Thursday, July 13, 2017

New France Episode 2: The Journey Begins

Episode 1

Quebec City, 22 September 1638

"Steer to the beach near that rock.  Let's not try the docks in this little canoe."

Adele jabbed her oar into the water as mute agreement to Olivia's decision.  Thank goodness the trip was downstream; it had still taken nearly two weeks.

Being early in the morning, few people were out, but one voice called, "Who are you there?"

"I'm Capitaine Olivia Pierre of the Regiment de Carignan-Salière and my Serjeant Adele Miroir.  I have business at Chateau St Louis.  Who are you?"

"Pte Gabriel Fournier, mon Capitaine.  I'm the morning watch.  Mon Lieutenant-General should be at breakfast shortly, you may wish to stop for a meal at La Licorne Obscène, an inn near Le Chateau."

At that advice, Olivia and Adele exchanged a glance, thanked Gabriel and headed toward Le Chateau. 

Walking along the muddy street, the two young soldiers discovered that La Licorne Obscène was just next door to the regimental headquarters, and were about to enter when a group stepped out of the inn's door.  "Good morning soldiers... oho!  You two look unfamiliar!  Perhaps you'd like some hospitality?"

Before the two stood what appeared to be a Dutch merchant, attended by three French... ladies, rather under-dressed for the morning air.

"You don't look like an innkeeper", replied Adele to the short, stout foreigner.

"I'm no innkeeper!  I'm a provider of hospitality", came a disdainful retort.  "Perhaps you'd do better in my employ than wandering lost in the woods.  At least then you'd get a regular, proper bath."

Olivia snapped a cautioning arm to bar Adele from beating the dwarf to death, but the dwarf had ideas of his own, producing a small pistol and quickly firing.  He was no marksman and the shot was of no danger to anyone nearby.  Having had quite enough of this nonsense, Olivia drew her sabre and stepped toward the dwarf.  Seeing the dawn sun glinting on the blade's keen edge, the offending Dutchman and his entourage made an expeditious retreat.

Approaching footsteps as Olivia sheathed her sabre resolved into Gabriel Fournier, charging at the double.  Seeing only the young officers, he slowed and asked, "Who fired that shot?  Are you trying to bring the Governor's wrath down upon yourselves?"

Adele replied sharply, "Who let dwarves into Quebec, especially one who can't properly shoot?"

Gabriel laughed and offered to guide the two to the commander, since he needed to report the shot.

As the three soldiers entered the command offices of Le Chateau, a gruff voice called out, "Gabriel, please tell me I needn't report a death to the Governor first thing this morning ".

"Non, money Leiutenant-Generale, only that Totsten ought be hanged ", was  Private Fournier's reply as the three entered.

"Oho!  You've found wandering troops"

"Yes, mon General.  This is Capitaine Olivia Pierre and Serjeant Adele Dupree, just arrived from Fort Frontenac".

Leiutenant-Generale Berthier hesitated while accepting Olivia's orders, "Her Highness?  His Excellency?"

Olivia replied calmly, "They were unharmed and comfortable when I left them, mon Generale".

Berthier grunted softly while reading Olivia's papers and suddenly raised his head with a grin, "Oho!  You're a fortunate one to be sailing south while we wade through those cursed English goblins!"  Cocking an eyebrow, the Lieutenant-General glanced at Gabriel Fournier, "I suppose you've already volunteered your services, eh?"

"Volunteered, mon General?"

Olivia broke in, "I haven't told anyone yet, sir".

The General barked an order, "Fournier, fetch Etienne Rambault and be quick about it!".  After Gabriel had departed, Berthier addressed Olivia, "You're a young one to be on such a mission of exploration".

Adele spoke for the first time, "mon Generale, if I may be so bold..."

Berthier gestured that Adele should speak.

"mon Generale... Olivia -  mon Capitaine, won her commission by saving all of Fort Frontenac from a Salem Witch.  Shot her dead at sixty paces just before the witch could cast a spell upon the two of us".

"Oho!   You indeed have the reflexes and initiative of a fine officer!  How do you find Fournier, Capitaine?"

Without hesitation, Olivia replied, "A sensible young soldier with a level head", only a moment before Gabriel reentered the room followed shortly by another young private.  Gabriel could scarcely form the words, "Private Fournier..." when Berthier cut him off.  "Fournier, Rambault, pack your uniforms and equipment for sea travel, you've been transferred to the regiment's newest company...  La Compagnie du Bane de la Sorcière, as commanded by Capitaine Pierre".