John Talbot Smith.

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know about the Frinch in Saranac ? An' I say I'll
have none of 'em. You can have 'em all if you like."

Mr. Grady did not reply. The warmth of the dis-
cussion had disturbed the entire household, and the
appearance of Hugh put an end to it, much as that
young man would like to have it continued for the
sole purpose of hearing the lectures on universal his-
tory. He was to his astonishment still much im-
pressed by the letter of Amedee LaRoche. It had
taken such a hold of his fancy that try as he would
he could not avoid picturing certain consequences
sure to follow if its suggestions turned out facts.
Hugh was not an imaginative man. He had few
dreams, being altogether given to business, and too
apt to pass over as trifling whatever would not bear
i eduction to dollars and cents, or had not some rela-
tion to them. But he said to himself again and
again, what will happen to the DeLaunays if Annexe's
letter tells the truth, and he went over all that he

knew about this interesting family, and labeled it in
his mind for immediate need. He foresaw a long
series of events, curious and dreadful, that might
never happen and were yet possible, ^nd might one
day set themselves against pride, beauty, money and
a good name.

When Amede'e LaRoche ran away from Saranac,
the firm whose funds he had spent to the sum of
three thousand dollars, were David Winthrop and
Howard DeLaunay. They were tanners. The for-
mer was a man of means then, the latter was a man
of means now. The rich man bad grown poor, and
the poor man rich since that time. If there had been
any harm done to Amedee LaRoche the junior part-
ner hai done it, for he was then poor and desperate,
a stranger in the town, and, as he had many times
shown himself, a hard, grasping, perhaps unprincipled

It was seventeen years since Mr. De Launay and
his name had appeared in Saranac. Hugh, then a boy
of eleven, recalled his well dressed handsome figure
clearly. In polish and education he and his were far
above anything that had ever been seen in the town.
Until this day Sullivan did not know whence De
Launay came, or to what locality or tribe he might
belong. His wife was a retired, brilliant-looking woman
who never talked, and his only child a handsome
creature of Hugh's age with a sharp tongue, a fond-
ness for private theatricals, and considerable beauty.
They were known to be poor on their arrival. In five
years the senior partner in the tanning business sold
his interest to DeLaunay, and the latter's fortune then
made had rolled up to large figures since.

The story of the firm's gentleness in dealing with
their clerk was often told and well known to everyone.
Mr. DeLaunay agreed to bear two-thirds of the loss
if Amedee were allowed to remain in exile unpun-
ished. His motives were anything but sentimental
or Christian.

" It will cost too much to find him," he said, " and
when found we have nothing to get from him. Let
him go to the devil so long as he keeps out of Sara-

And that was the end of it, save for the mental
agonies which the exile, who in his letters always ad-
mitted his guilt, and his lonely father and mother had
endured for fifteen years.

"Pleasant drearrs, ' thought Hugh, "they must
give Mr. Howard DeLaunay, if he had any hand in
causing 'em."

It was without any clear intention he questioned
Tim Grady on the popular rumors concerning Ame-
dee's flight.

" Amedee was a nice boy," said Mr. Grady reflec-
tively. " Why, he must be a man o' thirty- six be this
time. Yis, he's thirty-six. It's thirty-six years ago
this very month since I shtud for him along wid Mrs.

" You his godfather ?" cried Hugh.

" Shure, he's all mixed up wid 'em," said Mrs. Sul-
livan, " an' he bringin' in his anshent history to de-
find 'em."

" I'm his godfather," said Mr. Grady. " I shtud
for more children than any other man in Saranac, an'
I say I never knew a nicer b'y than Amedee Patrick
LaRoche. I gave him his middle name."


" And what happened to him that he should have
turned out so badly ?"

" What happens to any young man that drinks an'
gambles, and goes with gamblers, as he did ?" said
Mr. Grady sadly. " We warned him, but it was no
use. He was gone a week afore anywan knew what
'ad happened."

" It was a great pity," said Hugh.

" It was," assented Mr. Grady, " but he kin thank
his shtars that he wasn't sent to Dannemora prison.
If he had to deal wid ould Winthrop he'd be there
to-day. Howard DeLaunay showed himself a gintle-
man that time, shuie."

" I heard someone say on^e they didn't think he
stole the money."

"Who stole it, thin?" said Mr. Grady. Hugh
shrugged his shoulders, and received a threatening
glance from his mother for this display of a French

" That's what was done to me when I asked the
question," said Hugh.

" There's no use talkin' o' these things," said Mr.
Grady, as he refilled his glass with cider, "'tis my
firrum belief, an' of everywan that was livin' then, that
Amede*e took that money, an' so ruined his parents
an' himself."

Hugh felt a lightness of spirits after this positive
declaration from the godfather of the exile, and troub-
led himself no more with old LaRoche's letter. For
a time, however, he took pleasure in studying the
elegant Mr. DeLaunay, as one looks upon the survivor
of a great railway disaster ; and seeing Miss DeLau-
nay's furs and velvets sweeping by occasionally, he fell

to wondering at the nimble, graceful feet that some-
times dance over hidden volcanoes.



The letter to Osborne, Texas, was written and sent
promptly, so that Hugh had a cheerful word to give
LaRoche when the old man asked him about it. It
was plain from the father's face that his mind had
slipped into the old groove again, and that he could
wish the letter had not been sent. The excitement
of the holiday season, and the hint in Amedee's letter
had worked together to disturb a cool disposition.
Good sense had returned. He might have seen, too,
that Hugh was half sorry for sending the letter, and
between them arose a silent agreement to say no
more about it.

It was a racing day for Saranac. A track had been
made on the ice, and local trotters were flying by
every nnment. A c"owd of men and boys were scat-
tered along the ice track, the sun was shining, it was
cold enough to freeze an Eskimo, Hugh was divided
between a desire to see the races, and a wish to settle
a money matter of six weeks standing with his friend
John Winthrop. For in Saranac as elsewhere the
poetic side of life had its place and its value in the
market, and was not permitted to interfere with busi-
ness. He decided in favor of Winthrop's private
office, and John helped him to the decision by calling
him in. The outer office was empty and the law-
books had their backs t irned in orderly fashion to the
central stove. Winthrop was looking at this stove


when his friend entered. He had bought it cf Hugh,
and was not satisfied with it. Damon had sold
Pythias a stove, shortly after the scaffold scene, and
had beaten his Pythias four dollars on the value, the
latter thought, and felt bad over it in consequence.
This transaction might have looked ridiculous in
ancient Syracuse, but in Saranac it was the correct
thing ; and better yet, Damon was come after his
money to Pythias.

The two men really held a fine relationship to-
wards each other, and only suspected its rare quality.
They were Saranac born, in the same month of the
same year. They had studied in the same school and
from the moment their lives had come together a
strong attraction had kept the two natures in close
contact ever after. In twenty years they had not
been a month apart. The same academy taught them
the higher branches. When the war of the rebellion
broke out they enlisted in the same regiment, and went
through the four years without a wound or a separa-
tion. The study of law had confined Winthrop to an
office, work on the lake steamers took Hugh away
every other night from home, but left him an entire
winter for leisure. They had a great love for each
other, and never spoke of it, as is the custom with
northern peoples. They had become used to it as
they were used to the lake at their doors, whose
beauties they never talked about unless to strangers,
since feeling had long ago exhausted language on
such matters.

All Saranac people have a fine taste for bargains.
Winthrop was a descendant cf the Puritans and Sul-
livan of Celtic princes ; they differed in religious be-


lief for one was a Catholic and the other nothing at
all ; they differed in politics ; the Celt was cool and
unsentimental in this instance, because it chanced
that the Saxon was a hot headed enthusiast ; he was
fair and Sullivan was dark ; but both were business
men and appreciated the facts that Sullivan had sold
his stove at a good price and Winthrop might have
done better.

" It works fairly," said John, " but there is no ash-
pan and no check to the bottom draught. If I re-
member rightly when you sold it to me you said it
was all there."

" So it was, what there was of it," said Hugh smil-

" You'll have to let me off four dollars. Fourteen
is a steep price for the old hulk, and those important
parts wanting."

<; I paid forty for it a few years ago," said Hugh,
" you ought to feel rich over your bargain. I don't
want to rake up old sores, but if you don't mind I'll
put my ashpan against your breech-loader and the
check against your never to-be-forgotten meerschaum."

"These are painful memories, Hugh."

" They are. I'll forget them forever, though, if
you will pay me for that stove, and maybe I might be
weak enough to send you a new ashpan."

The lawyer paid. " What news ?"

" Tim Grady is giving lessons in universal history
to my mother."


" Fact. I attended one myself."

" How does your mother take them ?"

" As a hen takes water. You ought to get down


there some stormy day, Tim always comes in a storm,
and take them in."

" I would but the rehearsals are beginning "

"I have an immense part,'' said Hugi mournfully.
" I am the hero."

"And you are sorry for it," said Winthrop with a
groan, " with Miss DeLaunay for the hereine and so
touching a character ! I wish I could act a very little
bit to get such a position."

" You can't act, ' said Hugh consolingly, " not even
the littlest bit. When you get out on the stage you
are not yourself and you are not your character. You
are a talking-machine. It's good they give you little
to say."

" You are nothing extra," said John.

" No. I am Hugh Sullivan all through. When I
weep I cry as I used at school after a flogging, when
I laugh the deck shakes. I wouldn't do for Gaston
De Pumpkin, but as a plain, American sea-captain I am
matchless. Now this Ingomar business of Miss De
Launay's is to my taste As a barbarian, savage or
tame, I have only to be natural, and the make-up will
do the rest."

" Perhaps you could tell me why at least I can't be
John Winthrop," said the lawyer.

" Oh, that's delicate ground," Hugh replied, and at
once a dullness followed their former heartiness of
manner. They dropped the rehearsal and talked
business, in which Sullivan never lost interest. Win-
throp's mind, while his tongue wagged, ran upon the
peculiar fitness of his friend for the part of Ingomar.
Miss DeLaunay made a beautiful and clever Parthe-
nia, and to be her savage captor, to undergo the magi-


cal transformation which her tact and love brought
about in his savage heart seemed a blisstul process to
John Winthrop. He would have given much to know
just what Hugh thoaght about it. His pretence of
indifference might be honest. Winthrop thought it a
pretence for one or two good reasons. Hugh was a
handsome gentleman whom many believed worthy of
such a woman as Parthenia, and although he had no
more than a slight acquaintance with her family Par-
thenia herself had invited him earnestly to take an
important part in the drama, and had said to Win-
throp and others, he has the very air of the mountain
prince. As if, thought John, not one of us were like
him ; and he strode once around the room after the
manner of a tragedian.

" Got the toothache ? " said Hugh in sympathy

" No. Keep on with your story of the horse bar
gain." Hugh did not notice the sarcastic tone as if
Winthrop would like to have added, you talk of noth-
ing else. The lawyer went on with his speculations
until the door opened and his father entered.

"Good-day, boys. ' He staggered into a chair with
a heavy sigh.

" Good racing down below," he stuttered when his
breath had returned to him. " Wonder you boys
weren't there."

" I was just going," said his son. " I'll run down
and see what Merritt's colt can do, and come back

The old man buried his face in the newspaper until
the door had closed on him, and then looked at Hugh
with a sad but knowing smile.

" He's dodging me you see, Sullivan. He hasn't


allowed me to speak to him alone since I found out"
he paus.dfor a moment "what I suppose you all
know" another pause "that he is visiting De
Launay's too often."

Hugh looked away and said nothing.

" I have nothing against the girl. If he wants to
marry her I don't object. But Hugh" - with a sud-
denly broken voice " I know them. She will never
care for him. They will certainly oppose him. If his
heart gets fixed on her, and for nothing, I'm afraid
I know what will happen. DeLaunay gave me the
first knock-down I ever got. It wouldn't be strange
if he got a chance to give me the last."

Hugh felt a new interest in Amedee LaRoche and
his recent letter. He had never been so near the
secrets of the old firm as now, and with his usual
audacity attempted to seize one of them

" I never heard just how he happened to down
you," said he.

" It was not downing. He caught me at a nice mo-
ment, and pushed me out of a business I had built
up. I cared little then for I had better schemes on
hand. But it was his meanness that made me mad. I
took him in when he had nothing but a bare one
thousand to his name. I thought he had more. He
made me believe so. Oh, he was clever, more so
than I was. He made his money out of me, and
then when I was squeezed tight in a wheat trouble
dumped me."

" It wasn't exactly dishonesty, or anything of that
sort ?"

" If it had been," said Wmthrop with animation,
" I'd have put him in jail and kept him there If I


could only, before I die, get my hands on his throat
that way he'd be dead first. No, it was strictly a
business trick. He was making money, and he
couldn't let gratitude stand in the way. I began to
go down from that. He went up. I guess it will be
so to the end."

"You don't remember Amedee LaRoche, do you?"
said Hugh with some excitement.

" We called him Stone," said Winthrop. " I re-
member him. You didn't know him, did you ?"

" His father showed me a letter from him a few
days back. He seemed to be a smart fellow."

" Very. He bled us for three thousand. DeLau-
nay bore the most of it to save the boy from jail. I
thought it kind of him then. Now I often wonder
what trick he played on the boy that made him so

Hugh was electrified by the last remark.

' You suspected nothing since ?"

" Why," said Winthrop laughing. " I have sus-
pected everything. For years I have watched every
step he took, and had his whole life looked up by de-
tectives. He has a clean record, so much the worse
for me. But if ever I catch him tripping, if he ever
gives me a chance to down him, tnere'll be a fall, my
countrymen, which Julius Caesar s was'nt nothing to."

Hugh had a great respect for old Winthrop, and
was pained at the evil look which accompanied these
words. It was plain that but for the scaffold he would
like to Ftrangle Howard DeLaunay with his own
hands ; seeing Hugh's astonishment he said :

* It sounds bloodthirsty, and perhaps I don't mean
half of it. But it expresses my feelings to a dot.


Now what riles me mere is this affair of John's. That
girl will take his mind away from him, and then
bounce him. You know as well as I do what would
happen then. I don't find any fault with the thing
itself I'm in favor of it. But, Hugh, I want that
boy to live as long as I do. I can't bear to think
of him lying in my honse dead, and me looking
at him.

"See here," said Hugh, roughly breaking in upon
this strain of feeling, " don't sniffle over a lancy. 1
hope it won't hapoen but it has happened to better
men than you. They bore it, and so must you, if it
comes. You've a good bit to blame yourself. You
brought the boy up that way. He used to make me
s-hiver in the at my with his talk. He always said if
he were taken prisoner or badly wounded he would
end his life himself."

" Many a soldier did it," said Winthrop, " religious
ones too."

" Not from principle though as you would," said
Hugh sourly.

" Well, every man to his own taste," Winthrop an-
swered. " What can I do to save this boy of mine."

" Nothing. He is all right. I have no doubt he
will marry Miss DeLaunay if he wishes. It will be a
nice, tip-top way of settling all troubles between the

" But how about this broken life of mine," Winthrop
said with feeling, "who will ever pay me ior tnat ?"

" I don't know. I am sure of one thing. There's
a plare where all broken things are made whole
again, or smashed to nothing. Your case is referred


David Winthrop was a broken man. His white
hair and sunken eyes were not however as painful to
him as his withered fortunes. The memory of a long
and useless struggle to retrieve what he had lost was
fixed in his mind and made his thoughts and his
words bitter. Hope no longer lighted his dull eye or
warmed his chilled heart. His hopes had never been
higher than his own nature. To be a power in the
county and to die rich had been the only ambition of
his life, and he was dying in middle age poor and
insignificant and spiteful, without dignity and with
bad humor. The world laughed at him even while it
admitted his meriting a better fate, and snubbed him
when he bought present glory with the bitter narra
tion of past fame. It was an open secret, he had
himself daring a fit of emotion declared that his son's
happiness alene prevented him from putting an end
to a wretched life. It seemed motive enough for
suicide that his career was ended. Only the stronger
motive of John's comfort prevented a catastrophe.

To Hugh's last remark the old gentleman shrugged
his shoulders. Just then the door opened and the ele-
gint DeLaunay himself entered with velvety briskness
and looked around.

* Good-day, Winthrop," he said. " Is your son

" Take a chair and wait for him," said Winthrop ;
"he'll be in directly just stepped out to see a race."

" Captain Sullivan," said Mr. DeLaunay as he took
the chair, "we hope to see you at the rehearsal to-
morrow evening."

" I'm going to take a whack at my part now,"
Hugh replied as he left the room, laughing over the

2 9

pleasant tete-a tete of the t^vo men. His mind was
impressed with one thing. He did not say aloud to
his own thoughts, he only knew he was glad that a
letter had been sent t Osborne, Texas.



Mrs. Sullivan observed her son's preparation for a
visit to DeLaunay's with a disdainful eye. It was the
n^ht of the second rehearsal, and whereas Hugh dis-
liked amateur theatricals and fidgeted much over his
promise to take part, to-night he felt a decent inter-
est in the work and got himself up with care. His
mother went on muttering asides not complimentary
to Miss DeLaunay and the young maids of whom she
was the chief in beauty and wealth. The old lady in
common with most Irish mothers of the day, had a
great jealousy of any woman who showed interest in
her son. She could not make up her mind to hand him
over to another woman, and although she cheerfully
admitted to Tim Grady that the boy must go some
day to his own house, her taste would not be suited
with any young lady in Saranac. Her French neigh-
bors in the county were never done marrying, or dis-
cussing the preliminaries to marriage. A girl having
reached sixteen was whisked into long dresses so sud-
denly that only her own friends recognized her on the
street. When a boy had attained his majority ^e
might marry at once, and often he married before.
And on those occasions so great was the rejoicing of
all parties that Mrs. Sullivan's contempt for
French notions was mingled with a great fear of


losing her own children in the same speedy way. She
did lose her daughter, but Captain Hugh remained
firm. The rehearsals threatened her peace of mind
once more, and when Hugh sat down after dressing
to fondle the children and chat for an hour she began
her philippic against theatricals.

Hugh was deeply in love with his own home and his
relatives. His sister's children seemed to him like his
own. Their pretty and sincere love for him, shown
in many ways, touched his heart. For their mother,
a pale, patient, sweet-tempered woman, he had the
love of the brother and the friend. All were now de-
pendent on him. When the idea of marriage pre-
sented itself occasionally in a cloudy fashion to his
mind he thought rather of these lour souls so closely
knit to his and could not see any separation from them
which would bring him more happiness. He was not
an over sensitive man. His fiber was a trifle coarse
in some places. His nature was deep however and
honest, and he had the strong affections for his own
peculiar to the race from which he sprang.

" Reharesals," Mrs. Sullivan said with irony. " Has
Regina Del-aunay nothin' else to do wid her money
than throw it away an ould plays that the divil was
father of?"

"Why, mother," protested Mrs. Lajeunesse.

" Well, it may be different in this counthry," said
the mother in apology, "but at home ye might as
well go an' sell yerself body an' sowl to ould Nick as
turn play acthor. Here they think no more of it than
gittin divorced an' marryin' agin as often as they like.''

"I'll tell Miss DeLaunay what you say," Hugh
said gravely, " and perhaps she will let me off."

"That she may," very fervently. " The toboggan
was bad enough, but the reharesals are worse. I
tould Tim Grady about 'em, an' he said no good
could come of all this paintun', an' powdhenn', an'
huggin', an' killin', an' the other goins-on yez do be
havin' at 'em."

" I'll never do it again," said Hugh as he put on his
coat, and went out. He felt a kind of exhilaration as
he stepped into the road. The DeLaunays had sud-
denly become an object of interest to him. It was
like a situation in a play. Power and wealth were
reigning respectably on a hill as it were, and shame
was threatening both with an overthrow. Hugh would
not have a partiu it for all the money in DeLaunay's
possession, but he was curious to see how near so
suave, so elegant, so clever a man as he could come
to ruin and escape it.

It was intensely [email protected], fully twenty below zero. In
the north such a temperature is dry and pleasant,
even healthful. The moon was shining. The hard
packed snow glittered in its light. Out on the lake a
cleared space lighted with torches was crowded with
skaters, and farther on stood the toboggan slide bright
with Chinese lanterns and noisy with the rush of to
boggans and the laughing of the crowd. SleigHs were
passing along the road every minute to the music of
their bells. The DeLaunay* mansion stood on the
lake road. It was a solid, roomy, handsome building
of the old style, enlarged but not improved under De
Launay's ownership. A fine park surrounded it. All
the front windows shone with light. The old brass
knocker still hurg on the door though no longer used,
and in the central hall a majestic stairway of polished

3 2

oak rose stately and slow to the next floer. It was a
house of refinement and comfort. Hugh noticed some
things which on his first visit escaped him. A few
touches here and there in the shape of a picture, a
statue, a crucifix hinted at the presence of a Catholic
in the household. Then he recalled the fact that Mr.
DeLaunay was supposed to be of that faith, his own
word and his regular contribution to its needs being
the witnesses. There was no other evidence. His
wife and daughter were most amiable and indifferent
believers in nothing.

The amateur actors were assembled in the green
room, a back apartment of green tints which was to
serve as the green-room when the play appeared. It
remained in Hugh's memory a long time as the setting

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Online LibraryJohn Talbot SmithSaranac : a story of Lake Champlain → online text (page 2 of 18)