John Talbot Smith.

Saranac : a story of Lake Champlain online

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to take tea with us. I have spoken with her father,
and we have managed everything. You have nothing
to do but ask on your own account."

" But why should she think of me a poor good-for-
nothing," he began.

"She weeps every night for you," said his mother.



205

" She is almost sick waiting to meet you and speak
to you. Never have I known a more faithful heart !
And she has never spoken your name to others since
you left."

" My faithful girl," cried Amed6e, and the silent
tears fell from his eyes. "How good God has been
to me ! Oh, that I had a few years to live and thank
Him for His goodness ! "

Madame sighed and smiled together, as with lov-
ing, furtive eye she studied the traces of disease in his
face Prosperity had already removed them in great
part ; success in business and corjugal love would
surely restore him a few of his lost years. In any event
Madame felt that justice and mercy in full measure
had been given to her, and she left the future to God.
A wedding in a few weeks was a fact to thrill the
oldest heart, particularly with Mons : eur McCa-thy so
generous as to provide the wedding dinner, and per-
mit Elisabeth to depart from his house with her three
hundred dollars. What more could un vieux gar (on
with Amede'e's unfortunate history expect or desire !
The meeting of the long parted lovers was simple and
touching. They shook hands politely, leaving their
eyes to speak the feelings of the heart. In a quiet
way Madame sent off her husband to walk along the
shore with Monsieur Narcisse, and took Mrs. Mc-
Carthy, an aggressive character who spoke patois
with a frightful brogue, into the best room for a short
gossip ; so that no human eyes saw the real meeting
of Amedee and Elisabeth, who were able to take their
places afterward at the tea table without agitation
and to conduct themselves like ordinary persons.

When the excitement over the lawn party had sub-



206

sided the news of hi? daughter's approaching mar-
riage was sert forth by Morsieur Narcisse. In a
measure her failure to wed had irritated him more
than her devotion 1o a defaulter; he took the greater
plearure in announcing her nuptials with the owner
of a handsome business and the most popular man in
in to<vn Captain LaRorhe spread the news among
his friends and relatives.

'Old McCarthy's daughter," he said to his rela-
tions ; " she will have everything her father and
mother leave behind."

To his American friends who smilingly observed
" She's Irish, isn't she ?"

" Oh, yes,'' he answered complacently, " Amede"e
is to marry 'HT Irish girl."

This fact was a source of pride to him, since not
even the cleverest Canadian boys could overcome,
except in rare instances, Irish distrust of Canadian
nature. Amedee himself bore the news to his
patroness, and the invitation to attend the wedding
at the church.

" Why not at the house too," she asked.

" I am afraid our customs would hardly suit your
tastes," he replied frankly.

" I shall invite myself then, and if the bride has no
objections Retina shall be second bridesmaid. By
the way I hope you have chosen one who will be an
ornament to your new business."

" It was all very sudden," he explained. "Sunday
evening my mother arranged the affair, and I had no
time to consult you. It is an oM sffair. I was en-
g"ged to her before I went to Texas, but I gave her up
then, and supposed she had married long ago. Only



207

Sunday morning I heard she was still unmarried on my
account. We are to be married next Wednesday."

"Charming," said Mrs. DeLaunay. "No romance
could have ended more properly. You are really a
wonderful man, Amedee LaRoche, in the gift you
possess of surprising and delighting your friends. But
this dear girl Genevieve "

" Elizabeth," he corrected,

' Elizabeth Rosette, I suppose"

" McCarthy."

" Oh ! * ell, that's better. Her looks now, I trust "

" She is old waiting for me," he said drawing a
packet from his bosom ; "but this is how slie looked
fifteen years a,:o, and this is her appearance now "

The lady examined the photographs with interest.

"Better an 1 better," she said, "I shall love that
girl. I must borrow those for a few hours to show
them to my daughter. How is the business these
two days."

' Simply wonderful ! Since the lawn-party every-
thing has changed."

" Do you feel now that we are doing a little to
make up for those awful years you spent in Texas ?"

" I do not think you could do more. Texas seems
like a bad dream now a-days."

" You are easily satisfied," she said. " Some na-
tures " she was thinking of her own " would not
take any reparation short of "

She did not care to put the idea of revenge in his
mind by finishing with u an eye for an eye, a tooth for
for a tooth," but he understood the ellipsis and said :

" We cannot be less kind than God, who is content
with reparation."

" That is a noble thought," she answered in bid-



208

dirg him good morning ; and she repeated the saying
toRegina, who received it and the news of AmedeVs
marriage coldly. Against acting as bridesmaid she
protested mildly.

<: Really, mamma, you are making us very singular
by your petting of this man. I wish you would rot
require me to parade so often in his company. We
cannot keep it up, though you may."

" After the petting your father gave him for fifteen
years, you need not fear he will be spoiled," was the
sharp reply. " Nor will people call your parad.ng as
singular as your willingness to keep an innocent man
out of his rights forever."

The tears rushed from the girl's eyes, for the plain
words cut deeply into her pride. She had been guilty
of this sin.

" Now it happens that Elizabeth McCarthy is a
very nice and refined creature, whose marriage will
end a real romance ; so that you will do yourself
honor by being her bridesmaid. Then John Win-
throp is to be chief usher, and Captain Sullivan best
man. Your papa will be my escort, and some wealthy
friends of the old pilot are to be present. You will
be surrounded by your own atmosphere, Regina, and
the plebeian air will not reach you."

There was nothing to do but obey, but the dicta-
torial mistress was not to have the pleasure of her
husband's escoit to the church; he had heird the
brief talk with Regina, and that afternoon stole away
to Montreal on an evening train, determined at any
cost to humble himself no more before Amede. Mrs.
DeLaunay felt the more bound to torture her daugh-
ter for his absence.



209

Of the wedding Regina remembered nothing but
the feast. She never forgot that groaning board.
Everything was put on the table a< once, although
the order of courses was strictly observed. The pa-
rents of the bride and groom, whose plates Regina
could not but see, filled their dishes with potatoes,
cabbage, turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed
turnips, and gravy; renewed the supply; ate apple-
pie and cream-pudding in quantities, and made away
with cup after cup of strong tea or coffee. There
were forty persons in the rooms, and with fe w excep-
tions they excelled the eating powers of the parents.
There was no hurry or noise. All were merry enough.
Still the table was cleared in a half-hour, for these
work-people lose no time in idle conversation at
meals, and have fine teeth.

Monsieur McCarthy made a speech with three
points and a climax: he was proud of his daughter,
he was proud of her husband, he was proud of this
day, which he hoped would be often repeited! The
pilot, taking cue from this, repeated the three points,
but avoided the climax by sitting down in the
middle of a sentence. They toasted Regina,
who nodded to John Winthrop to reply for her, and
Mrs. DeLaunay, who made Captain Sullivan her
sp ;kesman. It was John who won the honors for
what Monsieur McCarthy called a "spick-span-
speech," but the Captain said the words which touched
the occasion and stirred the hearts of the guests.

" I never thought a year ago I could sit at the
wedding-dinner of Ame-'ee, and help eat his pie and
turkey in such company. It's quite like a story in a
paper. But it's true, and I'm glad of it. Only a good
boy could have all these strange things happen to



2IO

him, and c -me out all right, with so many friends to
help him. Last year he was in Texas, and no ore
knew anything about him, except that he was going
to die there in a poor way. To-day his good wife is
at his side forever, he has a first-class business, and
among his many friends you can put down Mrs. De-
Launay I speak by her permission and myself as
the warmest, though we never knew him till this year.
Only God could have fixed him so well, but He had
a g ri o^, foolish, honest boy to deal with. Amedee
has left all his folly in Texas, and I hope to see him
prosper as long as he lives."

CHAPTER XXIL

A REVELATION.

The wedding ended sensations in Saranac. Ame
deVs business prospered. Mr. Grady came forth
from his obscurity and resumed his historical contests
with Mrs. Sullivan. The DeLaunays went back into
haughty seclusion. The autumn frosts, cold rains,
and Indian Summer gave the village folk enough to
talk about after they had tired of Amede'e, and his
adventures. Thanksgiving was near, and Christmas
not distant, and the wail of the turkey was heard in
every barnyard. Regma was thinking of getting mar-
ried. Her thoughts had changed from the prosaic to
the poetic, fcr it was her habit to idealize the impor-
tant events and persons of her life as she had idealized
her father and Captain Sullivan. Her mistakes in
connection with the character of these two gentlemen
had not cured her of an agreeable habit. When it
first occurred to her that marrying with John Win-



211

throp would rescue her from an intolerable house, she
had thought of the union as a mere matter of busi-
ness. In time it became more agreeably an affair of
sentiment, almost of the heart.

Never was there a more courteous or delicate lover
than Winthrop. He had made it evident that his
whole life was at her service without doing any more
or saying any more than the dryest of advocates.
But what could be mo'e delicate than his conduct of
the affair with Amedee ! And how generously he in-
sisted on believing in her father's innocence, which
saved her a world of humiliation. How faithfully he
had kept the Captain's dishonor to himself ! She
would have despised him had he been less faithful to
that unworthy Damon. His moral virtues were the
more acceptable that their owner had fine taste in
dress, white hands, a handsome face, and a rearty,
witty tongue. He would be a judge some day, he
would always be an agreeable companion. He loved
her to foolishness, and yet she paused. He had
never waked in her that interest she called it inter-
est for want of a better word which Hugh had won
for himself, who did not belong to her circle, as the
lawyer did. If husband of hers ever used ruch vul
garities as were easy to Hugh, she would be ashamed
of him. Winthrop was never vulgar, never offensive,
and yet . What was the difference between this
regard and that ? Could it be that one had the ele
ment cf love, which the other was without ? Or was
it merely that, because her heart for a moment had
turned to Hugh Sullivan, she found it difficult or
humiliating to offer it to another? She could not
determine. But John Winthrop at all events w.'.s



212

one man of a thousand, and if her life were to be
spent with him she might be giateful to Providence.

Her father had suddenly set his heart on her mar-
riage to Winthrop and spoke seriously to her.
She listened without disp^asure, and with some
amusement. It was his own comfort he was seek-
ing.

" It will be so pleasant, Regina, to have your home
to take refuge in from your devil of a mother; I b r g
pardon, I meant to say only tiresome I am alto
gether cooped now. She permits no flights to Mon-
treal, or any other places without knowledge, per
mission, time-limit, and conduct report. It's like
going to school again. Now with you in your own
house much of this awful behavior would disappear.
Your marriage would make it very pleasant for us all,
except for old David, who has no love for the DeLau-
nays. I wouldn't mind him."

' Don't you find mamma easier these few weeks,"
said Regina referring to a fact which had surprised
her.

" Her eyes pierce me, I can never be easy again
while she can look at me. She has very fine eyes,
Regina, but they are uncomfortable. I would like to
be out of their range once or twice a week, and if you
married John Winthrop I could get relief. Winthrop
is a decent fellow in spite of old David ; the only
decent boy in town I believe, and he has a fortune.
You should think <~f him, Regina. I hope you're not
thinking of anyone else."

" I am really not thinking at all, papa."

"Well, begin, my dear. It's time. If you get too
sensible you will be sure to marry not at all."



213

After the wedding John had withdrawn himself
somewhat from her company, but had promptly ac-
cepted all invitations sent him, and used them
jud ciously. He had a pleasant feeling as the weeks
passed, that for the first time in his courting the ad-
vantage was his, and Captain Sullivan was out of the
race. He labored hard to improve that advantage,
and the elder DeLaunays helped him. Meanwhile
Regina went on idealizing. Someone gave her a vivid
account of his war record, ard showed her a photo-
graph of the brave soldier in uniform ; another de-
scribed his brilliant college course, his high sense of
honor, his noble disposition. Saranac folk knew and
loved him well. It wss not difficult for her to feel a
deep enthusiasm over him after a time, when she ha<1
mounted him finally on a pedestal high enough to
satisfy her notion of idolatry. From that moment
John Winthrop had only to thro v h mself at her feet
to be accepted ; but as he did not dieam of success
so near the declaration was delayed, until several
events had intervened

The first of these was the sickness of Amedee.
Mrs. DeLaunay brought the news one evening a few
days after Thanksgiving. Her protege* had taken
cold a fevr weeks previous, it had not easily yielded to
remedies, and that day he had a severe and sudden
hemorrhage, so severe that Mrs. DeLaunay felt cer-
tain Arnedee's life was ended.

"And we had thought it good for a few years," she
said.

u Fortunately he has had some happiness, and the
consolation of dying with his friends is a blessing.
H:s wife understands the business thoroughly, anl is



214

secure of a competence. She is a very clever
woman."

Regma and her father heard of these people with a
vast indifference, and made no comment usually ; but
the fact of Amede'e's speedy departure from this world,
to the mistress' evident regret, loosed their tongues,
and their hearts together.

" May I call on him, mamma ? " and " Fine boy
was Amede'e twenty years ago before he took to drink,"
both said together.

" The whole town will be there in the next few
days," said mamma, " so that a visit now would be
useless. Amedee, you know, was immensely popular.
When people learned to know him, and convinced
themselves he had not embezzled your funds, Howard,
they took time to get acquainted with him. His super-
ior character charmed them. What a loss he will be."

" It is a terrible time to die," said Regina, " in this
weather. Snow may come any moment. He must
feel discouraged."

Snow came the next day, but Amedee was not in
the least dashed by the approach of death or the in-
clement weather. He had known long ago that death
would come to him early, and he had looked for it
under more distressing circumstances ; but to die in
his OTn home, in his native town, to die respected by
his own, rich in the love of wife and mother, restored
in reputation, to rest in the old churchyard where he
had played a boy, where his brethren rested, all this
was pure delight to the exile and robbed death of vic-
tory. He liad thought once to die unconfessed and
unanointed in a Texan barn, shot down in his drunk-
enness perhaps, and to be thrown without rite or pie-



paration into the nearest ditch that would hide him
So, while mother and wife and physician and friend
ran to his ser.ice in sadness and trembling, he was
calm and ind ffereat almost, made no complaint and
smiled tranquilly upon them. The doctor made the
end clear to them at once. Amedee was on his death-
bed. He would have one or two more hemorrhages,
perhaps, and die like a weakened child. In the mean-
time he might recover sufficiently to move about the
house for a few weeks or months, but he would never
go abroad more. It was a shock even to those who
knew death had been near him ever since his return.
It had really seemed to Madame, just after her SOD'S
happy marriage, that he would live long enough to
close her eyes, ten years at least ; he had appeared so
strong and full of life. But what can one do with
lungs that bleed ! She had no complaint to make
more than he. All her prayers had been answered,
and a thousand blessings had flowed in upon her to
which she had no right, except that they came
straight from the heart of the good God. She had but
to think of what she had received, and what might
have been her son's fate, to smile with a resignation
that was more akin to joy than sorrow.

These three months that he had been with her were
a foretaste of heaven. Every day had been filled with
gladness. He could not do too much for her, nor she
enough for him. His photograph, a picture of his
store, a photograph of his wife, fhtrc Elizabeth, his
Texan souvenirs hung in her kitchen just over the
dolpHn lamp which for so many years shone in the
window for him. Fie was to live until her last prayer
was answered. Her boy would die with the sacra



2l6

men s, and lie in consecrated ground. She had prayed
for that, and most grateful was she to have her prayer
answered. As Mrs DeLaunay said the whole town
went in to visit him, and assure him of their best
wishes. Monsieur Narcisse McCarthy wept briefly,
and then secretly inquired of his daughter if she had
the will and if she were positive everything was all
right. He had to be assured, too, before he would
weep again, and his tears were large enough to irritate
old LaRoche, who knew of the will and could not feel
the justice of leaving a McCarthy all his son's prop-
erty. Bat these things were not to be spoken about!
Mrs. Sullivan put on her black velvet and feathers to
do honor to the sick man when she visited him, and
could scarcely say a word in her effor : to maintain the
utmost propriety of speech and manner. Mrs. De
Launay was often at his bedside those times when visi-
tors were not allowed to see him. She spoke French
well, and Madame had long talks with her on Amede,
in which the dear old Canadian mother gave her the
entire history of his birth, babyhood, growth and man-
hood as only a mother can ; with particular attention
to the sicknesses through which she nursed him, and
the amount of catechism she had taught him. It was
a spectacle of wonder to Mrs. DeLaunay to see the
perfect love and confidence between them, and to
hear the tenderness with which he called " Ma Mere."

" He is like a little child again," said Madame half
smiling through her tears.

The young men helped to nurse him in the peculiar
kindly fashion of Saranac, and the two friends Hugh,
and Wm:hrop were readiest with their services as
watchers. The season of navigation had closed, and



217

the Captain was at home for the winter Atnedee
liked none other as these two ; for the Captain had
saved him from despair, and the lawyer had conceived
a deep regard for him from the time of the wedding.
They not only assisted at his bedside, but also gave
Elizabeth their aid in the store, where Messieurs Mc-
Carthy and LaRoche eyed each other every day with
considerable suspicion and distrust. Such clerks as
the Captain and the lawyer made it pleasant for the
younger customers, and perhaps increased the trade
among that class while they served. Amedee as
usual revived quickly and was moving around his room
before Christmas. It was then Regina came, gracious
and beautiful, to tell him how sorry she was for his
sickness and how earnestly she hoped he would be
out and able to attend to his business very soon.
He smiled politely but seriously. He might have
hoped that time would restore him to his old condi-
tion, but the priest had only that morning removed
his hope from him.

" There are weeks of life for you," he had said
gently, "but nothing more, Amedee."

"Tnen I must make one more good general con-
fession before I go," said the cheerful fellow. " I'll
get ready this afternoon, and do you please come in
the morning, my father, while I am strong. Tell me,
does Elizabeth, or any of them know this ?"

" The doctor told them the very day you were taken
down."

" Then I am spared their sorrow,'' he said.

Regina came in with his wife afterwards, and nude
her pretty speech of regret and sympathy

" I am glad you came to-day," he said, "for I had



just thought of a little incident that happened in the
summer, and wished to have it off my mind. I owe
you a little reparation for having once helped to de-
ceive you perhaps."

She snr'led indulgently, and his wife said, smiling,
" He must soon make his confession, and so he is
getting very particular about remembering every-
thing."

" This is a trifle," he said, laughing at some mem-
ory, " but the circumstances were very curious. Until
you saw me at the Point, Miss DeLaunay, had you
ever seen me before ?"

" Not to remember you " she said.

" I do not speak of years ago," he continued, " for
you were then very young ; but this summer I mean,
befo-e you called on me in Sol Tuttle's."

He was smiling at the remembrance of su h a meet-
ing.

"I cannot recall having met you," she said.

" Do you remember the tramp who bowed to you
on the dock at Whitehall ? Do you remember the
wrecking of Captain Sullivan's boat ? Do you recall
the cabin in the woods where the ladies slept, and
how you sat on the old porch talking ?''

" Is it possible ?" she cried.

" I was the tramp," he went on. " Since that night
I did not once think of it, but this morning I remem-
bered the letters I handed to you to read. I told you
I found them, and asked if you could make out their
owner's name. That was a trick, Miss DeLaunay,
which meant no harm I hope. Mr. Winthrop handed
me the letters, and bade me give them to you. He
laughed as he did so; and you did not seem to mind



219

them, but told me to give them back to him. After
wards I was afraid I might have done harm. I took
money for it, and if there was injustice done I must
restore the money. I would not keep it."

" Mr. Wmthrop had an object in acting so I pre-
sume, ' she answered carelessly, "but it was entirely
harmless as far as I was concerned. You can quiet
your conscience about it. And I am inclined to be
grateful both for handing me the letters, and for tell-
ing me of the little deception. Mr. Wmthrop will
be mortified to hear that I caught him so easily. Be
kind enough lo tell him."

Then she talked about the weather.



CHAPTER XXIII.

AT REST.

Madame LaRoche was indignant with herself for
her bitter pain at the sight of Amed^e dying. It was
like a re flection on the kindness of the good God,
who had save I her son from a miserable death in
Texas, and given her the blessed privilege of receiv-
ing his )a-t sigh. But the agony continued in spite of
her indignation, and the thought of parting caused
her exquisite pain. She could not help thinking of the
years they might have spent together had he not taken
that unfortunate cold She blamed herself for a lack
of watchful care over him, and she ventured, though
with shame for her greediness, to ask the good God
for a stay of death. She knew it was quite useless.
Her boy was dying. Only a miracle could save him,
and theie had been miracles enough in his life. It



220

was sorrowful work to sit with him and Elizabeth, all
three knowing the end was near, to embrace him
each night and morning with the thought of the last
embrace rankling in the heart. He made it more
painful by his gentleness. The world had all at once
faded from him, most guiltless of all sinners. All
good fortune had come bark to him in one ship, and
the pain of dying seemed nothing in the light of his
restoration.

Saranac was in tears for him, which was not won-
derful in a town whose entire population shed weekly
tears over the heroines of the story papers. The
story of his life in Texas had been finally absorbed


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Online LibraryJohn Talbot SmithSaranac : a story of Lake Champlain → online text (page 14 of 18)