P. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) Myers.

The King of the Hurons online

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been shown by more than Euclidian demonstration ; and as he now
made his appearance in the baron's presence, everything in his air
and step, and in the quick, sharp tones of his responding voice, spoke
the rigid martinet.

" Sergeant Grill," said the baron, with more of a mild and
condescending air, than was wont to characterize his deportment to
his inferiors : " Sergeant Grill will have anticipated that the outrage
of yesterday can have but one issue. The offender dies at noon,
to-day ; he is to be shot, on the green, behind the barracks. You
will detail a dozen men for this duty, and report to me when every-
thing is in readiness."

The precisian bowed stiffly.

" There will be a strong interest made to save him," continued the
baron, " and I may be compelled to hear some petitions and
lamentations ; if you find me thus engaged, when you call to make
yom* report, remember that the raising of my finger thus, is a signal
for you to proceed, and while the work is being done, I can hear the
childish supplications through ; the easiest way to answer a foolish
remonstrance is by showing that it is made too late, and the sentence
being once executed, acquiescence will speedily follow. If I am not
prevented by any such annoyances, I will myself attend the execution.
Do you understand ?"

" I (Jo — I am to report to you when everything is in readiness ;
if I find you engaged, this motion," he said, repeating the one made
by Montaigne, " will be a signal to go on without further orders."

" Meanwhile," added Montaigne, " you will hold communication
with no one on the subject, excepting at once to announce to the
prisoner his fate, and provide him a priest, if he desires."


Grill again bowed and departed.

Blanche, in the meantime, with the aid of both Myrtle and Emily,
had exhausted every effort to learn the situation of Henrich, and the
nature of the punishment which was designed for him. They knew
only that he was in the dungeon, and that the passage which led to
it w^as guarded by sentinels who permitted no approach to the
prisoner. Miss Montaigne, despite her knowledge of her father's
severity, indulged a strong hope that when the first fierceness of his
anger had cooled, he would not prove sanguinary or unrelenting ;
she entertained indeed, no faintest suspicion of the secret sentence
already pronounced upon her friend, nor dreamed that he could be
doomed to death without some show of trial, either civic or martial.
When that should take place, said whispering Hope, she would
herself, if necessary, plead his cause ; she would move the stony
hearts of his judges ; she would in some way, by some unyielding
importunity, win lenity in his behalf, althouo-h it must be the lenity
of perpetual banishment from her presence.

Secret, however, as had been Montaigne's movements, they could
not long be concealed, and it was the knowledge of this fact which
had induced him to appoint so early an hour for the execution.
Conjecture had been rife among his retainers and dependants, ever
since the moment of Henrich's capture, as to the punishment to be
inflicted upon him, and the first note of preparation for the sad
tragedy was heralded by the busy tongue of rumor in every

Blanche sat in her own apartment, wearied with exhausting
fears, and awaiting the return of Emily and Myrtle, both of whom,
with untiring assiduity, had sought to encourage and soothe her, and
were now absent on some mission of inquiry and observation. The
door opened, and Miss Roselle, pale as a ghost, entered and sank
trembling at her cousin's feet, vainly seeking to speak the words
which faltered on her lips ; while Myrtle, with extended arms and
dishevelled hair, came flying behind her, not voiceless indeed, yet


scarcely more intelligible in lier incoherence, than Emily in her

" They will not do it ! they will not do it, dear Blanche," she said ;
" do not be frightened ; oh, my father cannot, will not be so cruel."
" What is it that you mean. Myrtle — Emily ? speak quickly, if
you would not see me die."

" He is to be shot," faltered Emil}^, " within an hour ! "
" It shall not be ! " exclaimed Blanche, springing to her feet,
and looking upwards with a face fi'om which grief and terror had been
driven by a look of the most lofty resolution ; " It shall not be !
Thrice has he saved my life, and now — God of Heaven, hear my
vow ! I will save his, or die at his side ! "

She passed with quick step from the room as she spoke, motion-
ing to her friends to follow, and in another minute the three were at
the door of the baron's state apartment. A soldier, acting as door-
keeper, who was stationed there for no other purpose than to save
Montaigne from the importunities which he anticipated, informed the
ladies that they could not enter ; but Blanche, without reply, sprang
past the surprised sentinel, as he spoke, and opening the unlocked
door, rushed into the room, followed by her companions. The baron
and the count were together, seated, and earnestly conversing ; the
latter rose ; the former remained sitting, with fierce and frowning aspect.
" You have sentenced him to die ! " said Blanche, standing before
her father, with flashing eyes and pallid face, and quailing not at a
look, which, under other circumstances, would have paralysed her
frame ; " you have sentenced him to die, and would have kept it
from us ! Now hear me ; for I have come, not to beg, but to de-
mand his release. By your sense of justice, — by the honor of your
ancient family, — by your self-respect, and your hopes of happiness,
here and hereafter, — murder not the man who has been thrice the
preserver of your daughter's life — whose single arm saved us all
from destruction, when this miserable man played the coward and


She cast a look of unutterable scorn at the count as she spoke, and
again f^istened her gaze upon her father's face, searching for some
yielding expression.

" Go on ! " said the baron, fixing his stony eye upon his daughter,
with such relenting as the rock yields to the rose.

" For yourself I speak," she said, breathing hard with the violence
of her emotion, — " lay not this sin upon your soul ! nay, you dare
not do it ! " she continued, with sudden vehemence, and with a re-
turn of that remarkable expression which assimilated her counte-
nance so nearly to that of the man she was addressing ; " you may
be absolute here ; but while from yon bending sky, God and angels
watch your actions, you dare not do it ! Oh, my father, my father ! "
she added, unable long to sustain so unwonted a part, and frightened
by a changed expression in his face, which, whatever its character, was
not mercy ; " save him ! pardon him ! spare — oh, spare his hfe ! "

Emily and Myrtle added their earnest supplications, the latter
now sinking to her knees before her father, and now chnging to his
neck, and imploring, with prolonged and plaintive accents, a remis-
sion of the prisoner's doom.

" For Blanche's sake," she said, " for poor dear Blanche — do not
be angry for her words ; it was but your own high spirit which spoke
in her ; oh, have pity on her, father, or she will surely die. "

" You have all spoken," said the baron, at length ; " is there any
one else ? I think I hear voices at the door."

" The baroness, if you please, sir, wishes to come in," said the sen-
tinel, thrusting in his head.

" Admit her ! " he continued, with the same calm voice ; " we
will hear them all. Are you also, madam, a petitioner for the pri-
soner ? "

« Yes — oh, yes," said the frightened woman, clasping her hands
and looking everywhere excepting in the face of her lord ; " but you
will not hear me — ^but Myrtle ! Myrtle ! " she whispered ; " speak to
him — the time is short ! "


" Myrtle has spoken," replied Montaigne, " and I will now answer
you all "

" The Lynx, if you please, my lord, desires to come in," said the
doorkeeper, again making his appearance.

" Let him come," rephed the baron ; and the Lidian stalked si-
lently but swiftly to the front of the tribunal, around which so many
suitors were clustered. He was dressed with elaborate care ; his
scalp-lock was trimmed and adjusted with unusual neatness, and his
exposed chest was painted as for some expected ceremonial.

" The Lynx will die for Henrich !" he said : " the soldiers of my
cousin shall plant their balls here," touching his breast — " not in the
heart of the young Brave of Manahatta !"

The baron scowled ominously as he hstened, but before he could
reply, the door again opened, and the Algonquin was announced.

" Show him in !" said Montaigne, now folding his arms, and throw-
ing himself back in his chair with an air of composed determination :
" show him in, Francis, and please to step aside and leave the way
free for future comers ; your labors must be wearisome."

The Indian stationed himself beside his red brother, and looking
at the baron, said : " My warriors have heard that the young Brave
of the south must die, and their eyes are wet. Let him hve, and
they will heap your hearth with the scalps of the Iroquois for his
ransom ; the King of the Hurons is not cruel ; he will spare his
young brother, and the hearts of our tribes will be glad."

" I have heard you all — patiently and attentively," said the baron,
looking at his watch as he spoke, and glancing towards the door
with an expectant air : " you are all my fi'iends, and if I cannot give
you reasons that are satisfactory, within a few minutes, why I ought
not to listen to your i-equests — I will hear you further."

Sergeant Grill entered the room at this moment, and stood just
within the door, "erect and motionless.

" I say nothing," continued the baron, " of the nature of the
opposition which I meet to-day in the exercise of my most undoubted

TttE KIIS*a OP" THE litJRONSi ^73

and legitimate powers — tlie jDimishment of an atrocious criminal — of
the almost mutinous manner in which I am beset on every hand for
his pardon, as if "

The speaker paused, and catching the eye of the watchful sergeant^
made the preconcerted signal to the latter to withdraw, and fulfil his
work, and as the officer silently departed, he continued —

" 'as if I were incompetent to administer the laws of my own

domain — nay, with a spirit that imputes to me more than the guilt
of the accused, and would hold him innocent. For this cause alone
which strikes at the very foundation of my authority, I should be
compelled to deny your requests ; when I add to them the heinous
nature of the crimes to be punished — crimes both private and
political — 'Committed by a citizen of a country v/ith which we are at
war, — while he was in fact receiving our protection -"

The baron paused, and looked impatiently at his watch, and then,
turning towards the window, assumed a listening attitude :

" and — and — ^our hospitality ; when all these things are

considered, I say, it becomes a matter of surprise that any should be
found who could indulge the hope of lenitj^ to the prisoner. Some
of you, who know nothing of the principles of government, or of the
degree of rigidity in its laws v>'hich is essential to its safety, are more
excusable : but there are those here," he added, glancing at the
Indians, " who compel me to remind them that I have lately over-
looked serious offences of their own — offences which have led
indirectly, to this very crime, which is to-day to be expiated."

"No — no — no — oh say not so, my father — " Blanche replied
rapidly, and in tones of agony^-" you will at least take one day for
deliberation ; you Avill hear his defence — his vindication — ^you will
not — cannot condemn him unheard ?"

" Unheard f answered the baron in a voice of grating harshness —
" unheard ? Have I not myself been a spectator of his crime ?
Shall I summon witnesses to prove what my own eyes have


274 TttE tilNG 01' THE tttlR0N8.

" But you will take one day — oh, one day for reflection,'' she con-
tinued with choked and tremulous articulation, and extending her
clasped hands towards her parent ; " let it at least not be with the
setting of this sun that he dies ; think— oh think, if to-morrow you
should regret it — -it will then be for ever too late."

" If to-morrow I should — regret it," replied the baron, slowly ;
" if to-morrow I should — regret it — then — " and again the speaker
paused — and listened !

His gaze was outward, through the window, and Blanche, whose
eyes were fixed upon his, seemed suddenly electrified by their
expression ; a dreadful suspicion flashed upon her mind, and uttering
a piercing scream, she sprang to the door, and in another breath, her
shrieks were heard from without, as she darted along the hall and
into the inner court of the castle. In a moment everything was
uproar and confusion ; Myrtle and Emily rushed in pursuit, and the
Lynx, catching with quick suspicion the meaning of the movement,
leaped, hke a loosened tiger, through the doorway.

Blanche meanwhile, whose eyes, running rapidly over the ground,
had failed to discover the dreaded sight which she anticipated, had
taken a direction toAvards the barracks, and turned the corner of the
buildings just as the quick sharp voice of Sergeant Grill rang upon
the air, and the presented arms of the soldiers waited but the final
monosyllabic order, to pour forth their deadly contents. Her white
robes flashed for a moment on the eyes of the astonished soldiers, as
she passed directly in front of their upraised weapons, and in the same
moment, stood panting and speechless before the kneeling prisoner.
Her form intercepted the view of his ; her arms were extended — her
chest rose and fell with the stormy violence of her emotion, and flash-
ing eye, and flaring nostril, and quivering lip, spoke the raging
tumult within.

" Remove her !" shouted Grill, and one from the line stepped
quickly forward for that purpose, but, ere he had reached Miss
Montaigne, the Lynx was at her side, menacing, with drawn knife,
the approaching soldier, who hesitated and looked back for aid.


The Huron meanwhile addressed Henrich, whose bandaged eyes
had, up to this moment, taken no cognisance of the strange interrup-
tion to the melancholy drama.

"I have come to die for you, my brother," he said, quickly
removing the handkerchief from the prisoner's face ; " the King of
the Hurons will hear my words, for the Lynx is a chief, and hundreds
of warriors shout his battle-cry; rise, my brother, and when you
return to Manahatta, tell the Wappeno dogs that the Lynx was not
afraid to die."

But ere he had finished speaking, other actors were added to the
scene ; Emily and Myrtle had arrived, followed at a short interval
by the baron, the count, and the Algonquin Indian.

" See how rapidly spreads the contagion of mutiny and treason ! "
shouted Montaigne. " Sergeant Grill, remove these, and complete
your work ; let Miss Montaigne be conveyed to her room ; you, sir,
must answer for this delay ! "

" Hear me, my father, once more ! " exclaimed Blanche, main-
taining her position by clinging to the arm of the Huron, whom no
one seemed disposed to interfere with ; " spare but his life, — send
him forth in ignominy and alone, to regain his home, — and I here
promise to be obedient to all your requests ; I promise, within two
days, peaceably and unrepining, to become, if you desire it, the bride
of Count Carlton ; " she glanced shudderingly at the latter as she
spoke ; " but if you will not hear me, I here solemnly swear that I
will never accede to your wishes ; never shall this man clasp hand of
mine while I have life and strength to prevent it. Here will I stay,
until torn by force away ; and him, whom, li^dng, I might have for-
gotten, dead, I will for ever love ; he shall be enshrined in my heart,
and while life endures, it shall have no other occupant,"

As the baron looked around, he saw, through an open gateway, a
crowd of Huron warriors looking with sullen aspect upon the scene,
and recognised them as the immediate followers of the Lynx ; they
were doubtless assembled, unbidden ; yet, in the present excited


state of all parties, there might be serious danger in attempting to
arrest the Hm-on, or in applying any force to compel him to abandon
his position. Blanche's resolute language, and above all, her pro-
mise to consent to a marriage with Carlton, had nearly moved him
to a compliance, which only the strong pride of will restrained ; but
now even that yielded.

" I accept your terms, Miss Montaigne," he said ; " and be assured,
I shall hold you most strictly to them ; this miserable man shall
receive lenity, — such lenity as consists with an immediate banishment
from the territory of New France, under penalty of instant death if
found after twelve hours upon our soil. Sergeant, remove your

Blanche had been excited to the last endurable degi*ee of inten-
sity ; a sudden reaction now took place, which reduced her to a state
of stupor and bewilderment bordering on a swoon. When she re-
covered, she was in her own apartment, and Huntington was already
without the castle walls.



♦' if to robe

This form in bridal ornaments, to smile
(I can smile yet,) at thy gay feast, and stand
At th' altar by thy side ; if this be deemed
Enough, it shall be done "

Mrs. Hemans. — The Vespers of Palermo.

More malignant than Montaigne, and equally inexorable, Count
Carlton had hoped and believed that the baron would not yield
either to emotions of pity or fear \ but when he reflected upon the
conditions with which pardon had been coupled, he did not deeply
regret the turn which events had talien. Huntington was perpetu-
ally banished, and Blanche had bound her conscience by a solemn
promise to become his bride within two days ; so that, after all, a.'^
he argued the matter to himself, everything had turned out for the
best, as it always does to the virtuous and just.

Miss Montaigne, meanwhile, counted her remaining hours of free-
dom, and watched their departure with a miser's jealous cai-e. She
had no design of retracting the dreadfrJ pledge which she had given^
or of shrinking from a fulfilment of her contract; she had pur-
chased Henrlch's life ; and, fearful as the price must prove, she re-
solved to pay it without a murmur ; the solace of her act would ai
least remain to her while life endured, which returning hope sug-
ojested could not be loni)-.

Emily proved an assiduous and zealous, if not altogether a dis-
creet friend, in the hour of her cousin's calamit}^


" Cheer up, dear Blanche," she said, when, on the evening of the
day in which the exciting events last related had occurred, they sat
together in the apartment of Miss Montaigne ; " the worst, at least,
is escaped ; and as to the rest — why, you are not the first lady who
has lost a lover — nor is it so dreadful a fate to become a countess,
after all."

Blanche sat by an open casement, looking with fixed and vacant
gaze upon the distant forests ; but her senses took little cognizance
of what was passing before them, and the words of Emily did not

" It will be all the same a hundred years hence," Miss Roselle
continued, using one of those consolatory maxims which are ever at
the tongue's end of people who know nothing of misery by experi-
ence ; "you will forget it very soon, I assure; you, particularly when
you reach Paris. I wonder, by the way, if they have any decent
stuff in Quebec for dresses : nothing fit for a bride, I'll be bound ;
and as to Henrich, you need not grieve on his account ; he'll be
safely home in a week, and will think no more about it ; I should
not wonder, indeed, if he were married in three months to somebody

Blanche remained heedless, and Emily, becoming conscious that
her words were not heard, ceased to speak, only resuming her
efforts at long intervals, and starting a dozen different themes with
the vain hope of arousing her cousin's attention. Miss Montaigne
did not weep, nor did any external signs mark her misery, excepting
the pallid cheek, and absent air, and that still stupor of deportment
which speaks the paralysis of the heart. If she found voice, at
times, it was only to inquire, with a repetition that evinced a wan-
dering mind, the particulars of Henrich's departure.

" Did not some one tell me that he went away with the good
Lynx," she asked, " and that the Indian promised to send some one
with him on his journey ?"

" Yes, Blanche, they went out of the castle yard together, and


tbe Huron told Myrtle this evening, that he had sent four strong
men with Henrich, who were to accompany hira as far as the Hori-
con lake ; they started an hour before sun-down, and are now, of
course, far on their way."

" If you should ever see him again, Emily," she said solemnly,
fixing her lustreless eyes upon Miss Roselle — " if ever — when I am
gone — tell him — what I have never told him — tell him — for it will
be no sin then — that my whole heart was his — that I died thinking
of him, — praying for him 1"

" Blanche, dear Blanche, do not talk thus I" exclaimed Emily ;
" you speak wildly : the scenes which you have gone through have
been too much for you."

" You are right, cousin Emily," replied Miss Montaigne ; " they
have been too much for me," and she relapsed again into her dreamy
and silent state, from W'hich no efforts could rouse her, excepting for
a very moment's interval.

This continued through the whole of that and the ensuing day,
greatly to the apprehension of her female friends, who vainly sought
to alarm her father, by representing her condition, and to prevail on
him to desist, at least for a time, from his design. He would listen
to no representations ; it was a ruse — a feint ; he ^vould not again
be baffled ; he had her promise, from which she did not even ask to
be released. Besides, he said, delay would but make matters
worse, and w^hen once she was married, all these whims would
quickly be dispelled ; the excitement of a wedding journey would
of itself work wonders, for they were to set out at once for Quebec,
to spend a few days with the Marquis Vaudreuil, and if Blanche
chose, they w^ould thence proceed directly to Paris ; and Emily and
Myrtle were informed, by way, perhaps, of a bribe to their acquies-
cence, that they should both accompany the bridal party as far as
the former place.

The preparations, indeed, went rapidly forward, and when the
morning of the second day arrived, there was no longer a dissent-


ing voice to the ceremony, for Emily and Myrtle* had found it useless
to remonstrate, and Blanche seemed more unconscious of what was
passing around her than usual. The two days which had been
stipulated for would not expire until noon of the day which had
now set in, and it was resolved that the marriage should take place
in the evening, in the adjacent chapel, which was to be bnlliantly
lighted for the purpose, and various preparations for celebrating the
event, in and about the castle, were also in progress.

Count Carlton, elated beyond expression with his prospects, was
busily engaged in superintending a part of the festive arrangements,
and at about mid-day he mounted a horse and rode forth, in search
of the Lynx and the Algonquin, who were expected respectively to
head processions of warriors of their tribes in honor of the occasion.
The Lynx was easily found, for the principal village of his people
was close at hand, but Anak's abode was more distant, being situ-
ated several miles southward, and thither with hght heart the Count
pursued his way. He found the Algonquin, like the Huron, acqui-
escent with the Baron's wishes, for although neither entered with
alacrity into the proposed arrangements, they were convinced that
they could do nothing further for Henrich, and were not unwilling
either to display themselves in their gala dresses, or to participate in
the expected feastings. Having parted with the last named Lidian,
with a great show of cordiality, not forgetting to bestow a few
appeasino- presents upon the stately brave, Carlton set out on his
return, rejoicing that his star was at last in the ascendant and that
the hour of his triumph had arrived.

Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 22 of 29)