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III. A Brave Heart Henry van Dyke

Section II.

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There seemed to be a great many rainy Saturdays that spring; and in the early summer the trade in Girard's store was so brisk that it appeared to need all the force of the establishment to attend to it. The gate of the front yard had no more strain put upon its hinges. It fell into a stiff propriety of opening and shutting, at the touch of people who understood that a gate was made merely to pass through, not to lean upon.

That summer Vaillantcoeur had a new hat--a black and shiny beaver-- and a new red-silk cravat. They looked fine on Corpus Christi day, when he and 'Toinette walked together as fiancee's.

You would have thought he would have been content with that. Proud, he certainly was. He stepped like the cure's big rooster with the topknot--almost as far up in the air as he did along the ground; and he held his chin high, as if he liked to look at things over his nose.

But he was not satisfied all the way through. He thought more of beating Prosper than of getting 'Toinette. And he was not quite sure that he had beaten him yet.

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Perhaps the girl still liked Prosper a little. Perhaps she still thought of his romances, and his chansons, and his fine, smooth words, and missed them. Perhaps she was too silent and dull sometimes, when she walked with Raoul; and sometimes she laughed too loud when he talked, more at him than with him. Perhaps those St. Raymond fellows still remembered the way his head stuck out of that cursed snow-drift, and joked about it, and said how clever and quick the little Prosper was. Perhaps--ah, MAUDIT! a thousand times perhaps! And only one way to settle them, the old way, the sure way, and all the better now because 'Toinette must be on his side. She must understand for sure that the bravest man in the parish had chosen her.

That was the summer of the building of the grand stone tower of the church. The men of Abbeville did it themselves, with their own hands, for the glory of God. They were keen about that, and the cure was the keenest of them all. No sharing of that glory with workmen from Quebec, if you please! Abbeville was only forty years old, but they already understood the glory of God quite as well there as at Quebec, without doubt. They could build their own tower, perfectly, and they would. Besides, it would cost less.

Vaillantcoeur was the chief carpenter. He attended to the affair of beams and timbers. Leclere was the chief mason. He directed the affair of dressing the stones and laying them. That required a very careful head, you understand, for the tower must be straight. In the floor a little crookedness did not matter; but in the wall--that might be serious. People have been killed by a falling tower. Of course, if they were going into church, they would be sure of heaven. But then think--what a disgrace for Abbeville!

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The Ruling Passion
Henry van Dyke

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