John Talbot Smith.

Saranac : a story of Lake Champlain online

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say his prayers and thank God for restoring to him
his son. The door opened while they were praying,
and Sol Tuttle came in with a blast of wind and snow
which put out most of the candles. He dropped on
his knees and waited until they had ended.

" Reckon you're late or I'm early," said Sol com-
fortably seating himself. He was thoroughly at home
in LaRoche's company, and lighted his pipe imme-
diately. " I hadn't said any prayers so fur, but I hev
hed breakfast. So jes' pitch in an' don't mind me.
This idee oi a altar in the house strikes me as pretty
cute, Joe. Yo can't forgit your prayers even if you
wanted to.'

" It's the taste of the women folks," LaRoche ex-
plained.

It's the best o' taste, 1 ' said Sol. " I know you
hain't got no such taste, cap'in, 'cause you're bringin'



49

up wan't jes' what it hed ought to be. T belmve in
prayer, m' I reckon I believe in altars, too, s'long as
Mrs La Roche hes faith in 'em."

" I 'ave a little news for you this mornin,' " said La
Roche with gravity. " It's big news for us, an' we're
goin' to keep it quite for a time. I 'ad a letter from
Amedee yestiddy, an' he says he didn't steal no three
thousand dollars, an' he's soon comin' home to prove
who did, an' I'm thinkitt* cf arrestin' Mr. DeLaunay
for puttin' up a job n the boy for a thing he never
did."

Madame LaRoche was not surprised at this out-
burst before an old friend of the family. The captain
attacked his breakfast savagely while talkimg, and en-
joyed the surprise expressed in his friend's face.

Sol had laid aside his pipe for a moment, and was
adjusting the information to his emotions.

" That beats me holler," he said.

Time had already beaten Sol so hollow that it was
difficult to conceive t anything which ceuld increase
his hollowness. He resumed his smoking.

" Better tell him, too," said Madam shrewdly, "that
Mr. Sullivan advised ye t& go to the priest afore you
did anything else."

" So he did," asserted LaRoche, " an' I'm net go-
in'." Sol laid down his pipe hastily.

" Yes you are gein' to the priest," said he with such
earnestness that the captain laughed. " Yes, you are
a goin' to the priest, an' I'm a-goin' too, for to take
the pledge that I broke last month. Joe, it don't be
come you to talk so slightin' of a good man. He
oughter hev known this news about little Amedee
afore us all."



Madame LaRoche smiled to herself at this emphatic
expression of opinion.

" You think so," said LaRoche irritably.

" There air a class o' men," Sol answered after a
long pause, " like the condemned pickerel we ketch
out on the bridge, all mouth; jest the same, they don't
know how to choose their vittles. In other words
they don't know a good thing when they see it."

<k Well, we can go, it won't do no one no harm,"
said the captain, " but I mean to arrest DeLaunay
anyway, an' make him tell jes' what he did to my
boy in front o' the hull town."

" You got a mighty big contract on hand," Sol re-
plied, " not but what it oughter be done. But I'd
rayther contract to land twenty black bass an hour in
this ere weather than to hev enything to do with
bringin' DeLaunay to court."

The two men went together to the residence of the
parish priest discussing this point. LaRoche made a
show of stopping at the hotel to look for Hugh Sulli-
van, and not seeing him after a half glance around
hurried away much relieved. His suspicions of
Hugh were growing stronger. Seated in a convenient
corner Hugh saw his behavior and did not attempt
to show himself. He was satisfied that the priest
would give LaRoche much stronger advice than he
desired.

The snow was deep and the walk to the church
toilsome and difficult. Streets were blocked up, the
church was remote from the center of the village, the
wind blew hard. The veterans scarcely noticed these
things. All around the church and residence lay
immense drifts of snow, and the northwest wind was



5 1

adding constantly to the heap. They rang the bell at
the office-door, and were admitted to a small well-
furnished room, smelling of comfor f . Father Mc-
Manus was at home, and came in promptly, in cassock
and barretta, a plump, brisk, plain-featured man of a
pleasant manner.

" Good morning, Mr. LaRoche ; Mr. Tuttle, I am
glad to see you."

Then he sat down and waited for the matter of their
visit to be introduced.

4< We both have a little business with you," said the
captain, " but I guess, Sol, you'd better put in yours
now as it is the shortest."

" I come up to take the pledge for a year," said
Sol briefly.

"You broke the last one too soon," said the
p-iest.

" I'll allow I did, Mr. McManus, an 1 I allow also
that Sairey wuz ez much to blame at the start ez I
wuz. It wa'n't her fault neither. It wa'n't mine at
the start, but you see I come home wet one day, an'
took a fit o' shiverin', an' she packed me right to bed,
piled on the blankets, aa' brought me some hot
whisky.

* Sez I, ' Sairey, I won't take it, sez she, Sol you've
g->t to. I admire your pluck, sez she, but I ain't
a-goin' to nuss you through another spell o' rheumatiz,
sez she, and pay more money for doctor's bill an'
medicine than you'd spend in whisky in three years.
Well, sez I, if you say so, I'll drink it, but you've got
to take the consequences. I must say, Mr. McManus,
I was kinder reconciled to it. Sairey dosed me putty
well for three days. Then I was well, an' if I'd a-



52

stopped thar, I reckon things would have been squar.
I didn't stop. I went on a three days' toot, an' I
broke Sairey up. She cried and scolded, and be
tween us we made life right mis'able. Sez I yistiday,
I've hed enough. This thing hez got to stop. So I
come up here to do what I think is right, an' to take
the pledge."

"Very good," said the priest, "just go down
on your knees and repeat these words after me
please."

" I promise the Almighty God that for one year I
will abstain from all intoxicating drinks, and that I
will do my best to discountenance the use of liquor in
others. Amen."

Sol repeated the first part of the pledge, but at the
second part hesitated and looked at LaRoche who
fidgetted in his chair.

" You see," the latter explained, "he sells liquor."

" Last year if you'll remember," said Sol, " I said
that part another way."

" Do you keep a saloon," asked the priest

" No, I'm glad to say I don't. I supply a few
friends with whisky from Canada. I don't trade with
hard drinkers, oly with respectable people. I km
promise to discourage any but those I trade with.
There aint no need o' discouragin' them, for they're
sober decent people."

The pledge was so given, and Sol rose frm his
kn'es.

" I'm thankful to ye, Mr. McManus, an' I'm comin'
up sometime to hear you preach " he said. " I've
haern ye're a tip-top preacher, am I believe in preach-
in'. "



53

" Now that he's done I'd like to pay ye last quarter's
pew-rent, father," said the captain, eager to let his
ffiend understand that he supported the church.

This business was promptly despatched, and
then LaRoche told his story slowly, but said nothing
of his intention to arrest DeLaunay as soon as possi-
ble. He simply asked Father McManus what was
the best thing to do towards helping his son to get
back his good name. The work of convincing a man
of LaRoche's mental power that a certain course of
action ought to be followed is herculean, and the
priest did not care to undertake it. He did not think
much of AmedeVs letters, and was more than doubt-
ful of DeLaunay's guilt.

" There is only one thing for you to do," he said.
" Put the case into the hands f a good lawyer, and
follow his advice. You have I think hard work be-
fore you."

" Why," asked the captaim.

" Yoa must get proofs f all that your sen alleges.
You must prove that DeLaunay stole the three thou-
sand himself, before you can declare Amedee inno-
cent. When you have done that your son's reputa-
tion is as bad as ever, for he was caught committing a
burglary, he admits that, and the moment DeLaunay
hears of your suspicions of him he will drag the boy
back and send him to jail for years. You cam't pre-
vent that you know. So that you must be very secret,
very slow, and get the best lawyer in the county to
do everything.'

The captaia was staggered, but he said defiantly.

" I am goin' to have DeLaunay arrested this
morning. I can't afford to pay no lawyer. I'm goin



54

to let the law do what it can. I guess it will do him
some harm anyway."

The priest assented with a gesture, and refused to
discuss the matter. It was, he said, too serious a case
for anyone to interfere with except lawyers and officers
of the law. At this moment the door-bell rang and
Hugh Sullivan apparently nettled at being laie entered.

" I came upon this business of the captain's," he
said to the priest " I suppose I am too late."

' The father," answered LaReche stubbornly
" gives me the same advice that you give. But all
the same I'm goin' to 'ave DeLaunay arrested to day.
My son 'as been out in Texas fifteen years because of
his doin's. My ol' woman 'as cried 'er eyes out al-
most over 'im. Is these things goin' to be done on a
poor man by a rich one, an' the rich one to go free
an' suffer nothin' ?"

" LaRoche is naturally sore on this matter," said
the priest to Hugh, " and a little wild. I have ad-
vised him to put the case into the hands of a good
lawyer. He fears it will cost too much, when it can
be done cheaply some other way."

" There is no need of a lawyer," Hugh said
quickly. " What we want to find out is if the old
books of the firm of Winthrop & DeLaunay are still in
existence. These books were said to be so fixed by
Amede"e that he stole three thousand before he was
discovered. The false entries could not have been
made by him if he be innocent. They must have
been made by DeLaunay himself in the items which
he gave to his clerk for copying. I can hunt up these
books better than a detective It will cost nothing,
and may do the job for you, captain."



55

* You ought to accept Mr. Sullivan's help,'' the
priest urged. " I * is the only way of saving your son.
If you arrest Mr DeLaunay before these books are
found he will destroy them, and then your chances
are gone."

" It seems to me," the pilot replied irritably, " you
are all on Mr. DeLaunay 's side. You're all tryin' to
save 'im from what he ought to git."

Hugh took up his hat suddenly and the priest rose

" I reckon you made a mistake in coming here,"
said Hugh laughing. " What you want is some one
who will advise you to hang yourself because it suits
you to be hanged. Good-morning, Father."

La Roche stolidly followed him out, but his resolu-
tion was shaken.

" What do you think of this business," Hugh asked
of the priest in an undertone as he was departing.

" Pure nonsense ! His son is playing on him."

" Guess I'll have to do what you all say," LaRoche
muttered when ihey had proceeded some distance.
** I'll wait while you look for the books "

"No you won't," said Hugh shortly. "If you cie-
pend on me to manage the thing for you, you must
put the whole case in my charge, give me your word
you will say nothing about it to any one, and do just
what I tell you from first to last. Don't think I am
going into what may prove a nasty business, and leave
you to smash the whole shop when you feel like it."

LaRoche glared at him for a moment, then re-
lapsed into thought. His slow mind was a long time
getting to the point of view which made Hugh's offer
appear advantageous as well as economical.

"All right," he said at length. "I'll do it. I



56

promise everything. You go ahead and c'o what you
like. You were all agin me, an' if you make mistakes
let Amed6e blame you. But I don't like to do it."

Hugh was satisfied and very much relieved. He
would like to get hold of AmedeVs letter as a guar-
anty of LaRoche's good faith, but to ask it would
only rouse his suspicions. He said as they parted :

" To make sure of your word give that letter to
your wife, and have her put it under lock and key.
Then you won't be tempted to show it to any one."

" I kin keep my word an' the letter, too," said the
cantain savagely. Hugh felt that he had blundered
In hurting LaRoche's pride, but it did not trouble
him. It was one of his deficiencies that he could not
understand what great effects may result from little
things.

CHAPTER VII.

AFTER THE PLAY.

Hugh felt cheerful in having gained a respite for
Regina. It was something of a triumph, for the jeal
ous and suspicious nature of LaRoche was difficult to
soothe and control. He took care during the week
to see him and his good wife often that good disposi-
tions might not weaken. He hardly kne v what his
next move would be. His aim was to do Regina a
service. She was a fine girl, and did not deserve to
be included ia the disgrace that would fall upon her
father. Hugh was not given to studying himself, al-
though net unaware of hi? own good points in busi-
ness matters. Therefore he never asked why he took
so friendly an interest in the DeLaunays. Had an-



57

other questioned him he would have answered promptly
and truly, ' When a man is in a scrape, and I can help
him out I never refuse rny help.' Had it been sug-
gested that Miss DeLaunay's charms might explain
his readiness he would have laughed and said, " You
are right A fellow likes to help a pretty girl above
all things." This was precisely his mental condition
now, and his only thought was the scheme which must
satisfy both parties. He was sufficiently elated with
'his success and his hopes to make the next few days
very pleasant for his loved Elise and Remi ; so pleas-
ant in fact that Mrs. Sullivan said to her daughter in
heart broken accents.

" He's gone. He's engaged to her. Wor=e an'
worse ! You married a Frinchman, an' he married a
Prodestan'. What's the Sullivans comin' to at all, at
all"

Mr. Grady heard this complaint also and rejoiced. He
first drew up philosophical consolation for Mrs. Sullivan.

" This counthry, ma'am," said he, while the old
lady almost transfixed him with her eye, "is already
a conglomeration "

" The Lord save us," under her breath.

"Of divers races, the Frinch, the Germans, the
Italians, the Negroes, the Irish and so forth. Now do
ye suppose that these people are going to stay Frinch
an' German an' Irish all their life ? "

" I don't see why they couldn't, Misther Grady.
I'm forty years in the counthry an' I'm as Irish to-
day as the day I kem into it."

" Is your daughther the same ? Isn't she Mrs. La-
jeunesse now, ma'am? An' your grandchildren, are
they Irish ? "



58

Mrs. Sullivan was dumbfounded for an instant.

" That's the way it s gom' to be all through the
counthry," continued Mr. Grady, " they'll mix an' mix
until there's nothin' left of the constituent elements
but pure American. So I don't see why Hugh
shouldn't make up to Miss DeLaunay. She's a
Piodestan', that's thrue. But take my word for it if
she marries Hugh it '11 be before the priest. Sure
DeLaunay himself is a Catholic."

"Well, constitution elements or no constitution
elements," said Mrs. Sullivan.'' "I don't want any
more mixin' in mine. I've had too much of it, an' I
don't thank any man to put sich notions as you have,
Tim Grady, into my son's head. He's bad enough
without 'em."

" Oh, I don't put any notions into his head, ma'am,
but what's the blessed truth. He's a dacent boy, an'
I hope ye 11 have him long wid ye. But boys will be
boys, ma'am, an' the day comes whin they go away to
their own houses, an' lave the old folks to do as God
wishes."

Mr. Grady mindful of his own long departed chil-
dren wiped his eyes. Mrs. Sullivan was softened.

' Fhrue for you," she said, *' it's nothin' but come
an' go wid us all "

Then Mr. Grady departed after advising the old
lady on the method of dealing with her children. He
took his way to the modest house of LaRoche. It
was storming as usual : storm was the normal condition
of the winter weather in Saranac. It made the cozy kit-
chen of Madame LaRoche only the cosier and brighter.
The kettle was singing on the stove, there was to be
hot punch to night ; once in the week Madame al-



59

lowed the men this pleasure. In the bed-room the
table was prepared for a game of draughts or of cards
Such vanities were not tolerated in the room where
the aUar stood. Tim sat down with a deep sense of
comfort. No festivity that the great house might
provide for its guests could touch his heart like a quiet
game in the bed-room with the kettle singing a coming
pleasure in his ears ard the storm roaring outside.
His authonty on all matters was unquestioned in this
house The captain and his wife looked upon h ; m as
infallible. Secretly Mr. Grady thought they were
right in so regarding him. He had never made a mis-
take in his life. The world or rather the univer r e
was managed on a theory which he had discovered
and made his own. He was conscious of his rare
intimacy w : th Providence, and an adept in explaining
the profound language which he used in foretelling Its
ways For like all prophets of this kind he sometimes
mixed his facts, only to find later that had his language
been properly interpreted it would have fitted the
facts. Conscious of his own greatness Mr Grady was
therefore fearless and calm on great occasions, and
never hesitated to oppose himself to the whole world

The three men, for Sol was one of the party, sat
down to play at the moment the curtaia rose for the
first act of Ingomar in DeLaunay's parlors. The
punch glasses were regularly filled by Madame who
laughed and prayed by turns in the kitchen, Her
heart was full of joy to night, although a little heavy
with the thought of distant Texas. Mr. Grady had
prefaced the game with a dissertation on card? which
led to a discussion.

" Maybe you don't know row," said he to Tuttle,



6o

" that cards were invented first to please an ould fool
of a king, an' keep him from murdher."

" I had an idee the devil invented 'em/ said Sol,
whose pledge against all intoxicating liquors was sorely
tried this evening.

" He's used thim a great deal," assented Mr.
Grady, " which only shows that ould Nick knows a
good thing whin he sees it. But I don't care to be
talkin' about him. Since the Fall he's been close
enough to every soul of us widout wishin' him closer.
There's more or less o' the divil in every man nowa-
days."

u Then he didn't invent 'em ?"

" It's hard tellin' what he didn't invint," Mr. Grady
replied. " Since the Fall he's had his finger in every pie."

Sol had heard of the Fall and had a physical idea
of it, believing that Paradise was situated on a plateau,
off which Adam and Eva fell to strike the earth with
bruised bodies and softened brains. He had often
stated his belief to Mr. Grady.

" It was nat'ral," he thought, " an' to be expected
that if the brains of the first man and woman were a
little soft that their descendants' brains should be
somewhat softer. Then when Christ came He hard-
ened 'em agin, for them as believed in Him. An' the
more you believed the harder yer brains got to be.
An' when they were hard enough to suit Jehovah you
died, an' got h'isted back to Paradise. The hull thing
sounded reasonable."

"There's only wan thing against it," Mr. Grady
said, repressing his scorn, "betthermen have given
betther reasons for the Fall. The Scriptures don't
say that Paradise was on a precipice. When Adam



6i

fell he didn't fall off anything. He fell into sin. St
Augustine says, an ; he's not to be named in the wan
breath wid the Tuttles, that a darkness settled on our
minds an' understandings, an' our wills got weak, an'
we turned away from good sinse. That is why some
of us don't know any betther than to fish for a livin',
an' get dhrunk for fun."

" An' play keerds," said Sol composedly, " an' think
ourselves better'n our neighbors, an' use big words to
cover up bare spots, an' forgit our o<vn sins cos we're
so all fired busy a rememberin' otherses."

Here LaRoche found it necessary to interfere and
turn the talk into another channel. The captain had
been in a peculiar moo-1 the whole evening. He was
debating with himself whether he would show to Tim
Grady his son's letter. Tina was Amede"e s godfather,
and had always, to the Captain's irritation, believed in
the boy's guilt. LaRoche had believed it himself, but
it did not please him to see others of the same faith.
It would be worth something to watch Tim Grady
reading the letter and to reminl him of his harshness
to his godson. But his promise to Hugh Sullivan !
The Captain had regard for his pledged word. The
punch, however, excited him. Madame was seated
in a pathetic attitude near the altar, and he called
Tim's attention to it.

" Thinkin' of poor, innocent Amede"e," he said in a
low voice.

Mr. Grady shrugged his shoulders.

" He was innocent,'' said the Captain roughly.
This assertion not only conflicted with former asser-
tions of Li Roche, it also attacked Mr. Grady's theory
of the management of the universe



62

" I wish I could believe he was," he said smiling.

" Read that an' believe," cried LaRoche angrily ;
"it is his last letter to me."

The cards were laid aside while Mr. Grady read
with proper slowness the first word and the last, and
then examined the postmark.

" YouVe had it a good bit widout doin' anythin'."

LaRoche, to justify himself, related the incidents
of the last few days, but Mr. Grady was not listening.
He was examining his utterances for the past fifteen
years on Amedee's guilt, and comparing them with
the statements in the letter. He saw at once a safe
interpretation. The boy had taken some money. Mr.
Grady had never explicitly stated his belief that he
took all. In fact, if his memory served him rightly,
he had once expressed a doubt of his taking so large
a sum.

" This letter," he said, takes a doubt off my mind
that I never could get rid of. I knew that Amedee
had taken a little, but I never could make myself be-
lieve he stole three thousand dollars."

His companions listened to this in amazement.
Mr. Grady folded the letter, put it in his pocket, and
went for his hat and stick.

"Where are you a goin' with it ?'' said the Captain.

" Put an your things," said Tim solemnly, " an'
come wid me. The boy's father may forget him, an'
wait days an' weeks hefore doin' what he ought to
right him. But his godfather isn't that kind of a man.
We're goin' sthraight to DeLaunay's. We're goin' to
read this letter to him. Then we'll give him his
choice to bring the boy back an' clear him, or stand
the consequences "



63

Sol and the Captain gave a wild hurrah at the
strength of this sentiment. With a brief explanation
to Madame, the two went out, leaving Sol to await
their return.

The orchestra was playing before the last act in
the parlors of the great house. The play had been a
success, and the Saranac aristocracy were delighted
It was a mild and simple-hearted aristocracy, which
admitted all claims for admission to its ranks provid-
ed reputation was good. It was not too hard on
such members as were naughty. Regina in the sim-
ple Greek costume was a real vision of loveliness to
them, and Hugh as a ferocious barbarian chief sent
thrills of exquisite terror through the ladies. The out-
come of the story was awaited with impatience in the
last act. The curtain rose. Hugh in a Grecian cos-
tume, smooth-faced, bewigged, looked not less hand-
some than in his skirs and armor as chief. Mr. Grady
standing with the captain at the door was delighted at
his appearance, and angered also. LaRoche, weak-
ening in his purpose on the way up, had told him of
the promise to Hugh, and Mr. Grady at once per-
ceived the reason of the young man's behavior. He
denounced him unsparing^ He was trying to save
DeLaunay at the expense of an innocent man. The
audience cast a surprised glance occasionally at the
knotty form of Mr. Grady. Hugh saw the pair from
the stage, and understood instantly what had hap-
pened and what was about to occur. He knew Tim
Grady well enough to feel certain there would be a
scene as soon as the play was over, perhaps in the
very middle of the last act. If that catastrophe were
spared, it would be necessary to meet Mr Grady more



6 4

than half way, to hustle him into a private room and
keep his mind busy until DeLaunay could be pre-
pared for the scene. Else Hugh was certain Mr.
Grady would gather the guests around him and read
the letter which was the cause of all this trouble.

The curtain was no sooner down than a servant


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Online LibraryJohn Talbot SmithSaranac : a story of Lake Champlain → online text (page 4 of 18)