A duel! This palsied old man pressing youth and vigor to the wall! It seemed incredible. What must this man have been in his prime? Age vanquishing youth! A shiver ran across Brother Jacques’s spine, a shiver of admiration and wonder. He touched the withered hand which had but a few moments since been endowed with marvelous skill and cunning and strength: it was icy and damp.
He filled the glass of wine, ready for the marquis’s awakening, and again found his gaze entrapped by the envelope. His hand reached out for it absently and without purpose. He read the address indifferently—“To Monsieur le Marquis de Perigny, to be delivered into his hands at my death.” The marquis, then, had lost some friend? He put back the letter, placing a book upon it to prevent its being swept to the floor.
There was a sound. The marquis had recovered his senses. He looked blankly around, at the candles, at Brother Jacques, at the sheets which covered his strangely deadened limbs.
“Ah! I have had only a bad dream, then? Pour me a glass of wine, and I shall sleep.”
SISTER BENIE AND A DISSERTATION ON CHARITY
Three days passed. At Orleans the settlers had had two or three brushes with marauding Mohawks. A letter from Father Chaumonot at the mission in Onondaga reported favorable progress. D’Herouville was again out of hospital; and De Leviston had stolen quietly away to Montreal, where he was shortly to succumb to the plague. Only three persons knew of the remarkable conflict between the marquis and D’Herouville: the son, Brother Jacques, and the Vicomte d’Halluys, who possessed that mysterious faculty of finding out many things of which the majority were unaware. As for the marquis, Brother Jacques fostered the belief that it had been only a wild dream.
Each morning Madame de Brissac watched with growing eagerness the lading of the good ship Henri IV. It seemed impossible to her that the deception in regard to the Chevalier could continue much longer. Where was the denouement on which she had builded so fondly? She had put it off so many times that perhaps it was now too late. Sooner or later Victor would slip, and the mask would be at an end. And why not? Why not have done with a comedy which had grown stale? Why not tell Monsieur du Cevennes that she was Gabrielle Diane de Montbazon, she whose miniature he had crushed beneath the heel of his riding boot? Rather would she tell him than leave it to the offices of D’Herouville or the vicomte. Surely her purpose had been to bring him to his knees and then laugh! Relent? Not while her cup still held a drop of pride. She had been mad indeed. To have come here to Quebec with purpose and impulse undefined! Daily she mocked her weakness. Truly she was the daughter of her mother, extravagant, unbalanced, blown hither and thither by caprice as a leaf is blown by an autumn wind.