P. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) Myers.

The King of the Hurons online

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which seemed to change its hue with the changing light, and yet
was ever beautiful, these were strange and enchanting charms to
Myrtle, who possessed an apt appreciation of elegance, and under
other circumstances, would never have wearied of gazing upon



But they were associated now with mournful thoughts, for she
had long looked forward to Blanch. 's coming with a sad pivscnti-
ment that she was to prove her successful rival for the affections of
one who however unworthy of regard, did not seem so to her. She
had seen only the bright and dazzling side of (^ai'lton's character, and,
despite her already bitter experience, would not believe in its dark
reverse. Was he faithless to her ? She had erred in ever su})posing
that he regai'ded her other than as the playmate of a day — the
httle sister of his future brilliant biide. What madness indeed in
her to compete with the magnificent Blanche, for the heai't of a
man of taste, talents, and fashion ! Alas it wr.s hut a delusion, into
which, in hev simplicity and ignorance she had fallen, and from
which, now only, she was fully though roughly awakened.

Such were Myrtle's thoughts, and little need be the wonder that
it was witli no light oi- buoyant spirits that she recei\ ed the greetings
of Miss Montaigne. But she entertained no unkindly feelings
towards her : she had hoped, unconsciously, guilelessly, that Blanche
might not prove to be endowed with extraoidinary personal attrac-
tions, but this hope had vanished, and with it, fur the time, almost
every other. She knew that her father designed his elder daughter
for the bride of Carlton, for she had listened with mournful heart to
his own declarations of such a pur])ose, and had heard with forced
calmness, and even with smiles, the often repeated details of his
plans and expectations in regard to it.

Miss Montaigne, meanwhile, most fortunately for her own peace
of mind suspected nothing of Myrtle's sentiments either towards the
count or herself. She gtized upon the sweet sad face of her sister,
and thouglit it was seclusion and solitude alone which had given her
an air and habit of melancholy, for she did not reflect that when
positive grief withholds its leaden load from the heart, there is an
internal melody and beauty ever upspringing from its mysterious
depths, impairing to all things their harmony and brightness. How
4eep and intricate a thing is that human heart ! How httle can the


eye discover upon its faithless dial — the face — of its inner workings,
of those subtle and involved emotions, which, ever impervious to
another's gaze, often defy even its own analyzation ! AVorlds of
wearying misapprehensions, of groundless suspicions, and tangled
errors of every kind he hidden in its darkened vaults — but, thanks to
Heaven 1 worlds, too, of generous and gentle affections, of unknown
truth, and charity, and love, viewless to man, but plainly visible
to Him who formed its labpinthine halls.

Ignorance of Myrtle's sentiments was not the only immunity
which Miss Montaigne unconsciously enjoyed, and of which she was
soon to be deprived, for she was equally unaware of any serious
desio-n on the part of her father to bestow her own hand upon
Carlton. Of the count's ^vishes in that respect she was not wholly
unsuspicious, for he had found time, even amidst the excitement and
perils of their voyage, to pay such marked addresses to his fair
charge as scarcely admitted of misconstruction. These, however, she
supposed, if sincere, would soon reach a point which would admit
of their suppression, little imagining that they were to be supported
by the full weight of parental sanction and authority, nay, that
her whole change from her trans-Atlantic life to the western world
had been made with a direct reference to this very event.



She is peevish, sullen, froward,

Proud, disobedient, stubborn, lacking duty ;
Neither regarding that she is my child.
Nor fearing rae as if I were her father."

— Shak. Two Gentlemen of Verona.

A FEW days sufficed to enlighten Blanche in regard to her situa-
tion ; for the baron was a man direct in all his movements, seeking
no subterfuges, and who had been too long supreme in his little
forest-realm to fear opposition to his designs. There were reasons,
too, connected with his schemes for political advancement, which
induced him, not only to desire an aUiance with Carlton, but that it
should take place immediately ; for it would connect him more
intimately with the Marquis Vaudreuil, whose growing age and
infirmities induced him to contemplate resigning his office as Viceroy
of New France, and whose long and valuable services to his country
almost entitled him to name a successor to his post. The count's
direct influence at court, also, it was supposed, would not be incon-
siderable, especially when he had returned to Paris with his fair
bride, and with the reputation, magnified tenfold by rumor, of hav-
ing rescued her from captivity, by a series of exploits unexcelled in
the annals of chivalry.

" You are thrice fortunate, my Blanche," said the baron, when, a
few days after the return of the party, he conversed with his daughter,
alone ; " you have not only triumphed over the English and the
Iroquois, but if I can read signs aright, you have achieved still another


Tictorj, scarcely less important : Count Carlton has not left you in
ignorance, I presume, of an admiration which he has already freely
expressed to me."

Blanche shghtly colored as she replied : " The count, like most of
his countrymen, deals much in compliments, and Emily and myself
have, I beHeve, no reason to complain of not having received our
share at his hands."

" I am much deceived if he is not prepared to offer you the
highest compliment which a gentleman can pay to a lady," answered
Montaigne ; " and must congratulate you on such a prospect ; I
need not, of course, remind you that his proposals will do us great
honor, and that you will be able, at your wish, to exchange this no
doubt dreaded wilderness for the gaieties of Parisian life."

"I have no such ambition, I assure you, my father," replied
Blanche, with a serious air ; " the wilderness has no terrors for me,
nor Paris any temptations ; I have long been separated from you,
and should be unfilial, indeed, to wish so soon again to leave you."

" That shall you not, if such is your desire, my child," responded
the baron, with a gleam of kindness inspired by her remark, and by
the elevated position in which he was already accustoming himself
to view her ; " the Countess Carlton shall always find a home here
while she desires it — yet I do not doubt you will at least gladly visit
Paris for a wedding trip."

" You misunderstand me still," answered Blanche, with a sweet
smile ; for as yet she knew nothing of the iron will of her parent,
nor of the unbending strength of his resolution ; " it would be folly
to refuse an offer before it is made, but if you are really cognizant of
any such design of the count, I beg you will dissuade him from
it ; it will save him some mortification, and me much embarrass-

" What is it that you mean ?" exclaimed the baron, severely, and
with vast astonishment, — " but I perceive — I perceive — you wish to
avoid a personal eclaircissement and to have it all arranged between


your lover and mystlf; you are right, after all; it is the more dig-
nified way, and not unusual among people of rank."

" Why will you misunderstand me — father ?" replied Blanche, hesi-
tatingly, yet rising, and advancing a step nearer to him as she spoke ;
" I do not like Count Carlton : I have given him no encouragement,
and vdsh to be spared from openly refusing him ; I repeat I do not
like him, and never shall."

Montaigne's countenance no longer expressed surprise, or anger,
or any violent emotion ; the cold serenity of command had settled
upon his features, and for aught of feehng evinced, they might have
been marble lips which now rephed to the young lady :

" You are unfortunate," he said, " in not fancying a man, who
within a fortnight at the farthest, will be your husband."

So saying, he withdrew, once more the stern and stately man
whom Blanche had beheld at the hotel in (Jstend, all the slight
relentings of his gelid heart again congealed, aud betokening that its
winter was finally set in.

Miss Montaig»e stood for a -moment awed by the words and
manner of the baron, and nearly bewildered by her conflicting emo-
tions. She had hailed with ecstasy the first traits of seeming
tenderness which he had exhibited towards her, had treasured the
memory of his welcoming kiss on the day of her arri\al, and bad
begun to look forward with fond hope to a full return of that affec-
tion, which she still entertained for him — the result of early instruction,
and of habitually exercised duty, through the long years of her
secluded life. This dream was suddenly dispelled ; these hopes
were dashed, and her own perhaps unnecessary rashness had checked
this flowing stream of kindness. Pained chiefly by this reflection,
she scarcely thought of the real danger which impended over her ;
for she still did not believe that her father was capable of a resort to
coercion to obtain her assent to a marriage with the count, although
she well knew the facilities for despotic power which he possessed.

But, as she reflected, her misgivings increased. Neither Hunting-


ton nor the Lynx had yet returned to the castle, and their delay,
wliich had before been simply a matter of wonder, now created
serious uneasiness. She feared that her father, of whose discernment
she had the most exalted idea, had already penetrated Henrich's
disguise, and even his sentiments towards hei'self; and that this
discovery had been followed by the summary banishment uf her
friend from the country. If she dismissed these aj^prehensions, she
yet reflected with sad forebodings on the probable reception Hunting-
ton would meet, upon his arrival, which might be hourly expected.
How inopportune was the time tor his coming ! How surely would
her father's suspicions be at once aroused and his ire {xcitod !
Herself laboring under his disfavor, she felt painfully conscious that
any representations which she could make in Henrich's behalf would
be comparatively ineffectual, and that even their Indian friends in
lauding their young ally must proclaim their own insubordination,
which alone had placed him in a condition to aid them, and thus
materially lessen their influence with Montaigne. She even thought
with shame that their delay in re-appearing at the castle might be
occasioned by a pusillanimous fear of her father's censure :o the
clandestine act which had enabled Huntington, unknown to the
count, to continue a member of his party ; and in whatever lig'nt she
viewed the subject, she saw the deepest cause for regret that there
had t)een any delay in an explanation, the hazard of whicii. whatever
it might have been at the time of their arrival, was n^,. ienio'd

The baron, meanwhile, had passed from the preseiue of his
daughter directly to that of Carlton, whom, with no circ ; ocution,
he informed both of Blanche's sentiments, and of his ow., tentions
to disregard them ; in(piiring at the same time if : ton was
conscious of any cause which could have })roduced so un ['. cted a
result. The chagrined count was not backward in alleging a reason
which, while it salv<^d his wounded vanity, would, he well knew,
strengthen the baron's resolution.


" Prepossessions, my lord baron, prepossessions are the trouble,"
he said : " and I regret to say, for a very unworthy object. I had
forborne, out of regard to your feelings, to mention to you, that a
young man, who evidently had the presumption to consider himself
a suitor of Miss Montaigne, accompanied her from New York to
my — a — camp, and continued with us as far as Albany ; even there,
I with difficulty succeeded in dismissing him, after the most muti-
nous language and conduct towards me. I anticipate your question,"
he continued, observing the signs of wrath which had gathered upon
the baron's brow ; " but I did not punish him with death, in con-
sideration of some services which he was said to have rendered the
ladies and the Lynx in escaping from the city."

" Perhaps you were right," responded Montaigne ; " and yet I
could wish it had been otherwise. You amaze me beyond expression !
Could my daughtei- have so far forgotten herself ?"

" Nay, I do not say that she had given him encouragement,"
answered Carlton : " but she seemed fond of his society — conversed
frequently with him, and probably fancies, since his departure, that
she has an attection for him."

Montaigne seemed much disturbed by this intelligence, into which
he inquired with great minuteness, and afterwards, as his companion
had exjiected, not only reiterated his resolution as to Blanche's
marriage with the count, but expressed a determination that the
nuptials should be solemnized with very little delay.

" She is a minor," he said, " and more immature in judgment than
in years ; I have the legal and moral right to dispose of her in
mari-iage, and believe me, sir count, I shall exercise it without
scruple or remorse."

" Exactly so," replied Carlton ; " Indeed your parental responsi-
bility for her welfare requires that you should enforce her compliance
with what your riper wisdom approves ; it — ah — really becomes a
sort of moral obligation which you are not at liberty to evade,
although it may be a httle unpleasant."


" Not a whit unpleasant, believe me, sir connt," responded
Montaigne : " I have spent my life in overcoming obstacles, of one
kind and another, and never feel more at ease than when one of
these famihar phantoms is blockading my path ; I glory in obstacles,
sir, and since Blanche is disposed to rebel, I only regret that she has
not a little more force of will, that the pleasure of subduing it might
be the greater."

"I fear "

"Fear nothing!" retorted the baron, emphatically; "go, and
propose to her, but with no school-boy cant of sentiment ; speak
your admiration briefly and like a soldier, and tell her that you have
my consent to pay your addresses to her. She is prepared for
your proposition."




Now thy beauty is proposed my fee,

My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak.
Teach not thy lips such scorn.

Shaks. Richard III.

Carlton lost no time in obtaining an interview with Miss
Montaigne, still flattering himself that her objections to him were
only feigned, or that they would readily yield to his assiduous
addresses. He approached his subject with but little delay, yet with
an unquahfied conceit of manner, comporting but ludicrously with
the idea of homage to his lady love. His habitual fear of com-
promising his personal dignity proved indeed a sort of check-string
to the excesses of a native politeness, and produced an awkward
melange of ardor and reserve.

Blanche took the first opportunity which was offered by any
decisive language of her lover to express to him politely her
declension of his suit ; but the count did himself the honor to hope
that Miss Montaigne's views would undergo a change — " that — in
short — she did not mean decidedly to — to — that is to say "

" Decidedly, sir count !" replied Blanche, " it is best to be plain in
the outset ; I am obliged to you for your good opinion, but cannot
reciprocate the sentiments you profess to feel."

'•'■Profess to feel !" exclaimed the count, suddenly inspired with
the hope that Miss Montaigne's coldness resulted only from uncertainty
as to the genuineness of his attachment — ^''profess to feel ! you doubt
me, my angel ! that is to say — Miss Montaigne ; I feel all that
I profess and a thousand times — that is — a considerable more."


" It is immaterial, Count Carlton," Blanche replied : " I did not

mean to question your sincerity "

" But you will relent ? you will "

" Never, sir count, let me say it now, once for all — never — under
any possible concurrence of circumstances of which the imagination
can conceive."

The count took snuff and wondered what degree of force of will
the Baron Montaigne would desire his daughter to possess ; he gazed
at her a moment, and added with a changed manner which pro-
claimi^d a conscious security of position, and the cool insolence of his
heart :

" You are animated. Miss Montaigne ! I like to see it ; it adds to
your charms ; you are a cherub, and will soon be a coun-
tess ; the baron and myself indeed have long agreed upon
a union of our — our houses ; he has prepared me for these
eccentncities ; I do not take them amiss ; farewell. Miss Montaigne :
I shall have th(^ ])leasure soon of calling you by a different title —
and then we will laugh at these little pleasantries."

The suitor reported to the baron the result of his mission, and
expressed his fears that the young lady's resolution could not be

" We will not make the attempt ; — we can manage to dispense
with her assent ; she owes her being to me — to you its preserva-
tion ; it were marvellous, indeed, if we had not the right to control
her in a matter so essential to her welfare," said the baron, seemingly
arguing against some latent misgivings.

" Yes — certainly, it would be very singular indeed, that would !"

"She shall have but little time for reflection ; promptness is ever
one of the elements of success, and in a matter like this, may be
highly essential ; had she been less wilful the w^edding should not
have been hastened, but, as it is, a week from to-day, if you please,
sir count, she shall be your bride."

" Certainly, sir, you make me very happy, and I will do my best,


meanwhile, to overcome her objections ; if I should be unfortunate
enough to fail, may I inquire how it is you propose to proceed ?"

" Inquire nothing, and doubt nothing. Count Carlton ; only
discharge your own duty and beheve me, that yonder chapel, which
yesterday resounded with the Te Deum of the priests for your safe
return, shall, at the set time, hear your nuptial benediction spoken.
It would be strange, indeed," he continued, after a pause, speaking
rather in soliloquy, than as if addi-essing his companion ; " it would
be strange, indeed, if among all the cowled priests who eat of my
bread, there were none who could be depended on in an emergency.
Our superannuated Father Parez is at lejist reliable, for he is well
nigh blind, and the very brother of the adder iit* deafness ; he will
go mechanically through any priestly function that may be designated,
only place the parties befoi'e him, and signify to him whether it is a
wedding, a christening, or a funeral, and it will be sung through,
despite any interruption less than a cannonading."

" Ah yes. Father Parez — 1 know his reverence — he mistook me
this morning for the Lynx, and when I shouted my salutations in his
e:ir. in the very best of Fi-ench, he thanked me, and said he did not
understand the Huron language — ha ! ha ! yes, he's the very man."

" And his marriage certificate will be equal to the pope's," added
Montaigne — " therefore, I say again, fear nothing, for rather than be
thwarted in this measure, I would bestow Blanche upon you after
the custom of the nation, of which, as you are aware, I am now the
principal chief. There is a thing, you must know, which cob-web
spinning lawyers call the lex loci contractu — they put it into His
Majesty's gracious noddle, and made my Indian cara s2)osa a baron-
ess ; the marquis has told you the story of course ; and as it is a
law of which I have had the benefit," the baron smiled bittei'ly at
the word, " it is but fair that you should have it also, if needed."

" You are a most potent monarch in your way, my lord baron,"
replied Cailton, gleefully ; " Prospero in his haunted isle, was a pigmy
to you ; 1 rely on you with perfect confidence."


" You may do so, sir count, and believe me, that, a week from
to-day, Blanche shall be your bride."

The baron's excitement prevented him from observing that the
door of his room had opened before he uttered the last sentence, and
that the moccasined Lynx had entered with his usual noiseless

" How is this ?" he said sternly, " why do you intrude thus upon
our privacy ? But, I am wrong ; he comes ever thus, like a shadow,
and has never been reproved ; if there is fault, therefore, it is mine."

" Is not this my cousin, the King of the Hurons ?" said the Indian

" It is — it is," said the baron ; " I was hasty, the Lynx is welcome ;
why has he not brought his valiant friend, the Beaver, with him ;
there are piled presents awaiting his return."

" The Beaver shall come ; my cousin shall see him," replied the
Indian, departing as he spoke, as silently as he had approached.

Encouraged by the manner in which Montaigne had spoken of
the disguised Henrich, the Indian had concluded that it was a
favorable moment to produce his friend, and to make the long
deferred explanation. He had heard, but scarcely heeded the baron's
promise to bestow Blanche on the count as his bride, for the intelligence
was not new to his mind, rumor having long predicted the alliance,
although no susj^icion was entertained of its being in opposition to
the lady's wishes. Sagacious as was the Lynx on other points, he
was quite at fault in all the signs which mark affection between young
hearts ; the trail of Cupid was invisible to his eyes ; and he had
failed to discover the daring love of Henrich for the beautiful com-
panion of his travels. If it had been otherwise, and above all, if he
had suspected the baron's knowledge of such an attachment, his
reason, soberer than the lover's, would have anticipated no friendly
reception of Huntington by Montaigne, and he would have been
spared the bitter disappointment to which he was destined.
^ Bitter, indeed, it was, both for him and the ingenuous youth. Not


that Henrich had been unwise enough to anticipate a very cordial
welcome, or insane enough to hope to supplant his titled nval in the
regard of the baron ; but he had expected common justice and
gratitude, and hospitahty, and for everything beyond, he was willing
to wait the revealings of time and truth. He had begun to feel
confident of an interest in the heart of Blanche, and although he
knew that a thousand influences would be brought to bear upon her
mind in favor of the count, he still hoped on, vaguely and indefinitely,
as the desolate will ever hope.

As he approached the castle, clad once more in his proper apparel,
the appalled count discerned him in the distance, and a sudden
perception of the ruse which had been practised upon him, filled his
heart with rage and mortification. He kept, however, waiily aloof
from the visiter, convinced that he had already planted a petard in
his path to which his own steps must now ensure a destructive
explosion. He did not greatly overrate the effect of the suspicions
which he had excited in the baron's breast, and little more is perhaps
essential to be related of the interview which ensued. The ghosts
of past offences, and the phantoms of anticipated wrongs were
conjured up to meet the guest, and where he thought to be treated
as a benefactor, he found himself virtually arraigned as a criminal.
His advantages of person and education served only to increase the
disfavor w^ith which he was beheld, for in these things, his host saw
but the confirmation of Carlton's suspicions, and the probable cause
of his daughter's mysterious conduct.

Henrich was, in short, barely forgiven as an offender, was insulted
by the offer of a pecuniary reward for his services, and, if not denied
the hospitalities of the castle, they were tendered in a w^ay which
rendered their rejection necessary to his self-respect. He departed,
as he came, wdth the Lynx, more cold and stately than the man
whose presence he left, and scathing, with the legible scorn of his
face and air, a heart which scorn alone could scathe.

He did not see Blanche : she knew not of his presence, and heard


only at a subsequent hour an imperfect and unreliable account of

Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 20 of 29)