Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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A Note on the Text

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pp. vii-viii

Gilbert Parker’s The Seats of the Mighty was published by the Copp Clark Company (Toronto) and by D. Appleton and Company (New York) in 1896, both editions using the same plates. Parker’s “Prefatory Note” mentions a number of illustrations appearing in the text, but in fact they appeared on tipped-in pages in the Appleton edition only. This Early Canadian Literature edition uses the Copp Clark edition as its copytext, which is why the twelve illustrations are not reproduced here. The text was reprinted, with a number of textual emendations, as Volume 9 of The Works of Gilbert Parker, Imperial Edition, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1913; that edition contained a new introduction by Parker, which is reprinted here as an appendix. The present edition also corrects obvious typographical errors, but it lets stand a number of archaic and inconsistent spellings....

The Seats of the Mighty

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pp. 1-2

Contents

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pp. 3-6

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Prefatory Note

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pp. 7-8

This tale would never have been written had it not been for the kindness of my distinguished friend Dr. John George Bourinot, C.M.G., of Ottawa, whose studies in parliamentary procedure, the English and Canadian Constitutions, and the history and development of Canada have been of singular benefit to the Dominion and to the Empire. Through Dr. Bourinot’s good offices I came to know Mr. James Lemoine, of Quebec, the gifted antiquarian, and President of the Royal Society of Canada. Mr. Lemoine placed in my hands certain historical facts suggestive of romance. Subsequently, Mr. George M. Fairchild, Jr., of Cap Rouge, Quebec, whose library contains a valuable collection of antique Canadian books, maps, and prints, gave me generous...

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Prelude

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pp. 9-10

To Sir Edward Seaforth, Bart., of Sangley Hope in Derbyshire, and Seaforth House in Hanover Square.
Dear Ned: You will have them written, or I shall be pestered to my grave! Is that the voice of a friend of so long standing? And yet it seems but yesterday since we had good hours in Virginia together, or met among the ruins of Quebec. My memoirs—these only will content you? And to flatter or cajole me you tell me Mr. Pitt still urges on the matter. In truth, when he touched first upon this, I thought it but the courtesy of a great and generous man. But indeed I am proud that he is curious to know more of my long captivity at Quebec, of Monsieur Doltaire and all his dealings with me, and the motions he made to serve La Pompadour on one hand, and, on the other, to win from me that most perfect of ladies, Mademoiselle Alixe Duvarney.
...

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I: An Escort to the Citadel

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pp. 11-22

When Monsieur Doltaire entered the salon, and, dropping lazily into a chair beside Madame Duvarney and her daughter, drawled out, “England’s Braddock—fool and general—has gone to heaven, Captain Moray, and your papers send you there also,” I did not shift a jot, but looked over at him gravely—for, God knows, I was startled—and I said,
“The General is dead?”...

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II: The Master of the King’s Magazine

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pp. 23-36

What fools,” said Doltaire presently, “to burn the bread and oven too! If only they were less honest in a world of rogues, poor moles!”
Coming nearer, we saw that La Friponne itself was safe, but one warehouse was doomed and another threatened. The streets were full of people, and thousands of excited peasants, labourers, and sailors were shouting, “Down with the palace! Down with Bigot!”...

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III: The Wager and the Sword

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pp. 37-47

As I entered the Intendant’s palace with Doltaire I had a singular feeling of elation. My spirits rose unaccountably, and I felt as though it were a fête night, and the day’s duty over, the hour of play was come. I must needs have felt ashamed of it then, and now, were I not sure it was some unbidden operation of the senses. Maybe a merciful Spirit sees how, left alone, we should have stumbled and lost ourselves in our own gloom, and so gives us a new temper fitted to our needs. I remember that at the great door I turned back and smiled upon the ruined granary, and sniffed the air laden with the scent of burnt corn—the people’s bread; that I saw old men and women who could not be moved by news of...

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IV: The Rat in the Trap

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pp. 48-59

When I waked I was alone. At first nothing was clear to me; my brain was dancing in my head, my sight was obscured, my body painful, my senses were blunted. I was in darkness, yet through an open door there showed a light, which, from the smell and flickering, I knew to be a torch. This, creeping into my senses, helped me to remember that the last thing I saw in the Intendant’s courtyard was a burning torch, which suddenly multiplied to dancing hundreds and then went out. I now stretched forth a hand, and it touched a stone wall; I moved, and felt straw under me. Then I fixed my eyes steadily on the open door and the shaking light, and presently it all came to me: the events of the night, and that I was now in a cell of the citadel. Stirring, I found that the wound in my body had been bound and cared for. A loosely...

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V: The Device of the Dormouse

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pp. 60-63

When I had read the letter, I handed it up to Gabord without a word. A show of trust in him was the only thing, for he had knowledge enough of our secret to ruin us, if he chose. He took the letter, turned it over, looking at it curiously, and at last, with a shrug of the shoulders, passed it back.
“’Tis a long tune on a dot of a fiddle,” said he, for indeed the letter was but a small affair in bulk. “I’d need two pairs of eyes and telescope! Is it all Heart-o’-my-heart, and Come-trip-in-dewy-grass—aho? Or is there knave at window to bear m’sieu’ away?”...

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VI: Moray Tells the Story of His Life

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pp. 64-80

“... I would have you know of what I am and whence I came, though I have given you glimpses in the past. That done, I will make plain why I am charged with this that puts my life in danger, which would make you blush that you ever knew me if it were true. And I will show you first a picture as it runs before me, sitting here, the corn of my dungeon garden twining in my fingers:— ...

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VII: “Quoth Little Garaine”

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pp. 81-88

I have given the story here as though it had been thought out and written that Sunday afternoon which brought me good news of Juste Duvarney. But it was not so. I did not choose to break the run of the tale to tell of other things and of the passing of time. The making took me many, many weeks, and in all that time I had seen no face but Gabord’s, and heard no voice but his as he came twice a day to bring me bread and water. He would answer no questions concerning Juste Duvarney, or Voban, or Monsieur Doltaire, nor tell me anything of what was forward in the town. He had had his orders precise enough he said. At the end of all my hints and turnings and...

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VIII: As Vain as Absalom

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pp. 89-92

Gabord, coming in to me one day after I had lain down to sleep, said, “See, m’sieu’ the dormouse, ’tis holiday-eve; the King’s sport comes to-morrow.”
I sat up in bed with a start, for I knew not but that my death had been decided on without trial; and yet on second thought I was sure this could not be, for every rule of military conduct was against it.
“Whose holiday?” asked I after a moment; “and what is King’s sport?”...

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IX: A Little Concerning the Chevalier de la Darante

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pp. 93-104

I was wakened completely at last by the shooting of bolts. With the opening of the door I saw the figures of Gabord and Voban. My little friend the mouse saw them also, and scampered from the bread it had been eating, away among the corn, through which my footsteps had now made two rectangular paths, not disregarded by Gabord, who solicitously pulled Voban into the narrow track that he should not trespass on my harvest....

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X: An Officer of Marines

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pp. 105-120

What was my dismay to know that I was to be taken back again to my dungeon, and not lodged in the common jail, as I had hoped and Alixe had hinted! When I saw whither my footsteps were directed I said nothing, nor did Gabord speak at all. We marched back through a railing crowd, all silent and gloomy. I felt a chill at my heart when the citadel loomed up again out of the November shadow, and I half paused as I entered the gates. “Forward!” said Gabord mechanically, and I moved on into the yard, into the prison, through the dull corridors, the soldiers’ heels clanking and resounding behind, down into the bowels of the earth, where the air was moist and warm, and then into my dungeon home! I stepped inside, and Gabord ordered the ropes off my person somewhat roughly, watched the soldiers till they...

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XI: The Coming of Doltaire

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pp. 121-130

At last I was roused by Gabord’s voice.
He sat down, and drew the leaves of faded corn between his fingers. “’Tis a poor life, this in a cage, after all—eh, dickey-bird? If a soldier can’t stand in the field fighting, if a man can’t rub shoulders with man, and pitch a tent of his own somewhere, why not go travelling with the Beast—aho? To have all the life sucked out like these—eh? To see the flesh melt and the hair go white, the eye to be one hour bright like a fire in a kiln, and the next like mother on working vinegar—that’s not living at all—no.”...

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XII: “The Point Envenomed Too!”

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pp. 131-146

I was roused by the opening of the door. Doltaire entered. He advanced towards me with the manner of an admired comrade, and, with no trace of what would mark him as my foe, said, as he sniffed the air:
“Monsieur, I have been selfish. I asked myself to breakfast with you, yet, while I love the new experience, I will deny myself in this. You shall breakfast with me, as you pass to your new lodgings. You must not say no,” he added, as though we were in some salon. “I have a sleigh here at the door, and a fellow has already gone to fan my kitchen fires and forage for the table. Come,” he continued, “let me help you with your cloak.”...

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XIII: “A Little Boast”

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pp. 147-160

My new abode was more cheerful than the one I had quitted in the citadel. It was not large, but it had a window, well barred, through which came the good strong light of the northern sky. A wooden bench for my bed stood in one corner, and, what cheered me much, there was a small iron stove. Apart from warmth, its fire would be companionable, and to tend it a means of passing the time. Almost the first thing I did was to examine it. It was round, and shaped like a small bulging keg on end. It had a lid on top and in the side a small door with bars for draught, suggesting to me in little the delight of a fireplace. A small pipe carried away the smoke into a chimney in the wall. It seemed to me luxurious, and my spirits came back apace....

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XIV: Argand Cournal

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pp. 161-176

The most meagre intelligence came to me from the outer world. I no longer saw Gabord; he had suddenly been withdrawn and a new jailer substituted, and the sentinels outside my door and beneath the window of my cell refused all information. For months I had no news whatever of Alixe or of those affairs nearest my heart. I heard nothing of Doltaire, little of Bigot, and there was no sign of Voban.
Sometimes I could see my new jailer studying me, as if my plans were a puzzle to his brain. At first he used regularly to try the bars of the window, and search the wall as though he thought my devices might be found there....

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XV: In the Chamber of Torture

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pp. 177-186

I started from my seat; we bowed, and, stretching out a hand to the fire, Doltaire said, “Ah, my captain, we meet too seldom. Let me see: five months—ah yes, nearly five months. Believe me, I have not breakfasted so heartily since. You are looking older—older. Solitude to the active mind is not to be endured alone—no.”
“Monsieur Doltaire is the surgeon to my solitude,” said I.
“H’m!” he answered, “a jail surgeon merely. And that brings me to a point, monsieur. I have had letters from France. The Grande Marquise—I may as well be frank with you—womanlike, yearns violently for those silly letters which you hold. She would sell our France...

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XVI: Be Saint or Imp

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pp. 187-198

Immediately I opened the packet. As Doltaire had said, the two books of poems I had lent Alixe were there, and between the pages of one lay a letter addressed to me. It was, indeed, a daring thing to make Doltaire her messenger. But she trusted to his habits of courtesy; he had no small meannesses—he was no spy or thief....

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XVII: Through the Bars of the Cage

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pp. 199-207

I should have tried escape earlier but that it was little use to venture forth in the harsh winter in a hostile country. But now April had come, and I was keen to make a trial of my fortune. I had been saving food for a long time, little by little, and hiding it in the old knapsack which had held my second suit of clothes. I had used the little stove for parching my food—Indian corn, for which I had professed a fondness to my jailer, and liberally paid for out of funds which had been sent me by Mr. George Washington in answer to my letter, and other moneys to a goodly amount in a letter from Governor Dinwiddie. These letters had been carefully written, and the Marquis de Vaudreuil, into whose hands they had first come, was gallant enough not to withhold them—though he read them first....

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XVIII: The Steep Path of Conquest

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pp. 208-213

Now I am come to a period on which I shall not dwell, nor repeat a tale of suffering greater than that I had yet endured. All the first night of this new imprisonment I tossed on my wretched bed in pain and misery. A strange and surly soldier came and went, bringing bread and water; but when I asked that a physician be sent me, he replied, with a vile oath, that the devil should be my only surgeon. Soon he came again, accompanied by another soldier, and put irons on me. With what quietness I could I asked him by whose orders this was done; but he vouchsafed no reply save that I was to “go bound to fires of hell.”...

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XIX: A Danseuse and the Bastile

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pp. 214-230

Recovering, I found myself lying on a couch, in a large, well-lighted room hung about with pictures and adorned with trophies of the hunt. A wide window faced the foot of the bed where I lay, and through it I could see—though the light hurt my eyes greatly—the Levis shore, on the opposite side of the St. Lawrence. I lay and thought, trying to discover where I was. It came to me at last that I was in a room of the Château St. Louis. Presently I heard breathing near me, and, looking over, I saw a soldier sitting just inside the door....

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XX: Upon the Ramparts

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pp. 231-246

The Governor visited me. His attitude was marked by nothing so much as a supercilious courtesy, a manner which said, You must see I am not to be trifled with; and though I have you here in my château, it is that I may make a fine scorching of you in the end. He would make of me an example to amaze and instruct the nations—when I was robust enough to die.
I might easily have flattered myself on being an object of interest to the eyes of nations. I almost pitied him. He appeared so lost in self-admiration that he would never see disaster when it came....

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XXI: La Jongleuse

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pp. 247-254

At nine o’clock I was waiting by the window, and even as a bugle sounded “lights out” in the barracks and change of guard, I let the string down. Mr. Stevens shot round the corner of the château, just as the departing sentinel disappeared, attached a bundle to the string, and I drew it up. “Is all well?” I called softly down.
“All well,” said Mr. Stevens, and, hugging the wall of the château, he sped away. In another moment a new sentinel began pacing up and down, and I shut the window and untied my bundle. All that I had asked for was there. I hid the things away in the alcove and went to bed at once, for I knew that I should have no sleep on the following night....

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XXII: The Lord of Kamaraska

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pp. 255-269

We were five altogether—Mr. Stevens, Clark, the two Boston soldiers, and myself; and presently we came down the steep passage in the cliff to where our craft lay, secured by my dear wife—a birch canoe, well laden with necessaries. Our craft was none too large for our party, but she must do; and safely in, we pushed out upon the current, which was in our favour, for the tide was going out. My object was to cross the river softly, skirt the Levis shore, pass the Isle of Orleans, and so steal down the river. There was excitement in the town, as we could tell from the lights flashing along the shore, and boats soon began to patrol the banks, going swiftly up and down, and extending a line round to the St. Charles River towards Beauport....

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XXIII: With Wolfe at Montmorenci

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pp. 270-286

At Louisburg we found that Admiral Saunders and General Wolfe were gone to Quebec. They had passed us as we came down, for we had sailed inside some islands of the coast, getting shelter and better passage, and the fleet had, no doubt, passed outside. This was a blow to me, for I had hoped to be in time to join General Wolfe and proceed with him to Quebec, where my knowledge of the place should be of service to him. It was, however, no time for lament, and I set about to find my way back again. Our prisoners I handed over to the authorities. The two Provincials decided to remain and take service under General Amherst; Mr. Stevens would join his own Rangers at once, but Clark would go back with me to have his hour with his hated foes....

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XXIV: The Sacred Countersign

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pp. 287-300

That night, at nine o’clock, the Terror of France, catching the flow of the tide, with one sail set and a gentle wind, left the fleet and came slowly up the river, under the batteries of the town. In the gloom we passed lazily on with the flow of the tide, unquestioned, soon leaving the citadel behind, and ere long arrived safely at that point called Anse du Foulon, above which Sillery stood. The shore could not be seen distinctly, but I knew by a perfect instinct the cleft in the hillside where was the path leading up the mountain. I bade Clark come up the river again two nights hence to watch for my signal, which was there agreed upon. If I did not come, then, with General Wolfe’s consent, he must show the General this path up the mountain. He swore that all should be as I wished; and indeed you would have thought that he and his Terror of France were to level Quebec to the water’s edge....

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XXV: In the Cathedral

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pp. 301-311

I awoke with the dawn, and, dressing, looked out of the window, seeing the brindled light spread over the battered roofs and ruins of the Lower Town. A bell was calling to prayers in the battered Jesuit College not far away, and bugle-calls told of the stirring garrison. Soldiers and stragglers passed down the streets near by and a few starved peasants crept about the cathedral with downcast eyes, eager for crumbs that a well-fed soldier might cast aside. Yet I knew that in the Intendant’s palace and among the officers of the army there was abundance, with revelry and dissipation....

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XXVI: The Secret of the Tapestry

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pp. 312-333

That evening, at eight o’clock, Jean Labrouk was buried. A shell had burst not a dozen paces from his own door, within the consecrated ground of the cathedral, and in a hole it had made he was laid, the only mourners his wife and his grandfather, and two soldiers of his company sent by General Bougainville to bury him. I watched the ceremony from my loft, which had one small dormer window. It was dark, but burning buildings in the Lower Town made all light about the place. I could hear the grandfather mumbling and talking to the body as it was lowered into the ground. While yet the priest was hastily reading prayers, a dusty horseman came riding to the grave and dismounted....

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XXVII: A Side-Wind of Revenge

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pp. 334-340

I knew it was Doltaire’s life or mine, and I shrank from desecrating this holy place; but our bitter case would warrant this, and more. As I came quickly through the hall, and round the corner where stood Gabord, I saw a soldier talking with the Mother Superior.
“He is not dead?” I heard her say.
“No, holy Mother,” was the answer, “but sorely wounded. He was testing the fire-organs for the rafts, and one exploded too soon.”
At that moment the Mother turned to me, and seemed startled by my look. “What is it?” she whispered.
“He would carry her off,” I replied....

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XXVIII: “To Cheat the Devil Yet”

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pp. 341-353

My hurt proved more serious than I had looked for, and the day after my escape I was in a high fever. General Wolfe himself, having heard of my return, sent to inquire after me. He also was ill, and our forces were depressed in consequence; for he had a power to inspire them not given to any other of our accomplished generals. He forbore to question me concerning the state of the town and what I had seen; for which I was glad. My adventure had been of a private nature, and such I wished it to remain. The General desired me to come to him as soon as I was able, that I might proceed with him above the town to reconnoitre. But for many a day this was impossible, for my wound gave me much pain and I was confined to my bed....

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XXIX: “Master Devil” Doltaire

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pp. 354-360

The bells of some shattered church were calling to vespers, the sun was sinking behind the flaming autumn woods, as once more I entered the St. Louis Gate, with the grenadiers and a detachment of artillery, the British colours hoisted on a gun-carriage. Till this hour I had ever entered and left this town a captive, a price set on my head, and in the very street where I now walked I had gone with a rope round my neck, abused and maltreated. I saw our flag replace the golden lilies of France on the citadel where Doltaire had baited me, and at the top of Mountain Street, near to the bishop’s palace, our colours also flew....

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XXX: “Where All the Lovers Can Hide”

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pp. 361-364

It was in the saffron light of early morning that I saw it, the Tall Calvary of the Valdoche Hills.
The night before I had come up through a long valley, overhung with pines on one side and crimsoning maples on the other, and, travelling till nearly midnight, had lain down in the hollow of a bank, and listened to a little river leap over cascades, and, far below, go prattling on to the greater river in the south. My eyes closed, but for long I did not sleep. I heard a night-hawk go by on a lonely mission, a beaver slide from a log into the water, and the delicate humming of the pine needles was a drowsy music, through which broke by-and-bye the strange crying of a loon from the water below. I was neither asleep nor awake, but steeped in this wide awe of night, the sweet smell of...

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Appendix: Gilbert Parker’s Introduction to the Imperial Edition of The Seats of the Mighty

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pp. 365-370

It was in the winter of 1892, when on a visit to French Canada, that I made up my mind I would write the volume which the public knows as The Seats of the Mighty, but I did not begin the composition until early in 1894. It was finished by the beginning of February, 1895, and began to appear in The Atlantic Monthly in March of that year. It was not my first attempt at historical fiction, because I had written The Trail of the Sword in the year 1893, but it was the first effort on an ambitious scale, and the writing of it was attended with as much searching of heart as enthusiasm. I had long been saturated by the early history of French Canada, as perhaps The Trail of the Sword bore witness, and particularly of the period of the...

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Afterword

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pp. 371-399

Published during the author’s meteoric rise from a backwoods Canadian schoolteacher to an internationally renowned author and long-standing member of British parliament, The Seats of the Mighty is one of thirty-two volumes that constitute the ample corpus of Sir Gilbert Parker’s fiction. As the epigraph by Andrew Macphail suggests, Parker created literary characters of whom readers not only approved but whom they adored, from the steadfast and principled Robert Moray, the Scottish hero of The Seats of the Mighty , and Moray’s fiancée, the seductive yet morally upright Alixe Duvarney, to Moray’s rival, the Byronic villain Tinoire Doltaire. The following effusive observation by Canadian literary...

Books in the Early Canadian Literature Series Published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press

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