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11 W hen 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?” I did not dare to ask, Is he defeated? though from Doltaire’s look I was sure it was so; and a sickness crept through me, for at the moment that seemed the end of our cause. But I made as if I had not heard his words about my papers. “Dead as a last year’s courtier, shifted from the scene,” he replied; “and having little now to do, we’ll go play with the rat in our trap.” I would not have dared look towards Alixe, standing beside her mother then, for the song in my blood was pitched too high, were it not that a little sound broke from her. At that I glanced, and saw that her face was still and quiet, but her eyes were shining anxiously, and her whole body seemed listening. I dared not give my glance meaning , though I wished to do so. She had served me much, had been a good friend to me, since I was brought a hostage to Quebec from An Escort to the Citadel Chapter I 12 Fort Necessity. There, at that little post on the Ohio, France threw down the gauntlet, which gave us the great Seven Years’ War. And though it may be thought I speak rashly, the lever to spring that trouble had been within my grasp. Had France sat still while Austria and Prussia quarrelled that long fighting had never been. The game of war had lain with the Grande Marquise—or La Pompadour, as she was called—and later it may be seen how I, unwillingly, moved her to set it going. Answering Monsieur Doltaire I said stoutly, “I am sure our general made a good fight; he had gallant men.” “Truly gallant,” he returned—“your own Virginians among others” (I bowed); “but he was a blunderer, as were you also, monsieur, or you had not sent him plans of our forts and letters of such candour. They have gone to France, my captain.” Madame Duvarney seemed to stiffen in her chair, for what did this mean but that I was a spy? and the young lady behind them now put her handkerchief to her mouth as if to stop a word. To make light of the charges against myself was the only thing, and yet I had little heart to do so. There was that between Monsieur Doltaire and myself—a matter I shall come to by and by—which well might make me apprehensive . “My sketch and my gossip with my friends,” said I, “can have little interest in France.” “My faith, the Grande Marquise will find a relish for them,” he said pointedly at me. He, the natural son of King Louis, had played the part between La Pompadour and myself in the grave matter of which I spoke. “She loves deciding knotty points of morality,” he added. “She has had will and chance enough,” said I boldly, “but what point of morality is here?” “The most vital—to you,” he rejoined, flicking his handkerchief a little, and drawling so that I could have stopped his mouth with my 13 hand. “Shall a hostage on parole make sketches of a fort and send them to his friends, who in turn pass them on to a foolish general?” “When one party to an Article of War wilfully breaks his sworn promise, shall the other be held to his?” I asked quietly. I was glad that at this moment the Seigneur Duvarney entered, for I could feel the air now growing colder about Madame his wife. He at least was a good friend; but as I glanced at him I saw his face was troubled and his manner distant. He looked at Monsieur Doltaire a moment steadily, stooped to his wife’s hand, and then offered me his own without a word. This done, he went to where his daughter stood. She kissed him, and, as she did so, whispered something in his ear, to which he nodded assent. I knew afterwards that she had asked him to keep me to dinner with them. Presently...


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