THE DEFENCE OF VERCHERES 19
together at no great distance, gave a feeling of security to the little community, for, should a descent at any time be made upon them, the people naturally found speedy refuge in the fort, and added to the strength of the garrison.
At the time, however, there had been no outbreak on the part of the savages for some months, and these exiles of la belle France, in accordance with circumstances, had fallen into a state of false security, from which, alas ! they were to be rudely awakened. The Sieur de Vercheres, accompanied by Madame his wife, had left home a few days previously for Quebec, where an annual ceremony of rendering fealty to the King in accordance with seigneurial rights and tenures rendered his presence necessary. Amidst the brilliant scenes with which the Chateau St. Louis was familiar during the old regime, this event was one of the most interesting, and received its full significance under the haughty and capable Count Frontenac. The procedure was simple but impressive. In the council chamber the Governor, surrounded by his semi-royal court, awaited each seigneur, or landowner, who, attired in uniform and orders, and wearing a sword, was introduced into his presence by the proper official. Kneeling upon one knee, in