“Do not fear that I am proposing anything too sombre, Chamilly: It is an agreeable life. There is no demand for your being shut up in the place; and one can surround himself very conveniently with his private tastes.”
But I did not feel the scheme repugnant. The house and locality had struck me before as a comfortable retirement to prosecute the study of Art, “and perhaps, I might bring here”—(I dared not put her name into syllables in such a flight of hope.)
“You will find, though, more than you anticipate to do”
I looked up.
“And greater undertakings to accomplish properly than I have been strong enough to meet.”
“What do you mean, sir?” I enquired.
“These poor simple people,” he said, “have many enemies, and they sometimes do not know their friends. You are their hereditary guardian. Instead of mediaeval protection, you must give them that of a nineteenth century Chief.”
“A nineteenth century Chief?” I could not but exclaim, “What is a nineteenth century Chief?”
“The people’s friend and leader.”
“Yes, but what am I to do, sir?”
“In the first place, discourage litigation and its miseries. Offer mediation wherever you can. Keep drink out of the villages. Preserve the ancient forms of courtesy. Grow timber, and introduce improvements in farming.”
He spoke of other things. I was to fight especially the Ultramontanes and the demagogues. My father was an uncompromising Liberal of the old school.
“But what can I do about this?” I asked, my artistic skies beginning to cloud with the prospect.
“You can speak! I know you will make an orator. You will be a member at Quebec; and then you can effect something. I mourn over the state of affairs, but I do not fear for the true end; and I yearn, as if across the grave to see the vigor of another generation of us pressing into the struggle. Remember our ancient motto,” and he laid his finger on the little coat of arms on the iron box, with its scroll: “Sans Hesiter.”
I did not answer him, but sat thinking, while gathering up the documents into the box, he carried it back to the office.
END OF THE FIRST PART OF THE
BOOK OF ENTHUSIASMS.
When Chrysler arrived next morning at the break in Chamilly’s manuscript, the sun was rising high and shining upon the river and front hedge, and on the green lawn before the Ontarian’s window, and he could see Haviland walking backwards and forwards meditatively across the grass waiting for him to descend to breakfast. He hurried down, and as he came to his host, remarked, “The drift of your story is not quite clear to me.”
“I wish I had the sequel written,” the young man replied, “I am trying to lead on to a great matter.”