His face was purple, and I assumed that he bore no love for Simon, whose name seemed to be of considerable importance in Quebec. I was delighted at the turn affairs were taking.
“You have not a very kindly feeling for this mythical person whom we have agreed to call Leroux,” I said.
Captain Dubois jumped out of his chair and raised his arms passionately above him.
“No, nor for any of his friends,” he answered. “Go back to him—for I know he sent you to me—and tell him he cannot hire Alfred Dubois for all the money in Canada.”
“I am glad to hear you say that,” I answered, “because Leroux is no friend of mine. Now listen to me, Captain Dubois. It is true that I am going to the chateau, if I can get there, but I did not know that Leroux had made his arrangements already. In brief, he is in pursuit of me and I have urgent reasons for avoiding him. My companion is a lady——”
“Eh?” he exclaimed, looking stupidly at me.
“And I am anxious to take her to the chateau, where we shall be safe from the man——”
“A lady!” exclaimed the captain. “A young one? Why didn’t you tell me so at first, monsieur? I’ll take you. I will do anything for an enemy of Leroux. He put my brother in jail on a false charge because he wouldn’t bow to him—my brother died there, monsieur—that was his wife who opened the door to you. And the children, who might have starved, if I had not been able to take care of them! And he has tried to rob me of my position, only it is a Dominion one—the rascal!”
The captain was becoming incoherent. He drew his sleeve across his eyes.
“But a lady!” he continued, with forced gaiety a moment later, “I do not know your business, monsieur, but I can guess, perhaps——”
“But you must not misunderstand me,” I interposed. “She is not——”
“It’s all right!” said the captain, slapping me upon the back. “No explanations! Not a word, I assure you. I am the most discreet of men. Madeleine!”
This last word was a deep-chested bellow, and in response a little girl came running in, staggering under the weight of the captain’s overcoat of raccoon fur.
“That is my overcoat voice,” he explained, stroking the child’s head. “My niece, monsieur. The others are boys. I wish they were all girls, but God knows best. And, you see, a man can save much trouble, for by the tone in which I call Madeleine knows whether it is my overcoat or my pipe or slippers that I want, or whether I am growing hungry.”
I thought that the captain’s hunger voice must shake the rafters of the old building.
“And now, monsieur,” he continued seriously, when we had left the house, “I am going to take you down to the pier and show you my boat. And I will tell you as much as I know concerning the plans of that scoundrel. In brief, it is known that a party of his friends has been quartered for some time at the chateau; they come and go, in fact, and now he is either taking more, or the same ones back again, and God knows why he takes them to so desolate a region, unless, as the rumour is, he has discovered coal-fields upon the seigniory and holds M. Duchaine in his power. Well, monsieur, a party sails with Captain Duhamel on tonight’s tide, which will carry me down the gulf also.