They followed the sounds of music and talking behind the main lodge and towards the woods. At the back of the complex, there was a large open area illuminated by dozens of strings of twinkly lights. Chantelle breathed in the crisp air, a tinge of acrid smoke carrying across it. A perfect night. A stage was set up at the far end and on the right were tables laden with food and drink. Smoke wafted from the large bonfire, fenced in to keep anyone from falling into it.
It reminded Chantelle of one of the scenes in her granny’s stories, when the loups-garous and seigneurs gathered to celebrate the Harvest Moon in New France, before the English invaded. Her heart sped up. This must be the same party—later generations had continued the festive tradition. In the tale, the seigneurs waged battle against a group of corrupt friars who had turned the town against them. She wondered why loups-garous in the early stories were persecuted by religious men, accused of hurting townspeople and performing the work of the devil. Was it scapegoating, cutting down those who opposed the Catholic Church? Priests were rich and powerful in the early settler days.
She followed Thomas over to his family, waiting near the stage for Charles to play. Bertrand brought her a plate and Clem poured her a cider from the keg. She nibbled and made small talk until somebody turned on a microphone.
One of the Elders—a Joshua somebody—introduced the first act. Charles strode on stage carrying his fiddle, followed by several other musicians. Chantelle saw an accordion, guitar, mandolin and some singers. Everyone clapped and whistled. Charles counted them in and they started playing traditional Quebec jigs, then a call and response number. He was fantastic—so animated, so engaged with his band, so energised by the crowd. Her heart raced.
Chantelle turned to Clem. “He’s really good!”
“I wish he took more time to play. He’s been working so hard since my uncle passed.”
“Grief is strange—it can hit you at weird times. It makes you act in unusual ways.”
Clem gave her a hug. “I’m glad you’re here. I think it’s good for both of you.”
Chantelle hugged her back, saying, “Me too.” She hoped things worked out with Charles. She was starting to fall in love with his family too.
Thomas asked her to dance. Clem held her drink and he whisked her away, the music swirling around them.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish