An Historical Tragedy of French Canada in Five Acts
Hero of the Long Sault.
DESJARDINS, a scheming notary.
THE SIEUR D’ELENE, uncle to Daulac.
MAISONNEUEVE, Governor of Montreal.
FILLET, a French innkeeper.
A King’s Officer.
PORNAC, servant to Daulac.
PIOTR, servant to Desjardins.
Seventeen Young Men of Montreal.
HELÈNE, niece to D’Elene.
FANCHON, her maid.
A Mother Superior.
Nuns, women and girls.
and young; priests, soldiers, Indians and servants.
ACT I. SCENE I.
chateau in France.
in Autumn. The wind howls loud out of doors and rain
beats at window, right.
room in the chateau, showing a curtained entrance to
bedroom at middle back, in the apartments of the
SIEUR D’ELENE. Furniture quaint and old, with
rich decorations; doors to left and right, chairs and
from middle back, the SIEUR D’ELENE, a
feeble old gentleman, wearing
a rich dressing-gown and walking slowly with a cane.
He is slight and stooped.
He hobbles to a window and looks out.
D’EL. This night is like my spirit, filled with
And haunting voices calling from the past.
All the world is bleak with age and woe,
And I am feeble, like a candle lowered
Into its socket. Only regret and longing,
Only regret and longing dwell with me,
Dwell with me.
at left, HELÈNE, his niece, a beautiful
young girl. She comes in quietly
and looks at him.
HEL. Poor uncle!
(clasps her hands)
Of late he broods alone in solitude [Page 129],
And seems to avoid me. Some haunting, saddening thought
Weighs down his spirit.
forward and places her hand on his shoulder.
Uncle, do you know me? Your Helène.
D'EL. (shakes his head)
Nay, nothing, now, save winter, age and death.
[She goes round and sits
at his feet on a stool.
HEL. Uncle, uncle, I am your
D’EL. (strokes her
hair feebly) Yes, yes, my child, your hair is like
But mine is bleached like winter’s wasted snows.
You are all I have left, all I have left.
HEL. Uncle, I love you, you
know I love you well.
Would comfort your age; let me share you sorrow.
D'EL. Look up, my child; your
face to-night brings back
That sweet look which filled your angel mother's,
My dead child-sister. I never loved another.
She used to sit as you sit by me now,
But she is gone. Soon I will follow, too.
HEL. O uncle, put this gloomy
It wrings my heart to know you suffer pain.
Smile on you Helène, tell her you are happy,
[Rises and puts her arm around his neck.
And she will laugh and then be happy, too.
[Sits again and takes his hand in both of hers.
D’EL. Sorrow, child,
Sorrow is Age’s sister.
The autumn bleak that beats at yonder pane
Is fit alone to echo back my heart.
Speak not to me of gladness. Close around
Stand all the ghosts of this grim, ancient house
To tell me it is ended. Never child of mine
Will laugh athwart its rooftree. Nevermore
Henceforth devote alone to gloom and woe.
Happiness and smiling great these walls [Page
HEL. O uncle, uncle, you were
not always thus.
And in this atmosphere of sombre gloom
I, too, grow old and sad. Oh, why not send,
Oh, why not send for Daulac?
D’EL. (trying to
rise, in great agitation) Daulac!
Daulac! Speak no more of Daulac!
O uncle, uncle, what has Daulac done?
D’EL. He is the root
of all my heart’s disease,
The bitter cause of all my spirit’s winter.
Ingrate and viper, warmed at this old heart!
D’EL. Nay, girl, speak
not his name, if you would keep
The only love that holds me to the living.
HEL. What mean you by these
dread and awful words?
Daulac! What has Daulac done? Your words
Fill me with fear and anguish.
D’EL. (gazing at
her sadly) So, girl, you love this Daulac?
HEL. He is my cousin, we have
As girl and boy. He is all nobleness—
Believe me, uncle—he is all nobleness,
So much that woman would desire in man,
So much, so much, I cannot help but love him.
[Hides face and sobs.
D’EL. Yea, curse him,
curse him. Every word you speak
Makes him the graver sinner in my sight.
(aside) I cannot reveal all to so pure a soul.
This sweet girl-nature, like a limpid brook,
This trusting spirit he has played with. Now,
He is no heir of mine. I cut him off.
I will not weaken. This poor girl’s confession
But binds my will the firmer. Helène!
HEL. (looking up)
D’EL. Desjardins comes
to-night; some business,
Some special business. I would be alone [Page
I’ll need two witnesses, so leave you two
Servants within hearing should I ring.
Now say good night, my child.
HEL. O uncle, I dread to leave you in this mood.
Heaven keep you, my more than father, yet
Forgive me if I say it once again,
Be kind to Daulac.
[Tries to put her arms about him.
D’EL. Child, I love you,
but you go too far.
Nay, nay, not Daulac. I cannot tell you all.
I have resolved. Kiss me, my child. Good night, good
HEL. (aside, going out)
O Heaven, be with us. I am sore afraid
Some terrible business fatal unto Daulac
Doth happen here to-night.
Ha, I am old, my fingers are but bones,
My legs but tottering crutches, and my soul
But shrunken, wasted water. But my will
Is firm, is firm! This ingrate Daulac, yea,
I’ll disinherit, disinherit him.
The girl shall have it all, shall have it all.
[Totters to window.
O mad, lone night, in all your haunting voices,
What hope bring you to me?
Only death, only death, only death!
I will go in. The girl shall have it all!
[Totters to door at middle
DESJARDINS, a notary, cloaked and with a sword.
DES. This is a night, a fit and proper night
For projects such as mine. Would such were ever,
All seasons Autumn, every night like this.
to window, draws blind and looks out. Rain and gust
Ha, ha, it meets me, gives my spirit greeting!
Cruelty to cruelty, ice to ice,
So storms it at my heart, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! [Page
How! Storm! beat gust. Sweep out and wreck this world.
Murder the hateful memories o’ summer,
The gaudy splendors of the nauseous year.
She loves me not, I am not lovely to her,
So wreck all beauty, lay all sweetness low.
Ha, ha, do your work as I’ll do mine.
Murder, murder, ’tis a serious thought;
One to be well considered. Perchance the greatest
Of all the arts, were it but deftly done.
Heh, heh, Desjardins, Desjardins,
No bungling, or this serious business were
Better undone than badly! But a weak old man—
’Twould almost seem a single puff of air
Would blow the spark from such a heap of ashes.
[Gets behind a curtain.
the SIEUR D’ELENE.
D’EL. I will to be, to bed. Why comes he not?
[Goes slowly to the
Oh, such a night! the world is aged like me,
Blown by the storms of a too rugged fate.
I’ll to bed, to bed. Why comes he not?
DES. I have come.
D’EL. Oh, ’tis
you, Desjardins, O Desjardins, ’tis an awful night,
DES. Here is the will.
D’EL. Ready so soon?
DES. Yea, ready to sign. Did
you not expect me?
D’EL. Yea, I will sign
it, I will sign it.
DES. Need I read it?
D’EL. Nay, I am tired.
Doth it fill all the conditions?
D’EL. Leaves it all to
DES. Yea, of a certainty [Page
D’EL. Then give it me,
I will sign it. O Daulac,
Daulac, you might have loved me better!
DES. Have you the witnesses
D’EL. Yea, the two servants.
DES. Then call them in.
rings a bell; two servants enter.
DES. (to servants)
This is your master’s will, do you understand?
Servants. We do.
D’EL. Where will I sign,
[D’ELENE signs the will
with a trembling hand; servants affix their
marks. Exeunt servants.
DES. (aside) ’Tis
done, ’tis done!
(to D’ELENE) You are weary, I had better
D’EL. Yea, Desjardins,
I in truth am weary,
But my mind runs still on Daulac. Tell me, now,
Think you truly, would you not relent?
D’EL. Nay, I am strong,
I am strong.
DES. Well, then, good night,
good night, and may you rest.
D’EL. Good night, Desjardins.
Desjardins! wait, Desjardins.
Oh, he hath gone, and he hath taken the will.
I’ll see to-morrow, ’chance I’ll change
O Daulac, Daulac, my dearer than son!
I’m strong, I’m strong. He’s right;
to bed, to bed!
slowly behind the curtain. After a slight interval the
darker. Re-enter DESJARDINS.
The storm still continues, with
patter and gust at the window [Page
DES. Well, well; well, well,
this is a serious matter!
Well done or not at all, that is the dixit.
out of the window, then comes back and goes behind the
steals out again.
He sleeps like any cradled nine months’ child.
Curse these old men, they ever grow so healthy.
He just stirred once, and mumbled in his dreams
That cursed name Daulac! How I hate it!
He’ll repent him, will he? Not this side of Hades.
[Lays his sword on the table.
My grandsire was an armorer at Cologne;
My father knew his passes, though a notary,
And I know mine. I’m but a notary,
No lordly soldier with a martial bearing,
Yet often in the middle of our practice,
When, blade to blade and watchful eye to eye,
I taught Daulac those defter under-strokes,
Hath this same devil prompted me to kill him.
Not yet, not yet; but be my work to-night
To put yon senile babbler out o’ sight.
He’d burn that will, would he? He’d make
a new one?
Nay, nay; nay, nay, he shall not make a new one!
Takes up sword, then
lays it back on the table.
Nay, not that way, it leaves too red a witness.
’Twill keep for cursed Daulac when his fate
Meets my necessities. There’s a cleverer way.
Not thus, not thus; we lop off youthful trees
But pluck the old ones upward by the roots.
Weeds choke out blossoms; ergo, I’m weed.
I’ll choke out this old blossom, thus, aye thus!
his fingers as if strangling something, and steals out
after an interval returns, dragging the body of
it on the carpet and steps back from it.
Ha, ha! ’tis done! ’tis done! He never stirred,
To cry or groan, or call out “cruel murder!”
But went out voiceless in a single gasp [Page
As snuff a candle, thus his light went out.
Ha! I’m an artist! From a whimpering ancient,
A poor, worn bundle of human sighs and groans,
I’ve made yon wondrous silence now before me.
Rage, storm! howl, night! crack you mad cheeks in twain.
You cannot wake him! He is marbling now
Into that long, last, kind serenity.
Blow, night! rage, storm! he hath long past thy terrors.
Billow the oceans, batten the ruined lands,
Terrorize monarchs, make heroes quake i’ their
But he’s invicible! Nay, you cannot shake him.
All else is puerile, naught is great but death.
Ha, ha! ’tis done! I stay here over long,
Too filled with pride in mine own handiwork.
Now life! now life! For I’ve a life to live,
Though but a notary. Halloo! halloo! help! help!
Your master is dead! Rascals, wake up! your master
Has ta’en a fit! Help! help! before he is mortal!
He’d change that will, would he? he’d change
Ha, ha; ha, ha! Now, Daulac, I have matched you!
rush in, calling. HELÈNE runs in and
falls in grief on
body. Exit DESJARDINS on other side [Page
ACT II. SCENE I.
of an inn in a forest.
TIME—Some days after Act I.
from left, FILLET, a short, stout inn-keeper,
carrying a table too big for
him. He places it.
FIL. Here! (hurries out left and returns with a
chair, places it at right of table)
the gentleman, one louis. (hurries out again, returns
another chair, places it at left)
This for the lord, two louis d’or, ha!
DESJARDINS, booted and spurred, with sword, and
whip in hand.
DES. Not yet?
FIL. Nay, master.
FIL. (bowing) Sir!
DES. (more angry)
FIL. (almost touching the
ground) My lord! (aside) Nothing!
DES. Wine, quick!
FIL. Yea, sire! (goes out
bowing behind and yelling within) One bottle for
majesty the devil!
The devil was ever notary to a fool [Page 137],
And I’m the devil. This dead dotard uncle
And orphan niece were waxen in my hands;
And now to trap this Daulac in my snare.
How I do hate him only heaven doth know,
Or fitter hell, for am I not the devil?
His luck against my cunning, chance for chance,
I’ll match him yet. Why doth not Piotr come?
PIOTR running, at right, breathless; falls, clutching
his breast, at
DESJARDINS’ feet. As he runs he knocks over
FILLET, who enters at
time, spilling wine. FILLET looks
around in disgust.
DES. Quick, knave, quick! the letter!
PIO. (fumbling in his breast)
Here, master, here!
DES. (opening quickly and
reading) Ha, ha! ’tis done, ’tis done,
the letter de cachet.
It means his banishment and deep disgrace.
(to PIOTR) Who gave you this letter?
PIO. The Duke’s own man,
DES. And when do the officers
PIO. To-morrow. Master, I faint!
DES. Wine, quick, wine.
[Goes on reading letter.
FIL. (who has been sighing
over the decanter) Yea, sire, yea.
shaking his fist at PIOTR.
(calling) Once more bottle for his majesty
with wine; PIOTR takes it at a gulp.
FIL. Thou mindest me of a cowhard’s lanthorn.
FIL. Thou art so transparent!
Say, (aside) be he thy master, boy?
[Pointing at DESJARDINS.
PIO. Yea, old firkin-sides.
FIL. Then art thou damned indeed.
[Exit at left.
PIO. Yea, not like thee, but
for my leanness.
DES. (coming to center)
Doth he not come yet? [Page 138]
PIO. Who, master, who?
DES. Why, who else but Daulac?
PIO. Not yet, master.
DES. Not yet! Not yet! A soldier
should be prompter.
A like gallant is this to win his lady.
Had I his fortune-given mask of form,
His mock-heroic ways, his poet face,
I would not dally all my days at Paris,
But with quick siege and sans all ceremonie
I’d win her to my liking. Heaven, earth, hell!
How I do hate him!
PIO. Say, master!
DES. Well, rascal?
PIO. Old firkin-sides taketh
thee for the devil.
DES. What think you?
PIO. Naught, seeing if it be
so I be damned.
DES. Like you my form?
PIO. May he never come in worse.
DES. Look here, master Piotr,
a word with you:
I’ve half suspicioned you these many days;
Indeed, I chose you for a rogue’s whip-lash.
Now, hearken, rascal: if you at my bidding
But crack anon to suit my spirit’s will,
Your fortune’s made; but if you do but fail me,—
You’ll meet the very devil.
PIO. Yea, master, I understand.
I am the lash, you snap me, and someone else gets hurt.
Ha, ha, that’s it!
DES. Yea, you’ve caught
it. But, to change the subject, how does the sprightly
PIO. (in amazement)
Ah, master! How knew you I love Fanchon?
DES. Am I not the devil?
PIO. But she would no more
have me than Mademoiselle would give a thought to you.
DES. Fiends of hell! What did
you say, rascal [Page 139]?
PIO. (aside) Now the
bung is out of the barrel! (to DESJARDINS)
I—I did but remark that she won’t do the
love business with me. She prefers a basket paunch to
a bean pole, and so favors that fool, Pornac.
DES. So that’s the trouble,
PIO. Yea, master. That’s
what makes me so thin; that she likes me not for my
leanness but makes me the leaner, so that her distaste
but aggravates the disease, so to speak.
DES. Oh, that’s nothing.
PIO. Nothing, master? Nothing?
Yea, that’s me, or what I will be if this wasting
of affections and flesh keeps on. Nothing!
DES. I but meant, rascal, that
it is all right.
PIO. Oh, it is all right, is
it? (counting on his fingers) That’s
me, or I am no logician.
DES. I mean to say, fool, that
she shall marry you.
PIO. Master, master, say that
again. Marry me—who?
PIO. Fanchon? Look here, master.
You may be the devil, and his uncle to boot, but you
can’t move a maid’s mind, let alone Fanchon’s.
Why, master, she keeps me dancing to her changes like
a turkey on hot irons. Nay, nay, master.
DES. Pshaw, she’s but
a woman! Changeable as the moon
On moving water. Truthful as the lie
That trembles on the breathings of a slander.
Keep you courage, man, do my bidding,
And leave the maid to me.
PIO. But, master, she loves
DES. Love? She’ll love
you just as well.
I know a woman.
PIO. Well, if you do, then
all that I can say is, you’re devilishly more
devilish than the devil. (aside) But I have
my doubts [Page 140].
DES. Fanchon is like her mistress.
She will go
Which way the other. That’s the way she’s
not in this. Mad’moiselle’s uncle dead,
She’s by my schemes the mistress of his fortunes,
And Daulac by the same brave fact a pauper.
PIO. A pauper? The Sieur Daulac
DES. What else? ’Twas
I drew up his uncle’s will.
What would you call that man who stands therein
Sans land, sans houses, monies, destitute?
PIO. A pauper, master. Ergo,
he has nothing, therefore he is nothing. That’s
DES. Well, such is Daulac.
PIO. And, master, you did this?
DES. Now, hearken, sirrah,
that you know my power,
Remember I am your master and dread mine anger.
Now, next to win the mistress. When that happens,
Be you but with me, you shall have the maid.
Do you mark me, sirrah? Now go. Send me yon
PIO. Yea, I mark you. (aside)
But be you devil or no,
I much misdoubt me if you do know Fanchon.
I like this not, I like it not, I smell murder
Or something deeper here. I’ll watch this devil
Whom fate hath made my master.
[Goes out calling.
FIL. (bowing low) Yea, your majesty.
DES. Whom do you take me for?
FIL. Who else?
DES. Look you here, scoundrel,
do you know this name?
in his ear.
FIL. (retreats, trembling
with fear. PIOTR comes in listening) Nay,
your majesty, not here, he comes not here [Page
DES. Yea, and to-night.
FIL. To waylay this lord? Then
this means murder.
PIO. (aside) Yea,
so say I. Monsieur Daulac, you are more than dead if
I do not save you.
DES. Now, villain, this will
pay you. [Gives
FIL. (going out) But
murder, murder, murder.
DES. Ha, ha, I’ll have
him sure. All cannot fail.
I’ll slay him here to-night, or missing that,
The officer from Paris comes to-morrow
With letter de cachet wheedled from the King,
Banishing Daulac from these shores forever.
Ha, ha! the duke doth hate him for that lunge
He gave him in that secret midnight duel.
So gains his vengeance granting my poor prayers.
This last disgrace will wreck him; meanwhile I
Will come back here to-night in cloak and mask
And see if fate dare give him to my blade.
With these two villains to aid me I may do it.
Ha, ha! Why, here he comes at last, at last.
Damn him! Damn him! How I hate his face!
DAULAC, booted and spurred, with sword and
DAUL. Desjardins, Desjardins!
DES. Welcome, Daulac, mine
own noble friend. This is a meeting.
[Grasps and wrings his hand.
DAUL. Welcome, Desjardins,
The brother-confessor to my many follies.
The cynic chider, he who hath forgiven
More in mine acts than ever Heaven can.—
O my friend, had I one thousandth part
Of all the wisdom under your brain’s roof,
I would not be the reckless soul I am.
Well, well! Heaven ne’er made two single souls
You’d laugh, Desjardins, did you hear my follies.
I’ve fought six duels, old comrade; ponder that—
And come off in them all without a scratch,
Save in the first, and that was but a prick,
Healed up in a week—and all for you
I know not, save that chivalry wanes at court,
And men will slander women in my presence.
DES. I heard you pinked the
DAUL. (starting) You
DES. Ha, ha! a rumor, but ’tis
a dangerous business.
DAUL. When a man insults a
woman, be he King,
He answers to my sword.
DES. (taking snuff)
Ha, ha! Yea, yea, brave, brave, but dangerous.
(aside) As you will find.
DAUL. O Desjardins, think me
not all lightness;
Amid the court I sickened of its follies.
It’s shallow conceits and hollow mock of worth,
Where arrogance and cringing joined in one,
Janus-like, in every soul I met,
Till all my spirit in a ferment burned.
DES. For paths of glory?
DAUL. Yea, friend, you read
me right. Some day, somewhere,
I know not where, only in dreams that come,
I will loose my spirit battling on some field
For France and glory.
But tell me, mine old friend,
How be it that I meet you on my way?
DES. I came to meet you.
DAUL. To meet me! That was
kind. God bless you, friend!
And how is Helène?
DES. She is well.
DAUL. And happy?
DES. As her circumstances grant.
DAUL. And my uncle [Page
DAUL. Poor uncle, I have often
grieved him sore,
And now I’ll grieve him sorer: I can never
Give up in life the great career of arms
To settle down to humdrum country life,
And, beating my sword into a gentle ploughshare ,
Play me the squire of vineyards. Nay, Desjardins,
For I was born a soldier. In my cradle
My spirit must have run on war’s alarms
And drained its ardors from my mother’s breast.
Yea, you have known it, Desjardins, my true friend,
And now it had but one sole rival thought.
DES. And that?
DAUL. My love for Helène.
DES. (aside) Curse
him! does he dare to prate of that?
DAUL. Yesterday in Paris the
Sieur de Condé,
Who sails anon to try his soldier’s fortunes
In those new lands discovered by Champlain,
Did bid me share his perils, and perchance
The glory or death that fate will grant him there.
DES. (aside) This
is my chance. (to DAULAC) You agreed?
DAUL. Nay, I did neither say
him yea nor nay.
DES. And why?
DAUL. My love for Helène
drew me hitherward,
And bound my feet to France’s holy shores,
While glory pointed promising toward the West.
But Helène conquered.
DES. (aside) S’death,
I’ll crush him now!
DAUL. And then I thought me
of my poor old uncle,
How he would grieve; I could not break his heart.
DES. (aside) Now the
dagger goes home.
(to DAULAC, solemnly) ’Twill
break no more.
DAUL. What, what! did you not
say he was well [Page 144]?
DES. Yea, well, indeed, for
Daulac, he is dead.
DAUL. (rising) My
uncle dead! My God! When did he die?
DES. Four days ago.
DES. Was buried yesterday.
DAUL. And Helène?
DES. Is heiress to all his
DES. Great heavens, Desjardins,
what doth all this mean?
DES. It means but this: your
uncle for some time
Has marked your course in anger, and at last,
Thinking you unworthy of his trust
Willed all his wealth to Mad’moiselle Helène,
Cutting you off without one single louis.
DAUL. Then I am ruined!
DES. Yea, ruined.
DAUL. And this is why—
DES. I came to meet you.
DAUL. To break it to me, ere
I saw Helène.
(taking DESJARDIN’S hand) Thank
you, friend. God knows I need a friend.
In this hard hour. Not that I grudge the wealth.
Heaven is witness, I joy for Helène’s sake.
She in her pure and simple womanhood
Is fitter trustee to that splendid wealth
Than such a spirit as I, but O great God!
That he, the uncle that I have always loved,
Should die without forgiving, nay, with thoughts
Unmerited by my worst and wildest follies;
Should think me so unoworthy of his love,—
’Tis this unmans me.
DES. You know me, Daulac, one
Believing only what my reason holds,
Deeming not overmuch those attributes
Of love, hope, glory, friendship, as men mouth them
Save as poor ebullitions of the moment,
Gendered in foolish souls that know not life
And its gray, stern realities, and would not
Be o’erhard on you in this bitter hour,
Save to remind you, you have one thing left
’Mid all this wreck of earthly hope and fortune,
DAUL. Mine honor. I would die
DES. Then you must die to love.
DAUL. O Desjardins, this worst
DES. You are a man of honor.
She is rich
And you a pauper.
DAUL. Yea, you are right, so
Is Helène from my hopes that Ind to Ind
Were nearer. O inexorable fate,
Thou mockest me, miserable! I will go and die.
DES. Daulac, methought thou
wert at least a man.
DAUL. I am a man; for that
dread reason I
Do suffer all the torments of the damned.
Man, man, cannot you see I am shut out
From all I love best? It is easy seen
That you have never loved. O Desjardins,
Your coldly calculating nature views
This life as but a problem to be solved
Like an equation. He hat never suffered
Who never loved.
DES. (aside) I never
love? Yea, I can hate, too.
(to DAULAC) You wrong me in your heat of suffereing,
Heaven knows I meant but for the best.
I thought you strong, but see I was mistaken.
There is a way: forget this barrier fate
Hath built between you; go to her, and if
She truly loves you nought can come between
Your mutual happiness.
DAUL. And lose mine honor?
DES. Yea, what is honor but
a thing to prate of,
But never practiced in this material world?
DAUL. Never, Desjardins! Since
this one short hour
Helène is dead to Daulac. Whoe’er may hope
To win her happy, Daulac never can.
Nay, brightest honor, thou captain of my spirit,
Beloved of heaven and worshipped of holy men,
Without thee love were never love at all,
But life’s poor semblance.
DES. I did but plead for your
But now you’ve forsworn love for glory’s
What is your purpose?
DAUL. There’s but one
pathway in this world for him
Whom love that banished, that which leads to death.
I have decided; this new western world
Will coffin Daulac from his many woes.
DES. Then you go to Canada?
DAUL. It is my object, if such as I can hold
A living interest.
DES. (aside) ’Twas
an easy victory. I’m rid of him.
(to DAULAC) But will you send no message to
your cousin? No farewell?
DAUL. Farewell to Helène?
Desjardins, I cannot go
Before I see her pure, sweet face again.
This much I owe to nature, come what will.
DES. (aside) He’ll
weaken, will he? be a man of straw.
For all his protestations? Never, Daulac!
You have too good a foe to forfeit now
Your boasted honor.
(to DAULAC) Do you not fear that in this tender
(Man is but flesh and woman over-loving)
That his same honor boasted now so loud
May not get worsted?
DAUL. Never, Desjardins!
DES. (aside) Ha, ha!
We’ll see! The devil is sceptic [Page
Or else this world were all an innocent place.
(to DAULAC) Do you return with me?
DAUL. Nay, friend, forgive
me my weak human nature.
Leave me a space to wrestle with my sorrow,
And I will follow.
DES. (aside) Now I’ll
see the poison work this side,
I’ll go prepare the lady, till the rift
In this sweet lute spills all the music out.
PIO. (outside) I’m
DAUL. Now must I make the soldier
shame the man,
And in one short hour change this throbbing nature
Into the semblance of a heartless stone.
O Helène, next to Heaven thou wert to me.
I placed you in that niche in my heart’s temple
Where blessed thoughts and sacred only dwell.
Tear out this bleeding heart with these two hands,
And still its beat forever. O great Heaven!
Let not one single tender sigh of hers,
One last sweet glance of sorrow, melt my soul
From out this marble semblance of a man.
I’ll go to her, but I will go as stone,
All passion dead as I am dead to her.
his head on table. The stage grows darker.
PIOTR, rushing in.
PIO. Danger, danger! Draw and guard yourself!
under the table. DAULAC leaps to his feet and
draws. Enter two
assassins,with DESJARDINS cloaked and masked.
They all attack
He fights the three.
DES. Ha, ha, ha!
PIO. (under the table)
FIL. (at side, calling)
Murder! thieves! murder!
fight harder. DAULAC kills one, then wounds
the second, fighting
way out [Page 148].
DES. Damn him! damn him! he
still lives, still lives!
But wait! The letter de cachet! ha, ha, ha!
I’ll have him yet! I’ll have him yet!
ACT II. SCENE 2.
room in the Chateau. FANCHON at work.
FAN. Well, if I’m not the most bewildered girl!
Two lovers are mine, but which of them to choose
I know me not, for if I choose this one
The other suffers. If I say Pornac,
I pity Piotr. If I choose Piotr,
I think of Pornac. Ten times a day I try
To choose in this wise, counting on my fingers:
Piotr, Pornac, Pornac, Piotr,
Pornac, the odds have it. It is Pornac.
But when I favor Pornac it is Piotr.
Heigho, heigho! What is a maid to do
When man, poor, silly man, doth come to woo?
Nor is there much to choose betwixt the two.
Pornac is stout and ruddy, full of mirth,
But too familiar; doth not reverence enough.
Piotr is lean and tall, but much too backward.
I hate a roisterer, but I dread a muff.
If one were only what the other is not,
The other only what the—(starts) Ha,
FAN. Sir, you here?
PIO. Yea—that is, I think
so—that is—I’ll go and see.
[Turns to go.
FAN. Noodle! [Page
PIO. Nay, but, Fanchon—(aside)
She ever mocks me thus.
FAN. Nay, noodle. Say, why
are you always going?
PIO. I know not, save that
I am always coming.
FAN. Well, solemn sir, what
do you want of me?
PIO. I came—I came—to—to
see what you were doing.
FAN. Well, I was at a poor
Balancing two peas within a pod.
FAN. And I found them, just
like two peas,
Too much alike.
PIO. Well, I must go.
FAN. Don’t be in a hurry.
What’s the news?
PIO. Fanchon, there is only
one bit of news for me to tell you, and—and—when
I see you it all flies out o’ doors and leaves
[Toys with her apron.
PIO. I—I—I have
come to—to—ah—protect you.
FAN. You? to protect me? For
heaven’s sake, from what? You protect me? Then
heaven help me! [Rises.
PIO. Stay, O Fanchon, stay.
Oh, stay! Oh, do!
Oh stay forever!
FAN. Nay, ’twould be
too tiring, but I will consider.
PIO. Dear girl!
FAN. But on one condition.
PIO. Any condition and all
conditions, but name them.
FAN. ’Tis but one.
[Toys with her apron.
PIO. Name it, angel, but only
say you’ll stay.
FAN. Don’t angel me!
Yes, I will stay, if you—if you—
PIO. Speak, Fanchon, speak!
FAN. Well, I will stay if you
PIO. (rising) The
devil! I am a poor fool [Page 150].
FAN. Yea, now you speak the
(puts handkerchief to her face) Oh, my!
PIO. Fanchon, what aileth thee?
FAN. (trying not to laugh)
I—I—I (mocking PIOTR) think I’ve
got something in
PIO. What, what? not a cinder?
(aside) I’m sure it’s not a man.
FAN. Yea. (aside)
And if you’re a man you’ll try to take it
out. (moves over to his side; he edges from her)
Don’t move, sir. Now, take this, then. (twists
handkerchief into a point) Do you see it?
[Placing her face near
PIO. Nay, I see it not.
FAN. (aside) Dolt!
Idiot! (to PIOTR) Place your hand on my shoulder,
thus. Come nearer and look again.
PIO. (uneasily) Nay,
I am near; I tell thee,
Fanchon, thou art mistaken. There is nought.
FAN. I tell thee I am not mistaken.
(aside) Idiot! Can he not see beyond his nose?
(rising in anger) I must go in.
PIO. Yea, so must I. I will
FAN. Nay, nay, never! Stay
I tell thee, thou lean—lean gawk!
PIO. Well, well, I have angered
FAN. (stamping her foot)
Fool! Idiot! Dolt! Not to see, not to see! Here comes
the other; free enough, but not so welcome.
POR. Ha, ha, my Fanchon!
[Runs to kiss her; she eludes him. He chases her
round the table; she stops.
[He turns to catch her; she slaps his face.
Take that—and that!
POR. Why, Fanchon, ’tis
not your wont to greet me thus [Page 151]!
FAN. Well, it will be in future,
thou bloated freedom!
Learn to keep thy place.
POR. When? Ha, ha! what’s
up? what’s up? what’s up?
FAN. If this had but the other’s
person, the other this one’s spirit, betwixt them
they might be a fairsome man. If ever a girl were burdened
it be me!
HELÈNE, dressed in mourning garb; slowly
seats herself at the table in
an attitude of grief.
FANCHON approaches her.
FAN. Mistress, it grieves me much to see you thus.
HEL. O Fanchon, Fanchon, I
fear my heart is broken!
FAN. Nay, lady, speak not thus;
temper your grief
To what is fitting. Nature never intended
That youth should spend itself in useless grieving.
Men cannot live forever; your poor uncle,
My honored master, had passed the allotted age.
This is not natural.
HEL. You wrong me, Fanchon.
Heaven knows my woe,
Though it be deep and natural, I feel
Hath cast its weight on Heaven for my uncle.
FAN. Then why this grief, these
tears, this air of woe?
O my mistress, forgive your simple Fanchon,
If in her love she fear that you may weaken,
By too much grief and sad, uncertain vapors,
That dignity, that presence which is yours
As heiress, mistress of this high estate.
Madam, forgive these words, for Fanchon loves you.
HEL. O Fanchon, ’tis
this very terrible wealth,
This heirship, that is now my present curse.
Oh, why did Heaven bring me on this earth
To stand betwixt a noble man and all
That should be his by birth and heritance.
FAN. Mistress, the Sieur Daulac,
that is a man!
HEL. O Fanchon, I do fear ’twill
break my heart [Page 152].
FAN. It was a wondrous madness
in your uncle
To use him thus; it passes my poor reason,
Unless, perchance, it was—forgive me, madam!
FAN. That notary.
HEL. What notary?
FAN. What but one who creeps
into a room
With his two sinister eyes before he enters,
Whose hand is like a dead man’s at the touch,
Whose glance a poison, whose whole attitude
A cringing arrogance. There is something, madam,
About that man that makes the spirit sick
To look upon him.
HEL. Who is this notary you
FAN. M. Desjardins.
HEL. Fanchon! How dare you?
He, my uncle’s friend,
So grave and wise and thoughtful for his years,
Whose slow precision and whose cynic smile
Are rooted deep in duty.
FAN. Forgive me, madam, if
my woman’s heart
In love for you outran the menial bounds;
But though you grieve you, I would warn you, madam,
Against that man.
HEL. Fanchon, another slander
such as this,
And we are parted. Tongue shall never speak
Nor mind conceive, by any consent of mine,
That heart unloyal which my uncle trusted.
FAN. Forgive me, madam, punish
your poor Fanchon,
Do anything but drive me from your presence.
For all her faults, her rude outspoken thought,
Your Fanchon loves you.
HEL. My almost sister, you
are now forgiven.
If you’ve a heart, oh, pity your poor mistress
In her mad sorrow, you who know her secret.
And is it crime in me, a simple maid,
To open my heart to you, a sister woman,
And say to you and Heaven how I love him [Page
Nay, I were not woman, nature had made me
Distort, unnatural, did I not feel
A pride amid my blushes at his name.
And now, O life, O terrible, cruel fate,
Thou put’st a barrier ’twixt us, this dread
That he must hold for me who, like some thief,
Some bold brute robber, now hath come between
Him and his heritage. Yet, could he know,
I’d walk a beggar ’neath the stars this
Yea, live in rags and own a menial’s fate,
To know him mine. O Daulac, Daulac!
(a sound without) Go, Fanchon, straight, and
see if he doth come.
I’ll cure this matter, this shall never stand!
O uncle, uncle, could you be so cruel?
They’ll see that I’ve a mind, though but
A nunnery is my hope, mine only hope.
I’ll die a maid that he may have this wealth.
[Looks toward the door.
He comes, he comes! How can I meet this man
Whom I have wronged, and yet do love so true?
Oh, he’ll have justice, or I am no woman!
sir, though you are over late.
(seeing DESJARDINS) Oh, ’tis you!
DES. Yea, mademoiselle, ’tis
but the courier;
The king comes after.
HEL. The Sieur Daulac is slow
in coming, sir.
DES. Yea, mademoiselle, we
ever travel slow
To that we dread approaching.
HEL. You have informed him
of his uncle’s death?
DES. Yea, mademoiselle, and
of his disinheritance.
HEL. (starts) And
how took he it?
DES. Not well, my lady; who
ever welcomed the sun
That ushered in the hangman?
HEL. Desjardins, as my uncle’s
trusted friend [Page 154],
As Daulac’s friend, as mine, I bid you hearken:
I have a way to mend this cruel matter.
DES. (aside) As Daulac’s
friend; yea, as Daulac’s friend,
She has a way. Confound these obstinate women,
She shall not find a way, I’ll stop all roads
That lead to Daulac’s fortune.
(to HELÈNE) A way, madam? So interest
in our noble,
Impoverished friend has made of you a lawyer?
HEL. Yea, I renounce this fortune,
all these lands;
They are not mine, but his by truest right.
DES. And you?
HEL. My heart leans toward
a cloister; I a nun,
All this would pass to Daulac.
DES. (aside) A pretty
simpleton, a charming fool!
Well, by my soul, who can count on a woman
When sentiment enters with a handsome man?
She a nun? Not if I confess her.
(to HELÈNE) Mademoiselle, your feelings
wrong the dead.
To him who fathered, loved you all these years,
Owe you no duty? That he is scarce cold,
The coffined clay scarce rounded on his grave,
Ere you would tumble his wisdom to the ground
And scatter his wishes to the winds of heaven.
And all for what?
HEL. For justice!
DES. Justice? (aside)
If this same cousin were wry and shrunk of limb would
he get justice? Heaven protect the ugly that goes as
man when woman dons the ermine.
HEL. Monsieur Desjardins, you
know I loved my uncle
And reverence his memory; but this will,
This monstrous will—I cannot yet believe
It was his love, his wisdom ordered it—
I will not take the cruel advantage it gives
And ravage Sieur Daulac of his rights;
And you—you think this cruel indenture just,
That cheats your friend?
DES. Lady, methinks your feelings
wrong the dead [Page 155].
HEL. Nay, never reverence for
the holiest dead
Dare bid me wrong the living.
I have not right of feeling in this matter,
I’m but in this the humble notary,
The slave that pens just what the hand hath willed,
But I would be full lacking in that sense
Of what I owe your uncle and mine honor
Did I refuse, because my feelings urged,
To do my duty in this present case.
Aspirations are for your soldiers, lady;
Not for the common, plodding, parchment drudge,
The notary. But, being the notary, I
Must point to you the duty which is yours.
This will is plain, no matter who has feelings;
You are besides, a ward and under age;
So did you folly wish to squander all,
You could not do it.
HEL. O Heaven!
DES. Yea. Further, as the humble
I must speak plainly.
HEL. Speak! I bid you.
DES. You are my ward for one
full year from this,
Under this will, and therefore ’tis my duty
To tender you advice: I long have known
The love you bear for Daulac.
HEL. Monsieur Desjardins, you
DES. Lady, ’tis but the
HEL. Go on, sir, but be careful.
DES. Well, this same love—forgive
the notary, lady—
How know you ’tis returned?
HEL. Monsieur! this from you?
DES. ’Tis but the notary,
lady. True, he hurts,
’Tis but the bungling surgeon at the best;
But let me warn you; young, impressionable,
Susceptible to all that charms in man,
What know you of men’s ways, their arts to please
Where smiles are easy spent and broken hearts
Too quick forgotten? Now, if I know Daulac
As man knows man from boyhood up to youth,
His one true love, his mistress, is his sword.
HEL. Sir, this is cruel.
DES. Cruel, lady; so is the
That wounds to save the sufferer. If your love
Hath gone such lengths, you might even buy him,
I will not nay it; but you must acknowledge,
If love be like a magnet, we have seen
But little of this Daulac of late.
HEL. Enough, sir, notary or
You speak me not as father would dare speak.
DES. Forgive me, lady, I but
do my duty.
HEL. Pardon me, sir, but methinks
The notary you outrage the man.
DES. The man, madam, the man
is ever outraged
In this poor, shifty, cringing, scheming world,
Where none so free that he may love his neighbor.
Adieu, I hurt you, madam, I will withdraw;
You look for braver company.
(aside) The mine is lit, I’ve touched
her woman’s pride.
Ha! Daulac, Daulac, come and conquer now!
HEL. Nay, good Desjardins,
stay and be my friend.
Fear not for Helène D’Arno, she will ne’er
Let foolish feeling wrong her sense of duty
To those she loves and her own womanhood.
DES. I will return with Daulac,
madam, should you wish.
HEL. I do wish it, sir, if
you will come.
They think I have no pride! wait; they shall see,
Rather than buy a lover I will die
A single maid. Now to be ice and snow
And frigid, stately dignity to this lover
Who came so tardily that ruin and death [Page
Showed him the roadway. He shall never know
The foolish thoughts that I have squandered on him.
DAULAC and DESJARDINS.
pride, help me to be proud,
Imperious, cold and just; but melting never!
[DAULAC advances and kisses
HEL. Daulac, my cousin!
DAUL. (aside) Cousin?
HEL. I never thought I should
have met you thus.
DAUL. Nor I, but all are mortal;
my poor uncle,
God knows I hold nought towards his memory
Save truest sorrow. Heaven is my witness,
He might have taken all away from me,
Had he but left his pardon.
HEL. O God! O God! Cousin,
my heart is broken.
I you have wronged, heaven knoweth, all unwittingly.
Had I the power to give you what is yours,
I’d rather die than leave things as they stand.
DAUL. Helène, my cousin,
if poor words of mine
Can ease your sorrow, carry to your grave
That Daulac’s thoughts of you were thoughts of
Adieu, Helène, the playmate of my youth,
When I am far perchance you will remember.
HEL. Wherefore away? Is this
not yet your home?
DAUL. Sweet cousin, to-morrow
I leave these shores forever.
HEL. (aside) Heaven
help me, Heaven help me now!
(to DESJARDINS) Cruel sir, cruel sir, you had
not told me this!
DES. Not even the notary, believe
Were surgeon to such a wound.
DAUL. Sweet cousin, you who
always bade me courage
When only in hope I waged me deeds of glory
Will you not bid me Godspeed even now [Page
HEL. Sir, I, a soldier’s
daughter, cannot say
To you, a soldier, any word but Godspeed.
But is there not assistance I can give you?
Monies, credit, all are at your service.
DAUL. Helène, I am a
soldier; my poor sword
And sense of honor are my sole fortune now.
If you would of the riches of your heart
But loan anon a single kindly thought,
A tear, perchance a prayer sent up to God,
For Daulac in his wanderings, he’d be your debtor
Deeper a thousand times than if you showered
The wealth of Ind upon him.
HEL. You have my prayers, my
wishes. (aside) Oh, help me God!
DAUL. Farewell, Helène,
God keep you. Fare you well.
DES. (aside) Why come
they not? Why come they not?
an Officer of the King and two attendants.
Officer. Mademoiselle, your pardon. (to
DAULAC) I would speak
With the Sieur Daulac.
DAUL. Speak, I am he.
Officer. Pardon, lady,
this most painful business,
But I do bear an order from the King,
Monsieur Daulac, asking for your sword.
DAUL. The King! My sword! My
God! what new misfortune?
DES. (aside) Ha, ha,
Officer. Here is the
order, sir, commanding that you be cashiered and banished.
DAUL. Cashiered and banished?
Officer. Yea, to America.
DAUL. Banished, cashiered,
[Clutching at his heart. [Page 159]
What unseen hand hath done this? What malignant influence
looms about me?
DES. (taking his hand)
This land, at least, is yours until the end.
HEL. Daulac, Desjardins, what
doth all this mean?
Disinherited, cashiered, banished! Farewell, hope!
Officer. Yea, further,
sir, your sword. You are my prisoner while on these
DAUL. Not that, not that disgrace!
Officer. Men, arrest
DAUL. Nay, I’m a noble.
Whate’er his reason be,
The King can do no wrong. I go with you.
My gentle cousin, a long, a long farewell!
[Goes out with bowed head.
DES. And now ’tis time
for the notary to go, too. [Exit.
HEL. Daulca, Daulac, I love
you! O my God!
I might have saved him! What have I not lost?
And all for woman’s pride [Page 160]!
ACT III. SCENE 1.
room in an inn.
DES. Well, here’s a pretty pass, to let this woman
Slip through my hands like this: first ’twas Daulac,
Now ’tis the Church has got her. Nothing suits
But she must come to Canada like the rest
Of those poor fools who, lacking misery,
Would seek it in these savage-haunted wastes.
She tells her beads and sighs ’tis Heaven draws
But I have my suspicions it is Daulac.
That man, that man! Have I not cause to hate him?
Since his departure she hath never smiled,
But mopes and prays to Heaven. Business, business
She will have none of. I have noticed, too,
She has grown half-suspicious of myself,
And such a scornful icicle hath grown
That all my cunning, all my arrogance
Hath not sufficed to make me hint my love.
Nay, Desjardins, caution, perseverance,
These are your arms to fight with, you are but
A plodding notary, but Hell’s my pledge,
I’ll have her yet, and avenge myself on him
If I’ve to win the poles to ’complish this;
No seas, no rimless oceans shall prevent,
No savage hordes of earth’s most desolate waste
Will daunt my vengeance; say she yea or nay,
I’ll go with her [Page 161].
DES. Well, what have you discovered?
PIO. Daulac is here, master,
in this very inn.
DES. What are his prospects?
PIO. They say he is the governor
of an island.
DES. And Pornac?
PIO. Is here, too.
DES. Does Daulac know of the
Lady Helène’s arrival?
PIO. Nay, master, not by me.
DES. Nor through you, rascal?
PIO. Am I not narrow enough?
DES. Scarcely for my purposes.
PIO. (aside) Then
will I be wide for some one else’s.
DES. Have you carried my orders?
PIO. Yea, master.
DES. Then watch and bring the
Governor to this room.
We have a meeting here which, when ’tis ended,
Will settle this same Daulac.
PIO. But Fanchon, master, when
shall I have her?
DES. I tell you, do my work,
and when ’tis ended
You shall have your Fanchon, and for my part
I wish you well of her.
PIO. (aside) You wish
me well; then I am cursed, indeed!
(to DESJARDINS) But when, O master, when?
DES. Go to the devil!
PIO. I’m gone there now.
(aside) I do his work, but me he never pays,
save in fine promises;
“To-morrow it will be fine, next day ’twill
Doth never help the growth of grass to-day.
This working for the devil is unlucky.
If this goes on I’ll choose another master.
DES. (rings bell; enter
waiter) Wine! [Page 162]
Servant. How much,
DES. Two bottles, quick, of
Servant. Yea, my lord.
DES. So Daulac is governor.
If he knows
She has given her money to the Church,
And that she’s here, then all my schemes are foiled.
He’ll win her in the face of all my plans.
Nay, he’ll die first, if it comes to that.
I’ll kill him—but of that more anon.
I’ll trap him first, this dreamer, in his dreams.
I’ll seethe him in the milk of his own glory,
Or I’m no notary; get him from my path,
She soon will tire of this religious waste,
And back in France, I’ll trust my skill to win
PIOTR, followed by MAISONNEUEVE, the Governor.
Governor. You are the gentleman who sent this
DES. Yea, sir, and at your
service; and, methinks,
One who can give assistance to you now,
And this poor colony. Be seated, sir, and pardon
My sending for you to this common inn,
But matters of state know not of the conventions.
Servant, with wine.
Governor. How can you aid? My very coming here
In answer to this letter you have sent
Shows my extremity. Necessity knows no custom.
If I have read your letter aright, you have
Some business to disclose.
DES. Some wine, my lord?
DES. Well, now to business.
Coming to this point,
I understand this colony is decimated
And slowly wasted by two insidious foes,
Disease and the savages.
Governor. From the
first we are recovering; but
The savages, I fear, will be our doom [Page
Daily we hear the fearful war-whoop sounding,
Nightly my people are butchered in their beds,
Till hope is wasted; and, I fear, ere long
France’s lilies will wither from this coast.
DES. Have you no plan to tide
this terrible fate?
Governor. I see no
way; and now a fearful rumor
Hath reached me that a thousand Iroquois
Do purpose besieging us in this our hold.
And do they enter here and see our weakness,
Then we are lost.
DES. Have you no soldiers?
Governor. A few, such
as they are; but what are they without a leader?
DES. This is my cure. ’Tis
a leader you want.
If you are with me, I do know your man.
Governor. You offer,
sir? You are yourself that man?
DES. Nay, nay, my lord, I’m
not so tired of life.
Like you, mosieur, I am a man of peace;
But love naught better than setting others fighting.
The man you want must be s reckless devil,
Full of the vapors, moon-sick like a lover,
Who yearns for danger as young ducks for water.
Just such a man I know to fill your wants,
Ripe like an apple, ready now to drop
Into your basket do you promise glory.
Governor. Who is this
DES. Do you know of one Daulac?
Governor. Not the
Sieur Daulac, he who owns an island,
A seigneury far up the river shore?
DES. The very man.
Governor. They say
he plays the hermit with one man
And a few Hurons whom he hath befriended.
DES. He is your man. If you
would save your trade,
Your Church, your very Governorship itself,
You’d better use him.
[Exeunt both. [Page 164]
DAULAC and PORNAC. DAULAC sits at a table.
POR. This room is yours to-night, the inn is full.
To-morrow you can have a better one.
DAUL. ’Tis well enough; what more does soldier
A place to eat and sleep and wake and think,
But not to die in.
POR. You have not eaten, master?
DAUL. I want nothing.
[Leans his head on his hand and sighs.
POR. (aside) My poor
master, he groweth daily worse;
Love-sick at heart, this life is killing him.
There is no murdering here, save taking of scalps,
And that the howling, painted pathens do.
Oh, saints betide that ever we came here!
This land of peace will be the death of him.
DAUL. Look here, Pornac, I
saw the priest this even;
This marriage market goeth on to-morrow.
Are you still minded in the same opinion
As to this wiving business? Are you sure
You have got cured of Fanchon?
POR. Fanchon, master! Fanchon
is an angel,
And ever will have first place in my heart,
But she is absent, and upon her place
There sits a fear that we may never meet,
And a more fearful fear that every night
My scalp-lock will be shriven from my head,
So that each morn I find it there in wonder.
Now, for to medicine this same fear of mine,
I have prescribed unto myself a wife.
DAUL. Ha, ha, Pornac, ’tis
a strange protection.
POR. Not if you know it; she
will either keep away savages,
Or fear o’ them by her company; fears, like troubles,
Should hunt in couples, master; or else my fear of her
Will drive out fear of them, so it’s all the same
DAUL. But a woman, Pornac,
a woman is to be protected,
Not a protection.
POR. Not so, master. Barring
their fear of mice, gray hairs
And wrinkles, I often think they out-courage men.
DAUL. Then you are sure of
happiness, Pornac, without Fanchon?
POR. If Fanchon were here I
would love her truly;
But Fanchon absent is another matter.
Nay, nay, I will risk it, ’tis the way of nature.
DAUL. Well, Pornac, have your
will; remember tomorrow,
The Jesuits’ church. Now go, I’d be alone.
My interest in that poor fellow’s affairs
Doth make me for a moment half forget
Mine own poor miseries, but once alone
They all come crowding back a thousandfold
To torture my spirit. O Helène, Helène,
Fair spirit of the past, your memory
Fills all my heart to-night. Glory’s touch
Is dimming fast; this is no soldier’s land.
The men seem ever palsied with a fear
Like Damocles’ sword that hangs above them,
Just waiting to descend. The Indian,
Though cruel in his instincts, I admire;
He is a worthy foe, dreading nor death
Nor torture. Yet meseems the men
I see around me are not dead to honor.
Were they but once aroused, had I the chance,—
’Tis maddening to daily have to hear
Of families butchered, fields despiled, and men
Carried away to fates of horrid death.
(a knocking) Ha, who is that? Come in.
Heaven! ’tis Desjardins!
DES. Yea, Daulac, ’tis
I [Page 166].
DAUL. When did you arrive?
DES. In the last ship.
fear to ask you, Desjardins, but how is Helène?
DES. Oh, she is well.
DAUL. And happy?
DES. As any other mad woman.
DAUL. What mean you?
DES. She talks of giving her
property to the Church.
DAUL. Then I may hope, Desjardins,
I may hope.
DES. (aside) Curse
him, he would hope yet, would he?
(to DAULAC) Nay, Daulac, she is dead to you.
DAUL. Has she entered a cloister?
DES. Daulac, be a man, and
think no more of Helène,
She is dead to you , but think of glory.
DAUL. Of glory?
DES. You know the state of
this poor colony?
DAUL. Yea, indeed, but even
now I chafed
At mine own weakness to better its condition.
DES. Why not act then?
DAUL. Who am I, a single unknown
Had I a commission!—
DES. I bring you that commission,
or rather the man
Who alone can grant it.
DES. The Governor; he awaits
DES. Here in this inn, presiding
o’er a council
Suddenly called to settle this grave matter.
DAUL. God bless you, Desjardins,
ever my true friend, my noble friend.
DES. (going out behind)
Yea, we will see [Page 167].
ACT III. SCENE 2.
SCENE—Interior of a convent. Night. HELÈNE
is discovered kneeling in prayer. Procession of
nuns pass in middle back past entrance, going to prayers.
Music in distance. When nuns have passed, chanting heard
in chapel at back. HELÈNE slowly rises
and advances to centre.
HEL. Heaven protect me, keep my maiden thoughts
In troth to him I love. Oh, guide me, Thou
Who guidest all poor stumbling human feet
To paths of peace.
in meditation, then sinks into a seat.
rushes in, screaming, and falls sobbing at her feet.
FAN. Mademoiselle, mademoiselle, save me! save me!
Nun. Mademoiselle, this girl is disobedient.
’Tis the law of the colony, she must present
Herself within the marriage mart to-morrow;
And, now, do what we can, she doth protest.
HEL. Leave her to me, she is over-wrought.
FAN. O mistress, save me! I
would rather die
Than stand there in that place and be the barter
Of any yokel who may fancy me.
Are women cattle, that they treat us thus?
HEL. Fanchon, compose yourself,
you are distraught.
You overrate the dangers of this course [Page
To shame the woman is not required of you.
There is no reason under Heaven why,
If some good youth should seek your hand to-morrow,
You should not accept him.
FAN. Yea, my lady, well you
know there is one.
My love for—for—
FAN. I cannot help it, mistress;
ask me else,
But this I cannot.
HEL. But you have promised,
Fanchon. By deceit
You won your passage; ’tis against the law,
Your coming save for purposes of marriage.
FAN. How about your own position,
FAN. Forgive me, lady, but
when you speak me thus
You lose your Fanchon. I am but a woman
Who, like the she-wolf battling for her cubs,
Defends her love. Is love but for the mighty?
Believe me, madam, wherever woman is woman
Love is but love; there are no golden barriers;
This world is common when you touch the heart.
My only object was to be with you;
I could not let you travel forth alone.
If I lied, madam, it was because I loved you.
HEL. Then you love Pornac to
FAN. That I will have none
HEL. Then, Fanchon, none shall
have you, trust to me.
Do what I tell you, go with me to-morrow,
And stand this ordeal that unmaids you so,
I’ll stand your side, and, hap no miracle,
Though all the world should clamor nay upon it,
I’ll keep you single.
FAN. Heaven bless you, mademoiselle,
Heaven bless you [Page 169]!
HEL. I have my sorrow, Fanchon,
as you know;
Though in the public eye we’re deemed but barter,
Nun, who stands apart.
slaves of easy circumstance,
Yet to a real woman who hath loved,
And proved that love, no holdy sacrament
Can be more sacred than that worship of hers.
Good night, Fanchon, pray to Heaven in peace.
Believe me true, there’s a divinity
Encloses in a golden mercy those
Who dwell in aspiration. Good night, Fanchon,
And trust in God.
[Kisses her. Exit FANCHON with
How the true, simple love of yon poor maid
Doth touch my spirit to tears and makes us equal!
How that strong throb of womanhood in her
Doth make her great and raise her to a majesty
A sceptred queen might envy! Oh, we women
Have but one nature. Wisdom may outwit us,
Truth slander us, Philosophy prove us shallow,
But first and last and always we have Love.
the Mother Superior. A chant rises in chapel at back.
Mother Superior. My daughter, are you rested?
HEL. Yea, madam, in body, but
not in my heart;
Sought these shores to cure a greivous wound,
But here it bleeds even more.
M.S. My daughter,
trust in Heaven; forget these longings
What make you earth’s and keep your heart from
You have a sorrow, it brought you to these shores,
Forget it in the work He’d have you do.
My heart yearns toward you, you who are alone
Amid these savage wastes where cruel men,
More savage than the savage, wage their wars
For what earth gives them. You are ill protected [Page
Come, be my daughter; at the feet of God
Lay down your ahces, your longings and your fears.
Look how the tender Mother looks upon you,
Sorrowful for your sorrow. Gaze, my child
She calls ou from your sorrow to her peace.
HEL. You half persuade me,
did I think it right,
But I have something here within my heart
That mocks her peace.
M.S. My daughter!
HEL. Nay, ’tis not evil,
but as strong an influence
To keep me from her and this holy life,
For it is love.
M.S. Love, my child,
this life is built of love,
Is moulded on it. In your love for others
You do perfect your own. Hearken to yon sounds
Of Heaven’s praise. Turn your heart to Heaven,
And be my daughter.
HEL. I know not what is best,
your spirit calls me
One way to peace; my heart is torn the other.
O mother, pray for me!
shots are fired outside, a war-whoop rises.
There is a terrible uproar,
and the nuns all crowd forward in terror.
All. The savages!
M.S. Hush, my children,
put your trust in God!
He will protect you. Do not shame our cloister
By these poor terrors. Back unto your prayers!
firing rises louder, and war-whoops shrill and hideous
nuns huddle together and shriek.
is Sister Marie?
A Nun. Out!
She went to see a dying woman.
out in all this? Why did I not know?
We must, we must find her!
is a knocking heard at the door, and a woodman and a
come in, carrying the nun in a
dying condition. [Page 171]
M.S. O my child, my child,
my noble child!
mother, poor Marie, going back to God!
(tries to smile) Moisten my lips, mother, it
Soon be over. They did not get him, though.
It was a little lad, a poor wee lamb,
That she was bringing home, when they attacked her.
She fought for him; we came scarce in time
But to die with her, when the Sieur Daulac
Rescued us all, but not before this saint
Had got her death!
HEL. (aside) Daulac!
Mother! I die. O Christ, receive me!
[Dies. The procession
of nuns forms, headed by the stretcher with the
body, and passes out into chapel
chanting the Miserere.
out there! in all the danger!
M.S. (coming back)
My child, this rude interruption must not break
My pleading with you. Yon poor soul is in Heaven.
Yours is yet unsaved.
[Chanting dies away.
I cannot, cannot, cannot answer now [Page 172].
ACT III. SCENE 3.
PLACE—Interior of a drinking
room in the same inn, Montreal. Several young men and
an old man discovered drinking in somber silence.
an Old Man who sits down at a table and calls for wine,
rapping his stick on the table.
Old Man. A stoup of wine,
good wine, for I can pay for it. My son Jacques is a
good son, none better, so I can pay for it.
[A waiter brings in the wine;
the other old man looks up with a
Well, good neighbor, why don’t you drink, man?
Why so down? Hast the megrums, neighbor?
Man. Who can drink and be merry, with this cursed
state o’ things? Grim murder fills the air. There
is scarce a man of us but hath lost a son or a brother.
Who can drink at such a time?
Tut, tut, man! life is life, an’ let death come
as it will, let it find us merry. Drink, drink, I say!
That’s my Jacques’ creed; live and let live,
nohap who may die. So here, a drink all round.
2nd Old Man.
You will not, hey? Here, come, be merry! Here, let’s
drink a health: let it be my son’s. A jollier
lad and a better son ne’er was begotten. (all
sit silent) Then you will not, cowards? Then I’ll
drink it alone. Here’s to one who is no coward!
[Rises with cup in his hand. Just
then a bell tolls; he sits down suddenly.
Man. There goes another. Where will this end? Twenty
bodies brought in yesterday; sixteen to-day. Where will
this end [Page 173]?
Just so long as you are cowards. Yea, I will drink!
[A man comes in suddenly and,
seeing the old man, starts back, then
to a man near the door; a hurried whisper goes round
room. All gaze in horror at the
1st Old Man.
Man. They are bringing him here; for God’s
sake get the old man out!
Can we not stop them?
’Tis too late now, they are at the door.
Will you not drink, cowards?
[The door opens. Enter four men,
carrying a stretcher, with the face
Old Man. (starts
back) Ha, who is it?
I will drink; men must die. So here is Jacques’
Old Man. Nay, for Heaven’s sake, ay! For
your own son?
Man. My son? My—Jacques? You lie! Jacques,
Jacques? (goes near corpse) Jacques?
Young Man. Nay, old man! nay, old man, I will.
[Pulls off cloth.
Man. Jacques! O my God!
on the body in terrible grief.
DAULAC and the Governor, followed by DESJARDINS.
Another instance of this terrible condition.
DAUL. (going forward) Good father, who is this?
Man. My son, sir, my son! I did but drink his health,
and now they say he’s dead! O God, dead! He who
was so merry, sir, so merry, and so good to this poor,
foolish old father! Jacques, speak, speak! ’tis
your father! O God!
God father, he died a soldier’s death [Page
Man. Jacques a soldier! Nay, sir, Jacques was a
woodman. I was a soldier, but he was brave, sir, Jacques!
Some one take him home.
Man. Nay, nay, I will stay with Jacques.
DAUL. (aside) This
breaks my heart.
(to Old Man) Good father, I did know your son;
he was brave and noble, though scarce more than a boy.
Such a one as I would choose for brother had I choice.
Old Man. nay, sir, you are a great lord, and poor Jacques
but a woodman.
Nay, father, but a soldier like yourself,
And my sole lordship this god, faithful sword.
Could I have saved your son I would have done it,
But he is dead.
Man. O sir, you are a good and noble man. Oh, do
not mock me, say he is not dead.
DAUL. (aside) This
goes beyond the natural; my heart bleads.
(to the crowd of young men) Is there a man
here who will follow me? I swear this must be ended
though I die. Will no man follow me?
young men one by one rise and crowd around him, drawing
up cross of his sword; each man comes in turn and kneels
kissing the symbol.
(aside to DESJARDINS) This man is mad! Sixteen
men to go against eight hundred Iroquois. I’d
have given him a good company had he but waited. If
ever a man courted death this one does. He is mad!
No madder than you or I. But ’tis his bent,
And they his friends that let him follow it.
Perchance this man was born for this. Who knows [Page
See how they crowd around him, and how each
Did volunteer the moment he convinced them.
A natural general this, I warn you, Governor,
Don’t now disown him.
But such an army! Were it not he loks
So noble, in his face such hero valor,
I’d laugh at the whole matter. Such an army!
A tanner, two shoemakers and a clerk;
Three squires fresh from the anvil, and the rest
Woodcutters, idlers, sans the thing they need,
A knowledge of warcraft. If their madness last,
They are all dead men.
What matter a thousand lives if you but save
The colony. If this man be mad,
’Tis not our matter.
’Tis gone beyond me now, but ’tis a pity,
He is so noble it doth seem like murder.
And if it be, what else is any war
But licensed murder? You will hang a man
For but one thousandth part of what a nation
Does in the name of glory.
Well, well, I save my fort; but who are you?
Oh, me? oh, I’m—I’m just a notary.
I will speak; this man is mad.
Nay, nay, not so, not so, ’tis you are mad.
DAULAC) Are you mad, sir? These men are not soldiers.
Monsieur le Gouverneur,
It is not soldiers now New France doth need,
But men [Page 176]!
ACT 1V. SCENE 1.
the Jesuits’ Church, Montreal.
a company of young men, followed by a company of old
men who are
to single life,
longer we are free;
The King says we must marry,
married we must be.
to single life,
longer we are free;
The King says we must marry,
married we must be.
Young Men (in derision) Ha, ha, ha!
Men (sourly) Ha, ha, ha!
Young Man. Heaven help the women.
Old Man. Mere boys, mere boys!
Men. Ha, ha, ha!
We who are young and careless
sup with Mistress Sorrow;
Amid the cares of wedded life
bid gay youth good morrow.
age in sooth
a week to-morrow [Page 177].
Men (in chorus) Mere boys!
men now march past.
Men. We who are young and careless, etc.
Men. Ha, ha, ha!
Old Man. Who ha, ha’s me? I’m of age!
Young Man. Yea, you’ll qualify!
Old Man. Am I not sound? Have I the rickets? The
spavin? The rheumatics? Nay, who says I can’t
Young Man. well done, young Lothario. How old are
Old Man. He is old enough to keep a wife, which
same I much doubt thou art.
Young Man. Who consulted you, sprightly Winter?
Old Man. (in a rage) Winter! Winter! I’ll
winter thee could I get at thee.
Young Man. Worry him not; he hath cut his wisdom
Young Man. Cut his wisdom teeth? They have cut
him long ago and left him in the lurch.
a short man with one arm and a wooden leg.
Man. Is there a widow left, or are they all gone?
I want to get a widow.
Old Man. Widows? Hem! too old, too old!
Man. You believe that extremes should meet, hey?
But is there a widow? I must have a widow.
bell rings. A young girl goes past with a pensive air.
Two more go past
a self-conscious air and a toss of the head. A couple
now go past with a languishing look at the young men.
old maids come next, with a look of scorn for the old
Maids. One leg in the grave, the old wretches [Page
Old Man. You needn’t fear, ladies; your age
bell rings. Exeunt young men and old men, all singing,
etc., etc., the most decrepit brining up the rear. Enter
running, a callow youth.
Youth. Are they all gone? all gone? Jean! Finette!
Marie! Are they all gone? I’ve got the stove and
a wash-tub, and I’ll soon be rich. Oh, they’ll
all be gone, the girls, they’ll be all gone!
PIOTR and PORNAC by different ways, both in a hurry.
They run against each other; both fall.
Ha! ’tis thou, scum!
POR. (rising) Don’t
I’ll teach thee to scum me!
(edging off) Ha, ha!
(disdainfully) I would spare thy terrors, coward.
PIO. (the same) I
scorn to vantage by thy tremblings, craven.
[Exeunt both in a hurry by different ways.
inner curtain, men and women discovered ranged on separate
of the room. A bell rings. Enter an official, who hammers
baton on a table.
Officer. I declare
the market open. [Reads
from a list.
Number one: Jeanne Pierrtte, stand forward.
old maid comes forward. Officer continues reading.
Jeanne Pierrotte, spinster, over forty.
It’s a lie [Page 179]!
But a fair housekeeper, though sharp-tempered.
Old Man. Too old!
Old Men. (in chorus) Too old, too old!
This woman has a good dowry in gold.
Old Man. Ha, ha! she is not so formidable.
Fair one, would you consider my youth and loveliness?
Maid. Dotard, marry a scarecrow? Not me.
Young Man. ’Tis a tidy sum. Sweet angel,
would you consider?
Maid. O sir, spare my blushes.
Young Man. Don’t mention them. (aside)
They’re spare enough. Is it a match?
Maid. I’m yours.
in his arms.
Young Man. (supporting her out) Now for
(reading) Marie Denoit, widow, small dowry,
Fair looking, healthy.
fat widow stands forward.
Old Man. Madam, can we do business?
Widow. Well, I should say not.
Old Man. Madam, I have a friend here who will speak
me better in your eyes.
Widow. What friend?
Old Man. In this bag. (shakes bag, making gold
clink) Hear him speak, madam!
Widow. It doth sound kindly. Is there much?
Old Man. More than much. What is your mind?
Widow. I will consider.
Old Man. Then you are won.
Widow. Have you had experience?
Old Man. Much, madam, I have buried my fifth.
Widow. Then I will be your sixth!
both, Fat Widow, carrying bag. [Page 180]
(rapping with baton) These be all the dowries.
I now declare the marriage market open for general arrangement.
and women pair off in earnest consultation. The short
man with a
leg limps by with a young girl.
Man. I have a cow and a field of corn, and will
soon be rich.
But I would as life marry a deal table.
Man. Consider now, I would make you happy.
With that leg and that arm? Never!
to leave him; he tries to kneel to her, but falls over
and cannot get
An old maid tries to help him, but he waves her off
He escapes and leaves the old maid alone. Just then
callow youth rushes in.
Youth. Are they all gone, all gone? Are the girls
all gone? (starts on seeing the old maid) Yea, I knew
it, I knew it. [Turns to go out.
Maid. Nay, there is one, there is one! Oh, leave
Youth. Oh, thunders, no!
out followed by Old Maid.
PIOTR and PORNAC by different doors. Enter
the Mother Superior,
and FANCHON. PIOTR and PORNAC both
start and fall on
knees before FANCHON.
I cannot marry you both.
Then I will have Pornac.
POR. (squeezing her hand)
PORNAC and FANCHON. [Page 181]
PIO. Well, I am a fool! ’Tis the devil’s
DAULAC and DESJARDINS by different doors.
DAUL. Pornac, Pornac! (sees HELÈNE)
DAUL. This is happiness!
HEL. Daulac, could I tell you
how I have wronged you!
DAUL. And I have wronged myself
by losing you! O Helène, I have loved you!
HEL. Have loved me?
DAUL. And do now, as merciful
Heaven knows, Helène.
[Folds her in his arms.
Mother Superior. Stay,
stay, sir; this maiden is in my charge.
DES. And you, sir, wed to glory!
DAUL. But Heaven says nay,
for love hath conquered both. Helène, my love,
would you marry me had I but one hour to live?
HEL. Daulac, I would rather
die with you than live without you.
DAUL. Then you are mind, and
you shall be my wife.
By Heaven I swear it!
DES. (aside) Fiends
of hell, he shall not! He shall not, for I also swear
it! [Page 182]
ACT IV. SCENE 2.
DESJARDINS with a letter in his hand.
DES. I am still triumphant. Peal out, bells!
Blow, blatant music! I have that about me
Will spill this melody in the middle tune.
HELÈNE, veiled, leaning on DAULAC’S
DAUL. Helène, my wife at last, sweet welcome
HEL. My husband!
DES. (coming forward)
Madam, I would congratulate you.
HEL. Thank-you, Desjardins.
DES. (to DAULAC) And
DAUL. (takes DESJARDINS’
hand, still holding HELÈNE’S)
Thank you, old
friend, this is true happiness:
The woman I love my bride; the life-long friend,
The man I honored, joining in my happiness.
My heart’s too full for utterance.
HEL. Yea, thank you, Desjardins,
this kind hour
Seems too much filled with blessing. I will go
And supplicate Heaven that its joy may last.
DES. (detaining her)
Yea, madam, happiness is all at most
Anticipation. Scarcely do we lift
The cup we dreamed of to our thirsting lips,
Than some cruel fate, with rude, arresting hand,
Doth dash it from us. Madam, you do well
To doubt its reality.
HEL. Sir, you are pale. Daulac,
my husband, I will go and pray.
to a prie-dieu at one side and kneels with her back
to them. [Page 183]
DAUL. Desjardins, by your manner
and your looks,
You bring some desperate business.
DES. (giving him letter)
Forgive my intruding on an hour like this,
This ravaging a bridegroom from his bride,
But the occasion urges. (aside) Now we’ll
How he doth like the issue of his promise.
DAUL. (opens letter and
reads slowly in gradually growing horror and
amazement) Great Heaven!
from the Governor!
DES. Yea, did you not expect
DAUL. (reads) “The
Iroquois are forming in large numbers on the Upper Ottawa.
Your plan to proceed to Long Sault and stop their progress
is now necessary, if to be attempted at all. The young
men await you in the Church of the Jesuits, ready to
take the oath you suggested and proceed at once to the
Long Sault. If you now have any doubts as to the wisdom
of your proceeding, I would advise you to await further
developments, but there is no doubt that the Colony
of New France was never in so great a danger.—Faithfully
yours, Maisonneuve, Governer.”
My God! my God!
DES. Then you repent your proposal?
DAUL. O Desjardins, so soon,
DES. Then you will not go?
DAUL. Can you not feel for
this, mine agony?
The woman I have loved so many years,
To have to leave her at the altar steps
To go to death.
DES. How many have loved as
truly all their lives
Never to get that far, and yet men say
There’s a God in Heaven.
DAUL. O Desjardins, think me
not a craven
If in this hour I’m but a suffering man,
Hounded by fate into so cruel a corner
That seems me man was never cornered so.
Look on her, Desjardins, kneeling like a spirit [Page
New shrived for Heaven, praying that Heaven to keep
In hallowed bonds her golden happiness,
Breathing on innocent lips, whose every breath
Is but an incense of divinity,
Over and over the hallowed name of wife.
And all the while you stand like some grim fate
Urging on me to kill those very prayers
And, playing the robber, wreck that happiness.
DES. Be careful, or she will
DAUL. Hear? She cannot hear
us. So hallowed is this love
In woman’s innocence on her wedding night,
That, believe me, Desjardins, she is deaf to earth;
She is so far away, her heart’s in heaven.
DES. Yea, ’tis a veritable
To spoil so rare a picture, but meanwhile
The Governor waits. You are a soldier, sir.
There are two roads, they will not go together:
Glory or love, which will you choose to-night?
The occasion waits.
DAUL. Then it shall wait no
longer, I have chosen!
DES. Ha! now which? Have I
studied this man
Full half a lifetime to discover now
Some unseen flaw in all that open nature
That yet may defeat my hopings? Oh, this minute,
It seems the longest I have ever lived.
Speak, Daulac, speak and break my heart or lift me up
DAUL. Desjardins, have you
loved me all these years
And not yet know me? Have we been such friends
That even a doubt in this supremest hour
Should pain you with a single shuddering fear
Lest I should wreck on such a shoal as this?
O Desjardins, Desjardins!
DES. Then you choose glory?
DAUL. Nay, I choose love.
DES. Oh, I am mated by this
This poor stuffed idol, even my suspicions [Page
Mine evil instincts that would dare impugn
The very angels of heaven, did not dream
This froth of honor would blwo on the wind,
This fountain of glory fall at the first spout!
O human wisdom, poor, weak, servile wit,
Not I discard you. I will go a fool!
I am checkmated (aside) by the very weakness
I thought to play on.
DAUL. Desjardins, Desjardins,
you have read me wrong!
DES. Would to mischief I could
read you right!
DAUL. Upon this night, this
holiest night on earth
To me that fate e’er brings to erring man,
Would you say “Glory”? what is glory, I
To him who loves? If you would have my answer,
(pointing to HELÈNE) There is my glory.
All of earth’s wide dreams,
all majesties, all vistas of my youth,
are concentrated on her rose-red lips
when she speaks that word “husband”!
The bitter struggle in my heart to-night
Is ’twixt love and love, the human love
That which doth bid me stay, the higher love
That would not let me make her soul a bait
To trap mine honor. The higher love doth conquer.
I have chosen. Give me but a moment
To bid farewell.
DES. (aside) Then
I have conquered!
He goes to her and raises her.
Helène, my love, I must leave you now.
HEL. When? now? But you will
come to me soon?
DAUL. Yea, my love, forgive
this parting now.
HEL. Before you go, let me
say that one word,
It is so sweet, you know, to woman’s heart,
DAUL. My wife, my wife! (kissing
[Exit. [Page 186]
DES. I grieve to part you from
so new a husband.
HEL. (as if waking from
a dream) Did you speak?
she sees the letter which DAULAC has dropped.
That letter! what means it?
to pick it up, but DESJARDINS intercepts her.
Sir, give me that letter.
DES. I cannot, madam.
HEL. Was it not to my husband?
DES. It was, madam.
HEL. Then I must see it. Am
I not his wife?
DES. He would not have you
HEL. Sir, you insult me with
your reasons. They must be
Cruel ones would keep the knowledge of
Her husband’s absence from his new-wed wife.
Sir, I demand it, I must have that letter.
DES. Madam, did it never strike
That in your husband’s love you had a rival?
DES. Nay, madam, you mistake;
’tis no woman.
HEL. (stamping with her
foot) What mean you,
You insult me with enigma.
DES. I mean that Daulac, who
loves you so well,
Loves glory more.
HEL. Glory? What mean you?
I scarce understand.
DES. If you will come with
me and trust my word,
I will show whereof I mean.
HEL. Go with you, sire? Nay,
I will not leave here
Till my husband comes.
DES. Then you will have it,
madam! [Gives her the letter.
Read your letter.
HEL. (reads the letter)
O cruel Heaven! Daulac! Daulac!
[Falls fainting to the
DES. O God, I have killed her!
I who love her so [Page 187]!
Helène! Helène! She moves not. Dare I
Just one light kiss, I will but touch the dews
Or her sweet lips! Nay, nay, I dare not now.
He! he! Love her! He knows not of love!
Ha, she revives! Helène!
HEL. Sir, did you speak? Where
am I? Daulac! Oh!
(rises) Now I remember. Have I fainted? Nay,
you need not help me; I will go with you.
DES. Are you recovered?
HEL. I am a soldier’s
daughter. It was a weakness,
A foolish weakness that doth shame us women.
Give me that letter. Thank you. We will go.
DES. Are you prepared?
HEL. Have I not said it?
to the door. Exeunt both.
ACT IV. SCENE 3.
PLACE—A gallery or alcove of the Jesuits’
church. The interior of the church is seen in the background.
TIME—The same night.
priests and acolytes. Music and changing is heard in
the distance. Enter
DAULAC and the seventeen young men. They all kneel.
comes forward. Enter
DESJARDINS AND HELÈNE in the shadow
foreground. HELÈNE sees DAULAC
HEL. (starts) My husband!
DES. Yea, madam, see his face;
his features rapt
On deeds of glory, battle’s rugged perils [Page
Have lost the lover-look that gazed in thine
But these short moments since. Gaze thou and see
How far away is Daulac’s heart from love.
So far is he, that yon sweet hour ago,
Yon lover-kiss still trembling on thy lips,
To him were never given.
HEL. Nay, cruel man, see, even
now he prays.
My name upon his lips looks up to God.
Let me go to him!
DES. ’Twere sacrilege,
the grossest sacrilege!
You would not stay him. Did he love you true,
He’d die before he’d ever use you thus.
HEL. He loves me yet! O God!
he loves me yet!
DES. And yet upon his very
Yea, from the shadow of the altar itself,
He’d go to this.
HEL. I’ll not believe,
though all the fiends of hell
Do jabber it in mine ears but Daulac loves me.
Priest in the distance administers the oath to
Priest. My son, your heart is consecrate to god.
Sacred to this purpose, alienate,
By this dread oath from all that dwells in life,
From father, mother, brother, sister, wife.
HEL. (starts forward with
a cry) Daulac, O Daulac!
DES. (pulling her back)
Nay, madam, are you mad?
HEL. I tell you, let me go!
He is my husband!
sinks once more in prayer. The Priest administers
the oath to
the others in turn. Then
the priests, soldiers all file out of the church.
HEL. O God! O God!
DES. Are you satisfied?
HEL. He loves me still! I cannot
You are some wizard, some horrible conjurer,
Who with an evil dream doth visit mine eyes [Page
I’ll not believe upon my wedding night
That I’m forsaken. God would not permit.
DES. By all that’s holy,
all that’s pure and true,
That Daulac to whom a little hour ago
You promised wifehood is dead to earth and you.
Think not of him, O Helène; in this hour,
Hour of my triumph, turn your eyes on me,
I who have loved you, not as yonder shadow,
But as a man, a soul of flesh and blood,
Whose very fancies tingle at your name.
Who all these years has plotted, waited, schemed
To get you; would go to nether hell
And suffer all the agonies of the damned
To catch one little smile of kind regard,
One token of your love.
HEL. Daulac! Heaven! I am going
DES. Nay, nay, repulse me not. O sweetest of women,
Give me but one small crumb of all you’ve wasted
On that cold statue. I will make you happy.
We will go back to France. Nay, say it not!
Don’t curse me, Helène!
HEL. Back, insulter! Leave
me, monster! Go!
DES. Yea, name me monster,
name me what you will.
Am I that monster? Why? Because I love
You womanly, sweet perfections, your true self.
Nay, rather, he who having gained such a prize,
And envied of earth and heaven, should so prove
Trebly a monster as to cast it off.
O Helène, Helène! Had it been my fate
Like yonder Daulac, to have won your heart,
Not all glory, all the honor prized,
Had come between us.
HEL. Man, or rather devil,
let me pass!
DES. Madam, be I devil, or
what you like,
I am not lightly scorned. Beware my hate.
Your noble Daulac is no longer yours
This very night, devoted to New France [Page
The victim of his folly and my wiles,
He goes to death.
HEL. O Heaven, Heaven, save
[Falls in dead faint.
DES. So let her lie. Yon lovely
drift of snow
That froze my hopes. Why did fate make it so,
That she, all Spring to Daulac, to me all Winter.
O angel perfections, hair and curved mouth,
Sweet eyes all hidden, splendid pulsing breast,
Be fate but kindly, I will melt you yet.
Meantime I take this memory of your splendors.
her wedding ring from off her finger.
Now I must go. I’ll haunt him till I know
That he is dead. I’ll brave the painted storm
To see him ended, he whom I do hate.
HEL. (rises) Madam, where am I? Yea, now I
It all comes back. Oh, tell me, tell me true,
Is this a dream, a hideous midnight dream?
Or is he dead to me?
M.S. Yea, my child,
Daulac is dead to thee.
HEL. Dead? dead? to me? Then
tell me, holy mother,
What god would have me do.
M.S. Submit to Heaven,
HEL. Nay, he’s my husband
still. I’ll go to him.
to his arms.
DAUL. (kissing her brow)
Then you know all?
HEL. Yea, all.
DAUL. My poor, poor love!
This life is not all harvest, some must lose
Where others garner. Had I stayed with you,
The agonies of butchered women and children [Page
At night and morn had ever come between
Our holiest love. God asks this sacrifice,
That, loving you, my bride, my sweet Helène,
I go to death.
HEL. Yea, Daulac, it is fated,
but once more
Take me into your arms and kiss my lips,
And call me wife.
DAUL. O my love, my wife!
HEL. My husband, farewell!
DAUL. We will meet in heaven!
HEL. Soon. (exit DAULAC)
O Daulac, Daulac!
FAN. O my mistress!
HEL. O Fanchon!
Did ever heaven ask so much of woman?
And, o my Fanchon, that horrible Desjardins,
He—he—made love to me!
FAN. Oh, I have know him long;
he is a devil
HEL. I kept this fact from
Daulac; I would never
In this dread hour prevent him in his duty,
But I’ve a duty I do owe to him.
FAN. Yea, madam, to retire
and pray for him.
HEL. Nay, he shall have my
prayers, yea, even now
With every breath goes up a call to Heaven.
But I’m a soldier’s daughter: where he dies,
I am his wife, I’m going to die with him [Page
ACT V. SCENE I.
PLACE—The Long Sault, a sheltered spot near
HELÈNE and FANCHON.
FAN. O madam, stay not in this terrible place.
Death creeps about us, looks us in the face.
Oh, stay not, this is death.
HEL. Yea, all life, too; back,
back, the way you came,
Or this same death you prate of in his net
Will mesh another victim!
FAN. O noble lady, what is
this poor longing,
This love of life and heat and moving sound,
That makes us cowards to the crowding dark?
I sorrow to leave you, yet I dread to die.
HEL. Quick! Haste, or ’tis
too late. Fear not for me!
Quick! Kiss me, Fanchon; now good-bye, good-bye!
FAN. Forgive me, madam, that
I love to live.
HEL. Go! Go! May you be happy,
happy as I.
FAN. O madam!
[HELÈNE pushes her out; she goes out sobbing.
Oh, now I’ve reached my zenith as a plotter;
Could I but make a noise I’d like to sing,
Or lilt and dance around, like any child.
’Tis strange, with death about me like a wall,
there creeps across me this fantastic mood;
but I could laugh and sing and cry by turns,
For I am his, he cannot send me back.
Yea, I will die first. O you foolish world [Page
Little you know what woman will do for man;
’Tis said by shallow-pate philosophers
That there be nothing equals woman’s wit,
That renders woman so unconquerable.
’Tis something ’twixt her two breasts panted
Pulsating her whole being, called the heart,
And be she guided thus, what menaces
The dreams of subtlest intellect crumbles down
To airy nothings at her constant will.
O stars! That rise and know me true to him,
Ere you do set, will see us die together!
heard. She gazes swiftly about her and glides into a
An Indian war-cry is heard in the distance.
DAULAC with cloak and sword.
DAUL. Another dawn will usher our souls to Heaven.
DESJARDINS disguised as a Huron Chief.
DES. Ha, ha, ha!
DAUL. Avaunt, Fiend!
DES. (advancing into the
light and opening his blanket)
you me not?
DAUL. ’Tis you Desjardins?
Methought you were the Huron
In paint and feathers hidden from my ken,
But now you laughed as harshly as the fiend
When he mocks mortals ushered into hell.
DES. ’Tis well said,
ha, ha, ha!
DAUL. What mean you? Why this
coming in a mask,
When you, by joining in our open act,
Had shared our glory? I had not dreamed you martial,
But rather subtle, wise and full of cares,
A friend to moor to in the deeps of life;
But now I greet you sudden built about
With unsuspected virtues. Welcome, friend,
A soldier hand I give you in this breach [Page
Where ere another sunrise we will sleep
To save our loved New France.
DES. Nay, nay, not yet until
you know the truth!
DAUL. The truth?
DES. I am no soldier full of
oaths and follies,—
Glory I crave not, knowing its poor lease;
Country I own not save where I may thrive.
I’m not so drunk with patriotic dreams
To snuff my candle in such breach as this.
Nay, Daulac, you are wrong; on other matters,
’Twixt me and thee, I come to thee to-night.
DAUL. What mean you, Desjardins?
why this sinister mask?
DES. Are you a dauntless spirit?
DAUL. Whatever Daulac’s
faults, and he hath many,
No mortal ever turned him where he faced!
DES. Then know the truth: this
is the true Desjardins;
The other was the mask.
DAUL. The mask?
DES. Yea, the mask. Thou need’st
all thy bravery,
Whereof in pride thou boastest thyself possessed.
’Tis easy dreaming; full many hearts are brave
When glory and achievement lie ahead,
Like splendid hills, topped by more splendid sunset,
Making a crown of memory o’er their deeds,
Where immortality lights them to their rest.
But when in starless midnight, all unwitnessed,
The sharp encounter runs, with shaking shame,
And hideous Obloquy and dead men’s bones,
Then who is brave, who glory-hearted then,
When cruel death camps round the ebbing hours,
Bidding to silence?
Ha, ha, with thee it is another matter,
Yea, ’tis a sterner road to travel then.
DAUL. I know not if thou art
mine olden friend,
Who counseled me oft upon my youthful follies,
Or whether thou art some fiend, in my last hours [Page
Sent hither in shape of him to shake my spirit;
But man or devil, I do say to thee,
Thou canst not daunt me.
DES. Wait, wait, speak not
so fast, my noble soldier;
Desjardins’ vengeance hath not burned in vain.
Wait, wait, thou gilded idol, blinded fook,
Till thou hast met the master of thy fate,
Then thou wilt tremble!
DAUL. Desjardins, chance before
the dawn I die,
But tell me that dread sin I sinned against you,
That makes you such a devil in this hour?
DES. Ha, ha! ’twill take
some time, but could I spread
This hour of agony over many years,
For bitter ages, I would die anew,
To see you suffer as you will to-night.
You think you are a hero, you who are
A poor tricked creature, taken in my cunning.
You ask how you have sinned. In your whole being!
You crossed my nature since your earliest years.
All that you had I lacked, I speak it plain,
And hated you with an instinctive hate.
You little knew the hell that walked your side,
The enemy that crept into your life,
That probed your very weakness, searched your follies,
Studied the deep recesses of your nature,
To take you in this final trap at last.
Had I not reason? What you had I envied,
The form, the spirit, the charm that dazzles men
And leadeth women as the magnetic needle
Is drawn to either pole. Had I not reason?
You had what my soul lacked!
DAUL. Great God! Great God!
Can such a nature be?
DES. Great God? What hat a
God to do with thee?
You cheat your spirit with a vain conceit
That Deity hath guided all these years
Your being to this one great act of glory,
This splendid deed of high heroic valor,
Wherein through death you hand your memory down [Page
Immortal and resplendent to all days.
But know the truth: ’twas I, not He, who guided
Your poor fool-nature, blinded, to this pass,
Where men will laugh to scorn the self-built hero,
Taken at odds in his won childish dreams,
Aping in play the demi-gods of Greece,
Uselessly ending, in fountain spout of glory,
A self-marred life he did not dare to live.
DAUL. There is a something
in your very voice
That freezes my being. Now thousand thirsting tongues
Of angry, eager steel poised at my heart
To drink its fountains had power to wake the dread
My spirit feels to know that all these years
Your soul has been so near me. Of a truth,
We live next door to beings all our days,
Quaff social beakers at the self-same inn,
Tread the same streets with similar joys and cares,
Share the same roof, yea, even board and bed,
From eager youth to pining, palsied age,
To part as strangers at the very end.
Yea, sooth, it is indeed a wondrous world.
But to be shown long after many years,
The path you treaded nightly cunningly hid
A precipice to gulf you at the end,
Is not a thousandth part so dire and dread
As this unmasking of a hidden hate.
God knows I am a poor slow-minded man,
Following one impulse all my days:
If I have had the folly to dream of fame
Beyond my merit, Heaven hath rebuked me daily.
I know not of your subtle sophistries
That seek below the surface to confound
The simple-minded, who have only duty
To light them on to what is best in living;
I may not ken your wisdom, mayhap I am
O’er-blinded by my passions to achieve,
Treading the path of those who went before;
But I know this—that in my poorer insight
The simple following of those noble voices [Page
Who point in lofty dreams to aid our fellows,
Is greater far than all the deep intrigue
Builded of all the sophistries of hell.
I am a simple soldier without wisdom,
Save that which serves for valor; without knowledge,
Save what a man should know; but I am certain
What I have done is right in eye of God,
And my best instincts: —though I die to-night,
This sleeping world, this mighty-brooding mystery,
That dreams in awe of its own majesty;
Those wondrous rolling orbs that light each other
Along the endless ways of outer space;
All tell me I am right and whisper comfort.
DES. Ha, ha! this demi-god,
he is above me,
Out of my reach, my envy cannot touch him.
Wait, wait, till I do tumble his soul to earth!
(to DAULAC) Wait, wait, my Daulac, how about
DAUL. She is an angel, far
beyond your hate,
Or my poor love.
DES. Beyond your love, perchance,
but not my hate.
Have you never in your innocence dreamed
The one supremest reason why I hate you
Is that I love Helène?
DES. And why not? May the moth
not love the star?
The bat bathe in the moonlight with the eagle?
Yea, I have loved her, secret, all these years.
’Twas I who separated you in France,
Drove you out here, trapped you into this corner;
And now I tell you, petted fool of Heaven,
I am your master, I will wed her yet.
DAUL. O God in heaven, tell
me is it true
That yonder devil is not flesh and blood,
But some grim phantom?
DES. Yea, more; to teach you what a patch your honor,
When ’tis too late to mend it; would you know
She’s not all yours [Page 198]!
DAUL. Devil, your life shall
answer, pollute not
That angel memory by such hellish slander.
Though I be sworn to Heaven a million times,
I am yet a man!
DES. Ha, ha, ha, ha! I fear
You are too great a soul to trample a gnat
That stings like me; know you your marriage ring?
[Holds the ring up.
DAUL. Great God! It is! It
is her wedding ring!
What mist is this that creeps before my spirit?
Nay! Nay! I am forsworn! By earth and Heaven,
She is as pure as that same Heaven itself, —
And you a liar!
DES. (starting back)
I am a liar, aye. Ha, ha; ha, ha!
What proof have you that I am what you say?
Yea, die in doubt. Here is your wedding ring.
You trusted Heaven! Where is your wife to say
I am a liar?
[HELÈNE comes out and confronts him.
HEL. That Heaven you slander
takes you at your word,
And I am here.
DES. Great God! Curses! Curses!
I am beaten,
Yea, beaten, beaten, at the very last, and by the woman!
HEL. (rushing into his
arms) Yea, Daulac, Helène, come to die with
DAUL. My love! My angel love!
[A gun is fired. HELÈNE
HEL. Daulac, I die! I die!
DAUL. (supporting her to
a heap of fir) O God! she is shot!
HEL. Kiss me, my love, I could
not live without you.
DAUL. O Helène! Tell
me that you do not suffer.
HEL. Nay, Daulac, I die happy
in your arms. [Dies.
DAUL. (laying her gently
down) Dead! Oh, dead!
O universe of love so soon extinguished!
(turning to DESJARDINS and drawing his
sword) Now, Devil, to settle with you.
DES. Yea, yea; this is the
work I’d fain be at.
(draws) Now, vengeance, vengeance, match with
DAUL. Desjardins, though it
be my latest hour on earth,
I could not die till I had finished you!
fight long and hard. DESJARDINS wounds
DES. Ha, ha! mine, mine!
DAUL. No, by the stars of heaven,
no! Take that—aye, that!
DESJARDINS through. DESJARDINS falls and
lies on ground,
gasping. He tries to get up, then crawls
toward HELÈNE’S body.
DES. Yea, mine! Yea, mine!
in death! in death!
DAUL. Back, back!
DES. Curse you! curse you!
loud war-whoop rises, and Indians with raised hatchets
rush in from all
DAULAC lifts HELÈNE’S body
and, placing his foot against
DESJARDINS’ body, turns, takes sword
in hand and confronts
them. They all
start back in tableau.
DAUL. O loved New France, my
own beloved New France,
I die, I die for thee!