“Mehercle, be Charon propitious to thee when thy soul meets him at the river in Hades,” he cried. “Be he propitious to thee, Chamilly, for making me a horseman!”
Then the memorable picture;—we speeding along that bit of road in the Park, the Mountain-side towering precipitously above us on the left and sloping below us in groves on the right; our horses galloping faster and faster; our dash into a bold rocky cutting; our consternation!—a young maiden picking up autumn leaves within two yards before our galloping horses! Near by, I remember quite clearly now her companion, and not far off the carriage with golden-bay horses.
“Stop!” I shouted.
Even as I shouted, I was already past her, and the brush of Quinet’s horse flying as near on the other side of her, snatched off her bouquet of autumn leaves and strewed them in a cloud. Thank God only that we had not gone over her! The peril was frightful. My horse had had his head down and I could not pull him up.
But what excited me most was the courage of the girl. She started; but rose straight and firm, facing us as we charged. Even in that instant, I could see changes of pallor and color leap across her brow and cheek—could see them as if with supernatural vividness. Yet her eyes lighted proudly, her form held itself erect, and her clear features triumphed with the lines as if of a superior race. She could only be compared, standing there, to an angel guarding Paradise! How fair she was! And the face was the face of the little girl of the Manoir of Esneval!
After the agitations of our apologies I retained just enough of my wits about me to enquire her name. “Alexandra Grant,” she said gracefully enough. Ah yes, I recollected—the Grants, within a generation, had bought the Esneval Seigniory, and its Manor-house.
Now a little more of Quinet. Small, gaunt and strange-looking, I pitied him because he was a victim of our stupid educational wrecking systems. His was too fine an organization to have been exposed to the blunders of the scholastic managers; for his course had exhibited signs of no less than the genius he had claimed. Most of his years of study had been spent as a precocious youth in that great Seminary of the Sulpician Fathers, the College de Montreal. The close system of the seminaries, however, being meant for developing priests, is apt to produce two opposite poles of young men—the Ultramontane and the Red Radical. Of the bravest and keenest of the latter Quinet was. If newspapers were forbidden to be brought into the College: he had a regular supply of the most liberal. If all books but those first submitted to approval were tabu: Quinet was thrice caught reading Voltaire. If criticism of any of the doctrines of Catholic piety was a sin to be expiated hardly even by months of penance: there was nothing sacred to his inquiries,