John Talbot Smith.

Saranac : a story of Lake Champlain online

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acting under Hugh's orders ushered the two men
into DeLaunay's private study. He had hardly left
them when Regina entered in her stage costume to
make papa's excuses for delaying them and to charm
Mr. Grady out of his senses by her sweet voice and
manner. She did not know why she was entertaining
him. Hugh had said to her as she was leaving the
stage :

" Go straight to your father's study, and entertain

the two old men you will find there until your father

comes in. There s no time to explain. It is a

serious matter. Keep the men with you at all cost."

She obeyed like a soldier.

Hugh followed DeLaunay to his dressing room,
and said :

" There's trouble waiting for you down stairs. Get
on your togs in a hurry, and I'll tell you all about it."
The elegant gentleman never dressed with less care
than on this occasion.

" Captain LaRoche had a letter from his son the
other day '' Mr. DeLaunay sat down with a ghastly
face" that gives away your dealings with him fifteen
years ago. He charges you with saddling a crime on
him His father is going to have it out with you,
a d his godfather, a harder man to deal with, is
bound to make you pay for it. What are you going
to do?"


" Do," gasped the man, " my God, I must get out
of here to-night, this very minute. I am lost. The
disgrace it means imprisonment you can help me
I will take a freight into Montreal "

Gasping and trembling so that he could hardly
walk he tottered to the wardrobe and began to put
on his coat. Hugh wis at first astonished at this col-
lapse. He found some brandy and gave him a strong

" You can't think of running away," he said, " you
must face these people."

" Face them," DeLaunay groaned, "face judge and
jury and jail."

His teeth chattered and he continued to struggle
with his coat- His eyes looked wild. Hugh gave
him another dose of brandy, and then made up his
mind to a course of action He took off the over-
coat and pushed DeLaunay into a chair. He under-
stood now that the man was a coward, and could do
nothing without the coward's confidence certainty.

" Tell me," said Hugh, " are the books you doc-
tored when you stole that money destroyed."

"They are."

"Then how can anyone prove you stole the money ?"

" They can't prove it by document,'' said DeLaunay.

" Didn't you catch young LaRoche robbing the
safe on a certain night fifteen years ago."

" I did."

" Did you believe he was robbing it ?"

" No. I knew he was not. I was watching for
him to do something of the kind."

"A thorough, rascal," thought Hugh. He said
aloud in a cheery tone, "You are all right then.


These people can't harm you. They can threaten to
show the young man's letter to everyone, but that
amounts to nothing "

" That's true," said DeLaunay. The brandy was
giving him confidence

" You go dovva and see these men. Hear their
story and their demands Defy them to prove any-
thing. But offer to restore the son his good name and
to set him up in business if they keep still and let you
have the letter from Texas. You would not like your
family to know of this."

He drew a long breath and paused before answering.

" No I would not. Not for the world. Of course
[ will see the men, and I will follow your advice. I
will get the letter. I will do very handsomely by
Amedee. This affair has been a shock to me. I am
quite myself again. I shall go down at once."

His recovery was as rapid as his collapse.

" The books are destrayed. There is no way of
proving anything. In tact I need not give them a bit
of encouragement if I choose. But I can be generous,
and I will be."

He went down without thanking Hugh for his aid,
and was the same elegant gentleman as ever who
greeted the old men politely and thanked his daugh-
ter for taking his place. As she was going he said,

" You need not go, if these gentlemen do not ob-

" Perhaps if you knew the contints of this letter
which I am goin' to read," said Mr. Grady, " you
wouldn't care to have annybody but uz around."

In some amazement Regina looked at her father,
who smiling signed to her to be seated.


" Very well then," said Mr. Grady, " yer throuble
be upon yer own head."

He unfolded his letter and read it from the first
word to the last in his hoarse cracked voice, stopping
occasionally to throw a look of triumph at Mr. De-
Launay. The latter listened calmly, and with an air
of interest. His mind went back fifteen years to the
night when the scheme for making poor Amede"e his
scapegoat flashed upon his nrnd and was carried out
successfully within the hour. It had been a lucky
scheme for him, but hard upon the poor devil who
fled to Texas. Only the fittest survives, thought De-
Launay, and he grew calmer as he considered the
utter impossibility of proving the charges. He was
even angry that so poor an impertinence as this should
come up after fifteen years. Mr. Grady finished with
a greater sense of importance than if he had been
secretary to the general judgment and had just read
to the assembled world its many iniquities.

" I suppose the young man wants money," DeLau
nay said with a drawl, "but of course you understand
that money demanded in this way is blackmail, I "

"Scop there," shouted Mr. Grady in a passion.
"We didn't come here for money, but for justice.
We wouldn't touch yer money, such money as yours.
But you hear what the b'y says. You know it's the
truth, and we want you to understand if you don't
bring back that b'y to Saranac, return him his good
name, and do something to make up for his banish-
ment to Texas, then you go to jail as sure's my name
is Tim Grady."

" Mr. Grady," said DeLaunay, " do I understand
that you speak for the father of this young ah thief."


" Papa," said Regina gently, for over the captain's
lace a pained flush had spread.

" He speaks for me," said LaRoche in a broken

" The courts will decide which is the thief," shouted
Mr. Grady tapping the letter. " I know him well
enough now ."

u Let me advise you to burn that foolish letter,"
DeLaunay said to LaRoche " It can't do any good
to circulate such stories. Even if it were true that I
took the money, you can't prove it, for the books are
all destroyed. If you show it to anyone let me tell
you what I will do. I shall arrest you both for
slander, and get damages enough to make you poor
for the rest of your lives. If I spared your boy at
first I won't spare him now. He goes to jail for
burglary the first time I lay hands on him."

' Thai's enough," said Mr. Gradv, " we ran go our
way an' you can go you^s. Come on, LaRoche, to-
morrow this letther shall be read in every house in
Saranac. The people know enough o' you, DeLau-
nay, to know thieving isn't beyond you."

The gentleman trembled from head to foot at these
words, and changed his position to prevent Regina
from noticing it.

" I have been thinking of your boy," he said to the
captain, " and had decided for his mother's sake to let
him come home to Saranac and to do something for
him. You can tell your wife that. But of course if
this thing goes on I couldn't think of permitting him
to return."

" He'll return this month," said Mr. Grady, "an'
no thanks to you. Come on, LaRoche."

6 9

They went out into the hall and met Hugh Sullivan
bright and smiling as if the world were just made new
that night. He expressed great surprise at seeing
them and conducted them to the door. The sound
of voices from the great parlors reached Mr. Grady's
ears and gave him an idea.

" We may as well begin here," he muttered and was
starting back when Hugh's hand closed on his arm
and placed him in the open air beside the captain.

"Another time will do as well, Mr. Grady," said



It was a sorrowful night for Regina. The light of
the parlors seemed to have become a glare, and hurt
her. The sincere compliments upon her acting gave
her no pleasure, but she smiled and thanked her gu - sts
mechanically while her mind was busy in studying her
altered relationship to her happy past. It was the first
time in her life that anything so serious had happened.

Her father, of whose elegance and refinement she
had always been proud, had been a thief, and had
forced an innocent man to suffer for his crime ! It
seemed to be with him a mere matter of business, but
if he had been caught and punished at that time she
would now have been poor and a jail-bird's daughter.
A new quantity, crime, had entered into her life, and
a much-esteemed one, perfect respectability, had gone
out of it. It was like death. The father of her
thoughts had gone out of them never to return. In
his place was a being that hurt her to look upon and


to speak to, a being which had sinned against her and
against the innocent. What a pitiful letter the poor
exile had written ! How patiendy for fifteen years he
had borne another's injustice ! And, with what brazing
impudence her father had spoken of him as a ihiei!

The guests noticed no change m her manner, which
at its best was rot over-cordial, but Hugh perceived
the suffering she ensured. Honesty was with nim
such a virtue thnt he could easily enter into her feel-
ings. He had washed to save her from any knowledge
of her father's character, and he was angry with De-
Launay tor exposing himself to the one creature who
surely loved and respected him ; for Hugh surmised
that Mrs. DeLaunay had no regard for her hus-
band. He tried to comfort her, not s eing that
words were small comfort at that moment She
avoided him, because he knew of her father's
shame ; he who was only a lake sailor belonging
to some common Irish family in the tovn. Very
likely he would take advantage of his knowledge to
become disgustingly familiar, ard perhaps to thrust
nimself upon her. Indeed he was doing that now,
following her with his eyes, and trying to meet her at
vantage points in the rooms. All at once she
began to hate him, eluded him, received his advances
with such coldness that he could not fail to under
stand her motive. It burst upon him suddenly, and
set him laughing First it was LaRoche, then Grady,
now Miss DeLaunay who hated hi-n for his interfer-
ence. " It's what meddlers deserve anyway,'' he said,
and thereafter gave the poor girl no trouble. He
also took the resolution to keep out of the affair for
the rest of his days.

Regina's thoughts still worried her, and when she
saw that he followed her no longer a sudden fright
stirred her. With the people who knew of her father's
villainy she ought to be friendly lest they blab his
guilt to the world. She looked round at the crowded
parlors. How great a change in these people towards
her would not a whispered story make. A panic
seized her. Sullivan might be making the past known
even now, for there was no reason why he should
withhold it. She sought him out and spoke to him
almost confidentially.

"I had forgotten to thank you. Papa told me of
the service you did him this evening." She rould
not for her life have named the service. " It was so
kind of you."

" The kindness was intended pretty much for you,"
he said. " Then he spoiled it by letting you hear the
whole thing. There was no necessity for that. You
need not fret over it. It will all be arranged quietly
I think."

" I must beg f you not to mention it to anyone "

" Of course not," he answered in surprise ; " why, I
have been trying this week past to prevent a whisper
of it reaching any others than those interested."

" Will you give me your word," she said earnestly,
' never to mention it to any living being ?"

' I give you my most solemn word," he answered
with deep seriousness, and somehow she felt that no
earthly power would ever shake the strength of that
promise, even if the Captain was nothing more than
a lake sailor.

When the guests were gone, and father and daugh
ter had the great rooms to themselves, DeLaunay saw


that she was eager to talk with him, and a fear beset
him to be with her alone. What would she say when
her thoughts had time to arrange themselves ? He
was uneasy under her scrutiny. She was trying inno-
cently to understand in the sad light of his crime the
new father that had taken the place of the old.

" How did you happen to " she began.

" Well you see," he interrupted, " it was very ordi-
nary. The same thing happens every day you know,
only not such a fuss is made about it I was short
in my accounts some three thousand dollars, and a
little speculation I was in failed to wind up at the
time I expected. Three weeks afterwards, my dear,
I was worth double that amount, worth six thousand.
But I was desperate. Winthrop wanted to get me out
of the business. If he found out the state of the books
it was all up with me. Then this LaRoche happened
to rot) the safe in the nick of time. I was very fair
with him, Regina, as you can see, my dear. I could
have sent him to Dannemora prison for years, but I
let him go. Afterwards I made the three thousand
good. The only real injury done was in making hi en
out a defaulter He was only a burglar, a common

"He was not even that as you know, father," she
said gently, and te answered nervously:

" Well no, of course not; strictly speaking I don't
suppose he had any intention of stealing, but if you
could persuade a jury of that fact, Regina?"

She raised her hand in deprecation.

" There is no need for humbug between us, father."

' No," he said trembling, " I know it, I am in the
wrong. But I am ready to do what is right by him.


He can come back, and I can put htm in the way of
becoming a rich man.''

He did not care to say that Amedee's reputation
would be restored to him, nor did she wish him to say
it, for such a promise meant exposure ; she averted
her eyes lest he should take her look as a command.
A faint flush stole to her face and receded. Already she
was willing to continue the wrong done by her father.

" I wish so many did not know it," she said. " That
terrible Grady is one who will never cease to per-
secute us."

" Oh, I can settle Grady," he answered with a
short laugh, "the other man can be bought
off somehow. It is this young Sullivan, I don't
know anything about him; how did he
come to know? But he was very kind
you know; came to tell me beforehand; but
for that, Regina, I would have fainted before those
men, and have surrendered at once. I don't kno v
what his object was. He braced me for the interview.
Yes, even showed me how I had the advantage of
the position for the time, so that I was quite cool, you
remember. Of course he had an object, and we must be
careful of him. If this gets out and reaches Winthrop's
ears and your mother " he paused and trembled
"then we may as well give up everything.''

" It must not get out, father. I can manage this
Sullivan if you can deal with the others. I don't see
why you could not "

She was going to say "confide in mamma," but
checked herself in time, and said, "This Captain
Su'livan has promised to keep the matter a profound
secret, and I think he is a man of his word."


" So are we all, my dear, men of our word, as long
as our interests do not suffer by it. '

They talked for some time longer, and then retired
to their own rooms. Regina was tempted to fall into
discouragement. She had become all at once a con
spirator with her father against justice. There was no
doubt in her mind that the reparation due Amedee
LaRoche was the restoration of his good name. For
his long exile money and encouragement might
make some, if not complete, return. She was not
prepared for an act which would bring disgrace
up^n herself; in fact her intention to avoid publicity
was firmer than her fa'.her's. Therein she knew her
self gui'ty as he. She would not dwell upon the
thought, turning her mind to her mother and Hugh
Sullivan. It was probable Sullivan had known of the
crime for some time, even while attending the re-
hearsals. She had never spoken to him twice before
the play of Ingomar was thought of. What was his
motive in befriending her father? He had said
frankly that his interference was intended to benefit
herself purely. She thought him stupid enough to
aspire to her hand, for Saranac youth were noted for
the solidity of their conceit, anH the vulgar bluntness
with which they dashed into matrimony. It gave her
a vague satisfaction to know that if such were his
motives sooner or later she could punish him.

The relations between her father and mother had
always been a mystery to Regina. DeLaunay was
afraid of his wife, and submitted politely to the covert
and biting sneers she inflicted upon him daily. Her
manner often made the girl think that she
simply lacked a good reason to fall upon him


and destroy him. As far as temper was con-
cerned Mrs. DeLaunay was a model. She never
showed any, but she had the faculty of saying more
with glance and gesture than most people with their
tongues. Regina admired her fathet more, because
his thorough refinement seemed flawless, while about
her mother hung a suspicion of coarseness scarcely
hidden by her grand manner. What history had tHe
two which threw so dark and lasting a shadow over
their lives? It was useless to speculate on it. What
interested her more was that from her mother and
frorii Sullivan danger was to be apprehended. Re-
calling a happy home she had once seen, it saddened
her to see how little happiness her own home offered
to its members. With this last thought prompting the
willing tears, she slept.

At eight o'clock the next morning before the De
Launays had made up their minds to leave comfort-
able beds Captain La Roche with his letter was in the
parlor to make terms. A few hours of thought had
convinced him that Tim Grady's movements were
erratic and unprofitable. DeLaunay had the safe
side, the law was with him ; and the pilot, like every
French-Canadian of his class, had a strong respect for
the law. His wife agreed eagerly that if the great
man let Amedee come home and started him in busi-
ness it would be best for them all. In vain Tim
Grady protested. 1 he pecuniary advantages were
not on his side. He had only a shadowy honor to
plead for, and little the poor mother cared for that if
she but had her son. Moreover LaRoche insisted
on secrecy being kept by Tim, which the latter sour-
ly promised on conditions.

7 6

" If," said Mr. Grady, impressively, " this rascal
DeLaunay for that's all he is doesn't do what's
square by yez, thin I'll spake whin I plaze. An' if iver
I come across the books that he says were burned "

" Oh, they was burned long ago," said the pilot

"Providence," replied Mr. Grady, with the air of first
assistant to the Creator, " has ways of Its own How
do you or anyone else know where thim books are at
the present moment ? An' if I find thim ." He
could only shake his head in his failure to get fitting
wor^s for the tremendous things he would do.

" If you find 'em you'll give 'em to Amedee when
he comes back,'' said La Roche.

" Ay, whin he does," said Tim, bitterly.

Somewhat repentant the pilot called on Hugh,
tried to explain matters, and to get his opinion on
what he ought to do, but Hugh was good-naturedly
inexorable, and refused to have anything to say in
the matter. A family affair, he thought, ought to be
conducted by the family and its lawyers, it was a
principle he had acted on up to the present, and he
was sorry thst for a few weeks he had forgotten it. So
LaRoche, unadvised and uncertain, went alone to De-
Launay ard found himself from the first at a disadvan-
tage. The grand house awed him, and he wondered
that they could have had the boldness to enter it on
such a mission the night previous. It was net possible
that the man who owned so much money cou'd once
have stooped to steal three thousand dollars. He greeted
DeLaunay with profound respect, and reminded him
of his remaik during their last exciting conversation.

" There's no need o' me sayin' that if I knew you


was intendin' to treat Ame^e that way I wouldn't hev
thought o' disturbin' ye on no account. If you hevn't
changed yer mind I'd be willin' to throw away the
letter, an' say no more about it."

'' I am willing that Amedee should come back, La-
Roche. But about setting him up in business I don't
think I could do that very well. He must have for-
gotten all about business now, and then it would take
considerable money. I might lend him something, or
say a good word for him.''

The pilot held his son's letter in his hand and his
face grew downcast.

" I told the oF woman you was intendin "

" Ah, your wife ! Yes, for her sake I might do
something. She must have suffered for the last fifteen
years with her son absent. A bright boy he was.
Too much company spoiled him. He might have
been a rich man at this moment. 1 '

LaRoche placed the letter in his hands appealing
silently for his favor. The great man turned it over
indifferently and laid it on the table. He wanted
some assurances of good behavior.

" You told too many about this thing, LaRoche.
After what I did for your son I had no right to expect
it. Now who can say what talking this Grady and
this Sullivan may do ?"

" Grady won't say nothin', for I'll deny everthin' he
says, and Hugh Sullivan says it's agin his principles
to meddle with family doin's. No one else knows
anytnin' about it. You've got the letter an' there's
the end on't."

"Very true. Well, I don't mind promising to set
Amede'e up in business, and to help him along, too*


when he gets home. Shall I write to him, or do you
think it would be better for you to do it ? ; '

" If you wouldn't mind," said LaRoche, " it would
be a surprise to the boy to git a letter from you."

" No doubt. Well, I'll write the letter, and you
can post it with one of your own. Good morning."

The pilot went away delighted, and with a gesture
of contempt, DeLaunay threw the letter into the
stove. Regina came in as it turned to ashes, and
was told of the happy incident.

" It was a moderately tight corner, my dear," said
her father placidly, " but I have been in worse ones.
I mean that this particular business shall never trouble
me again."

Regina wondered if to accomplish this, further dis-
hcuesty and cruelty would be necessary.



The immediate consequence of LaRoche's sur-
render to DeLaunay was a breaking-up of all the little
anxieties, excitements, relationships which the letter
had helped to form. Everyone dropped at once into
his usual place, and every mouth was shut so tight,
every tell-tale glance so carefully suppressed that to
the interested parties the whole affair might well have
been a dream. Mr. Tim Grady, however, was fidgetty
and quarrelsome. LaRoche was compelled to put a
firm hand and a strong word upon him. Hugh Sullivan
avoided him always. DeLaunay treated him with
contempt. In his extremity he turned to David


Winthrop and put with great caution a hypothetical
question. Was it the custom of business firms to de-
stroy their old books and papers ? After a certain
number of years it was, said Winthrop, and as it took
little to make the old man talk about his glorious past
he went on to say :

" I never destroyed a book, never, sir. I have 'em
all stowed away in a safe. DeLaunay tried to burn
some of 'em, and actually gave the order to some man
to build a fire under 'em, but I saw to it that the
wrong books went into the fire, and I kept the right
ones. He believes they were destroyed I thought
I might have caught him napping. I examined the
books very carefully. They were all right as far as
he was concerned. Young LaRoche had doctored
'em to the tune of three thousand, that was all was
wrong with 'em.

Mr. Grady smiled at this emphatic talk, and felt
that after all he had the advantage of Hugh Sullivan
and DeLaunay, whom he associated since the night
Hugh so suddenly transferred him to the street side
of the hall door at the grand house. At once his
firlgetting ceased. He no longer looked daggers and
breathed war in the presence of these gentlemen, and
ceased to coin hints and quote proverbs to Madame
LaRoche. Peace reigned in Saranac. It was also
the season when mud had possession of the town.
April had come with strong south winds and generous
rain. The snow was firm, deep, brilliant the first
week of the month, and did not mind the new heat of
the sun. In three days under the rain and the wind
it became a sickly thing, shrunken and ugly; in three
more it was utterly gone. The frozen earth looked


hideous. The lake rose within its borders, and cracked

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Online LibraryJohn Talbot SmithSaranac : a story of Lake Champlain → online text (page 5 of 18)