The Huron; or, Pupil of Nature/Chapter VI
THE HURON FLIES TO HIS MISTRESS AND BECOMES QUITE FURIOUS.
No sooner had the ingenuous Hercules reached the house, than having asked the old servant which was his mistress' apartment, he forced open the door, which was badly fastened, and flew toward the bed. Miss St. Yves, startled out of her sleep, cried:
"Ah! what; is it you? Stop; what are you about?" He answered:
"I am going to marry."
She opposed him with all the decency of a young lady so well educated; but the Huron did not understand raillery, and found all evasions extremely disagreeable.
"Miss Abacaba, my first mistress," said he, "did not behave in this manner; you have no honesty; you promised me marriage, and you will not marry; this is being deficient in the first laws of honor."
The outcries of the lady brought the sagacious Abbé de St. Yves with his housekeeper, an old devotee servant, and the parish priest. The sight of these moderated the courage of the assailant.
"Good heavens!" cried the abbé; "my dear neighbor, what are you about?"
"My duty," replied the young man; "I am fulfilling my promises, which are sacred."
Miss St. Yves adjusted herself, not without blushing. The lover was conducted into another apartment. The abbé remonstrated to him on the enormity of his conduct. The Huron defended himself upon the privileges of the law of nature, which he understood perfectly well. The abbé maintained that the law positive should be allowed all its advantages, and that without conventions agreed on between men the law of nature must almost constantly be nothing more than natural felony. Notaries, priests, witnesses, contracts, and dispensations are absolutely necessary.
The ingenuous Hercules made answer with the observation constantly adopted by savages:
"You are then very great rogues, since so many precautions are necessary."
This remark somewhat disconcerted the abbé.
"There are, I acknowledge, libertines and cheats among us, and there would be as many among the Hurons, if they were united in a great city; but, at the same time, we have discreet, honest, enlightened people; and these are the men who have framed the laws. The more upright we are, the more readily we should submit to them, as we thereby set an example to the vicious, who respect those bounds which virtue has given herself."
This answer struck the Huron. It has already been observed that his mind was well disposed. He was softened by flattering speeches, which promised him hopes; all the world is caught in these snares; and Miss St. Yves herself appeared, after having been at her toilet. Everything was now conducted with the utmost good breeding.
It was with much difficulty that Hercules was sent back to his relations. It was again necessary for the charming Miss St. Yves to interfere; the more she perceived the influence she had upon him, the more she loved him. She made him depart, and was much affected at it. At length, when he was gone, the abbé, who was not only Miss St. Yves' elder brother by many years, but was also her guardian, endeavored to wean his ward from the importunities of this dreadful lover. He went to consult the bailiff, who had always intended his son for the abbé's sister, and who advised him to place the poor girl in a convent. This was a terrible stroke. Such a measure would, to a young lady unaffected with any particular passion, have been inexpressible punishment; but to a love-sick maid, equally sagacious and tender, it was despair itself.
When the ingenuous Hercules returned to the prior's, with his usual frankness, he related all that had happened. He met with some remonstrances, which had some effect upon his mind, though none upon his senses; but the next day, when he wanted to return to his mistress, in order to reason with her upon the law of nature and the law of convention, the bailiff acquainted him, with insulting joy, that she was in a convent.
"Very well," said he, "I'll go and reason with her in this convent."
"That cannot be," said the bailiff; and then entered into a long explanation of the nature of a convent, telling him that this word was derived from conventus, in the Latin, which signifies "an assembly"; and the Huron could not comprehend why he might not be admitted into this assembly. As soon as he was informed that this assembly was a kind of prison, in which girls were shut up, a shocking institution, unknown in Huronia and England, he became as furious as was his patron Hercules when Euritus, king of Œchalia, no less cruel than the abbé of St. Yves, refused him the beauteous Iola, his daughter, not inferior in beauty to the abbé's sister. He was upon the point of going to set fire to the convent to carry off his mistress, or be burned with her. Miss Kerkabon, terrified at such a declaration, gave up all hopes of ever seeing her nephew a subdeacon; and, sadly weeping, she exclaimed: "The devil has certainly been in him since he has been christened."