John Talbot Smith.

Saranac : a story of Lake Champlain online

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'he honey-combed ice, which the winds seized,
and churned and twisted and knocked about
until only a fringe of ice fragments lay along the shore
of the bay. When the noise of the day had ceased and
the slight swell of the lake rose and fell on the shore,
these broken pieces striking one another tinkled like
the sweetest bells. The music was more ravishing
and keen than any which art could produce, and
Saranac folk, young and old, turned out to hear it ;
the old recounting all the pleasant things that had
happened since first they heard its exquisite tone, the
young finding language lor one another that seemed
to harmonize with the tinkling sound as softly as did
the minor key of the elders. It was the busy time for
Saranac. Farmers were preparing for seed time and
boatmen for the opening of navigation. Everyone
was hard at work and glad that the long winter was
over. The talk in the stores and saloons had changed
from anecdote and reminiscence to present plans.
No longer could anyone be found at home or loung-
ing about the town. Workpeople were out daily in
the mud.

In three weeks Hugh had not seen Regina, and
had taken particular pains to avoid her father. He
was glad to know that the whole matter had come
lo an end, and gave himself much credit for his share
in bringing it about. He was not shy in claiming
merit for his own good actions and qualities,
having the commercial instinct for values :
but at the same time he was too sensible to look for
displays of gratitude or admiration from others. It
iid not seem strange to him therefore that the De


Launays had so suddenly cut off all intercourse with
him. He had never associated with them until the
rehearsal began, and the play being over he did not
see any reason for closer relationship than before.
Home matters, too, were interesting just now. Remi
and Elise were prepanrg their catechism earnestly,
the boy to make his first communion, the girl to make
her first confession and to be enrolled in the scapular.
Their excitement had naturally communicated itself
to the whole house. Mrs. Sullivan's strictures on the
French and their notions were altogether suppressed,
that strife might not disturb the pious dispositions of
the little ones. She justified her silence by such re-
marks as " Whin it comes to confession an' com-
munion an' Mass an' Death an sich, Frinchmin an
Irish are all wan I don't suppose wan could tell a
Frinchman's bones from mine a hundred years from
now." She grew so amiable on this point that the
children tried her resolution sorely. The mother,
sweet and gentle with them always was most con-
cerned with the clothes they were to wear. Hugh was
the instructor, taking charge of their progress in the
catechism. So from morning till bedtime it was one
topic or another connected with the great event of
Easter, and Hugh spent most of his time at home
with the children. His heart was wrapped up in them
as if they were his own. Manlike, he seemed 1o
love the little girl best, her ways were a wonder to
him ; but the boy was really nearer to him in that he
looked upon him as a future comrade. Regina De
Launay would have found it hard to believe that any
man could so far forget himself in others ; John Win-
tnrop would not have believed it at all. It was re-


served for their enlightenment at a time when it most
afflicted them.

The cool nights of April were home nights, too
chilly for loitering without, nights in which to appre-
ciate warm rooms, well lighted and shining supper-
tables, where talk flowed freely on the events of the
day. Remi and Elise nrere the autocrats of Mrs.
Sullivan's supper-table.

" Only two weeks more, Elise," said Remi with a
teasing glance.

" I don t care if it was only one, do I, Uncle Hugh ?"

" Of course not," said he, " what is there to fret
about ? who would want to find a nicer man than
Father McManus."

" There now," said Elise, " do you hear that ?"

" Oh, Father McManus is nice enough," said Remi,
" he won't eat you. But then it s going in alone to
the little box all in the dark, and waiting for the
slide to open. My, won't you shake! And then
when you have a lot of sins to tell like you have "

" I haven't as many as you," she said triumphantly.

" Oh, Elise," cried the boy, " didn't we count 'em
the other day, and didn't you have twenty-three to
my nineteen ? Didn't we now ?"

" But its my first confession," said Elise. " I've
been saving up my sins for three years, and you've
been to confession ever so many times. Hasn't he
Uncle Hugh ?"

" Certainly, dear."

" But [ didn't have any for my first confession,"
shouted Remi. "When I went in to the priest I
couldn't say a word. * What have you done,' says he.
' Nothing,' says I."


" Better to use ' said he ' and ' said I,' " mamma

" ' Well, you're a very good boy,' said he. ' Try
and come to confession that way all the time.' "

" But you didn't,"' taunted Elise.

" I made a good start, didn't I, Uncle Hugh ?"

"No, you didn't." "Yes, I did/' "No, you

"That sounds like the katy dids," said grandma

" They keep it up all night, an' somehow or another
they don't agree at five o'clock in the mornin' any
more than at ten o'clock at night."

" But you'll be afraid all the same," said Remi con-
tinuing the teasing process. " You don't know how
to make a confession yet.''

" I know it perfect now," said Elise.

" Didn't we practice it to day, an' you couldn't tell
the first word.''

"But I know it all now every word," persisted

" How did you practice it," said Hugh.

"He was Father McManus and I went to confes-
sion to him," said the child.

The three elders exchanged amused glances.

" God grant we may have some kmd of a father in
the family to give us absolution," muttered the old
lady to her plate.

" I am sure," said Uncle Hugh, eager to see this
practicing with his own eyes, " Elise knows every
word. When supper is over you can try it, and I'll be
the judge."

Eveiy one was serious, and the children had no sus-
picion that there was anything amusing in their seri-


ous play. When they rose from the table Hugh
took his paper and sat down to read, while Remi ar-
ranged a stool at the back of a chair and sat down to
hear the confession of Elise. The pretty child kneel-
ing at the seat of the chair could see as through a screen
her confessor's head.

''Now listen, Uncle Hugh," she said. Mrs. Sulli-
van had fled to the kitchen and Mrs. Lajeunesse was
engaged in removing the dishes, but all three were
watching a scene which to them was prophetic as well
as amusing.

"Father, forgive me for I have sinned," said Elise.

"You didn't make the sign of the cross, said Remi.

" I did, the first thing."

" I saw her," said Uncle Hugh.

Then Elise said the Confiteor to the proper pause,
stating that it was her first confession

" You were old enough to have come sooner," said
the confessor gravely.

" So were you," Elise responded promptly.

" Is that the way to talk to the priest, Uncle Hugh,"
said Remi looking over the confessional. " No mat-
ter what I say she can't talk back, can she ?"

" Of course not. It wouldn't be polite. '

" I forgot you were a priest," said Elise gently.

"Go on then," said the confessor, "you are very

Elise was compelled to suppress a giggle.

'Father, I have sinned by etcetera, etcetera,

" Tell some real sins, I don't want any etceteras.
You don't get absolution for them."

" I'm not going to tell my sins here," said Elise.


" Then I'll tell them for you, you rude girl. Didn't
you tell three fibs last week "

" Here," said Uncle Hugh, " drop that. Go on
with the end of the confession, Elise."

Elise finished the confiteor, and said the act of con-
trition in spite of Remi's noisy protests that he had
not given a penance. Then she upset the chair and
ran to Uncle Hugh for approval, who kissed her and
said no one could possibly surpass her method of
going to confession.

" I think," said Mrs. Sullivan, " we might all go to
confession, now that we have a young priest in the
family. I'm afraid though, Remi, your absolution
wouldn't put many souls into heaven."



If Hugh thought no more of the DeLaunays,
Regina had not ceased to think of and to wonder at
his disappearance ; for it soon became clear that of
his own will he had resumed his former attitude to-
wards them. She spoke of it to her father.

" My dear Regina," said he, blandly. " I kaven't
thought of the fellow twice since that night, and I do
not see why you should bother about him. He is
very, very common-place, used to black boots or sell
papers, or some hideous thing like that, when he was
young. Gratitude ! Well, I feel grateful to him,
but this class of people must be let severely alone.
Some day he will want a business favor, I grant it,
and our account is squared."

The words hurt her, true as they might be. Granted


that the young man was one to be let severely alone
for his troublesome qualities, they were at least be-
holden to him for services ; but the manner in which
her father treated everything and everybody con-
nected with his shame made very evident his pure
hatred of all concerned in his exposure. There was
no pity in his soul, no sorrow for bitter wrong done.
This fact came home to her slowly, and did not, of
course, increase her esteem for him.

He had concluded after a little thought that no
danger was to be feared from Sullivan, whereas Tim
Grady needed constant watching. Hugh behaved
precisely as if the late troubles had never taken place,
but Grady had become so annoying that if happ : ness
were to be DeLaunay's lot in Saranac the old man had
to be reduced to abject servitude. To secure this end
Rpgina's father prepared a little plan, and then sent
for Tim.

" Grady," said he, " I have a little business matter
to settle with you. "

" And so have I with you," responded Tim cheer-

" Indeed," with surprise, " may I ask what yours
might be ?"

" You might, an' ye'll get yer answer. I don't
want to fight ye in the dark, as you did Amede
LaRoche, but you must know that the books of the
firm that ye thought were burnt aren't burnt at all,
but are in David Winthrop's hands to be examined
any time we wish. An' jist as soon as ye fail to do
the square thing bye the b'y in Texas, that minute
I'm free to tell Winthrop the whole st^ry an' have him
examine the books. Ye can jist imagine how glad


he'll be to do us that service. That's my business,
now what is yours."

" You say the books that LaRoche doctored have
not been destroyed ?" repeated Mr. DeLaunay, slowly,
as if every word was worth a million.

"That's just- what I say," Grady answered in tri-

" Yen gev the ordhers to have 'em desthroyed, but
Mr. Winthrop put old wans in their place and kept
the books that you docthored."

" Oh, don't say that, Grady," said Mr. DeLaunay
pleasantly. " You cannot prove such a charge even
with the books. Curious action on Winthrop's part,
but he was always a suspicious, mean dog. I'm
glad you mentioned it. But are you quite certain
that the books are still in the hands of Winthrop ?"

" I have his own word for it," said Mr. Grady. " He
had no reason that I could see for telling a lie, for he
didn't know what I was afther.'.

" No, of course not."

" O' coorse not," repeated Mr. Grady. " He said
that he looked through the b Doks to see if you had
done anythin' to 'em, but he couldn't find ye^thracks.
But if I get at them wanst, Mr. DeLaunay, ye may
feel sure I'll folly ye up to the last figger."

" I'm sure you will," the gentleman said amiably,
and then suavely stated that Amede*e LaRoche would
soon be back from Texas ; he hoped that Mr. Grady,
as the godfather of the young man, would not put any
foolish notions in his mind about a broken reputation,
but would rather do his utmost to prepare him for a
useful business career in Saranac, where, with the
help of his many friends and financial backing, he


would quickly live down his past reputation. Un-
fortunately, continued DeLaunay with a sigh, he had
just received word from Texas that Amede'e had
taken to drink, and in consequence the scheme of
bringing him back to Saranac presented difficulties ;
it would be necessary for a trusty person to go to
Osborne, and discover the exile's actual condition ;
he himself would pay all expenses, and he thought
Mr. Grady was the proper person to send on this
mission. Tim was amazed when the offer was made

" It 1 s the fairest thing ye've done yit," he said, " I
am protecting myself," replied DeLaunay, stiffly. " I
have promised to bring the man home, and start him
in business, but I am not going to throw money in'o
the lake. If he has turned out a drunkard I shall do
nothing for him, but for his father instead."

Then he placed a roll of bills in Mr. Grady's hands,
bade him be secret and expeditious, and expressed
the hope that Amed6e would be in fit condition to
return home under his godfather's care.

" A perfectly safe compliment," he said gleefully to
Regina after the old man's departure, " for if I know
Mr Grady he will return thoroughly disgusted.

" Unless his godson should not be so bad as re-
ported," she suggested at random.

" Oh ! That's a thing to be thought of too," he said
startled. " It is the unexpected that has happened
in the last few weeks. And I begin to fear, Regina,
that we have made a mistake in our behavior to young
Sullivan. If anything happens he might be of use to
us again in taming these wild people ?"

" Possibly,' 1 she replied coldly. " I have thought
of it myself, and if you wish I might call or "

8 9

" I think it would be best, Regina. He's a nasty
beggar, but we can't help it, for a little while, you
know, until everything is surely settled.

It never occurred to him that his confidences were
distasteful to her. The complete exposure he had
made of his character to her astonished gaze had
made him almost repulsive in her sight, and she
ivould freely have dispensed with his confidences. But
his weak nature required something to lean upon.
She was his confessor as it were, and had to suffer as
confessors usually do, from revelations of moral
hideousness. Her elegant father was not only a liar,
hypocrite, and coward, but also hard enough in infamy
to make little secret of it before his daughter. She
bore it patiently. His latest news was indeed a thing
to rejoice over! Amede"e Le Roche drinking himself
to death in Texas ! He had become a confirmed
drunkard, and it was a matter of a very few months
until he died of delirium tremens. He did not see
her shudder, so eager was he in explaining his plans.

Tim Grady returned home one month after his de-
parture with a grave face and a sad story. He stayed
one day and one night in the town which suffered
from the presence of Amed6e LaRoche, and to the
sorrowful father and Captain Sullivan he told his ex-

" Whin I kem to Osborne," he said, " they were
houldin' a political meetin', an' I had to mek a speech,
of course. Well, all the time I was talkio', there was
in the aujence a dhrunken fool that kep' mockin' me,
an' interruptin' me, an' abusin' me worse than a mur-
dherer. I niver in all me life heard such swearin' an'
goin' on. Whin we got through, and we wor all


condemned for his former trickery. They could have
made it hot for him, only that money was on hand,
and he agreed to do the right thing without compul-
sion. To restore the young fellow to his parents, and
set him up in business. Dannemora would hardly be
the place for DeLaunay's style.

I hope your little speculation is turning out well
I send you a check for your share of our last venture.
The weather is moderating, and the lake is opening.
In a week we can begin to paint and mend for spring
work. Kind regards.

Tour Friend,


In New York after reading this letter Winthrop
pondered over it carefully. The second paragraph
might have been omitted, and the letter have read as
well. The first paragraph had evidently started a
train of thought in Hugh's mind, and unconsciously
he had expressed it on paper. The impression made
upon him by the prison led him to think of DeLaunay
as a convict. So something must have happened at
home which was public property by this time, and
Hugh had been connected with it. It might have
been the discovery of DeLaunay's ill-doing in former
days. He had bought off the accusers or the injured
and so escaped. That it was public property Win-
throp thought from the tone of the second paragraph.
He was supposed to know something concerning De
Launay which made Hugh's comments intelligible.
It surprised him therefore on his return to discover
no trace of the event to which the letter alluded. He
made the most cautious inquiries, and sounded Hugh
many times on the wardenship of the prison. There


was not the slightest rumor of crime, or exposure, or
jail in connection with DeLaunay's name.

He studied the letter once more, and then con-
structed a theory about it. Something had happened
in the DeLaunay family, the exposure of a crime
which had left DeLaunay open to dargerous accusa
tions. He had bought off his accusers, Hugh was in-
terested on either side, probably on DeLaunay's, and
in a thoughtless mood had let slip vaguely the secret.
If he were in the family secrets now, he must have
been very close to its members during the days of
threatened exposure. This thought made Winthrop
downhearted, until he saw that Hugh was no longer
received at the mansion and was treated with much
coldness by Regina. To test the soundness of his
theory of the letter he said abruptly to Hugh,

" What is this trouble that you told me of about De
Launay running the risk of getting jailed, or some-
thing to that effect."

" I never told you or any other lawyer about any
trouble in which DeLaunay ran a risk of getting jailed,"
Hugh answered promptly. " What are you after ? "

" It was you or another," said John meditative 1 }'.
"Didn't you write me a letter while I was in New York
last month ? And wasn't it then that I heard the news ?"

"I wrote you a letter I know. But there was no
stuff of that sort in It."

" Where did I hear it, then ? Has there been any
story to that effect going round ?"

" I have heard none," said Hcgh cheerfully, and
then began to wonder how the late episode had be-
come knovn. Winthrop was satisfied that his theory
of the letter was correct, and that the letter itself was


worth keeping as a specimen of psychological eccen-
tricity. He suspected the secret which it was in-
tended Hugh should keep, having found by dexterous
enquiry that nothing was known about such an affair
amot g the people of Saranac. It was character-
istic of John Winthrop that he at once dismissed
the matter from his mind. He had partially learned
a secret through his friend's inadvertence, and he
respected it as sincerely as if he were bound by oath.
His delicacy of feeling was a strong trait in him. It
was all the more curious that his old father had no
delicacy to mention, and that the quality was unknown
in the district. The fust tows had already cleared
from Saranac, and in the still cool nights the songs of
Canadian boatmen could often be heard on the
water at any hour until dawn. The opening of the
great waterway of Champlain meant life to Saranac,
after the dullness of winter. This year it opened very
pleasantly owing to the inventiveness of the captain
of the Adirondack, which lay in the glory of fresh
paint at her dock waiting only the signal to steam
away. Her decks were gay with banners and Chinese
lanterns, and her salons with green festooning and
bright drapery for Captain Sullivan had arranged to
hold the last church festival of the year on the
steamer, and to reproduce Ingomar in the grand salon
as brilliantly as at DeLaunay mansion. In conse-
quence of this scheme Mrs. Sullivan one afternoon
had her kitchen stove in full blast baking cake, and
her ice cream freezers doing heavy work in the barn
with Tim Grady at the crank. Four points of the
compass engaged her attention : the cake in the oven,
the cream in the barn, the gay steamer in the bay,


and the front bedroom where Remi lay ill attended
by his mother. Mrs. Sullivan scolded at them all

" I wouldn't object," she said to Mr Grady, " to all
the festivals the church cud have, an' I'd make a
thousand cakes for Father McManus every week.
But what did they go to puttin' on their divil's plays
for? An' why can't they have the thing dacent in the
hall instid o' runnin' afther the ship ?"

" By gum, ma'am," said Mr. Grady, warmly, " 'twas
a great idea to take the ship for the festival. The
people are comin' from all over to see it as they never
kem afore. It's the novelty that draws 'em, an' nov-
elty's the thing."

" Ay, novelty," repeated the old lady with scorn.
" Novils an' novelty ! The town is full ov 'em. An'
when the novelty's all gone, Misther Grady, like
molasses out of a barrel, what'll they do thin, I'd like
to know."

"What's new to wan is ould to another," he replied.
" The young take up what the ould cast away, and
call it new. In that way there'll always be novelty.
How's the b'y?"

** I was timptin' him wid crarae, but he wudn't look
at it. I'm afeard he's goin' to be very sick. He was
wild to go on the steamer, an' now he won't hear tell
of it. Divil o' much he'll miss to see his uncle pran-
cin' around like an Indian, an' makin' mock love to
Regina DeLaunay, an' all the other doin's of these
theatrical parties wid their paint an' powdher, an'

" Well, it'll be a good thing for the church," said
Mr. Grady in subdued tones, which statement Mrs.
Sullivan could not well deny.

9 6

That evening the steamer was in a blaze of light,
and the audience was full of country spirit. This is
not always agreeable to public persons, and is par-
ticularly annoying to the sensitive soul of an amateur
actor. For a country audience is unconventional, and
does not hesitate to dissent from Shakespeare when
the methods of the great man strike the country mind
as ridiculous. Hugh could remember how a Saranac
crowd laughed when a professional Othello seized the
pillow to smother Desdemona. The enraged actor
made up with Desdemona on the spot, and both
closed the scene with a lively jig. Love-making after
the stage fashion, unless very well done, is sure to
arouse country mirth, [ts methods have never come
within country experience, and are very unreal to tell
the truth, with their long periods and exaggerated
passion. Hugh felt afraid of the love making in
Ingomar, but he relied on Miss DeLaunay's beauty
to carry the scenes well ; which it did no doubt, yet
there was enough guying from the young men to set
the girls giggling. The dainty ways by which the girl
from Massiha won the soul of the barbarian made the
boys murmur, "oh, would we were thee, Ingomar," and
indulge in sounds expressive of loving tervor towards
nothing in particular. If Hugh had not looked so
handsome in his change to a Greek costume there
would have been a howl over what was beyond the
historical knowledge of the audience. Sol Tuttle was
sorely puzzled by it. He took the piece for an In-
dian play, and when Ingomar appeared in Greek cos-
tume with white skin and flowing locks, whispered to
Mr. Grady,


" It's not true to natur' ; ye can't bleach an Injun
no more'n a nigger."

With little incidents like these, an occasional shriek
or sob from too interested women, a wreck of scenery
now and then, a too open criticism, the play came to
an end and everyone was satisfied that they had got
the worth of their money so far, with more to come.

The Saranac people had strong appetites for their
simple pleasures, and looked for plenty on these occa-
sions. The play began at seven, and the dancing be-
gan at nine ; and this was the fault of church affairs
that they closed at eleven and pleasure seekers must
be quietly in bed at twelve, when rather they were
quite ready to keep awake until four in the morning.
But such doings were not tolerated by the church any
more than round dances. The play being ended a
continuation of it took place on the floor of the grand
salon, when eight of the actors in their Massilian cos-
tumes danced the Lanciers under the very eyes of the
delighted country people. It was a scene so rich in
color that they fairly gaped in awed silence as to the
sound of the music Ingomar and the Timarch, old
Polydor and Timon, each with a beautiful girl glided

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Online LibraryJohn Talbot SmithSaranac : a story of Lake Champlain → online text (page 6 of 18)