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"Gifts. They come in many forms. Friendship, thoughtfulness, and yes, even a few words. There will be more words, and many conversations, but for today, those three were more than enough."
Geneviève Aubuchon[1]

"These Three Gifts" is the fourth story published in the short story collection, A Christmas to Remember. Written by Maxine Trottier, the story follows Trottier's heroine Geneviève Aubuchon from The Death of My Country. It was also translated into French as "Trois cadeaux en or."

Preface[]

"Geneviève feared for her brother's life when he and his friend fought to defend New France against the British siege of their city. Their hopes came undone in one day following a fierce battle on the Plains of Abraham. With Québec in British hands, everything—everything—changed. And now another shift in their fortunes brings a new challenge."

Plot[]

Geneviève Aubuchon and her adoptive mother Claire Pastorel arrive in Montréal on December 1, 1760. In her journal, Geneviève explains that they are there to attend the funeral of Claire's uncle, Balthazar Bélanger. Governor Murray kindly arranged for a carriage for them, and when Claire refused a military escort, he insisted that Chegual accompany them. Monsieur Bélanger has left everything to the church besides a "small bequest." The day after the funeral, the lawyer Monsieur Verges hands Claire some papers before quickly leaving. She and Geneviève soon discover the "small bequest" to be, Pìtku, a panis slave. Since Pìtku does not speak, Chegual communicates with him through sign language.

On December 8, the group arrives back home in Québec. Geneviève relates in her diary Pìtku's history. He and his twin brother were captured by slavers whom killed all of the adults in the village. Pìtku's brother later died. Unfortunately, Pìtku runs away on their way to Québec after Chegual scolds him for kicking Geneviève. They looked for him for days to no avail. The next day, she hears a rumor that the Les Écossais (the Scots) have captured someone for theft while shopping in the market. The person turns out to be Pìtku. Andrew Doig and Johnathan Stewart bring him to Claire's home. There he signs to Chegual that his scolding had reminded him of his father, which is why he tracked them to Québec.

A few days later at mass, Geneviève talks to Claire and Andrew about the chapel's crèche, which had been destroyed the previous year. Geneviève later notices that some candles are missing, which Cook says is a "sure sign of mice." Meanwhile, Andrew and Chegual begin spending evenings with Pìtku in the library. One day, Geneviève thinks she says Pìtku speaking to Chegual. She begins keeping her eye out to see if he will speak again. The beginning of the Christmas season passes pleasantly. On January 1, 1761, Andrew asks Geneviève to retrieve something from the library. There she finds nativity figures made of the missing candles, which Pìtku helped construct. Pìtku then says "Bonne Année, Geneviève."

Characters[]

See also: List of The Death of My Country characters

Main[]

  • Geneviève Aubuchon was Claire's adoptive daughter and Chegual's younger sister. In December 1760, Geneviève accompanied Claire to Montréal, where they met Pìtku. Geneviève worried about Pìtku, who came to live with them, since she was unable to communicate with him.

Supporting[]

  • Andrew Doig, a Scottish officer. He became a close friend of Geneviève and her family the previous year when he billeted with them. In December 1760, Andrew and Chegual spent many evenings with Pìtku while preparing a surprise for Geneviève.
  • Chegual was Geneviève's older brother. He accompanied Geneviève and Claire to Montréal. Chegual was the first to befriend Pìtku as he was able to communicate with him using sign language. While preparing Geneviève's surprise, he taught Pìtku some words in French.
  • Claire Pastorel was Geneviève's adoptive mother. In December 1760, she attended the funeral of her her uncle, whom left his slave Pìtku to her. She planned to take care of Pìtku and free him when he was old enough to take care of himself. Claire was being courted by Johnathan.
  • Lieutenant Johnathan Stewart was Andrew's cousin. He and Andrew brought Pìtku to Claire's home after he was caught stealing in the market. Johnathan was determinedly courting Claire, whom he later took to the Governor's party.
  • Pìtku was a young panis slave previously owned by Balthazar Bélanger, whom left him to Claire in his will. Slavers had attacked his village and killed all of the adults in order to capture the children, including Pìtku and his twin brother. His twin later died. Likely due to the trauma, Pìtku could not speak. In December 1760, he came to live with Claire and her family. He warmed up to Chegual quickly since they could use sign language to communicate.

Minor[]

  • Balthazar Bélanger (died November 1760)[2] was Claire's elderly uncle whom suddenly died of apoplexy. He was buried at Notre Dame Basilica. M. Bélanger left his entire estate to the church, except his young slave, Pìtku, whom he bequeathed to Claire.
  • Madame Babin, usually called Cook, was a servant in Mme Claire's household whom they treated more like a friend.
  • Curé Montgolfier, the Vicar General whom said mass at Monsieur Bélanger's funeral.
  • La Bave and Wigwedi were Geneviève's pets, a Newfoundland dog and a three-legged rabbit. While away in Montréal, Cook looked away them.
  • Mère Esther was a friend of Geneviève and Claire. In December 1760, she was elected by the fellow Ursuline nuns to be the mother superior of their convent.
  • Mère Marie-Charlotte de Ramezay, a tall nun that Pìtku stared at because of her height.
  • James Murray, the governor of Québec. He sent a carriage for Claire to go to Montréal and later invited her to his dinner party.
  • Monsieur Verges was a lawyer in Montréal, whom handled M. Bélanger's estate. He contacted Claire after her uncle's passing and gave her his "small bequest," Pìtku.
  • Mister Wharton, a British shopkeeper, whom Geneviève described as a "fair man" and preferred his shop.

Editions[]

References[]

See also[]


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