When Quebec came into view Robert stood up and looked long at the great rock and the town that crowned it, hung on its slopes and nestled at the foot of the cliffs below. Brilliant sunshine gilded its buildings of stone and gray wood, and played like burnished gold on the steeples of its many churches. In the distance the streets leading up the steep cliffs looked like mere threads, but in the upper town the great public buildings, the Intendant's Palace, the Cathedral, Notre Dame de la Victoire, the convents of the Ursuline Nuns and the Recollet Friars, the Bishop's Palace, and others raised for the glory and might of France, were plainly visible.
In more than one place he saw the Bourbon lilies floating and from the little boat on which he stood in the stream it looked like a grim and impregnable fortress of the Old World. The wonderful glow of the air, and the vast river flowing at its feet, magnified and colored everything. It was a city ten times its real size and the distance turned gray wood to gray stone. Everything was solid, immovable, and it seemed fit to defy the world.
Robert felt a catch in his breath. He had often seen Quebec, great and beautiful, in his dreams, but the reality was equal to it and more. To the American of that day Quebec was one of the vital facts of life. From that fortress issued the daring young French soldiers of fortune who led the forays against New York and New England. It was the seat of the power that threatened them continually. Many of the Bostonnais, seized in their fields, had been brought here as prisoners to be returned home only after years, or never. From this citadel, too, poured the stream of arms and presents for the Indians who were to lie in ambush along the English border, or to make murderous incursions upon the villages. From it flowed the countless dangers that had threatened the northern provinces almost continually for a century and a half. The Bostonnais themselves, mark of the initiative and energy that were to distinguish them so greatly later on, made a mighty effort against it, and doubtless would have succeeded, had they been allowed to carry the fight to a finish.
No man from New York or New England could look upon it without a mingling of powerful emotions. It was the Carthage to their Rome. He admired and yet he wished to conquer. He felt that permanent safety could never come to the northern border until the Bourbon lilies ceased to float over the great fortress that looked down on the St. Lawrence. Robert was not the only one who felt strong emotion. Tayoga stood beside him, his nostrils expanding and his gaze fierce:
"Stadacona!" he said under his breath, "Stadacona of the Ganeagaono, our great brother nation!"
But the emotion of de Galisonniere was of pleasure only. His eyes sparkled with joy and admiration. He was delighted to come back to Quebec, the gay city that he beheld through the eyes of youth and glowing recollections. He knew the corruption and wickedness of Bigot and of Cadet and of Pean and of the whole reckless circle about the Intendant, but Quebec, with its gallant men and its beautiful women; its manners of an Old World aristocracy and its air of a royal court, had many pleasures, and why should youth look too far into the future?
And yet another stood up and looked at Quebec, with emotions all his own, and unlike those of the three who were so young. Father Drouillard, tall in his black robe, gazed fixedly at the rock, and raised his hand in a gesture much like that with which he had cursed the chateau of Count Jean de Mezy. His eyes were set and stern, but, as the sun fell in floods of burnished gold on the cathedral and the convents, his accusing look softened, became sad, then pitying, then hopeful.
"A wonderful sight, Father Drouillard," said Willet, who stood at his elbow and who also gazed at Quebec with feelings quite his own. "I've seen it before, but I can never see it too often."
"Mr. Willet," said the priest, "you and I are greater in years than these youths, and perhaps for that reason we can look farther into the future. Youth fears nothing, but age fears everything. You come to Quebec now in peace, and I trust that you may never come in war. I can feel, nay I can see the clouds gathering over our two lands. Why should we fight? On a continent so vast is there not room enough for all?"
"Room and to spare," replied the hunter, "but as you say, Father Drouillard, you and I have lived longer than these youths, and age has to think. If left to themselves I've no doubt that New France and the English colonies could make a lasting peace, but the intrigues, the jealousies and the hates of the courts at London and Paris keep our forests, four thousand miles away, astir. When the Huron buries his arrow in the heart of a foe the motive that sent him to the deed may have had its start in Europe, but the poor savage never knows it."
The priest sighed, and looked at Willet with an awakened curiosity.
"I see that you're a man of education," he said, "and that you think. What you say is true, but the time will come when other minds than those of vain and jealous courtiers will sway the fortunes of all these vast regions. I have asked you nothing of your mission in Quebec, Mr. Willet, but I hope that I will see you again before you return."
"I hope so too," said the hunter sincerely.
The Frontenac now drew in to a wharf between the Royal Battery and the Dauphin's Battery, and Robert was still all eyes for the picturesque sights that awaited him in the greatest French town of the New World. De Galisonniere was hailed joyously by young officers and he made joyous replies. Robert, as they landed, saw anew and in greater detail the immense strength of Quebec.
He beheld the line of huge earthworks that Frontenac had built from the river St. Charles to Cape Diamond, and he saw the massive redoubts lined with heavy cannon. Now, he wondered at the boldness of the New Englanders who had assailed the town with so much vigor, and who might have taken it.
"I recommend to you," said de Galisonniere, "that you go to the Inn of the Eagle in the Upper Town. It is kept by Monsieur Berryer, who as a host is fully equal to Monsieur Jolivet of Montreal, and the merits of Monsieur Jolivet are not unknown to you."
"They are not," said Robert heartily, "and we may thank you, Captain de Galisonniere, for your great courtesy in bringing us from Montreal. We can only hope for a time in which we shall be able to repay your kindness."
After they had slipped some silver pieces to the boatmen and had said farewell to Captain de Galisonniere, they took their way up a steep street, a swarthy French-Canadian porter carrying their baggage. Here, as at Montreal, the most attention was attracted by Tayoga, and, if possible, the young Onondaga grew more haughty in appearance and manner. His moccasined feet spurned the ground, and he gazed about with a fierce and defiant eye.
Robert knew well what was stirring the spirit of the Onondaga. This was not the Quebec of the French, it was the Stadacona of the Mohawks, the great brother nation of the Onondagas, and the French here were but interlopers and robbers.
But Robert soon lost thought of Tayoga as he looked at the crowded city, and its mingling of the splendid and the squalid, its French and French-Canadians, its soldiers and priests and civilians and Indians, its great stone houses, and its wooden huts, its young officers in fine white uniforms and its swarthy habitants in brown homespun. Albany had its Dutch, and New York had its Dutch, too, and people from many parts of Europe, but Quebec was different, something altogether new, without a trace of English or Dutch about it, and, for that reason, it made a great appeal to his curiosity.
A light open carriage drawn by two stout ponies passed them at an amazing pace considering the steepness of the street, and they saw in it a florid young man in a splendid costume, his powdered hair tied in a queue.
"De Mezy," said the priest, who was just behind them.
Then they knew that it was the young man, the companion of Bigot in his revels, against whose chateau Father Drouillard had raised his threatening hands. Now the priest spoke the name with the most intense scorn and contempt, and Robert, feeling that he might encounter de Mezy again in this pent-up Quebec, gazed at his vanishing figure with curiosity. They had their gay blades in New York and Albany and even a few in Boston of the Puritans, but he had not seen anybody like de Mezy.
"It is such as he who are pulling down New France," murmured Father Drouillard.
A moment or two later the priest said farewell and departed in the direction of the cathedral.
"There goes a man," said Willet, as he looked after the tall figure in the black robe. "I don't share in the feeling of church against church. I don't see any reason why Protestant should hate Catholic and Catholic should hate Protestant. I've lived long enough and seen enough to know that each church holds good men, and unless I make a big mistake, and I don't think I make any mistake at all, Father Drouillard is not only a good man, but he has a head full of sense and he's as brave as a lion, too."
"Lots of priests are," said Robert. "Nobody ever endured the Indian tortures better than they. And what's the figure over the doorway, Dave?"
"That, Robert, is Le Chien d'Or, The Golden Dog. It's the sign put up by Nicholas Jaquin, whom they often called Philibert. This is his warehouse and he was one of the honnetes gens that we've been talking about. He fought the corrupt officials, he tried to make lower prices for the people, and beneath his Golden Dog he wrote:"
"Je suis un chien qui ronge l'os, En le rongeant je prends mon repos; Un jour viendra qui n'est pas venu, Que je mordrai qui m'aura mordu."
"That is, some day the dog will bite those who have bitten him?"
"That's about it, Robert, and I suppose it generally comes true. If you keep on striking people some of them in time will strike you and strike you pretty hard."
"And does Philibert still run his warehouse beneath his sign of the Golden Dog?"
"No, Robert. He was too brave, or not cautious enough, and they assassinated him, but there are plenty of others like him. The French are a brave and honest people, none braver or more honest. I tell you so, because I know them, but their government is corrupt through and through. The House of Bourbon is dying of its own poison. It may seem strange to you, hearing me say it here in the Western world, so far from Versailles, but I'm not the only one who says so."
"But I like Quebec," said Robert. "I haven't seen another city that speaks to the eye so much."
They were now well into the Upper Town, and the porter guided them to the Inn of the Eagle, where Monsieur Paul Berryer, the host, gave them a welcome, and from whom they learned that the Governor General, the Marquis Duquesne, was absent in the east, but would return in two or three days. Robert was not sorry for the delay, as it would give them a chance to see the city, and perhaps, through de Galisonniere, make acquaintances among the French officers.
They were able to secure a large room with three beds, and both Robert and Willet drew from their small store of baggage suits quite in the fashion, three-cornered hats, fine coats and waistcoats, knee breeches, stockings and buckled shoes, and as a last and crowning triumph they produced handsome small swords or rapiers that they buckled to their belts.
"That canoe of ours wasn't large, but it brought a lot in it," said the hunter.
Robert surveyed himself in a small glass, and his clothes brought great pride. A chord in his nature responded to splendor of raiment, and the surroundings of the great world. Quebec might be corrupt but he could not hide from himself his immense interest in it. He noticed, too, that Willet wore his fine costume naturally.
"It's not the first time that you've been in such clothes, Dave," he said, "and it's not the first time that you've been in a society like that which makes its home in Quebec."
"No, it is not," replied Willet, "and some time, Robert, I'll tell you about those days, but not now."
Tayoga remained in his dress of a young Indian chief. Even if he had had any other he would not have put it on, and the fine deerskin and the lofty headdress became him and stamped him for what he was, a prince of the forest. He held in his heart, too, a deeper feeling against the French than any that animated either Robert or Willet. He could not forget that this was not Quebec, but Stadacona of the Ganeagaono, whose rights were also the rights of the other nations of the Hodenosaunee, and it was here that Frontenac, who had slaughtered the Iroquois, had made his home and fortress. The heart of Tayoga of the clan of the Bear of the nation Onondaga, of the great League of the Hodenosaunee, burned within him and the blood in his veins would not grow cool.
"I suppose, Dave," said Robert, "since we have to wait two days for the Marquis Duquesne, that we might go forth at once and begin seeing the town."
"Food first," said the hunter. "We've come a long journey on the river and we'll test the quality of the, inn."
It was too cool for the little terrace that adjoined the Inn of the Eagle, and Monsieur Berryer had a table set for them in the great dining-room, which had an oaken floor, oaken beams and much china and glass on shelves about the walls, the whole forming an apartment in which the host took a just pride. It was gayer and brighter than the inns of Albany and New York, and again Robert found his spirit responding to it.
A fire of light wood that blazed and sparkled merrily burned in a huge stone fireplace at the end of the room, and its grateful warmth entered into Robert's blood. He suddenly felt a great exaltation. He was glad to be there. He was glad that Tayoga and Willet were with him. He was glad that they had encountered dangers on their journey because they had won a triumph in overcoming them, and by the very act of victory they had increased their own strength and confidence. His sensitive, imaginative nature, easily kindled to supreme efforts, thrilled with the thoughts of the great deeds they might do.
His pleasure in the company and the atmosphere increased. Everything about him made a strong appeal to good taste. At the end of the room, opposite the fireplace, stood a vast sideboard, upon which china and glass, arranged in harmonious groups, shone and glittered. The broad shelves or niches in the walls held much cut glass, which now and then threw back from many facets the ruddy light of the fire. Before sitting down, they had dipped their hands in a basin of white china filled with water, and standing beside the door, and that too had pleased Robert's fastidious taste.
At their table each of the three found an immaculate white napkin, a large white china plate and goblet, knife, fork and spoon, all of silver, polished to the last degree. Again Robert's nature responded and he looked at himself in his fine dress in the glittering silver of the goblet. Then his right hand stole down and caressed the hilt of his rapier. He felt himself very much of a gentleman, very much of a chevalier, fit to talk on equal terms with St. Luc, de Galisonniere or the best French officer of them all. And Willet, wearing his costly costume with ease, was very much of a gentleman too, and Tayoga, dressed as the forest prince, was in his own way, and quite as good a way, as much of a gentleman as either.
At least a dozen others were in the great room, and many curious eyes were upon the three visitors from the south. It was likely that the presence of such marked figures as theirs would become known quickly in Quebec. They had shown the papers bearing their names at the gate by which they had entered, and doubtless the news of their arrival had been spread at once by the officer in command there. Well, they would prove to the proud chevaliers of Quebec how the Bostonnais could bear themselves, and Robert's pulses leaped.
They were served by an attentive and quiet waiter, and the three, each in his own way, watched everything that was going on. They were aware that not all would be as friendly as de Galisonniere or Father Drouillard, but they were fully prepared to meet a challenge of any kind and uphold the honor of their own people. Robert was hoping that de Galisonniere might come, as he had recommended the inn to them. He did not appear, but the others who did so lingered and young Lennox knew that it was because of the three, who received many hostile glances, although most were intended for the Onondaga. Robert was aware, too, that if the Iroquois had lost this Stadacona of the Mohawks and had been ravaged by Frontenac, they had taken a terrible revenge upon the French and their chief allies, the Hurons. For generations the Hodenosaunee had swept the villages along the St. Lawrence with fire and tomahawk, slaying and capturing their hundreds. But to Tayoga it was and always would be the French who had struck first, and the vital fact remained that they lived upon land upon which the Iroquois themselves had once lived, no man knew how long.
Robert saw that the looks were growing more menacing, although the good Monsieur Berryer glided among his guests, and counseled caution.
"Take no notice," said Willet in a low tone. "The French are polite, and although they may not like us they will not molest us."
Robert followed his advice. Apparently he had no thought except for his food, which was delicate, but his ears did not miss any sound that could reach them. He understood French well, and he caught several whispers that made the red come to his cheeks. Doubtless they thought he could not speak their language or they would have been more careful.
Half way through the dinner and the door was thrown open, admitting a gorgeous figure and a great gust of words. It was a young man in a brilliant uniform, his hair long, perfumed, powdered and curled, and his face flushed. Robert recognized him at once as that same Count Jean de Mezy who had passed them in the flying carriage. Behind came two officers of about the same age, but of lower rank, seeking his favor and giving him adulation.
His roving eye traveled around the room, and, resting upon the three guests, became inflamed.
"Ah, Nemours, and you, Le Moyne," he said, "look there and behold the two Bostonnais and the Iroquois of whom we have heard, sitting here in our own Inn of the Eagle!"
"But there is no war, not as yet," said Nemours, although he spoke in an obsequious tone.
"But it will come," said de Mezy loudly, "and then, gentlemen, this lordly Quebec of ours, which has known many English captives, will hold multitudes of them."
There were cries of "Silence!" "Not so loud!"
"Don't insult guests!" but de Mezy merely laughed and said: "They don't understand! The slow-witted English never know any tongue but their own."
The red flush in Robert's face deepened and he moved angrily.
"Quiet, boy! Quiet!" whispered the hunter. "He wants a quarrel, and he is surrounded by his friends, while we're strangers in a strange land and a hostile city. Take a trifle of the light white wine that Monsieur Berryer is pouring for you. It won't hurt you."
Robert steadied himself and sipped a little. De Mezy and his satellites, Nemours and Le Moyne, sat down noisily at a table and ordered claret. De Mezy gave the cue. They talked of the Bostonnais, not only of the two Bostonnais who were present, but of the Bostonnais in all the English colonies, applying the word to them whether they came from Massachusetts or New York or Virginia. Robert felt his pulses leaping and the hunter whispered his warning once more.
De Mezy evidently was sincere in his belief that the three understood no French, as he continued to talk freely about the English colonies, the prospect of war, and the superiority of French troops to British or American. Meanwhile he and his two satellites drank freely of the claret and their faces grew more flushed. Robert could stand it no longer.
"Tayoga," he said clearly and in perfect French, "it seems that in Quebec there are people of loose speech, even as there are in Albany and New York."
"Our sachems tell us that such is the way of man," said the Onondaga, also in pure French. "Vain boasters dwell too in our own villages. For reasons that I do not know, Manitou has put the foolish as well as the wise into the world."
"To travel, Tayoga, is to find wisdom. We learn what other people know, and we learn to value also the good that we have at home."
"It is so, my friend Lennox. It is only when we go into strange countries and listen to the tongues of the idle and the foolish that we learn the full worth of our own."
"It is not wise, Tayoga, to give a full rein to a loose tongue in a public place."
"Our mothers teach us so, Lennox, as soon as we leave our birch bark cradles."
Willet had raised his hand in warning, but he saw that it was too late. The young blood in the veins of both Tayoga and Robert was hot, and the Iroquois was stirred not less deeply than the white man.
"The sachems tell us," he said, "that sometimes a man speaks foolish words because he is born foolish, again he says them at times because his temper or drink makes him foolish, or he may say them because it is his wish to be foolish and he has cultivated foolish ways all his life. This last class is the worst of all, Lennox, my friend, but there is a certain number of them in all lands, as one finds when one travels."
The Onondaga spoke with great clearness and precision in his measured school French and a moment of dead silence followed. Then Robert said:
"It is true, Tayoga. The chiefs of the Hodenosaunee are great and wise men. They have lived and seen much, and seeing they have remembered. They know that speech was given to man in order that he might convey his thoughts to another, and not that he might make a fool of himself."
An angry exclamation came from the table at which de Mezy sat, and his satellites, Nemours and Le Moyne, swept the three with looks meant to be contemptuous. Monsieur Berryer raised deprecating hands and was about to speak, but, probably seeing that both hands and words would be of no avail, moved quietly to one side. He did not like to have quarrels in his excellent Inn of the Eagle, but they were no new thing there, for the gilded youth of Quebec was hot and intemperate.
"But when a man is foolish in our village," resumed Tayoga, "and the words issue from his mouth in a stream like the cackling of a jay bird, the chiefs do not send warriors to punish him, but give him into the hands of the old women, who bind him and beat him with sticks until they can beat sense back into him."
"A good way, Tayoga, a most excellent way," said Robert. "People who have reached the years of maturity pay no attention to the vaporings and madness of the foolish."
He did not look around, but he heard a gusty exclamation, the scrape of a chair on the floor, and a hasty step. Then he felt a hot breath, and, although he did not look up, he knew that de Mezy, flushed with drink and anger, was standing over him. The temperament that nature had given to him, the full strength of which he was only discovering, asserted itself. He too felt wrath inside, but he retained all the presence of mind for which he afterward became famous.
"Shall we go out and see more of the city, Tayoga?" he asked.
"Not until I have had a word with you, young sprig of a Bostonnais," said de Mezy, his florid face now almost a flaming red.
"Your pardon, sir," said Robert, with his uncommon fluency of speech, "I have not the advantage of your acquaintance, which, no doubt, is my loss, as I admit that there are many good and brave men whom I do not know."
"I am Jean de Mezy, a count of France, a captain in the army of King Louis, and one of the most valued friends of our able Intendant, Francois Bigot."
"I have heard of France, of course, I have heard, equally of course, of His Majesty, King Louis, I have even heard of the Intendant, Francois Bigot, but, and sorry I am to say it, I have never heard of the Count Jean de Mezy."
A low laugh came from a distant corner of the room, and the red of de Mezy's face turned to purple. His hand dropped to the hilt of his sword, but Le Moyne whispered to him and he became more collected.
"In Quebec," he said, throwing back his shoulders and raising his chin, "an officer of His Majesty, King Louis, does not accept an insult. We preserve our honor with the edge of our swords, and for that reason I intend to let a good quantity of the hot blood out of you with mine. There is a good place near the St. Louis gate, and the hour may be as early as you wish."
"He is but a boy," interposed Willet.
"But I know the sword," said Robert, who had made up his mind, and who was measuring his antagonist. "I will meet you tomorrow morning just after sunrise with the small sword, and my seconds will confer with yours tonight."
He stood up that they might see his size. Although only a boy in years, he was as large and strong as de Mezy, and his eyes were clearer and his muscles much firmer. A hum of approval came from the spectators, who now numbered more than a score, but the approval was given for different reasons. Some, and they belonged to the honnetes gens, were glad to see de Mezy rebuked and hoped that he would be punished; others, the following of Bigot, Cadet, Pean and their corrupt crowd, were eager to see the Bostonnais suffer for his insolence to one of their number. But most of them, both the French of old France and the French of Canada, chivalric of heart, were resolved to see fair play.
Monsieur Berryer shrugged his shoulders, but made no protest. The affair to his mind managed itself very well. There had been none of the violence that he had apprehended. The quarrel evidently was one of gentlemen, carried out in due fashion, and the shedding of blood would occur in the proper place and not in his inn. And yet it would be an advertisement. Men would come to point out where de Mezy had sat, and where the young Bostonnais had sat, and to recount the words that each had said. And then the red wine and the white wine would flow freely. Oh, yes, the affair was managing itself very well indeed, and the thrifty Monsieur Berryer rubbed his hands together with satisfaction.
"We have beds here at the Inn of the Eagle," said Robert coolly--he was growing more and more the master of speech; "you can send your seconds this evening to see mine, and they will arrange everything, although I tell you now that I choose small swords. I hope my choice suits you."
"It is what I would have selected myself," said de Mezy, giving his antagonist a stare of curiosity. Such coolness, such effrontery, as he would have called it, was not customary in one so young, and in an American too, because Americans did not give much attention to the study of the sword. New thoughts raced through his head. Could it be possible that here, where one least expected it, was some marvelous swordsman, a phenomenon? Did that account for his indifference? A slight shudder passed over the frame of Jean de Mezy, who loved his dissolute life. But such thoughts vanished quickly. It could not be possible. The confidence of the young Bostonnais came from ignorance.
Robert had seen de Mezy's face fall, and he was confirmed in the course that he had chosen already.
"Gusgaesata," he said to Tayoga in Iroquois.
"Ah, the deer buttons!" the Onondaga said in English, then repeating it in French.
"You will pardon us," said Robert carelessly to de Mezy, "but Tayoga, who by the way is of the most ancient blood of the Onondagas, and I often play a game of ours after dinner."
His manner was that of dismissal, and the red in de Mezy's cheeks again turned to purple. Worst of all, the little dart of terror stabbed once more at his heart. The youth might really be the dreaded marvel with the sword. Such coolness in one so young at such a time could come only from abnormal causes. Although he felt himself dismissed he refused to go away and his satellites remained with him. They would see what the two youths meant to do.
Tayoga took from a pocket in his deerskin tunic eight buttons about three quarters of an inch in diameter and made of polished and shining elk's horn, except one side which had been burned to a darker color. From another pocket he drew a handful of beans and laid them in one heap. Then he shook the buttons in the palm of his hand, and put them down in the center of the table. Six white sides were turned up and taking two beans from the common heap he started a pile of his own. He threw again and obtained seven whites. Then he took four beans. A third throw and all coming up white twenty beans were subtracted from the heap and added to his own pile. But on the next throw only five of the whites appeared, and as at least six of the buttons had to be matched in order to continue his right of throwing he resigned his place to Robert, who threw with varying fortune until he lost in his turn to Tayoga.
"A crude Indian game," said de Mezy in a sneering tone, and the two satellites, Nemours and Le Moyne, laughed once more. Robert and Tayoga did not pay the slightest attention to them, concentrating their whole attention upon the sport, but Willet said quietly:
"I've seen wise chiefs play it for hours, and the great men of the Hodenosaunee would be great men anywhere."
Angry words gathered on the lips of de Mezy, but they were not spoken. He saw that he was at a disadvantage, and that he would lose prestige if he kept himself in a position to be snubbed before his own people by two strange youths. At length he said: "Farewell until morning," and stalked out, followed by his satellites. Others soon followed but Robert and Tayoga went on with their game of the deer buttons. They were not interrupted until Monsieur Berryer bowed before them and asked if they would have any more refreshment.
"No, thank you," said Robert, and then he added, as if by afterthought, although he did not take his eyes from the buttons: "What sort of a man at sword play is this de Mezy?"
"Very good! Very good, sir," replied the innkeeper, "that is if his eyes and head are clear."
"Then if he is in good condition it looks as if I ought to be careful."
"Careful, sir! Careful! One ought always to be careful in a duel!"
"In a way I suppose so. Monsieur Berryer. But I fancy it depends a good deal upon one's opponent. There are some who are not worth much trouble."
Monsieur Berryer's eyes stood out. Robert had spoken with calculated effect. He knew that his words uttered now would soon reach the ears of Jean de Mezy, and it was worth while to be considered a miraculous swordsman. He had read the count's mind when he stood at his elbow, shuddering a little at the thought that a prodigy with the blade might be sitting there, and he was resolved to make the thought return once more and stay.
"And, sir, you distinguish between swordsmen, and find it necessary to make preparation only for the very best? And you so young too!" said the wondering innkeeper.
"Youth in such times as ours does not mean inexperience, Monsieur Berryer," said Willet.
"It is true, alas!" said the innkeeper, soberly. "The world grows old, and there are seas of trouble. I wish no annoyance to any guests of mine. I know the courtesy due to visitors in our Quebec, and I would have stopped the quarrel had I been able, but the Count Jean de Mezy is a powerful man, the friend and associate of the Intendant, Monsieur Bigot."
"I understand, Monsieur Berryer," said Robert, with calculated lightness; "your courtesy is, in truth, great, but don't trouble yourself on our account. We are fully able to take care of ourselves. Come, Tayoga, we're both tired of the game and so let's to bed."
Tayoga carefully put away the deer buttons and the beans, and the three rose.