Cure L’Archeveque, black skull-cap on head, was in the best of humour, playing with his little dog in the ample reception-room of the parsonage, when a laborer came and brought an account of several late doings in the village.
When Messire heard what had been said at Zotique’s, his rotund black stole writhed as if founts of lava boiled in him; his face swelled to the likeness of a fiery planet; indignation choked his speech for four minutes by the face of the tall clock in his sitting-room; and then the lava rose to the surface in jets:
“Gang of accurseds!”
He turned for a moment to the laborer again who had come to inform him. Then he exploded successively as before:
“I will make them laugh!”
The young cure, his vicar, who was present, tried to calm him, but could not.
His energies turned to action; he dismissed the parishioner, who, hat in hand, stood humbly by the door, and sitting down began to write letters and concoct vows.
The first of the latter was to announce a spiritual boycott from the pulpit on Zotique and his iniquitous hall; and with this he wrote to the Attorney-General on the scandal of the gross misuse of the Circuit Court and the bad character of the local Registrar.
The second bitter vow was that the Liberals should lose their election: this inspired a letter to Grandmoulin, the “Cave” Chief.
There were other vows and other letters; one each to the Bishop and the Archbishop,—whose contents are unknown.
At similar times, however, the Reverend gentleman had a recreation to which he was accustomed to turn for refreshment, and this was not long in rising in his mind. By law he was Visitor to the secular school: than which there was nothing he considered more nearly the root of all evil. He therefore took up his brown straw hat and black cane, and started determinedly out to exercise his habit of vexing the high spirit of the school master, De La Lande.
“Ah bon, fratello!” cried Zotique that afternoon when de La Lande appeared at his door, “How goes it? Come in and speak to Mr. Chrysler, here.”
“It goes ill, Zotique,” answered the school master, gloomily, “I have had the Cure again.”
“And what did he say to you?”
“Quarrels with everything in the system. Our geography was galimatias, and book-keeping a crime: the people must not think they were on a level with the learned, and the children must do this and that. At last—at last—I was exasperated, and told him I had a right under the laws to my position and powers. He said there can be no right against the Right! I told him there were many wrongs against the Right! And he went away saying he would bring me to a bed of straw.”
“Let him do!” laughed the Registrar.