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17
BIENVILLE

From that time forward act under his instructions. Remember, sir, your mission is a secret one."

I knew well the name he gave me, for next to Iberville, Serigny was reputed the most accomplished of all the Le Moyne's. To his fame as a soldier, his attainments as a scholar, he added the easy grace of the courtier. His position at the court of Louis gave him great prestige throughout the colonies; he being a sort of adviser to the King on colonial affairs, or so we all then thought him. Little did I then know how scant was the heed paid by power and ambition to real merit and soldierly virtues.

This while we sat without passing a word. Truth to tell I was loath to leave the Governor, for I knew even better than he how much of treachery there was in those about him. Besides that I had no confidence in my lieutenant, and yet hated to acquaint Bienville with the fact for fear he might mistrust my motives. I was heavy at heart and dreaded the future.

When, somewhat after midnight, I arose to go, he came around the table and taking me by both shoulders gazed steadily into my face. I met his glance frankly and quailed not.

"Forgive me, Placide, these are such days of distrust I doubt every one about me. Forgive me, lad, but your old commander's reputation, aye, his honor even, depends now so much upon your fidelity."

I could say nothing. I felt a stealthy tear tremble in my eye, yet was not ashamed, for its mate glistened in his own, and he was a man not given to over-weeping.