“Malbrouck is dead!”
A pause follows.
“It is not true” one forcibly contradicts.
“Yes, he is dead!” reiterates the first.
“It is not true!” insists the other.
“He is dead and in his bier!”
The second is incredulous:
“You but tell me that to jeer?”
But the crowd who have been smiling gleefully over the proceedings, affect to resign themselves to the bad news of Malbrouck’s death, and all altogether groan in hoarse bass mockery:
“CA va ma-A-A-L!!"[B]
Every one immediately dashes off in all haste, whips crack, wheels fly, and shouting, racing and singing along all the roads, the country-folk rattle away to their homes. Our two turn their wheels towards the Manor-house, gleefully amused.
[Footnote B: That is bad!]
“Who is Malbrouck?” Chrysler enquired.
“Marlborough. That must have been originally enacted in the French camps that fought him in Flanders. I fancy the soldiers of Montcalm shouting it at night among their tents here as they held the country against the English.”
They drove along looking about the country and conversing. Chrysler breathed in the fresh draughts which swept across the wide stretches of river-view that lay open in bird-like perspective from the crest of the terraces on which the Dormilliere cote, or countryside, was perched, and along which the road ran.
“Come up, my little buds!” the young man cried in French, to a pair of baby girls who, holding each others’ hands, were crowding on the edge of the ditch-weeds, out of the wheels’ way.
“Houp-la!” he cried, helping the laughing little things up one after the other by their hands, and then whipping forward. “How much, are you going to give me for this? Do you think we drive people for nothing, eh?” The children nestled themselves down with beaming faces. “Tell me, bidoux,"[C] he laughed again, “What are you going to give me?”
[Footnote C: Bidoux is a term of endearment for children.]
Both hung their heads. One of them quickly threw her arms up around his neck and, kissing him, said, “I will pay you this way,” and the other began to follow suit.
“Stop, stop, my dears. You must not stifle your seigneur,” he cried in the highest glee, returning their embraces.
One of our poets claims that there is something of earthliness in the kisses of all but children:—
“But in a little child’s
Is naught but heaven above,
So sweet it is, so pure it is,
So full of faith and love.”
So it seemed to Chrysler as he saw this first of the relations between the young Seigneur and his people.