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VII. A Year of Nobility Henry van Dyke

Enter The Marquis

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Table Of Contents: The Ruling Passion

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"'Is this Jean Lamotte?'

"'At your service, m'sieu'.'

"'Son of Francois Louis Lamotte?'

"'Of no other. But he is dead, God give him repose.'

"'I been looking for you all through Charlevoix and Chicoutimi.'

"'Here you find me then, and good-day to you,' says I, a little short, for I was beginning to be shy of him.

"'Chut, chut,' says he, very friendly. 'I suppose you have time to talk a bit. How would you like to be a marquis and have a castle in France with a hundred thousand dollars?'

"For a moment I think I will lick him; then I laugh. 'Very well indeed,' says I, 'and also a handful of stars for buckshot, and the new moon for a canoe.'

"'But no,' answers the man. 'I am earnest, Monsieur Lamotte. I want to talk a long talk with you. Do you permit that I accompany you to your residence?'

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"Residence! You know that little farm-house of logs where my mother lives,--you saw it last summer. But of course it is a pretty good house. It is clean. It is warm. So I bring the man home in the sleigh. All that evening he tells the story. How our name Lamotte is really De la Motte de la Luciere. How there belongs to that name an estate and a title in France, now thirty years with no one to claim it. How he, being an AVOCAT, has remarked the likeness of the names. How he has tracked the family through Montmorency and Quebec, in all the parish books. How he finds my great- grandfather's great-grandfather, Etienne de La Motte who came to Canada two hundred years ago, a younger son of the Marquis de la Luciere. How he has the papers, many of them, with red seals on them. I saw them. 'Of course,' says he, 'there are others of the family here to share the property. It must be divided. But it is large--enormous--millions of francs. And the largest share is yours, and the title, and a castle--a castle larger than Price's saw-mill at Chicoutimi; with carpets, and electric lights, and coloured pictures on the wall, like the hotel at Roberval.'

"When my mother heard about that she was pleased. But me--when I heard that I was a marquis, I knew it was true."

Jean's blue eyes were wide open now, and sparkling brightly. He had put down the pan of potatoes. He was holding his head up and talking eagerly.

Alden turned away his face to light his pipe, and hide a smile. "Did he get--any money--out of you?"--came slowly between the puffs of smoke.

"Money!" answered Jean, "of course there must be money to carry on an affair of this kind. There was seventy dollars that I had cleaned up on the lumber-job last winter, and the mother had forty dollars from the cow she sold in the fall. A hundred and ten dollars,--we gave him that. He has gone to France to make the claim for us. Next spring he comes back, and I give him a hundred dollars more; when I get my property five thousand dollars more. It is little enough. A marquis must not be mean."

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The Ruling Passion
Henry van Dyke

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