I locked her door on the outside, and that night I slept with the key beneath my pillow.
AT THE FOOT OF THE CLIFF
The next morning, after again cautioning Jacqueline not to leave her room until I returned, I went to the house of Captain Dubois on Paul Street, in the Lower Town.
I was admitted by a pleasant-looking woman who told me that the captain would not be home until three in the afternoon, so I returned to the chateau, took Jacqueline for a sleigh ride round the fortifications, and delighted her, and myself also, by the purchase of two fur coats, heavy enough to exclude the biting cold which I anticipated we should experience during our journey.
In the afternoon I went back to Paul Street and found M. Dubois at home. He was a man of agreeable appearance, a typical Frenchman of about forty-five, with a full face sparsely covered with a black beard that was beginning to turn grey at the sides, and with an air of sagacious understanding, in which I detected both sympathy and a lurking humour.
When I explained that I wanted to secure two passages to St. Boniface, his brows contracted.
“So you, too, are going to the Chateau Duchaine!” he exclaimed. “Is there not room for two more on the boat of Captain Duhamel?”
I disclaimed all knowledge of Duhamel, but he looked entirely unconvinced.
“It is a pity, monsieur, that you are not acquainted with Captain Duhamel,” he said dryly, “because I cannot take you to St. Boniface. But undoubtedly Captain Duhamel will assist you and your friend on your way to the Chateau Duchaine.”
“Why do you suppose that I am going to the Chateau Duchaine?” I inquired angrily.
He flared up, too. “Diable!” he burst out, “do you suppose all Quebec does not know what is in the wind? But since you are so ignorant, monsieur, I will enlighten you. We will assume, to begin then, that you are not going to the chateau, but only to St. Boniface, perhaps to engage in fishing for your support. Eh, monsieur?”
Here he looked mockingly at my fur coat, which hardly bore out this presumption of my indigence.
“Eh bien, to continue. Let us suppose that the affairs of M. Charles Duchaine have interested a gentleman of business and politics whom we will call M. Leroux—just for the sake of giving him a name, you understand,” he resumed, looking at me maliciously. “And that this M. Leroux imagines that there is more than spruce timber to be found on the seigniory. Bien, but consider further that this M. Leroux is a mole, as we call our politicians here. It would not suit him to appear openly in such an enterprise? He would always work through his agents in everything would he not being a mole?
“Let us say then that he arranges with a Captain Duhamel to convey his party to St. Boniface to which point he will go secretly by another route and that he will join them there and—in short, monsieur, take yourself and your friend to the devil, for I won’t give you passage.”