John Talbot Smith.

Saranac : a story of Lake Champlain online

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" Then let Amedee go to the town."

But Tim Grady was in the way for both parties.
Was Mr. Grady unmanageable? He was. Then let
me think for a few days, said she.

It looked as if Mr. Graly would have to be concili-
ated, and for a moment she might have entertained
this scheme ; but only for a moment ; since on inquiry
she found that Mr. Grady was acting from a spirit of
hateful pride, ambitious to have his opinion of Ame-
dee prevail in Saranac in spite of Hugh Sullivan and
the great family of the town. Then Regina's mother
resolved that the exile should be exalted and the piti-
less godfather disgraced in the same moment before
all Saranac ; and it was to be a social and official
occasion which would thus set the seal of honor upon
one, of shame upon the other. The means were ready
to her hand. She invited her meek husband to ride
with her one morning. It was early in September,
and very pleasant weather; very pleasant indeed,
Saranac folk thought, to see the pair out together
*lone. They drove to the priest's house and entered,
DeLaunay being most uneasy since he did not doubt



she would insist on his going to confession, for the
first time in a quarter of a century.

" I have come to ask a favor," Mrs. DeLaunay
said, u and I ask it on the strength of my husband
being in some sort a Catholic. I notice that the Cath-
olic ladies raise money for the Church by giving en-
tertainments at their own houses. I would like to
give one in mine, and if you consent, I promise you it
will be the most pleasant and successful you have ever
had."

" Not a doubt of it," said the priest, " but are you
aware of all the difficulties in getting up an affair of
this kind. Some people would be ashamed to visit a
fine house and make merry there. Others might re-
fuse to help towards making it a success. Others
again -"

" I can assure you, Father McManus," she inter-
rupted pleasantly, " that the whole town will be there.
The poorest will be supplied with courage. Mr. De-
Launay is a politician, and can win the heart of the
district voter. I am not afraid of the women but that
I can capture them. Give me carte blanche 9 vRn.o\mcQ it
from the altar Sunday for Tuesday night, and leave us
to do all the rest."

" There will be no failure," said Mr. DeLaunay
with a little warmth.

" Thanks," said the priest. " I give you all powers
for the affair. Such help comes in a good time, and
we cannot be too thankful for it."

" Did you not feel somewhat Catholic," said Mrs.
DeLaunay as they drove off, " in having your wife
thus volunteer to do the church some service ?"

" I've lost interest in the church," growled he, " it's



igi

a corporation of big promises and small perform-
ances."

" No doubt of it," she answered, with such a look
at him that he wilted. She seemed to take him as
one cf the performances.

A murmur went through Saranac when it was made
known that the first social of the season would be
held at the grand mansion. Several democratic noses
were turned heavenward at the mere mention ot it,
but hey soon turned to the horizon aram. The
affair was rot to be confined to kid gloves and silk
stockings, but to be as open as a town-meeting or a
picnic In her twenty years of residence in Saranac
Mrs. D'Launay had never been seen on the streets
so often as on the five days before Sunday. She vis-
ited every family in the place, an i secured not only
donations of cake, pie, ice cream, sugar, milk, coffee,
meats, and o'her delicacies, but the promises of the
matrons and their daughters to attend without fail, it
they stayed no longer than a half-hour. She made
up her managing committees from all classes of wo-
men, and so mingled them that Mrs. DeKoven's wash-
woman was that lady's chief assistant in managing the
ice cream department Everybody that was anybody
had an office, and Regina was authorized to organize
a minstrel show with the aid of the nat've young men
Mr. DeLaunay secured the man to decorate and illu-
minate the grounds, and with great earnestness in-
vited every voter he knew to attend. The bunting
was bought of Amedee, and the DeLaunay carriage
stopped at his store many times a day. In fact but
for this incident he would have been forgotten in the
excitement which prevailed. Mrs. DeLaunay took



192

up Tina Grady in her carriage one day, and drove
him through the streets as if he were a prime minister
and she the queen. He helped her out and helped
her in with the airs ot a Kerry cavalier of the last
century ; and she talked and smiled him into such a
mood that he would have fought the constable for her.
She made him the master of the revels for the social,
or in Saranac language, the " bouncer."

"You know everyone," said she, "and you must
know how to manage them if they get troublesome
Now, if you would be so kind as to take charge of the
whole place after seven o'clock, it would be such aa
honor to us."

Mr. Grady fairly swelled with admiration of him-
self as this distinction was conferred on him. He
knew it was more than deserved. He felt that in all
the town not a man could be compared with him for
knowledge of ancient history and local characters,
nevertheless he bowed to the superior discernment
and wonderful gifts of this woman, so ex:lusive, so
proud, so stern, who recognized in him the proper
person to keep order in the grounds, to secure dignity
and decorum for the festival, to to but his imagina-
tion failed to discover anything more to do for Mrs.
DeLaunay's social

The preparations were at last completed to the
infinite relief of Regina and her father, long since
wearied by the work assigned them. The Mistress
was still as fresh as at the beginning. It was like
rehearsing a play, only more interesting In seven
days she had learned more of Saranac than in twenty
years of residence, a fact which determined her to make
u the social " a feature of her life every year. Her



193

tact was great, her manner winning ; she had her own
way in all the quiet bickering that took place among
the women, settling all difficulties with ease and suc-
cess. The entire town was interested in her festival,
for she had made it the people's. After all it was only
the setting of the scene which had so far been pre-
pared. The properties had been gathered. The
actors were yet to appear, and the play to be pro-
duced. She smiled grimly in advance at Tim Grady's
coming humiliation, which to her mind was pleasanter
than the elevation of Amedee. Mr. Grady was at the
gate before seven, and saw to the lighting of the lan-
terns. He was knocked about some by the men,
who had not hea^d of his appointment to the boun-
cership, and resented his dictatioD. It was a long
time before he could persuade anyone of his authority,
and then the place was so crowded that authority
amounted to nothing.

It was a lovely night of course, for Mrs. DeLaunay
had arranged that also, as she informed her husband.
The lanterns were thick enough to make the lawn
bright as day. The grand house was thrown open to
all that came, and tents scattered about the grounds
held entertainments of various sorts for the guests.
In one was a Punch-and-Judy show, in another re-
freshments, a third was for dancing, and here the
minstrels were to perform under Regina's manage-
ment. Tim Grady rushed about among these places
with great zeal, and displayed his authority to the pro-
prietors. He was everywhere received with doubt,
denial, and rebuff. He was not discouraged for
Saranac crowds were ready with rebuffs. His appeal
to Mrs. DeLaunay for moral support was answered by



194

an order from her to John Winthrop to see t>>at
everyone acknowledged Tim. She was in earnest,
but Saranac perversely took Grady's appointment as
a joke, and made the old gentleman perspire that
evening as never before. Only the most indifferent
or the feeble ancknowledged his authority, and the
rows that occurred in consequence were numerous
?nd funny.

The lady of the house spent the early evening re
ceiving her guests in the drawing room, to whici
ushers conducted every person that came, Mrs. De-
Launay assisted, so did Regina and the priest of the
parish. When Amed^e appeared the mistress kept
him at her left hand while the reception was going on,
to the astonishment of Saranac. To appear before
this group at one end of the long room was very try
ing for the farmers' boys and the railroad men, but
its novelty and distinction gave them courage: and
very proud they were of the feat when they reached
the lawn again. No one forgot the spectacle of
Am.'d^e LaRoche standing with these distinguished
people, and suffering nothing, rather gaining by the
contrast. His appearance was striking yet gentleman-
ly. He was at ease with those who had wronged
him. Saranac admired the scene. And the exile
went up a shade in common estimation. It was
his festival as his patroness intended. He was the
star for whom the scenery and the beautiful properties
and the fine company, and the splendid audience had
been provided ; Mrs DeLaunay was the good genius,
and Tim Grady was the villain whose downfall was to
be compassed that night. The first act ended with
the reception. Certainly no first act ever presented a



'95

star so thoroughly to an audience as the reception did
Amede'e. Every soul in the place talked for ten
minutes of the scene in the drawing-room. Ten
minutes is a long time for one subject at a lawn
party.

The leading actors were well drilled, so that the
first impression was preserved and deepened. The
reception ended, Father McManus showed Amede'e
over the grounds at Mrs. DeLaunay's request and to
his own delight, for Amedee was telling him interest-
ing stories of Texan life. The whole world saw the
priest and the exile arm in arm for a good half-hour,
saw them visit the shows and eat ice cream together,
saw the priest laugh his heartiest at the bright stories
Amedee was telling. At the end of their tour in some
delightful way Amedee was transferred to the charge
of Regina, and brought to the card-room to take part
in a game of progressive euchre with three tables.
The whole Saranac world passed the card room
not excepting Tim Grady, already quite exhausted
with his efforts to be seen on the occasion. He had
heard of the reception srene, he had met the priest
in Amedee's company, and this third view of his god-
son's glory was gall to his soul. He stood on the
pravel walk and watched the players at the window.
Regina's voice came floating out to him like the tones
of a flute.

" You play remarkably well, Mr. LaRoche. How
fortunate to have you for a partner."

"He ought to play well," growled Tim, "after
twenty years gamblin' wid other people's money. He'll
chate the eyes out ov 'em, if they don't take care."

A slippery-looking young man just then entered



the card-room, and sat down quietly. It was Mr.
Grady's opportunity, and he ru c hed in after him.

" Here, you," he said in a tone that caught atten-
tion from all present, " this is no place for the likes ov
yez. Be aff now, if ye want to keep out o' jail to-
night."

The slippery young man reclined defiantly in his
chair, and smiled at this order. Mr. Grady made a
grab for his shoulder, but found his own arms seized
from behind, and himself placed as courteously as
rapidity would permit on the gravel wa^ without.

"No rows here, Grady," said the gentlemen as they
left him. He looked ba^k at the card-room. The
game was going on placidly, and the slippery- looking
young man had vanished. Mr Grady actually swore
at his go 'son, and the few spectators laughed !

At half past nine the minstrels gave their perform-
ance in the dancing tent. Six hundred people found
seats in it, somewhat crowded of course. An en-
closure at one side of the orchestra was the box for
distinguished visitors. A minute before the curtain
rose Mrs. DeLaunay and Father McManus walked
down the aisle, and took their seats in the box. A
moment later Mr. DeLaunay and Amede'e followed
them. Dumb show has its effect on the crowd. The
lady bowed to Amede'e, and the priest offered Mr.
DeLaunay his seat. It was re'used with a bow, while
Amedee pushed forward an arm chair Again Mr.
DeLaunay refused, and insisted on Amedee takirg it
himself. Saranac held its breath, and then murmured
in approbation. Mr. Grady snorted, and impelled by
the evil spirit which annoyed him all that evening
seized a small boy eating offensive peanuts and tried



197

to eject him. The boy howled and held to his seat,
there was some hustling in the crowd for an instant,
and then Mr Gra ly was elbowed and pushed into the
open air without tl e boy and without a chance of get-
ting back into the tent. It was exasperating to say
the least. He revenged himself upon, the few in-
offensive souls still wandering about the grounds.

The minstrel show ended in a short half hour, and
then the dancing began. In those days the Lancers
was a dance rarely seen in country towns, where it is
now as comrron as the cotillion. It was the first
dance on the programme and only eight persons ap-
T eared to execute it. Saranac people were excited
over its performance, and, in the merry confusion that
preceded the clearing of the floor, discussed it earnestly.
Mr. Grady, seeking an opportunity to distinguish
himself, joined in the talk with a view to decry the
Lancers. The experienced laughed at his reasoning
and his statements.

" 'Tis nothin' to the minuet," he declared. " An'
I'll lave it to Mrs. DeLaunay, who med ire boss o'
the grounds this night, if it ain't so."

" Who's goin' to trouble the lady about such a
thing," said one. " LaRoche can tell us- He's one
of the eight for the Lancers."

" What's that," exclaimed Tim in a falsetto of an-
guish and surprise Amed6e LaRoche dance any-
thin' but a Virginia reel I Wan o' the eight ! What
lies yez can be invintin'."

" See for yourself," said the other, as the floor be-
gan to clear for the dancing. Mr. Grady looked and
sav Amedee in a group at the upper end of the room.
The sight made him sick to despair, and without con-



198

sidering the risk he ran and the attention he drew
upon himself, he stumped up to Mrs. DeLaunay in
high indignation and cried out so that all heard and
grew still to listen :

" Is it for you, ma'am, to demane yourself by lettin'
that boccagh, LaRoche, into the same set with ye be-
fore the whole world, -whin I an' every wan knows he
can't put one shtep behind the other in"

Mrs. DeLaunay looked at him an instant coldly,
then turned her back to him and walked away as only
an adept in stage action could do such a thing, while
at the same moment two ushers fell upon him and
were prevented from removing him on'y by the order
of the priest standing near.

" Mr. Grady," said the pastor severely, heard by all
present, " you have forgotten the first principles of
gentlemanliness by this conduct. You have insulted
the mistress of the house, ard openly attacked one of
her guests, a gentleman whom we honor, and whose
presence here is a pleasure to all. There is nothing
you can do more agreeable to the guests than to leave
at once ; don't delay to make apologies for they are
not desired."

Mr. Tim Gradv was unable to reply, and as before
he was led rapidly away by the ushers and placed on
the street this time with his face to the town. He
stood there some minutes weeping over his humilia-
tion. The sound of music came out lo him Lke a
mocking spirit. He was on the road, while his worth-
less godson was once more astonishing Saranac folk
by leading the Lancers with Mrs DeLaunay for a part-
ner. Who would believe it ? That this broken down
and riotous Texan could dress, comport himself, and



199

dance as tastefully and gracefully as the Saranac aris-
tocracy ! Mr. Gracly went home filled with bitter-
ness. The next day the town would ring with the
story of his humiliations, and with praise of his god-
son. Why, if this lawn party, intended to aid the
treasury of the parish, had been specially arranged
for his shame and Amedee's honor it could not have
been managed better. He never knew how exactly
this guess hit the truth, or how gaily Mrs DeLaunay
went through the Lancers with her Texan partner,
certain that her play was a great success ; that
the minor villain had been punished in measure,
the major villian, her husband, properly punished, and
justice in small part done to the gentle and unfor-
tunate exile !

CHAPTER XXI.

THE WEDDING.

Madame LaRoche was a practical woman, and
could transact domestic business with speed and
profit. Blessed with a strong mind, a vigorous faith,
and a Canadian training she never saw reason for
losing courage, never lost a penny in trade, and
worked in her seventy- fifth year with as firm hope and
wide horizon as if she were but fifty. While Amedee
and Mrs. DeLaunay were striving to get a good
trade for the new business, Madame had quietly and
innocently prepared a scheme which brought her son
again into the public eye under most favorable con-
ditions. He did not need iurther attention after the
lawn party. Saranac flocked to his store with cash
and sympathy, and laughed at the extinction of Tim



200

Grady, now in the retirement cf a sick room to avoid
public ridicule. Madame's scheme was purely do-
mestic. Amedee must wed He was un vteux
garfon, a character not respected among Canadians ;
he was still in danger from his drinking habits ; a
good wife was necessary for him, to whose loving care
and sweet companionship he might be safely intrusted
From the moment Captain Sullivan had made Ame-
dee's stay in Saranac a certainty Madame had
continued her efforts to find for her boy a suitable
wife.

She had many difficulties to contend with. Her
son was in consumption, had a bad record, had dis-
graced himself twice in Saranac. and was not then
doing well in business. Mr. Narcisse McCarthy, for
whose daughter she asked most humbly, stated these
objections very forcibly, and refused to consider the
matter. But Madame, having a hold on Mr. Mc-
Carthy, persisted.

"It is clear," she said, "that Amede"e will live
many years, if he has a good wife to care for him. It
is not quick consumption he has MonDieu, no!
If it were, he would have been dead long ago. He
never stole the money, as was said. Mr. DeLaunay
himself declared him innocent. If he drank a little
once, he is now quite temperate ; and how many,
even you, yourself, get drunk in \ uMic and lose noth-
ing by it, when they a^e usually temperate men. The
business is poor just now, I know. But is it not only
a commencement ? What will it not be a year from
this. Then do not fo get, Mr. McCarthy, that Eliza
beth is thirty three, and her chance of marriage is
gone."



201

" We Irish don't mind that,'' said Monsieur Me
Carthy.

" Then they love each other," said Madame.

" Truly," he replied, " since his return she has wept
often, and lost her appetite and sleep. After re-
fusing everyone for fifteen years, for his sake, no won-
der she should be excited. But they have not met,
and he has not asked for her "

" He thinks she is married," said Madame. " Poor
faithful girl ! will you for scruples leave her heartsore
all her life."

Monsieur McCarthy shook his head soberly and
refuped to talk further about the matter until he
could think over it. He was by birth and training a
Canadian, but his Irish mother had died in the cabin
of a charitable hab tant, and left him to be baptized
and cared for by the same kind-hearted souls. They
named him Narcisse, gave him a place among their
own children, and loved le petit Irlandais all the
more that he was of another race and an orphan.
Narcisse was therefore as much a Canadian as
Madame, and while rejoicing in his paternity loved
and practiced the customs in which he had been edu-
cated ; nor was he one whit less eager than Madame
to turn every circumstance to his daughter's profit in
the negotiations which now began. He had watched
Am e dee carefully since his entrance into business
and he had come to some conclusions. The ex'le
had a business that in time would pay handsomely, and
his daughter had a talent for it ; Amedee was likely to
remain a sober man for the rest of his days, and if
consumption finally carried him off, it would not be
until his wife had become acquainted with the busi-



2O2

ness and had secured from him a will in her favor.
His objections to Madame were, therefore, only the
necessary preliminaries to large demands on behalf of
his daughter, and he speedily allowed himself to be
inveigled into her kitchen for another talk on the
union of the two houses.

" How is Mademoiselle Elizabeth," said Madame,
with an assumption of calmness she did not feel, for
AmedeVs business was still doing poorly.

"I need not tell you," replied Monsieur McCarthy
sadly, "I am even getting anxious about her. She
still weeps in secret. She cannot eat or sleep, and
my wife is alarmed; only yesterday we thought of
sending her to our son in Wisconsin."

" Heavens," cried Madame, " have you the heart ?
and you knowing why she grieves so! These two
were made for each other. It is very clear. After
fifteen years God brings them together again. It
would be a sin to separate them. If you do, she will
surely die."

"It would be awful to lose her," said Monsieur
McCarthy, who had not the slightest fear of such a
calamity, "and we had arranged to leave her the
house and the bank-book when Goi took us. If she
should die, it would all go to the boys, and they have
enough except that good for-nothing Tom, who swal
lows money like a whale. He can never g* t enough.
But until we die El : zabeth has nothing but three hun-
dred dollars her aunt gave her."

" And you would provide the we Iding-feast, would
you not?" said Madame, suddenly perceiving that
Monsieur McCarthy was sniffing at a bargain.

" Are we talking of manriage ?'' he cried angrily



203

" What I Give my daughter to a consumptive, who
will die in a lew years ! It is true he has a good
business, but a widow gets only one-third, the relatives
take the rest, unless there be children, and when a
business is broken up one third is nothing."

"True, but Amecee could make a will. We want
nothing. We shall leave him what we have, and fit
up his house for him. Oh, everything, Monsieur
McCarthy, must go to this good EUzibeth, who has
waited for my son fifteen years, and is faithful to him
even after his bad conduct. You will provide the
wedding-least, Monsieur ?''

" It is but a trifle," he answered with delight. "But
how do we kno^r your son wil Icare to marry, and
then to leave all to his wife ? Tf his brothers should
hear of it, and object "

" MOT sieur McCarthy, I promise you oh, how
happy you have made me there shall be no trouble.
His brothers and sisters have nothing to do with
Amed6e, until now they have been ashamed of him.
When the day of the marrage comes he shall give
Elizabeth a will for her and her children, I shall fit
up a house for them, she will bring him her auntie's
gift, and you will provide the wedding-feast. Is it
agreed, Monsieur McCarthy?"

" It is agreed," said he.

" This is Saturday," continued Madame. " Tues-
day is the lawn- party at Madame DeLaunay's. Then
to morrow evening do you and your wife and my dear
Elizabeth ome here to tea. It is LaRoche's Sunday
home. In one hour we can arrange everything. Ah,"
cried Madame rolling her eyes towards the little altar,
" the good God is doing everything for me like the



204

stories in the books, which are mostly too good to be
true."

" It is indeed like a story," said Monsieur McCar-
thy, as he went thoughtfully homeward.

It was all arranged very prettily. Coming home
from Mass on Sunday Madame LaRoche called her
son's attention to two women walking a few yards
ahead of them. They were evidently mother and
daughter, the former stout and rheumatic, the latter
graceful in form, well-dressed, and beyond her youth.
Her profile, occasionally in view, showed a pensive
but cheerful expression. Amed6e did not know
them.

" Do you not remember Elisabeth," she said in a
low tone.

He started, turned pale, then grew calm again and
laughed at his own emotion.

"She is now married, I suppose," he said care-
lessly.

" She has refused many offers these fifteen years
tor your sake, my son." He grew pale agam. "She
is still waiting for you, and loves you enough to wed
with you."

He started forward, but his mother held his arm,
alarmed at his great pallor.

"Not here," Bhe said, "too many are near and
there would be a scene. To-night I have invited them


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Online LibraryJohn Talbot SmithSaranac : a story of Lake Champlain → online text (page 13 of 18)