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354 T he 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. Every step I took was familiar, yet unfamiliar too. It was a disfigured town, where a hungry, distracted people huddled among ruins and begged for mercy and for food, nor found time in the general overwhelming to think of the gallant Montcalm, lying in his shell-made grave at the chapel of the Ursulines, not fifty steps from where I had looked through the tapestry on Alixe and Doltaire. The convent was almost deserted now, and as I passed it, on my way to the cathedral, I took off my hat; for how knew I but that she I loved best lay there too, as truly a heroine as the admirable Montcalm was hero! A solitary bell was clanging on the chapel as I went by, and I saw three nuns Chapter XXIX “Master Devil” Doltaire 355 steal past me with bowed heads. I longed to ask them of Alixe, for I felt sure that the Church knew where she was, living or dead, though none of all I asked knew aught of her, not even the Chevalier de la Darante, who had come to our camp the night before, accompanied by Monsieur Joannes, the town major, with terms of surrender. I came to the church of the Recollets as I wandered; for now, for a little time, I seemed bewildered and incapable, lost in a maze of dreadful imaginings. I entered the door of the church, and stumbled upon a body. Hearing footsteps ahead in the dusk, I passed up the aisle, and came upon a pile of débris. Looking up, I could see the stars shining through a hole in the roof. Hearing a noise beyond, I went on, and there, seated on the high altar, was the dwarf who had snatched the cup of rum out of the fire the night that Mathilde had given the crosses to the revellers. He gave a low, wild laugh, and hugged a bottle to his breast. Almost at his feet, half naked, with her face on the lowest step of the altar, her feet touching the altar itself, was the girl—his sister—who had kept her drunken lover from assaulting him. The girl was dead—there was a knife-wound in her breast. Sick at the sight, I left the place and went on, almost mechanically, to Voban’s house. It was level with the ground, a crumpled heap of ruins. I passed Lancy’s house, in front of which I had fought with Gabord; it, too, was broken to pieces. As I turned away I heard a loud noise as of an explosion, and I supposed it to be some magazine. I thought of it no more at the time. Voban must be found; that was more important. I must know of Alixe first, and I felt sure that if any one guessed her whereabouts it would be he: she would have told him where she was going, if she had fled; if she were dead, who so likely to know as this secret, elusive, vengeful watcher? Of Doltaire I had heard nothing; I would seek him out when I knew of Alixe. He could not escape me in this walled town. I passed on for a time without direction, for I seemed not to know where 356 I might find the barber. Our sentries already patrolled the streets, and our bugles were calling on the heights, with answering calls from the fleet in the basin. Night came down quickly, the stars shone out in the perfect blue, and, as I walked along, broken walls, shattered houses, solitary pillars, looked mystically strange. It was painfully quiet, as if a beaten people had crawled away into the holes our shot and shell had made, to hide their...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781771120456
Related ISBN
9781771120449
MARC Record
OCLC
966771243
Pages
408
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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