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Not the master of the house.

Early in the eighteenth century, a French colonist was alone in Québec, taking care of her family during her husband's absence

Read the letters which she wrote to him

Archival Reference: HCA 32/ 1828 /3. Translated from the French originals by Annika Raapke for the Prize Papers Project

November 1702

My dear husband,

I am writing to you from my bed, where I have been for ten days. I was very ill with the grippe and a fever, and in terrible pain, they thought I would give birth to my child because of the terrible pain I was in, but thank God the fever is falling, my grippe is still there. They did not dare to give me medicine because of my pregnancy. I hope everything will be well. All the world is ill at the same time, in every house, the chickenpox are everywhere. The adults are much sicker than the children. Madame Roy thought she would die of it, she has six people who are sick, only M. Crispain is well enough to look after everybody. Your children have not had the chickenpox yet, I watch over them as best I can. My illness makes me ask you for a basin to put under a sick person in the bed, I have had much trouble trying to find one. We have the most beautiful weather you can imagine. I hope you will not have a long passage. If I believed that your return would be just as good, I would comfort myself, but the grief over your absence never leaves me; I beg you, look after yourself. Write to me with the first ship, but only send it with the fleet; adieu my dear husband, I have to stop so they can give me a bloodletting, remember me, your dear wife Louise Dupon

Your son and your daughter kiss you

December 1702

My dear husband,

All I can do to make you give me your news is to send you mine. I have been better for a few days. Around me, everyone is very ill with the chickenpox, so far they have not taken anyone, everyday someone falls ill; Madame (?) has died since I wrote my last letter, if not from the chickenpox then from something else; an officer by the name of M Mondion has also died and M Dugai; they have just carried Madame de Baiencourt out of her house, dead, she has died from the grippe. All your children are well, I keep them locked up in the house to protect them from this evil, Madelon asks you not to forget her little etui, she talks to her maman about it every day to distract her, she talks about all the things which you are going to bring her; do not forget the basin for which I have asked you in my first letter, if you find a good one. Please send us a pot of goose fat which is nice and fresh and white. I ask you for a little apron dress for your daughter, so she is pretty, if you want to bring one for me, too, you would give me pleasure. I beg you not to put yourself in danger just to take the first ship, in case the war continues. I would prefer it that you arrive later than accept you being taken prisoner. If you love me a little, you will spare me the sorrow of your absence next time. I assure you that I am very unhappy, and cannot reconcile myself to it. I beg you to arrange your business in a way that you do not have to leave me anymore. I hope you will do so, if you have a little love for the one who is your wife with all her heart,

Louise Dechamins

Postscriptum from her daughter Madelon:

My dear father, I have begged my dear mother until she let me assure you of my most humble respect and tell you that I am with respect your dear daughter Madelon Dupon

April 1703

- This letter is mostly illegible -

My dear husband,

(...) I do not doubt that it is only due to all the prayers that were said for me that I am still alive, I would never have survived it otherwise. Our poor children were very ill, I am left with only Madelon and your son, and I thought I would lose them, too. Because of the chickenpox, I have given birth in my 6th month (...) Many people have died, the number was so high that I would have had trouble counting them, we have had funerals for 15 people at a time. I would not have believed that I would escape, I thought I would never see you again (...) adieu my dear husband, look after yourself, I kiss you a thousand times and am with all my heart your dear wife

The Dupont

November 1703

- This letter is mostly illegible -

My dear husband,

Despite my decision not to write to you again, I cannot stop myself from telling you once more how much sorrow your absence causes me. I think that you would have spared me the worries which I have out of love for you, had you only loved me a little. I cannot stop myself from taking offense. What can I do, I am not the Master of the house. I hope that you can put an end to my pain. I expect you in the month of May, I believe that nothing can stop you, if you want to do something, you do it! (...) Adieu my dear husband, I kiss you a thousand times, your dear wife

the Dupont