Father Mériel's Bell

“MY dear Joseph, they've put you on the committee for examining old documents.”

“ Now, Miranda, love,”said I to my wife, “ think of my asthma, with musty old papers ! Is not the Seminary enough for any one man, with the miserable Institute at the West Village going ahead so ? Why could n't 'they' have put on Farr the town-clerk, or Parson White ?" And I went out of the house at once, to see why they could not. But Farr had weak eyes ; and a deacon told me that Mr. White had preached some heresy, and no doubt would have to leave before the bi-centennial came off. I was obliged to give it up, and spend a quantity of time trying to find something interesting, in the old records, for Meadowboro’s great celebration. Thus it was that I came to look over the manuscripts left by the Rev. Mr. Woodroffe, first minister of the town, who had discharged the duties of his post for more than fifty years. The yellow pile was made up for the most part of sermons. I found among them, however, one manuscript in a different hand, upon which the minister had made the following indorsement : The narrative of Goodwife Thankful Pumry, The Returned Captive ; for some years formerly a beloved inmate of my own household, and in those days a comely and gracious maid ; put into my hands on her early death-bed, to the end that I might know what had burthened her. Undoubtedly correct as regards matters that happened before the Burning. To be kept secret in the fear that otherwise family trouble might come to pass, inasmuch as her husband yet survives. Somewhat curious as giving good proof of what some doubt, strange doings of the Devil on the earth. I hold the woman to have been bewitched.”

I do not think Thankful Pumry’s confession had been unfolded since the minister wrote upon it, until it fell into my hands. I found that, while hunting among these withered leaves, which had fallen perhaps a hundred and seventy years ago, I had come upon a bunch of dewy and blooming arbutus, in the story of a tender-souled woman who died through sorrow. I give it with some abbreviation, and taken out of its ancient phraseology. I have not left out the superstition which pervades it. May-flowers would hardly seem so sweet to us without the foil to their beauty which comes from the trail of the worm, seen here and there upon the leaves. The reader shall see how life looked through the eyes of a young Puritan woman, full of sentiment and vivid fancy.

Toward the end of the seventeenth century, a new meeting-house was built in Meadowboro. A small surplus remained over from the fund appropriated by the Plantation for the work, which it was resolved should be applied to the purchase of a bell. The minister, the deputy to the General Court, and a certain ensign in the train-band, were empowered to do this business in behalf of their fellow-townsmen. Thankful Pumry gives the story of the purchase as follows : The three deputies, meeting at Boston, went to a warehouse at the water-side, where it was known a consignment of bells had been received. The minister told the merchant their errand; upon which the deputies were led to a corner of the warehouse, to a number of bells that lay, among various merchandise, upon the floor. One or two had been cast in England, and sent to the Colony by their makers, and some had been taken from church towers in the English civil war. The bells were of various sizes, dull in their color, and spotted with green rust. There was one, however, which showed upon its bright surface not a single spot of oxidation. From its top to its rim the color was golden and untarnished ; a cross was heavily embossed upon its side ; and beneath it, running about the edge of the bell, was the motto, “ O Maria, tuis precibus protege nos !” Above the cross, also, running about the top of the bell, was the legend, “ Ad majorem Dei gloriam,” the motto of the Jesuits. In spite of its beauty, it appeared that the Romish emblem and legends with which the bell was decorated made it less salable than the others. The merchant could tell nothing of its history, except that it had been sent to him by his correspondent at Bristol. Upon being questioned, he admitted, after some hesitation, that the bell had been declared to be possessed. In order that its tone might be heard, some laborers were called ; the bell was carried to the open air, and hung to a projecting beam upon the wharf. The merchant threw the tongue against the side. A sweet and most melancholy sound arose above the clatter of the harbor. It was clear and musical. It diminished with a tremulous vibration, through moment after moment, in a tone almost pathetic, as if it sighed and moaned, conscious of indignity, in being made to sound in such a place and by such hands. The tone was in some way suggestive of unrest. When the vibrations had fully died away, the minister spoke. He made light of the story of the merchant. Alluding to the Popish emblem, he said, with some formality, for a considerable group of people had gathered, “that howsoever it might have done service for the Devil, it had now been snatched away unto the Lord. He rejoiced that an instrument of idolatrous ceremonies might be used to call true saints to worship of the Gospel order.”

These considerations and the low price availed with the deputies of Meadowboro, and the bargain was concluded. At last, one Saturday evening, it was laid on the green in the frontier village. It was presently hung in the belfry of the little meeting-house, with the bell-rope passing through a hole beneath, down into the centre of the broad aisle. On Sunday morning the sound of it went forth over the roofs of the village for the first time, beyond the palisades, until all the outer farms were listening. It took the place of the drum-beat, which had hitherto been the signal for assembling. The tone of the bell, as heard, through the unbroken wilderness, from that little spot of civilization, still suggested disquiet and loneliness. The people, gathered on the green, looked with some awe at the shining metal with its device. The children, who saw it turn its edge up into the sunlight while the ringer was invisible, believed it had life of its own. Thankful says she stood, with her townspeople, — then an unmarried girl, — half disposed to adopt this childish notion. Then, for the first time, a question came to her mind: “This bell, which they say possesses some strange spell, and whose story is unknown, what is its secret ? ” It was then simple girlish curiosity; but she was destined to repeat the question, many times in years to come, with interest that continually deepened.

Meadowboro at this time was shut in within a palisade of hewn timbers sharpened at the top, which enclosed it like a line of grenadiers in peaked caps, dressed shoulder to shoulder. Some were freshly cut, and stood like new recruits put into line yesterday; others were gray old veterans, which had stood ranked twenty years, since the days of Philip’s war, and were decorated all over with pale green medals of lichen. The houses were built with regard to defence. Down into the meadows went the people, beside their teams, with goad in one hand, and long gun in the other; and sometimes, when the corn was high, they were driven within the gates of the palisade by the rifles of Indians, or hostile French from Canada. They paraded weekly in the train-band, and sat austerely on Sunday in the square unpainted meeting-house, beneath the eyes of tithingmen and ruling elders. At town-meetings they voted for selectman and fence-viewer, deer-reeve and constable, with grains of corn for "ay,” and dark beans for “ nay ” ; and Farr says there are traditions that, when the voting was done, the rival parties sometimes grew amiable again over a hearty dish of succotash made out of the ballots.

Not unknown in the village was the howl of wolves. Against wild beast and savage every man went armed. Even in the minister’s study, buff coat, pistol, and heavy sword had a place beside Bible and Psalm-book. This was the village ; these were its people ; and over all from the belfry, the bell whose past was unknown from time to time sounded. On Sundays, at the weekly lecture, on Fast and Thanskgiving, and each evening at the hour of nine, its vibrations were poured over the meadows and into the mountain-hollows ; and when the hand of the ringer was taken from the rope, the moan-like prolongation came always for some moments, until it fainted upon the ear, as if it were protesting through the sombre forest that it would be elsewhere.

With regard to Thankful, I make out these facts from hints in her confession : — Remembrance Pumry, whom she did not love, paid court to her. In girlish sport, she encouraged him ; and he came to see her, against the will of the minister, her guardian. For this, according to the harsh custom of the Puritan villages, he one day underwent some discipline beneath the whippingtree. I look up daily into the top of the same tree, still vigorous, and see what a writhing there is of the great branches in its leafy brain. Does it have uncomfortable qualms, I wonder, because it was the whipping-tree when it was a sapling? If it was unkind to Remembrance, it is somewhat too gentle to the young people, now, in its old age. Alack! alack ! the large girls of my Seminary will flirt beyond all bounds summer evenings on the bench around its trunk, apparently with its ready connivance!

Thankful’s heart was touched at the suffering which she had brought upon Remembrance. Without sufficient thought, she won her guardian to favor his suit, and at last married him. She found, too late, that she had only given him her hand, and from the first hour of her marriage was unhappy. Her narrative shows her to have been of better education than most women of her position. I do not know whether she was the victim of a spell or not. She believed it herself, and so did the minister. Her confession, at least, has a most singular, pensive charm, which I would I might preserve in my rendering, but which, I fear, is too subtle. After laying down the mildewed leaves, I have sometimes felt as if the sound of the bell with which her fate became connected had just died upon my ear.

Not long after her marriage, Thankful went one evening to the house of the minister, and found there a stranger who had arrived since sundown. He was dusty with travel; his complexion was olive, his eye dark and penetrating, his stature tall. His manners were full of a dignified affability and elegance, strange to one accustomed only to the English Puritans. He was made known to Thankful by the minister as a Huguenot exile, “ certified to be of worth by the minister of the French congregation in Boston, from whom he hath letters to whomsoever it may concern.” The worshipful Cotton Mather, moreover, had provided him with a letter to the authorities of the frontier towns, speaking of him as one “ anxious to proceed even into the wilderness, to behold thoroughly God’s mercies to New England, and in what manner this goodly vine hath waxed and grown onward even at the end thereof.” The stranger spoke in fluent English, but with a foreign accent and an occasional use of foreign idioms. The talk through the evening was of his country, and the persecution of the Protestants under the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The stranger described many a terrible scene, his hands and expressive features giving, graphic emphasis to his words.

When the evening was well advanced, the Huguenot, with a polite inclination toward the minister’s wife, said : "Will madame permit me ? — the goodness in her face is so great, it must be I seek to give her pleasure. I have here my flute. Ah me! companion of voyage to me, poor exile ! and in my far home, one said I played it well.” It was hardly with cordiality that the guest was invited to produce his flute, for music was held a trivial matter in the Puritan villages. The encouragement was great enough, however, to induce him to open his pack and joint the instrument. He began to play a lively measure, but Thankful relates that here this incident took place: — From the belfry, close at hand, the nine-o’clock peal was heard. She says she could not help noticing that the bell had in its tone a quality of anxious distress she had never heard before. The effect of the sound upon the stranger was startling. His flute dropped from his hands upon the floor. He leaped to his feet, catching his breath. At the same time he made a quick gesture, quite inexplicable to all present. Throwing his left arm across his breast, he brought his right hand, with his two fingers extended, to his forehead, drew it rapidly from his forehead to his chest, and then carried it across to his left shoulder. Here suddenly, as if recollecting himself, he dropped his arms to his side and took his seat in hasty confusion. After profuse apologies, he at length recovered self-possession. The company were greatly surprised. They received the stranger’s explanations, however, without question. His letters were of the highest character, and, after all, no one could see that there was anything in his conduct to excite suspicion. “ Our friend must know,” said the minister, gravely jesting, “that the bell is possessed ; but straightway, if means can be found, it shall learn courtesy to strangers.” The next day, after a keen glance toward the belfry, the Huguenot stranger departed. Some months after, however, he reappeared in Meadowboro. Thankful says he comported himself in the most unexceptionable manner. There was nothing strange in his demeanor, but a habit of muttering to himself, and a familiarity he seemed to have with birds.

With his flute, or by whistling, he could imitate their notes to a remarkable degree, calling out from them replies, and bringing them sometimes to flutter about him. This he occasionally did for the amusement of the children. He took much interest in the better fortification of the town, a measure judged necessary from the increased danger of an invasion from Canada, in the war then raging. As the winter went forward he spent much time in hunting to the northward, and was commissioned by the town authorities to watch for signs of the enemy.

In her unreserved communication, Thankful says it had become her habit to take long rambles, to divert her mind from the gloom to which she felt herself disposed. She appears to have been fearless, and to have taken her lonely walks in winter as well as in summer, and sometimes even after dark. She says that a favorite resort of hers was a meadow some two miles away from the village. One quiet evening toward the close of winter she set forth alone, as was not unusual. The deep snow was sheathed with a thick crust. The sky was clear, and, as she walked onward over the palisade, at a point where a drift had completely buried it, out into the solitude of the meadow, a bright aurora streamed before her. There was no moving thing upon the snow, and the only sound upon the sharp air was the crisp tread of her feet upon the frozen surface. She kept on rapidly in the direction of a low hill, whose lines rose from the whiteness of the meadow that encompassed them, like a dark island. Growing warm with the exercise, she threw back her hood and received upon her face, with a sensation of pleasure, the freshness of the winter night. She skirted the whole length of the hill on the eastern side, and turning, began to go round its northern end. All was perfectly cold, still, and lonely. Just then she began to hear the bell in the village, distant but perfectly clear, begin to ring for nine o’clock. The sound came over the snow far and sweet, now faint, now sending out its penetrating melancholy with great distinctness. Thankful paused; for she says the quality of the tone again seemed different from anything she had before heard. There seemed blended with it yearning and soft invitation. Resuming her walk, a step or two brought her nearly through a little belt of trees, beyond which the bare and solitary meadow stretched in perfect whiteness westward. The intervening hill now shut off all view of the one or two faint lights that yet twinkled from the village. The aurora threw a dim and fitful illumination upon the dreary stretch of plain, upon which the pines flung down an almost awful darkness. Suddenly Thankful paused, with a movement of quick terror, and almost sank upon the snow. A few rods in advance of her rose a tall figure, wrapped from head to foot in the deepest black. Nothing could be more ghastly. The arms were folded upon the breast, and the figure bent forward perfectly motionless. Meantime the sound of the bell went and came, doubly full, as it seemed, of inexpressible yearning and tender summons. At last it ceased. The figure tossed its arms aloft as if exultant. The spectral light in the northern sky at the same time appeared to waver and loom with new activity. Pale hands of giant ghosts appeared to pass athwart the heavens. Fingers solemnly beckoned, then in an instant clutched high towards the zenith, quivering as if in sympathy with, or perhaps mocking, the tall spectre which towered dark upon the snow.

At length the shape turned, and swept rapidly northward. It seemed to disappear in the shadow of the sombre woods which lay in that direction. No other thought occurred to Thankful than that she had seen a ghost. Recovering with an effort from her stupor of fear, she sprang to her feet, and keeping close in the shadow of the hill, hurried homeward. A light or two still burned from within the palisade when she came within sight of it. Toward these she hurried over the crust, the agitated beating of her heart becoming gradually calmer as the distance lessened. At length she heard quick footsteps behind her, and an instant after was seized roughly by the arm. Casting her eyes up in a fright, she discovered it was only the French stranger, who, however, looked at her with impatient fierceness. But now down from the palisade a soldier of the townguard came sauntering. The Frenchman loosed his hold, and with some apparent difficulty forced the dark expression from his face. Assuming as much as he could of his usual courtesy, and speaking as if in surprise, “ Indeed,’’ he said, "it is Goodwife Pumry. I was frightened to see this figure in the night.” Then with anxious eagerness: “What have you seen to make you run ? Some spectre, perhaps, or beast of prey.” Thankful briefly gave an account of the apparition. The soldier listened with dull wonder, while the Frenchman seemed hardly able to contain himself. When she had finished, he broke out in voluble declarations that it was no doubt a ghost. Thankful went forward to her home, while the two men remained together near the quarters of the guard.

She went at once to her chamber. Looking out of the small panes of the window, she saw that the tremulous glare still overspread the northern sky. Sheeted arms of phantom light were tossed from the horizon toward the zenith. Happening to look toward the belfry of the meeting-house, she relates that the bell shone strangely, as if from a light within itself. Taking her place at her husband’s side, Thankful reviewed in her mind the events of the evening, until she fell into a troubled sleep. From this she awoke at last, much oppressed. The shock of the strange occurrence still lay heavy upon her mind, and she found herself a prey to superstitious terror such as she had never known before. She thought of the portents which were said to have appeared in different parts of the Colony before dreadful events. Before the desolating Philip’s war, an Indian bow and scalp had been seen imprinted upon the disk of the moon. Gloucester one evening was beleaguered by an army of ghosts. At Malden, the shock of cannon was heard, the singing of bullets, and the beating of phantom drums passing through the heavens to the westward ; and the people of Plymouth had been startled by the hoof-beats of a great invisible troop of horse riding through the night, as if for life.

At length, Thankful thought she heard the sound of rising wind. It was a long faint sound as if a distant blast were passing over the crust of the meadow, hurrying before it broken twigs, morsels of ice, and dry leaves. As it died away, she rose and went to the window. From the belfry of the meeting-house, she feels sure she saw again a supernatural lustre in the bell. Meantime the sound of the wind again arose, but nearer and with a stronger rush. It came from the northwest, from the meadow; but when Thankful waited to hear the gale, as it swept against the forest near the town, there was no sound, and she could see that the trees remained motionless. It flashed upon her mind that a troop of men advancing over the crust, with now and then a pause, under an artful leader, might thus counterfeit the noise of a storm, and deceive a drowsy guard; but just then the rush deepened into a heavy tumult, out of which burst a wild quavering howl, caught up by a multitude of voices, and the quick discharge of guns. Thankful wakened her husband by a scream. While they hastily assumed their clothing, scores of indistinct shapes bounded beneath the window, into the centre of the village, from the direction of the palisade. Figures were seen flitting from house to house, brandishing weapons, and from every throat came the terrifying whoop. Here and there began to appear sudden gleams of fire, and presently upon the door rattled the hatchets of a party that was seeking entrance. For a moment the snow beneath the window was clear of figures. Thankful and her husband, throwing up the sash, leaped to the hard crust. Her husband sprang up uninjured; but Thankful, as she bore her weight upon her limbs, found that one ankle was severely sprained. She moved a step or two, but the tramp and shouts of a party close at hand were heard. The next instant figures swept around the house, dimly revealed in the wavering conflagration that began to blaze. Her husband fled. A hand caught her by the arm, and the swarthy face of a Canadian ranger was thrust into hers. Her captor dragged her to the door of the meeting-house, before which was now drawn up a body of men, showing some approach to discipline. They were French and half-breed rangers, as revealed by the firelight, with rough coats of blanket girt about the waist with leathern thongs ; their legs incased in fringed leggings and moccasins; their heads covered with loose red woollen caps, or headgear of fur. The rattle of musketry was constant. The company of captives continually increased, each pouring out some story of terror. At length, driven along by a tall savage, whose hands were marked with blood, the minister was brought to the meetinghouse, followed by his feeble wife and a part of his children. Thankful’s mind since her capture had been so taken up with the immediate horror and danger, that all thought of preceding events had passed from her. Now, however, as she looked forth upon the burning village, with a quick, hasty stride there appeared directly in front the same mysterious figure she had seen in the meadow. In the bright light, the figure appeared as a tall man in the prime of life, in a straight, close-fitting robe of black. A small book was suspended about his neck, and from a girdle at his waist hung a chain of beads, with a cross of silver at the end. Close at his side, with a manner of friendly intimacy, the wondering captives saw no other than the supposed Huguenot stranger. The two men paused, and the spy, for such now all felt sure that he was, extending his hand, pointed out the bell to his companion. The figure in black looked toward it with most eager attention, even letting tears fall from his eyes. Suddenly he fell upon his knees, uncovering his head, and crossing his hands upon his breast. The crown of the head was entirely shaven, and surrounded by a ring of jet-black hair. Thankful could not refrain from noticing that the face was exceedingly noble. The upturned eyes were full of intense feeling ; the forehead was broad, above well-defined brows ; the nose was prominent and finely curved ; the lips, moving in prayer, and the firm chin, showed both strength and gentleness. The entire face, though wasted, was then full of joy, gratitude, and reverence. Nor could Thankful fail to notice the demeanor of the spy. As he looked at the kneeling man, his face assumed an expression of deep malignity ; whereas, just before, the two men had approached one another apparently in most friendly mood. Suddenly the spy appeared to bethink himself, and repeated the same singular gesture he had begun to make the evening of his first appearance in Meadowboro, when startled by the bell. He rapidly brought his hand from his forehead to his breast, then from his left shoulder to his right, at the same time muttering as was his habit; and Thankful understood that he crossed himself. As the man in black arose to his feet, the spy turned to him again with a face of friendship. Thankful is sure that the light flashing from the bell was something more than a mere reflection of the wavering blaze of the village. It was weird and exultant; and she felt then convinced there must be some strange sympathy between it and the figure in black. The captives were not left long in doubt as to the true character of this personage. Mr. Woodroffe, who had hitherto remained silent, broke out into an angry exclamation: “In truth, our fathers came here in good part to raise a bulwark against the kingdom of Antichrist which the Jesuits labor to rear; but lo! the feet of the priests of Baal are within the very shrine of Israel ! ” The Jesuit meantime had recovered his feet, and taking his attention from the bell as if with some effort, went to work with active humanity to stop the massacre. With prompt energy he knocked up the gun of a Frenchman aimed at a flying villager. In another moment, he caught the arm of a savage uplifted with a tomahawk above the head of a woman. Then seizing a wild creature, who was about dashing out the brains of a babe upon a stone, he took the infant in his arms and brought it toward the church. The French guard gave way, as he approached, with much respect. Passing through their line and holding up the child tenderly, he said, in broken English, “ Where is the mother of this miserable?" She was not there. The Jesuit placed the babe carefully in the arms of a woman near, while the beads of his rosary rattled; then, looking around upon the group of prisoners, he broke out again: “Poor captives, I have for you much of pity.” In another moment he was expostulating with animation at the side of the spy and of another figure, whose dress and chapeau had some badges of rank.

Day had now begun to break. The prisoners were marched rapidly down from the meeting-house through the northern gate of the palisade. The outline of the eastern hills shone calm as usual before the brightening sky behind. Thankful’s captor, who, she found, was called Antoine, supported her not unkindly as she went forward halting with her painful sprain. Turning her eyes backward, she saw only a volume of murky smoke roll up into the reddening morning, where before had been the village. Presently the spot was passed, where, the evening previous, Thankful had seen the Jesuit listening to the bell. Then, behind a belt of woods, a place was reached, strewn with packs and snow-shoes, from which it appeared the attacking party had advanced. From a quick firing now heard in the direction of the village, it was plain that, as the Canadians retreated, the surviving settlers were rallying to impede their departure. The guard placed over the captives was withdrawn to re-enforce the combatants, giving the prisoners who were not injured opportunity to escape. Thankful, however, while attempting to fly, was easily overtaken by an Indian boy who had remained behind, and forced with a threatening tomahawk to remain quiet. Looking through the belt of timber, unable to escape, she saw the skirmish. The French seemed to have thrown away almost all their booty, except, singularly enough, the most cumbrous part, the bell; which had been taken from its place, swung upon a stout sapling, and was now carried forward by men, its tongue muffled, and the sun flashing back from its surface. Thus impeded, their retreat was but slow. The Jesuit with energy directed the carrying of the burden; while the spy could be seen animating the fighters and vigorously using weapons himself. In a sudden onset made by the English, Thankful distinctly saw the life of the priest threatened, near at hand, when the spy quickly interposed his own body before the danger, receiving a wound, but yet not being disabled. The English at length were driven back, and the rangers and savages, bearing many marks of a hard encounter, came into their camp. Almost the sole booty from the attack was the bell, yet with this the leaders of the party seemed satisfied. Looking toward it, the rangers reverently crossed themselves, and the eyes of the Jesuit were full of emotion. The priest bound up the wound of the spy with demonstrations of warm affection. In spite of her anxiety about herself, Thankful says she felt the question again rising in her mind, “What is the secret of the bell ?” Then as she saw the apparent affection of the two personages, as she remembered that the spy had just saved the Jesuit from great peril, and then recalled that still earlier scene, when the face of the spy was turned upon the Jesuit, full of hatred, this further question came to her, "What is the relation of these two men ? ”

The retreat to Canada was long and dangerous. Thankful, often drawn upon a sledge, received kind treatment; and gradually, in spite of the hardships and constant activity, recovered from her lameness. Becoming straitened for food, the life of the party was found to depend upon the temporary abandonment of the bell, which had much impeded their progress. With great unwillingness on the part of Father Mériel, as the Jesuit was called, the bell was buried at length upon the bank of a stream flowing into the St. Lawrence, whence it might easily be conveyed by batteau when the ice broke up. One afternoon at last, the great river of Canada, still sheeted with ice, was seen through the trees, and close at hand the low white houses of the village of St. Laudry, where Thankful was kindly-received into the house of Antoine, her captor.

The season came rapidly forward. The broad blue river was freed from its ice. At first the only color in the forest burned on the flame-shaped tufts at the tops of the leafless sumachs; but soon Thankful bit off in her walks the crimson fruit and savory leaf of the checker-berry, and watched the fledging of the woods. Just in front of St. Laudry, the river was calm and deep ; but by a forest path it was no long walk, following in the direction of a low sublime roar which grew upon the ear, to come out at last upon a promontory from which the stream could be seen surging and sounding in a frantic rapid. Annette, Antoine’s pleasant wife, speaking in a whisper, told Thankful a wild tale of a Récollet friar, in his grayrobe and cowl, who had been drowned in the rapid, and whose ghost might sometimes be seen leaping and telling the beads of his rosary, at the pitch where he had been ingulfed.

The spy, it seemed, was no other than a French gentleman of rank, the Seigneur of St. Laudry, holding a grant, from the king, of a territory fronting two leagues upon the river. Annette spoke of him as having been much absent from the village. His demeanor among the people was somewhat stately and formal. When he chanced to meet Thankful, it was with a bare look of recognition. The affability with which he had borne himself in the English settlement, it seemed, had merely been assumed for the time. He retained, however, his habit of muttering to himself. Moreover, he continued to imitate the notes of the birds, and called them around him, appearing to find in this, so far as Thankful could see, his only recreation. Father Mériel was priest of the village, also a man of high birth. No one knew the facts of his early history, except perhaps to the Sieur of St. Laudry, between whom and the priest the closest friendship appeared to exist Mériel had been in Canada long enough, it was plain, to gain great influence among both French and savages. On the bank of the river, a little apart from the village, stood the chapel, with a large cross before it, and the lodge of the Jesuit close at hand. As he moved about among the people, with his noble features sad through some unknown sorrow, but full of charity and enthusiasm, or walked on the river margin, repeating the prayers from his breviary in reverent abstraction, Thankful says she could not but feel, from the first, that there was something in the priest finer than she had ever known, although the effect of her nurture was to make her regard his office for a long time with repugnance. Among these surroundings, Thankful soon began to be at ease. In reality, she felt more happiness than she had known for some time. She hardly confessed it to herself, — but it was a relief to be absent from her unloved husband. The genial manners of the people, too, among whom she had come, were a pleasant change from the austerity of the English settlers. She took part with energy in Annette’s duties, and began — with a sense of guilt all the time — to feel again something of the buoyancy of her maidenhood.

There were at length signs, in the village, of some approaching great event. “ What is it ?” said Thankful, who was becoming proficient in the patois.

“ Ah, child,” said Annette, “ do you not know ? The bell is to be brought to the village and hung in the tree before the church.”

“And what is the secret of the bell ? ” said Thankful.

“ Dear child, do you not know the story ? The bell is the cause of your captivity. It was cast for the Holy Society of Jesus, but the heretics in some way captured it. Our Sieur came home with the news that he had found it in your village. Ah ! how the Father spoke at the Mass when he told us ! He said it was an instrument for the service of the true faith. It had been consecrated, and ought hardly to be rung except by the hands of priests ; now it was in the power of heretics. So it was that the men were gathered from far and near, and went southward to get the bell.” When Annette had finished, Thankful felt she might have told all she knew, but that it was not the whole truth.

The day came at last. The batteau which had been sent for the buried bell had returned, and a procession had been arranged. The women of the village were out in their brightest attire, with white caps and bodices, and striped petticoats trimmed with ribbons. There were voyageurs and coureurs de bois, with locks decorated with eagles' feathers, beaded frocks trimmed with tufts of elk hair, and the tails of rattlesnakes carried as amulets rattling in their bullet pouches. There were Indians in halfEuropean attire of red and blue cloth, in sashes and collars heavily set off with beads and the quills of the porcupine. In good time came the procession through the irregular street. From Thankful’s description it must have had much pomp. The trumpets, drums, and silken banners of a detachment of French troops, temporarily in the village, lent it a martial interest. Among the soldiers marched the military figure of the Sieur in a bright cuirass and plumed head-piece, which he wore as if he were accustomed to them. In the centre of the procession came the Jesuit, with a look of joy upon his pale face which was habitually so sad. Beneath a canopy of velvet was borne the bell. Before it, children with shining censers wafted incense toward it, and a choir of singers immediately following chanted a psalm in its honor.

“ Laudate Dominum in cymbalis sonantibus,
Laudate earn in cymbalis jubilationis.”

The unrusted surface of the bell had caught no spot from its journey or its burial. The cross glowed brightly forth ; so the motto about the rim, O Maria, tuis precibus protege nos, and the inscription on the upper part, Ad majorem Dei gloriam; its tongue had been muffled since its capture. Its last tones had been those Thankful had heard when it rang its mysterious summons to Father Mériel listening alone upon the snow. The people fell into the rear of the procession, and it soon reached the church. A few moments were enough to swing the bell into the tree-top already prepared to be the belfry.

Then began the celebration of the Mass. The richness of the appointments of the chapel so far in the wilderness had already struck Thankful with surprise. “ It is wealth which the Father has given to the faith,” said Annette. Vestments and utensils were, many of them, of exceeding beauty. Candles made from the wax of the wild laurel burned on the altar in chased candlesticks. The wine pressed from wild grapes was held in chalices of glass and silver. In the niche above the crucifix was a hovering dove, surrounded by a halo, symbolizing the Holy Ghost, an emblem associated by the Indians with the thunder-bird of their own superstitions. High up on the wall hung a painting of Sir Francis Xavier, his attenuated palms crossed upon his breast, his face upturned in adoration, a face wan but most beautiful, with aspiration and self-sacrifice written in the eyes and features. Presently the Jesuit entered, with his acolytes. As he stood before the altar in his sweeping chasuble, his mien was more imposing than ever. His movements were full of dignity, whether he turned toward the assembly with folded hands, or raised his arm to make the sign of the cross. In the chants the voices of the Indian women were sweet and low; deep and grand often the tones of the men ; and the music rolled with solemn effect, in the intervals of the service, through the little temple.

Meantime the Indians on their bare knees, the impressible women, and the gaunt voyageurs in their fringes and sashes, reverently knelt. The priest’s tall figure bent in the frequent genuflections. The incense rose, and Thankful, Puritan though she was, felt her soul subdued before the sonorous rhythm and all-conquering sweetness of the “Miserere” and “Gloria.” At length, as the Jesuit, extending his hands on high, lifted up the Host, just then when the awe was deepest, the mufflings fell from the bell. Once, twice, thrice it sounded. Thankful says it had its old melody, its old pathetic melancholy, but at the same time there was a sympathetic tremor that in some indescribable way indicated content and rest. So the congregation knelt, and the stately priest held aloft the Host, and there was no sound but muttered prayers and sobs of emotion. In this way the villagers of St. Laudry heard for the first time the sound of the lost bell. It went out deep into the dark forests among the homes of the village, and over the sweeping stream, mingling with the low roar of the distant rapids, until the air, holding its pulsations, seemed consecrated. At the very moment when the bell was struck, Thankful writes, she caught sight of the figure of the Sieur in his armor. Suddenly he raised his head so that Thankful could see his face. It indicated intense emotion; and lo! it had the expression which she had seen it wear once before. His eyes were fixed upon the Jesuit, and to her fancy were full of hate.

Month after month, Thankful watched the movements of the priest. Her feeling was, to be sure, far enough from entire approval of his life. It was rumored in the village that he wore next his skin a girdle studded with spikes, and she herself, returning from the river-bank one night when he was holding a vigil, heard the sound of a scourge from his lodge. She remained a Puritan still; yet she beheld admiringly the amiable grace with which he mingled in the life of the village, — the meek patience with which he stooped to the youngest and poorest, and to the repulsive savages from the woods. Thankful says much of the singular sympathy which seemed to her to exist between the Jesuit and the bell, and gives a number of incidents which indicate that he regarded it with far more veneration than any of the other furnishings of the altar and chapel.

Thankful was received everywhere in the village with confidence and friendship. At the service the face of the saint above the altar lifted her in aspiration. So the chants. And more than once, when the words and music had become familiar to her, the people in the church heard the voice of the captive lending volume to the song. It was at such a time once, when touched with the music, with her face bent upon Father Mériel at the Mass with more interest than she knew, as she afterward believed, that, suddenly happening to catch sight of the Sieur, she found him attentively regarding her. Their communication since her capture had been very slight; but she relates that from this time his manner changed. He grew attentive, and frequently engaged her in talk. About this time also, Annette broke out one evening, while the villagers were dancing under the trees to the flute and violin, “The Sieur is pointing Father Mériel toward our house ! ” After this, it was noticed that the priest’s visits to Antoine’s cottage became more frequent, during which he never failed to show his desire that Thankful should embrace the faith.

I declare I know not how to render the suffering expressed henceforth in poor Thankful’s homely words. I would give the story in her own language, were it not that I must be brief; yet I fear that, transferred into a different form, the account must lose much of its simple pathos. One less dutiful would have felt in the circumstances less pain. Thankful underwent the pangs of a veritable martyr. An entangling net began now to spread itself before her feet; — if indeed we refuse to believe, as she believed herself, that she began to feel the influence of a supernatural spell. She confesses that the devotion of Mériel, and the grace, too, of his features and figure, charmed her. The mystery that hung over his past history excited her imagination. Thankful remembered afterwards, though she hardly perceived it at the time, that the Sieur seemed to take pleasure in partially drawing the veil, hinting at courtly splendors and heroic deeds, which increased the fascination that the Jesuit exercised upon her. She gives scene after scene from her picturesque life, in which the white cottages, the sounding river, the forests, the two more conspicuous figures, and the bell appear and reappear. Through it all one can trace a gradual concentration of the fervor of her spirit upon the enthusiastic selfexiled noble; a mysterious process within her, which she protests was irresistible, and believes was due to diabolic influence. So far as she was conscious of it, she strove against it, but utterly in vain. Yet her sense of guilt continually deepened.

Thankful now often talked with the Sieur. She had cautiously questioned him as to the history of the bell; but always, upon the mention of it, he had become reserved, and changed the topic. On one occasion, however, of his own accord he began to unfold, more freely than ever before, the past career of Father Mériel to his intent listener. “ He is, indeed, a noble of France,"’ said the Sieur, “of a wealthy and ancient stock of Provence, famous in war for many centuries. Mériel himself had scarcely passed his boyhood when he became a soldier. You see him now in his cassock. I have seen him heroic, in a cuirass, with sword in hand.” The Sieur said in those days he was Mériel’s friend and companion, as he continued to be. He described with animation Mériel’s youthful prowess in a certain victory of the French arms over William of Orange. His prospects for advancement to high position were the brightest, when suddenly his ambition underwent a change. Resigning the world, he gave himself to religious enthusiasm. “You wonder about the bell. I will tell you why it is so dear to the priest. When he took upon himself the vows, he gave his wealth to the faith. The bell was cast in the religious house of his first retirement, with sacred ceremonies. Mériel threw into the molten metal a profusion of golden ornaments. If your thrifty friends at Meadowboro,” and a smile of sarcasm appeared on the Sieur’s dark features, “ had known the composition of the metal, it would not have hung so long in the belfry. When Mériel turned toward Canada, in my friendship I accompanied him, having obtained from the king the grant of St. Laudry. Setting sail from Brest, we were captured on the high seas and carried to England. The bell, which Mériel was conveying with him to his mission, was taken and sold. At last we escaped and made our way to Canada. I had heard in England a rumor that the bell had gone to the Puritan Colony. A good Catholic could not endure the sacrilege. My connection with Mériel made the bell’s recovery seem important to me. I easily deceived your people, and went in disguise from village to village. You remember the evening when we first met.” Thankful sat absorbed at the Sieur’s side. “ Tell me,” said she, at length, “what led the soldier to change so suddenly and become a priest ? ”

He rose quickly at the question. “You have learned enough,” he said, resuming suddenly his customary haughtiness, and then turned away. His lips moved rapidly, but Thankful could catch no intelligible sound.

“ Is it love or hate that the Sieur has for the priest ? ” said Thankful to Annette ; but Annette arched her eyebrows in amazement at the question. “ They are the closest friends,” said she ; and when Thankful told of the dark expression she had once or twice seen in the Sieur’s face when bent on Mériel, Annette only laughed at the suggestion. “ Ask him,” said she, merrily. “ Who can get at the secret, if there is one, so well as you ? ” They had begun to rally Thankful upon the notice she received.

One day in early spring, word came from a camp of Indians on the northern bank of the river, that a hunter, gored by a wounded elk, was near to death, and wanted the priest. Father Mériel, with oil for the extreme unction, at once set out over the ice, which was fast becoming infirm in the warmer air. During the day the loud rush was heard which indicated the breaking up ; and the waters flowed downward covered with white masses, now submerged, and now lifting their edges from the whirling depths. The sun set clear, and a northwest wind began to blow with much of wintry bitterness. As the moon rose, the footsteps of passers began to sound crisp in the ice that was forming. Upon the river, through the evening, the rush of the floating fields could be heard by the villagers as they sat about their hearths. When bedtime came, Thankful unbarred the cottage-door and stepped out into the air, impressed with the tumult of the liberated river, as, like Samson at Gaza, it took upon its shoulders the gates that had confined it, and bore them away. She heard from the river a long-drawn distant cry, then another, and another. At her hurried exclamation Antoine came to her, and the village was soon aroused. As the people stood on the bank, the moon lighted up the rushing ice-fields and the black chasms of water between. At intervals came the cries borne upon the wind from more voices than one, some despairing, but one firm and resolute. It was recognized by all as the voice of Mériel. Some threw themselves upon the frozen ground, calling upon the Virgin and uttering vows. The cold wind from time to time smote the forests, and their roar drowned other sounds. It was only in the pauses that the cries could be heard, plainly moving farther and farther down the current. Experienced boatmen believed Mériel had put out with others in a canoe, which had been crushed in the ice, and that they had succeeded in crawling upon a floating cake. “ Half an hour at this rate will carry them to the rapids,” said one.

Answering cries were sent from the bank, which, however, the wind seemed to throw back. “ The bell! ” cried one, and presently it sounded from the tree, to tell the priest that his cries were heard. Thankful reports that still another change was now to be noted. It had lost its ordinary plaintiveness, and seemed to pour its sound against the wind in quavering tones of broken agony. It groaned and suffered, wailed and wept, as if in utter despair. For a minute it ceased ringing, when instantly an answer came from the stream in a firm, sustained shout. Again the bell rang, again came the voice in reply ; and so the Jesuit and the bell answered one another across the chasms and the whirl of the tossing ice.

A woman of the village now called attention to the Sieur, who was just approaching the company. Thankful says he had stopped a moment upon the summit of a slight ridge at a little distance, and appeared to have just become aware of what was happening. She well knew that the demonstrative people among whom she was thrown expressed their emotions in more forcible ways than her own race, and at the time the movements and gestures of the Sieur did not surprise her; but, recalling the scene in the light of events which followed, she cannot avoid the belief that he was leaping up in a witchdance and invoking some power of the air, as he suddenly stretched forth and shook his hands. The moon was bright enough for her to see that his features worked strangely as he muttered, and one or two indistinct exclamations from his rapidly moving lips, the sound of which reached her, she holds to have been parts of incantations. The canoes of the village had been laid away for tiie winter. At the command of the Sieur, one of them was speedily brought out, in which he with two other men at once embarked, defiant of the peril. The canoe could be seen for a few moments, as it pushed off in the direction of the cries. Sometimes it dashed into the channels between the cakes, sometimes the men could be seen to leap out upon the more solid masses and drag their canoe with them. The villagers followed together confusedly down the bank, with sobs and prayers. Now and then came the shouts of the rescue-party, then the fainter cry of the perishing priest, then the broken wail of the bell. The rapids at last came into the view of the villagers. Thankful could plainly sec the tossing of the white breaker which marked the commencement of the fall. She felt certain too she saw the spectre of the drowned Franciscan flung upward in his gray robe by the tumultuous waters. The canoe was seen in the distance, returning. The rescue-party at least were safe. The approach of the little bark was breathlessly watched. Three figures could be seen bracing themselves against peril on every side. If there were others, they lay helpless in the bottom. At length the wall of ice bordering the bank was reached. Two Indians, in a state of insensibility, were lifted up, then the stiffened form of the Jesuit himself. For a moment he was laid on a blanket stretched upon the ice. Against his torn cassock, stiff as iron, his rosary was frozen. His hat was gone, his hair thick with ice, his quiet face turned up before the moon with the pallor of death. The villagers knelt beside him. From up the stream came the voice of the bell, anxious almost like the voice of a mother. Thankful knelt with the rest, and saw Mériel give at last a sign of life. As she raised her eyes they fell upon the face of the Sieur; when lo ! she beheld again a black scowl of hatred upon his features, as he regarded the man he had just brought back to life. In a moment it was gone, as the people rose about him.

Thankful confesses that, although her mind had been unaccountably turned upon the priest and she had struggled against it, she had never admitted to herself that her feeling was inconsistent with her wifely duty, until the evening of Mériel’s escape. Conscience - smitten, she declares pathetically that she must have been under the influence of some supernatural spell. Her account is tragical, of her internal conflicts with herself, which were of no avail. Her danger became plain to her, and she took a desperate resolve.

A hundred miles of wilderness lay between St. Laudry and the nearest New England settlement. From time to time during her captivity, there had been rumors of parties from New England scouting toward Canada, and coming quite near to some of the villages on the St. Lawrence. It so happened that within a short time word had been brought that a village had been closely approached by such a party, who were believed to be still near at hand. The chance that this party might be met in the woods was slight, but not quite impossible. In returning, Thankful knew, they would be likely to follow the course of a certain stream, which she resolved to try to reach. Filling a bag with food, she prepared for flight. Listening for a moment, one night, by the beds of the simple-hearted family into whose love she had been adopted, she shed a few bitter tears, then took her departure. But after two days’ wandering she fell fainting in the snow with which earth and air were still clogged. Recovering herself slowly from this swoon, as if from some deep abyss, she felt hands lifting her upwards, and stimulants poured between her lips. Raising her heavy lids, close at her face she beheld the face of the Sieur, his beard and eyebrows grizzled with snow. He caught her pulse, he felt at her heart, he chafed her hands. An expression of delight passed over his countenance as she came back to life. As soon as she was missed, he had headed a party, following through the storm her fast disappearing trail. They made a sledge from the boughs of trees, and Thankful was carried back.

Annette received her on her return without reproach. “ Husband and country so far away,” she said, “ — who could wonder that captivity was hard? But peace was at hand, and Thankful should return.” Thankful, in her weakness and hopeless wretchedness, laid her head upon the bosom of her friend, whose sympathy was very precious, though she so utterly misunderstood the case. Annette soothed her as she soothed her children. It was the Sieur, Thankful found, who had stirred the village up to pursuit. His manner was described as being most earnest. “ Come,” said Antoine, for upon the roving Frenchman the marriage-vows sat too lightly, “ forget your English husband, and become one of us. We have seen that the Sieur follows you. He has rank and riches. You will be the lady of the village. There is not a girl in the province that would not envy you.” “ Why does he seek me ? ” said Thankful, in her own mind. Though attentive, he had never by hint or look betrayed a sign of love. It was one of the mysteries she could not then solve.

“ There stand the Sieur and the Father,” said Annette, one day, from the window. “ The Sieur points this way. Ah ! Father Mériel is coming.” Presently, the little doorway grew dark with the Jesuit’s sweeping robe. He sat down by the couch where Thankful had lain since they had brought her back after her attempt to escape, bending upon her his saddened face. It was mere cruelty, he said, that she should have been brought away from her home. It was done against his will. She should soon be restored, for peace had come. He had thought that Thankful was being drawn toward the true faith, and had said many a prayer, and kept many a vigil, in her behalf. But she had simply, it seemed, been disarming suspicion. He could not judge her harshly, but he besought her with a full heart to take steps that her soul might be saved. Thankful lay silent, not daring to raise her eyes to his face. Mériel departed, leaving her burdened with wretchedness and sense of guilt.

When Thankful had regained her strength, she received word one day from the French governor to be prepared to depart soon for Quebec, whence the English captives were to be sent home. When next she encountered the Sieur, his manner had lost its usual calmness, andjiis dark face was growing haggard, apparently through some internal passion that preyed upon him. Pacing the border of the stream near which they were standing, he broke out with sudden impatience : “ I know your thoughts. You shall hear the secret of the bell. I have told you of Mériel’s noble lineage, of bis brilliant fame as a soldier, of bis choosing at last the life of a priest. You asked me the cause of the change. Listen ! Among the novices in the great convent of Montmartre was a youthful lady, high - born, beautiful, of qualities most saintly. To her, Mériel, a gentleman of fame and personal grace, paid his court. She yielded to her friends, her own heart indeed making it not difficult, though she felt that she ought rather to become a spouse of Christ. She was beloved not alone by Mériel. The marriage-eve came, full of hope and splendor, honored even by the presence of the great Louis. When the guests had gone, Mériel and his wife sought the solitude and coolness of the gardens of the chateau. Suddenly from a thicket close to their arbor a musket was discharged, the ball narrowly missing the bridegroom. He started to his feet, drawing his sword, and rushed in the direction from which the shot had come. He sought in vain. Hurrying back at last to the spot where he had left his wife, he heard a rustling of branches near the path, as of a person seeking concealment. Without waiting to challenge, he thrust his rapier quickly into the thicket which concealed the figure.” The Sieur turned away his face, and his voice sank. “Alas! it was his wife whom he had slain, who, in the darkness, not recognizing him, and mistaking him for the assassin, had sought to hide herself. Within an hour she had died in his arms, protesting that Heaven had punished her for her faithlessness, and pledging her husband to embrace the life she had forsaken. 'Before the high altar of Montmartre,’ she said, ‘ the nuns, relieving one another, have a sister lying prostrate day and night, praying for the conversion of Canada.’ She indicated to her husband that he should help in this work, solemnly promising with her last breath to be near him should it be permitted. You demand to know the secret of the bell; — listen! The gold thrown into the molten metal by Mériel was hers ; — a heavy crucifix and chalices ; these, with her ornaments as a bride steeped in her life-blood. In some way, Mériel believes the spirit of his virgin wife is bound in with the bell, and utters itself in its tones. Ah, woman ! do you wonder that he clings to it ? ” The Sieur ceased, but his features worked with his inner agitation.

“ But who sought to kill him in the garden ? ” said Thankful, after a breathless pause.

“ It was never known,” said the Sieur, in a low whisper, “perhaps some mad Huguenot.”

The Sieur paced up and down a few moments in silence. Then he exclaimed, passionately, with a wild gesture, and as if unconscious of Thankful’s presence, “ Of what use to tell her this ? It cannot help ! Why break the seal ? Yet I must gain it! ” He abruptly left her side, rapidly muttering.

The bell was ringing for Prime, on the day of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin. A boat from Quebec touched the shore, bearing a personage of consequence in the province, the Superior of the Jesuit missions in New France, an old man with face marked with fire, and hands mutilated, through tortures by the Iroquois, undergone years before. The boat also brought word that an English ship had been sent for the captives; and that Thankful must set forth within the week. Through the day she quietly and sadly prepared for her departure. Night came close and hot. She stepped forth for air, when the Sieur presented himself, as if he had been waiting for her, and in a strange, peremptory manner bade her go at midnight to the lodge of Mériel. It was a startling command. It was well known in the village that from dark until daylight the home of the priest was not to be approached except in cases of life and death. Thankful says her mind was oppressed with a presentiment of calamity. Her will was overpowered by some unearthly force which she could not choose but obey. She is disposed to believe that some demon controlled her feet. Like a person lifted by invisible arms, she says, she was forced forth at the hour appointed. It was intensely dark, and the oppressive air of the night had become even more heavy. A taper burned from Mériel’s window as she knocked at the door, which was presently opened. “ Father, I have obeyed the command,”said Thankful from the threshold. Mériel, however, showed great surprise in his voice and look, as he said he had not sent for her. “At least,” said Thankful, “ let me make confession, as I go hence forever.” Mériel hesitated. “ The time is most unusual,” said he, “yet, daughter, I would fain save your soul. May the Blessed Virgin give me strength for it, even at this hour! ” Thankful entered the Jesuit’s oratory. A light stood upon the altar, and before it lay an open breviary. A knotted scourge lay upon the ground, which was deeply indented where the Jesuit had knelt in his devotions. Thankful, throwing herself upon her knees, had begun the story of her life. The air grew even more stifling, so that the taper seemed prevented from giving forth its proper light. She raised her eyes to his attentive face. She did not mean they should betray her, but believes they may have done so in spite of her. But now there passed beneath their feet a convulsive tremor. Then the earth was wrenched, and the crucifix upon the altar fell forward. Through the air the bell, close at hand, sent forth one solitary toll. It was as if the dead wife were uttering a warning, for the sound fell with awful solemnity and boding. “Marie! Marie!” cried Mériel, in a tone of horror. Thankful understood that he called upon the name of his wife. He threw up his hands, averted his countenance, and retreated to the farthest corner of the room. Footsteps were now heard. The door was thrown open, and the Sieur strode hastily into the little room, followed by the Jesuit Superior. The Sieur turned his face, marked with unmistakable hatred, now no longer furtive, upon Mériel. Pointing toward him, and addressing the Superior, he said, “ I denounce this priest as false to his vows.” But the Superior, after a moment of deliberation, signed with his mutilated hand that attention should be given. The Sieur stood with a frown upon his face. Mériel, full of astonishment, bent his head submissively toward his chief. Thankful writes that she had sunk upon the ground. After a considerable interval, “ Surely the Devil is abroad to-night,” said the Superior. “ All the more may the holy Mother of God inspire us with justice ! The Sieur of St. Laudry has brought me from Quebec by a charge of faithlessness against Mériel, hitherto a well-beloved Father of our order. The Sieur’s position in the province gives weight to the charge, but it is unsustained. There is no report in the village but of the virtues of the priest. To-night the Sieur has offered me positive proof. We followed this woman to the door, but we saw and heard the priest’s surprise when he beheld her. Through the window we witnessed the scene in the oratory. It was innocent. I believe the Father has simply sought to lead this unhappy heretic — whose motive I know not —to the truth.” Before the Superior had finished, the Sieur had gone. The Superior also warned Thankful from the habitation with a severe look and gesture. As she passed out, she heard him say: “Earth, air, and the hearts of men swarm to-night with the emissaries of hell. Let us thwart them.” Immediately the tolling of the bell was heard through the agitation of the elements, — deep, resolute, triumphant.

As Thankful came out into the village street, site found the entire population frightened from their houses. Although everything was now as usual, through the greater part of the night the people talked of the earthquake. The most extraordinary supernatural phenomena were reported to have been observed. One had seen two blazing serpents entwined in the air, and borne forward by the wind; to another there had appeared a globe of fire sending out sparks on every side ; while others had seen four terrible spectres, that stood in different quarters of the heavens, and shook the earth mightily, as if to overturn it.

Like all the details of this recital, the events of this singular night have been given as Thankful describes them. By reference to old documents, I have found that, in the early period of Canada, earthquakes and extraordinary atmospheric phenomena were frequent, and sometimes quite appalling. Thankful’s story gives no dates, but in the old Rélations des Jésuites is preserved a report which, I conjecture, may refer to this very occasion, detailing a commotion which caused much terror, and is referred by the pious author to diabolic agency.

During the following day, a fisherman, whose hut was some distance from the village down the river, came in with the startling news that the corpse of the Sieur, much disfigured, had been found washed up on a rocky island at the foot of the rapids. The news excited great confusion. There was nothing whatever to explain the death, though the people came to the conclusion that the event was connected in a mysterious way with the supernatural occurrences of the preceding night. Thankful, upon whose distracted spirit the intelligence threw a still gloomier shade, while she did not by any means reject a supernatural explanation of the marvels, yet in her knowledge of what had happened during the night had an insight which the village had not. Revolving in her mind what she had heard and observed since her fate had connected her with the Sieur and Mériel, she suggests the following explanation of the former’s true character, purposes, and fate, — that at some time he had sold his soul to the Devil. “ What could his indistinct mutterings have been,”she asks, “but converse with invisible demons? Were not the birds which came fluttering to his call familiar spirits in that disguise ? Just so the witch, Martha Corey, hanged at Salem, was seen by the afflicted to hold converse with devils in the guise of birds.” That he was an early companion of Mériel, the Sieur had himself confessed. That his heart also had been won by the saintly novice of Montmartre, Thankful believes was betrayed in a slight tremor of the voice with which she remembers he declared that Marie was beloved by others than Mériel. She believes his friendship for Mériel became hatred when the latter won Marie for himself. She can only conjecture, but considers it not improbable, that it was the Sieur, seeking for revenge, who fired the shot in the garden of Mériel’s chateau. Why he did not take his life afterward, during the intimacy of years in which they lived together, she can only attempt to explain doubtfully, but she asks whether this may not have been possible : that the Sieur saw that death would rather be relief than punishment to Mériel in his sorrow. She says it was well known in the village that the Father would gladly have encountered martyrdom, if it had been ordained for him to meet it. If, however, death would have brought no suffering to the priest, dishonor would ; and Thankful suggests that it was with the purpose in view of bringing him to dishonor at last, that the Sieur so guarded Mériel’s life. She believes that he read in her face the fascination which Mériel early began to exercise over her. Reviewing their intercourse, she recalls what was not plain to her at the time, — that from first to last Mériel was a frequent theme of their conversation, and that, without attracting her suspicion, he dwelt upon every circumstance in Méricl’s life likely to attract her to the latter.

Moreover she holds that he wrought upon her with some diabolical spell. She knows from exclamations which he once or twice let fall, that sometimes, excited by his recollections, he imparted more than he intended. She feels sure that as he sought to interest her in Mériel, he also brought Mériel to seek her, — by representing her as disposed to embrace the faith, —with the idea that their relations might come to seem suspicious. When the time for her return drew near before his plot had matured, she suggests that he may have grown desperate, as his promised revenge seemed about to fail ; that therefore he made his accusation to the Superior, and contrived his last plan, in the hope that her strangely-timed visit to the Jesuit’s lodge, and the weight of his own authority, might bring about Mériel’s disgrace. When the plot failed, and Mériel knew him in his true character as an enemy, his schemes for revenge having at last miscarried, Thankful thinks it not strange that he should have hurried out to throw himself into the river. “ Perhaps he was flung in,” she adds, "by the power of Satan.” To all this explanation, she finds some confirmation in the elemental tumult of the night. Believing that demons filled the air, she asks if such Satanic activity would not be natural in the neighborhood of a powerful wizard at the culmination of such deep wickedness. Thankful gives her explanation doubtingly ; — in spite of circumstances hardly deeming it possible, — with her inexperience of the world, and frank English nature, — that such revenge should burn through long years and be so cunningly masked.

["How does it seem to you ? ” I said to my wife, after we had read it together. “ Do you like Thankful’s solution?” “I hardly know, Joseph,” said my wife. “ There’s such a prejudice nowadays against the poor Devil; won’t people find it hard to believe he was ever around so much ? ” For myself, I do not know whether to accept Thankful’s explanation, or not, and I leave the reader to make his own decision concerning it. Only with respect to her hesitation at the end, I will give a conclusion that I came to after an experience with a certain Italian and French teacher, who, after being fostered in my very bosom, as it were, went off to that Institute under the most exasperating circumstances. It is, that among Southern Europeans a secret and malignant type of character may sometimes be encountered ; a type to which the natures of the Sieur and that wretch Passédéfini may perhaps have belonged;—a type whose reflection given in the mirror of Shakespeare lies open to our study in Iago.]

When Thankful embarked at last, to leave St. Laudry, her face was so haggard that Annette exclaimed, " Has the Devil touched you, too, poor child ? ” Thankful considers that Annette’s question was near the truth. As the batteau gathered headway upon the current, from the church came the sound of the Dies Irœ, chanted over the body of the Sieur. Borne upon the wind came the words : —

“ Ingemisco tanquam reus
Culpa rubet vultus meus
Supplicanti parce Deus.”

She made the words her own, turning her eyes heavenward.

The English ship, after delaying a month and more at Quebec, dropped down as far as the dreary port of Tadoussac, at the mouth of the Saguenay, and before putting to sea, tarried an hour or two before these gloomy rocks. A few huts clung to the base of bare cliffs, past which the wide black current of the Saguenay poured itself. It was just dusk of the long summer day in that northern latitude, and Thankful, looking from the anchorage, saw upon the rocks the canoes of a body of savages. An Indian who came out from the shore brought word that it was a band belonging in the regions about Hudson’s Bay. They had been to Quebec to sell furs, and were about returning with a Jesuit priest who had just been assigned, at his own desire, to this most dangerous and difficult of missions. At early dawn they were to depart up the melancholy river, and were now just about celebrating the Mass. It was too far to catch sight of any object, except most faintly. But the sound of the chanting, done probably by a few fishermen and their wives, belonging to the hamlet, came sweetly through the silence and twilight across the perfectly still water. Thankful could follow the plaintive Agnus Dei, and the louder swell of the Jubilate; and now she knew that the moment approached when the Host should be elevated. With a thrill that shook her whole being, Thankful heard across the water the sound of the bell that marked the event. Lo! it was the sound that she had come to know so well. With melody unutterable, from where it hung suspended in some crevice of the rock, the bell within which was bound the soul of the dead wife shook forth into the stillness its tremulous toll. Now it throbbed upon the air with an almost dying cadence; then it reverberated from the bleak precipice with a soft power like the peal from the trumpet of an angel. Once, twice, thrice, came the unearthly music of its vibration, until the air seemed to Thankful to murmur with the pure harmony of celestial voices, — voices that sang sublimely of sacrifice and holiness. Then, as it fainted into silence, and the darkness fell upon the cold wilderness, the sail above Thankful swelled out with the wind, and from beneath was heard the ripple of the ship’s departure.

Here ends the tale. I know not what may have been the fate of Mériel, — whether he died in the snow like Father Anne de Nouë, or at the stake like Brébeuf and Lallemant, or lost in some forest like René Mesnard, or by some wilderness stream, close to his altar, like Marquette. With regard to poor Thankful there is no further record or tradition than the minister’s brief note upon the back to her story. A tall slab in our old burying-ground informs the world that Remembrance Pumry died, well advanced in life, and possessed of many virtues, during the old French War. By his side lies Judith, “ his desirable consort and relict,” who died two years after. The inscription states that she was a second wife ; and this is the only existing hint, besides the mouldy leaves of the narrative, that Thankful ever lived.