“Were the streets well decorated? How were the arches and flags?”
“They were good. The streets were full of flying tricolors and Union Jacks stretched across them. They were lined with green saplings as we do here. The crowd was enormous. There were thousands from the States. And the Cathedral of Notre Dame was all excitement; for the Cure——,”
“Tell us about it! Every one speaks of it! What did he say?”
(A well-known priest had just electrified the people of the land with an extraordinary declaration.)
“But, to speak of his aims, I must recollect the numbers of our people.”
“Breboeuf, mon brebis,” said Chamilly, turning to the little fellow, “what is the number of the French Canadians?”
The hunchback lifted his face gravely, and issued in a monotonous voice, but with the precision of a machine:—“One million, eighty-two thousand, nine hundred and forty-three, in Canada, by the census of 1870; one million, one hundred and ten thousand, in Canada, by the computation of the Abbe Zero; four hundred and thirty-five thousand in the United States by the computation of the same.”
The Ontarian was surprised at his odd, machine-like accuracy, but Haviland only laughed a little chuckle and Chrysler’s glance was drawn away towards a figure entering the gate, walking abstractedly, his hands in his hip pockets and eyes on the path. He was of slender but agile person, the decision which marked every movement showing his consciousness of latent activity. Haviland espied him presently:
“Bravo, here is Quinet. Quinet, what are you doing?”
“Cultivating dulness,” replied the figure, scarcely glancing up.
“Come and cultivate us, for a contrast, my friend.”
“Would I be changing occupation?”
“Sit here and we will show you. Yourself may be as dull as you like.”
The stranger, nonchalantly, and half-defiantly, seated himself, after introduction. Chrysler scanned him curiously in recollection of the references to him in Haviland’s Book of Enthusiasms, and recognized the strange red-brown scale of hues of hair, eyebrows and moustache, which gave character to his appearance; but the pale countenance was strong now, and tanned, though spare, and all the signs of former weakness had departed.
Chamilly continued to Chrysler:
“I am not a little proud of the cheerfulness, the spirit, the respectability, the intelligence of my little people. And if you had seen the mottoes which I have read on cars and banners in the processions of our national saint; such as, “GOD HAS MADE LAW TO EVERY MAN TO LABOR,” and: “TO MAKE THE PEOPLE BETTER,”—you would have felt with me that it must be a people responsive to sober and admirable aims.”
“I have no doubt of it,” remarked the visitor genially.
“But I scarcely think you can be familiar with a group of startling projects lately cherished in our circles.”