P. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) Myers.

The King of the Hurons online

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what had taken place ; and it was in vain that either herself or
Emily sought to gain speech with the incensed baron on the subject.
She learned, however, through Myrtle's agency, that Hen rich had
taken up his abode with the Lynx, and rejoicing in the security which
the attachment of the faithful chief afforded him, she still indulo-ed
the hope that some returning sense of justice would yet actuate her
father's conduct towards him. She did not, indeed, anticipate a
change which could ever favor Henrich's claims as her suitor, but at
the same time she remained comparatively free from any serious
apprehensions of a compulsory union to another. The plot, however,
was thickening around her, the mesh was entangling her steps, the
more securely, because unsuspected.



'Come, Friar Francis, be brief; only to the plain form of marriage, and you shall recount
their particular duties afterward. — Shaks. Much Ado about J^othing.

A WEEK, marked by no important events, ensued, during which,
Huntingto:i continued with his Huron friend, partaking, to some
extent, both of his labors and his sports. The Indian, it will
be remembered, had overheard the promise made by the
baron to Carlton, that within a week Blanche should become his
bride, but the subject, exciting little interest at the time, had been
subsequently expelled from his mind by the engrossing emotions
incident to Henrich's reception. It recurred to him, however, at
length, on the very last of the limited days, and he was little
prepared for the agitation which the casual announcement of the
tidings to his guest occasioned. Incredulous of danger at first, doubt
and alarm rapidly succeeded in Huntington's mind ; he believed it in-
deed impossible that Blanche's consent could fairly have been obtained
to so speedy a marriage, but he knew not to what influences she
might have been subjected, while his knowledge of the baron's
character taught him to dread the worst.

Filled with fear and anxiety, and feeling his utter impotence to
stay the impending blow, (alas ! might it not already have fallen ?)
he walked at dusk, towards the castle, hoping to glean some infor-
mation, which might relieve his mind fi'om its torturing apprehensions.
He thought it a favorable sign, as he drew near the building, that it
was not unusually hghted, and that there was not the least of that
bustling commotion, which, to some extent, usually marks so


momentous an event even when it is comparatively private. He had
gazed long and closely, and was about turning away, when his eye
fell upon a solitary light gleaming through a window of the chapel,
an edifice of considerable size, which stood without the walls, about
sixty yards north of the castle, and like it, fronting towards the river.
With the sight, the remembrance flashed upon his mind, that the
baron belonged to a church, which regarded the marriage ceremony
as a sacrament, to the validity of which, as consecrated hands were
essential, a consecrated altar was scarcely less so. Was it not
possible then, that at that very moment the mystic words were
spoken, almost within his hearing, which would prove the knell of
hope and joy to his heart ?

Resolved to know the worst, to behold, if he could, the dreaded
rite, and to learn at least if there were not some tokens of sadness
and reluctance on the part of Blanche, which might take from his
anguish a portion of its intensity, he turned quickly and with reso-
lute air towards the church. He approached the principal entrance,
and finding it closed, passed around the building, to a small postern
door through which the priests were accustomed to enter. This also
was fastened, but scarcely had he relinquished the unyielding latch,
when he heard the sound of coming footsteps, and at the next breath,
he discovered, through the dim light, the bulky figure of Father
Parez, clad in sacerdotal robes, approaching with a slow and heavy
tread. Henrich stepped aside to make way for the priest, who,
either unobservant of his presence, or mistaking him for some
official of the chapel, passed him without remark, and applying a key
to the door, opened it, and went in. Huntington followed, with no
attempt at secresy, yet unseen; with no suppressed tread, yet
unheard ; he entered the main body of the church, and remained
standing near the centre of the princi{)al aisle.

The clergyman, meanwhile, with no little rattling of his robes,
approached the reading desk, and bending for a minute in the
posture of devotion, rose and peered earnestly around him in search


of the wedding- corUge which he did not seem to doubt were
assembled somewhere near the chancel. Failing in his search, yet
supposing them to be seated in some of the surrounding pews, he
repeated the first few words of the marriage service, by way of an
invocation to bring them forward ; but the husky tones died away
unanswered, and the priest, wisely concluding that the party had not
yet arrived, seated himself to await their coming.

The stolidity of this conduct did not fail to excite Henrich's sus-
picions. Why, with quick thought, he asked himself, has this palsied
man been selected to perfoiiii a rite like this ? Why is he unattended
by clerk or associate? Why this dimly lighted room, and these
closely fastened doors ? True, the appointed hour not yet
have arrived ; the churcli might yet be more fittingly hghted, and
its })ortals thrown open, but with such fearful conjectures as now
forced themselves upon his mind, he resolved at least to seek a position
which would not expose him to observation, and await the result.

He accordingly selected an obscure seat, into which the dim light
did not penetrate, and from which, unobserved, he could plainly see
all that occurred in the vicinity of the altar. Scarcely had he done
so, when the sound of coming steps reached his ears, and startled his
throbbing heart into increased and violent action, for, on the revela-
tions of the next moment would depend, as he supposed, the question
whether some reluctant consent to the ceremony had been wrung by
threats and entreaty from Miss Montaigne, or whether she was sought
to be made the victim of a still more perfidious plot. If Emily and
Myrtle, or either of them, should accompany her, he must believe
the former ; if not, there could no longer be a doubt as to the
nefarious design, and he resolved at least boldly to lift up his voice
in protest against it. Yet alas ! what could he do, beyond di-awing
the full weight of the despotic baron's wrath ui)on himself, })roducing
his immediate banishment, and perhaps even his death, and that too
without aftbrding relief or rescue to the object of his solicitude.
Racked with agony by the impending crisis, which even his ever


elastic hope foresaw no means of averting, his eye rested upon the
now opening door, where he beheld Carlton, richly dressed, entering
noiselessly and alone. The count bowed low to the priest, who
seemingly unobservant of the greeting, continued to rattle the leaves
of his prayer book, and look vacantly around, while the former
remained standing near the chancel, watching with a nervous and
excited air, the door through which he had just passed. Five
minutes elapsed, when it again slowly opened, a sob and voice of
entreaty were heard without, and a stern reply, and the Baron
Montaigiie supporting his half-swooning daughter upon his arm,
entered the chapel.

" Not here — not thus — my father," she said ; " if indeed it must
be ! give me at least time for thought and preparation, and let Emily
and Myrtle stand at my side ; I appeal to you, sir count ! I came
hither, as I supposed, to attend religious service, and it was only this
moment at the door that I was undeceived : give me time — time —
time to think," she said, faintly, pressing her hand to her head, and
looking around with a bewildered air.

An air of some incertitude marked the baron's conduct : his attempt
at a surreptitious marriage was, indeed, only an experiment, yet it
was one which a knowledge of his daughter's timidity induced him
to believe would be perfectly successful ; if it should prove otherwise,
he had other schemes in reserve more certain to be effectual.
Seemingly listening to her expostulations, he had contrived to station
her directly in fi'ont of the priest, and while he replied, the count had
stepped to her side, and Father Parez, being notified by a gesture to
proceed, was already rapidly reciting the marriage service.

" It shall be repeated in the castle, if you desire, my child," said
the baron, speaking in a far louder tone than the clergyman's, and
endeavoring to distract her attention from what was taking place ;
" then they shall all be present, and there shall be a great fHe — only
be calm now — be calm — "

" Give me time — time," she said, heedless that the priest was


rapidly running; through the mystic ceremony, and that the count was
responding and bowing assent to the demands of the ghostly father —
" give me time !" she repeated, with a look of agony at her parent,
who, under pretence of supporting her, was holding her by the arm,
" If it is my duty, I will submit — but not now — oh not now — I will
not — can not "

" Shall not !" exclaimed Henrich, wrought to desperation by the fear
that the fatal tie would be completed beyond rehef — " shall not !"
he said, springing, almost at a bound, to her side, and startling the
group as if a thunderbolt had fallen in their midst — while still the
nasal song of the priest went on, undisturbed even by the commotion
around him. Carlton had sprung backward and stood transfixed
with terror, gazing at the intruder ; Blanche, released from her
father's grasp, was clinging to the rail of the chancel, while the baron
himself had receded a step, and stood looking with such amazement
on Henrich, as that with which one might view a spirit evoked from
the grave.

" Shall not!" repeated Huntington, in tones that rang and vibrated
through every corner of the darkened building, and which awoke the
automaton priest, at length, to a consciousness that something was
amiss, and caused him to sus|)end his chant, " not while I have voice
to forbid, and strength to stay the unhallowed deed ?"

" What madman is this ?" exclaimed Montaigne, nearly voiceless
with rage, and stepping towards Henrich as he spoke : " is it thou,
most insolent, and audacious ?"

" It is I !" replied Henrich — " a madman, if you will, yet driven to
madness : listen, lord baron, one moment to me — for her sake — for
yours — not for mine "

" In the dungeon I will listen to thee !" answered Montaigne,
stepping towards the door : " see to your bride, sir count, while I
summon some men from the garrison."

The baron disappeared as he spoke, and Carlton stood motionless,
gazing at the door through which he had vanished.


" Fly — fly — Mr. Huntington, I implore you !" exclaimed Blanche,
addressing him in English, " you do not know of what my father is
capable — go, I beseech you ; your very life may be in danger."

" And you, — dear Blanche ? "

" You can do nothing for me — I am lost — but fly, and save your
life — the Lynx can protect you."

" And he can protect you, Miss Montaigne, or at least can conceal
you until this danger is past, and your father relents — or — we may
escape together — dearest Blanche — if — if you will be mine !"

" It is impossible ! there is no hope. Go, I beseech you ; I hear
my father shouting to the men ! oh, they vydll surely kill you ! go,
go, I beseech ! "

" Never without you, Blanche ! If you would save my life, fly
with me ! Oh, resist this tyranny ; there is no law, human or di-
vine, which requires you to submit to it. Will you go ? there is not
a moment to lose."

Henrich seized the arm of the wavering girl as he spoke, and,
while bewildered and undecided she yet stepped slowly forward, the
count, with sudden suspicion of the movement, shouted, " Stop !
stop, I command you !" and advanced hesitatingly towards her.
This movement decided Blanche, and turned into a flight, what
otherwise, perhaps, would not have become so ; chnging to Henrich's
arm, she darted with him through the doorway by which they had
entered the chapel, and as they passed it, Carlton, more courageous
than usual, was close behind them; but Henrich, withdrawing
Blanche's arm for a moment from his own, turned quickly around,
and thrusting his pursuer suddenly back into the building, closed the
door, and locked it by means of the key which had remained in the
outer side.

The voice of the returning baron and the tread of the approach-
ing soldiers were already sounding in his ears, as, again supporting
Blanche, he turned an angle of the church, and sought to escape
towards the forest, the dense border of which was scarcely a huu-


dred yards distant ; but, alas, the liea%ily increasing burden on his
arm told him that Miss Montaigne was incapable of flight, and in
another moment he became sensible that she had swooned. To
carry her, unobserved, across the interval which separated them from
the woods was clearly impossible, and nearly hopeless of eluding ob-
servation, he yet drew her closely within the shade of the chapel,
and with fast throbbing heart awaited the result.

A confused sound of rapid talking at the same moment was
heard, the crash of a yielding door, and then the count's agitated
voice, shouting, " They have fled ! they have fled ! get lights and
follow, towards the forest ; cut him down ! cut him down !"

" Silence P'' exclaimed the baron, in a voice hoarse with terrific
rage ; " say not my daughter has fled ! The miscreant has carried
her off, and he shall surely die for the act ; but take him unharmed ;
there is a fitter death for him than the sword."

So saying he led the way towards the wilderness, and in a moment
the whole tide of pursuit had passed by ; yet scarcely had Mon-
taigne gone a dozen rods, when, again stopping, he called aloud,
" Back ! back, half of you, to the river, and guard the boats ; call
out more men ; he cannot escape us !"

This order, indeed, anticipated the design of Huntington, and
seemed to cut off his last chance of retreat ; the river was about thirty
rods distant towards the west, and he had resolved to gain it, if
possible, when Blanche revived, and by means of a canoe, set out
northwardly for the St. Lawrence, and Montreal. In a few moments
the returning soldiers again passed him scarcely twenty feet distant,
eager and voluble as hounds on the chase, and sending one towards
the barracks for a reinforcement, they dashed onward to the river.

The whole castle was now in commotion, while its precincts were
alive with people, running in every direction, and inquiring the cause
of the alarm ; moving lights were flashing from a dozen windows ;
screams of affright were heard, and anon, booming loudly above the
uproar, a cannon roared sullenly from the walls. The baron,


thoughtful of every precaution, had despatched back a messenger to
give this signal to put his Indian allies on the alert, and to summon
their leaders to his presence, for he well knew the extraordinary daring
and sagacity of Huntington, and wisely conjectured that if he once
attained an advantageous start, there might be the most serious
difficulty in overtaking him.

It was in the midst of this tumult that Blanche at length awoke
to a sense of her situation, and listened to the earnest importunities
of Henrich to rally her strength and c<jurage.

"This way, dear Blanche! to the river!" he said, pointing in a
direction north of where the soldiers had gone — " if I can procure a
boat, we may yet be safe."

" Oh, no, no, Henrich ! alone! in the wilderness! I cannot go;
I am dying with terror ; let us stay ; let us return to my father ; I
will throw myself upon my knees, and ne^'er, never rise until he has
forgiven you."

" It is idle to talk thus, dearest Blanche !" rephed Henrich, speak-
ing with great rapidity : " he will not relent, nor will he release you
from this hated marriage ; I have learned the whole story — it is the
darling project of his heart ; it is connected with his })olitical fortunes,
and for this alone is it that you have been brought from your home
in England. Renounce then, these scruples, and assert your liberty :
the world is before us "

" Hist !" exclaimed a whispering voice at their side, and Myrtle,
trembling like an aspen, stood before them : " the soldiers are coming
this way," she said : " you cannot escape ; every point is guarded ;
but there are safe hiding-places in the castle, where you can remain
until means of successful flight are found, — if we can but reach them :
if you dare to try, follow me !"

She turned as she spoke, and darted close along the northern wall
of the chapel, followed by Blanche and Henrich, and turning another
angle, the party gained the front of the building, still keeping within
its deep shadows. Sc*arcely sixty yards separated them from the


castle walls, but the intervening space was alive with rao\'ing fig-ures,
traversing it in every direction, and shouting unintelligibly to each
other. If the faint starlight revealed no one distinctly, neither did
it admit of any altogether escaping observation.

" Follow boldly !" said Myrtle ; " there is no other way ; a minute
hence and it will be too late."

With quick step she started forward, again followed by Henrich
and Blanche ; but scarcely were they in motion, when tw^o soldiers,
hastening directly towards them, struck new terror into their hearts.
But Myrtle advanced a step to meet them, preventing their close
approach to her companions : " Go quickly, and ring the chapel
bell !" she said ; " why do you loiter here, where you can do no
good ? "

Zealous to do something, and glad of such a commission, the men
rushed forward to the chu*ch, and left the way unobstructed. But a
more serious impediment was at hand. Carlton was among those
who had turned at the command of the baron, to prosecute the
search in the vicinity of the river, and he had since wandered aim-
lessly about in every direction, giving a multiplicity of useless in-
structions to all whom he met, with his usual bustling inefficiency.
He was now almost directly in the route of the fugitives, of w^hom he
caught sight nearly at the moment that Myrtle, with quick eye, re-
cognised his figure, and diverged from her course in a direction
towards the rear of the castle. Discerning female forms, but entirely
unsuspicious of the character of the party, he still approached in a
direction to intercept them. There was no evading the encounter,
without the most direct flight, and in a few seconds he was at the
side of Myrtle, who, as before, had advanced a Httle to meet him.

" Ah, ha ! are you out in this tumuk, Miss Myrtle T' he said,
speaking quickly ; " isn't it a maivellous aftair — a forcible abduction !
was ever the like heard ! But w^e shall have him — w-e shall have
him ; who are these with you P

As he spoke he gave a quick start of surprise, but immediately


added, with seeming equanimity, " Ah, ha ! I see : Miss Roselle and
— and Lieutenant Seabuiy, I presume." So saying he turned away,
with quick step, towards a small party of soldiers who were passing
at a little distance, leaving the greatly relieved friends at liberty to
pass on, which they now did with increased speed ; but only for a
moment. A shout and rush were heard behind them — an order to
stand ; and Carlton again made his appearance in the rear of three
soldiers, who rushed breathlessly upon Henrich, and bore him to the

The screams of the ladies, and the repeated calls of the count for
more help, were followed by the rapid running of people from all
quarters towards the point of atti-action, while the dignified Carlton
continued to announce to the successive comers, the triumphant
event :

"He's caught! he's caught! I did it myself! T found him! hold
on to him there, boys ! another man to each of his arms ! there,
don't let him slip : the baron will be here in a moment ; I've sent
for him— ha ! ha ! I did it myself !"

Central amidst this group, when at length permitted to rise, stood
Henrich — a prisoner, pinioned, hooted, derided, and mute ; the
agitation of hope and suspense was past — his was the silent serenity
of despair.




" I see thou art implacable, more deaf
To prayers than winds and seas : yet winds and seas
Are reconciled at length, and sea to shore :
Thy anger, unappeasable, still rages,
Eternal tempest — never to be calm."

Milton's Samson J^gonistes.

In a dungeon rayless as liis heart, Henricli passed the ensuing
night — a night, which to more than one of the inmates of Castle
Montaigne was replete with prolonged misery ; a night dilated by
terror, until its moments became minutes, its minutes hours, and its
every hour a long age of anguish and suspense. Montaigne had
preserved an ominous silence in relation to the prisoner, utterly
refusing all intercourse with any one upon the subject, and giving no
other clew to his design in regard to him than could be derived from
a knowledge of the ignominious place of his confinement. Vainly
did Blanche seek again and again her father's apartment ; vainly did
she send message after message to beg a moment's interview ; she
received no answer ; her envoys could not even penetrate to the
presence of the forest autocrat.

In the morning, Carlton alone was summoned to his room, and
the sanguinary nature of a decree emanating from such a tribunal
may well be anticipated.

" He should die, if he had a thousand lives !" said the baron,
striding excitedly to and fro in his apartment, while the gratified count
stood listening to the ebullitions of his wrath, and feeding, from time
to time, its flame : " the disgrace shall be wiped out and for ever ; a



pardoned mutineer and spy — he has revived his crimes, and added
to them sacrilege, and the kidnapping of m}^ own child !"

"Besides," replied the coimt, "with him will be buried the
knowledge of some circumstances, which — are all right, you know,
but which might be misconstrued by an uncharitable world."

The baron knit his brow, angry that his secret thoughts had been
probed by his partner in guilt.

" I do not shrink from my acts, sir count," he said ; — " or deprecate
the censure of mortal man. The intended marriage was right, and
shall yet be consummated ; it's only obstacle will now- be removed,
for mortifying as the fact may be, Blanche has evidently felt or
fancied some attachment for this miscreant. Enough, however, of
this ; it was not to decide whether he shall die, that I have called on
you ; for justice, honor, and the preservation of disciphne alike require
this ; I only hesitate whether to accord him a soldier's death."

" He is not a soldier," answered Carlton.

" He is not a coward," replied Montaigne, calling, undesignedly,
the quick blood to the cheek of the other ; " and he has done us some
service, although out of no good will, and only in the prosecution of
his own most presumptuous purposes."

" Yes, certainly, of course ; ah, I think you had better hang him,"
said the count, taking a pinch of snuff.

" But then the other is a simpler process," said the baron, " and
can be more quickly despatched — it is only to call out a file of
soldiers and the prisoner, give the word of command, and it is all
over — what say you ?"

The idea of despatch struck the count favorably : " Perhaps it
would be best," he answered : " I beheve you are right : the gallows
would add nothing to his infamy."

" It is decided then : go if you please, and send Sei'geant Grill
to me."

The count bowed and departed, and in a few minutes the sergeant
entered the apartment where Montaigne was now quietly seated with


no trace of excitement on his calm stern face. Grill was a very-
machine in everything pertaining to discipline ; his obedience was
as perfect as clock-work, and had almost as little to do with any
degree of ratiocination. That an act was ordered by a superior
officer was to him as ample a justification of it, as if its propriety had

Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 21 of 29)