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quelques poutres, un débris de toit. C'était là le but de notre voyage. [80;
To our right and behind us were dense woods; to our left one could see the
verdant fields, rich crops, white cottages, and on the horizon, on an eleva-
ted promontory, the city and citadel of Quebec; before us rose a mass of
ruins, crenellated walls covered in moss and ivy, a half-fallen tower, a few
beams, the remnants of a roof. That was our destination.]
Surrounded by nature ('un bois touffu'), the three viewers contemplate
various signs of culture, in a space carefully delineated by directions
and planes in a highly pictorial manner befitting a landscape painting:
to the left a few cottages defined by their colour ('de blanches chau-
mières'); in the distance, the city of Quebec, denoted by its position
('sur un promontoire élevé); in the near ground, set against this vast
expanse of space, is the sought after place, the ruins of a past icon that
constitute a memorial. Accordingly, the place gives rise to memory
when the party explores the ruins and discovers, partially buried un-
derground, 'une pierre sépulcrale que nous heurtâmes du pied' (81; a
gravestone that we stumbled upon), inscribed with the letter C , which
then sparks the tale, recounted by the father's friend.
The intendant Bigot, whose misdeeds during the Seven Years War
(French and Indian War) were widely known in France and in the New
World, had built his country home at this spot, where his passion for
the hunt had led him to get lost in the wilderness, 'une vaste forêt' (82).
In a scene of slow-motion perception that extends for nearly a full
page (83), in a story of only seven pages, Bigot sees first 'quelque chose
de blanc' (something white), which he initially takes for 'un fantôme
de la nuit, un manitou du désert, un de ces génies …' (a phantom of
the night, a force of nature, one of those spirits). After standing, and
looking further at the approaching form, 'Il voit un être humain' (he
sees a human being), which he compares successively to several fig-
ures from European literature, like 'ces nymphes, légères habitantes
des forêts. C'est la sylphide de Chateaubriand! C'est Malz! C'est
Velléda!' (those nymphs, light forest dwellers. It's Chateaubriand's
sylph! It's Malz! It's Velleda!) 11 Then, from a series of partial impres-
sions, 'une figure charmante, de grands yeux bruns, une blancheur
éclatante, de longs cheveux noirs' (a charming face, large brown eyes,
shining whiteness, long black hair), he constructs a complete image of
'cette fille de la forêt' (this daughter of the forest) whom he (like
Saguima) compares to Diane ('on croirait voir Diane'), before she fi-
nally identifies herself as Caroline, the 'creole' daughter of a French
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