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Page:Harris Dickson--The black wolf's breed.djvu/69

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He then asked a few questions about things familiar to me, which put me quite at ease. What I said I can scarce at this time recollect, but I know I spoke with all a soldier's enthusiasm of my beloved commander, of his diplomacy in peace, of his war-won successes.

It did not pass unnoticed that many a venomous glance was shot towards me from that little group behind the King, but in the King's presence I feared nothing, and spoke on, unrestrained.

Once a tall man whom I took to be Chamillard interrupted; the King motioned me to proceed, and I told him all the strength and resources of the colonies, their weakness and their needs. When I thought I had finished, the King's face hardened, and looking me straight in the eye, he inquired:

"What is this I hear of Bienville's presuming to criticise me—me, Louis, his King—for contemplating such a disposition of the colonies as suits my royal pleasure? Can you tell me that as glibly, sir?"

For the moment I was astounded and had no word to say. I could see a faint smile run round the circle as they exchanged glances of intelligence. Serigny was right. The spy had already arrived. His eavesdropping news had reached the King. In my indignation I forgot the man I addressed was the Imperial Louis. Defending my master I spoke vigorously the truth, and that right earnestly.

"Your Majesty is a soldier, and will forgive a soldier's blunt speech. I beg you, Sire, to consider the services and the sorrows of Bienville's people, the loyal Le