Gilbert Parker.

The lane that had no turning : and other associated tales concerning the people of Pontiac; together with certain parables of provinces online

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THE- LANE
THAT- HAD



TURNING



GILBERT
PARKER






-



If



(filbert 'Parker's 3\(ove/s

UNIFORM EDITION. Crown 8vo. Price 6s. each

"There is strength and genius in Mr. Parker's style. "Daily
Telegraph.

" He has the instinct of the thing : his narrative has distinction,
his characters and incidents have the picturesque quality, and he
has the sense for the scale of character-drawing demanded by
romance, hitting the happy mean between lay figures and over-
analysed 'souls.'" St. James' Gazette.

FIFTH EDITION

Pierre and His People

Daily Telegraph." Stories happily conceived and finely executed. There is
strength and genius in Mr. Parker's style."

St. James' Gazette. "He has the right stuff in him. He has the story-
teller's gift. When you lay down the book the salient scenes and incidents and
characters remain with you they are so vivid and picturesque."

FOURTH EDITION

Mrs. Falchion



We have come to expect good work from Mr. Gilbert



crispness ana an inuiviuuitmy 01 siyic wiutn leave ineir BBTK on u
deed, on the whole, the epithet it most deserves is ' uistinguished.' '




SECOND EDITION

The Translation of a Savage

Daily Chronicle. "The plot is original and one difficult to work out ; but Mr.
Parker has done it \\ith great skill and delicacy. The reader who is not interested
in this original, fresh, and well-told tale must be a dull person indeed."

St. James' Gazette. "A very pretty and interesting story, and Mr. Parker
tells it with much skill. The story is one to be read."

SIXTH EDITION

The Trail of the Sword

Speaker. " Brilliant adventures. There is a great deal of chivalry in the story.
Mr. Parker has written not a few notable and brilliant tales, but he has never done
better tnan in ' The Trail of the Sword." "

Vanity Fair. " The personages live and move, love, hate, and quarrel, all with
a certain grandeur and an air of good breeding which make at least one reader wish
that he had been born at that time and in that country."



FOURTH EDITION

When Valmond Came to Pontiac

The Story of a Lost Napoleon

Atheiueum. " Everything in the book centres, as it should, on the meteor-like
hero, who, in the few months that he dwells at Pontiac, makes the whole town mad
for him, raises a regiment to fight for his claims to the French throne, and enthra|s
all the women. He is magnificently drawn. One of the most dramatic episodes is
his meeting with the survivor of ' La Grande Arme'e,' followed by the rapid mastery
over his incredulity. The scene ends with a fine description of the old soldier's drum
taps, which recalls, not unworthily, Heine's great character, the drum-major Le
Grand. The feminine element in the hero's adventures is dealt with in admirable
taste. Finally, a word of praise must be awarded to the delightful set of old village
cronies, who play no unimportant part in the story."

SECOND EDITION

An Adventurer of the North

Being the Last Adventures of Pierre

Morning Post. "There are a few masterly writers of the short story, and Mr.
Parker is among them. He is the Bret Harte of the Far North, where man's life
consists for a great part of a struggle with Nature, and his tales reflect the melancholy
sadness that characterises these half-frozen regions, while the vigour of his por-
traiture, and the racy crispness of his dialogue, leave little to be desired. He can be
as pathetic as he is strong."

NINTH EDITION

The Seats of the Mighty

Pall Mall Gazette. "An admirable romance. The glory of a romance is its
plot, and this plot is crowded with fine sensations, which have no rest until the fall
of the famous old city and the final restitution of love."

Western Morning: News." This new story of Mr. Parker's deserves the very
highest praise, and will in time rank among the classics of English fiction."

SECOND EDITION

The Pomp of the Lavilettes

World. " It is a bold romance, ingeniously and deftly set in a picturesque
realism which almost persuades us that it might have been."

Pall Mall Gazette. "There is living, breathing romance, there is genuine and
unforced pathos. It is, in a word, the work of a true artist."

FOURTH EDITION

The Battle of the Strong

Dally News. "Guida i< a fine character, finely and convincingly presented.
Wars, panics and massacres, brave actions and dark deeds, touched in with force
and vividness, are the background from which is detached the figure of this girl and
the tragedy and romance of her life the main motive of the story. The book is full
of varied emotion. . . . The story gathers in force and dr.im uic intention to its close."



THE LANE THAT HAD
NO TURNING



flew 6s. Hovels

VOICES IN THE NIGHT

By FLORENCE ANNIE STEEL

THE COURTESY DAME
By R. MURRAY GILCHRIST

THIRTEEN STORIES

By R. B. CUNNINGHAME

GRAHAM

PETERSBURG TALES

By OI.IVE GARNETT

THE EAGLE'S HEART
By HAMLIN GARLAND

THE PRINCESS SOPHIA
By E. F. BENSON

NUDE SOULS
By BENJAMIN SWIFT

THE REBEL
By H. B. MARRIOTT-WATSON

JEM CARRUTHERS
By the EARL OF ELLKSMERE

THE WORLD S MERCY
By MAXWELL GRAY

AFRICAN NIGHTS' ENTER-
TAINMENT
By A. J. DAWSON

BOWERY TALES
By STEPHEN CRANE



LONDON

WILLIAM HEINEMANN
21 BEDFORD ST., W.C




THE HABITANT OF "PONTIAC"



THE LANE THAT HAD
No TURNING

QAND OTHER ASSOCIATED TALES CONCERNING

THE TEOPLE OF TONTIAC ; TOGETHER

WITH CERTAIN "T ARABLES OF

PROVINCES"



BY



GILBERT PARKER





Stack

Annex



All rights, including translation, reserved



This Edition enjoys copyright in all countries
signatory to the Berne Treaty, and :r
not to be imported into the United States
of America or Canada,



ANNEX



To

The c K^ght Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier
G.C.M.G.

Dear Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Since I first began to
write these tales in 1892, I have had it in my mind to
dedicate to you the " bundle of life " when it should be
complete. It seemed to me and it seems so still that to
jmt your name upon the covering of my parcel^ as one
should say, "In care of" when it went forth, was to
secure its safe and considerate delivery to that public of
the Empire which is so much in your debt.

But with other feelings also do I dedicate this volume
to yourself. For many years your name has stood for
a high and noble compromise between the temperaments
and the intellectual and social habits of two races, and I
am not singular in thinking that you have done more
than most oilier men to make the English and French of
the Dominion understand each other better. There are
somewhat awkward limits to true understanding as yet,
but that sympathetic service which you render to both
peoples, with a conscientious striving for impartiality,
tempers even the wind of party warfare to the shorn lamb
of political opposition.

In a sincere sympathy with French life and character,
as exhibited in the democratic yet monarchical province of
Quebec or Lower Canada, as, historically, I still love to



VI DEDICATION

think of it}, moved by friendly observation, and seeking
to be truthful and impartial, I have made this book and
others dealing- with the life of the proud province, which
a century and a half of English governance has not
Anglicised. This series of more or less connected stories ',
however, has been the most cherished of all my labours,
covering, as it has done, so many years, and being the
accepted of my anxious judgment out of a much larger
gathering; so many numbers of which are retired to the
seclusion of copyright, while reserved from publication.
In passing, I need hardly say that the " Pontiac " of
this book is an imaginary place, and has no association
with the real Pontiac of the Province.

I had meant to call the volume, " Born with a Golden
Spoon," a title stolen from the old phrase, " Born with a
golden spoon in the mouth ,- " but at tJie last moment I
have given the book the name of the tale which is, chrono-
logically, the climax of the series, and the end of my
narratives of French Canadian life and character. 1
had chosen the former title because of an inherent mean-
ing in its relation to my subject. A man born in the
purple in comfort, wealth, and secure estate is said to
have the golden spoon in his mouth. In the eyes of the
world, however, the phrase has a somewhat ironical
suggestiveness, and to have luxury, wealth, and place as
a birthright is not thought to be the most fortunate
incident of mortality. My application of the phrase is,
therefore, different.

I have, as you, know, travelled far and wide during'
the past seventeen years, and though I have seen people
as frugal and industrious as the French Canadians, I
have never seen frugality and industry associated icith
so much domestic virtue, so much education and intclli-



DEDICATION Vll

gcnce, and so deep and simple a religious life ; nor have
I ever seen a priesthood at once so devoted and high-
minded in all that concerns the home life of their people,
as in French Canada. A land without poverty and yet
without riclies, French Canada stands alone, too well
educated to have a peasantry, too poor to have an aris-
tocracy ; as though in her the ancient prayer had been
answered : " Give me neither poverty nor riches, Imtfeed
me with food convenient for me." And it is of the
habitant of Quebec, before all men else, I should say,
" Born with the golden spoon in his mouth."

To you, sir, I come with this book, which contains the
first things I ever wrote out of the life of tJie province so
dear to you, and the last things also that I shall ever
write about it. I beg you to receive it as the loving
recreation of one who sympathises with the people of
whom you come, and honours their virtues, and who
has no fear for the unity, and no doubt as to the splendid
future, of the nation, whose Jibre is got of the two great
civilising races of Europe.

Lastly, you will know with what admiration and
regard I place your name on the fore-page of my book,
and greet in you the statesman, the litterateur, and the
personal friend.

Believe me,

Dear Sir Wilfrid Laurier,

Yours very sincerely,

GILBERT PARKER.

20 CARLTON HOUSE TERRACE,
LONDON, S.W.,

Uth August 1! ><><>.



CONTENTS

Page
The Lane that had no Turning ...... I

The Absurd Romance of Petite Lotu'son .... 83

TL-c Lillle Bell of Honour 90

A Son of the Wilderness . 114

A Worker in Stone . . . . . . . .121

The Tragic Comedy of Annette . . . . . 133

The Marriage of the Miller . . . . . . 137

Malhiirin . . . . . . . . . .141

The 5/0/7 f ^ >e Lime- Burner . . . . . .149

The Woodsman 's Sloiy of the Great White Chief . . . 1 56
Uncle Jim , . . . . . . .< . 160

The House with the Tall Porch 170

Parpon the Dwarf 174

Times were Hard in Pontiac 197

Medallion's Whim 203

The Prisoner . . 2l6



X CONTENTS

Page

An Upset Trice 223

*A Fragment of Lives . . . . . . . 233

The Man that Died at Alma 238

The Baron of Beaugard . . . . . . .250

Tlx Golden Pipes 267

The Guardian of the Fire 272

By that Place called Peradvenlure 277

The Singing of the Bees . . . . . .282

T1)ere Was a Little City 285

Tlx Forge in the Valley 304




CHAPTEK I

THE RETURN OF MADELINETTE

His Excellency the Governor the English Governor
of Trench Canada was come to Pontiac, accompanied
by a goodly retinue; by private secretary, military
secretary, aide-de-camp, cabinet minister, and all that.
He was making a tour of the Province, but it was
obvious that he had gone out of his way to visit
Pontiac, for there were disquieting rumours in the
air concerning the loyalty of the district. Indeed, the
Governor had arrived but twenty-four hours after a
meeting had been held under the presidency of the
Seigneur, at which resolutions easily translatable into
sedition were presented. The Cure and the Avocat,
arriving in the nick of time, had both spoken against
these resolutions ; with the result that the new-born
ardour in the minds of the simple habitants had died
down, and the Seigneur had parted from the Cure and
the Avocat in anger.

Pontiac had been involved in an illegal demonstra-
tion once before. Valmond, the bizarre but popular
Napoleonic pretender, had raised his standard there,
the stones before the parish church had been stained



2 THE LANE THAT HAD NO TURNING

with his blood, and he lay in the churchyard of St.
Saviour's forgiven and unforgotten. How was it pos-
sible for Pontiac to forget him ? Had he not left his
little fortune to the parish ? and had he not also left
twenty thousand francs for the musical education of
Madelinette Lajeuuesse, the daughter of the village
forgerou, to learn singing of the best masters in Paris ?
Pontiac's wrong-doings had brought it more profit than
penalty, more praise than punishment : for, after five
years in France in the care of the Little Chemist's
widow, Madelinette Lajeunesse had become the great-
est singer of her day. But what had put the severest
strain upon the modesty of Pontiac was the fact that,
on the morrow of Madelinette's first triumph in Paris,
she had married M. Louis Racine, the new Seigneur of
Pontiac.

What more could Pontiac wish ? It had been re-
warded for its mistakes ; it had not even been chas-
tened, save that it was marked Suspicious as to its
loyalty, at the head-quarters of the English Govern-
ment in Quebec. It should have worn a crown of
thorns, but it flaunted a crown of roses. A most un-
reasonable good fortune seemed to pursue it. It had
been led to expect that its new Seigneur would be
an Englishman, one George Fournel, to whom, as
the late Seigneur had more than once declared,
the property was devised by will ; but at his death
no will had been found, and Louis Piacine, the direct
heir in blood, had succeeded to the property and the
title.

Brilliant, enthusiastic, fanatically French, the new
Seigneur had set himself to revive certain old tradi-
tions, customs, and privileges of the seigneurial posi-
tion. He was reactionary, seductive, generous, and at
first he captivated the hearts of Pontiac. He did more



THE RETURN OF MADELINETTE 3

than that. He captivated Madelinette Lajeunesse.
In spite of her years in Paris severe, studious years,
which shut out the social world and the temptations
of Bohemian life Madelinette retained a strange sim-
plicity of heart and mind, a desperate love for her old
home which would not be gainsaid, a passionate loyalty
to her past, which was an illusory attempt to arrest
the inevitable changes that come with growth; and,
with a sudden impulse, she had sealed herself to her
past at the very outset of her great career by marriage
with Louis Eacine.

On the very day of their marriage Louis Eacine had
made a painful discovery. A heritage of his fathers,
which had skipped two generations, suddenly appeared
in himself: he was becoming a hunchback!

Terror, despair, gloom, anxiety had settled upon him.
Three months later Madelinette had gone to Paris
alone. The Seigneur had invented excuses for not
accompanying her, so she went instead in the care of
the Little Chemist's widow, as of old. Louis had pro-
mised to follow within another three months, but had
not done so. The surgical operation performed upon
him was unsuccessful ; the strange growth increased.
Sensitive, fearful and morose, he would not go to
Europe to be known as the hunchback husband of
Lajeunesse, the great singer. He dreaded the hour
when Madelinette and he should meet again. A thou-
sand times he pictured her as turning from him in
loathing and contempt. He had married her because
he loved her, but he knew well enough, that ten thou-
sand other men could love her just as well, and be
something more than a deformed seigneur of an obscure
manor in Quebec.

As his gloomy imagination pictured the future, when
Madelinette should return and see him as he was and



4 THE LANE THAT HAD NO TURNING

cease to love him to build up his Seigneurial honour
to an undue importance, to give his position a fictitious
splendour, became a mania with him. No ruler of a
Grand Duchy ever cherished his honour dearer or ex-
acted homage more persistently than did Louis Eacine
in the Seigneury of Pontiac. Coincident with the in-
crease of these futile extravagances was the increase
of his fanatical patriotism, which at last found vent in
seditious writings, agitations, the purchase of rifles, in-
citement to rebellion, and the formation of an armed,
liveried troop of dependants at the Manor. On the
very eve of the Governor's coming, despite the Cure's
and the Avocat's warnings, he had held a patriotic
meeting intended to foster a stubborn, if silent, dis-
regard of the Governor's presence amongst them.

The speech of the Cure*, who had given guarantee for
the good behaviour of his people to the Government,
had been so tinged with sorrowful appeal, had recalled
to them so acutely the foolish demonstration which
had ended in the death of Valmond, that the people
had turned from the exasperated Seigneur with the
fire of monomania in his eyes, and had left him alone
in the hall, passionately protesting that the souls of
Frenchmen were not in them.

Next day, upon the church, upon the Louis Quinze
Hotel, and elsewhere, the Union Jack flew the British
colours flaunted it in Pontiac with welcome to the
Governor. But upon the Seigneury was another flag
it of the golden-lilies. Within the Manor House
M. Louis Kacine sat in the great Seigneurial chair, re-
turned from the gates of death. As he had come home
from the futile public meeting, galloping through the
streets and out upon the Seigneury road in the dusk,
his horse had shied upon a bridge, where mischievous
lads waylaid travellers with ghostly heads made of



THE RETURN OF MADELINETTE 5

lighted candles in hollowed pumpkins, and horse and
man had been plunged into the stream beneath. His
faithful servant Havel had seen the accident and
dragged his insensible master from the water.

Now the Seigneur sat in the great arm-chair glower-
ing out upon the cheerful day. As he brooded, shaken
and weak and bitter all his thoughts were bitter now
a flash of scarlet, a glint of white plumes crossed his
line of vision, disappeared, then again came into view,
and horses' hoofs rang out on the hard road below. He
started to his feet, but fell back again, so feeble was
he, then rang the bell at his side with nervous insist-
ence. A door opened quickly behind him, and his
voice said imperiously :

" Quick, Havel to the door ! The Governor and
his suite have come. Call Tardif, and have wine and
cake brought at once. When the Governor enters,
let Tardif stand at the door, and you beside my chair.
Have the men-at-arms get into livery, and make a
guard of honour for the Governor when he leaves.
Their new rifles too, and let old Fashode wear his
medal ! See that Lucre is not filthy ha ! ha ! very
good. I must let the Governor hear that. Quick
quick, Havel ! They are entering the grounds. Let
the Manor bell be rung, and every one mustered. He
shall see that to be a Seigneur is not an empty honour.
I am something in the state, something by my own
right ! " His lips moved restlessly ; he frowned ; his
hands nervously clasped the arms of the chair. " Made-
linette too shall see that I am to be reckoned with,
that I am not a nobody. By God, then, but she shall
see it ! " he added, bringing his clasped hand down hard
upon the wood.

There was a stir outside, a clanking of chains, a
champing of bits, and the murmurs of the crowd who



6 THE LANE THAT HAD NO TURNING

were gathering fust in the grounds. Presently the door
was thrown open and Havel announced the Governor.
Louis Racine got to his feet, but the Governor hastened
forward, and, taking both his hands, forced him gently
back into the chair.

"No, no, my dear Seigneur. You must not rise.
This is no state visit, but a friendly call to offer con-
gratulations on your happy escape, and to inquire how
you are,"

The Governor said his sentences easily, but he sud-
denly flushed and was embarrassed, for Louis Racine's
deformity, of which he had not known Pontiac kept
its troubles to itself stared him in the face, and he
felt the Seigneur's eyes fastened on him with strange
intensity.

"I have to thank your Excellency," the Seigneur
said in a hasty nervous voice. " " I fell on my shoulders
that saved me. If I had fallen on my head I should
have been killed, no doubt. My shoulders saved me ! "
he added, with a petulant insistence in his voice, a
morbid anxiety in his face.

"Most providential," responded the Governor. "It
grieves me that it should have happened on the occa-
sion of my visit. I missed the Seigneur's loyal public
welcome. But I am happy," he continued, with smootli
deliberation, " to have it here in this old Manor House,
where other loyal French subjects of England have
done honour to their Sovereign's representative."

" This place is sacred to hospitality, and patriotism,
your Excellency," said Louis Racine, nervousness
passing from his voice and a curious hard look coming
into his face.

The Governor was determined not to see the double
meaning. "It is a privilege to hear you say so. I
shall recall the fact to her Majesty's Government in



THE RETURN OF MADELINETTE 7

the report I shall make upon my tour of the province.
I have a feeling that the Queen's pleasure in the devo-
tion of her distinguished French subjects may take
some concrete form."

The Governor's suite looked at each other signifi-
cantly, for never before in his journeys had his
Excellency hinted so strongly that an honour might
be conferred. Veiled as it was, it was still patent as
the sun. Spots of colour shot into the Seigneur's
cheeks. An honour from the young English Queen !
that would mate with Madelinette's fame. After all,
it was only his due. He suddenly found it hard to be
consistent. His mind was in a whirl. The Governor
continued :

" It must have given you great pleasure to know
that at Windsor her Majesty has given tokens of
honour to the famous singer, the wife of a notable
French subject, who, while passionately eager to keep
alive French sentiment, has, as we believe, a deep
loyalty to England."

The Governor had said too much. He had thought
to give the Seigneur an opportunity to recede from his
seditious position there and then, and to win his future
loyalty. M. Racine's situation had peril, and the
Governor had here shown him the way of escape. But
he had said one thing that drove Louis Eacine mad.
He had given him unknown information about his own
wife. Louis did not know that Madelinette had been
received by the Queen, or that she had received " tokens
of honour." Wild with resentment, he saw in the
Governor's words a consideration for himself based
only on the fact that he was the husband of the great
singer. He trembled to his feet.

At that moment there was a cheering outside great
cheering but he did not heed it; he was scarcely



8 THE LANE THAT HAD NO TURNING

aware of it. If it touched his understanding at all,
it only meant to him a demonstration in honour of the
Governor.

" Loyalty to the flag of England, your Excellency ! "
he said, in a hoarse acrid voice " you speak of loyalty
to us whose lives for two centuries ! " He paused,
for he heard a voice calling his name.

" Louis ! Louis ! Louis ! "

The fierce words he had been about to utter died on
his lips, his eyes stared at the open window, bewildered
and even frightened.

" Louis ! Louis ! "

Now the voice was inside the house. He stood
trembling, both hands grasping the arms of the chair.
Every eye in the room was now turned towards the
door. As it opened, the Seigneur sank back in the
chair, a look of helpless misery, touched by a fierce
pride, covering his face.

" Louis ! "

It was Madelinette, who, disregarding the assembled
company, ran forward to him and caught both his
hands in hers.

" O Louis, I have heard of your accident, and "
she stopped suddenly short. The Governor turned
away his head. Every person in the room did the
same. For as she bent over him she saw ! Saw for
the first time ; for the first time knew !

A look of horrified amazement, of shrinking anguish,
crossed over her face. He felt the lightning-like silence,
he knew that she had seen ; he struggled to his feet,
staring fiercely at her.

That one torturing instant had taken all the colour
from her face, but there was a strange brightness in
her eyes, a new power in her bearing. She gently
forced him into the seat again.



THE RETURN OF MADELINETTE 9

" You are not strong enough, Louis. You must be
tranquil."

She turned now to the Governor. He made a sign
to his suite, who, bowing, slowly left the room.



Online LibraryGilbert ParkerThe lane that had no turning : and other associated tales concerning the people of Pontiac; together with certain parables of provinces → online text (page 1 of 24)