Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Maximum Massachusetts 2: Brothers in Arms

Quebec, New France
1 December 1698

Within the Upper Town atop the gray cliffs of Quebec sits a prosperous dwelling. From the dwelling's window the peals of the church bells can be heard, ringing out in memory of the recently departed Governor of New France. Within the dwelling, four men sit around a table. The eldest, Charles, says, "I have spoken with Champigny. He says that the expedition against the English is to be postponed until the King assigns the colony a new governor."

His brother Pierre slams his fist upon the table. "Postponed? Sacred host! How long do they propose that we wait to avenge this insult? We are ready now! I myself could free Port Royal unassisted!"

"And how," asks the next brother, Joseph, "do you propose to reach Port Royal? The river is frozen. We will be unable to sail for Acadia until March at the earliest."

"And who says I must sail?" responds Pierre. "Have I not legs? Have I not snowshoes? Holy trinity, if I must walk to Port Royal, then walk I shall!"

"I do not doubt" says the fourth brother, Paul, "that you could walk from here to Port Royal alone in the dead of winter, but who in Canada could follow you?"

"Many, by the wounds of Christ!" declares Pierre. "Eight score came with me from Quebec when I drove the English from Newfoundland! We walked the whole coast from St. John to Bonavista, two hundred miles, in, as you say, the dead of winter, and no Englishman could stand against us!"

"Those were but unarmed fishermen." Charles points out, "facing armed soldiers. The Bostonnais have placed a garrison at Port Royal in anticipation of a counterattack from New France. At its head is no less a figure than Captain Convers, who repulsed the baron de St. Castin at Wells. He will not be caught unawares."

"What is more," adds Joseph, "the heretics have set armed vessels patrolling the Bay of Fundy and Port Royal Sound. They have kept the Acadians and the Abenaki tribe cowed and submissive."

"Ptah!" spits Pierre, "I spit upon the Bostonnais' armed vessels, and upon the so-fearsome Captain Convers as well! By the blessed virgin, with a dozen men I could take the fort at Port Royal, as I took Fort Nelson on the shores of Hudson's Bay! Then the Acadians and Abenakis will rise up to join me, and together we will drive the heretics out of Acadia forever! And," he adds with calculated contempt, "if I must go alone to Acadia, then so be it! The glory of the victory will be all the greater!"

Charles smiles at his younger brother. "No, Pierre, you will not go alone. We three at least will join you, and when word of our great quest spreads across Canada, others will flock to join the brothers Le Moyne! Before the spring returns to New France, Port Royal will be ours!"

(Proceed to part 3 - The Cotton Thread)

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