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    Chapter 26

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    Chapter 27
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    DICK'S JUDGMENT.

    Two days later Amherst landed his troops at La Chine, marched them unopposed to Montreal, and encamped before the city on its western side. Within the walls M. de Vaudreuil called a council of war.

    Resistance was madness. From east, south, west, the French commanders--Bourlamaque, Bougainville, Roquemaure, Dumas, La Corne-- had all fallen back, deserted by their militias. The provincial army had melted down to two hundred men; the troops of the line numbered scarce above two thousand. The city, crowded with non-combatant refugees, held a bare fortnight's provisions. Its walls, built for defence against Indians, could not stand against the guns which Amherst was already dragging up from the river; its streets of wooden houses awaited only the first shell to set them ablaze.

    On the eastern side Murray was moving closer, to encamp for the siege. To the south the tents of Haviland's army dotted the river shore. Seventeen thousand British and British-Colonials ringed about all that remained of New France, ready to end her by stroke of sword if Vaudreuil would not by stroke of pen.

    Next morning Bougainville sought Amherst's tent and presented a bulky paper containing fifty-five articles of capitulation. Amherst read them through, and came to the demand that the troops should march out with arms, cannon, flags, and all the honours of war. "Inform the Governor," he answered, "that the whole garrison of Montreal, and all other French troops in Canada, must lay down their arms, and undertake not to serve again in this war." Bougainville bore his message, and returned in a little while to remonstrate; but in vain. Then Levis tried his hand, sending his quartermaster-general to plead against terms so humiliating--"terms," he wrote, "to which it will not be possible for us to subscribe." Amherst replied curtly that the terms were harsh, and he had made them so intentionally; they marked his sense of the conduct of the French throughout the war in exciting their Indian allies to atrocity and murder.

    So Fort William Henry was avenged at length, in the humiliation of gallant men; and human vengeance proved itself, perhaps, neither more nor less clumsy than usual.

    Vaudreuil tried to exact that the English should, on their side, pack off their Indians. He represented that the townsfolk of Montreal stood in terror of being massacred. Again Amherst refused. "No Frenchman," said he, "surrendering under treaty has ever suffered outrage from the Indians of our army." This was on the 7th of September.

    Early on the 8th Vaudreuil yielded and signed the capitulation. Levis, in the name of the army, protested bitterly. "If the Marquis de Vaudreuil, through political motives, believes himself obliged to surrender the colony at once, we beg his leave to withdraw with the troops of the line to Isle Sainte-Helene, to maintain there, on our own behalf, the honour of the King's arms." To this, of course, the Governor could not listen. Before the hour of surrender the French regiments burnt their flags.

    On the southern shore of the St. Lawrence, in the deepest recess of a small curving bay, the afternoon sun fell through a screen of bulrushes upon a birch canoe and a naked man seated in the shallows beside it. In one hand he held out, level with his head, a lock of hair, dark and long and matted, while the other sheared at it with a razor. The razor flashed as he turned it this way and that against the sun. On his shoulders and raised upper arm a few water-drops glistened, for he had been swimming.

    The severed locks fell into the stream that rippled beside him through the bulrush stems. Some found a channel at once and were swept out of sight, others were caught against the stems and trailed out upon the current like queer water-flags. He laid the razor back in the canoe and, rising cautiously, looked about for a patch of clear, untroubled water to serve him for a mirror; but small eddies and cross-currents dimpled the surface everywhere, and his search was not a success. Next he fetched forth from the canoe an earthenware pan with lye and charcoal, mixed a paste, and began to lather his head briskly.

    Twice he paused in his lathering. Before his shelter rolled the great river, almost two miles broad; and clear across that distance, from Montreal, came the sound of drums beating, bells ringing, men shouting and cheering. In the Place d'Armes, over yonder, Amherst was parading his troops to receive the formal surrender of the Marquis de Vaudreuil. Murray and Haviland were there, leading their brigades, with Gage and Fraser and Burton; Carleton and Haldfmand and Howe--Howe of the Heights of Abraham, brother of him who fell in the woods under Ticonderoga; the great Johnson of the Mohawk Valley, whom the Iroquois obeyed; Rogers of the backwoods and his brothers, bravest of the brave; Schuyler and Lyman: and over against them, drinking the bitterest cup of their lives, Levis and Bourlamaque and Bougainville, Dumas, Pouchot, and de la Corne--victors and vanquished, all the surviving heroes of the five years' struggle face to face in the city square.

    Hi motus animorum atque haec certamina tanta--the half of North America was changing hands at this moment, and how a bare two miles' distance diminished it all! What child's play it made of the rattling drums! From his shelter John a Cleeve could see almost the whole of the city's river front--all of it, indeed, but a furlong or two at its western end; and the clean atmosphere showed up even the loopholes pierced in the outer walls of the great Seminary. Above the old-fashioned square bastions of the citadel a white flag floated; and that this flag bore a red cross instead of the golden lilies it had borne yesterday was the one and only sign, not easily discerned, of a reversal in the fates of two nations. The steeples and turrets of Montreal, the old windmill, the belfry and high-pitched roof of Notre Dame de Bonsecours, the massed buildings of the Seminary and the Hotel Dieu, the spire of the Jesuits, rose against the green shaggy slopes of the mountain, and over the mountain the sky paled tranquilly toward evening. Sky, mountain, forests, mirrored belfry and broad rolling river--a permanent peace seemed to rest on them all.

    Half a mile down-stream, where Haviland's camp began, the men of the nearest picket were playing chuck-farthing. Duty deprived them of the spectacle in the Place d'Armes, and thus, as soldiers, they solaced themselves. Through the bulrush stems John heard their voices and laughter.

    A canoe came drifting down the river, across the opening of the little creek. A man sat in it with his paddle laid across his knees; and as the stream bore him past, his eyes scanned the water inshore. John recognised Bateese at once; but Bateese, after a glance, went by unheeding. It was no living man he sought.

    John finished his lathering at leisure, waded out beyond the rushes and cast himself forward into deep water. He swam a few strokes, ducked his head, dived, and swam on again; turned on his back and floated, staring up into the sky; breasted the strong current and swam against it, fighting it in sheer lightness of heart. Boyhood came back to him with his cleansing, and a boyish memory--of an hour between sunset and moonrise; of a Devonshire lane, where the harvest wagons had left wisps of hay dangling from the honeysuckles; of a triangular patch of turf at the end of the lane, and a whitewashed Meeting-House with windows open, and through the windows a hymn pouring forth upon the Sabbath twilight--

    "Time, like an ever-rolling stream, Bears all his sons away . . ."

    An ever-rolling stream! It would bear him down, and the generals yonder, victors and vanquished, drums and trumpets, hopes and triumphs and despair--overwhelming, making equal the greater with the less. But meanwhile, how good to be alive and a man, to swim and breast it! So this river, if he fought it, would out-tire him, sweep him away and roll on unheeding, majestic, careless of life and of time. But for this moment he commanded it. Let his new life bring what it might, this hour the river should be his servant, should prepare and wash him clean, body and soul. He lifted his head, shaking the water from his eyes, and the very volume of the lustral flood contented him. He felt the strong current pressing against his arms, and longed to embrace it all. And again, tickled by the absurdity of his fancies, he lay on his back and laughed up at the sky.

    He swam to shore, flung himself down, and panted. Across the river, by the landing-stage beneath the citadel, a band was playing down Haviland's brigade to its boats; and one of the boats was bringing a man whom John had great need to meet. When the sun had dried and warmed him, he dressed at leisure, putting on a suit complete, with striped shirt, socks, and cowhide boots purchased from a waterside trader across the river and paid for with the last of his moneys earned in the wilderness. The boots, though a world too wide, cramped him painfully; and he walked up and down the bank for a minute or two, to get accustomed to them, before strolling down to meet the challenge of the pickets.

    They were men of the 17th, and John inquired for their adjutant. They pointed to the returning boats. The corporal in charge of the picket, taking note of his clothes, asked if he belonged to Loring's bateau-men, and John answered that he had come down with them through the falls.

    "A nice mess you made of it up yonder," was the corporal's comment. "Two days we were on fatigue duty picking up the bodies you sent down to us, and burying them. Only just now a fellow came along in a canoe--a half-witted kind of Canadian. Said he was searching for his brother."

    "Yes," said John, "I saw him go by. I know the man."

    "Hell of a lot of brother he's likely to find. We've tidied up the whole length of the camp front. But there's corpses yet, a mile or two below, they say. I sent him down to take his pick."

    He put a question or two about the catastrophe. "Scandalous sort of bungle," he pronounced it, being alike ignorant of the strength of the rapids, and fain, as an honest soldier of Haviland's army, to take a discrediting view of anything done by Amherst's. He waxed very scornful indeed.

    "Now we was allowing you didn't find the stream fast enough, by the way you kept us cooling our heels here." Perceiving that John was indisposed to quarrel, he went wearily back to his chuck-farthing.

    John sat down and waited, scanning the boats as they drew to shore. Dick, whom he had left an ensign, was now adjutant of the 17th. This meant, of course, that he had done creditably and made himself felt. It meant certain promotion, too; Dick being the very man, as adjutant, to lick a regiment into shape. John could not help pondering a little, by contrast, on his own career, but without any tinge of jealousy or envy. Dick owed nothing to luck; would honestly earn or justify any favour that Fortune might grant.

    The young adjutant, stepping ashore, swung round on his heel to call an order to the crowding boats. His voice, albeit John thrilled to the sound of it, was not the voice he remembered. It had hardened somehow. And his face, when John caught sight of it in profile, was not the face of a man on the sunny side of favour. It was manlier, more resolute perhaps than of old, but it had put on reserve and showed even some discontent in the set of the chin--a handsome face yet, and youthful, and full of eager strength; but with a shadow on it (thought John) that it had not worn in the days when Dick Montgomery took his young ease in Sion and criticised men and generals.

    He was handling the disembarkation well. Clearly, too, his men respected and liked him. But (thought John again) who could help loving him? John had not bargained for the rush of tenderness that shook him as he stood there unperceived, and left him trembling. For a moment he longed only to escape; and then, mastered by an impulse, scarce knowing what he did, stepped forward and touched his cousin's arm.

    "Dick!" he said softly.

    Montgomery turned, cast a sharp glance at him, and fell back staring.

    "You!" John saw the lips form the word, but no sound came. He himself was watching Dick's eyes.

    Yes, as incredulity passed, joy kindled in them, and the old affection. For once in his life Richard Montgomery fairly broke down.

    "Jack!"--he stretched out both hands. "We heard--You were not among the prisoners--" His voice stammered to a halt: his eyes brimmed.

    "Come, and hear all about it. Oh, Dick, Dick, 'tis good to see your face again!"

    They linked arms, and Dick suffered John to lead him back to the canoe among the rushes.

    "My mother . . . ?" asked John, halting there by the brink.

    "You haven't heard?" Dick turned his face and stared away across the river.

    "I have heard nothing. . . . Is she dead?"

    Dick bent his head gravely. "A year since. . . . Your brother Philip wrote the news to me. It was sudden: just a failure of the heart, he said. She had known of the danger for years, but concealed it."

    John seated himself on the bank, and gazed out over the river for a minute or so in silence. "She believed me dead, of course?" he began, but did not ask how the blow had affected her. Likely enough Dick would not know. "Is there any more bad news?" he asked at length.

    "None. Your brother is well, and there's another child born. The a Cleeves are not coming to an end just yet. No more questions, Jack, until you've told me all about yourself!"

    He settled down to listen, and John, propping himself on an elbow, began his tale.

    Twice or thrice during the narrative Dick furrowed his brows in perplexity. When, however, John came to tell of his second year's sojourn with the Ojibways, he sat up with a jerk and stared at his cousin in a blank dismay.

    "But, good Lord! You said just now that this fellow--this Menehwehna--had promised to help you back to the army, as soon as Spring came. Did he break his word, then?"

    "No! he would have kept his word. But I didn't want to return."

    "You didn't--want--to return!" Dick repeated the words slowly, trying to grasp them. "Man alive, were you clean mad? Don't you see what cards you held? Oh," he groaned, "you're not going on to tell me that you threw them away--the chance of a life-time!"

    "I don't see," answered John simply.

    Dick sprang up and paced the bank with his hands clenched, half lifted. "God! if such a chance had fallen to me! You had intercepted two dispatches, one of which might have hurried the French up from Montreal here to save Fort Frontenac. Wherever you could, you bungled; but you rode on the full tide of luck. And even when you tumbled in love with this girl--oh, you needn't deny it!-- even when you walked straight into the pitfall that ninety-nine men in a hundred would have seen and avoided--your very folly pulled you out of the mess! You escaped, by her grace, having foiled two dispatches and possessed your self of knowledge that might have saved Amherst from wasting ten minutes where he wasted two days. And now you stare at me when I tell you that you held the chance of a lifetime! Why, man, you could have asked what promotion you willed! Some men have luck--!" Speech failed him and he cast himself down at full length on the turf again. "Go on," he commanded grimly.

    And John resumed, but in another, colder tone. The rest of the story he told perfunctorily, omitting all mention of the fight on the flagstaff tower and telling no more than was needful of the last adventure of the rapids. Either he or Dick had changed. Having begun, he persevered, but now without hope to make himself understood.

    "Did ever man have such luck?" grumbled Dick. "You have made yourself a deserter. You did all you could to earn being shot; you walked back, and again did all you could to leave Amherst no other choice but to shoot you. And, again, you blunder into saving half an army! Have you seen Amherst?"

    "He sent for me at La Chine, to reward me."

    "You told him all, of course?"

    "I did--or almost all!"

    "Then, since he has not shot you, I presume you are now restored to the Forty-sixth, and become the just pride of the regiment?"

    Dick's voice had become bitter with a bitterness at which John wondered; but all his answer was:

    "Look at these clothes. They will tell you if I am restored to the Forty-sixth."

    "So that was more than Amherst could bring himself to stomach?"

    "On the contrary, he gave me my choice. But I am resigning my commission."

    "Eh? Well, I suppose your monstrous luck with the dispatches had earned you his leniency. You told him of Fort Frontenac, I presume?"

    "I did not tell him of that. But someone else had taken care that he should learn something of it."

    "The girl? You don't mean to tell me that your luck stepped in once again?"

    "Mademoiselle Diane must have guessed that I meant to tell the General all. She left a sealed letter which he opened in my presence. As for my luck," continued John--and now it was his turn to speak bitterly--"you may think how I value it when I tell you how the letter ended. With the General's help, it said, she was hiding herself for ever; and as a man of honour I must neither seek her nor hope for sight of her again."

    And Dick's comment finally proved to John that between them these two years had fixed a gulf impassable. "Well, and you ought to respect her wishes," he said. "She interfered to save you, if ever a woman saved a man." He was striding to and fro again on the bank. "And what will you do now?" he demanded, halting suddenly.

    "The General thinks Murray will be the new Governor, and promises to recommend me to him. There's work to be done in reducing the outlying French forts and bringing the Indians to reason. Probably I shall be sent west."

    "You mean to live your life out in Canada?"

    "I do."

    "Tell me at least that you have given up hope of this girl."

    John flushed. "I shall never seek her," he answered. "But while life lasts I shall not give up hope of seeing her once again."

    "And I am waiting for my captaincy," said Dick grimly; "who with less than half your luck would have commanded a regiment!"

    He swung about suddenly to confront a corporal--John's critical friend of the picket--who had come up the bank seeking him.

    "Beg pardon, sir," said the corporal, saluting, "but there's a Canadian below that has found a corpse along-shore, and wants to bury him on his own account."

    "That will be Bateese Guyon," said John. They walked together down the shore to the spot where Bateese bent over his brother.

    "This is the man," said he, "who led us through the Roches Fendues. Respect his dead body, Dick."

    "I hope," said Dick, half-lifting his hat as he stood by the corpse, "I can respect a man who did a brave deed and died for his country."
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