Short blue blouse, little cap and flat-bottomed boat, the appearance of the figure at that hour made one with the drifting mists and rural strangeness of the landscape, and Chrysler knew it was Le Brun, and remarked so to Haviland.
“Without doubt, Bonhomme is part of nature and unmistakable—Hola Bonhomme!”
“Mo-o-o-o-nseigneur,” he sung in reply, without looking up or taking further notice of them.
Haviland gave a few more vigorous strokes.
“How does it bite, Bonhomme?”
“A little badly, monseigneur; all perch here; one pickerel. Shall we enter the little channels?”
“I do not wish to enter the little channels: I remain here.”
They were soon fishing beside him, Chamilly at one end of the skiff intent upon his sport. The old man’s flat punt was littered with perch. How early he must have risen! He was small of figure, weathered of face, simple and impassive of manner.
“Good day,” Chrysler opened; “the weather is wettish.”
“It is morningy, Monsieur.”—
“My son knows you, Monsieur,” he said again humbly, after a pause.
As Chrysler could not recall his son, as such, he waited before replying.
“He saw you at Benoit’s.”
Still Chrysler paused.
“A—ha, now I remember. That fine young man is your son?”
“That fine young man, sir,” he assented with perfect faith.
After adjusting a line for Chrysler, he continued.
“Do you not think, monsieur, that my son is fine enough for Josephte Benoit?”
“Assuredly. Does he like her?”
“They are devoted to each other.”
“If she accepts him then, why not? You do not doubt your son?”
“Never, Monsieur! what is different is Jean. He thinks my Francois too poor for his Josephte, and he is for ever planning to discourage their love. Grand Dieu, he is proud! Yet his father and I were good friends when we were both boys. He wants Mlle. Josephte to take the American.”
“Reassure yourself; that will never be. No, Bonhomme, trust to me; that shall never he,” exclaimed Chamilly.
“How did you come to know these parties, sir,” he put in English. But without awaiting an answer he continued: “Benoit is crazy to marry his daughter to that rowdy. Benoit was always rather off on the surface, but he has usually been shrewder at bottom. Cuiller infatuates him. He hasn’t a single antecedent, but has been treating Benoit so much to liquor and boasting, that the foolish man follows him like a dog.”
“My son has been to Montreal,—he has done business,” said the Bonhomme with pride—“he is a good young man—and he had plenty of money before he lost it on the journey.”
“How did he lose his money?”
“Some one stole it. He was coming down to marry Josephte. If he had had his money Jean would have let her take him.—But he can earn more.”