Perhaps."

"You must not do it!"

"What must I do?"

"Come back to the house. You have given us much anxiety."

I liked the word "us" until I remembered it included Count de Chaumont.

"Why did you come out here and hide yourself?"

My conduct appeared contemptible. I looked mutely at her.

"What offended you?"

"Nothing, madame."

"Did you want Doctor Chantry to lame himself hobbling around in search of you, and the count to send people out in every direction?"

"No, madame."

"What explanation will you make to the count?"

"None, madame." I raised my head. "I may go out in the woods without asking leave of Count de Chaumont."

"He says you have forsaken your books and gone back to be an Indian."

I showed her the Latin book in my hand. She glanced slightly at it, and continued to make her gray eyes pass through my marrow.

Shifting like a culprit, I inquired:

"How did you know I was here?"

"Oh, it was not hard to find you after I saw the boat. This island is not large."

"But who rowed you across the lake, madame?"

"I came by myself, and nobody except Ernestine knows it. I can row a boat. I slipped through the tunnel, and ventured."

"Madame, I am a great fool. I am not worth your venturing."

"You are worth any danger I might encounter. But you should at least go back for me."

"I will do anything for you, madame. But why should I go back?—you will not long be there."

"What does that matter? The important thing is that you should not lapse again into the Indian."

"Is any life but the life of an Indian open to me, madame?"

She struck her hands together with a scream.

"Louis! Sire!"

Startled, I dropped the book and it sprawled at her feet like the open missal. She had returned so unexpectedly to the spirit of our first meeting.

"O, if you knew what you are! During my whole life your name has been cherished by my family. We believed you would sometime come to your own. Believe in yourself!"

I seemed almost to remember and perceive what I was—as you see in mirage one inverted boat poised on another, and are not quite sure, and the strange thing is gone.

Perhaps I was less sure of the past because I was so sure of the present. A wisp of brown mist settling among the trees spread cloud behind her. What I wanted was this woman, to hide in the woods for my own. I could feed and clothe her, deck her with necklaces of garnets from the rocks, and wreaths of the delicate sand-wort flower. She said she would rather make Paul a woodchopper than a suppliant, taking the constitutional oath. I could make him a hunter and a fisherman. Game, bass, trout, pickerel, grew for us in abundance. I saw this vision with a single eye; it looked so possible! All the crude imaginings of youth colored the spring woods with vivid beauty. My face betrayed me, and she spoke to me coldly.

"Is that your house, monsieur?"

I said it was.

"And you slept there last night?"

"I can build a much better one."

"What did you have for dinner?"

"Nothing."

"What did you have for breakfast?"

"Nothing."

Evidently the life I proposed to myself to offer her would not suit my lady!

She took a lacquered box from the cover of her wrappings, and moved down the slope a few steps.

"Come here to your mother and get your supper."

I felt tears rush to my eyes. She sat down, spread a square of clean fringed linen upon the ground, and laid out crusty rounds of buttered bread that were fragrant in the springing fragrance of the woods, firm slices of cold meat, and a cunning pastry which instantly maddened me. I was ashamed to be such a wolf.

We sat with our forest table between us and ate together.

"I am hungry myself," she said.

A glorified veil descended on the world. If evening had paused while that meal was in progress it would not have surprised me. There are half hours that dilate to the importance of centuries. But when she had encouraged me to eat everything to the last crumb, she shook the fringed napkin, gathered up the lacquered box, and said she must be gone.

"Monsieur, I have overstepped the bounds of behavior in coming after you. The case was too urgent for consideration of myself. I must hurry back, for the count's people would not understand my secret errand through the tunnel. Will you show yourself at the house as soon as possible?"

I told her humbly that I would.

"But let me put you in the boat, madame."

She shook her head. "You may follow, after I am out of sight. If you fail to follow"—she turned in the act of departing and looked me through.

I told her I would not fail.

When Madame de Ferrier disappeared beyond the bushes I sat down and waited with my head between my hands, still seeing upon closed eyelids her figure, the scant frock drawn around it, her cap of dark hair under a hood, her face moving from change to change. And whether I sat a year or a minute, clouds had descended when I looked, as they often did in that lake gorge. So I waited no longer, but followed her.

The fog was brown, and capped the evening like a solid dome, pressing down to the earth, and twisting smoke fashion around my feet. It threw sinuous arms in front of me as a thing endowed with life and capable of molding itself; and when I reached my boat and pushed off on the water, a vast mass received and enveloped me.

More penetrating than its clamminess was the thought that Madame de Ferrier was out in it alone.

I tried one of the long calls we sometimes used in hunting. She might hear, and understand that I was near to help her. But it was shouting against many walls. No effort pierced the muffling substance which rolled thickly against the lungs. Remembering it was possible to override smaller craft, I pulled with caution, and so bumped lightly against the boat that by lucky chance hovered in my track.

"Is it you, madame?" I asked.

She hesitated.

"Is it you, monsieur?"

"Yes."

"I think I am lost. There is no shore. The fog closed around me so soon. I was waiting for it to lift a little."

"It may not lift until morning, madame. Let me tie your boat to mine."

"Do you know the way?"

"There is no way. We shall have to feel for the shore. But Lake George is narrow, and I know it well."

"I want to keep near you."

"Come into my boat, and let me tie the other one astern."

She hesitated again, but decided, "That would be best."

I drew the frail shells together—they seemed very frail above such depths—and helped her cross the edges. We were probably the only people on Lake George. Tinder lighted in one boat would scarcely have shown us the other, though in the sky an oval moon began to make itself seen amidst rags of fog. The dense eclipse around us and the changing light overhead were very weird.

Madame de Ferrier's hands chilled mine, and she shook in her thin cape and hood. Our garments were saturated. I felt moisture trickling down my hair and dropping on my shoulders.

She was full of vital courage, resisting the deadly chill. This was not a summer fog, lightly to be traversed. It went dank through the bones. When I had helped her to a bench, remembering there was nothing dry to wrap around her, I slipped off my coat and forcibly added its thickness to her shoulders.

"Do you think I will let you do that, monsieur?"

My teeth chattered and shocked together so it was impossible to keep from laughing, as I told her I always preferred to be coatless when I rowed a boat.

We could see each other by the high light that sometimes gilded the face, and sometimes was tarnished almost to eclipse. Madame de Ferrier crept forward, and before I knew her intention, cast my garment again around me. I helped the boat shift its balance so she would have to grasp at me for support; the chilled round shape of her arm in my hand sent waves of fire through me. With brazen cunning, moreover, that surprised myself, instead of pleading, I dictated.

"Sit beside me on the rower's bench, madame, and the coat will stretch around both of us."

Like a child she obeyed. We were indeed reduced to saving the warmth of our bodies. I shipped my oars and took one for a paddle, bidding Madame de Ferrier to hold the covering in place while I felt for the shore. She did so, her arm crossing my breast, her soft body touching mine. She was cold and still as the cloud in which we moved; but I was a god, riding triumphantly high above the world, satisfied to float through celestial regions forever, bearing in my breast an unquenchable coal of fire.

The moon played tricks, for now she was astern, and now straight ahead, in that confusing wilderness of vapor.

"Madame," I said to my companion, "why have you been persuaded to go back to France?"

She drew a deep breath.

"I have not been persuaded. I have been forced by circumstances. Paul's future is everything."

"You said you would rather make him a woodchopper than a suppliant to the Bonapartes."

"I would. But his rights are to be considered first. He has some small chance of regaining his inheritance through the influence of Count de Chaumont now. Hereafter there may be no chance. You know the fortunes and lands of all emigres were forfeited to the state. Ours have finally reached the hands of one of Napoleon's officers. I do not know what will be done. I only know that Paul must never have cause to reproach me."

I was obliged to do my duty in my place as she was doing her duty in hers; but I wished the boat would sink, and so end all journeys to France. It touched shore, on the contrary, and I grasped a rock which jutted toward us. It might be the point of an island, it might be the eastern land, as I was inclined to believe, for the moon was over our right shoulders.

Probing along with the oar I found a cove and a shallow bottom, and there I beached our craft with a great shove.

"How good the earth feels underfoot!" said Madame de Ferrier. We were both stiff. I drew the boats where they could not be floated away, and we turned our faces to the unknown. I took her unresisting arm to guide her, and she depended upon me.

This day I look back at those young figures groping through cloud as at disembodied and blessed spirits. The man's intensest tenderness, restrained by his virginhood and his awe of the supple delicate shape at his side, was put forth only in her service. They walked against bushes. He broke a stick, and with it probed every yard of the ascent which they were obliged to make. Helping his companion from bush to log, from seam to seam of the riven slope, from ledge to ledge, he brought her to a level of high forest where the fog was thinner, and branches interlaced across their faces.

The climb made Madame de Ferrier draw her breath quickly. She laughed when we ended it. Though I knew the shores as well as a hunter, it was impossible to recognize any landmark. The trees, the moss, and forest sponge under our feet, the very rocks, were changed by that weird medium. And when the fog opened and we walked as through an endless tunnel of gray revolving stone, it was into a world that never existed before and would never exist again.

There was no path. Creeping under and climbing over obstacles, sometimes enclosed by the whiteness of steam, sometimes walking briskly across lighted spaces, we reached a gorge smoking as the lake smoked in the chill of early mornings. Vapor played all its freaks on that brink. The edge had been sharply defined. But the fog shut around us like a curtain, and we dared not stir.

Below, a medallion shaped rift widened out, and showed us a scene as I have since beheld such things appear upon the stage. Within the round changing frame of wispy vapor two men sat by a fire of logs and branches. We could smell wood smoke, and hear the branches crackle, convincing us the vision was real. Behind them stood a cabin almost as rude as my shelter on the island.

One man was a grand fellow, not at all of the common order, though he was more plainly clothed than De Chaumont. His face was so familiar that I almost grasped recognition—but missed it. The whole cast was full and aquiline, and the lobe of his ear, as I noticed when light fell on his profile, sat close to his head like mine.

The other man worked his feet upon the treadle of a small wheel, which revolved like a circular table in front of him, and on this he deftly touched something which appeared to be an earthenware vessel. His thin fingers moved with spider swiftness, and shaped it with a kind of magic. He was a mad looking person, with an air of being tremendously driven by inner force. He wore mustaches the like of which I had never seen, carried back over his ears; and these hairy devices seemed to split his countenance in two crosswise.

Some broken pottery lay on the ground, and a few vessels, colored and lustrous so they shone in the firelight, stood on a stump near him.

The hollow was not a deep one, but if the men had been talking, their voices did not reach us until the curtain parted.

"You are a great fool or a great rascal, or both, Bellenger," the superior man said.

"Most people are, your highness," responded the one at the wheel. He kept it going, as if his earthenware was of more importance than the talk.

"You are living a miserable life, roving about."

"Many other Frenchmen are no better off than I am, my prince."

"True enough. I've roved about myself."

"Did you turn schoolmaster in Switzerland, prince?"

"I did. My family are in Switzerland now."

"Some of the nobles were pillaged by their peasants as well as by the government. But your house should not have lost everything."

"You are mistaken about our losses. The Orleans Bourbons have little or no revenue left. Monsieur and Artois were the Bourbons able to maintain a court about them in exile. So you have to turn potter, to help support the idiot and yourself?"

"Is your highness interested in art?"

"What have I to do with art?"

"But your highness can understand how an idea will haunt a man. It is true I live a wretched life, but I amuse myself trying to produce a perfect vase. I have broken thousands. If a shape answers my expectations, that very shape is certain to crack in the burning or run in the glaze."

"Then you don't make things to sell?"

"Oh, yes. I make noggins and crockery to sell in the towns. There is a kind of clay in these hills that suits me."

"The wonderful vase," said the other yawning, "might perhaps interest me more if some facts were not pressing for discussion. I am a man of benevolent disposition, Bellenger."

"Your royal highness—"

"Stop! I have been a revolutionist, like my poor father, whose memory you were about to touch—and I forbid it. But I am a man whose will it is to do good. It is impossible I should search you out in America to harm my royal cousin. Now I want to know the truth about him."

Madame de Ferrier had forgotten her breath. We both stood fastened on that scene in another world, guiltless of eavesdropping.

The potter shifted his eyes from side to side, seeming to follow the burr of his vessel upon the wheel.

"I find you with a creature I cannot recognize as my royal cousin. If this is he, sunk far lower than when he left France in your charge, why are two-thirds of his pension sent out from New York to another person, while you receive for his maintenance only one-third?"

The potter bounded from his wheel, letting the vessel spin off to destruction, and danced, stretching his long mustaches abroad in both hands as the ancients must have rent their clothes. He cried that he had been cheated, stripped, starved.

"I thought they were straitened in Monsieur's court," he raged, "and they have been maintaining a false dauphin!"

"As I said, Bellenger," remarked his superior, "you are either a fool or the greatest rascal I ever saw."

He looked at Bellenger attentively.

"Yet why should you want to mix clues—and be rewarded with evident misery? And how could you lose him out of your hand and remain unconscious of it? He was sent to the ends of the earth for safety—poor shattered child!—and if he is safe elsewhere, why should you be pensioned to maintain another child? They say that a Bourbon never learns anything; but I protest that a Bourbon knows well what he does know. I feel sure my uncle intends no harm to the disabled heir. Who is guilty of this double dealing? I confess I don't understand it."

Now whether by our long and silent stare we drew his regard, or chance cast his eye upward, the potter that instant saw us standing in the cloud above him. He dropped by his motionless wheel, all turned to clay himself. The eyeballs stuck from his face. He opened his mouth and screeched as if he had been started and could not leave off—

"The king!—the king!—the king!—the king!"



IX

The fool's outcry startled me less than Madame de Ferrier. She fell against me and sank downward, so that I was obliged to hold her up in my arms. I had never seen a woman swoon. I thought she was dying, and shouted to them below to come and help me.

The potter sat sprawling on the ground, and did not bestir himself to do anything. As soon as my hands and mind were free I took him by the scruff of the neck and kicked him behind with a good will. My rage at him for disregarding her state was the savage rage of an Iroquois. The other man laughed until the woods rang. Madame de Ferrier sat up in what seemed to me a miraculous manner. We bathed her temples with brandy, and put her on a cushion of leaves raked up and dried to make a seat by the fire. The other man, who helped me carry her into the ravine, stood with his hat off, as was her due. She thanked him and thanked me, half shrouding her face with her hood, abashed at finding herself lost among strangers in the night; which was my fault. I told him I had been a bad guide for a lady who had missed her way; and he said we were fortunate to reach a camp instead of stumbling into some danger.

He was much older than I, at least fourteen years, I learned afterwards, but it was like meeting Skenedonk again, or some friend from whom I had only been parted.

The heartening warmth of the fire made steam go up from our clothes; and seeing Madame de Ferrier alive once more, and the potter the other side of his wheel taking stock of his hurt, I felt happy.

We could hear in the cabin behind us a whining like that uttered by a fretful babe.

My rage at the potter ending in good nature, I moved to make some amends for my haste; but he backed off.

"You startled us," said the other man, "standing up in the clouds like ghosts. And your resemblance to one who has been dead many years is very striking, monsieur."

I said I was sorry if I had kicked the potter without warrant, but it seemed to me a base act to hesitate when help was asked for a woman.

"Yet I know little of what is right among men, monsieur," I owned. "I have been learning with a master in Count de Chaumont's manor house less than a year. Before that my life was spent in the woods with the Indians, and they found me so dull that I was considered witless until my mind awoke."

"You are a fine fellow," the man said, laying his hands on my shoulders. "My heart goes out to you. You may call me Louis Philippe. And what may I call you?"

"Lazarre."

He had a smiling good face, square, but well curved and firm. Now that I saw him fronting me I could trace his clear eyebrows, high forehead, and the laughter lines down his cheeks. He was long between the eyes and mouth, and he had a full and resolute chin.

"You are not fat, Lazarre," said Philippe, "your forehead is wide rather than receding, and you have not a double chin. Otherwise you are the image of one—Who are you?"

"I don't know."

"Don't know who you are?"

"No. We heard all that you and the potter were saying down here, and I wondered how many boys there are in America that are provided for through an agent in New York, without knowing their parents. Now that is my case."

"Do you say you have lived among the Indians?"

"Yes: among the Iroquois."

"Who placed you there?"

"No one could tell me except my Indian father; and he would not tell."

"Do you remember nothing of your childhood?"

"Nothing."

"Did you ever see Bellenger before?"

"I never saw him before to-night."

"But I saw him," said Madame de Ferrier, "in London, when I was about seven years old. It made a stronger impression on me than anything else that ever happened in my life, except"—she stopped.

"Except the taking off of my mother and brothers to the guillotine."

The man who told me to call him Louis Philippe turned toward her, with attention as careful as his avoidance when she wished to be unobserved. She rose, and came around the fire, making a deep courtesy.

"My family may not be unknown to his royal highness the Duke of Orleans. We are De Ferriers of Mont-Louis; emigres now, like many others."

"Madame, I knew your family well. They were loyal to their king."

"My father died here in America. Before we sailed we saw this man in London."

"And with him—"

"A boy."

"Do you remember the boy well?"

"I remember him perfectly."

The wailing in the cabin became louder and turned to insistent animal howls. Instead of a babe the imprisoned creature was evidently a dog. I wondered that the potter did not let him out to warm his hide at the fire.

"Did you ever see the boy again?"

"I did not see him again until he was brought to Count de Chaumont's house last summer."

"Why to De Chaumont? Le Ray de Chaumont is not one of us. He is of the new nobility. His chateau near Blois was bought by his grandfather, and he takes his name from the estate. I have heard he is in favor with Bonaparte."

"Even we of the old nobility, prince, may be reduced to seek favor of Bonaparte."

"Heaven forbid, madame. I say nothing against him; though I could say much."

"Say nothing against Count de Chaumont. Count de Chaumont befriends all emigres."

"I have nothing to say against Count de Chaumont. He is not of our party; he is of the new. Fools! If we princes had stood by each other as the friends of the Empire stand by their emperor, we could have killed the Terror."

The animal in the cabin by this time was making such doleful cries I said to the potter.

"Let him out. It is dreadful to be shut in by walls."

The potter, stooping half over and rolling stiffly from foot to foot in his walk, filled me with compunction at having been brutal to so pitiful a creature, and I hurried to open the door for him. The animal clawed vigorously inside, and the instant I pushed back the ill-fitted slabs, it strained through and rushed on all fours to the fire. Madame de Ferrier fled backward, for what I liberated could hardly be seen without dread.

It was a human being. Its features were a boy's, and the tousled hair had a natural wave. While it crouched for warmth I felt the shock of seeing a creature about my own age grinning back at me, fishy eyed and black mouthed.

"There!" Bellenger said, straightening up in his place like a bear rising from all fours. "That is the boy your De Ferriers saw in London."

I remembered the boy Madame Tank had told about. Whether myself or this less fortunate creature was the boy, my heart went very pitiful toward him. Madame de Ferrier stooped and examined, him; he made a juicy noise of delight with his mouth.

"This is not the boy you had in London, monsieur," she said to Bellenger.

The potter waved his hands and shrugged.

"You believe, madame, that Lazarre is the boy you saw in London?" said Louis Philippe.

"I am certain of it."

"What proofs have you?"

"The evidence of my eyes."

"Tell that to Monsieur!" exclaimed the potter.

"Who is Monsieur?" I asked.

"The eldest brother of the king of France is called Monsieur. The Count de Provence will be called Monsieur until he succeeds Louis XVII and is crowned Louis XVIII—if that time ever comes. He cannot be called Louis XVII"—the man who told me to call him Louis Philippe took my arm, and I found myself walking back and forth with him as in a dream while he carefully formed sentence after sentence. "Because the dauphin who died in the Temple prison was Louis XVII. But there are a few who say he did not die: that a dying child was substituted for him: that he was smuggled out and carried to America, Bellenger was the agent employed. The dauphin's sister is married to her cousin, the nephew of Monsieur. She herself believes these things; and it is certain a sum of money is sent out to America every year for his maintenance. He was reduced to imbecility when removed from the Temple. It is not known whether he will ever be fit to reign if the kingdom returns to him. No communication has been held with him. He was nine years old when removed from the Temple: he would now be in his nineteenth year. When I last saw him he was a smiling little prince with waving hair and hazel eyes, holding to his mother's hand"—

"Stop!"

The frenzy of half recollection came on me, and that which I had put away from my mind and sworn to let alone, seized and convulsed me. Dreams, and sensations, and instincts massed and fell upon me in an avalanche of conviction.

I was that uncrowned outcast, the king of France!



BOOK II

WANDERING



I

A primrose dawn of spring touched the mountains as Madame de Ferrier and I stepped into the tunnel's mouth. The wind that goes like a besom before sunrise, swept off the fog to corners of the sky, except a few spirals which still unwound from the lake. The underground path to De Chaumont's manor descended by terraces of steps and entered blackness.

A rank odor of earth filled it; and I never passed that way without hearkening for the insect-like song of the rattlesnake. The ground was slippery, and thick darkness seemed to press the soul out of the body. Yet I liked it; for when we reached the staircase of rock that entered the house, she would vanish.

And so it was.

She did say—"Good-night—and good-morning."

And I answered, "Good-morning and good-night."

We were both physically exhausted. My head swarmed as with sparkles, and a thousand emotions tore me, for I was at the age when we risk all on chances. I sat alone on the steps, unmindful of that penetrating chill of stone which increases rather than decreases, the longer you sit upon it, and thought of all that had been said by my new friend at the camp-fire, while the moon went lower and lower, the potter turned his wheel, and the idiot slept.

The mixed and oblique motives of human nature—the boy's will—worked like gigantic passions.

She had said very little to me in the boat, and I had said very little to her; not realizing that the camp talk, in which she took no part, separated us in a new way.

Sitting alone on the steps I held this imaginary conversation with her.

"I am going to France!"

"You, monsieur?"

"Yes, I!"

"How are you going?"

"I don't know; but I am going!"

"The Duke of Orleans did not mention such a thing."

"Bother the Duke of Orleans!"

"When are you going?"

"Now!"

"But it may not be best to go at this time."

"It is always best to go where you are!"

"Monsieur, do not throw away your future on an unconsidered move."

"Madame, I will throw away my eternity!"

Then I went back through the tunnel to the beach, stripped, and took a plunge to clear my head and warm my blood, rubbing off with my shirt.

On reaching my room the first thing I did was to make a bundle of everything I considered necessary and desirable. There was no reason for doing this before lying down; but with an easier mind I closed my eyes; and opened them to find sunset shining through the windows, and Doctor Chantry keeping guard in an arm-chair at my side.

"Nature has taken her revenge on you, my lad," said he. "And now I am going to take mine."

"I have slept all day!"

"Renegades who roam the woods all night must expect to sleep all day."

"How do you know I have been in the woods all night?"

"I heard you slipping up the tunnel stairs without any shoes on at daylight. I have not been able to sleep two nights on account of you."

"Then why don't you go to bed yourself, my dear master?"

"Because I am not going to let you give me the slip another time. I am responsible for you: and you will have me on your back when you go prowling abroad again."

"Again?" I questioned innocently.

"Yes, again, young sir! I have been through your luggage, and find that you have packed changes of clothing and things necessary and unnecessary to a journey,—even books."

"I hope you put them neatly together"—

"Nothing of the kind. I scattered them."

"Do you want me to go bare into the world?" I laughed.

"Lazarre," said my master, "you were a good lad, studious and zealous beyond anything I ever saw."

"And now I am bad and lazy."

"You have dropped your books and taken to wild ways."

"There is one thing, dear master, I haven't done: I haven't written poetry."

He blinked and smiled, and felt in his breast pocket, but thought better of it, and forebore to draw the paper out. There was no escaping his tenacious grip. He sat by and exercised me in Latin declensions while I dressed. We had our supper together. I saw no member of the household except the men, Pierre and Jean. Doctor Chantry ordered a mattress put in my room and returned there with me.

We talked long on the approaching departure of the count and Madame de Ferrier. He told me the latest details of preparation, and tremulously explained how he must feel the loss of his sister.

"I have nothing left but you, Lazarre."

"My dear master," I said, patting one of his shriveled hands between mine, "I am going to be open with you."

I sat on the side of my bed facing his arm-chair, and the dressing-glass reflected his bald head and my young head drawn near together.

"Did you ever feel as if you were a prince?"

Doctor Chantry wagged a pathetic negative.

"Haven't you ever been ready to dare anything and everything, because something in you said—I must!"

Again Doctor Chantry wagged a negative.

"Now I have to break bounds—I have to leave the manor and try my fortune! I can't wait for times and seasons—to be certain of this—to be certain of that!—I am going to leave the house to-night—and I am going to France!"

"My God!" cried Doctor Chantry, springing up. "He is going to France!—Rouse the servants!—Call De Chaumont!" He struck his gouty foot against the chair and sat down nursing it in both hands. I restrained him and added my sympathy to his groans.

"Have you as much as a Spanish real of your own, my lad?" he catechised me, when the foot was easy.

I acknowledged that I had not.

"It costs dear to travel about the world. It is not like coming down the trail from St. Regis to Lake George. How are you to travel without money?"

I laughed at the very uncertainty, and answered that money would be found.

"Found! It isn't found, I tell you! It is inherited by the idle, or gathered by the unscrupulous, or sweated and toiled for! It costs days and years, and comes in drops. You might as well expect to find a kingdom, lad!"

"Maybe I shall find a kingdom, master!"

"Oh, what a thing it is to be young!" sighed Doctor Chantry.

I felt it myself, and hugged my youth.

"Do you know how to reach the sea-port?" he continued.

I said anybody could follow the Hudson to New York.

"You're bitten, my poor lad! It's plain what ails you. You might as well try to swim the Atlantic. De Chaumont intends her for himself. And in the unjust distribution of this world, your rival has the power and you have the feelings. Stay where you are. You'll never forget it, but it will hurt less as years go by."

"Master," I said to him, "good sense is on your side. But if I knew I should perish, I would have to go!"

And I added from fullness of conviction—

"I would rather undertake to do something, and perish, than live a thousand years as I am."

Doctor Chantry struck the chair arm with his clenched fist.

"My lad, so would I—so would I!—I wish I had been dowered with your spirit!—I'm going with you!"

As soon as he had made this embarrassing resolution my master blew his nose and set his British jaws firmly together. I felt my own jaw drop.

"Have you as much as a Spanish real of your own?" I quoted.

"That I have, young sir, and some American notes, such as they are, and good English pounds, beside."

"And do you know how to reach the seaport?"

"Since I came that way I can return that way. You have youth, my lad, but I have brains and experience."

"It's plain what ails you, Doctor Chantry. And you might as well try to swim the Atlantic."

My poor master dropped his head on his breast, and I was ashamed of baiting him and began to argue tenderly. I told him he could not bear hardships; he was used to the soft life in De Chaumont's house; while my flesh had been made iron in the wilderness. I intended to take a boat from those hidden at our summer camp, to reach the head of Lake George. But from that point to the Hudson river—where the town of Luzerne now stands—it was necessary to follow a trail. I could carry the light canoe over the trail, but he could not even walk it.

The more I reasoned with him the more obstinate he became. There was a wonderful spring called Saratoga, which he had visited with De Chaumont a few years before as they came into the wilderness; he was convinced that the water would set him on foot for the rest of the journey.

"It is twenty-nine miles above Albany. We could soon reach it," he urged.

"I have heard of it," I answered. "Skenedonk has been there. But he says you leave the river and go into the woods."

"I know the way," he testily insisted. "And there used to be near the river a man who kept horses and carried visitors to the spring."

The spirit of reckless adventure, breaking through years of extreme prudence, outran youth.

"What will you do in France?" I put to him. He knew no more than I what I should do.

And there was Count de Chaumont to be considered. How would he regard such a leave-taking?

Doctor Chantry was as insensible to De Chaumont as I myself. Still he agreed to write a note to his protector while I prepared my quill to write one to Madame de Ferrier. With the spirit of the true parasite he laid all the blame on me, and said he was constrained by duty to follow and watch over me since it was impossible to curb a nature like mine. And he left a loop-hole open for a future return to De Chaumont's easy service, when the hardships which he willingly faced brought him his reward.

This paper he brazenly showed me while I was struggling to beg Madame de Ferrier's pardon, and to let her know that I aimed at something definite whether I ever reached port or not.

I reflected with satisfaction that he would probably turn back at Saratoga. We descended together to his room and brought away the things he needed. In bulk they were twice as large as the load I had made for myself. He also wrote out strict orders to Pierre to seal up his room until his return. The inability of an old man to tear himself from his accustomed environment cheered my heart.

We then went back to bed, and like the two bad boys we were, slept prepared for flight.



II

"This is fine!" said Doctor Chantry, when we descended from the rough stage which had brought us across a corduroy trail, and found ourselves at the entrance of a spacious wooden tavern. "When I passed Saratoga before there were only three log houses, and the inn had two rooms below and one above. It was lighted by pine torches stuck in the chinks of the wall—and see how candles shine through these windows!"

The tavern stood in a cleared place with miles of forest around it, and a marsh stretching near by. Dusk could not prevent our seeing a few log habitations, one of them decorated with a merchant's sign. We entered among swarming crowds, a little world dropped into the backwoods. This was more surprising because we had just left behind us a sense of wild things gathering to their night haunts, and low savage cries, and visions of moose and deer through far-off arches.

A man who appeared to be the host met us, his sprightly interest in our welfare being tempered by the consciousness of having many guests; and told us the house was full, but he would do what he could for us.

"Why is the house full?" fretted Doctor Chantry. "What right have you, my dear sir, to crowd your house and so insure our discomfort?"

"None at all, sir," answered the host good naturedly. "If you think you can do better, try for lodgings at the store-keeper's."

"The store-keeper's!" Doctor Chantry's hysterical cry turned some attention to us. "I shall do nothing of the kind. I demand the best you have, sir."

"The best I can give you," amended our host. "You see we are very full of politicians from Washington. They crowd to the spring."

My master turned his nose like the inflamed horn of a unicorn against the politicians from Washington, and trotted to the fireplace where blazing knots cheered a great tap-room set with many tables and benches.

And there rested Skenedonk in silent gravity, toasting his moccasins. The Iroquois had long made Saratoga a gathering place, but I thought of this Oneida as abiding in St. Regis village; for our people did not come to the summer hunting in May.

Forgetting that I was a runaway I met him heartily, and the fawn eyes in his bald head beamed their accustomed luster upon me. I asked him where my father and mother and the rest of the tribe were, and he said they had not left St. Regis.

"And why are you so early?" I inquired.

He had been at Montreal, and had undertaken to guide a Frenchman as far as Saratoga. It is not easy to surprise an Indian. But I wondered that Skenedonk accepted my presence without a question, quite as if he had himself made the appointment.

However, the sights to be seen put him out of my head. Besides the tap-room crowded with men there was a parlor in which women of fashion walked about, contrasting with the place. They had all been to a spring to drink water; for only one spring was greatly used then; and they talked about the medicinal effects. Some men left the stronger waters, which could be had at a glittering portcullised bar opposite the fireplace in the tap-room, to chat with these short-waisted beauties. I saw one stately creature in a white silk ball costume, his stockings splashed to the knees with mud from the corduroy road.

But the person who distinguished himself from everybody else by some nameless attraction, was a man perhaps forty years old, who sat in a high-backed settle at a table near the fire. He was erect and thin as a lath, long faced, square browed and pale. His sandy hair stood up like the bristles of a brush. Carefully dressed, with a sword at his side—as many of the other men had—he filled my idea of a soldier; and I was not surprised to hear his friends sitting opposite call him General Jackson.

An inkstand, a quill and some paper were placed before him, but he pushed them aside with his glass of toddy to lift one long fore-finger and emphasize his talk. He had a resonant, impressive voice, with a manner gentle and persuasive, like a woman's: and he was speaking of Aaron Burr, the man whose duel had made such a noise in the newspapers.



"I disagree with you, Mr. Campbell. You are prejudiced against Mr. Burr on account of his late unfortunate affair. Even in that case I maintain every man has a right to honor and satisfaction. But he loves the Spanish on our southwestern borders no better than I do,—and you know how I love the Spanish!"

The other man laughed, lounging against the table.

"You can't believe anything ill of Aaron Burr, General."

I might have given attention to what they were saying, since here were men from Washington, the very fountain of government, if Doctor Chantry had not made me uneasy. He chose the table at which they were sitting and placed himself in the seat nearest the fire, with the utmost nicety about his own comfort. He wiped his horn spectacles, and produced his own ink and quill and memorandum from a breast pocket. I had begged the doctor to keep strict account between us, that I might pay back from my pension whatever he spent on me, and with fine spider-like characters he was proceeding to debit me with the stage fare, when another quill barred his entrance to his ink-horn.

He took off his spectacles and glared pink-eyed at the genial gentleman with sandy upright hair.

"Sir!" he cried, "that is my ink!"

General Jackson, absorbed in talk, did not notice Doctor Chantry, who half arose and shouted directly at his ear,

"Sir, that is my ink!"

He knocked the interloping quill in the direction of its owner.

The genial sandy gentleman changed countenance in a way to astonish beholders.

"Have I disputed it, sir?"

"No, sir, but you have dipped into it without asking leave."

"By God, sir, what is a fip'ny-bit's worth of ink?"

"But it's mine, sir!"

"I see, sir; you're a Yankee, sir!"

"I'm not, sir; I'm English—the finest race in the world!"

General Jackson looked him up and down as they rose fronting each other, and filled the air with dazzling words.

"I should judge so, sir, by the specimen I see before me!"

Doctor Chantry was like a fighting-cock, and it was plainly his age which kept the other from striking him. He was beginning our journey well, but I felt bound to intercept whatever fell upon him, and stood between them. The other men at the table rose with General Jackson.

"Gentlemen," I pleaded with the best words I could command in the language, "do not forget your dignity, and disturb the peace of this house for a bottle of ink!"

The quarrel was ridiculous, and the Southerners laughed. General Jackson himself again changed countenance, and gave me, I do not know why, a smile that must have been reflected from the face of a woman he adored. But my poor master showed the bull-dog; and taking him by the arm and the collar I toddled him away from that table to a dark entry, where I held him without any admonition save a sustained grip. He became like a child, weeping and trembling, and declaring that everybody was in league against him. Argument is wasted on people having such infirmity of temper. When he was well cooled I put him in an arm-chair by a fire in the ladies' parlor, and he was soon very meek and tractable, watching the creatures he so admired.

"You must go to bed as soon as you have your supper," I said to him. "The journey to Saratoga has been a hard one for you. But Skenedonk is here fortunately, and he can take you home again."

My master looked at me with the shrewishness of an elephant. I had not at that time seen an elephant. When I did see one, however, the shifting of its eyes brought back the memory of Doctor Chantry when I had him at bay by the fire.

"You are not going to get away from me," he responded. "If you are tired of it, so am I. Otherwise, we proceed."

"If you pick quarrels with soldiers and duelists at every step, what are we to do?"

"I picked no quarrel. It is my luck. Everyone is against me!" He hung his head in such a dejected manner that I felt ashamed of bringing his temperament to account: and told him I was certain no harm would come of it.

"I am not genial," Doctor Chantry owned; "I wish I were. Now you are genial, Lazarre. People take to you. You attract them. But whatever I am, you are obliged to have my company: you cannot get along without me. You have no experience, and no money. I have experience,—and a few pounds:—not enough to retire into the country upon, in England; but enough to buy a little food for the present."

I thought I could get along better without the experience and even the few pounds, than with him as an encumbrance; though I could not bring myself to the cruelty of telling him so. For there is in me a fatal softness which no man can have and overbear others in this world. It constrains me to make the other man's cause my own, though he be at war with my own interests.

Therefore I was at the mercy of Skenedonk, also. The Indian appeared in the doorway and watched me. I knew he thought there was to be trouble with the gentleman from Washington, and I went to him to ease his mind.

Skenedonk had nothing to say, however, and made me a sign to follow him. As we passed through the tap-room, General Jackson gave me another pleasant look. He had resumed his conversation and his own ink-bottle as if he had never been interrupted.

The Indian led me upstairs to one of the chambers, and opened the door.

In the room was Louis Philippe, and when we were shut alone together, he embraced me and kissed me as I did not know men embraced and kissed.

"Do you know Skenedonk?" I exclaimed.

"If you mean the Indian who brought you at my order, he was my guide from Montreal."

"But he was not with you at the potter's camp."

"Yes, he was in the hut, wrapped in his blanket, and after you drove the door in he heard all that was said. Lazarre"—Louis Philippe took my face in his hands—"make a clean breast of it."

We sat down, and I told him without being questioned what I was going to do. He gravely considered.

"I saw you enter the house, and had a suspicion of your undertaking. It is the worst venture you could possibly make at this time. We will begin with my family. Any belief in you into which I may have been betrayed is no guaranty of Monsieur's belief. You understand," said Louis Philippe, "that Monsieur stands next to the throne if there is no dauphin, or an idiot dauphin?"

I said I understood.

"Monsieur is not a bad man. But Bellenger, who took charge of the dauphin, has in some manner and for some reason, provided himself with a substitute, and he utterly denies you. Further: supposing that you are the heir of France, restored to your family and proclaimed—of what use is it to present yourself before the French people now? They are besotted with this Napoleon. The Empire seems to them a far greater thing than any legitimate monarchy. Of what use, do I say? It would be a positive danger for you to appear in France at this time! Napoleon has proscribed every Bourbon. Any prince caught alive in France will be put to death. Do you know what he did last year to the Duke d'Enghien? He sent into Germany for the duke, who had never harmed him, never conspired against him—had done nothing, in fact, except live an innocent life away from the seat of Napoleon's power. The duke was brought to Paris under guard and put in the dungeons of Vincennes. He demanded to see Bonaparte. Bonaparte would not see him. He was tried by night, his grave being already dug in the castle ditch. That lovely young fellow—he was scarcely above thirty—was taken out to the ditch and shot like a dog!"

I stood up with my hands clenched.

"Sit down," said Louis Philippe. "There is no room in the world at this time for anybody but that jealous monster."

"He shall not tie me here," I said.

"You intend to go?"

"I intend to go."

"This Bonaparte," said Louis Philippe, "has his troubles. His brother Jerome has married an American in Baltimore. A fine explosion that will make when it reaches his ears. Where are you going to land, Lazarre?"

I said that must depend on the ship I took.

"And what are you going to do when you land?"

I said I would think that out later.

Then the spirit being upon me, I burst bounds and told him impetuously that I was going to learn what the world held for me. Without means, without friends, or power or prospects, or certainty of any good results—impudent—reckless—utterly rash—"I am going," I cried, "because I must go!"

"There is something about you which inspires love, my boy," said Louis Philippe; and I heard him with astonishment. "Perhaps it comes from the mother; she was a witcher of all mankind."

"I cannot understand why any one should love so ignorant a creature, but God grant there be others that love me, too; for I have lived a life stinted of all affection. And, indeed, I did not know I wanted it until last year. When we talked late the other night, and you told me the history of all my family, the cruelest part of my lot seemed the separation from those that belonged to me. Separation from what is our own ought not to be imposed upon us even by God Himself!"

"What!" said Louis Philippe, "is he following a woman!"

My face burned, and probably went white, for I felt the blood go back on my heart. He took my hand and stroked it.

"Don't chain yourself behind that chariot. Wait a little while for your good star to rise. I wish I had money. I wish I could be of use to you in France. I wish I stood nearer to Monsieur, for your sake. Every one must love this bold pure face. It bears some resemblance to Madame Royal. The sister of the dauphin is a good girl, not many years your senior. Much dominated by her uncles, but a royal duchess. It is the fashion now to laugh at chivalry. You are the most foolish example of it I ever saw! It is like seeing a knight without horse, armor, or purse, set out to win an equipment before he pursues his quest! Yet I love you for it, my boy!"

"It would be well for me if I had more friends like you."

"Why, I can be of no use! I cannot go back to France at this time, and if I could, what is my influence there? I must wander around in foreign parts, a private gentleman eking out my living by some kind of industry. What are you going to do with the fretful old fellow you have with you?"

I groaned and laughed.

"Carry him on my back. There is no getting rid of him. He is following me to France. He is my lesson-master."

"How will you support him?"

"He is supporting me at present. But I would rather take my chances alone."

"You have another follower," said Louis Philippe. "Your Indian has been in France, and after hearing our talk at the camp, he foresaw you might be moved to this folly, and told me he intended to guide you there, or wherever you go!"

"And Skenedonk, too!"

I shook with laughter. It was so like Skenedonk to draw his conclusions and determine on the next step.

"What shall I do with them?"

"The old master can be your secretary, and as for the Indian, you can take him for your servant."

"A secretary and a servant, for an outcast without a penny to his pouch!"

"You see the powers that order us are beginning well with you. Starting with a secretary and a servant, you may end with a full household and a court! I ought to add my poor item of tribute, and this I can do. There is a ship-master taking cargo this month in New York bay, who is a devoted royalist; a Breton sailor. For a letter from me he will carry you and your suite to the other side of the world; but you will have to land in his port."

"And what will the charges be?"

"Nothing, except gratitude, if I put the case as strongly to him as I intend to do. God knows I may be casting a foul lot for you. His ship is staunch, rigged like the Italian salt ships. But it is dirty work crossing the sea; and there is always danger of falling into the hands of pirates. Are you determined?"

I looked him in the eyes, and said I was; thanking him for all his goodness to one who had so little expectation of requiting him. The sweet heartiness of an older man so far beyond myself in princely attainments and world knowledge, who could stoop to such a raw savage, took me by storm.

I asked him if he had any idea who the idiot was that we had seen in Bellenger's camp. He shook his head, replying that idiots were plentiful, and the people who had them were sometimes glad to get rid of them.

"The dauphin clue has been very cleverly managed by—Bellenger, let us say," Louis Philippe remarked. "If you had not appeared, I should not now believe there is a dauphin."

I wanted to tell him all the thoughts tossing in my mind; but silence is sometimes better than open speech. Facing adventure, I remembered that I had never known the want of food for any length of time during my conscious life. And I had a suspicion the soft life at De Chaumont's had unstrung me for what was before me. But it lasted scarce a year, and I was built for hardship.

He turned to his table to write the ship-master's letter. Behold, there lay a book I knew so well that I exclaimed——

"Where did you get my missal?"

"Your missal, Lazarre? This is mine."

I turned the leaves, and looked at the back. It was a continuation of the prayers of the church. There were blank leaves for the inscribing of prayers, and one was written out in a good bold hand.

"His Majesty Louis XVI composed and wrote that prayer himself," said Louis Philippe. "The comfort-loving priests had a fashion of dividing the missal into three or four parts, that a volume might not be so heavy to carry about in their pockets. This is the second volume. It was picked up in the Tuileries after that palace was sacked."

I told him mine must be the preceding volume, because I did not know there was any continuation. The prayers of the church had not been my study.

"Where did you get yours, Lazarre?"

"Madame de Ferrier gave it to me. When I saw it I remembered, as if my head were split open to show the picture, that my mother had read from that very book to me. I cannot explain it, but so it was."

"I am not surprised she believes, against Bellenger's evidence, that you are Louis of France."

"I will bring my book and show it to you."

We compared the volumes after supper, and one was the mate of the other.

The inn dining-room had one long table stretched down its entire length, heaped with wild meats and honey and pastries and fish in abundance. General Jackson sat at one end, and at the other sat the landlord, explaining to all his guests what each dish was, and urging good appetite. I sat by Louis Philippe, whose quality was known only to myself, with Doctor Chantry on the other side fretting for the attendance to which Jean had used him.

My master was so tired that I put him early to bed; and then sat talking nearly all night with the gracious gentleman to whom I felt bound by gratitude and by blood.



III

Dieppe, high and glaring white above the water, will always symbolize to me the gate of France. The nobility of that view remained in my thoughts when half the distance to Paris was traversed.

I could shut my eyes and see it as I lay on the straw in a post-house stable. A square hole in the front of the grenier gave upon the landscape. Even respectable houses in that part of the country were then built with few or no windows; but delicious masses of grayness they were, roofed with thick and overhanging thatch.

"The stables of France are nothing but covered dunghills," Doctor Chantry grumbled; so when I crept with the Indian to lodgings over the cattle, one of the beds in the house was hired for the gouty master. Even at inns there were two or three beds in a room where they set us to dine.

"An English inn-keeper would throw their furniture into the fire!" he cried in a language fortunately not understood.

"But we have two good rooms on the ground floor, and another for Skenedonk," I sometimes remonstrated with him, "at three shillings and sixpence a day, in your money."

"You would not see any man, let his rank be what it may," Doctor Chantry retorted, "dining in his bedroom, in England. And look at these walls!—papered with two or three kinds of paper, the bare spots hung with tapestry moth-eaten and filled with spiders! And what have we for table?—a board laid on cross-bars! And the oaken chairs are rush-bottomed, and so straight the backs are a persecution! The door hinges creak in these inns, the wind blows through—"

So his complaints went on, for there never was a man who got so much out of small miseries. Skenedonk and I must have failed to see all in our travels that he put before us. For we were full of enjoyment and wonder: at the country people, wooden shod, the women's caps and long cloaks; at the quiet fair roads which multiplied themselves until we often paused enchanted in a fairy world of sameness; at market-towns, where fountains in the squares were often older than America, the country out of which we arrived.

Skenedonk heard without shifting a muscle all Doctor Chantry's grievances; and I told him we ought to cherish them, for they were views of life we could not take ourselves. Few people are made so delicately that they lose color and rail at the sight of raw tripe brought in by a proud hostess to show her resources for dinner; or at a chicken coming upon the table with its head tucked beneath its wing.

"We are fed with poulet, poulet, nothing but poulet," said Doctor Chantry, "until the poulets themselves are ashamed to look us in the face!"

We fared well, indeed, and the wine was good, and my master said he must sustain himself on it though it proved his death. He could not march as Skenedonk and I regularly marched. We hired a cart to lift him and our knapsacks from village to village, with a driver who knew the road to Paris. When the distances were long we sometimes mounted beside him. I noticed that the soil of this country had not the chalk look of other lands which I afterwards saw to the east and north; but Napoleon was already making good the ancient thoroughfares.

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