CHAPTER II.

  MONSIEUR DUTARQUE, the schoolmas-
  ter, had been aroused from his
  perusal of Plato by the shrill and
  growing clamor of his wife, who, on find-
  ing Catharine absent, had searched for
  her in every likely and unlikely spot, and
  had finally braved her husband's wrath
  by pouring out to him her suspicions that
  the child had fallen into the river, been
  carried off by a bear, scalped by an In-
  dian, or had bribed the boy Cupid to take
  her to her aunt's, where she would proba-
  bly complain of them, to their great hurt
  and detriment.
     They did not pause to consider that a
  baby soon forgets, and has no power to
  harbor thoughts of vengeance, nor that
  timid little Catharine had scarcely mental
  or physical force to plan any bold or
  daring scheme of escape.
     But Mr. Elias Ball was a very impor-
  tant personage in the Parish of St.
  John's, and little Catharine was con-
  nected on both sides with some of the
  most influential people in the Province.

  She had been put in the care of the Du-
  tarques only temporarily, and if aught
  should befall her while with them, woe
  betide the unlucky schoolmaster and his
     If the usher, Mr. Macnamara, had not
  chosen to absent himself this day, Mon-
  sieur Dutarque felt sure this thing would
  not have happened, for the child and the
  usher had from the first shown such a
  liking for one another's society that the
  schoolmaster and his wife had long ago
  ceased to concern themselves overmuch
  about their whereabouts outside of school.
     The truth was that Monsieur Du-
  tarque was by no means a fit person to
  be master of Childbury School.
     It could not be denied that he had the
  requisite qualifications prescribed by law.
  It was ordained "That the Master shall
  be of the religion of the Church of Eng-
  land and conform to the same, and shall
  be capable to teach the learned languages
  -that is to say, the Latine and Greek
  tongues-and also the useful part of the
  Mathematicks, and to catechize and in-
  struct the youth in the principles of the
  Christian religion as professed in the
  Church of England."
     But these attainments were far from


  qualifying him to have the care of the
  soul and body of such a will-o'-the-wisp
  little woodland princess as Catharine
  Chicken, whose eyes were always wide
  and brilliant with dreams, and whose lips
  were as tremulous as moonlight.
   The poor, shy, underpaid usher, in his
  shabby kerseys- "just like the negroes
  wore!" (Catharine thought with wonder
  when first she saw him)-who taught
  writing at thirty shillings per annum,
  arithmetic at fifty shillings, and "mathe-
  maticks," including the art of navigation
  and surveying, at a sum not exceeding
  six pounds per annum, was far better
  suited to guard the soul of a child.
    For, despite his shabby clothes, he
  could meet Catharine on her own high
  ground, where gnomes and elves disport-
  ed nightly under every quick-set hedge,
  where kindly giants and malicious dwarfs
  were every-day affairs, and where the
  whole round world was made for little
  boys and girls by a God Who loved and
  trusted them.
    All this aside, the master was dread-
  fully angry at being interrupted, and
  being a coward, was mortally afraid of
  blame in case aught of harm should befall
  his missing pupil.

         LITTLE MISTRESS CHICKEN.          21
    When dinner-time came and passed
  and Catharine came not, he straightened
  his rather dingy neck-cloth before the
  mirror, adjusted the buckles at his knee,
  exchanged his shabby beaded moccasins
  for low-cut shoes with buckles, put on his
  three-cornered hat, gave a parting pat to
  his enormous cuffs, smoothed down his
  waistcoat till it reached nearly to his
  knees, and bade his wife bring him
  forthwith his brace of horse-pistols and a
    This the woman did in haste.  She was
  not afraid of what might have befallen
  Catharine; but, like her husband, she was
  mightily afraid of blame, and she agreed
  with great promptness to Monsieur Du-
  tarque's parting injunction not to say a
  word of the affair until he should return.
    Then Monsieur Dutarque strode down
  Craven Street-trying, even in his ex-
  citement, to impart by his high bearing
  a look of majesty to his diminutive form
  -his long coat flapping against his thin
  legs, and a sense of mingled wrath and
  perturbation in his breast.
    He was prepared for anything-to
  slay a whole tribe of Cussoes or Chero-
  kees with his horse-pistols, to lasso an
  angry bear, or to pull Catharine out of


  the deepest depths of Cooper River with
  his rope.
    When he found the familiar piece of
  linen lying where Catharine had dropped
  it, midway between his house and the now
  fast-emptying Market Square, it seemed
  to him an omen confirming his worst
  fears; and, turning, he waved it with a
  gesture of despair toward where he knew
  his wife was watching him through an
  upper window.
    But when, after long wanderings, he
  entered at length the grove which oc-
  cupied the greater part of "Colledge
  Square," and there rose before him from
  the foot of the oak Catharine herself,
  frightened and pale, but unharmed, a
  wild and ungovernable rage against the
  child shook him through and through.
  As was the measure of his former fears,
  so was the present measure of his wrath.
    Like all cowards, he was a bully, and
  the sight of this startled little sinner-
  who had had no dinner, and who had
  really never meant to run away, though
  she grew so guiltily pale at sight of him
  -instead of appealing to his softer na-
  ture, woke a real demon within him.
     He would have liked to lash her with
  a cowhide, as he had lashed slaves when

         LITTLE MISTRESS CHICKEN.             23

  he had been an overseer-which part of
  his career he had carefully concealed thus
  far, since making his debut in the aristo-
  cratic parish of St. John's.
     But he could not do that.  He could
  not even strike her, as she stood before
  him, for fear of the Harlestons, the Balls,
  and the Ashbys.  But he must avenge
  upon her the inconvenience of his inter-
  rupted study, his uncomfortable dinner,
  his alarm; the haughty look Colonel
  Broughton's liveried coachman had given
  him as he passed Market Square, and
  this oppressive weather, which made loco-
  motion and exertion of any kind a weari-
  ness to the flesh.
    He would not thus have accounted for
  his acts in words, but all these were, nev-
  ertheless, goads to the irritability with
  which he seized the childish arm and
  shook it.
    " Sacr-r-r-r!  " he hissed, with multitu-
  dinous r's that, like the rattlesnake's
  warning, seemed to Catharine to fill the
  entire atmosphere.  "What mean you-
  naughty, wilful wench! Do you know
  what hour of the day it is?  What am I
  to say to madame, your mother?"
    Catharine's lip quivered.  She tried to
  speak, tried to hold her head high. as she


  had seen her mother do, tried to answer
  that she had meant no harm; but it all
  broke out in one feeble, sobbing, childish
    "I wanted to be outdoors! I wanted
  to be outdoors!"
    "Aha! Outdoors, is it?" said the
  schoolmaster, with a malevolent uplifting
  of the lip that left the long and cruel
  teeth exposed.  "Outdoors?  I, myself,
  will give you enough of outdoors, ma'm-
  selle.  Outdoors-parbleu! She shall haf
  outdoors, vraiment!"
    In his wrath, the excellent English of
  the schoolmaster had momentarily es-
  caped him.  Straight up Ferry Street he
  dragged her, she making no resistance,
  and along Church Street as far as the
  wicket gate made in the cedar fence.  The
  grip on her arm was like iron, and they
  met no one to whom Catharine could call
  to deliver her from her angry captor.
    She kept Flying Childers tightly
  clasped, glad in her extremity that her
  pet would suffer without a sound.  What
  was Monsieur Dutarque about to do with
    I doubt if he had formed any definite
  plan of punishment, but a diabolical idea
  suddenly occurred to him.  Perhaps he

        LITTLE MISTRESS CHICKEN.          25

  meant only to frighten her for a little
  while.  Perhaps he-was really half-insane
  for the moment, carried away by the
  tumult of his anger.
    Perhaps if she had cried out he might
  have paused and considered what he was
  doing, and fear might have prevented
  him from going on.  But little Catharine
  was limp and white in his grasp, and
  uttered only a frightened moan, which he
  found intensely exasperating.
    So, in the shadow of the locust-trees,
  so full of fragrance and the humming of
  bees, he tied Catharine tightly with her
  back against a tombstone, her hands be-
  hind her and her shoulders strained back
  with cruel knots.
    "V'la!" he said, pausing to look at his
  work. "You s'all haf yo' outdoors! and
  ven you s'all be fatigue, you may call.
  Maybe I come."
    In adjusting a final knot, he noticed
  her tight-clenched hand, forced it open,
  and saw Flying Childers hidden there.
  He snatched it away from her, and the
  next moment Catharine's pet was dashed
  to the ground, with all the force of the
  schoolmaster's arm.   Then he strode
    It was a moment too great for tears


  or sobs.  Catharine cried out suddenly
  in a voice of extreme pathos:
    "M'sieu' Dutarque-dear M'sieu' Du-
    Then her voice broke and failed her.
  The plaintive, imploring words echoed
  against the walls of the church, but did
  not move the cruel heart of the master.
    "Dear M'sieu' Dutarque!" she cried
    The schoolmaster looked at her over
  his shoulder and slammed the gate behind
  him.  He was gone.

Contents Chapter III