“I knew,” said Chrysler, “that you had your seigniories in Quebec, and some sort of a feudal history, far back, but I never dreamed of such seats.”
“O, the Seigneurs[A] have not yet altogether disappeared,” returned the Montrealer. “Twenty years ago their position was feudal enough to be considered oppressive; and here and there still, over the Province, in some grove of pines or elms, or at some picturesque bend of a river, or in the shelter of some wooded hill beside the sea, the old-fashioned residence is to be descried, seated in its broad demesne with trees, gardens and capacious buildings about it, and at no great distance an old round windmill.”
[Footnote A: The old French gentry or noblesse]
“Who lives in this one?”
“The Havilands. An English name but considered French;—grandfather an officer, an English captain, who married the heiress of the old D’Argentenayes, of this place.”
“Mr. Haviland is the name of the person I am going to visit.”
“Yes, he is an M.P.”
“A fine young fellow, then. His first name is Chamilly. His father was a queer man—the Honorable Chateauguay—perhaps you’ve heard of him? He was of a sort of an antiquarian and genealogical turn, you know, and made a hobby of preserving old civilities and traditions, so that Dormilliere is said to be somewhat of a rum place.”
The Ontarian thanked his acquaintance and got ready for landing at the pier.
The young seigneur.
A young man stepped forward and greeted him heartily.
It was the
“Chamilly” Haviland of whom they had been speaking.
Mr. Chrysler and he were members together of the Dominion Parliament and the present visit was the outcome of a special purpose. “It is a pity the rest of the country does not know my people more closely,” Haviland wrote in his invitation:—“If you will do my house the honor of your presence, I am sure there is much of their life to which we could introduce you.”
“I am delighted you arrive at this time;” he exclaimed. “My election is coming.” And he talked cheerfully and busied himself making the visitor comfortable in his drag.
As luck will have it, the enactment of one of the old local customs occurs as they sit waiting for room to drive off the pier. The rustic gathering of Lower-Canadian habitants who are crowding it with their native ponies and hay-carts and their stuff-coated, deliberate persons, is beginning to break apart as the steamer swings heavily away. The pedestrians are already stringing off along the road and each jaunty Telesphore and Jacques, the driver of a horse, leaps jovially into his cart; but all the carts are halting a moment by some curious common accord. Why is this?
Suddenly a loud voice shouts: