THE OUTRAGEOUS WOOER
IN THE Fox and Glove Tavern, Boston, were gathered that spring morning of 1708, a company of New England bloods, laughing and talking over their tankards and discussing in particular the affairs of Master Hubert Fitzrandolph.
“He sails in his cockleshell this afternoon, my friends,” Harry Farnsworth announced. “Nor can any appeal to reason stop the nit-wit. I have wasted much wise eloquence on him, in vain.”
“What then?’’ demanded the beau,
George Witherspoon, who had just joined the party. “Does he think to take Port Royal when our good Colonel March has twice failed?”
“Nay, George, he beleaguers a much more difficult stronghold—as you might know if you had not spent the winter flirting with Quaker lasses in Philadelphia,” replied the other, at which there was much good humored laughing and chaffing from the group about the oak table. “Last November, my good fellow, among others brought into this port as prisoners by our excellent privateersman,
Captain Stobo, was a young demoiselle of France of surpassing wit and beauty. Do I err in so describing her, gentlemen?” he said.
“Only in failing to do the Mamzelle justice,” declared Wilberforce Bailey, banging his empty tankard emphatically upon the table.
“ ’struth, did we not all fall head over heels in love with her? Did she not drive us to distraction with her French airs and her laugh?”
“She was lodged with our Major Lawrence,
George,” Harry took up the tale again,” and you will know the havoc she wrought when I tell you that the Major threatened more than once to complain to the Governor because of the concourse of gilded youth which nightly paraded his drawing room.”
the beau, conveying with exquisite gesture a pinch of snuff to his nostrils. “If she were the paragon you say and you gentlemen of a right British kidney, why was she not anchored in our midst by marriage lines?” “My dear fellow, she would have none of us!” “She laughed at us!”
“ ’Tis a great pity I was in Philadelphia. A very great pity.” Master Witherspoon snapped the lid of his snuff-box crushingly. “But, perhaps,” he added, when the derisive laughter of the others had died away, “she did not treat Hubert so summarily.”
“Nay,” cried Robert Shaw, not without a certain scorn, “she made of him the greatest fool of all. The night before she was sent back to Port Poyal with the exchanged prisoners, he/ carried a great bunch of red roses to the house of Major Lawrence and demanded audience with her. On being informed by the maid that Mamzelle would see no one that night, he insisted that his flowers and a written message be taken to her. He would wait, so he said, for an answer. Mamzelle’s window was directly above the door. Cut through it came roses and billet doux, flung by a scornful hand, and landed on the head of our brave suitor.”
The young men laughed riotously at the memory of an incident which had lost none of its humor in many tellings.
“And in spite of all that, the poor fool would risk his life crossing the Bay of Fundy in that crazy cockle-shell of his.”1 “And risk further capture by the French, with whom we are at war!” “For love,” George Witherspoon murmured with a sententious sigh, “a man will embrace the maddest hazard. But, gentlemen,” he rose impulsively, “let us at least pay tribute to one who has the courage todo so. We will drink a glass of wine, however ironically, to his success, and then go to wish him The toast passed, and leaving the tavern, the young men set off toward the harbor. Somewhat outside the city, and besides a tumble-down shed that had been used in other years for drying fish, they came on a young man working busily and concentratedly on a sailboat of not over large dimensions.
“Well, my good Hubert,” exclaimed George Witherspoon, extending a soft immaculate hand as he strode up, “we have come to see you off! When does the launching of the good ship take place?”
Easing with a movement of his wide shoulders the crick in his aching back, the other drew himself up. He was a tall, quiet youth of some twenty odd years. His fine spun, curly, close-cropped hair was of an amazing blondness. His usually sky-blue eyes changed oddly to a greenish tint as they met the derision on the faces about him. A deliberate, humorous smile persisted at the corners of the wide, thin-lipped mouth.
“I sail this day, George,” he replied in a quiet drawl. “Do you come with me?”
“Egad, no!” cried the other, laughingly.
“I trust you spent a pleasant winter in Philadelphia.”
“Not, perhaps, as exciting as the summer you’ll spend in Port Royal— but passing pleasurable, Hubertpassing pleasurable.”
“One did not have the expected success with the young Quakeresses?”
The thin lips wavered humorously— and the others laughed.
“I see you have painted a name on your skiff—is it the Mamzelle’s?”
George changed the topic quickly to cover his confusion.
“It was the name Ulysses gave his ship-—as you should know, my good George, if you had paid greater attention to Pastor Bradshaw’s teaching than to the sartorial and cosmetic arts?”
“Ho! Ho! A pretty touch,
George!” How the young men laughed!
“And when do you sail, Hubert?” demanded Harry Farnsworth, consulting his watch. “I am engaged to Mistress IMarlowo for the early afternoon and it would grieve me areatly to be delinquent.” nAs soon as the tide floats my ht—and before that if you gentle.n will soil your hands with enough nest labor to push her down into ne water.”
“Egad, I would soil a dozen pair of hands to start this Odyssey!” cried George Witherspoon, who could not long remain subdued. “Show a leg there, you others!”
But Robert Shaw stepped forward with a raised solemn hand. “Gentlemen,” he said earnestly, “this folly has gone far enough. I will not be partner in such a mad business. Hubert-—” he turned beseechingly to the tall young Ulysses-—-“I beg you to give up this insane adventure. You can never cross the Bay in that ridiculous boat. And if you did, there would still remain the peril of the French and Indians.”
“Aye-—and in the end Mamzelle would only refuse you!” added Wilberforce Bailey.
Hubert laughed scornfully. “I assure you, gentlemen, that I am neither afraid nor without confidence,” he exclaimed, “I will return-—with my treasure. And I promise this also, that I will not gloat over you.”
The others shook their heads sceptically—save George Witherspoon, who turned on them with a laugh, crying: “Zounds! Better an adventure like Hubert’s than a seat in a Boston tavern. Come, you craven-hearted! Lend a hand while we launch the good ship!”
Presently, they were standing on the edge of sand, gazing after a sail that gleamed in the noon-day sun. As they set their faces towards the city again Robert Shaw shook his head sadly. “He’ll never come back,” he muttered.
“Don’t be so glum about it!” cried the beau, slapping him across the back laughingly. “I’ll wager you a golden guinea he does come back. Such as he can neither be drowned, shot nor hanged.”
the beautiful stretch of burnished blue, set like a saucer in green hills, and escaped at last the chill wind of the Bay, the haggard-eyed young man sighed. But, weary though he was from that sleepless vigil and those perilous waters, he knew that fortune had greatly favored him with fine weather. Would fortune still favor him, he asked himself, as he headed the tiny craft toward the southern shore of the harbor. But it was not until, having skirted the southern shore for a league or more he passed the Isle of Goats and saw the lilies of France afloat above the fort and town of Port Royal, some
two leagues further on, that he was seized for the first time in all those days with a real thrill of adventure. Yonder lay his goal, yonder lived that laughing, tantalizing vision. So near-—and yet what perils lay between?
Coming, just beyond the Island, on the mouth of a small estuary, he steered up it; landed at its head, where tidal waters and a little gurgling brook met; and dragged his boat with considerable effort into a place of hiding in the thick undergrowth and trees. Then, having eaten, he lay down on the soft pine needles and slept the sleep of exhaustion.
Dawn had already broken when he woke, and descending to the brook he washed sleep from his eyes and prepared his breakfast. It had been his intention, the day before, to sail farther up the harbor and land nearer the town, but since he had slept straight through the covering darkness he realized that to carry out such a plan by daylight would be courting unnecessary risk. He dared not hazard an encounter with the natives, for he could speak but a few scraps of French and looked as little like a Gaul as a Saxon could. Nor could he bear the thought of spending the whole day in his hiding place inactive. He finally decided to leave his boat where it was and make his way through the woods toward the town. Having breakfasted, he started off up the brook and came at the end of a quarter of an hour on a trail which crossed it and which led up the harbor. ThirJie followed, arriving an hour 1-*".....----“ ’ Vfte
the fort eastwards to the slope of the Mont du Sud.
“A pleasant place,” he murmured, gazing at it with a smile. “A place in which to find a princess.”
He set off again, keeping to the wooded banks of the river and clear of the marshland, and arrived at its headwaters after another hour’s journey. Here, a large mountain stream poured into the tidal waters through which he was able to wade quite easily. And here, he heard voices for the first time, found himself at the edge of a clearing in which was situated a grist mill, and about which several men were working busily. Retreating, at once, further into the shelter of the forest, he made his way down the northern shore of the Riviere Alain in the direction of Port Royal. He had not gone more than a half mile, before the high flood tide forced him away from the stream. He began to ascend a narrow path leading up the side of a hill, and arriving at its crest found himself at the top of a large meadow which sloped gently downwards to the south. Below, in the distance, lay the panorama of Port Royal. The harbor with the Mont du Nord beyond; the town, stretching along the narrow peninsula made by the confluence of the Alain and Dauphin Rivers.
Noon had now passed, so seating himself under a stubby oak tree, he ate his lunch and prepared to wait until dusk before venturing into the town.
E CAME upon the two Frenchmen completely unawares. Hav-
ing waited under the oak tree until day was but a memory in the west, he had found the trail leading into Port Royal and started along it. A sudden " bend on the outskirts of the banlieu and he found himself face to face with two young men.
“Good night, M’sieu!” they exclaimed pleasantly.
“Good night, Messieurs!” he returned their greeting in his halting French, and with a lightness of tone that belied his palpitating heart, strode past them.
The two coureurs—none other than Andre Livarot and Rene D’Ancoup—turned to watch him curiously until he disappeared around the bend in the trail.
“A new face,” exclaimed Livarot. “And a strange accent,” murmured D’Ancoup.
Staring at one another, the coureurs read the same suspicion in each other’s eyes. “Name of a d og, that face and voice were strangely English!” declared Livarot. “Two of their spies have already slipped through our hands this year. Shall we follow him?”
“Of a certainty, Andre!” agreed the other, without hesitation.
But on hastening about the bend in the trail, they found no sign of their quarry on the long straight trail that led into town. The New Englander had caught a backward glimpse of their suspicion and immediately on passing out of sight had dashed into the woods, cursing his ill-luck. Arriving, after ten minutes hard running, at the edge of a clearing planted with young apple trees, he made his way across it, giving the house beyond a wide berth, and entered the grounds of a large estate. Here, a barking dog drove him hurriedly down the end of a field to where, on the other side of a clump of alders, he came on a small purling stream. At the sight of it he uttered an exclamation of joy.
Here was a definite clue to his goal! He had no other information as to where Alix du Tremblay lived except a lightly dropped description spoken laughingly by her one night at Major Lawrence’s house in Boston. “Behind a high stone fence it lies, Messieurs, with a rose garden to the left and an orchard to the right. At the garden’s end a brook flows.”
Along the narrow stream, which now reflected the sky of stars, he hastened; came to yet another estate, but though he explored it most carefully, found sign of neither orchard nor rose garden. Nor had he better success with the next two. After returning to the brook from a fruitless survey of the last of these, he discovered that the stream had almost reached its outlet in the River Dauphin. Had he been tricked by the ^BUIdp'Ook? He almost come to tjia* conclusion gave a swift laugh of relief and started quickly through it in the direction of the house.
Through a door opening on a wide verandah, streamed a shaft of light. Suddenly, when he was within a score of feet of it, he heard music on a spinet and then a voice. Alix’s! He had heard her sing that very same gay, lilting song in Boston!
Creeping forward cautiously to the verandah’s edge, he peered in through the door. An involuntary sigh escaped him as he caught sight of the singing girl. Her face, cameo-like in the candle light, was chiselled in piquant, vivid profile against the shadows beyond. Drawing himself over the verandah rail, he tip-toed nearer the door, stood at last framed in it. Removing his cap stealthily he leaned against the casing, stared at her ecstatically, a wistful smile twisting the corners of his humorous mouth.
Suddenly the song wavered—broke—died into swift silence. Two dark eyes stared at him wildly, incredulously. Two white hands fluttered to a white bosom.
“M’sieu—Fitzrandolph-—” she rose to her feet, took a step towards him—“but it cannot be!”
He laughed gaily. “In Boston it was M’sieu Hubert. What have I done to lose that intimacy?”
“But, M’sieu-—how came you here-—and why?” she cried, astonishment and dismay struggling in her dark eyes.
He stood for a moment gazing smilingly at her before replying. She was well worth this peril, this creature of delight! Her small oval face was a snare for hearts; the crown of dark burnished hair, set so daintily atop the small head, held memory of moon and stars; the velvet gown, clinging intimately to her slender body, thrust into vivid and thrilling relief the delicate contour of limb and bosom. “A little queen!” Harry Farnsworth had dubbed her. She was that! Dainty—vivid-—haughty— Titania of the Gauls!
“I have come,” he said, taking a step towards her, “to present in person a token which you refused to accept in Boston.” From inside his tunic he extracted a faded rose and with a low, ironic bow held it towards her.
“Fool!” she cried, dashing it from his hand, and stamping her little foot angrily. “Have I not scorned already your roses? Tell me at once why you have come here-— for I know it is not for the foolish reason you say.”
Still smiling humorously he demanded: “Will you promise not to stamp your foot if I do? I dislike having people stamp their feet at me—even beautiful and disdainful mamzelles of New France.”
“M’sieu,” she cried angrily, “this is no time for folly! Our countries are at war—I am a Frenchwoman, and
refuse to harbor one who steals into Port Royal by night. Furthermore, I am alone in this house and unchaperoned -—my uncle is gone to Grand Pre this morning. If you do not declare your business and leave this house at once I shall call the servants.”
“Pray don’t do that,” he exclaimed lightly. “I fear I could not do myself justice before an audience. Mamzelle-—Alix-—” he came closer, and his eyes, despite the smile that still played humorously about his mouth, were ardent—-“I have come to Port Royal to tell you that I love you.”
“You have come—here-—for that?” she cried incredulous, mocking.
“I know of no better reason.”
“In Boston, I thought you must be mad—now I am sure.” Her laughed echoed derisively.
“I intend to stay in Port Royal until you marry me,” he said, the smile for the first time leaving grim purpose stark in his green-blue eyes and set face.
Again she laughed, even more derisively. “M’sieu is even madder than I thought. Surely he will not remain here-—” she leaned toward him with that flashing, mocking smile he knew so well—“for so long a time! For I assure you, my good Master Hubert, that it will be many centuries before you marry me.”
“They will pass all the quicker if I remain-—’tis just possible you overstate the length of time it will take me to prove to you that you love me—as I love you.”
“Oh, la la! M’sieu is too droll for—”
The sound of knocking on the front door of the house cut short her derision abruptly. She turned to him impetuously. “You must go—at once! If you are found here, how shall I explain your presence?”
“You could tell the truth.”
A servant, going to answer the door, could be heard in the hall without. “Go -—please!” cried the girl, pushing him toward the verandah door.
He retired, smiling, into the night, slipping silently off the end of the verandah and melted into the shadows of the garden. It was with considerable of a start that, on turning, he recognized two of the three men who were being ushered into the room he had just left, for with one
dressed in the uniform of a captain of the French king’s Guard, were the two coureurs he had encountered at the bend in the trail. He leaned out of the shadows intently to listen, but because of his scant knowledge of their language learned nothing. He could see, however, that the import of the officer’s remarks was causing the girl considerable agitation, for in answer to his sudden query she hesitated, and murmured: “Mais, non,” with an uncertain shaking of her doubtful little head.
Then the words, ‘espion Anglais,’ fell like a thunderbolt on his ears. Espion? Spy! Were they accusing him to the girl of being a spy! He saw her eyes suddenly dilate, her face harden, and held his breath. Would she give him away? He hung breathless on her reply, breathed deeply with relief when she shook her head again. And then bowing deeply, the three men withdrew.
He waited until they had quitted the house, and climbing the verandah again, entered the room. The girl turned blazing angry eyes upon him. “So,” she cried witheringly, “you are a spy! You have come here like a thief to get information concerning our fortifications! And under the guise of a lover!” She laughed harshly. “I was a fool not to tell them you were hiding out there in the garden. But I will tell them if you do not promise, on your word as a gentleman, to return to Boston at once.”
“I am quite willing to do that, Alix, if you will return with me,” he assured her.
“Then you have already gained your information! You have already been to the fort!”
“I have so far tried to gain information concerning but one fortress—your heart.”
“Why do you lie to me?” she blazed contemptuously. “How would the Capitaine du Gast know you for a spy if you were not one? Why should Messieurs Livarot and D’Ancoup have followed you to the brook below?”
“So they did follow me, then?”
“But yes. They lost trace of you there, and were going to inform the Governor, when they met the Capitaine du Gast.”
“I think I can explain quite easily their suspicions,” he assured her, “Unfortunately, I encountered the two coureurs on my way here. They bade me good evening. I replied. Doubtless my accent betrayed me. I swear to you, Alix, that I came here through love of you— and through love of you alone.”
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The Outrageous Wooer
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A heavy, sardonic laugh brought him about with a start. He found to his dismay the officer and the two coureurs standing in the open verandah doorway —and then the girl’s icy laugh behind him—and her cry: “Here is your spy, M. le Captaine! I deliver him into your keeping with great pleasure.”
The two coureurs dashed forward just as Hubert was measuring the distance to the other door and seized him before he could move.
“Mademoiselle,” exclaimed the Capitaine du Gast with a laugh, “allow me to congratulate you on having lured this creature to the net.” He turned to the two coureurs. “To the fort with him!”
As they were dragging him away, Hubert faced the girl. “You have made a mistake, Alix,” he informed her gravely. She shrugged, laughing scornfully.
l^XCITEMENT reigned in Port Royal '' that next day. “Have you heard, M’sieu, of the English spy Mademoiselle du Tremblay has captured singlehanded?” old Henri Theriault demanded, with wide, rolling eyes and fat gesticulations, of a dozen customers. “Name of a cat, she is a smart one, that—even if she has the tongue of a shrew!”
“They have the spy, then, in the dungeon, Henri?”
“Aye! He was haled before M. Subercase this morning and they say he will be shot to-morrow at dawn.”
“Holy name! They will shoot him then?”
“Aye! M. Subercase has determined that no more of these English spies shall escape him. They take their chance, these
spies, and must pay the price. They say he had already made reconaissances of the fort before he was taken.”
Rumors of all kinds were spreading about the town and banlieu•' the English were planning a great expedition against Port Royal, M. Subercase was sending an urgent message to the King by the frigate that was to sail on Saturday asking for reinforcements, the militia would be called up at once for drill and military preparation, all hands would have to work on the fortifications. So rumor scurried about the town, and that afternoon Madame de Morpain called in great excitement on her friend Alix du Tremblay.
“They are going to shoot him at dawn. Pierre told me at noon,” exclaimed the beautiful wife of Port Royal’s redoubtable corsair.
“They are going to shoot him!” the girl repeated, paling suddenly, one hand clenched to her bosom as though a swift pain had stabbed her there.
“But, yes, my dear.”
“They must not!” Alix was greatly agitated. “He is not—” she hesitated, stared with troubled eyes into the face of her friend.
“But, my dear, what else can they do?” exclaimed the other in amazement. “Surely, you who captured him, would not have M. Subercase spare the wretch’s life!”
For the moment Alix hesitated whether or not she should tell her friend the whole truth, but said in the end, with a shrug: “I did not capture him, Marie.”
When Madame de Morpain had gone, she sat for a long time staring out through the window toward the fort. She could see the flag floating above the green ramparts, knew that, deep beneath it in the dungeon, that mad youth Hubert Fitarandolph waited his death. Vividly, so vividly, she had a terrifying vision of the tall, smiling figure lined up against the fort gate before the firing party!
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She knew he was no spy, had known it from the moment she saw him led from her house by the two coureurs, knew that he spoke the truth when he said that he had come to Port Royal only through love of her. And she had sent him to his death! She had not dreamed he would be called upon to pay such a price for his folly, had imagined he would merely be kept in the dungeon to cool his heels—and his ardor.
The day wore on. She could eat no supper for thinking of the fate that awaited one whose only crime was too great a love of her. Night came, and with it conscience lashed her most cruelly. But what could she do? Who in Port Royal would believe her if she told the truth? She would be laughed at for her pains.
In great distress, she undressed and went to bed, but could not sleep, could not close her eyes tightly enough to blot out that horrible picture of that youth who loved her facing death in the chill dawn. Suddenly, about midnight, she sat bolt upright in bed. She must do something! She would do something!
Rising quickly, she dressed herself, crept silently downstairs and out of the house. She set off quickly in the direction of the fort. She had no plan, no idea how she was to accomplish her purpose, was driven only by the impulse that she must save this youth from death. She met not a soul on the deserted highway on her way into the town. Port Royal slept. Only from the store of Henri Theriault opposite the main entrance of the fort came any sound of life, men’s voices raised in song. For the rest, the town lay silent and shrouded in darkness. Reaching the upper end of the glacis that led up to the ramparts she turned off the road and made her way cautiously toward the moat. Slipping down its grassy side, she crept along its bottom, encircling the inner ramparts, until she came opposite the southwest bastion. She now crawled up the steep, grassy bank and reaching its summit peered over into the square. The guardhouse lay in darkness, not a light showing, but below, and pacing to and fro along a gravelled road that stretched from the dungeon gate to the powder magazine, was a solitary sentinel.
What was she to do? Twenty feet down in the earth beneath where she lay crouched, were the dank depths of the dungeon. Could the prisoner there hear her heart palpitating through that mound of earth? Heaven knew it was beating wildly enough. But what was she to do? She could not descend and overpower the sentry. Even if she could, she would be little better off, for the dungeon gate was locked securely, the key—with a muffled exclamation she remembered! One day, she had gone with Ninette Subercase to the guardroom to interview the Governor. They had teased M. Subercase until in the end, reaching to a peg above the fireplace, the old man had snatched a key from it and threatened to lock them both in the dungeon, if they did not depart and leave him in peace.
If that key were still there! If she could lay hands on it!
She slipped down again into the bottom of the moat, began to creep slowly along it, trying to steel herself to the adventure which challenged her. She arrived behind the guard-house; with a heart beating crazily made her way slowly up the bank toward it. Not a sound in the night but those odd snatches of sound from old Henri’s store and her own breathing. At last she stood within the shadow of the tall building. Could she dare it—alone— unaided? For a moment she stood irresolute, every inclination urging her to fly-—and then, clenching her hands tightly began to work her way stealthily around the building to the door which faced on the square. She kept close to the building, leaned as near the ground as she could, so that the sentry pacing in front of the op-
posite rampart might not see her dark figure against its white walls. She was half way to the door, when suddenly a hideously raucous sound above, dropped her trembling to the ground. An open window immediately above! She crouched there quivering. And then that sound again. With a deep sigh of relief she realized that it was but the snore of a sleeping soldier. She crept on.
The door at last. Her hand reached up, found the latch. A muffled click and she pushed against the stout oak panels. For a terrible moment they would not give, and then she pressed her slim shoulder against them. The door moved with a creak that seemed to shriek through the night. She flung herself to earth again, waited breathlessly. Not a sound-—and yonder the sentry proceeding stolidly at his beat. Again she pushed, and with the greatest caution. Slowly the door yielded. When it was wide enough open for her to slip through, she squeezed past it. The corridor was in pitch darkness and so silent that her very breathing seemed a loud noise. There were two doors, she knew; one leading to the guard-room in which the key was kept, and opposite it another leading to the barrack in which the guard slept. She started along the corridor, moving with infinite caution.
The door at last! It opened easily. With a prayer on her lips she crept into the further darkness. She could not see her hand in front of her. Never had she experienced such a sensation; it was like being blind. Her foot touched a chair, sent it scraping on the stone floor. She well-nigh died of fright. And then she heard a muffled voice in the other room. She became so weak that she had to sink to her hands and knees to keep from fainting. Then silence again. She waited for what seemed an eternity and then proceeded, on hands and knees now, toward the mantel. At last, her hands found stone and mortar. She raised herself to her feet, felt stealthily up along the wall. And then, her heart leaping in relief, her hand encountered the great key.
She breathed a prayer of thanksgiving and clutching the key to her bosom retraced her way slowly and cautiously out of the building. Then once more into the grassy moat. Five minutes later, she was creeping up over the south-west bastion. For a little, she lay there panting and trembling with reaction from the ordeal through which she had gone. She was so weak that for a little she wondered if she could possibly summon up enough courage to carry her purpose through. But in the end, the thought of that youth below, waiting miserably for the dawn, steeled her muscles.
With a sharp eye to the sentry pacing below, she began to creep slowly over the summit of the rampart. Against the dark earth she made but a blob of darkness that moved and was still-—moved and was still. She reached the edge of wall in which the dungeon gate was set, crouched close to earth and waited until the sentry turned again toward the powder magazine, then, dropped lightly over the edge to the soft grass below. Quickly, she crept toward the gate. But by this time, the sentry had turned at the other end of his beat, two hundred feet away. She lay flat to the ground, pressed her body into it, waited. He came and passed again. Like a flash she was up, had surely and silently inserted the key in its great lock. Another minute and she had opened the door, slipped inside and closed it again. She drew a breath of relief and started down the steps. Here she found yet another door, barred only by a wooden stanchion. It took her but a moment to release this and she had stepped into the pitch darkness of the cell.
There was a stir in the far corner, a sleepy voice asked with astonishment: “Who is it?”
“It is I, Alix du Tremblay.”
“Alix!” He was besiue her with a hound.
“M’sieu, I have come to set you free,” she began hurriedly. “There is not a moment to lose. Come quickly with me!” “But, Alix,” he cried, relief struggling with amazement in his voice, “how did you get here? Tell me!”
“But there is no time for explanation,” she cried anxiously.' “When I learned they would shoot you for being a spy I could not rest. I did not mean that they should do that. So I have come-—stolen the key from the guard house. I beg of you to-—”
“Then you love me!” The voice was eager, ardent; a hand found her arm.
“This is no time to talk of love, M’sieu! Come, I beg of you!”
“I must know first if you love me,” he insisted, his hand tightening on her arm “Please!” she implored, drawing away. “We have no time to lose!”
“Alix, I insist on your answer,” he demanded, doggedly. “WTiy should I make my escape unless you promise now to marry me? I would only hang around Port Royal and be captured again. I might as well stay where I am.”
“But, M’sieu Hubert, you cannot be so mad!” she exclaimed impatiently. “It is your life! Surely you know that you will be shot at dawn if you stay here.”
“A man who has lost his self respect might as well die. I cannot regain mine until you give me your promise.”
“You are a fool!” Tears of vexation stood in her eyes; she stamped her foot angrily. “Oh, why did I ever allow you to become my friend in Boston!”
“Because you loved me,” he assured her, smiling whimsically in the darkness.
“I did not!” she flared back. “I have never loved you! I never will!”
“Never is a dangerous word. Alix—” his voice became soft, caressing—“have you forgotten the night of Major Lawrence’s ball? Do you not recall an unforgettable moment on the balcony when you found yourself in my arms, your lips to mine? Can you—”
“You had no right!” Her cheeks flamed in the darkness. “It is for that I hate you!”
“Hate me? That is yet another reason why I should remain here and face that firing party in the dawn.”
“M’sieu—Hubert—” she was pleading now—“I beg of you to consider my feelings! You do not know what I have gone through this night—how I have nearly died of fear—coming to you. Is it not enough that I would save you from death but you must inflict this other on me?” “No—it is not,” he replied inexorably. “Hubert,-I-implore you!”
“Will you marry me, Alix?”
“But I cannot if I do not love you!” “I am willing to chance your love.” He was mad. She had done her best to set him free, could do no more. There was nothing now but to leave him to his fate. She would not be forced into marriage this way! She would not!
She turned away, started towards the door.
“Good bye, Alix. Surely you will not go without saying farewell.”
Suddenly she knew she could not go, could not leave him to the consequences of his folly. But he had not beaten her! She could make her promise, get him out of the dungeon, away from the town. After that she must trust to her wit to find some means of sending him back to Boston without her. Was any promise binding that was obtained under duress?
“Hubert—I ask you for the last time— will you come?”
“Alix—” there was a mimicking twist to his words—“I ask you for the last time will you marry me?”
“Oh,” she cried frantically, “I will do anything if you will only come!”
“Alix!” He had her in his arms in a moment. She thrust him back, crying angrily, “There is no time for that—now! We must go—now!”
His eager laugh followed her up the dungeon steps. Time enough to reap his reward when they were free together in the night without. “Hush!” Her hand on the outer door, she turned warningly. Opening the door stealthily, she peered out. The sentry was coming toward them. They waited until he turned again. A moment later they were scrambling noiselessly up the rampart.
THEY had reached the foot of the glacis at the corner of the cemetery, were stepping on to the road, when, suddenly, from the shadows of the high wall in front of the Governor’s house opposite a voice cried out: “Who goes?”
The girl drew back with a stifled exclamation. A tall figure drew out into the road. There was a flash of steel in the darkness. Hubert sprang forward like a cat. There was a sharp curse in French. Two blurred figures became a swaying mass in the middle of the road. Then a sword clattered to the ground, was kicked quickly into the far ditch.
“Now, M’sieu du Gast, we fight evenly!” cried the young Englishman with a chuckle.
The Frenchman answered with a curse, dashed in. Again their two figures became a blur in the darkness. At the side of the road the girl stared fearfully, fascinatedly at the two grunting, swaying men, her hands clutched to her breast. Had all her effort that night been vain? She found herself praying frantically— praying that the tall, flaxen-haired Englishman would vanquish his opponent, found herself praying that this enemy of her country would vanquish a gentleman of France!
Du Gast’s throaty cry of triumph broke into her prayers. He had got the other down, was sitting astride of him. “Hubert!” she cried out, “you must beat him!”
In that moment she realized the truth. She loved this Englishman! She loved him! “Hubert!” she cried again, frantically.
“Name of a name, Mademoiselle,” cried du Gast, turning on her harshly, “can you not give the alarm? It is the English spy who has escaped. Run into the Governor’s house and rouse them!” Better had the Capitaine du Gast given closer attention to his adversary. Hardly were the words out of his mouth before he found himself sent flying into the ditch, and the other a-top of him like a panther. He had only time to rise to his knees. Again the two figures were a madly swaying blur, again they grunted and swayed in the dusty road. Du Gast had caught the gleam of his sword blade a few feet away, gave ground toward it. Breaking out of the other’s grip he sprang toward it. His hand had found the hilt when the Englishman landed like a stone from a catapult on his back, sent him spinning to earth.
But at that moment came sound of voices down the road. “Oh,” cried the girl. “Someone is coming! Quick, Hubert!”
The Englishman, who was now pinioning the other down, reached for his throat, found it a moment too late. “Help! In the name of God!” bellowed du Gast before the tightening fingers shut off his wind.
The sound of running feet on the road! “Hubert! They come!” from the frantic girl.
The Englishman tried to break away, rose to his feet—but the strength was not yet out of du Gast, who grasped him by the leg, held on like a leech. With all his strength, Hubert tried to kick himself free, dragged the other along the ditch fighting and straining. He could not shake the man. He was caught again, like a rat in a trap.
“Sacre nom,” cried the great Pierre de Morpain, holding him at arm’s length as though he had been a kitten, “it is the English spy!”
Lights fluttered on in the windows of the Governor’s house. Du Gast, who had been raised to his feet by the two coureurs, snatched up his sword and stumbled forward with a snarl. “He was to have died at dawn. He shall die now!”
His blade flashed sinisterly. But the girl dashed forward, placed her slim trembling body in front of the Englishman’s. “You shall not kill him, Messieur le Capitaine!” she cried. “I demand that you take him before M. Subercase.” “Name of a namS, Mademoiselle,” cried the other furiously, “you play an unseemly part in this matter. Was it with your aid he made his escape from the dungeon?”
“It was. He is no spy, M. le Capitaine!” she cried.
“In God’s name, Alix,” exclaimed de Morpain with amazement, while the two coureurs stared incredulously, “what madness is this?”
But before she could reply, M. Subercase, sleepy-eyed, and wearing a long great coat which failed to hide his bare shins, appeared on the scene. “Messieurs,” he demanded coldly, “can you not find some other place for your brawling, but at my gate?”
“Excellency,” cried du Gast, “this is no drunken brawl. I was returning from a game of picquet with M. des Goutins a short time since and ran into our English prisoner escaping. We fought. He would have strangled me but for the timely arrival of these other gentlemen.”
“Diable?” exclaimed the Governor, staring in amazement at the prisoner. Then anger burned in his eye. “Bring him into my house! I will see that steps are taken at once to draw his claws. Do you, M. Livarot, go to the fort and fetch the guard. Come, gentlemen!”
Powerless in the grasp of the gigantic de Morpain, Hubert was led into the house, followed by du Gast and D’Ancoup, in whose wake came the girl. Her teeth were chattering, her knees quaking.
“Now, M’sieu,” M. Subercase standing behind his library table fixed the young Englishmen with his fierce old eyes, “you shall learn that spies cannot escape from Port Royal. You shall face the firing party as soon as it arrives from the fort.” Alix, who had been standing behind de Morpain’s huge bulk, threw herself forward, “M’sieu Subercase, you must not do this thing!” she cried.
“Mademoiselle!” the white bushy brows went up with a start. “What part have you in this matter?”
“Part enough, Excellency,” volun-
teered du Gast with a snarl. “ ’Twas she who set the prisoner free.”
“Nom de Dieu! Child, is this true?”
“It is, M’sieu.”
“But why in—”
“M’sieu—” she flung out two hands appealingly-—-“he is no spy! I swear he is not! I will tell you the truth. I met him in Boston when I was prisoner there. He followed me here—because of love-—because of that alone, M’sieu.”
“But, child, why did you not come to me with such information? Am I not Governor of Acadie? Is it not my business to set prisoners free?”
“I feared you would not credit my story, M’sieu.”
And staring into that flushed proud face, the fierce old eyes softened. With the faintest of smiles he exclaimed, “I take it, Mademoiselle, that you love this mad youth from Boston?”
She drew herself up, with inimitable hauteur: “I do, M’sieu, and I beg of you to set him free.”
“Hum!” M. Subercase glanced about the circle of men, his eyes resting in the end on the prisoner’s face. “M’sieu,” he said, not unkindly, “this misguided daughter of France insists that you are no spy but a lover—asks me to set you free. Diable!” He banged his fist upon the oak table. “I agree! But on one condition. That you remain a prisoner in Port Royal on parole until France and England are no longer at war. What say you?”
“Monseer Governor,” that humorous smile was twisting about the young Englishman’s mouth, “if you will turn that firing party you have ordered here, into a wedding party I will agree to anything. Since I have come to Port Royal only to marry Mademoiselle Alix I care not what else happens so long as I do marry her.”
“Diable, Messieurs,” cried the old man turning to the others with a laugh, “these English are mad—but they have courage.” He faced the girl again, smiling indulgently. “Do you agree then, Alix, to marry this madman in the morning?’
She nodded—eyes gaily bright.
“Let us go to our beds then, Messieurs, and get some sleep against this marriage!” exclaimed the old man, waving dismissal. “And do you, M. de Morpain, see to it that the bridegroom is on time at the church. I bid you good night, Messieurs -—and Mademoiselle.”