Mr. Dubois, though possessing a conservative power that prevented him from descending to the low type of character and the lax principles of the country, yet never made any other than the most quiet assertion of superiority. It was impossible indeed for him to hold business connections with the rough settlers without mingling freely with them. But he never assumed the air of a master. He frequently engaged with them in bold, adventurous exploits, the accomplishment of which did not involve an infringement of law; sometimes he put hand and shoulder to the hard labors they endured, and he was ever ready with his sympathy and aid in redressing their grievances. Though often shocked at their lawless and profane customs, he yet recognized in many of them traits of generosity and nobleness.
Without a particle of aggressiveness in his disposition, he had never undertaken actively the work of reform, yet his example of uprightness and integrity had made an impression upon the community. The people treated him with unvarying respect and confidence, partly from a sense of his real superiority, and partly, perhaps, from the very lack of self-assertion on his side. Consequently without having made the least effort to do so, he exercised an autocratic power among them.
Mrs. Dubois visited the women of the place frequently, particularly when the men were absent in their lumbering, or fishing operations, conversing with them freely, bearing patiently their superstitions and ignorance, aiding them liberally in temporal things, and sometimes mingling kindly words of counsel with her gifts.
Adele’s intercourse with the settlers was in an altogether different style. Her manner from earliest childhood, when she first began to run about from one cottage to another, had been free, frank, and imperious. Whether it was, that having sniffed from babyhood the fresh forest air of the new world, its breath had inspired her with a careless independence not shared by her parents, or, whether the haughty blood that had flowed far back in the veins of ancestors, after coursing quietly along the generations, had in her become stimulated into new activity, certain it is, she had always the bearing of one having authority and the art of governing seemed natural to her. It was strange, therefore, that she should have been such a universal favorite in the neighborhood. But so it was. Those who habitually set public law at defiance, came readily under the control of her youthful sway.
Possessing a full share of the irrepressible activity of childhood, she enacted the part of lady of the Manor, assuming prerogatives that even her mother did not think of exercising.
When about eleven summers old, she opened one afternoon the door of an Irish cabin and received at once a cordial, noisy welcome from its inmates. She did not however, make an immediate response, for she had begun taking a minute survey of the not over-nice premises. At length she deigned to speak.