John Talbot Smith.

Saranac : a story of Lake Champlain online

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Mr. DeLaunay himself. Good-afternoon."

He went out abruptly convinced that after all the
odium of being put in bonds to keep the peace must
be borne by Amed^e, who would not consider it a
hardship; and the Captain must be tne bondsman.
He thought the DeLaunays took the affair pretty
meanly. Generosi'y would not injure them; of
course it was John's doing, and John had a point
to make, a point which would not be benefited by the
allusion to his father's hatred of his former partner.
Hugh laughed to himself at that happy touch. It was
something to make a lawyer pale, and turn his clients
green in the very instant of triumph. They would
hate him for it ever after, and Regina in particular
would detest him. He had got to the gate by this,
when Mrs. DeLaunay's imperious voice saluted him.
She was sitting in a shaded arbor reading, and invited



174

him to enter. He accepted because of an instant re-
solve to try her influence in AmedeVs behalf. It was
a poor chance for every one knew the lady took small
part in the affairs of her own household, never seemed
to be intimate with her husband and daughter, ap-
pearing more the guest than the mother of the family.
The Captain told her a very discreet story, and mar-
velled at its effect on her. A fire at once seemed to
heat up her form ; color in her face and ears and lips
became juvenile ; she threw aside the novl, a smile
of hearty delight shone from her face, and her eyes
sparkled red. Great heavens, thought the Captain,
I hope this is not more trouble ; but he went on with
AmedeVs story bravely.

" Certainly the poor man shall not leave Saranac,"
she said, and what a vibrant ring there was in her
voice. " You just came from my husband and daugh-
ter and the lawyer. Let us go back to them. Pint,
tell me are you convinced that this LaRoche is inno-
cent?"

" I am," said the Captain.

" Could I ask if you are as certain of Mr. DeLau-
nay's guilt ?"

He raised a warning hand.

" I see. You are on your honor. Well, let us go
to the house."

The simple-hearted Captain never forgot that going
to the house, and often compared it to the last scene
in a play. It was really that, and as Mrs. DeLaunay
had once been a successful and clever actress, she im-
ported into the scene all the dash and intensity of a
theatrical climax. When she walked into the parlor
where the three still sat discussing the Captain's ec-



175

cntricitles, Mr. DeLaunay shrank into his chair and
Regina grew brea'hless with terror; though her
mother was smiling and self possessed and there was
no evidence of a thunderbolt from that clear sky.

" My love," said she to her husband, " I am sorry
to spoil all your plans, but really y^u must see to it
that Amedee La Roche remains in Saranac. Captain
Sullivan has so interested me in that man's story that
I could never rest easy if he did not die here, and
give us all a chance to devote ourselves to him while
he lives. "What do you say ?"

" Certainly, madame," gasped the husband, " as you
say."

' Thanks. Captain, you can go home content.
Mr. Winthrop, so sorry to spoil your clever plans.
Regira, your dear papa and I will talk the matter
over. Good-day, gentlemen."

Regina fled in a state of collapse to her room, and
the men went^away together, the lawyer shocked and
mortified, the Captain nearly bursting with 1 inghter
at his friend's overthrow. Husband and wife were left
alone in the parlor. Any one could understand that
this was a case of vivisection, and that Mr. DeLau-
nay's escape was impossible.

CHAPTER XIX.

WINTHROP IN FAVOR.

The last days of the summer were days of terror
to Regina, and nearly drove her to desperation. A
new character had suddenly entered the household.
Her mother in one hour had become so completely
another person, that a second wife introduced by Mr.
DeLaunay could hardly have created such a revolu-



tion. The woman that hitherto ruled the establish-
ment had been a curious but ordinary creature, whose
grand manner, languid airs, and polite nagging of her
husband suggested a lurking scorn of her surroundings.
She had never been the hou:e-mother, anxious, fore-
seeing, nervous. The irritation of domestic cares, of
training a girl to womanhood, of enduring the caprices
of an elegant loid never seemed to reach her, or in-
terest her. She found one thing as dull as another,
one day the same as the preceding, and never occu-
pied herself earnestly with any one but herself. She
was really a cipher in the house, self elected t > insig-
nificance, and probably determined that no one should
know anything about her. Once when Regina tried
to register what she knew about her mother two facts
alone presented themselves, that she liked novels and
coffee. Mrs. DeLaunay might have dismissed these
luxuries had she known.

In one hour this character, thanks to the stubborn
spirit of Hugh Sullivan, had vanished like a ghost.
Its substitute was not disagreeable, but it was in-
tended to be. From insignificance Mrs. DeLaunay
leaped to despotism, none the less felt that it was per-
fectly polite ; from langu jr she passed to sprightliness ;
once bent on being bored, now she found pleasure in
all things. Visitors would wonder what sort of a
creature she was ; it was easy enough at this moment
to learn her good and bad qualities between breakfast
and luncheon. Regina was terrified at the first ex
hibition of this new character. Her father from the
hour he was left in the parlor with his wife remained
in a state of stupor. The three met at dinner that
evening. Mrs. DeLaunay was at her ease, and was



177

dressed in colors. There was a suspicion of rouge on her
cheeks, her eyes sparkled, she smiled on her two re-
latives in Lady Teazle fxshion, gay, bewitching, good-
humored.

' You are too sober, Regina," she said. " Had I
known as much about papa as you, I would have been
quite mad with good spirits."

Regina never heard her father called papa before,
and shuddered.

" But he had his secrets from you as well as from
me," she went on with a charming glance at DeLau-
nav, "so that we aie quite even. Only you must
know the other secret also. You have no objection,
my love," turning to her husband.

" None whatever," said he. "It will do the girl
good to know us both well."

" Some time when I am not busy I shall tell you
the story, Regira,'' she said. " It will supplement
that which this LaRoche tells about your father. By
the way, papa, is it all true ?"

" Didn't Sullivan tell you," snapped DeLaunay,
" of course it's true but you can't prove it."

" The culprit's confession proves it," his wife re-
plied with a provoking smile "You should berrore
careful, Howard. No, Captain Sullivan would tell
me nothing. He was bound to silence, I inferred.
All he would tell me was the common reports in the
town."

Father and daughter exchanged glances.

"Even your shrewd lawyer, Regina, could not
match the cleverness of the lake Captain. It was
such a chance too ! I sat in the arbor reading when
he passed, quite discouraged by your refusal to do



i 7 8

anything. Then he canoe in and told me all. No
novel I ever read could approach tt. And it explained
so much that had been mysterious to me. The way
you two treated the Captain after the play last winter
was shameful, but now it is explained. I must say
you did not encourage him much to keep the secret."

" Regina wouldn't let me offer him money," said
the father.

" Very sensible of her. I think Captain Sullivan
does not keep secrets for money."

" I don't believe he kept it anyway," said Regina,
" he must have told it to Mr. Winthrop."

" Hardly," replied the mother with a Lady Teazle
glance, "these two young men will never exchange
secrets again. You puzzle me, Regina. One tirne you
encourage the Captain, another time it is the lawyer."

" I never encouraged either, mamma," with a deep
and angry blush. u I am sure their behavior has
never been loverlike."

" I wouldn't want either in the family," said De-
Launay crossly. " They know too much about our
affairs, particularly this d ah, LaRoche."

" That reminds me," said Madame, " of what we
must do for that most unfortunate young man. First,
he must be invited here."

" Here," exclaimed the two in dismay.

" I admit it's not much of an honor for him,'' she
answered much cast- down apparently, " but it will
make an impression on the town. It will help to
establish the man's good name. Funny isn't it,
Howard, that an honest man's reputation can be re-
stored by a visit to the gentleman who stole the money
he was condemned for stealing. It's a queer word."



179

She reflected a few moments on the world's queer ^
ness while the otners sat silent.

" I don't see what good can be done by such con-
duct," grumbled her husband.

' His good name," said she.

" What do these curs care for a good name ? "

" Far more than silky terriers," said madame, " for
it's all they have. But don't get irritable, Howard
I shall find a way to do everything that will not jar
your nerves. But you shall entertain this man before
the whole world, and seat him at your right hand, and
embrace him as a son when he is leaving. And Re
gina will play and sing and declaim for him, and smile
upon him. You owe h'm reparation for your recent
effort to keep him out of Siranac forever. That lost
you Captain Sull. van's regard, Regina."

" I think, mamma, you are determined to make it
disagreeable for papa and me," said Regina. " In
which case I must get ready to visit New Yoik."

"I could make it more disagreeabl; for you in
New York, darling, 1 ' said mamma coolly. " IJ.ow
would a column or two in the New York papers ap-
pear to your friends there, containing a complete ac-
count, with headlines, of Mr DeLaunay's tricks fifteen
years ago, the innocent man's return, and your pres-
ence in New York."

A heavy silence acknowledged the power of the
threat.

" But ihen, dearest," mamma went on in her sweet-
est way, "don't think that I shall do anything to make
you miserable. The road of reparation is not pleas-
ant to the feet, but how stimulating to the moral
nature ! "



i8o

She laughed then at the despair of the two faces
before her.

"Your moral nature needs stimulus," she said,
" and hereafter I shall read to you daily a portion of
Parker's sermons. I have neglected my duty in that
respert, though not so far as to steal or injure a man's
good name. Well, (*on't let me bore you, dears. Feel
assured that I shall sugar coat all the pills I insist
upon your swallowing."

When dinner was over father and daughter fled
from her to the refuge of his sitting-room. Regina
implored him to tell her what influences could have
changed her mother in a few hours from an ordinarily
disagreeable person to a creature so vengeful and ill-
tempered.

" I have had the upper hand of her for years," said
DeLaunay, "but we have changed places now. That's
all, Regina, upon my ward. She is now the mistress
of this house and the boss, if I may use that terrible
word. Put a beggar on horseback, and you know
where he will ride. Not that your awful mother was
ever anything but a princess. You want me to ex-
plain ho v we came to change positions? Well, I
think she can tell the story better. I have quite for-
gotten it, but it's as fresh in her memory as new paint
Oh, what a life is in store for us hereafter."

He dropped his cigar and groaned in real anguish,

" She must be restrained somehow," Regina said
desperately. " Our lives are not too happy that more
misery should come into them. Can you suggest
anything, papa ?"

" Hear her story first, Regina, and then you may
think of something, /am helpless."



There was no doubt of it. " What a home," she
said, as she went out into the garden to suffer alone
the melancholy that oppressed her. The soft night
was not lighted by moon or stars, a haze hung be-
tween earth and sky, and the bold light on the distant
point shone strongly over the lake. A restless and
fretful wind had the water sighing heavily along the
shore. Regina listened to it with tears, and thought
of the pure and peaceful homes about her where sin
and discord had never found hospitality.

Her grief at the deficiencies of her own, home began
to tell upon her in spite of her strong pride. Her
mother could not but see it.

Mrs. DeLaunay was not without some friction of a
mother's love, and was a woman of grtat generosity.

" I can see how troubled you are, dear, over our
domestic trials,"' she said, "and I must show you how
they can be used for your own happiness. You dream
ot making yonr father and me friendly once more. It
is useless to think of it. It is unnecessary too. We
have never been intimate or friendly, and it is too
late to begin now, supposing we had the best of dis-
positions, which we haven't. But then we are old and
sensible. We can observe the proprieties, and avoid
becoming in'olerable to each other; and you can go
away I mean by marriage of course without fear-
ing that we shall turn into wolves and eat each other
up."

This language was so practical, and the tone so
natural that for a moment Regina's face lighted up
with hope.

"Is it really necessary," continued Madame, "that
I should tell you all about your father from the be-



182

ginning, in order to explain why I admire him ? No,
of course not I see that by your face. You know
where he is row. He was never any worse. His
whole life has been most respectable. But I can just
hint at one trouble of many years back, and you can
guess the rest. I was an actress, dear, and I notice
you have some of my talent. I was gay, and foolish
too in those days, and enjoyed life very much. Once
your father caught me just as ST Peter Teasle caught
his young wife behind the screen ; the worse for him
perhaps that he knew my innocence as well as I did.
He lorded it over me in his own peculiar way from
that day until the moment Captain Sullivan told me
a true story of him ; the story told of me was false.
That's all, dear. Don't let our selfish ways trouble
you any more."

" If you would not do and say so many things to
frighten one,'' said Regina

" Your papa is not frightened," Mrs. DeLaunay said
placidly, "but he knows I will do and say startling
things to the end of the chapter. As in plays they
don't count. They never bring about any tragedies.
You are so conservative they frighten you. You
should get married, dear. It would be a way out of
your troubles."

This quite took Regina's breath away, but she ven-
tured to say :

" I was thinking of it. '

"These slow Saranao boys," said her mother,
" should have made you think more smartly long ago.
Who would think Captain Sullivan and Mr. Winthrop
had been dashing soldiers to see them making love.
I would advise you to choose the Captain. He is the



less refined, but he is slid and simple-hearted. Then
he has some piety, which in marriage is a great help
to love. But Mr. Winthrop is a charming man, and
much better suited to your disposition. Of course it's
mostly a heart matter, very properly. You cannot
do better than to follow your heart."

The conversation ended there for she d;d not take
her mother into her confidence ; and scarcely to her
self she mentioned the thoughts which from that da,-
soothed and occupied her mind. John Winthrop
wou'd rejoice to be her deliverer. He was a gentle-
man by blood and training, a gallant soldier, a proud,
patient wooer, a faithful friend. She had been struck
with his devotion to the Captain. In the LaRoche
matter they had been on opposite sides, and a natural
and strong temptation to betray the contents of that
letter must have beset Winthrop. Yet not a hint had
once been breathed of Sullivan's heartless disregard of
his solemn word. To console Winthrop for his recent
defeat she thanked him for his consideration !

' I know, no matter how," she said, " that Captain
Sullivan told you months ago of our scandal. He
broke his word then, and he has broken it since in
ways that woul 1 have justified even his friend in tell-
ing the truth about him. You have been silent. I
think it was honorable and very kind."

" Thank you," stammered John, in great torture.
The traitor praised for his fidelity ! The eulogy from
Regina made him cold and faint.



i8 4



CHAPTER XX.

A LAWN-PARTY.

Captain Sullivan after one visit to Amede got a
feeling of confidence in the regenerated exile. This
confidence increased with the accounts that were
regularly brought to him of Amedee's rise to mild
affluence under the distinguished patronage of Mrs.
DeLaunay. This lady made her appearance on the
field at the moment her protege was sufficiently re-
covered to present himself before the public as finely
dressed as on his arrival in town. His appearance
language, manner charmed and disappointed her.

" This is a gentleman,'' she thought, " where I
looked for a picturesque rogue, rough enough to con-
trast well with my husband. There will not be much
excitement developing him, unless he gets to smash-
ing things again."

Briefly she offere _ n behalf of Mr. DeLaunay to
furnish the money for any business that Amed6e de-
sired to take up ; or to get him any position that his
health and ability would permit him to accept ; and
it was to be well understood that the DeLaunays no
longer looked upon him as an embezzler, but an
honest and injured man.

" It would make too much trouble," she explained
to Amed6e, " to declare openly that a certain person
stole the money and doctored the books, though /



1*5

would not object. But when you are asked about
your share in tht stealing, declare your innocence and
refer to the three members of the DeLaunay family as
authority."

Amedee thanked her, and said he would take time
to select a business or a position. When he was
ready he would let her know.

" And I would be pleased to know something more
about you," she said. " You must have had some
cur.ous experiences in Texas. Call when you have
time, and Jet us hear them from your own lips. Mr.
DeLaunay would be so interested."

Amedee consented to call !

The certainty of restoration to public esteem gave
him new life and purrose, which for a time served
to conceal the ravages of dissipation and disease.
He decided after a little thought to go into the
dry goods business. It was light and agreeable,
and the selection pleased his patroness who had
expressed to John Winthrop a fear that it might
be groceries. She had made Winthrop her agent.
Amedee seemed reluctant to take her favors
through John's willing hands ; but he did not openly
object, and the lawyer behaved with tact and true
sympathy The store was selected, the announce-
ments made, the signs painted, the most dazzling
array of town merchandise piled on the shelves.
Saranac looked on, wondered and gossiped ; Ame-
dee's friends, and at that moment they were few,
beamed with joy. Madame went once to look at the
new place, and walked home in ecstacy, after leaving
a bouquet and many grateful tears with delighted
Mrs. Sullivan. LaRoche however avoided the place



1 86

from a sad presentiment that Amedee would wreck
the establishment wuhin a month and create a scan-
dal whose history would be a Saranac laugh for years.
Even in his dreams the anxious pilot saw the main street
strewn with calicoes, muslins, ribbons and underwear,
and heard the shrieks of his drunken son, even as Tim
Grady, with fatal attention to detail described them
to him. Every morning of his arrival in Saranac lie
looked suspiciously into the faces of tV*e dock loungers,
dreading to see there the news of an outbreak.
( im Grady saw Amedee take possession of his place
of business one August morning, and stoo \ with pro
phetic, sarcastic grin across the street while the goods
were uncovered to the light. It was the prettiest
store in the town ; already its proprietor was showing
that his native cleverness had not left him, and that
he had used his travels to some purpose. In time all
Saranac was there to see and to buy, but at the open-
ing hour Mr. Gra iy had the spectacle to himself. His
godson paid him no attention. Tim was compelled
to utter his prophecy to the air.

" If inside o' wan month," said Mr. Grady to the
sweet morning, " this gossoon hasn t at en every bit o'
cloth in his shtore, I'm willin' to hang meself higher
than Haman, I'm that sure of it. But it's a fine
shtore anyhow."

This praise was not uttered in a spirit of admira-
tion, but of bitter delight at the prospect of the de-
struction Amedee would inflict upon it. Mr. Grady
was furious wkh his godson and with Hugh Sullivan.
They had beaten him, routed him, triumphed over
him, and now would not so much as admit they had
fought with him.



t8 7

"A>, thin the day'il cotne," saH Mr. Grady, "whin
I'll be sought for to capthur this divil in wan ov his
tantrums, an' I won't be found."

A remark that meant that Saranac would be at the
mercy of the demoniac until he came to his senses or
was shot ; Mr. Grady would not lift a hand to save
an ungrateful people. While Tim stood watching the
store David Winthr 'p came along.

* I'd give something, Tim Grady,'' he said, " to know
why the DeLaunays started this young rascal in business
They're not interested in it, are they, do you know ? '

" They're not," replied Tim, " an' if ye want to
know why they've done so much for Amedee, I'll tell
ye for n.ithin'; an' ye can save yer few dollais.
Amerce says ould DeLaunay shtole the money that
was laid to his door ; which ye know already ; but
can ye prove it ? Ye know ye can't. 'Pon me sowl
I don t belave a word of it. There's somethin' deeper
in the thing. That divil knows a secret maybe that
won't stan' daylight an' the DeLaunays have to help
him. But the shtore'll go down. Not a sowl that I
know will thrade in it. Whin there's no thrade,
there's no money. Whin there's no money Amedee
will take to dhrink again, an' smash everything to bits
Mind I'm tellin' ye four weeks ahead, and ye can wit-
ness I tould ye."

" Bad trade-prophet,'' said Winthrop.

"I'm no prophet," said Tim. "I'm tellin' what I
see, an what you kin see if ye want to."

" Humbug ! Tell me something I can't know my-
self or find out, or guess at. Any man can do what
you're doing, Tim Grady, and you needn't pride your
self on your superior fore^'ght."



i88

Grady retired muttering. He had become in one
fashion an enemy of his godson. The failure of
Amede'e to remain in Texas and die of drink, his
success in resisting Saranac public opinion which Tim
had manufactured, and finally his impudent bid for
the patronage of decent people to maintain him in
business had seriously irritated the old man, whose
forecasts had thus been all overthrown. The more
irequent his failures in prophecy the more violently
he prophesied Amede'e must take to drink before a
month, th'ow his wares into the street, and a third
time disgrace himself in the eyes of Saranac. He was
bent on bringing the disaster to pass. He would not
have admitted such a charge even to himself, and
been horrified to hear it from others. He argued it
was a mistake to let Amedee escape from Texas, and
a danger to keep him in Saranac. Good sense and
chaiisy required that so hopeless a case be returned
to the place of his exile ; to bring this about the new
store must prove a failure ; Mr. Grady was ready to
do all in his power to make it a failure. He succeeded
fairly. Saranac agreed with him that Amedee was a
hopeless case, impudent, and untrustworthy. It could
not resist a natural curiosity to see the new pUce and
its wild proprietor. For a week the store was thronged
with the curious, not with buyers. Then a great
desolation fell upon it, and for days not a shopper en-
tered, with the exception of Mrs. Sullivan and a few
others Mr. Grady kept tally of these, and reported
to his cronies. He ventured even to remonstrate
with Mrs. Sullivan, and was roundly scolded far his
impertinence. Amedee was not at all discouraged un-
til the cause of his ill-success became known. It was



189

natural a new business should be slow in developing.
Six months was not too long to wait for a small trade,
and he was happy. Bat it daunted him to hear at
last that Saranac had made up its mind to avoid him
because he \\ as a suspicious and dangerous character,
and should be in Texas. This was not giving a man
a fair chance. He consulted with John Winthrop,
and that shrewd gentleman put him on the track of
Tim Grady. The situation had in the end to be rut
be ore Mrs. DeLaunay.

" The town will not go to Amedee," said she.


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Online LibraryJohn Talbot SmithSaranac : a story of Lake Champlain → online text (page 12 of 18)