Part 10 out of 12
"Charleston, 'Napolis . . . Philadelphia . . . everywhere," he answered.
"Now," said he, "'mgoin' t' bed."
I applauded this determination, but doubted whether he meant to carry it
out. However, I conducted him to the back room, where he sat himself
down on the edge of my four-poster, and after conversing a little longer
on the subject of Mr. Jackson (who seemed to have gotten upon his brain),
he toppled over and instantly fell asleep with his clothes on. For a
while I stood over him, the old affection welling up so strongly within
me that my eyes were dimmed as I looked upon his face. Spare and
handsome it was, and boyish still, the weaker lines emphasized in its
relaxation. Would that relentless spirit with which he had been born
make him, too, a wanderer forever? And was it not the strangest of fates
which had impelled him to join this madcap expedition of this other man I
loved, George Rogers Clark?
I went out, closed the door, and lighting another candle took from my
portfolio a packet of letters. Two of them I had not read, having found
them only on my return from Philadelphia that morning. They were all
signed simply "Sarah Temple," they were dated at a certain number in the
Rue Bourbon, New Orleans, and each was a tragedy in that which it had
left unsaid. There was no suspicion of heroics, there was no railing at
fate; the letters breathed but the one hope,--that her son might come
again to that happiness of which she had robbed him. There were in all
but twelve, and they were brief, for some affliction had nearly deprived
the lady of the use of her right hand. I read them twice over, and then,
despite the lateness of the hour, I sat staring at the candles,
reflecting upon my own helplessness. I was startled from this revery by
a knock. Rising hastily, I closed the door of my bedroom, thinking I had
to do with some drunken reveller who might be noisy. The knock was
repeated. I slipped back the bolt and peered out into the night.
"I saw dat light," said a voice which I recognized; "I think I come in to
say good night."
I opened the door, and he walked in.
"You are one night owl, Monsieur Reetchie," he said.
"And you seem to prefer the small hours for your visits, Monsieur de St.
Gre," I could not refrain from replying.
He swept the room with a glance, and I thought a shade of disappointment
passed over his face. I wondered whether he were looking for Nick. He
sat himself down in my chair, stretched out his legs, and regarded me
with something less than his usual complacency.
"I have much laik for you, Monsieur Reetchie," he began, and waved aside
my bow of acknowledgment "Before I go away from Louisville I want to spik
with you,--this is a risson why I am here. You listen to what dat Depeau
he say,--dat is not truth. My family knows you, I laik to have you hear
He paused, and while I wondered what revelations he was about to make, I
could not repress my impatience at the preamble.
"You are my frien', you have prove it," he continued. "You remember las'
time we meet?" (I smiled involuntarily.) "You was in bed, but you not
need be ashame' for me. Two days after I went to France, and I not in
New Orleans since."
"Two days after you saw me?" I repeated.
"Yaas, I run away. That was the mont' of August, 1789, and we have not
then heard in New Orleans that the Bastille is attack. I lan' at La
Havre,--it is the en' of Septembre. I go to the Chateau de St.
Gre--great iron gates, long avenue of poplar,--big house all 'round a
court, and Monsieur le Marquis is at Versailles. I borrow three louis
from the concierge, and I go to Versailles to the hotel of Monsieur le
Marquis. There is all dat trouble what you read about going on, and
Monsieur le Marquis he not so glad to see me for dat risson. 'Mon cher
Auguste,' he cry, 'you want to be of officier in gardes de corps? You
are not afred?'" (Auguste stiffened.) "'I am a St. Gre, Monsieur le
Marquis. I am afred of nothings,' I answered. He tek me to the King, I
am made lieutenant, the mob come and the King and Queen are carry off to
Paris. The King is prisoner, Monsieur le Marquis goes back to the
Chateau de St. Gre. France is a republic. Monsieur--que voulez-vous?"
(The Sieur de St. Gre shrugged his shoulders.) "I, too, become
Republican. I become officier in the National Guard,--one must move with
the time. Is it not so, Monsieur? I deman' of you if you ever expec' to
see a St. Gre a Republican."
I expressed my astonishment.
"I give up my right, my principle, my family. I come to America--I go to
New Orleans where I have influence and I stir up revolution for France,
for Liberty. Is it not noble cause?"
I had it on the tip of my tongue to ask Monsieur Auguste why he left
France, but the uselessness of it was apparent.
"You see, Monsieur, I am justify before you, before my frien's,--that is
all I care," and he gave another shrug in defiance of the world at large.
"What I have done, I have done for principle. If I remain Royalist, I
might have marry my cousin, Mademoiselle de St. Gre. Ha, Monsieur, you
remember--the miniature you were so kin' as to borrow me four hundred
"I remember," I said.
"It is because I have much confidence in you, Monsieur," he said, "it is
because I go--peut-etre--to dangere, to death, that I come here and ask
you to do me a favor."
"You honor me too much, Monsieur," I answered, though I could scarce
refrain from smiling.
"It is because of your charactair," Monsieur Auguste was good enough to
say. "You are to be repose' in, you are to be rely on. Sometime I think
you ver' ole man. And this is why, and sence you laik objects of art,
that I bring this and ask you keep it while I am in dangere."
I was mystified. He thrust his hand into his coat and drew forth an oval
object wrapped in dirty paper, and then disclosed to my astonished eyes
the miniature of Mademoiselle de St. Gre,--the miniature, I say, for the
gold back and setting were lacking. Auguste had retained only the
ivory,--whether from sentiment or necessity I will not venture. The
sight of it gave me a strange sensation, and I can scarcely write of the
anger and disgust which surged over me, of the longing to snatch it from
his trembling fingers. Suddenly I forgot Auguste in the lady herself.
There was something emblematical in the misfortune which had bereft the
picture of its setting. Even so the Revolution had taken from her a
brilliant life, a king and queen, home and friends. Yet the spirit
remained unquenchable, set above its mean surroundings,--ay, and
untouched by them. I was filled with a painful curiosity to know what
had become of her, which I repressed. Auguste's voice aroused me.
"Ah, Monsieur, is it not a face to love, to adore?"
"It is a face to obey," I answered, with some heat, and with more truth
than I knew.
"Mon Dieu, Monsieur, it is so. It is that mek me love--you know not
how. You know not what love is, Monsieur Reetchie, you never love laik
me. You have not sem risson. Monsieur," he continued, leaning forward
and putting his hand on my knee, "I think she love me--I am not sure. I
should not be surprise'. But Monsieur le Marquis, her father, he trit me
ver' bad. Monsieur le Marquis is guillotine' now, I mus' not spik evil
of him, but he marry her to one ol' garcon, Le Vicomte d'Ivry-le-Tour."
"So Mademoiselle is married," I said after a pause.
"Oui, she is Madame la Vicomtesse now; I fall at her feet jus' the sem.
I hear of her once at Bel Oeil, the chateau of Monsieur le Prince de
Ligne in Flander'. After that they go I know not where. They are
exile',--los' to me." He sighed, and held out the miniature to me.
"Monsieur, I esk you favor. Will you be as kin' and keep it for me
I have wondered many times since why I did not refuse. Suffice it to say
that I took it. And Auguste's face lighted up.
"I am a thousan' times gret'ful," he cried; and added, as though with an
afterthought, "Monsieur, would you be so kin' as to borrow me fif'
OF A SUDDEN RESOLUTION
It was nearly morning when I fell asleep in my chair, from sheer
exhaustion, for the day before had been a hard one, even for me. I awoke
with a start, and sat for some minutes trying to collect my scattered
senses. The sun streamed in at my open door, the birds hopped on the
lawn, and the various sounds of the bustling life of the little town came
to me from beyond. Suddenly, with a glimmering of the mad events of the
night, I stood up, walked uncertainly into the back room, and stared at
It was empty. I went back into the outer room; my eye wandered from the
shattered whiskey bottle, which was still on the floor, to the table
littered with Mrs. Temple's letters. And there, in the midst of them,
lay a note addressed with my name in a big, unformed hand. I opened it
"Dear Davy,"--so it ran,--"I have gone away, I cannot tell you where.
Some day I will come back and you will forgive me. God bless you!
He had gone away! To New Orleans? I had long ceased trying to account
for Nick's actions, but the more I reflected, the more incredible it
seemed to me that he should have gone there, of all places. And yet I
had had it from Clark's own lips (indiscreet enough now!) that Nick and
St. Gre were to prepare the way for an insurrection there. My thoughts
ran on to other possibilities; would he see his mother? But he had no
reason to know that Mrs. Temple was still in New Orleans. Then my glance
fell on her letters, lying open on the table. Had he read them? I put
this down as improbable, for he was a man who held strictly to a point of
And then there was Antoinette de St. Gre! I ceased to conjecture here,
dashed some water in my eyes, pulled myself together, and, seizing my
hat, hurried out into the street. I made a sufficiently indecorous
figure as I ran towards the water-side, barely nodding to my
acquaintances on the way. It was a fresh morning, a river breeze stirred
the waters of the Bear Grass, and as I stood, scanning the line of boats
there, I heard footsteps behind me. I turned to confront a little man
with grizzled, chestnut eyebrows. He was none other than the Citizen
"You tek ze air, Monsieur Reetchie?" said he. "You look for some one,
yes? You git up too late see him off."
I made a swift resolve never to quibble with this man.
"So Mr. Temple has gone to New Orleans with the Sieur de St. Gre," I
Citizen Gignoux laid a fat finger on one side of his great nose. The
nose was red and shiny, I remember, and glistened in the sunlight.
"Ah," said he, "'tis no use tryin' hide from you. However, Monsieur
Reetchie, you are the ver' soul of honor. And then your frien'! I know
you not betray the Sieur de St. Gre. He is ver' fon' of you."
"Betray!" I exclaimed; "there is no question of betrayal. As far as I
can see, your plans are carried on openly, with a fine contempt for the
He shrugged his shoulders.
"'Tis not my doin'," he said, "but I am--what you call it?--a cipher.
Sicrecy is what I believe. But drink too much, talk too much--is it not
so, Monsieur? And if Monsieur le Baron de Carondelet, ze governor, hear
they are in New Orleans, I think they go to Havana or Brazil." He
smiled, but perhaps the expression of my face caused him to sober
abruptly. "It is necessair for the cause. We must have good Revolution
A suspicion of this man came over me, for a childlike simplicity
characterized the other ringleaders in this expedition. Clark had had
acumen once, and lost it; St. Gre was a fool; Nick Temple was leading
purposely a reckless life; the Citizens Sullivan and Depeau had, to say
the least, a limited knowledge of affairs. All of these were responding
more or less sincerely to the cry of the people of Kentucky (every day
more passionate) that something be done about Louisiana. But Gignoux
seemed of a different feather. Moreover, he had been too shrewd to deny
what Colonel Clark would have denied in a soberer moment,--that St. Gre
and Nick had gone to New Orleans.
"You not spik, Monsieur. You not think they have success. You are not
Federalist, no, for I hear you march las night with your frien',--I hear
you wave torch."
"You make it your business to hear a great deal, Monsieur Gignoux," I
retorted, my temper slipping a little.
He hastened to apologize.
"Mille pardons, Monsieur," he said; "I see you are Federalist--but drunk.
Is it not so? Monsieur, you tink this ver' silly thing--this
"Whatever I think, Monsieur," I answered, "I am a friend of General
"An enemy of ze cause?" he put in.
"Monsieur," I said, "if President Washington and General Wayne do not
think it worth while to interfere with your plans, neither do I."
I left him abruptly, and went back to my long-delayed affairs with a
heavy heart. The more I thought, the more criminally foolish Nick's
journey seemed to me. However puerile the undertaking, De Lemos at
Natchez and Carondelet at New Orleans had not the reputation of sleeping
at their posts, and their hatred for Americans was well known. I sought
General Clark, but he had gone to Knob Licks, and in my anxiety I lay
awake at nights tossing in my bed.
One evening, perhaps four days after Nick's departure, I went into the
common room of the tavern, and there I was surprised to see an old
friend. His square, saffron face was just the same, his little jet eyes
snapped as brightly as ever, his hair--which was swept high above his
forehead and tied in an eelskin behind--was as black as when I had seen
it at Kaskaskia. I had met Monsieur Vigo many times since, for he was a
familiar figure amongst the towns of the Ohio and the Mississippi, and
from Vincennes to Anse a la Graisse, and even to New Orleans. His
reputation as a financier was greater than ever. He was talking to my
friend, Mr. Marshall, but he rose when he saw me, with a beaming smile.
"Ha, it is Davy," he cried, "but not the sem lil drummer boy who would
not come into my store. Reech lawyer now,--I hear you make much money
"Congress money?" I said.
Monsieur Vigo threw out his hands, and laughed exactly as he had done in
his log store at Kaskaskia.
"Congress have never repay me one sou," said Monsieur Vigo, making a
face. "I have try--I have talk--I have represent--it is no good. Davy,
it is your fault. You tell me tek dat money. You call dat finance?"
"David," said Mr. Marshall, sharply, "what the devil is this I hear of
your carrying a torch in a Jacobin procession?"
"You may put it down to liquor, Mr. Marshall," I answered.
"Then you must have had a cask, egad," said Mr. Marshall, "for I never
saw you drunk."
"I shall not attempt to explain it, sir," I answered.
"You must not allow your drum to drag you into bad company again," said
he, and resumed his conversation. As I suspected, it was a vigorous
condemnation of General Clark and his new expedition. I expressed my
belief that the government did not regard it seriously, and would forbid
the enterprise at the proper time.
"You are right, sir," said Mr. Marshall, bringing down his fist on the
table. "I have private advices from Philadelphia that the President's
consideration for Governor Shelby is worn out, and that he will issue a
proclamation within the next few days warning all citizens at their peril
from any connection with the pirates."
"As a matter of fact, Mr. Marshall," said I, "Citizen Genet has been
liberal with nothing except commissions, and they have neither money nor
"The rascals have all left town," said Mr. Marshall. "Citizen
Quartermaster Depeau, their local financier, has gone back to his store
at Knob Licks. The Sieur de St. Gre and a Mr. Temple, as doubtless you
know, have gone to New Orleans. And the most mysterious and therefore
the most dangerous of the lot, Citizen Gignoux, has vanished like an evil
spirit. It is commonly supposed that he, too, has gone down the river.
You may see him, Vigo," said Mr. Marshall, turning to the trader; "he is
a little man with a big nose and grizzled chestnut eyebrows."
"Ah, I know a lil 'bout him," said Monsieur Vigo; "he was on my boat two
days ago, asking me questions."
"The devil he was!" said Mr. Marshall.
I had another disquieting night, and by the morning I had made up my
mind. The sun was glinting on the placid waters of the river when I made
my way down to the bank, to a great ten-oared keel boat that lay on the
Bear Grass, with its square sail furled. An awning was stretched over
the deck, and at a walnut table covered with papers sat Monsieur Vigo,
smoking his morning pipe.
"Davy," said he, "you have come a la bonne heure. At ten I depart for
New Orleans." He sighed. "It is so long voyage," he added, "and so
lonely one. Sometime I have the good fortune to pick up a companion, but
"Do you want me to go with you?" I said.
He looked at me incredulously.
"I should be delighted," he said, "but you mek a jest."
"I was never more serious in my life," I answered, "for I have business
in New Orleans. I shall be ready."
"Ha," cried Monsieur Vigo, hospitably, "I shall be enchant. We will talk
philosophe, Beaumarchais, Voltaire, Rousseau."
For Monsieur Vigo was a great reader, and we had often indulged in
conversation which (we flattered ourselves) had a literary turn.
I spent the remaining hours arranging with a young lawyer of my
acquaintance to look after my business, and at ten o'clock I was aboard
the keel boat with my small baggage. At eleven, Monsieur Vigo and I were
talking "philosophe" over a wonderful breakfast under the awning, as we
dropped down between the forest-lined shores of the Ohio. My host
travelled in luxury, and we ate the Creole dishes, which his cook
prepared, with silver forks which he kept in a great chest in the cabin.
You who read this may feel something of my impatience to get to New
Orleans, and hence I shall not give a long account of the journey. What
a contrast it was to that which Nick and I had taken five years before in
Monsieur Gratiot's fur boat! Like all successful Creole traders,
Monsieur Vigo had a wonderful knack of getting on with the Indians, and
often when we tied up of a night the chief men of a tribe would come down
to greet him. We slipped southward on the great, yellow river which
parted the wilderness, with its sucks and eddies and green islands, every
one of which Monsieur knew, and I saw again the flocks of water-fowl and
herons in procession, and hawks and vultures wheeling in their search.
Sometimes a favorable wind sprang up, and we hoisted the sail. We passed
the Walnut Hills, the Nogales, the moans of the alligators broke our
sleep by night, and at length we came to Natchez, ruled over now by that
watch-dog of the Spanish King, Gayoso de Lemos. Thanks to Monsieur Vigo,
his manners were charming and his hospitality gracious, and there was no
trouble whatever about my passport.
Our progress was slow when we came at last to the belvedered plantation
houses amongst the orange groves; and as we sat on the wide galleries in
the summer nights, we heard all the latest gossip of the capital of
Louisiana. The river was low; there was an ominous quality in the heat
which had its effect, indeed, upon me, and made the old Creoles shake
their heads and mutter a word with a terrible meaning. New Orleans was a
cesspool, said the enlightened. The Baron de Carondelet, indefatigable
man, aimed at digging a canal to relieve the city of its filth, but this
would be the year when it was most needed, and it was not dug. Yes,
Monsieur le Baron was energy itself. That other fever--the political
one--he had scotched. "Ca Ira" and "La Marseillaise" had been sung in
the theatres, but not often, for the Baron had sent the alcaldes to shut
them up. Certain gentlemen of French ancestry had gone to languish in
the Morro at Havana. Yes, Monsieur de Carondelet, though fat, was on
horseback before dawn, New Orleans was fortified as it never had been
before, the militia organized, real cannon were on the ramparts which
could shoot at a pinch.
Sub rosa, I found much sympathy among the planters with the Rights of
Man. What had become, they asked, of the expedition of Citizen General
Clark preparing in the North? They may have sighed secretly when I
painted it in its true colors, but they loved peace, these planters.
Strangely enough, the name of Auguste de St. Gre never crossed their lips,
and I got no trace of him or Nick at any of these places. Was it
possible that they might not have come to New Orleans after all?
Through the days, when the sun beat upon the awning with a tropical
fierceness, when Monsieur Vigo abandoned himself to his siestas, I
thought. It was perhaps characteristic of me that I waited nearly three
weeks to confide in my old friend the purpose of my journey to New
Orleans. It was not because I could not trust him that I held my tongue,
but because I sought some way of separating the more intimate story of
Nick's mother and his affair with Antoinette de St. Gre from the rest of
the story. But Monsieur Vigo was a man of importance in Louisiana, and I
reflected that a time might come when I should need his help. One
evening, when we were tied up under the oaks of a bayou, I told him.
There emanated from Monsieur Vigo a sympathy which few men possess, and
this I felt strongly as he listened, breaking his silence only at long
intervals to ask a question. It was a still night, I remember, of great
beauty, with a wisp of a moon hanging over the forest line, the air heavy
with odors and vibrant with a thousand insect tones.
"And what you do, Davy?" he said at length.
"I must find my cousin and St. Gre before they have a chance to get into
much mischief," I answered. "If they have already made a noise, I
thought of going to the Baron de Carondelet and telling him what I know
of the expedition. He will understand what St. Gre is, and I will
explain that Mr. Temple's reckless love of adventure is at the bottom of
his share in the matter."
"Bon, Davy," said my host, "if you go, I go with you. But I believe ze
Baron think Morro good place for them jus' the sem. Ze Baron has been
make miserable with Jacobins. But I go with you if you go."
He discoursed for some time upon the quality of the St. Gre's, their
public services, and before he went to sleep he made the very just remark
that there was a flaw in every string of beads. As for me, I went down
into the cabin, surreptitiously lighted a candle, and drew from my pocket
that piece of ivory which had so strangely come into my possession once
more. The face upon it had haunted me since I had first beheld it. The
miniature was wrapped now in a silk handkerchief which Polly Ann had
bought for me in Lexington. Shall I confess it?--I had carefully rubbed
off the discolorations on the ivory at the back, and the picture lacked
now only the gold setting. As for the face, I had a kind of consolation
from it. I seemed to draw of its strength when I was tired, of its
courage when I faltered. And, during those four days of indecision in
Louisville, it seemed to say to me in words that I could not evade or
forget, "Go to New Orleans." It was a sentiment--foolish, if you
please--which could not resist. Nay, which I did not try to resist, for
I had little enough of it in my life. What did it matter? I should
never see Madame la Vicomtesse d'Ivry-le-Tour.
She was Helene to me; and the artist had caught the strength of her soul
in her clear-cut face, in the eyes that flashed with wit and
courage,--eyes that seemed to look with scorn upon what was mean in the
world and untrue, with pity on the weak. Here was one who might have
governed a province and still have been a woman, one who had taken into
exile the best of safeguards against misfortune,--humor and an
THE HOUSE OF THE HONEYCOMBED TILES
As long as I live I shall never forget that Sunday morning of my second
arrival at New Orleans. A saffron heat-haze hung over the river and the
city, robbed alike from the yellow waters of the one and the pestilent
moisture of the other. It would have been strange indeed if this capital
of Louisiana, brought hither to a swamp from the sands of Biloxi many
years ago by the energetic Bienville, were not visited from time to time
by the scourge!
Again I saw the green villas on the outskirts, the verdure-dotted expanse
of roofs of the city behind the levee bank, the line of Kentucky boats,
keel boats and barges which brought our own resistless commerce hither in
the teeth of royal mandates. Farther out, and tugging fretfully in the
yellow current, were the aliens of the blue seas, high-hulled, their
tracery of masts and spars shimmering in the heat: a full-rigged ocean
packet from Spain, a barque and brigantine from the West Indies, a rakish
slaver from Africa with her water-line dry, discharged but yesterday of a
teeming horror of freight. I looked again upon the familiar rows of
trees which shaded the gravelled promenades where Nick had first seen
Antoinette. Then we were under it, for the river was low, and the dingy-uniformed officer was bowing
over our passports beneath the awning. We
walked ashore, Monsieur Vigo and I, and we joined a staring group of keel
boatmen and river-men under the willows.
Below us, the white shell walks of the Place d'Armes were thronged with
gayly dressed people. Over their heads rose the fine new Cathedral,
built by the munificence of Don Andreas Almonaster, and beside that the
many-windowed, heavy-arched Cabildo, nearly finished, which will stand
for all time a monument to Spanish builders.
"It is Corpus Christi day," said Monsieur Vigo; "let us go and see the
Here once more were the bright-turbaned negresses, the gay Creole gowns
and scarfs, the linen-jacketed, broad-hatted merchants, with those of
soberer and more conventional dress, laughing and chatting, the children
playing despite the heat. Many of these people greeted Monsieur Vigo.
There were the saturnine, long-cloaked Spaniards, too, and a greater
number than I had believed of my own keen-faced countrymen lounging
about, mildly amused by the scene. We crossed the square, and with the
courtesy of their race the people made way for us in the press; and we
were no sooner placed ere the procession came out of the church. Flaming
soldiers of the Governor's guard, two by two; sober, sandalled friars in
brown, priests in their robes,--another batch of color; crosses
shimmering, tapers emerging from the cool darkness within to pale by the
light of day. Then down on their knees to Him who sits high above the
yellow haze fell the thousands in the Place d'Armes. For here was the
Host itself, flower-decked in white and crimson, its gold-tasselled
canopy upheld by four tonsured priests, a sheen of purple under it,--the
Bishop of Louisiana in his robes.
"The Governor!" whispered Monsieur Vigo, and the word was passed from
mouth to mouth as the people rose from their knees. Francois Louis
Hector, Baron de Carondelet, resplendent in his uniform of colonel in the
royal army of Spain, his orders glittering on his breast,--pillar of
royalty and enemy to the Rights of Man! His eye was stern, his carriage
erect, but I seemed to read in his careworn face the trials of three
years in this moist capital. After the Governor, one by one, the waiting
Associations fell in line, each with its own distinguishing sash. So the
procession moved off into the narrow streets of the city, the people in
the Place dispersed to new vantage points, and Monsieur Vigo signed me to
"I have a frien', la veuve Gravois, who lives ver' quiet. She have one
room, and I ask her tek you in, Davy." He led the way through the empty
Rue Chartres, turned to the right at the Rue Bienville, and stopped
before an unpretentious house some three doors from the corner. Madame
Gravois, elderly, wizened, primp in a starched cotton gown, opened the
door herself, fell upon Monsieur Vigo in the Creole fashion; and within a
quarter of an hour I was installed in her best room, which gave out on a
little court behind. Monsieur Vigo promised to send his servant with my
baggage, told me his address, bade me call on him for what I wanted, and
took his leave.
First, there was Madame Gravois' story to listen to as she bustled about
giving orders to a kinky-haired negro girl concerning my dinner. Then
came the dinner, excellent--if I could have eaten it. The virtues of
the former Monsieur Gravois were legion. He had come to Louisiana from
Toulon, planted indigo, fought a duel, and Madame was a widow. So I
condense two hours into two lines. Happily, Madame was not proof against
the habits of the climate, and she retired for her siesta. I sought my
room, almost suffocated by a heat which defies my pen to describe, a heat
reeking with moisture sucked from the foul kennels of the city. I had
felt nothing like it in my former visit to New Orleans. It seemed to
bear down upon my brain, to clog the power of thought, to make me
vacillating. Hitherto my reasoning had led me to seek Monsieur de St.
Gre, to count upon that gentleman's common sense and his former
friendship. But now that the time had come for it, I shrank from such a
meeting. I remembered his passionate affection for Antoinette, I
imagined that he would not listen calmly to one who was in some sort
connected with her unhappiness. So a kind of cowardice drove me first to
Mrs. Temple. She might know much that would save me useless trouble and
The shadows of tree-top, thatch, and wall were lengthening as I walked
along the Rue Bourbon. Heedless of what the morrow might bring forth,
the street was given over to festivity. Merry groups were gathered on
the corners, songs and laughter mingled in the court-yards, billiard
balls clicked in the cabarets. A fat, jolly little Frenchman, surrounded
by tripping children, sat in his doorway on the edge of the banquette,
fiddling with all his might, pausing only to wipe the beads of
perspiration from his face.
"Madame Clive, mais oui, Monsieur, l' petite maison en face." Smiling
benignly at the children, he began to fiddle once more.
The little house opposite! Mrs. Temple, mistress of Temple Bow, had come
to this! It was a strange little home indeed, Spanish, one-story, its
dormers hidden by a honeycombed screen of terra-cotta tiles. This screen
was set on the extreme edge of the roof which overhung the banquette and
shaded the yellow adobe wall of the house. Low, unpretentious, the
latticed shutters of its two windows giving it but a scant air of
privacy,--indeed, they were scarred by the raps of careless passers-by on
the sidewalk. The two little battened doors, one step up, were closed.
I rapped, waited, and rapped again. The musician across the street
stopped his fiddling, glanced at me, smiled knowingly at the children;
and they paused in their dance to stare. Then one of the doors was
pushed open a scant four inches, a scarlet madras handkerchief appeared
in the crack above a yellow face. There was a long moment of silence,
during which I felt the scrutiny of a pair of sharp, black eyes.
"What yo' want, Marse?"
The woman's voice astonished me, for she spoke the dialect of the
"I should like to see Mrs. Clive," I answered.
The door closed a shade.
"Mistis sick, she ain't see nobody," said the woman. She closed the door
a little more, and I felt tempted to put my foot in the crack.
"Tell her that Mr. David Ritchie is here," I said.
There was an instant's silence, then an exclamation.
"Lan' sakes, is you Marse Dave?" She opened the door--furtively, I
thought--just wide enough for me to pass through. I found myself in a
low-ceiled, darkened room, opposite a trim negress who stood with her
arms akimbo and stared at me.
"Marse Dave, you doan rec'lect me. I'se Lindy, I'se Breed's daughter. I
rec'lect you when you was at Temple Bow. Marse Dave, how you'se done
growed! Yassir, when I heerd from Miss Sally I done comed here to tek
cyar ob her."
"How is your mistress?" I asked.
"She po'ly, Marse Dave," said Lindy, and paused for adequate words. I
took note of this darky who, faithful to a family, had come hither to
share her mistress's exile and obscurity. Lindy was spare, energetic,
forceful--and, I imagined, a discreet guardian indeed for the
unfortunate. "She po'ly, Marse Dave, an' she ain' nebber leabe dis year
house. Marse Dave," said Lindy earnestly, lowering her voice and taking
a step closer to me, "I done reckon de Mistis gwine ter die ob
lonesomeness. She des sit dar an' brood, an' brood--an' she use' ter de
bes' company, to de quality. No, sirree, Marse Dave, she ain' nebber
sesso, but she tink 'bout de young Marsa night an' day. Marse Dave?"
"Yes?" I said.
"Marse Dave, she have a lil pink frock dat Marsa Nick had when he was a
bebby. I done cotch Mistis lookin' at it, an' she hid it when she see me
an' blush like 'twas a sin. Marse Dave?"
"Yes?" I said again.
"Where am de young Marsa?"
"I don't know, Lindy," I answered.
"She done talk 'bout you, Marse Dave, an' how good you is--"
"And Mrs. Temple sees no one," I asked.
"Dar's one lady come hyar ebery week, er French lady, but she speak
English jes' like the Mistis. Dat's my fault," said Lindy, showing a
line of white teeth.
"Your fault," I exclaimed.
"Yassir. When I comed here from Caroliny de Mistis done tole me not ter
let er soul in hyah. One day erbout three mont's ergo, dis yer lady come
en she des wheedled me ter let her in. She was de quality, Marse Dave,
and I was des' afeard not ter. I declar' I hatter. Hush," said Lindy,
putting her fingers to her lips, "dar's de Mistis!"
The door into the back room opened, and Mrs. Temple stood on the
threshold, staring with uncertain eyes into the semi-darkness.
"Lindy," she said, "what have you done?"
"Miss Sally--" Lindy began, and looked at me. But I could not speak for
looking at the lady in the doorway.
"Who is it?" she said again, and her hand sought the door-post
tremblingly. "Who is it?"
Then I went to her. At my first step she gave a little cry and swayed,
and had I not taken her in my arms I believe she would have fallen.
"David!" she said, "David, is it you? I--I cannot see very well. Why did
you not speak?" She looked at Lindy and smiled. "It is because I am an
old woman, Lindy," and she lifted her hand to her forehead. "See, my
hair is white--I shock you, David."
Leaning on my shoulder, she led me through a little bedroom in the rear
into a tiny garden court beyond, a court teeming with lavish colors and
redolent with the scent of flowers. A white shell walk divided the
garden and ended at the door of a low outbuilding, from the chimney of
which blue smoke curled upward in the evening air. Mrs. Temple drew me
almost fiercely towards a bench against the adobe wall.
"Where is he?" she said. "Where is he, David?"
The suddenness of the question staggered me; I hesitated.
"I do not know," I answered.
I could not look into her face and say it. The years of torment and
suffering were written there in characters not to be mistaken. Sarah
Temple, the beauty, was dead indeed. The hope which threatened to light
again the dead fires in the woman's eyes frightened me.
"Ah," she said sharply, "you are deceiving me. It is not like you,
David. You are deceiving me. Tell me, tell me, for the love of God, who
has brought me to bear chastisement." And she gripped my arm with a
strength I had not thought in her.
"Listen," I said, trying to calm myself as well as her. "Listen, Mrs.
Temple." I could not bring myself to call her otherwise.
"You are keeping him away from me," she cried. "Why are you keeping him
away? Have I not suffered enough? David, I cannot live long. I do not
dare to die--until he has forgiven me."
I forced her, gently as I might, to sit on the bench, and I seated myself
"Listen," I said, with a sternness that hid my feelings, and perforce her
expression changed again to a sad yearning, "you must hear me. And you
must trust me, for I have never pretended. You shall see him if it is in
She looked at me so piteously that I was near to being unmanned.
"I will trust you," she whispered.
"I have seen him," I said. She started violently, but I laid my hand on
hers, and by some self-mastery that was still in her she was silent. "I
saw him in Louisville a month ago, when I returned from a year's visit to
I could not equivocate with this woman, I could no more lie to her sorrow
than to the Judgment. Why had I not foreseen her question?
"And he hates me?" She spoke with a calmness now that frightened me more
than her agitation had done.
"I do not know," I answered; "when I would have spoken to him he was
"He was drunk," she said. I stared at her in frightened wonderment. "He
was drunk--it is better than if he had cursed me. He did not mention me?
Or any one?"
"He did not," I answered.
She turned her face away.
"Go on, I will listen to you," she said, and sat immovable through the
whole of my story, though her hand trembled in mine. And while I live I
hope never to have such a thing to go through with again. Truth held me
to the full, ludicrous tragedy of the tale, to the cheap character of my
old Colonel's undertaking, to the incident of the drum, to the
conversation in my room. Likewise, truth forbade me to rekindle her
hope. I did not tell her that Nick had come with St. Gre to New Orleans,
for of this my own knowledge was as yet not positive. For a long time
after I had finished she was silent.
"And you think the expedition will not get here?" she asked finally, in a
"I am positive of it," I answered, "and for the sake of those who are
engaged in it, it is mercifully best that it should not. The day may
come," I added, for the sake of leading her away, "when Kentucky will be
strong enough to overrun Louisiana. But not now."
She turned to me with a trace of her former fierceness.
"Why are you in New Orleans?" she demanded.
A sudden resolution came to me then.
"To bring you back with me to Kentucky," I answered. She shook her head
sadly, but I continued: "I have more to say. I am convinced that
neither Nick nor you will be happy until you are mother and son again.
You have both been wanderers long enough."
Once more she turned away and fell into a revery. Over the housetop,
from across the street, came the gay music of the fiddler. Mrs. Temple
laid her hand gently on my shoulder.
"My dear," she said, smiling, "I could not live for the journey."
"You must live for it," I answered. "You have the will. You must live
for it, for his sake."
She shook her head, and smiled at me with a courage which was the crown
of her sufferings.
"You are talking nonsense, David," she said; "it is not like you. Come,"
she said, rising with something of her old manner, "I must show you what
I have been doing all these years. You must admire my garden."
I followed her, marvelling, along the shell path, and there came unbidden
to my mind the garden at Temple Bow, where she had once been wont to sit,
tormenting Mr. Mason or bending to the tale of Harry Riddle's love.
Little she cared for flowers in those days, and now they had become her
life. With such thoughts in my mind, I listened unheeding to her talk.
The place was formerly occupied by a shiftless fellow, a tailor; and the
court, now a paradise, had been a rubbish heap. That orange tree which
shaded the uneven doorway of the kitchen she had found here. Figs,
pomegranates, magnolias; the camellias dazzling in their purity; the
blood-red oleanders; the pink roses that hid the crumbling adobe and
climbed even to the sloping tiles,--all these had been set out and cared
for with her own hands. Ay, and the fragrant bed of yellow jasmine over
which she lingered,--Antoinette's favorite flower.
Antoinette's flowers that she wore in her hair! In her letters Mrs.
Temple had never mentioned Antoinette, and now she read the question
(perchance purposely put there) in my eyes. Her voice faltered sadly.
Scarce a week had she been in the house before Antoinette had found her.
"I--I sent the girl away, David. She came without Monsieur de St. Gre's
knowledge, without his consent. It is natural that he thinks me--I will
not say what. I sent Antoinette away. She clung to me, she would not
go, and I had to be--cruel. It is one of the things which make the
nights long--so long. My sins have made her life unhappy."
"And you hear of her? She is not married?" I asked.
"No, she is not married," said Mrs. Temple, stooping over the jasmines.
Then she straightened and faced me, her voice shaken with earnestness.
"David, do you think that Nick still loves her?"
Alas, I could not answer that. She bent over the jasmines again.
"There were five years that I knew nothing," she continued. "I did not
dare ask Mr. Clark, who comes to me on business, as you know. It was Mr.
Clark who brought back Lindy on one of his trips to Charleston. And
then, one day in March of this year, Madame de Montmery came."
"Madame de Montmery?" I repeated.
"It is a strange story," said Mrs. Temple. "Lindy had never admitted any
one, save Mr. Clark. One day early in the spring, when I was trimming my
roses by the wall there, the girl ran to me and said that a lady wished
to see me. Why had she let her in? Lindy did not know, she could not
refuse her. Had the lady demanded admittance? Lindy thought that I
would like to see her. David, it was a providential weakness, or
curiosity, that prompted me to go into the front room, and then I saw why
Lindy had opened the door to her. Who she is or what she is I do not
know to this day. Who am I now that I should inquire? I know that she
is a lady, that she has exquisite manners, that I feel now that I cannot
live without her. She comes every week, sometimes twice, she brings me
little delicacies, new seeds for my garden. But, best of all, she brings
me herself, and I am always counting the days until she comes again.
Yes, and I always fear that she, too, will be taken away from me."
I had not heard the sound of voices, but Mrs. Temple turned, startled,
and looked towards the house. I followed her glance, and suddenly I knew
that my heart was beating.
MADAME LA VICOMTESSE
Hesitating on the step, a lady stood in the vine-covered doorway, a study
in black and white in a frame of pink roses. The sash at her waist, the
lace mantilla that clung about her throat, the deftly coiled hair with
its sheen of the night waters--these in black. The simple gown--a
tribute to the art of her countrywomen--in white.
Mrs. Temple had gone forward to meet her, but I stood staring,
marvelling, forgetful, in the path. They were talking, they were coming
towards me, and I heard Mrs. Temple pronounce my name and hers--Madame de
Montmery. I bowed, she courtesied. There was a baffling light in the
lady's brown eyes when I dared to glance at them, and a smile playing
around her mouth. Was there no word in the two languages to find its way
to my lips? Mrs. Temple laid her hand on my arm.
"David is not what one might call a ladies' man, Madame," she said.
The lady laughed.
"Isn't he?" she said.
"I am sure you will frighten him with your wit," answered Mrs. Temple,
smiling. "He is worth sparing."
"He is worth frightening, then," said the lady, in exquisite English, and
she looked at me again.
"You and David should like each other," said Mrs. Temple; "you are both
capable persons, friends of the friendless and towers of strength to the
The lady's face became serious, but still there was the expression I
could not make out. In an instant she seemed to have scrutinized me with
a precision from which there could be no appeal.
"I seem to know Mr. Ritchie," she said, and added quickly: "Mrs. Clive
has talked a great deal about you. She has made you out a very wonderful
"My dear," said Mrs. Temple, "the wonderful people of this world are
those who find time to comfort and help the unfortunate. That is why you
and David are wonderful. No one knows better than I how easy it is to be
"I have brought you an English novel," said Madame de Montomery, turning
abruptly to Mrs. Temple. "But you must not read it at night. Lindy is
not to let you have it until to-morrow."
"There," said Mrs. Temple, gayly, to me, "Madame is not happy unless she
is controlling some one, and I am a rebellious subject."
"You have not been taking care of yourself," said Madame. She glanced at
me, and bit her lips, as though guessing the emotion which my visit had
caused. "Listen," she said, "the vesper bells! You must go into the
house, and Mr. Ritchie and I must leave you."
She took Mrs. Temple by the arm and led her, unresisting, along the path.
I followed, a thousand thoughts and conjectures spinning in my brain.
They reached the bench under the little tree beside the door, and stood
talking for a moment of the routine of Mrs. Temple's life. Madame, it
seemed, had prescribed a regimen, and meant to have it followed.
Suddenly I saw Mrs. Temple take the lady's arm, and sink down upon the
bench. Then we were both beside her, bending over her, she sitting
upright and smiling at us.
"It is nothing," she said; "I am so easily tired."
Her lips were ashen, and her breath came quickly. Madame acted with that
instant promptness which I expected of her.
"You must carry her in, Mr. Ritchie," she said quietly.
"No, it is only momentary, David," said Mrs. Temple. I remember how
pitifully frail and light she was as I picked her up and followed Madame
through the doorway into the little bedroom. I laid Mrs. Temple on the
"Send Lindy here," said Madame.
Lindy was in the front room with the negress whom Madame had brought with
her. They were not talking. I supposed then this was because Lindy did
not speak French. I did not know that Madame de Montmery's maid was a
mute. Both of them went into the bedroom, and I was left alone. The
door and windows were closed, and a green myrtle-berry candle was burning
on the table. I looked about me with astonishment. But for the low
ceiling and the wide cypress puncheons of the floor the room might have
been a boudoir in a manor-house. On the slender-legged, polished
mahogany table lay books in tasteful bindings; a diamond-paned bookcase
stood in the corner; a fauteuil and various other chairs which might have
come from the hands of an Adam were ranged about. Tall silver
candlesticks graced each end of the little mantel-shelf, and between them
were two Lowestoft vases having the Temple coat of arms.
It might have been half an hour that I waited, now pacing the floor, now
throwing myself into the arm-chair by the fireplace. Anxiety for Mrs.
Temple, problems that lost themselves in a dozen conjectures, all idle--
these agitated me almost beyond my power of self-control. Once I felt
for the miniature, took it out, and put it back without looking at it.
At last I was startled to my feet by the opening of the door, and Madame
de Montmery came in. She closed the door softly behind her, with the
deft quickness and decision of movement which a sixth sense had told me
she possessed, crossed the room swiftly, and stood confronting me.
"She is easy again, now," she said simply. "It is one of her attacks. I
wish you might have seen me before you told her what you had to say to
"I wish indeed that I had known you were here."
She ignored this, whether intentionally, I know not.
"It is her heart, poor lady! I am afraid she cannot live long." She
seated herself in one of the straight chairs. "Sit down, Mr. Ritchie,"
she said; "I am glad you waited. I wanted to talk with you."
"I thought that you might, Madame la Vicomtesse," I answered.
She made no gesture, either of surprise or displeasure.
"So you knew," she said quietly.
"I knew you the moment you appeared in the doorway," I replied. It was
not just what I meant to say.
There flashed over her face that expression of the miniature, the mouth
repressing the laughter in the brown eyes.
"Montmery is one of my husband's places," she said. "When Antoinette
asked me to come here and watch over Mrs. Temple, I chose the name."
"And Mrs. Temple has never suspected you?"
"I think not. She thinks I came at Mr. Clark's request. And being a
lady, she does not ask questions. She accepts me for what I appear to
It seemed so strange to me to be talking here in New Orleans, in this
little Spanish house, with a French vicomtesse brought up near the court
of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette; nay, with Helene de St. Gre, whose
portrait had twice come into my life by a kind of strange fatality (and
was at that moment in my pocket), that I could scarce maintain my
self-possession in her presence. I had given the portrait, too,
attributes and a character, and I found myself watching the lady with a
breathless interest lest she should fail in any of these. In the
intimacy of the little room I felt as if I had known her always, and
again, that she was as distant from me and my life as the court from
which she had come. I found myself glancing continually at her face, on
which the candle-light shone. The Vicomtesse might have been four and
twenty. Save for the soberer gown she wore, she seemed scarce older than
the young girl in the miniature who had the presence of a woman of the
world. Suddenly I discovered with a flush that she was looking at me
intently, without embarrassment, but with an expression that seemed to
hint of humor in the situation. To my astonishment, she laughed a
"You are a very odd person, Mr. Ritchie," she said. "I have heard so
much of you from Mrs. Temple, from Antoinette, that I know something of
your strange life. After all," she added with a trace of sadness, "it
has been no stranger than my own. First I will answer your questions,
and then I shall ask some."
"But I have asked no questions, Madame la Vicomtesse," I said.
"And you are a very simple person, Mr. Ritchie," continued Madame la
Vicomtesse, smiling; "it is what I had been led to suppose. A serious
person. As the friend of Mr. Nicholas Temple, as the relation and (may I
say?) benefactor of this poor lady here, it is fitting that you should
know certain things. I will not weary you with the reasons and events
which led to my coming from Europe to New Orleans, except to say that I,
like all of my class who have escaped the horrors of the Revolution, am a
wanderer, and grateful to Monsieur de St. Gre for the shelter he gives
me. His letter reached me in England, and I arrived three months ago."
She hesitated--nay, I should rather say paused, for there was little
hesitation in what she did. She paused, as though weighing what she was
to say next.
"When I came to Les Iles I saw that there was a sorrow weighing upon the
family; and it took no great astuteness on my part, Mr. Ritchie, to
discover that Antoinette was the cause of it. One has only to see
Antoinette to love her. I wondered why she had not married. And yet I
saw that there had been an affair. It seemed very strange to me, Mr.
Ritchie, for with us, you understand, marriages are arranged. Antoinette
really has beauty, she is the daughter of a man of importance in the
colony, her strength of character saves her from being listless. I found
a girl with originality of expression, with a sense of the fitness of
things, devoted to charitable works, who had not taken the veil. That
was on her father's account. As you know, they are inseparable.
Monsieur Philippe de St. Gre is a remarkable man, with certain vigorous
ideas not in accordance with the customs of his neighbors. It was he who
first confided in me that he would not force Antoinette to marry; it was
she, at length, who told me the story of Nicholas Temple and his mother."
She paused again, and, reading between the lines, I perceived that Madame
la Vicomtesse had become essential to the household at Les Iles.
Philippe de St. Gre was not a man to misplace a confidence.
"It was then that I first heard of you, Mr. Ritchie, and of the part
which you played in that affair. It was then I had my first real insight
into Antoinette's character. Her affection for Mrs. Temple astonished
me, bewildered me. The woman had deceived her and her family, and yet
Antoinette gave up her lover because he would not take his mother back.
Had Mrs. Temple been willing to return to Les Iles after you had
providentially taken her away, they would have received her. Philippe de
St. Gre is not a man to listen to criticism. As it was, Antoinette did
not rest until she found where Mrs. Temple had hidden herself, and then
she came here to her. It is not for us to judge any of them. In sending
Antoinette away the poor lady denied herself the only consolation that
was left to her. Antoinette understood. Every week she has had news of
Mrs. Temple from Mr. Clark. And when I came and learned her trouble,
Antoinette begged me to come here and be Mrs. Temple's friend. Mr.
Ritchie, she is a very ill woman and a very sad woman,--the saddest woman
I have ever known, and I have seen many."
"And Mademoiselle de St. Gre?" I asked.
"Tell me about this man for whom Antoinette has ruined her life," said
Madame la Vicomtesse, brusquely. "Is he worth it? No, no man is worth
what she has suffered. What has become of him? Where is he? Did you
not tell her that you would bring him back?"
"I said that I would bring him back if I could," I answered, "and I meant
Madame la Vicomtesse bit her lip. Had she known me better, she might
have smiled. As for me, I was wholly puzzled to account for these
fleeting changes in her humor.
"You have taken a great deal upon your shoulders, Mr. Ritchie," she said.
"They are from all accounts broad ones. There, I was wrong to be
indignant in your presence,--you who seem to have spent your life in
trying to get others out of difficulties. Mercy," she said, with a quick
gesture at my protest, "there are few men with whom one might talk thus
in so short an acquaintance. I love the girl, and I cannot help being
angry with Mr. Temple. I suppose there is something to be said on his
side. Let us hear it--I dare say he could not have a better advocate,"
she finished, with an indefinable smile.
I began at the wrong end of my narrative, and it was some time before I
had my facts arranged in proper sequence. I could not forget that Madame
la Vicomtesse was looking at me fixedly. I reviewed Nick's neglected
childhood; painted as well as I might his temperament and character--his
generosity and fearlessness, his recklessness and improvidence. His
loyalty to those he loved, his detestation of those he hated. I told
how, under these conditions, the sins and vagaries of his parents had
gone far to wreck his life at the beginning of it. I told how I had
found him again with Sevier, how he had come to New Orleans with me the
first time, how he had loved Antoinette, and how he had disappeared after
the dreadful scene in the garden at Les Iles, how I had not seen him
again for five years. Here I hesitated, little knowing how to tell the
Vicomtesse of that affair in Louisville. Though I had a sense that I
could not keep the truth from so discerning a person, I was startled to
find this to be so.
"Yes, yes, I understand," she said quickly. "And in the morning he had
flown with that most worthy of my relatives, Auguste de St. Gre."
I looked at her, finding no words to express my astonishment at this
"And now what do you intend to do?" she asked. "Find him in New Orleans,
if you can, of course. But how?" She rose quickly, went to the
fireplace, and stood for a moment with her back to me. Suddenly she
turned. "It ought not to be difficult, after all. Auguste de St. Gre is
a fool, and he confirms what you say of the expedition. He is, indeed, a
pretty person to choose for an intrigue of this kind. And your
cousin,--what shall we call him?"
"To say the least, secrecy is not Nick's forte," I answered, catching her
She was silent awhile.
"It would be a blessing if Monsieur le Baron could hang Auguste
privately. As for your cousin, he may be worth saving, after all. I
know Monsieur de Carondelet, and he has no patience with conspirators of
this sort. I think he would not hesitate to make examples of them.
However, we will try to save them."
"We!" I repeated unwittingly.
Madame la Vicomtesse looked at me and laughed out right.
"Yes," she said, "you will do some things, I others. There are the
gaming clubs with their ridiculous names, L'Amour, La Mignonne, La
Desiree" (she counted them reflectively on her fingers). "Both of our
gentlemen might be tempted into one of these. You will drop into them,
Mr. Ritchie. Then there is Madame Bouvet's."
"Auguste would scarcely go there," I objected.
"Ah," said Madame la Vicomtesse, "but Madame Bouvet will know the names
of some of Auguste's intimates. This Bouvet is evidently a good person,
perhaps she will do more for you. I understand that she has a weak spot
in her heart for Auguste."
Madame la Vicomtesse turned her back again. Had she heard how Madame
Bouvet had begged me to buy the miniature?
"Have you any other suggestions to make?" she said, putting a foot on the
"They have all been yours, so far," I answered.
"And yet you are a man of action, of expedients," she murmured, without
turning. "Where are your wits, Mr. Ritchie? Have you any plan?"
"I have been so used to rely on myself, Madame," I replied.
"That you do not like to have your affairs meddled with by a woman," she
said, into the fireplace.
"I give you the credit to believe that you are too clever to
misunderstand me, Madame," I said. "You must know that your help is most
At that she swung around and regarded me strangely, mirth lurking in her
eyes. She seemed about to retort, and then to conquer the impulse. The
effect of this was to make me anything but self-complacent. She sat down
in the chair and for a little while she was silent.
"Suppose we do find them," she said suddenly. "What shall we do with
them?" She looked up at me questioningly, seriously. "Is it likely that
your Mr. Temple will be reconciled with his mother? Is it likely that he
is still in love with Antoinette?"
"I think it is likely that he is still in love with Mademoiselle de St.
Gre," I answered, "though I have no reason for saying so."
"You are very honest, Mr. Ritchie. We must look at this problem from all
sides. If he is not reconciled with his mother, Antoinette will not
receive him. And if he is, we have the question to consider whether he
is still worthy of her. The agents of Providence must not be heedless,"
she added with a smile.
"I am sure that Nick would alter his life if it became worth living," I
said. "I will answer for that much."
"Then he must be reconciled with his mother," she replied with decision.
"Mrs. Temple has suffered enough. And he must be found before he gets
sufficiently into the bad graces of the Baron de Carondelet,--these two
things are clear." She rose. "Come here to-morrow evening at the same
She started quickly for the bedroom door, but something troubled me
"Madame--" I said.
"Yes," she answered, turning quickly.
I did not know how to begin. There were many things I wished to say, to
know, but she was a woman whose mind seemed to leap the chasms, whose
words touched only upon those points which might not be understood. She
regarded me with seeming patience.
"I should think that Mrs. Temple might have recognized you," I said, for
want of a better opening.
"From the miniature?" she said.
I flushed furiously, and it seemed to burn me through the lining of my
"That was my salvation," she said. "Mrs. Temple has never seen the
miniature. I have heard how you rescued it, Mr. Ritchie," she added,
with a curious smile. "Monsieur Philippe de St. Gre told me."
"Then he knew?" I stammered.
"I have told you that you are a very simple person," she said. "Even you
are not given to intrigues. I thank you for rescuing me."
I flushed more hotly than before.
"I never expected to see you," I said.
"It must have been a shock," she said.
I was dumb. I had my hand in my coat; I fully intended to give her the
miniature. It was my plain duty. And suddenly, overwhelmed, I
remembered that it was wrapped in Polly Ann's silk handkerchief.
Madame la Vicomtesse remained for a moment where she was.
"Do not do anything until the morning," she said. "You must go back to
your lodgings at once."
"That would be to lose time," I answered.
"You must think of yourself a little," she said. "Do as I say. I have
heard that two cases of the yellow fever have broken out this afternoon.
And you, who are not used to the climate, must not be out after dark."
"And you?" I said.
"I am used to it," she replied; "I have been here three months. Lest
anything should happen, it might be well for you to give me your
"I am with Madame Gravois, in the Rue Bienville."
"Madame Gravois, in the Rue Bienville," she repeated.
"I shall remember. A demain, Monsieur." She courtesied and went swiftly
into Mrs. Temple's room. Seizing my hat, I opened the door and found
myself in the dark street.
THE DISPOSAL OF THE SIEUR DE ST. GRE
I had met Helene de St. Gre at last. And what a fool she must think me!
As I hurried along the dark banquettes this thought filled my brain for a
time to the exclusion of all others, so strongly is vanity ingrained in
us. After all, what did it matter what she thought,--Madame la
Vicomtesse d'Ivry-le-Tour? I had never shone, and it was rather late to
begin. But I possessed, at least, average common sense, and I had given
no proof even of this.
I wandered on, not heeding the command which she had given me,--to go
home. The scent of camellias and magnolias floated on the heavy air of
the night from the court-yards, reminding me of her. Laughter and soft
voices came from the galleries. Despite the Terror, despite the Faubourg
Saint-Antoine, despite the Rights of Man and the wars and suffering
arising therefrom, despite the scourge which might come to-morrow, life
went gayly on. The cabarets echoed, and behind the tight blinds lines of
light showed where the Creole gentry gamed at their tables, perchance in
the very clubs Madame la Vicomtesse had mentioned.
The moon, in her first quarter, floated in a haze. Washed by her light,
the quaintly wrought balconies and heavy-tiled roofs of the Spanish
buildings, risen from the charred embers, took on a touch of romance. I
paused once with a twinge of remembrance before the long line of the
Ursuline convent, with its latticed belfry against the sky. There was
the lodge, with its iron gates shut, and the wall which Nick had
threatened to climb. As I passed the great square of the new barracks, a
sereno (so the night watchmen were called) was crying the hour. I came
to the rambling market-stalls, casting black shadows on the river
road,--empty now, to be filled in the morning with shouting marchands.
The promenade under the willows was deserted, the great river stretched
away under the moon towards the forest line of the farther shore, filmy
and indistinct. A black wisp of smoke rose from the gunwale of a
flatboat, and I stopped to listen to the weird song of a negro, which I
have heard many times since.
In, de, tois, Ca-ro-line, Qui ci ca ye, comme ca ma chere? In, de
tois, Ca-ro-line, Quo fair t'-apes cri--e ma chere? Mo l'-aime
toe con-ne ca, C'est to m'ou--le, c'est to mo prend, Mo l'-aime toe,
to con-ne ca--a c'est to m'oule c'est to mo prend.
Gaining the promenade, I came presently to the new hotel which had been
built for the Governor, with its balconied windows looking across the
river--the mansion of Monsieur le Baron de Carondelet. Even as I sat on
the bench in the shadow of the willows, watching the sentry who paced
before the arched entrance, I caught sight of a man stealing along the
banquette on the other side of the road. Twice he paused to look behind
him, and when he reached the corner of the street he stopped for some
time to survey the Governor's house opposite.
Suddenly I was on my feet, every sense alert, staring. In the moonlight,
made milky by the haze, he was indistinct. And yet I could have taken
oath that the square, diminutive figure, with the head set forward on the
shoulders, was Gignoux's. If this man were not Gignoux, then the Lord
had cast two in a strange mould.
And what was Gignoux doing in New Orleans? As if in answer to the
question two men emerged from the dark archway of the Governor's house,
passed the sentry, and stood for an instant on the edge of the shadow.
One wore a long Spanish cloak, and the other a uniform that I could not
make out. A word was spoken, and then my man was ambling across to meet
them, and the three walked away up Toulouse Street.
I was in a fire of conjecture. I did not dare to pass the sentry and
follow them, so I made round as fast as I could by the Rue St. Pierre,
which borders the Place d'Armes, and then crossed to Toulouse again by
Chartres. The three were nowhere to be seen. I paused on the corner for
thought, and at length came to a reluctant but prudent conclusion that I
had best go back to my lodging and seek Monsieur early in the morning.
Madame Gravois was awaiting me. Was Monsieur mad to remain out at night?
Had Monsieur not heard of the yellow fever? Madame Gravois even had
prepared some concoction which she poured out of a bottle, and which I
took with the docility of a child. Monsieur Vigo had called, and there
was a note. A note? It was a small note. I glanced stupidly at the
seal, recognized the swan of the St. Gre crest, broke it, and read:--
"Mr. Ritchie will confer a favor upon la Vicomtesse d'Ivry-le-Tour if he
will come to Monsieur de St. Gre's house at eight to-morrow morning."
I bade the reluctant Madame Gravois good night, gained my room, threw
off my clothes, and covered myself with the mosquito bar. There was no
question of sleep, for the events of the day and surmises for the morrow
tortured me as I tossed in the heat. Had the man been Gignoux? If so,
he was in league with Carondelet's police. I believed him fully capable
of this. And if he knew Nick's whereabouts and St. Gre's, they would
both be behind the iron gateway of the calabozo in the morning. Monsieur
Vigo had pointed out to me that day the gloomy, heavy-walled prison in
the rear of the Cabildo,--ay, and he had spoken of its instruments of
What could the Vicomtesse want? Truly (I thought with remorse) she had
been more industrious than I.
I fell at length into a fevered sleep, and awoke, athirst, with the light
trickling through my lattices. Contrary to Madame Gravois's orders, I
had opened the glass of my window. Glancing at my watch,--which I had
bought in Philadelphia,--I saw that the hands pointed to half after
seven. I had scarcely finished my toilet before there was a knock at the
door, and Madame Gravois entered with a steaming cup of coffee in one
hand and her bottle of medicine in the other.
"I did not wake Monsieur," she said, "for he was tired."
She gave me another dose of the medicine, made me drink two cups of
coffee, and then I started out with all despatch for the House of the
Lions. As I turned into the Rue Chartres I saw ahead of me four horses,
with their bridles bunched and held by a negro lad, waiting in the
street. Yes, they were in front of the house. There it was, with its
solid green gates between the lions, its yellow walls with the fringe of
peeping magnolias and oranges, with its green-latticed gallery from which
Monsieur Auguste had let himself down after stealing the miniature. I
knocked at the wicket, the same gardienne answered the call, smiled, led
me through the cool, paved archway which held in its frame the green of
the court beyond, and up the stairs with the quaint balustrade which I
had mounted five years before to meet Philippe de St. Gre. As I reached
the gallery Madame la Vicomtesse, gowned in brown linen for riding, rose
quickly from her chair and came forward to meet me.
"You have news?" I asked, as I took her hand.
"I have the kind of news I expected," she answered, a smile tempering the
gravity of her face; "Auguste is, as usual, in need of money."
"Then you have found them," I answered, my voice betraying my admiration
for the feat.
Madame la Vicomtesse shrugged her shoulders slightly.
"I did nothing," she said. "From what you told me, I suspected that as
soon as Auguste reached Louisiana he would have a strong desire to go
away again. This is undoubtedly what has happened. In any event, I knew
that he would want money, and that he would apply to a source which has
hitherto never failed him."
"Mademoiselle Antoinette!" I said.
"Precisely," answered Madame la Vicomtesse. "When I reached home last
night I questioned Antoinette, and I discovered that by a singular chance
a message from Auguste had already reached her."
"Where is he?" I demanded.
"I do not know," she replied. "But he will be behind the hedge of the
garden at Les Iles at eleven o'clock--unless he has lost before then his
love of money."
"Which is to say--"
"He will be there unless he is dead. That is why I sent for you,
Monsieur." She glanced at me. "Sometimes it is convenient to have a
I was astounded. Then I smiled, the affair was so ridiculously simple.
"And Monsieur de St. Gre?" I asked.
"Has been gone for a week with Madame to visit the estimable Monsieur
Poydras at Pointe Coupee." Madame la Vicomtesse, who had better use for
her words than to waste them at such a time, left me, went to the
balcony, and began to give the gardienne in the court below swift
directions in French. Then she turned to me again.
"Are you prepared to ride with Antoinette and me to Les Iles, Monsieur?"
"I am," I answered.
It must have been my readiness that made her smile. Then her eyes rested
"You look tired, Mr. Ritchie," she said. "You did not obey me and go
home last night."
"How did you know that?" I asked, with a thrill at her interest.
"Because Madame Gravois told my messenger that you were out."
I was silent.
"You must take care of yourself," she said briefly. "Come, there are
some things which I wish to say to you before Antoinette is ready."
She led me toward the end of the gallery, where a bright screen of
morning-glories shaded us from the sun. But we had scarce reached the
place ere the sound of steps made us turn, and there was Mademoiselle
Antoinette herself facing us. I went forward a few steps, hesitated, and
bowed. She courtesied, my name faltering on her lips. Yes, it was
Antoinette, not the light-hearted girl whom we had heard singing "Ma
luron" in the garden, but a woman now with a strange beauty that
astonished me. Hers was the dignity that comes from unselfish service,
the calm that is far from resignation, though the black veil caught up on
her chapeau de paille gave her the air of a Sister of Mercy. Antoinette
had inherited the energies as well as the features of the St. Gre's, yet
there was a painful moment as she stood there, striving to put down the
agitation the sight of me gave her. As for me, I was bereft of speech,
not knowing what to say or how far to go. My last thought was of the
remarkable quality in this woman before me which had held her true to
Mrs. Temple, and which sent her so courageously to her duty now.
Madame la Vicomtesse, as I had hoped, relieved the situation. She knew
how to broach a dreaded subject.
"Mr. Ritchie is going with us, Antoinette," she said.
"It is perhaps best to explain everything to him before we start. I was
about to tell you, Mr. Ritchie," she continued, turning to me, "that
Auguste has given no hint in his note of Mr. Temple's presence in
Louisiana. And yet you told me that they were to have come here
"Yes," I answered, "and I have no reason to think they have separated."
"I was merely going to suggest," said the Vicomtesse, firmly, "I was
merely going to suggest the possibility of our meeting Mr. Temple with
It was Antoinette who answered, with a force that revealed a new side of
"Mr. Temple will not be there," she said, flashing a glance upon us. "Do
you think he would come to me--?"
Helene laid her hand upon the girl's arm.
"My dear, I think nothing," she said quietly; "but it is best for us to
be prepared against any surprise. Remember that I do not know Mr.
Temple, and that you have not seen him for five years."
"It is not like him, you know it is not like him," exclaimed Antoinette,
looking at me.
"I know it is not like him, Mademoiselle," I replied.
Madame la Vicomtesse, from behind the girl, gave me a significant look.
"This occurred to me," she went on in an undisturbed tone, "that Mr.
Temple might come with Auguste to protest against the proceeding,--or
even to defend himself against the imputation that he was to make use of
this money in any way. I wish you to realize, Antoinette, before you
decide to go, that you may meet Mr. Temple. Would it not be better to
let Mr. Ritchie go alone? I am sure that we could find no better
"Auguste is here," said Antoinette. "I must see him." Her voice caught.
"I may never see him again. He may be ill, he may be starving--and I
know that he is in trouble. Whether" (her voice caught) "whether Mr.
Temple is with him or not, I mean to go."
"Then it would be well to start," said the Vicomtesse.
Deftly dropping her veil, she picked up a riding whip that lay on the
railing and descended the stairs to the courtyard. Antoinette and I
followed. As we came through the archway I saw Andre, Monsieur de St.
Gre's mulatto, holding open the wicket for us to pass. He helped the
ladies to mount the ponies, lengthened my own stirrups for me, swung into
the saddle himself, and then the four of us were picking our way down the
Rue Chartres at an easy amble. Turning to the right beyond the cool
garden of the Ursulines, past the yellow barracks, we came to the river
front beside the fortifications. A score of negroes were sweating there
in the sun, swinging into position the long logs for the palisades,
nearly completed. They were like those of Kaskaskia and our own frontier
forts in Kentucky, with a forty-foot ditch in front of them. Seated on a
horse talking to the overseer was a fat little man in white linen who
pulled off his hat and bowed profoundly to the ladies. His face gave me
a start, and then I remembered that I had seen him only the day before,
resplendent, coming out of church. He was the Baron de Carondelet.
There was a sentry standing under a crape-myrtle where the Royal Road ran
through the gateway. Behind him was a diminutive five-sided brick fort
with a dozen little cannon on top of it. The sentry came forward,
brought his musket to a salute, and halted before my horse.
"You will have to show your passport," murmured Madame la Vicomtesse.
I drew the document from my pocket. It was signed by De Lemos, and duly
countersigned by the officer of the port. The man bowed, and I passed
It was a strange, silent ride through the stinging heat to Les Iles, the
brown dust hanging behind us like a cloud, to settle slowly on the
wayside shrubbery. Across the levee bank the river was low, listless,
giving off hot breath like a monster in distress. The forest pools were
cracked and dry, the Spanish moss was a haggard gray, and under the sun
was the haze which covered the land like a saffron mantle. At times a
listlessness came over me such as I had never known, to make me forget
the presence of the women at my side, the very errand on which we rode.
From time to time I was roused into admiration of the horsemanship of
Madame la Vicomtesse, for the restive Texas pony which she rode was stung
to madness by the flies. As for Antoinette, she glanced neither right
nor left through her veil, but rode unmindful of the way, heedless of
heat and discomfort, erect, motionless save for the easy gait of her
horse. At length we turned into the avenue through the forest, lined by
wild orange trees, came in sight of the low, belvedered plantation house,
and drew rein at the foot of the steps. Antoinette was the first to
dismount, and passed in silence through the group of surprised house
servants gathering at the door. I assisted the Vicomtesse, who paused to
bid the negroes disperse, and we lingered for a moment on the gallery
"Poor Antoinette!" she said, "I wish we might have saved her this." She
looked up at me. "How she defended him!" she exclaimed.
"She loves him," I answered.
Madame la Vicomtesse sighed.
"I suppose there is no help for it," she said. "But it is very difficult
not to be angry with Mr. Temple. The girl cared for his mother, gave her
a home, clung to her when he and the world would have cast her off,
sacrificed her happiness for them both. If I see him, I believe I shall
shake him. And if he doesn't fall down on his knees to her, I shall ask
the Baron to hang him. We must bring him to his senses, Mr. Ritchie. He
must not leave Louisiana until he sees her. Then he will marry her."
She paused, scrutinized me in her quick way, and added: "You see that I
take your estimation of his character. You ought to be flattered."
"I am flattered by any confidence you repose in me, Madame la
She laughed. I was not flattered then, but cursed myself for the quaint
awkwardness in my speech that amused her. And she was astonishingly
quick to perceive my moods.
"There, don't be angry. You will never be a courtier, my honest friend,
and you may thank God for it. How sweet the shrubs are! Your chief
business in life seems to be getting people out of trouble, and I am
going to help you with this case."
It was my turn to laugh.
"You are going to help!" I exclaimed. "My services have been heavy, so
"You should not walk around at night," she replied irrelevantly.
Suddenly I remembered Gignoux, but even as I was about to tell her of the
incident Antoinette appeared in the doorway. She was very pale, but her
lips were set with excitement and her eyes shone strangely. She was
still in her riding gown, in her hand she carried a leather bag, and
behind her stood Andre with a bundle.
"Quick!" she said; "we are wasting time, and he may be gone."
Checking an exclamation which could hardly have been complimentary to
Auguste, the Vicomtesse crossed quickly to her and put her arm about her.
"We will follow you, mignonne," she said in French.
"Must you come?" said Antoinette, appealingly. "He may not appear if he
sees any one."
"We shall have to risk that," said the Vicomtesse, dryly, with a glance
at me. "You shall not go alone, but we will wait a few moments at the
We took the well-remembered way through the golden green light under the
trees, Antoinette leading, and the sight of the garden brought back to me
poignantly the scene in the moonlight with Mrs. Temple. There was no
sound save the languid morning notes of the birds and the humming of the
bees among the flowers as Antoinette went tremblingly down the path and
paused, listening, under the branches of that oak where I had first
beheld her. Then, with a little cry, we saw her run forward--into the
arms of Auguste de St. Gre. It was a pitiful thing to look upon.
Antoinette had led her brother to the seat under the oak. How long we
waited I know not, but at length we heard their voices raised, and
without more ado Madame la Vicomtesse, beckoning me, passed quickly
through the gap in the hedge and went towards them. I followed with
Andre. Auguste rose with an oath, and then stood facing his cousin like
a man struck dumb, his hands dropped. He was a sorry sight indeed,
unshaven, unkempt, dark circles under his eyes, clothes torn.
"Helene! You here--in America!" he cried in French, staring at her.
"Yes, Auguste," she replied quite simply, "I am here." He would have
come towards her, but there was a note in her voice which arrested him.
"And Monsieur le Vicomte--Henri?" he said. I found myself listening
tensely for the answer.
"Henri is in Austria, fighting for his King, I hope," said Madame la
"So Madame la Vicomtesse is a refugee," he said with a bow and a smile
that made me very angry.
"And Monsieur de St. Gre!" I asked.
At the sound of my voice he started and gave back, for he had not
perceived me. He recovered his balance, such as it was, instantly.
"Monsieur seems to take an extraordinary interest in my affairs," he said
"Only when they are to the detriment of other persons who are my
friends," I said.
"Monsieur has intruded in a family matter," said Auguste, grandly, still
"By invitation of those most concerned, Monsieur," I answered, for I
could have throttled him.
Auguste had developed. He had learned well that effrontery is often the
best weapon of an adventurer. He turned from me disdainfully,
petulantly, and addressed the Vicomtesse once more.
"I wish to be alone with Antoinette," he said.
"No doubt," said the Vicomtesse.
"I demand it," said Auguste.
"The demand is not granted," said the Vicomtesse; "that is why we have
come. Your sister has already made enough sacrifices for you. I know
you, Monsieur Auguste de St. Gre," she continued with quiet contempt.
"It is not for love of Antoinette that you have sought this meeting. It
is because," she said, riding down a torrent of words which began to
escape from him, "it is because you are in a predicament, as usual, and
you need money."
It was Antoinette who spoke. She had risen, and was standing behind
Auguste. She still held the leather bag in her hand.
"Perhaps the sum is not enough," she said; "he has to get to France.
Perhaps we could borrow more until my father comes home." She looked
questioningly at us.
Madame la Vicomtesse was truly a woman of decision. Without more ado she
took the bag from Antoinette's unresisting hands and put it into mine. I
was no less astonished than the rest of them.
"Mr. Ritchie will keep this until the negotiations are finished," said
"Negotiations!" cried Auguste, beside himself. "This is insolence,
"Be careful, sir," I said.
"Auguste!" cried Antoinette, putting her hand on his arm.
"Why did you tell them?" he demanded, turning on her.
"Because I trust them, Auguste," Antoinette answered. She spoke without
anger, as one whose sorrow has put her beyond it. Her speech had a
dignity and force which might have awed a worthier man. His
disappointment and chagrin brought him beyond bounds.
"You trust them!" he cried, "you trust them when they tell you to give
your brother, who is starving and in peril of his life, eight hundred
livres? Eight hundred livres, pardieu, and your brother!"
"It is all I have, Auguste," said his sister, sadly.
"Ha!" he said dramatically, "I see, they seek my destruction. This
man"--pointing at me--"is a Federalist, and Madame la Vicomtesse"--he
bowed ironically--"is a Royalist."
"Pish!" said the Vicomtesse, impatiently, "it would be an easy matter to
have you sent to the Morro--a word to Monsieur de Carondelet, Auguste.
Do you believe for a moment that, in your father's absence, I would have
allowed Antoinette to come here alone? And it was a happy circumstance
that I could call on such a man as Mr. Ritchie to come with us."
"It seems to me that Mr. Ritchie and his friends have already brought
sufficient misfortune on the family."
It was a villanous speech. Antoinette turned away, her shoulders
quivering, and I took a step towards him; but Madame la Vicomtesse made a
swift gesture, and I stopped, I know not why. She gave an exclamation so
sharp that he flinched physically, as though he had been struck. But it
was characteristic of her that when she began to speak, her words cut
rather than lashed.
"Auguste de St. Gre," she said, "I know you. The Tribunal is merciful
compared to you. There is no one on earth whom you would not torture for
your selfish ends, no one whom you would not sell without compunction for
your pleasure. There are things that a woman should not mention, and yet
I would tell them without shame to your face were it not for your sister.
If it were not for her, I would not have you in my presence. Shall I
speak of your career in France? There is Valenciennes, for example--"
She stopped abruptly. The man was gray, but not on his account did the
Vicomtesse stay her speech. She forgot him as though he did not exist,
and by one of those swift transitions which thrilled me had gone to the
sobbing Antoinette and taken her in her arms, murmuring endearments of
which our language is not capable. I, too, forgot Auguste. But no
rebuke, however stinging, could make him forget himself, and before we
realized it he was talking again. He had changed his tactics.
"This is my home," he said, "where I might expect shelter and comfort.
You make me an outcast."
Antoinette disengaged herself from Helene with a cry, but he turned away
from her and shrugged.
"A stranger would have fared better. Perhaps you will have more
consideration for a stranger. There is a French ship at the Terre aux
Boeufs in the English Turn, which sails to-night. I appeal to you, Mr.
Ritchie, "--he was still talking in French--"I appeal to you, who are a
man of affairs,"--and he swept me a bow,--"if a captain would risk taking
a fugitive to France for eight hundred livres? Pardieu, I could get no
farther than the Balize for that. Monsieur," he added meaningly, "you
have an interest in this. There are two of us to go."
The amazing effrontery of this move made me gasp. Yet it was neither the
Vicomtesse nor myself who answered him. We turned by common impulse to
Antoinette, and she was changed. Her breath came quickly, her eyes
flashed, her anger made her magnificent.
"It is not true," she cried, "you know it is not true."
He lifted his shoulders and smiled.
"You are my brother, and I am ashamed to acknowledge you. I was willing
to give my last sou, to sell my belongings, to take from the poor to help
you--until you defamed a good man. You cannot make me believe," she
cried, unheeding the color that surged into her cheeks, "you cannot make
me believe that he would use this money. You cannot make me believe it."
"Let us do him the credit of thinking that he means to repay it," said
Antoinette's eyes filled with tears,--tears of pride, of humiliation, ay,
and of an anger of which I had not thought her capable. She was indeed a
superb creature then, a personage I had not imagined. Gathering up her
gown, she passed Auguste and turned on him swiftly.
"If you were to bring that to him," she said, pointing to the bag in my
hand, "he would not so much as touch it. To-morrow I shall go to the
Ursulines, and I thank God I shall never see you again. I thank God I
shall no longer be your sister. Give Monsieur the bundle," she said to
the frightened Andre, who still stood by the hedge; "he may need food and
clothes for his journey."
She left us. We stood watching her until her gown had disappeared
amongst the foliage. Andre came forward and held out the bundle to
Auguste, who took it mechanically. Then Madame La Vicomtesse motioned to
Andre to leave, and gave me a glance, and it was part of the deep
understanding of her I had that I took its meaning. I had my forebodings
at what this last conversation with Auguste might bring forth, and I
wished heartily that we were rid of him.
"Monsieur de St. Gre," I said, "I understood you to say that a ship is
lying at the English Turn some five leagues below us, on which you are to
take passage at once."
He turned and glared at me, some devilish retort on his lips which he
held back. Suddenly he became suave.
"I shall want two thousand livres Monsieur; it was the sum I asked for."
"It is not a question of what you asked for," I answered.
"Since when did Monsieur assume this intimate position in my family?" he
said, glancing at the Vicomtesse.
"Monsieur de St. Gre," I replied with difficulty, "you will confine
yourself to the matter in hand. You are in no situation to demand terms;
you must take or leave what is offered you. Last night the man called
Gignoux, who was of your party, was at the Governor's house."
At this he started perceptibly.
"Ha, I thought he was a traitor," he cried. Strangely enough, he did not
doubt my word in this.
"I am surprised that your Father's house has not been searched this
morning," I continued, astonished at my own moderation. "The sentiments
of the Baron de Carondelet are no doubt known to you, and you are aware
that your family or your friends cannot save you if you are arrested.
You may have this money on two conditions. The first is that you leave
the province immediately. The second, that you reveal the whereabouts of
Mr. Nicholas Temple."
"Monsieur is very kind," he replied, and added the taunt, "and well
versed in the conduct of affairs of money."
"Does Monsieur de St. Gre accept?" I asked.
He threw out his hands with a gesture of resignation.
"Who am I to accept?" he said, "a fugitive, an outcast. And I should
like to remind Monsieur that time passes."
"It is a sensible observation," said I, meaning that it was the first.
His sudden docility made me suspicious. "What preparations have you made
"They are not elaborate, Monsieur, but they are complete. When I leave
you I step into a pirogue which is tied to the river bank."
"Ah," I replied. "And Mr. Temple?"
Madame la Vicomtesse smiled, for Auguste was fairly caught. He had not
the astuteness to be a rogue; oddly he had the sense to know that he
could fool us no longer.
"Temple is at Lamarque's," he answered sullenly.
I glanced questioningly at the Vicomtesse.
"Lamarque is an old pensioner of Monsieur de St. Gre's," said she; "he
has a house and an arpent of land not far below here."
"Exactly," said Auguste, "and if Mr. Ritchie believes that he will save
money by keeping Mr. Temple in Louisiana instead of giving him this
opportunity to escape, it is no concern of mine."
I reflected a moment on this, for it was another sensible remark.
"It is indeed no concern of yours," said Madame la Vicomtesse.
He shrugged his shoulders.
"And now," he said, "I take it that there are no further conscientious
scruples against my receiving this paltry sum."
"I will go with you to your pirogue," I answered, "when you embark you
shall have it."
"I, too, will go," said Madame la Vicomtesse.
"You overwhelm me with civility, Madame," said the Sieur de St. Gre,
"Lead the way, Monsieur," I said.
He took his bundle, and started off down the garden path with a grand
air. I looked at the Vicomtesse inquiringly, and there was laughter in
"I must show you the way to Lamarque's." And then she whispered, "You
have done well, Mr. Ritchie."
I did not return her look, but waited until she took the path ahead of
me. In silence we followed Auguste through the depths of the woods,
turning here and there to avoid a fallen tree or a sink-hole where the
water still remained. At length we came out in the glare of the sun and
crossed the dusty road to the levee bank. Some forty yards below us was
the canoe, and we walked to it, still in silence. Auguste flung in his
bundle, and turned to us.
"Perhaps Monsieur is satisfied," he said.
I handed him the bag, and he took it with an elaborate air of
thankfulness. Nay, the rascal opened it as if to assure himself that he
was not tricked at the last. At the sight of the gold and silver which
Antoinette had hastily collected, he turned to Madame la Vicomtesse.
"Should I have the good fortune to meet Monsieur le Vicomte in France, I
shall assure him that Madame is in good hands" (he swept an exultant look
at me) "and enjoying herself."
I could have flung him into the river, money-bag and all. But Madame la
Vicomtesse made him a courtesy there on the levee bank, and said
"That is very good of you, Auguste."
"As for you, Monsieur," he said, and now his voice shook with
uncontrolled rage, "I am in no condition to repay your kindnesses. But I
have no doubt that you will not object to keeping the miniature a while
I was speechless with anger and shame, and though I felt the eyes of the
Vicomtesse upon me, I dared not look at her. I heard Auguste but
indistinctly as he continued:--
"Should you need the frame, Monsieur, you will doubtless find it still
with Monsieur Isadore, the Jew, in the Rue Toulouse." With that he
leaped into his boat, seized the paddle, and laughed as he headed into
the current. How long I stood watching him as he drifted lazily in the
sun I know not, but at length the voice of Madame la Vicomtesse aroused
"He is a pleasant person," she said.
Until then it seemed as if the sun had gotten into my brain and set it
on fire. Her words had the strange effect of clearing my head, though I
was still in as sad a predicament as ever I found myself. There was the
thing in my pocket, still wrapped in Polly Ann's handkerchief. I glanced
at the Vicomtesse shyly, and turned away again. Her face was all
repressed laughter, the expression I knew so well.
"I think we should feel better in the shade, Mr. Ritchie," she said in
English, and, leaping lightly down from the bank, crossed the road again.
I followed her, perforce.
"I will show you the way to Lamarque's," she said.
"Madame la Vicomtesse!" I cried.
Had she no curiosity? Was she going to let pass what Auguste had hinted?
Lifting up her skirts, she swung round and faced me. In her eyes was a
calmness more baffling than the light I had seen there but a moment
since. How to begin I knew not, and yet I was launched.
"Madame la Vicomtesse, there was once a certain miniature painted of
"By Boze, Monsieur," she answered, readily enough. The embarrassment was
all on my side. "We spoke of it last evening. I remember well when it
was taken. It was the costume I wore at Chantilly, and Monsieur le
Prince complimented me, and the next day the painter himself came to our
hotel in the Rue de Bretagne and asked the honor of painting me." She
sighed. "Ah, those were happy days! Her Majesty was very angry with
"And why?" I asked, forgetful of my predicament.
"For sending it to Louisiana, to Antoinette."
"And why did you send it?"