A moment more, and the swords set up that thin and venomous whispering of theirs. Now, what I am not going to do, even to please Yvonne, is—undertake to describe that combat. She wishes it, because under my instruction she has learned to fence very cunningly herself. But to me the affair was unpleasant, because I saw from the first a brave gentleman, and a good enough swordsman as these English go, hopelessly overmatched. I would not do him the discredit of seeming to play with him. He fenced very hotly, too. He wanted blood, being bitter and humiliated. After a few 277minutes of quick play I 佛山桑拿按摩上门 thought it best to prick him a little sharply in the arm. The blood spurted scarlet over his white sleeve; and I sprang back, dropping my point.
“Are you satisfied, monsieur?” I asked.
“No, never! Guard yourself, sir!” he cried angrily, taking two quick steps after me.
During the next two minutes or so he was so impetuous as to keep me quite occupied; and I was about concluding to disarm him, when there came a strange intervention. It was most irregular; but the wisest of women seem to have small regard for points of stringency in masculine etiquette. At a most knowingly calculated moment there descended between us, entangling and diverting the points of our weapons,—what but a flutter of black lace!
“I will not have either of you defeated!” came Yvonne’s voice, gayly imperious. “You shall both of you surrender at once, 佛山桑拿q群to me! There is no dishonour, gentlemen, in surrendering to a woman!”
It was a most gracious thought on her part, to save a brave man from humiliation; and my worship of her deepened, if that were possible. As for the elegant Mr. Shafto, he was palpably taken aback, and glowered rudely for a space of some seconds. Then he came to himself and accepted the diversion with good grace. With a very low bow he presented his sword-hilt to Yvonne, saying:
278“To you, and to you only, I yield myself a prisoner, Mademoiselle de Lamourie,”
Yvonne took the sword, examined it with gay concern on this side and on that, tried it against the deck as she had seen him do, and then, without so much as a glance at Marc or me for permission, gravely returned it to him.
“Keep it, monsieur,” she said. “I have no use for it at present; and I trust 佛山桑拿有什么服务 to hold my prisoners whether they be armed or defenceless.”
“That you will, mademoiselle, I’ll wager,” spoke up Captain Eliphalet, just behind.
Chapter XXXVII Fire in Ice
Some while after, as in my passing to and fro I went by the cabin for the fiftieth time, my expectation came true: the door opened, and Yvonne, close wrapped in her great cloak, stood beside me. I drew her under the lee of the cabin, where the bitter wind blew less witheringly. The first of dawn was just creeping bleakly up the sky, and the ship was under way.
“You are cold, dear,” exclaimed Yvonne beneath her breath, catching my hand in her two little warm ones; and, faith! I was, though I had not had time to notice it till she bade me. The next moment, careless of the eyes of La Mouche, who stood by the rail not ten paces off, she opened her cloak, flung the folds of it about my neck, and drew my face down, in that enchanted darkness, to the sweet warmth of hers.
There were no words. What could those vain things avail in such a moment, when our pulses beat together, and our souls met at the lips, and 280in silence was plighted that great troth which shall last, it is my faith, through other lives than this? Then she drew softly away, and, with eyes cast down, left me, and went back into her cabin.
I lifted my head. La Mouche stood by the rail, looking off across the faintly lightening water. As I passed near him he turned and grasped my hand hard.
“I am most glad for you, my captain!” he said quietly. But I saw that my joy was an emphasis to his own sorrow, and his very lips were grey for remembrance of the woman who had stricken him.
When it was full daylight we could see the other ship, a white speck on the horizon far ahead. Long before noon she was out of sight. The wind favouring us all day, before sunset we arrived off the grim portal through which the great river of St. John, named by Champlain, empties forth its floods into the sea. The rocky ridges that fence the haven were crested gloriously with rose and gold, and toward this inviting harbourage we steered—not without misgivings, however, for we knew not the channel or the current. In this strait we received unlooked-for aid. Captain Eliphalet, excited by some error in the course which we were shaping, and all in a tremble lest his loved ship fall upon a reef, offered his services as pilot. They were at once accepted. We knew he was 281as incapable of a treachery as his situation was of turning a treachery to profit. Himself he took the wheel; and on the slack of tide he steered us up to a windless anchorage at the very head of the harbour, beside the ruins of an old fort. The only sign of life was the huts of a few Acadian fishermen, so miserable as to have been quite overlooked by the doom that had descended on their race.
Our plan was to scatter the greater part of our company among the small Acadian settlements up the river—at Jemseg, Pointe Ste. Anne, and Medoctec; while the rest of us, the trained men who would be needed in New France, accompanied by a half dozen women with daring and vitality for such a journey, would make our way on sledges and snow-shoes northward, over the Height of Land, down into the St. Lawrence valley, and thence to Quebec.
The two carronades on the deck of our ship we dropped into the harbour. We helped ourselves to all the arms and ammunition, with tools for the building of our sledges,
and such clothing as our prisoners could well spare. Of the ship’s stores we left enough to carry the ship safely to Boston. Yvonne gave Lieutenant Shafto a letter for her father and mother, which he undertook to forward to Halifax at the earliest opportunity. Then, three days after our arrival in the St. John, we loosed our captives every one, bade Captain Eliphalet a 282less eventful remainder to his voyage, and turned our back upon the huts of the fishermen. We crossed the Kennebeccasis River on the ice, where it joins the St. John, just back of the ridge which forms the northern rampart of the harbour. Thence we pushed straight up the main river, keeping close along the eastern shore.
The rough sledges which we had hastily thrown together were piled with our stores. They carried also such of the women and children as
were not capable of enduring the march. The sledges ran easily on the level way afforded by the river, which was now frozen to the depth of a foot. In spots the ice was covered by a thin, hard-packed layer of snow; but for the most part it had been swept clean by the wind.
For my own part, I drew a light sledge, of which I had myself directed the construction, that it might be comfortable for Yvonne. It was comfortable, with a back and arms, and well lined with blankets. But she chose rather, for the most of the journey, to walk beside me, secretly proud to show her activity and endurance. It was Mother Pêche who, under strenuous protest, 佛山夜网狼女 chiefly occupied my sledge. Her protests were vain enough; for Yvonne told her quietly that if she would not let herself be taken care of she would not trust her to face the Quebec
journey, but would leave her behind at Jemseg. Though the old dame was a 283witch, Yvonne had the will to have her way; and protest ended.
As we marched, a little aside from the main body, Yvonne now laying her mittened hand upon my arm, and now drawing with me upon the sledge-rope, we had exhaustless themes of converse, but also seasons for that revealing silence when the great things get themselves uttered between two souls.
There were some practical matters, however, not without importance, which silence was not competent to discuss.
“Do you know any one at the Jemseg settlement, Paul?” she chanced to ask me, that first day of our marching.
“Yes,” said I, with significance, taking merciless advantage of the question, “I know an excellent priest, dear heart!”
She reddened, and turned upon me deep eyes of reproach. But I was not abashed.
“Am I too precipitate, sweet?” I asked. “But do not think so. I know you will not. Consider all the strangeness of the situation, most dear, and give me the right to guard you, to keep you, to show openly my reverence and my love.”
As she did not reply, it was clear enough that she found my reasoning cogent. I went on, with a kind of singing elation in my brain:
“Truly, in my eyes, you are my wife now, as—do 284you remember?—I dared to call you that night as we came over the ridge, I to prison, you to—But no! I will not think of that. In deed and in truth, dear, I believe that God joined together us two, inalienably and forever, not months ago, but years ago—that day in the orchard, when our spirits met in our eyes. The material part of us was slow in awaking to the comprehension of that mystery, but”—
“Speak for yourself, Paul,” she interrupted, with tantalizing suggestion.
I stopped short, forgetting all my eloquence.
“And you loved me then—and knew it!” I exclaimed, in a voice poignant with the realization of lost years.
She came very close against my side, and held my arm tightly, as she said, in a voice ‘twixt mocking and caressing:
“I think I might have known it, Paul, had you helped me the least little bit—had the material part of you, let us say, been the least bit quicker of comprehension.”
She forbore to hint at all that might have been different; but the thought of it kept me long silent.
On the next day, about sunset, we reached the Jemseg settlement. That same day Yvonne became my wife.
Chapter XXXVIII Of Long Felicity, Brief Word
“How many years, dear heart, since we made that winter journey, thou and I, from Jemseg to Quebec, through the illimitable snows?”
“Ten!” answers Yvonne; and the great eyes which she lifts from her writing and flashes gayly upon me grow tender with sweet remembrance. During those ten years the destinies of thrones have shifted strangely in the kaleidoscope of fate. Empires have changed hands. New France has been erased from the New World. Louisbourg has been levelled to a sheep pasture. Quebec has proved no more impregnable. The flag of England flies over Canada. My uncle, the Sieur de Briart, sleeps in a glorious grave, having fallen with Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham. My cousin Marc and I, having fought and bled for France in all the last battles, and lain for months in an English hospital, have accepted the new masters of our country and been confirmed in our little estates beside the Ottawa.
286Redeeming my promise to Gr?l, I have aided him in his vengeance on the Black Abbé—a strange, dark tale which I may one day set down, if ever time makes it less painful to my memory.
Much, then, have I endured in these ten years. But the remembrance of it appears to me but as a tinted glass, through which I am enabled to contemplate the full sun of my happiness.
Yvonne in these ten years has changed but to grow more beautiful. Bodily, there was, I think, no room for that change; but growth is the law of such a spirit as hers, and so into her perfect eyes, wells of light as of old, has come a deeper and more immeasurable wisdom. As to this perennial potency of her beauty, I know that I am not deluded by my passion; for I perceive the homage it compels from all who come within its beneficent influence. Even her mother, a laughingly malicious critic, tells me that my eyes see true in this—(for Giles de Lamourie, having sold his ample acres in Nova Scotia, and forgiven ancient grudges, has come here to live with Yvonne). Father Fafard, when he visits us from his Bonaventure parish, says the same; but his eyes are blind with loving prejudice. When we go into Montreal for the months of December and January, exchanging for a little the quiet of our country home for the glitter of rout and function, no other 287court so choice, so loyal, and so revering as that which Yvonne gathers about her. The wise, drawn by her wit, are held fast by her beauty; while the gay, drawn by her beauty, rise to a worship of her wit and worth.