That evening the row of front windows shone with particular illumination for a meeting of Chamilly’s supporters, and as Chrysler entered with Haviland and Zotique, they caught from De La Lande the fragmentary assertion, “It is France that must be preached!”
“Aux armes, citoyens!” roared Zotique, entering like a captain on the stage. “Give me my battalion! Write me my letters of marque:” Then throwing one hand in air: “Allons! what has been done?”
The audience sitting around on tables and windowsills, as well as on groups of chairs, laughed boisterously and thumped the floor, and recalled to the proper work of the meeting, commenced a cry of “l’Honorable!”
“The Honorable presides!” intoned Benoit, like a crier; and Genest, accustomed to understand their wishes, seated himself in the chair, while a momentary lull fell over the noisiness.
“De La Lande!”
“Le Brun, Le Brun, Le Brun, Le Brun!”
“I nominate our good friend Descarries,” smilingly spoke the Chairman. “Does the meeting agree?”
“Yes!” “Yes!” “Maitre Descarries for Secretary!” “Maitre Descarries!” “Carried!” were the responses shouted together from all sides.
“We have to consider this evening,” continued the Chairman, after the white-wigged official had seated himself in his place as Secretary, “our general organization and appointment of districts. The aim is to work hard for Monsieur during the times coming. The people’s meeting to take place to-morrow, is to be addressed for Libergent by Grandmoulin himself, and Picault will be in the county with them till the election. So you see our task is not less than to defeat the whole strength of the Cave. As we fight with men of stature, there is need of valor and address.”
“We’ll have to pull the devil by the tail!” cried one. The words were those of a common proverb referring to “close shaving.”
The Chairman added: “Mr. De La Lande, the floor seems to be already yours.”
“I have heard,” began De La Lande, “that Grandmoulin has commenced to raise the issue of French patriotism.”
“You are right,” said Zotique.
“Well, then, why can we not use a like word, that shall go to the heart of the people? Give us a national cry! Let the struggle rest on our fundamental emotions of race! Why can we not”—The face of the impetuous schoolmaster began to flame into eagerness and fire.
“Because,” interrupted Haviland, firmly, “we are in this particular country. Would you have us enter upon a campaign of injustice and ill-will? Leave that, and the glory of it, to Grandmoulin and to Picault!”
“But, my chief, the positions of the French and the English!—We who were first, are becoming last!”
“Come here if you please, sir,” Haviland said, turning to Chrysler, who rose and advanced to him surprised. Haviland took him, and passing over to De La Lande, placed the hand of the Ontario gentleman in that of the high-spirited schoolmaster, who accepted it, puzzled. “There!” cried Haviland, raising his voice to a pitch of solemnity. “Say whatever you can in that position. That is the position of the Canadian races?”