Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales, the blog where books are born. If you haven’t visited before, each week , a group of authors share snippets from their work in progress incorporating a word or picture prompt. This week, that word is CART. I’m continuing with my historical romance, The Price of Courage, Canadian Series Book Two. Book One, The Price of Honor is available for 99 cents from Amazon or free to read with KU. https://www.amazon.com/Price-Honor-Canadiana-Book-ebook/dp/B07BRTL4P6
Here is your Tuesday Tale. You’ve met Sophie and Izzy. Time to say hello to the men in this story and learn a little bit about what happened before this book started. Enjoy.
Quebec, Canada, New France, November 3, 1668
“And so it begins,” Guy Poirier said, his face a mask of concern, his lips pursed, and his brow deeply furrowed.
The man was worried, and with a new wife who might well be pregnant by now, he had every right to be. The life of the colony and those he loved depended on the success of what they’d started.
“My lord,” said Jean Baptiste Patoulet, the intendant Jean Talon’s secretary who’d chosen to stay in Canada and help the new intendant, Claude de Boutroue D’Aubigny, settle in, smiled up at the seigneur.
Lucien Rioux clenched his jaw. If he was trying to make them all feel more comfortable, he was failing. The man looked as concerned as they all were.
“This will work. Talon has two men among the passengers whose sole purpose is to watch his back. Based on the instructions we fed to des Courts, the man won’t try anything aboard ship.” He frowned. “There’s nothing more we can do in that regard until we hear from Talon in the spring. There won’t be another ship in or out of the river this year.”
They turned as one to watch the vessel move farther away from the settlement, beyond the islands until not even the top of the mast was visible. A crossing this late in the year would be a rough one.
Guy nodded. “I realize that, but I’ve never been a patient man and waiting six months for an answer won’t be easy.” He put on the slouch cap he seemed to prefer over the plumed hats the intendant and governor-general wore. “In the meantime, I’ll do my best to cultivate the seven other seigneurs des Courts met with last month, especially Latullipe, where Des Anges and the children are staying during his absence. Talon will meet with the absentee landlords in France. As we noted, one of them could well be at the bottom of this. I’m sending men to see what’s going on—if anything—on those properties. Lucien will keep me posted. Are you ready to go?”
Lucien nodded. “Yes, my lord. Yves and Okwaho should be here shortly with our supply cart.” He chuckled. “Six months ago, if you’d told me I would be entrusting my life to a Mohawk scout, I would’ve called you crazy, but I can’t think of another man I would want at my back for this. Yves Michaud’s a good man, too. He and his Huron wife have seven children. He doesn’t want to see another war either. A fur-trapping expedition is excellent cover, and since we’re traveling over explored land, we can’t be accused of violating any rules. Winter pelts are among the most prized, especially the ermine and mink, even the snowshoe hare, and while winter isn’t the best time to travel, it’s probably the safest. None of the tribes will wonder far from their villages in the cold.”
“True,” Guy agreed. “As well, most of the bears will be hibernating, except for the great white ones the Montagnais hunt, but you shouldn’t be anywhere near those animals.”
“No, sir,” Lucien agreed. “I have a friend among that tribe that killed and skinned one of the great bears when he went reindeer hunting a few years ago. They’re easily twice the size of our brown or black ones. Okwaho, Yves, and I will travel toward the gulf first, using the canoe as long as we can. The river mouth doesn’t freeze as quickly because of the brine in it. After that, we’ll travel on foot using snowshoes and skis. From the map the governor-general gave me, there are three properties around Tadoussac and two more on the south shore. With luck, we’ll be in Acadia by Christmas and wait out the worst of the winter there. That will give me time to check on things there as well before I head back to Canada and Ville Marie.”
“Excellent plan,” Guy agreed and turned back to Patoulet. “Did you get my report on Ville-Marie’s legal cases?”
Lucien leaned against his arquebus, the musket he’d used to defend himself on more than one occasion. The men beside him droned on about other political issues, but they were of no concern to him. Maybe he was a fool for agreeing to this secret mission for de Courcelle, the governor-general, but this new land not only provided his living, it was his home. Anyone who sought to destroy it was his enemy.
Besides, while he’d had no love for aristocrats back in France, he liked the seigneur. The man had been a commoner, just like him. He’d fought for the land and had earned his honors fair and square. A couple of months ago, the seigneur had helped rescue his sister-in-law and her children who’d been kidnapped by coureurs de bois hired by either the traitor Gerard Giroux or des Courts himself. Those men had given the woman and her children to a small band of unsuspecting Mohawk. He and his brother, Alain, had been ready to slaughter every brave to rescue Marianne, Jean, and Lucie. Thank God they’d listened to Guy and had avoided the bloodbath in the process that could very well have started the war they were trying to stop.
Last night, he’d stayed at the intendant’s palace along with Guy in order to get his final orders from both the governor-general and Jean Talon before that man’s departure for France where he hoped to find the man overseeing the conspirators. D’Aubigny had been fully versed on the situation, and while he wasn’t convinced de Courcelle’s plan was the best, he would play his roll. To Lucien’s thinking, there were going to be issues between the man and the governor-general, especially when it looked as if D’Aubigny worshipped the ground Bishop Laval walked on, deferring to him rather than the king’s representative.
A night in the palace was quite a change for a man used to sleeping out under the stars or in tents. He’d indulged in a bath and had his hair and beard trimmed by a servant. Normally, he used his skinning knife to accomplish the task or allowed his sister-in-law to cut away his hair when it was too long. He’d even worn gentleman’s clothing, supplied by the seigneur, but was happy to be back in his familiar, comfortable buckskins.
Could he live like that? In a house with feather beds? A house with servants? He very much doubted he was cut out to be a gentleman.
Like Alain, life had been hard in France, especially after their parents had died. They’d eked out a living working for the estate owners harvesting crops, but when the chance to go to the colony and become rich by hunting the fur-bearing animals had presented itself, they’d jumped at it. The man who’d recruited them hadn’t told him what a hell they were walking into, but now, after ten years at it, while he wasn’t rich, he lived life the way he wanted to. Alain had given up the long trips to find furs when he’d married Marianne, working instead for one of the absentee seigneurs until he could buy land of his own. After the coureurs had burned down his house and barn last summer, Guy had given him land on his own centimes and provided the help to get his fields planted and a new house built. His brother was content now that it looked as if things would go his way and Lucien was happy for him. That was why he’d agreed to do this.
That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales.