Sister Benie of the Ursulines was passing along the narrow road which led to the river. There was on her serene face the remains of what had been great beauty, such as is sometimes given to the bourgeois; but the purple eyes were wells of sadness and the lips ever drooped in pity and mercy. Across her pale cheek was a paler scar, which ran from the left temple to the chin. Sister Teresa, her companion, was young and plain. Soldiers and trappers and Indians passed them on the way up, touching their caps and hats; for Sister Benie was known from Montreal to Tadousac. Suddenly Sister Benie gave a low cry and pressed a hand upon her heart.
“Sister, you are ill?” asked her companion.
“A dizziness; it is gone now.” Presently she caught the arm of a gentleman who was passing.
“My son,” she said, sweetly, “can you tell me who is that young man walking with Brother Jacques; the tall one?”
“He? That is the Chevalier du Cevennes.”
“He is the son of the Marquis de Perigny.”
“Thank you, my son.”
“Monsieur du Cevennes,” said D’Herouville, just before supper that first night of their arrival on Canadian soil, “I see that you are not quite strong enough to keep the engagement. This day two weeks: will that be agreeable?”
“It will; though I should be better pleased to fix the scene for to-morrow morning.”
D’Herouville raised a deprecating hand. “I should not like to have it said that I took advantage of a man’s weakness. Of course, if you wish absolutely to force it . . .”
The Chevalier looked thoughtfully at his pale hands. “I shall take advantage of your courtesy, Monsieur le Comte.”
“How polite men are when about to cut each other’s throats!” The Vicomte d’Halluys adjusted his baldric and entered the great dining-hall of the Chateau Saint Louis.
He and D’Herouville sat side by side.
“Vicomte, you have never told me why the Chevalier is here. Why should he leave France, he, who possessed a fortune, who had Mazarin’s favor, and who had all the ladies at his feet?”
“Ask him when you meet him,” answered the vicomte, testing the governor’s burgundy.
“And will you pay me those ten thousand livres which you wagered against my claims for madame’s hand?”
The vicomte took a sip of the wine. There was no verbal answer, but his eyes spoke.
“Quebec promises to afford a variety,” commented d’Herouville, glancing to where the Chevalier sat.
“It is quite probable,” affably returned the vicomte. “This is good wine for a wilderness like this. To be sure, it comes from France; I had forgotten.”
The first fortnight passed with the excitement attendant to taking up quarters in a strange land. The Chevalier, Victor and the vicomte were given rooms in the citadel; D’Herouville accepted the courtesy of the governor and became a resident of the chateau; father Chaumonot, Major du Puys, and his selected recruits, had already made off for Onondaga. A word from Father Chaumonot into the governor’s ear promoted the Chevalier to a lieutenancy in lieu of Nicot’s absence in Onondaga. Everything began very well.