“Plots against everybody,” Quinet remarked. “Have the goodness to pass me the asparagus.”
“The Continent of North America is a large acre,” continued Haviland. “Can you fancy a race who a century ago were but ninety thousand, aspiring and actually planning for its complete control?”
Chrysler looked amused at the idea, for the handful of French-Canadians.
“That is our firmly-persuaded future!” asserted the young man, De La Lande, eagerly and boldly. “The Cure of Colonization has demonstrated that it is possible. We shall reconquer the continent!”
“Is it your view?” Chrysler asked of Chamilly.
“I instance it,” he returned, “because it shows that my people are capable of thinking high.”
“There is a progression of plans!” went on the eager De La Lande. “The first is to get control of the six English counties!”
“I will trust the Anglo-Saxon for holding his own,” the Ontarian laughed, in the amusement of vigorous confidence.
“But we gain!” the young man cried. “Our race is always French! We win fast the British strongholds in our dear Province.”
“This the least, of the plans,” Haviland remarked. “All are founded on a curious fact.”
“What fact is that?”
“Our phenomenal multiplication in numbers,” returned the seigneur, smiling.
“What?” cried Chrysler.
He stopped a moment open-eyed, and then laughed heartily and long. He could not satisfy his laughter at such a basis for conquest of a continent, and it burst forth again at intervals for some time.
“Nevertheless it is true,—and Biblical,” continued the undaunted schoolmaster. “Sicut saggittae in manu potentis, ita filii excussorum.”
“Breboeuf,” said Haviland, who took some part with De La Lande but joined in Chrysler’s amusement, “help us. What was the number of French-Canadians at the conquest by the English?”
“Sixty-nine thousand two hundred and sixty-five, by the census of the General Murray in 1765, including approximately 500 others.”
“One million and eight-two thousand nine hundred and forty, by the census of 1870.”
“You see, sir, what a growth. The clergy encourage it with satisfaction. It is not comfortable for bachelors in some of our parishes.”
All at the table were laughing, more or less, except De La Lande and the hunchback, who were perfectly serious.
“One plan, sir, I confess freely,” said the former, “affects yourself. You are perfectly acquainted with the Ottawa River, separating your Province from our own, and that it cuts across and above yours, which is a peninsula. The fourth great plan (out of six), is to plant centres along the Ottawa which shall exert their expansive force downwards to overrun your peninsula.”
“What a dangerous race!”