In the darkness John Law heard a voice, the voice of a woman in terror. Swiftly he stepped to the door of the rude lodge.
“Don’t let them sing it again—never any more—that song.”
“And what, Madam?”
“That one—’us les amants changent des maitresses!’”
A moment later she whispered, “I am afraid.”
Marshaling to the imperious orders of the tempest, and crowding close upon the flaming standards of the lightning, the armies of the clouds came on. The sea-wide surface of the lake went dull, and above it bent a sky appalling in its blackness. The wind at first was light, then fitful and gusty, like the rising choler of a man affronted and nursing his own anger. It gained in volume and swept on across the tops of the forest trees, as though with a hand contemptuous in its strength, forbearing only by reason of its own whimsy. Now and again the cohorts of the clouds just hinted at parting, letting through a pale radiance from the western sky, where lingered the departing day. This light, as did the illuminating glare of the forked flames above, disclosed the while helmets of the trooping waters, rushing on with thunderous unison of tread; and the rattling thunder-shocks, intermittent, though coming steadily nearer, served but to emphasize these foot strokes of the waves. The heavens above and the waters under the earth—these conspired, these marched together, to assail, to overwhelm, to utterly destroy.
To destroy what? Why this wild protest of the wilderness? Was it this wide-blown, scattered fire, whose sparks and ashes were sown broadcast, till but stubborn remnants clung under the sheltering back-log of the bivouac hearth? Was it this frail lodge, built upon pliant, yielding poles, covered cunningly with mats and bark, carpeted with robe of elk and buffalo? Yet why should the elements rage at a tiny fire, and why should they tear at a little house of nomad man, since these things were old upon the earth? Was it somewhat else that incited this elemental rage? This might have been; for surely, builder of this hearth-fire which would not quench, master of this house which would not yield, there was now come up to the door of the wilderness the white man, risen from the sea, heralding the day which the tribes had for generations blindly prophesied! The white man, stern, stubborn, fruitful, had come to despoil the West of its secrets!
Let all the elements therefore join in riotous revolt! Let earth and sea and sky make common cause! Rage, waves, and blaze, ye fiery tongues, and threaten, forests, with all your ominous voices! Smite, destroy, or terrify into swift retreat this little band! Crush out their tenement! Loosen and brush off this feeble finger-grasp at the ancient threshold! With banners of flame, with armies of darkness, with shoutings of the captains of the storms, assail, denude, destroy, if even by the agony of their terrors, these feeble folk now come hither! And by this more especially, since they would set the seal of fruitfulness upon the land, and bring upon the earth a generation yet to follow. Hover about this bed in the frail and swaying lodge of bark and boughs, all ye most terrifying spirits! Let not this thing be!