Colonel Clark was seated in the great drawing-room of the government
house, with Rocheblave near him, a sentry at the open door, and one of
the principal inhabitants standing in an humble attitude before him.
Clark’s face was stern and cold, for he was yet playing a part, and
desired to frighten the people of Kaskaskia to the utmost.
“Well, sir,” he said, sternly, “and so you will not confess who is the
principal instigator of these Indian atrocities? Beware, for I can
order you out to be shot in one minute.”
“And if you shoot me ten times over, monsieur,” said the other, in a
shaking voice, “I could tell no more. I am but a poor dealer in snuff
and tobacco, and know nothing of Indian plots. Ask Monsieur Rocheblave.
He knows all. There was an Indian embassy came to him only yesterday
Rocheblave, at the first mention of his name, had been signaling the
other to keep quiet, but in vain.
“No, you need not wink at me, monsieur; I shall tell the American
General all I know. I will not be shot to please you. There were twelve
chiefs from the Wabash, monsieur, with Mademoiselle Rubie, the daughter
of the Grand Door, and they were quartered in the old arsenal for the
night, if they have not escaped.”
Clark turned grimly on Rocheblave.
“Why did I not know this, sir?”
“Indeed, monsieur le colonel, I meant no harm,” said Rocheblave,
hastily; “and, indeed, these fellows are only friends of a cousin of my
wife’s, Mademoiselle Rubie Roland.”
“Ruby Roland,” repeated Clark, slowly; “is that the adopted daughter of
“The same, monsieur,” said the snuff-merchant, eagerly.
“Then, if she is here, I am glad,” said Clark, quietly. “You can go
back home, sir; but do not stop to speak to a soul. The patrol has
orders to shoot any citizen standing still in the streets. Go, and
The snuff-merchant bowed down to the very ground, and backed from the
room, just as a tremendous clatter of hoofs outside announced the
arrival of Ruby Roland and her cavalcade.
Clark hurried to the window, somewhat startled, and beheld the twelve
stalwart Indians and the girl springing off their horses.
The sight of his boy adjutant’s uniform among them reassured him of
their intentions, for Clark had grown to feel almost a superstitious
confidence in this reckless lad.
He returned to his seat, then, with measured steps, for he knew the
importance of preserving dignity before the stately Indians. With
perfect patience he remained sitting, waiting for his new guests, while
Rocheblave, who felt his position keenly, fidgeted about uneasily in
In a few minutes more the sentry at the door challenged, as the sound
of moccasined feet approached.
“Let them pass, sentry,” said Clark, quietly; and into the room swept
Ruby Roland, in a perfect blaze of splendor, followed by her dusky
Involuntarily Clark rose, and bowed with the deepest respect to the
beautiful creature. It seemed to him as if he beheld her for the first
It was not quite true, as he had told Frank, that Ruby had failed to
leave any impression on his mind the year before, when he had seen her
under the disadvantages of fatigue and hunger, which had reduced her
features to gauntness. Still, his own mind had been so much preoccupied
at the time with his Kaskaskia scheme, that he apparently noticed
Now, however, in the moment of his triumph, when this beautiful girl
approached him, dressed like a princess, the bold leader, for the first
time in his life, felt a curious throbbing at his heart, as he bowed
before her to the very ground, at least as deep as the obsequious
To his surprise, Ruby returned the courtesy with the very least
inclination of the head, then turned and addressed a few words to her
retinue, who gravely seated themselves in a line on the floor, in front
of the door.
Then the girl advanced to Rocheblave, who stood undecided what to do,
and gravely embraced him in the French fashion.
“My cousin,” she said, “I have heard of your misfortune. Why did you
not listen to my words? I warned you that the door would be shut; but
you see I have come, as I promised.”
“You might as well have stayed away,” said the ex-Governor, sulkily.
“You must have known these people were coming, and would not warn your
“Our old ally was my father’s king,” said Ruby, proudly; “and it was
to please him that I did not betray the Big-Knives. I have been with
them on their march when they knew not, and my warriors have watched
every step they took. Where were your senses, that you only watched the
river? The road over the prairie from Fort Massac is straight. A child
could follow it to Kaskaskia.”
“Spare me your sneers, mademoiselle,” said Rocheblave, not without
dignity; “there is my captor, if you wish to turn to the rising sun. I
can entertain no further proposals, for I am a prisoner.”
“I did not come here to reproach you, my cousin,” said Ruby, gently;
“but for a kinder purpose by far. I will open the door again, if you
will enter. See now, you were born a Frenchman, and the French king
owned all this place. Now France and America are allies, and I call to
you to return to your old allegiance; desert this sour-faced British
nation, and be a gay friend of America as I am.”
“Never,” exclaimed Rocheblave, angrily–“never will I submit to be
called a friend of these accursed rebel hounds. Let them do their
worst. I have eaten the king’s bread, and I will never desert him. Go,
tempt Coralie, if you like. I will not yield.”
“And where is Coralie?” asked Ruby, with a slight smile.
“In her chamber, which the rebel dogs dare not profane,” said the
Governor, loftily. “Even there they had the insolence to penetrate last
“They found but little, I venture to say,” answered Ruby. “I know
Coralie too well to doubt her ability to hoodwink these men of
Kentucky, who–between us, cousin–are easily blinded by a fine woman.
By this time, I doubt not that the agreements with Blackfish and the
Chickasaw chiefs are burnt. How much do you pay for white scalps this
Clark had been a silent and interested listener to this brief colloquy,
and he noticed that the Governor turned deadly pale at the home-thrust
of the girl. Now he advanced himself and spoke to Ruby.
“Mademoiselle,” he said, “I may possibly have passed out of your
remembrance, but I have not forgotten the lady who came through
such perils to Harrodsburg, to propose to me the alliance of the
tribes of the Wabash. Whatever papers Madame Rocheblave may destroy,
mademoiselle, it were better she should do it than that we should
insult a lady. That is a point of honor with us rough Kentuckians.”
Ruby looked at him critically, and unconsciously Clark turned crimson
under the glance. It seemed to him that he had never before seemed so
dirty and unkempt in his life, as when he stood before this brilliant
beauty, in his ragged campaign uniform, with his unshaven face.
“You Kentuckians have more mercy than we women,” she said. “I would
have got those papers for you. But you Americans are easily worked on
by a pretty face. I remember once when you were not so polite as now.
You were rude to me, monsieur.”
And Clark, greatly confused, stammered that he “did not quite remember
to what she referred,” as the straightforward beauty fixed him with her
great dark eyes.
“I know,” she said. “I have a good memory, monsieur, and, if I have a
mind, I can overturn all your fine expedition in the moment of success.
Be polite now, for you will find that one year has made a great
difference with Ruby Roland.”
Clark was about to answer deprecatingly, when the voice of the sentry
at the lower door was heard challenging:
“Halt! you kurn’t pass here, mounseer. Colonel’s quarters.”
“But if I wish to see the colonel, my friend,” said a mild voice, “can
not I go in? I am the parish priest, father Gibault.”
“Kurn’t help it,” said the sentry, sturdily. “My orders is to let no
one pass. Sergeant give me a shakin’ up about lettin’ in them ’ere
Injins, jest now.”
“But my dear friend,” said the priest, mildly, “I do but wish to
ask permission to wait on the commander, with five of the oldest
inhabitants of the town, to represent to him our cruel position.”
Clark, who had been listening intently to this dialogue, now spoke to
the sentry at his own door.
“Sentry, is the adjutant outside? Call him in.”
“Please, colonel, the adjutant bean’t hyar,” said the man.
“Not here,” said Clark, surprised. “Why I saw him at the door. Where is
Ruby Roland answered him:
“Your adjutant is a great friend of mine, colonel, and has gone on
a message for me. In his absence, allow me to act for him, as I am
responsible for his reappearance. What do you wish done?”
“I wish–but, mademoiselle, I could not think of giving you so much
“I prefer it, colonel. You wish to send a message?”
“I wish to inform the gentleman below that I will receive him and his
friends in half an hour; and I want to see all my officers here.”
“It shall be done, monsieur,” said the girl, quietly.
Then she turned to her grim escort, and spoke to them in their own
tongue a few words. Every chief sprung up, saluted Clark with great
gravity, and followed Ruby from the room.
Clark went to the window, and looked down. He saw an old man in a
priest’s cassock, waiting by the gate; and very soon saw Ruby and the
Indians come out and speak to him. Then the priest turned away, Ruby
and the Indians mounted, rode down the streets toward the American
camp, and all was still again.
Ten minutes after, Bowman, Harrod, and the principal officers, rode up
to the door, and came up-stairs, when Clark dismissed the Governor,
under guard, to his wife’s room, and awaited the return of the priest
and his party.
Inquiring what had become of Ruby and the Indians, the leader was told
that they had re-entered the arsenal and disappeared. The time passed
in discussing their plans for the future; and then, punctually to the
half-hour, they heard a horseman pull up outside, and the gay voice of
the little adjutant, singing an old French hunting-song, as he came up
Then the small officer tripped into the room, saluted gayly, and said:
“Colonel, that little squaw princess detained me unwarrantably, but you
know a Kentuckian must obey the ladies. There are a lot of gray-headed
old gentlemen coming up the street, and I think they look like a
Clark looked at the boy severely. Somehow he didn’t like the familiar
way in which the latter spoke of Ruby.
“Young gentleman,” he said, “when you have more sense, you will esteem
it an honor to wait on a lady, especially one so beautiful and modest
as mademoiselle. Speak of her with proper respect, sir. She is no
“I cry you mercy, colonel,” quoth the saucy lad. “I forgot that you
had just seen her. You know you told me once you would not know her
again. How is it now?”
“I should know her among a million,” said Clark, warmly.
The little adjutant burst out laughing, in defiance of all military
“’Gad, gentlemen, I fear the colonel’s smitten to the heart,” he cried.
“The invulnerable colonel’s fallen in love with this dusky princess;
and he’s ready to cut any man’s throat that says a word against her.”
The other officers, rough backwoodsmen all, save Bowman and Montgomery,
used only to republican equality, made no scruple of joining in the
laugh. Clark turned white with anger, and his voice was deep with
concentrated rage, as he said:
“Adjutant Frank, go to your quarters under arrest. Gentlemen, the
man that persists in this unseemly merriment becomes my enemy at any
hazard. Do I command this expedition or not?”
In a moment there was a dead silence, broken only by Frank. Contrary
to his usual custom, the boy seemed possessed with a perfect devil of
impudence that day.
“All right, colonel,” he said, gayly. “The quarters are with the young
lady at present. We’ll see what she says, when she hears that you
vented the rage on your junior officer that you did not dare to show to
her, or an equal.”
In a moment Clark strode forward to where the audacious officer
stood, with a look of concentrated fury on his face. The backwoods
leader possessed a furious temper, which he generally controlled
only by exercise of an iron will. For a moment every one in the room
thought that he was about to strike the boy down, and big Bill Harrod
half-stepped forward to lay hands on his commander.
But, ere the big captain reached him, Clark had controlled his passion
by a mighty effort, and spoke in a low, hoarse tone:
“Boy, while this expedition lasts, I command here. When it is over,
I’ll give you satisfaction on equal terms. Think yourself lucky that I
do not strangle you here. It is but your weakness protects you now. But
do not dare again to breathe one word of disrespect toward the lady
whom I saw this morning, or I will not answer for my forbearance. I
have business. Go.”
He pointed to the door with a trembling finger, his face ashy pale, his
eyes glittering dangerously. The little adjutant saluted, gravely, and
went to the door.
At the door he turned and said, in a tone of indescribable insolency:
“What a coil, gentlemen, about a little squaw!”
Big Bill Harrod rushed at him with a stifled guffaw, and hustled him
“You tarnation sarcy little cuss, d’yer want ter get killed? Cunnel’s
madder than twenty wildcats now.”
And indeed the good-natured borderer’s action was the only thing that
brought Clark to his senses, for the exasperated chief had already half
drawn his sword.
But as Harrod carried the boy down-stairs, the other officers gathered
round Clark, expostulating, and Kenton remarked:
“Cunnel, the little cuss hev gone crazy, you may bet. He never acted
so afore, and it’s b’en a tearin’ hot day. I suspicion he’s b’en
“Drunk, more likely,” said Helm, in a tone of contempt. “Those boys are
not fit to trust with a bottle of applejack. They go cracked in five
“Let it pass, gentlemen,” said Clark, impatiently. “Remember we have
business to do, and this priest and his friends are at the gate by this
time. I’ll attend to that boy in due time. Now get ready to receive
They settled themselves in chairs round the room, and soon Bill Harrod
lumbered in, escorting father Gibault and five venerable citizens, who
trembled as if their last hour had come, and remained near the door,
bowing confusedly, and looking among the ragged, dirty figures before
them as if doubting the evidence of their senses.
At last the priest faltered out to Harrod:
“Please, good monsieur, will you not tell me which of these honorable
gentlemen is your leader?”
“That thar man in the big cheer, with the laced hat,” said Harrod,
pointing with his thumb at Clark, whose battered head-covering had once
been laced. “Spit out what you’ve got to say, lively.”
The poor _curé_ looked from one to the other, as if doubting whether
they were not playing a cruel practical joke on him. The faces of all
the officers had been blackened in streaks with gunpowder and water,
in a fashion which many of the grimly-humorous backwoodsmen had taken
from the Indian war-paint. In dress they were no way superior to their
men, and the wearing of swords was all that distinguished them. Such a
looking set of ruffians might have frightened any one, much more the
poor Frenchmen, whose minds had been industriously filled with horrible
stories about the “rebels” by Hamilton’s and Rocheblave’s emissaries.
Clark, whose pity was excited by the evident terror of these feeble old
men, came forward kindly enough, and said:
“I am Colonel Clark, of Kentucky, gentlemen, commander of this force.
What is your business? Fear nothing. We will not kill you. Speak
Father Gibault, who seemed to be spokesman, was so much affected by the
kind tone, that he faltered:
“God bless you, monsieur! God bless you! You are very kind, and we are
Clark waved his hand impatiently.
“Well, well, gentlemen, what is your business? Speak quickly, for I am
“Monsieur,” said the priest, earnestly, “we are well aware that your
people do not belong to our church, and that you hold its doctrines in
derision; but, monsieur, we beg leave to assure you that we are very
quiet, harmless people. We know that the fortune of war has thrown
us into your hands, and that we must expect to be separated from our
happy homes, perhaps never to meet again. But, oh, monsieur, we beg,
in the name of humanity, that you will allow us to meet once more, for
the last time in our church, to hear one last mass, and to take leave
of each other.”
And the five old men, with one accord, broke out weeping in the most
piteous manner, crying:
“Oh, monsieur, for the love of God!” “Pity us!” “Indeed we did not know
who you were.” “The commandant told us you were all savages.” “But we
know better now.”
As if by one consent, the rough backwoodsmen jumped up and stamped away
to the windows, while muttered exclamations of sympathy were heard.
Clark waved his hand for silence, for he had his face under more
control than his subordinates, though he too was much affected by the
spectacle of old men in tears.
Then he said, in a careless tone:
“I have nothing to say against your church, gentlemen. That is a matter
we Americans leave every man to settle with his God. If your people
wish to assemble in the church, they can do so; but at the same time,
if they do, they must not venture out of town. I will withdraw the
troops to let you assemble. Is that all?”
“Oh, thanks, monsieur, thanks!” cried father Gibault, in a tone of
great relief. “But, oh, monsieur, if you would only listen to us for
a little while, I feel confident that we could convince you that our
intentions have always been of the most innocent–”
“That will do,” said the colonel, sternly. “I have listened to you
long enough, gentlemen. I have no leisure for further intercourse. The
officer of the day will withdraw the men from the town and you can meet
at the church. Good-day.”
He saluted stiffly, and turned away, while the overawed group of
delegates left the room in mournful silence, the terror being at its
When they were fairly in the street, Clark turned to his officers, who
stood silently round, and said, solemnly:
“Gentlemen, pray God that when this war is over we may never have
another. This is a bad business, and were it not that I intend to
change the mourning of these poor creatures to joy before to-morrow,
I swear to you that I would march back to Kentucky to-night. No, I
wouldn’t neither; but I hate to be looked on as a wild beast. Bowman,
keep the men out of the houses, as soon as the people go to the church.
I swear I feel sick at heart.”
* * * * *
It was nearly sunset before the people separated from the church. The
windows were wide open, for it was still very hot and sultry, and the
whole force of the Americans was drawn up near by, resting silently on
their arms, auditors of all that passed and very respectful auditors.
They could hear the solemn voice of the old priest, chanting mass, the
responses of the congregation broken by sobs and tears. Then several
of the older inhabitants made long and pathetic speeches, urging to
resignation under the will of Heaven, while women and children cried,
and men groaned aloud.
And, outside of the church, the supposed barbarians, whom the terrified
people within looked on as little better than their fierce Indian
neighbors, were hushed in pitying silence, while some of the roughest
broke down and blubbered secretly.
At last there was a deep hush, within and without, as the priest, with
faltering voice pronounced the benediction, and a stir, that followed,
announced that the people were coming out.
Suddenly Clark, who had been standing, gloomily leaning on his sword,
“Attention!” he shouted, sternly. “Stand to your arms there, men! Who
gave you leave to fall out? Shoulder arms! Support arms! Silence in the
ranks! Officers to your posts!”
Then, as the door opened, and father Gibault came out with a few of the
principal inhabitants, they were met by the sight of a grim line of
brown rifle-barrels, as the savage-looking frontiersmen obeyed their
Clark, with drawn sword, stood rigidly in front of his men, looking at
the priest, as the latter solemnly advanced with his little deputation,
while the church door was full of pale, anxious people, afraid to
advance a step further.
Father Gibault advanced to Clark, and said:
“Monsieur le colonel, to you and your brave comrades, I beg leave to
offer, in the name of my flock, our deep gratitude for the indulgence
we have received. Whether we live or die, we shall always remember
and bless you for this kindness. And now, monsieur, at the prayer of
my children, I beg leave to address you, our conqueror, on a subject
dearer to us than any other. Monsieur, may I speak, before all?”
A pin might have been heard to drop as Clark said, briefly:
“Speak on, father.”
“Monsieur,” said the good old priest, clasping his hands, and with
the tears streaming down his cheeks, as he spoke with impassioned
earnestness, “we are sensible that our present situation is the fate of
war, cruel merciless war. Monsieur, we are all ready to submit, to the
loss of our property. But oh, monsieur, we beg only one thing. I beg
for my poor children that they may not be separated from their wives
and tender little ones. Our property and lives are yours, but, for the
love of the good God, dear monsieur, spare us the sight of those little
ones torn from us to starve, and if you must take us away for slaves,
do not separate our families. If you have the further mercy to allow us
some clothes and provisions for our support during the terrible journey
before us, monsieur, God will bless you for it, and we shall never
forget the indulgence.”
The old man paused a moment amid a breathless silence to look into
the face of Clark. It was set into a stern frown, and the leader had
his teeth dug into his under lip. But, not a sign of pity made its
appearance on his pale countenance, and his eyes were glaring at the
priest, as if the Kentuckian were in a perfect fury.
“Monsieur,” continued father Gibault, in a trembling tone, “I assure
you that the conduct of our people during this war has been influenced
by our commandants, whom we were always taught to obey. I am not sure,
monsieur, that any of us, at this moment, clearly understand the cause
of dispute between your own honorable country and his majesty of
England. All that we know we have been told by our Governors, and as
you are aware, dear good monsieur, there are but few opportunities,
in these remote regions, of acquiring accurate information. Indeed,
monsieur, with all our commandant’s stories to mislead and deceive us,
there are very many among us, who have expressed themselves friendly
to the gallant Americans, as much as they durst under the eyes of the
Governor’s spies. Oh, monsieur, dear good monsieur, you must have a
kind heart hidden beneath that rough frock. In the name of God whom I
serve, spare my flock the cruelty of separation, have pity on their
wives and little tender babes, and do not turn them out to starve.”
As the priest spoke he fell on his knees, and with him the whole
deputation, while a wailing sob went up from the church-door, whence
every word was distinctly audible.
The sob was echoed all along the rigid line of Americans, and you could
see the muskets shake, while a hoarse murmur of sympathy rolled along
Clark turned abruptly away, stamped his foot violently, and dashed the
point of his sword into the earth, as if in a terrible passion.
“Silence in the ranks, you soft-headed fools!” he shouted. “Do you
think George Rogers Clark does not know his own business?”
Then turning on the trembling Frenchmen, he cried fiercely:
“Gentlemen, do you mistake us for savages? I am almost certain you
do from your language. Do you think that we Americans intend to
strip women and children, or take the bread out of their mouths? My
countrymen, gentlemen, disdain to make war upon helpless innocence.
It was to prevent the horrors of Indian butchery upon our own wives
and children, that we have taken arms and penetrated into this
remote stronghold of British and Indian barbarity, and not for the
despicable prospect of plunder. Now that the King of France has
united his powerful arms with those of America, the war will not in
all probability last long; but the inhabitants of Kaskaskia are at
liberty to take which side they please, without the least danger to
their property and families. Nor will your religion be any source of
disagreement, as all religions are regarded with equal respect in
the eye of the American law, and any insult to it shall be punished
immediately. And now to prove my sincerity, please inform your
fellow-citizens that they are quite at liberty to conduct themselves as
usual, without the least apprehension. I am now convinced, from what I
have learned since my arrival among you, that you have been misinformed
and prejudiced against us by British officers; and all your friends
that are in confinement shall immediately be released.”
And the unmasked stoic, who had played his part of tyrant with so much
imposing fierceness, broke down at last, and shook hands with the
agitated old men, the tears streaming down his face.
A mighty cheer broke from the borderers, and in a moment, all
discipline disappeared, as French and Americans fraternized in a grand
burst of joy.
At an early hour on a day of the following week, all Kaskaskia was
astir. Great changes had taken place during that week. The undeceived
citizens had found out the true nature of their invaders, and had not
only welcomed them, but had taken the oath of allegiance to the United
States Government, and become its warmest friends.
Not only that, but they had actually assisted them by force of arms to
complete that surprising conquest of Illinois, which was made without
the effusion of a drop of blood. When Clark dispatched Major Bowman
with half his force, to reduce Cahokia, an important trading-station
higher up the river, the major was accompanied by two bodies of
French militia, with restored arms, who were the first to enter the
place and inform the astounded inhabitants of the change of masters.
The enterprise was completely successful, the fort at Cahokia was
garrisoned with Americans, and the conquest of Illinois was virtually
Then, for the first time, Clark was able to turn his attention to
pacifying and regulating his suddenly acquired conquests, and toward
the question of reducing the second of the great chain of posts from
the lakes to the Mississippi, St. Vincent’s.
The Indian chiefs from the Wabash, with their beautiful princess, were
also constantly in his thoughts; and almost every day a grand council
was held, at which were settled the preliminaries of those treaties
which were to secure Kentucky from savage barbarity.
In all these councils, Ruby Roland acted as interpreter and chief at
once of her dusky delegation, and the intercourse between her and the
American leader was constant and quite familiar. The girl invariably
insisted on the presence of father Gibault, who had become an ardent
ally of the Americans, and the counsels of the two were of the utmost
use to Clark, in the novel position in which he found himself placed.
And all this while the backwoods leader, who had been at the very first
struck by Ruby’s beauty, found himself falling quickly and surely into
the meshes of a love-net, from which it was impossible to extricate
Ruby, whose manner toward him had been cold and distant at first, had
retained her coldness, varied by bursts of great apparent friendliness,
But on one or two occasions, when Clark had endeavored, at the close of
business, to engage her in conversation, she had invariably repelled
him with the utmost haughtiness. While father Gibault was present, she
would talk freely, displaying all the graces of a cultivated woman; but
to Clark alone she was as cold and cutting as a north-west wind.
Ruby Roland was indeed a strange compound of civilization and
barbarism. Father Gibault himself, who had given her the greater part
of her education, was often puzzled at her moods. The Indian warrior
and the polished lady were about equally mixed in her manner. Of the
humble, submissive squaw there was no trace, for dignity and pride were
in every motion.
At last Clark grew desperate. It was at the end of the last council,
on the day when Bowman returned from Cahokia, when a final treaty of
peace and amity had been concluded between the tribes of the Wabash on
the one hand, and the Americans on the other. When the chiefs rose to
depart, after shaking hands with the colonel, Clark laid his hand on
Ruby’s arm, as she was about to follow them, and said, in a clear voice:
“Mademoiselle Roland, with the chief’s daughter my business is over.
With the French lady I desire a few minutes’ conversation.”
Ruby looked at him from head to foot as she withdrew her arm from his
“You can not be much acquainted with French customs, monsieur,” she
said, icily, “if you are not aware that unmarried girls do not hold
conversation with bachelors, alone.”
“I invite father Gibault to be present,” said the Kentuckian, steadily
determined not to be beaten. “There can be no impropriety in our
talking before your religious instructor.”
Ruby smiled very provokingly.
“There may be no impropriety, sir, but you will please to note that
I belong to the delegation with which I came, and as a chief of the
Wabash I have a duty to my friends. I can not leave them. So I wish you
“Stay, madam,” cried Clark, excitedly. “In heaven’s name, how am I to
take you? Are you chief or lady? Keep to one character, I beseech you.
Which is it to be?”
Ruby drew her little figure up, and threw her velvet mantle over one
shoulder, Indian fashion, with an air of the most ineffable pride.
“It is to be any thing, monsieur, which will keep me from speaking to
you, who have avenged yourself on a poor boy for the cruelties you dare
not resent from me.”
And she was at the door ere Clark had recovered from his astonishment.
Then he rushed forward, crying:
“Mademoiselle, only one single word. If I forgive the adjutant, will
you grant me one single interview?”
“Try it, and see,” was the unsatisfactory reply, as the girl stepped
haughtily from the room.
“_Helas, mon ami_, it is no use,” said father Gibault, elevating his
shoulders to his ears in a truly French shrug. “You can not drive that
child from her own way. I remember when she was little, before her
father died–rest his soul, poor Captain Roland–she would roam away
alone among the Indians, and they were more dangerous then than now.
She would go up to the grimmest warrior in his war-paint, and pull his
scalp-lock as he sat by the fire; and ’twas her wonderful boldness that
first gained her the love of the old chief, Tabac. She was made a chief
before she was ten years old, and formally adopted as head Medicine
chief. They looked on her with superstition, and reverenced her
knowledge. In faith, monsieur, she knows all that I do in the way of
science and art, and moreover, she is the head of all Indian woodcraft
and magic. But you can not turn her out of the way, any more than the
sun in heaven. She is immutable.”
Clark stood ruminating awhile over the priest’s words. At last he
“Father, give me your advice what to do.”
He detailed the history of his quarrel with the adjutant, and concluded
“What less could I do, sir, than put under arrest the young insolent,
who insulted her and me alike? Is it just, sir, for mademoiselle to
visit this on me as a crime?”
Father Gibault took a pinch of snuff, and was silent.
“Why do you not answer, monsieur?” said Clark, pettishly.
“Monsieur le colonel,” said Gibault, dryly, “it is obvious to me that
your experience of women is limited. I never expect from them such a
cold and severe article as justice.”
“Then what am I to do, in heaven’s name, sir?” asked the colonel, in a
tone of desperation.
Gibault once more took snuff, and reflected a little.
“I think,” he said, at last, “that if I were you, (while I am not, for
I am a priest in orders, bound to celibacy) I should take the hint the
lady gave me, and–”
“Release the adjutant?” asked Clark, as the priest paused.
“Monsieur, _as a priest_, I can not give you any advice which would
tend toward uniting a good Catholic and yourself.”
And father Gibault gave the borderer a curious look, that was
compounded of sly humor and triumph.
Clark started back in amazement. So much was he engrossed with what he
thought mademoiselle’s injustice, that he had not clearly understood
whither he was tending.
“What do you mean?” he said, stammeringly.
“I mean,” said the priest, quietly, “that every one in Kaskaskia,
except Colonel Clark, is fully aware that he has fallen in love with
Mademoiselle Roland, and that he is jealous of a mere boy, because that
boy is a favorite of mademoiselle’s. Why, colonel, they are making
songs about it in the streets.”
Even as the priest spoke, they heard a chorus of lads in the street,
as the young rascals passed under the windows, singing at the top of
their voices a doggerel ditty, to the old air of “Malbrook,” better
known nowadays as “We won’t go home till morning.” Clark listened, and
turned red and pale alternately, as he clutched his sword-hilt; for the
boys were coupling his own name with Ruby’s in the disrespectful manner
common to French _gamin_ and New York “bhoy” alike.
For the benefit of our readers we append the song, with a free
“Le Colonel Clark est brave,
Mais il n’est qu’un esclave
Sous la main si douce et suave
De Mademoiselle Rubie Roland,
La demoiselle sauvage et belle-elle-elle,
La belle et sauvage demoiselle-elle-elle.
“Car Mademoiselle Rubie, la belle,
Le pousse debout de sa selle
Cette brave et sauvage demoiselle,
La demoiselle Rubie Roland,
La demoiselle Rubie Roland–and–and, etc.”
No English words can convey, however, the mocking accent of the refrain
in the chorus, and Clark was so much enraged that he would have rushed
out into the street, had not father Gibault thrown himself into the
“Hold, monsieur, in heaven’s name what are you about to do? Consider,
that you will make yourself ridiculous. These people must sing, or they
The colonel saw the folly of which he had nearly been guilty, and
restrained himself. A moment later, he saw cause to congratulate
himself, for, as he stood by the window, looking down at the impudent
boys, the old French town constable made his appearance in the nick of
time, and promptly collared two of the young scamps.
“You see, monsieur,” said father Gibault, pointing, “you did well to
leave our old authorities in force. The old people will not suffer
you to be insulted. See old Antoine. He knows hows to deal with the
In effect, old Antoine seemed to be equal to the occasion, for he was a
very strong old man, and he knocked the heads of the two boys together
several times, with a force that made them howl again, while the rest
of the lately uproarious group looked on, from afar off, in great
Clark, who had been standing by the open window, put his hand in his
pocket and pulled out a silver dollar, which he threw down to the old
constable, with a–
“_Merci, mon ami._”
Old Antoine pulled off his hat, made a low bow, and pocketed the coin
with many genuflexions, while the border leader turned away to Gibault,
“My eyes are opened, father. The boys are right, after all; but what
shall I do about my adjutant? If it should really happen that she loved
him, I believe I should kill them both.”
“How old is this adjutant?” inquired father Gibault, quietly.
“Remember, my son, that you lovers are apt to be jealous about trifles,
and that is foolish. How old is he?”
“A mere boy, not sixteen, and small for his age,” said Clark, not
without confusion. “But you must not fancy I am jealous of _him_,
father–a little whipper-snapper, whom I could turn over my knee. No,
sir; but you have no conception of the insolence with which he referred
to mademoiselle. It was for that I placed him under arrest, and he kept
talking back, with a manner perfectly indescribable. By heavens, sir, I
wonder I did not kill him on the spot.”
Father Gibault smiled.
“I do not think you need be afraid of this boy, monsieur, unless,
indeed, you make a martyr of him. I would advise you to follow
mademoiselle’s hint, as a friend, not as a priest.”
“I’ll do it, father,” said the Kentuckian, promptly. “Here, orderly,
go to the arsenal where the Indian chiefs lodge, and say to Adjutant
Frank, with my compliments, that I wish to see him.”
The orderly left, and the commander paced up and down the room
impatiently, waiting for the arrival of the culprit adjutant.