Page images

“Of what are you thinking, mademoiselle?” he asked.

“Of the song of the voyageur, which I heard on yester-morn, the last refrain of which is, 'L'amour me réveille.""

The governor, laughing, said:

“ Has love never awakened in you, mademoiselle?”

"No, governor.”

“Then, by the mass ! you will not long remain unloved in Quebec, where there are so many gallant officers and noble men of old France.”

After breakfast, the governor said he would have the day to spend with his friends and proposed to show them about Quebec. In the course of their wandering over the city, they came upon the place where a chain gang of criminals were cutting away the hard stone to build into the walls of a fort. There were forty-three in the gang, and all were fastened together by a chain. Never had Adele gazed upon more miserable specimens of humanity. As one man, they raised their great, heavy picks and struck the solid wall of rock. Their features were hardened with suffering and crime, until there was something low, sensual and barbarous in the expression of their faces. Not one of the forty-three deigned to look up for a single moment, or ceased delivering their blows on the ponderous rock. Stationed at convenient places to guard them, were soldiers with muskets and bayonets.

The young maid gazed pityingly on the men for a few moments and then, fixing her eyes on the governor, asked:

“Who are these men?”
“Galley slaves,” he answered.
“Men who have lost their immortal souls?”

“By my patron saint! I hope not,” the governor answered; “yet few of them will have absolution from the chaplain. Many are vile Protestants, who deny the power of the holy father to forgive sins.”

She paid little heed to what the governor was saying, for her gaze was fixed on one of the convicts. He was a young man, with a face, fresh and fair, and a frank, manly, open countenance, which seemed a stranger to outlawry. Once or twice, in raising his heavy pick, his face was turned so that his eyes met hers. Those blue eyes were clear and bright, and, despite his felon's garb, there was something interesting and familiar in his face. Where had she seen it before? Closing her eyes to outward objects, her memory recalled a bright dream of the night, before, in which this face had appeared to her in a most extraordinary light, bright as the sun, while on her sleeping senses floated the soft refrain:

L'amour me réveille.
Turning to the governor, she asked:
“Who is he?”
“A convict,” was the answer.
“But what is his name?
Laughing, the governor answered:

“ They have no names. Each man is given a number, which is fastened on his cap and breast.”

She glanced at the one who had so moved her and saw on his cap number thirty-nine.

“Did they never have names?” she asked.

“Yes, Mademoiselle; before they forfeited them, they did. Now, each is given his number, and so long have some gone by their numbers, that they have forgotten their names.”

“Governor, why are they so cruelly treated ?”

“They are transgressors of the law, Mademoiselle."

“ Are all guilty? Are you sure all are guilty ?”

“Quite so. Some have violated the civil law, and some the military law; but most are Englishmen and Protestants.”

Adele was not so bigoted as to believe Protestantism a sufficient crime for such punishment. She once more turned her eyes to No. 39. He was raising his heavy pick slowly, and, turning half way round, his eyes met hers.

“I wonder if he is a Protestant?” she thought.

At this moment, her father called to her to come on, and she discovered that her party had started away, leaving her alone.

“I will see him. I will talk with him, and learn something of him," was the mental determination of Adele. That day noon, while she and her father were alone, she said:

“ Father, you never deny me anything."

“No, my child; not if what you wish is proper. What do you want?

“I want a thousand francs.."
“A thousand francs, my child !”

“ Father, it is right and proper that I should have the sum.”

“ Why?"
“ To bestow on charity.”
" It is quite a large sum, my child.”
“Yet I want it.”

Monsieur De Vere was one of the few wealthy men in the New World. He idolized his child, and had she asked for a much larger sum he would have given it her. She said no more for a day or two, but took a great interest in watching the workmen strengthening the forts. There were galley slaves, laborers, gentlemen and even women laboring on the forts.

“Father, I want to talk with him,” she said one


“ With whom, Adele?”. “Number 39.” “ The convict?” “Yes, father.” “ Adele, are you mad ?” “No.” .“ Do you know what you ask?" “I do."

“Why do you wish to talk with this galley slave?

She answered his question by asking another.

“ Father, are people ever permitted to talk with galley slaves ?”

“ Yes."
“You can get this permission for me?”

“I cannot !” the puzzled and even angry father stoutly declared.

“You can. You have only to make the request of the governor, and it will be granted.”

Monsieur De. Vere was inclined to treat the request of his daughter as a wild whim; but she became earnest in her demand, and he finally laid the matter before the governor.

The governor did not think there could be any harm in gratifying the childish whim of the mademoiselle. He caused inquiry to be made of the keeper of 39 and learned that he was a very

« PreviousContinue »