Open main menu

Page:Harris Dickson--The black wolf's breed.djvu/72

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
52
THE BLACK WOLF'S BREED

est of all the Bourbons. Bienville is a soldier, not a courtier, and stung beyond endurance by the threat of his enemies that they would yet beguile your Majesty to sell your fair Province of Louisiana, and turn the royal barracks into a peddler's shop—mayhap he did use some such hot and thoughtless expressions to me. These, some spy may have overheard and forwarded here to his hurt. If it please you to hear the words, I will repeat them upon the oath of an officer."

"Go on," he commanded drily.

"Bienville did say it was a matter of shame to forego such abroad domain wherein lay so much wealth, because of present troubles. It is his ambition to found there a new empire in the west, to add a brighter glory to the name of Bourbon, to plant the silver lilies upon the remotest boundaries of the earth, calling it all Louisiana, a mighty continent, without a rival and without a frontier. Ah! Your Majesty has in Bienville a strong heart and a firm hand, a man who prefers to devote his life to your service, rather than live at ease in France; a man who carries more scars for his King than your Majesty has fingers—poorer to-day than when he entered your service, though others about him have grown rich."

I told him, too, without reserve, of the contemplated Indian attack in the spring, of my own haste to return. His face lighted up with the fire of his thought:

"Then, by my faith," he broke in, "you need a bold, ambitious soldier for your Governor. What think you, Villars, Chamillard—gentlemen?"