The Huron; or, Pupil of Nature/Chapter IV
THE HURON BAPTIZED.
The prior and the abbé having run to the riverside, they asked the Huron what he was doing?
"In faith," said he, "gentlemen, I am waiting to be baptized. I have been an hour in the water, up to my neck, and I do not think it is civil to let me be quite exhausted."
"My dear nephew," said the prior to him, tenderly, "this is not the way of being baptized in Lower Brittany. Put on your clothes, and come with us."
Miss St. Yves, listening to the discourse, said in a whisper to her companion:
"Miss, do you think he will put his clothes on in such a hurry?"
The Huron, however, replied to the prior:
"You will not make me believe now as you did before. I have studied very well since, and I am very certain there is no other kind of baptism. The eunuch of Queen Candace was baptized in a rivulet. I defy you to show me, in the book you gave me, that people were ever baptized in any other way. I either will not be baptized at all, or the ceremony shall be performed in the river."
It was in vain to remonstrate with him that customs were altered. He always recurred to the eunuch of Queen Candace. And though Miss and his aunt, who had observed him through the willows, were authorized to tell him that he had no right to quote such a man they, nevertheless, said nothing—so great was their discretion. The bishop came himself to speak to him, which was a great thing; but he could not prevail. The Huron disputed with the bishop.
"Show me," said he "in the book my uncle gave me, one single man that was not baptized in a river, and I will do whatever you please."
His aunt, in despair, had observed that the first time her nephew bowed, he made a much lower bow to Miss St. Yves, than to any one in the company—that he had not even saluted the bishop with so much respect, blended with cordiality, as he did that agreeable young lady. She thought it advisable to apply to her in this great embarrassment. She earnestly entreated her to use her influence to engage the Huron to be baptized according to the custom of Brittany, thinking that her nephew, could never be a Christian if he persisted in being christened in the stream.
Miss St. Yves blushed at the secret joy she felt in being appointed to execute so important a commission. She modestly approached the Huron, and squeezing his hand in quite a noble manner, she said to him:
"What, will you do nothing to please me?"
And in uttering these words, she raised her eyes from a downcast look into a graceful tenderness.
"Oh! yes, Miss, everything you require, all that you command, whether it is to be baptized in water, fire, or blood; there is nothing I can refuse you."
Miss St. Yves had the glory of effecting, in two words, what neither the importunities of the prior, the repeated interrogations of the bailiff, nor the reasoning of the bishop, could effect. She was sensible of her triumph; but she was not yet sensible of its utmost latitude.
Baptism was administered, and received with all the decency, magnificence, and propriety possible. His uncle and aunt yielded to the Abbé St. Yves and his sister the favor of supporting the Huron upon the font. Miss St. Yves' eyes sparkled with joy at being a godmother. She was ignorant how much this high title compromised her. She accepted the honor, without being acquainted with its fatal consequences.
As there never was any ceremony that was not followed by a good dinner, the company took their seats at table after the christening. The humorists of Lower Brittany said, "they did not choose to have their wine baptized." The prior said, "that wine, according to Solomon, cherished the heart of man." The bishop added, "that the Patriarch Judah ought to have tied his ass-colt to the vine, and steeped his cloak in the blood of the grape; and that he was sorry the same could not be done in Lower Brittany, to which God had not allotted vines." Every one endeavored to say a good thing upon the Huron's christening and strokes of gallantry to the godmother. The bailiff, ever interrogating, asked the Huron if he was faithful in keeping his promises.
"How," said he, "can I fail keeping them, since I have deposited them in the hands of Miss St. Yves?"
The Huron grew warm; he had repeatedly drunk his godmother's health.
"If," said he, "I had been baptized with your hand, I feel that the water which was poured on the nape of my neck would have burned me.
The bailiff thought that this was too poetical, being ignorant that allegory is a familiar figure in Canada. But his godmother was very well pleased.
The Huron had, at his baptism, received the name of Hercules. The bishop of St. Malo frequently inquired, who was this tutelar saint, whom he had never heard mentioned before? The Jesuit, who was very learned, told him that "he was a saint who had wrought twelve miracles." There was a thirteenth, which was well worth the other twelve, but it was not proper for a Jesuit to mention it. This was the marriage of fifty girls at one time—the daughters of King Thespius. A wag, who was present, related this miracle very feelingly. And all judged, from the appearance of the Huron, that he was a worthy representative of the saint whose name he bore.