Euclide Auclair (ew-KLEED oh-KLAR), a temperate, humane, and philosophical apothecary living in Quebec at the end of the seventeenth century. Although loyal to his patron and friend, the Count de Frontenac, whom he accompanied to Canada in 1689, he feels that he has lived in exile for eight years, and he makes little effort to adjust his thinking or habits to life in a new land. At night, when he draws the curtains of his shop and sits down to dinner with his daughter Cécile, he likes to imagine that he is back in his beloved home on the Quai des Célestins in Paris. When he learns that the count expects to be recalled by King Louis, Auclair looks forward to returning with his benefactor. The count, neglected by his monarch, dies in Quebec, and in the end, Auclair stays on. His daughter has married a Canadian, and to the old apothecary it seems that the future may after all be better in Quebec, a place where change comes slowly, remote from the designs of kings and their ministers.
Cécile Auclair (say-SEEL), the apothecary’s thirteen-year-old daughter, who has taken over the household after her mother’s death. She is an appealing child because of her quaint mixture of youth and maturity. She is deeply pious but with no sense of a religious vocation; instead, she resembles a household vestal guarding domestic rites that stand for the order and grace of a transplanted culture. Unlike her father, she is a Canadian; the river flowing below the rock, the mountains to the north, and the dark pine forests stretching away as far as one can see frame everything that is familiar and dear to her. She grows up to marry Pierre Charron, her father’s friend, a famous hunter and scout.
Pierre Charron (pyehr shah-ROH[N]), Euclide Auclair’s young friend from Montreal, a wilderness runner and hunter. Disappointed in love when the daughter of his employer became a religious recluse, he had taken to the woods; now he has made a name for himself among the traders and Indians all along the Great Lakes. Whenever he is in Quebec, he visits the Auclairs. The apothecary admires him because the...
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