Marianne was tall, supple, and strong. Dressed in her worn buckskin trappings she looked like a handsome boy rather than like the French girl of seventeen that she was. As she stepped from the woods the glimmer of the setting sun dazzled her. An instant she raised her hand-palm outward – to sh...
<p>Marianne was tall, supple, and strong. Dressed in her worn buckskin trappings she looked like a handsome boy rather than like the French girl of seventeen that she was. As she stepped from the woods the glimmer of the setting sun dazzled her. An instant she raised her hand-palm outward – to shield her eyes from the glare, then she continued to descend the gentle slope and make her way toward the little village of Saint Philippe that lay before her, close by the waters of the Mississippi.</p>
<p>Marianne carried a gun across her shoulder as easily as a soldier might. Her stride was as untrammeled as that of the stag who treads his native hillside unmolested. There was something stag-like, too, in the poise of her small head as she turned it from side to side, to snuff the subtle perfume of the Indian summer. But against the red western sky curling columns of thin blue smoke began to ascend from chimneys in the village. This meant that housewives were already busy preparing the evening meal; and the girl quickened her steps, singing softly as she strode along over the tufted meadow where sleek cattle were grazing in numbers.</p>
<p>Less than a score of houses formed the village of Saint Philippe, and they differed in no wise from one another except in the matter of an additional room when the prosperity of the owner admitted of such. All were of upright logs, standing firmly in the ground, or rising from a low foundation of stone, with two or more rooms clustering round a central stone chimney. Before each was an inviting porch, topped by the projection of the shingled roof.</p>
<p>Gathered upon such a porch, when Marianne walked into the village, were groups of men talking eagerly and excitedly together with much gesture and intensity of utterance.</p>
<p>The place was Sans-Chagrin’s tavern; and Marianne stopped beside the fence, seeing that her father, Picote Laronce, was among the number who crowded the gallery. But it was not he, it was young Jacques Labrie who when he saw her there came down to where she stood.</p>
<p>“Well, what luck, Marianne?” he asked, noting her equipment.</p>
<p>“Oh, not much,” she replied, slapping the gamebag that hung rather slack at her side. “Those idle soldiers down at the fort have no better employment than to frighten the game away out of reach. But what does this talk and confusion mean? I thought all the trouble with monsieur le cure was settled. My father st...