The two soon gained their chairs and disappeared. Neither of them saw the count go on board the ship.
On board all was activity. There came a lurch, a straining of ropes and a creaking of masts, and the good ship Saint Laurent swam out to sea. Suddenly the waters trembled and the air shook: the king’s man-of-war had fired the admiral’s salute. So the voyage began. Priests, soldiers, merchants, seamen, peasants and nobles, all stood silent on the poop-deck, watching the rugged promontory sink, turrets and towers and roofs merge into one another, black lines melt into grey; stood watching till the islands became misty in the sunshine and nothing of France remained but a long, thin, hazy line.
“The last of France, for the present,” said the poet.
“And for the present,” said the vicomte, “I am glad it is the last of France. France is not agreeable to my throat.”
The Chevalier threw back his shoulders and stood away from the rail.
The Comte d’Herouville, his face purple with rage and chagrin, came up. He approached Victor.
“Monsieur,” he said, “you lied. Madame is not on board.” He drew back his hand to strike the poet in the face, but fingers of iron caught his wrist and held it in the air.
“The day we land, Monsieur,” said the Chevalier, calmly. “Monsieur de Saumaise is not your equal with the sword.”
“And you?” with a sneer.
“Well, I can try.”
ACHATES WRITES A BALLADE OF DOUBLE REFRAIN
The golden geese of day had flown back to the Master’s treasure house; and ah! the loneliness of that first night at sea!—the low whistling song of the icy winds among the shrouds; the cold repellent color tones which lay thinly across the west, pressing upon the ragged, heaving horizon; the splendor and intense brilliancy of the million stars; the vast imposing circle of untamed water, the purple of its flowing mountains and the velvet blackness of its sweeping valleys; the monotonous seething round the boring prow and the sad gurgle of the speeding wake; the weird canvas shadows rearing heavenward; and above all, that silence which engulfs all human noises simply by its immensity! More than one stout heart grew doubtful and troubled under the weight of this mystery.
Even the Iroquois Indian, born without fear, stoic, indifferent to physical pain, even he wrapped his blanket closer about his head, held his pipe pendent in nerveless fingers, and softly chanted an appeal to the Okies of his forebears, forgetting the God of the black-robed fathers in his fear of never again seeing the peaceful hills and valleys of Onondaga or tasting the sweet waters of familiar springs. For here was evil water, of which no man might drink to quench his thirst; there were no firebrands to throw into the face of the North Wind; there was no trail, to follow or to retrace. O for his mat by the fire in the Long House, with the young braves and old warriors sprawling around, recounting the victories of the hunt!