Part 7 out of 8
we not rise yesterday, when the public heart was stirred? The
forbearance of this people would be absurd if it were not saintly. But
the time has, come when Louisiana must protect herself! If there is one
here who will not strike for his lands, his rights and the purity of his
race, let him speak! (Cries of "We will rise now!" "Give us a leader!"
"Lead the way!")
"Kinsmen, friends," continued Agricola, "meet me at nightfall before the
house of this too-long-spared mulatto. Come armed. Bring a few feet of
stout rope. By morning the gentlemen of color will know their places
better than they do to-day; h-whe shall understand each other! H-whe
shall set the negrophiles to meditating."
He waved them away.
With a huzza the accumulated crowd moved off. Chance carried them up the
rue Royale; they sang a song; they came to Frowenfeld's. It was an
Americain establishment; that was against it. It was a gossiping place
of Americain evening loungers; that was against it. It was a sorcerer's
den--(we are on an ascending scale); its proprietor had refused
employment to some there present, had refused credit to others, was an
impudent condemner of the most approved Creole sins, had been beaten
over the head only the day before; all these were against it. But, worse
still, the building was owned by the f.m.c., and unluckiest of all,
Raoul stood in the door and some of his kinsmen in the crowd stopped to
have a word with him. The crowd stopped. A nameless fellow in the
throng--he was still singing--said: "Here's the place," and dropped two
bricks through the glass of the show-window. Raoul, with a cry of
retaliative rage, drew and lifted a pistol; but a kinsman jerked it
from him and three others quickly pinioned him and bore him off
struggling, pleased to get him away unhurt. In ten minutes, Frowenfeld's
was a broken-windowed, open-doored house, full of unrecognizable rubbish
that had escaped the torch only through a chance rumor that the
Governor's police were coming, and the consequent stampede of the mob.
Joseph was sitting in M. Grandissime's private office, in council with
him and the ladies, and Aurora was just saying:
"Well, anny'ow, 'Sieur Frowenfel', ad laz you consen'!" and gathering
her veil from her lap, when Raoul burst in, all sweat and rage.
"'Sieur Frowenfel', we ruin'! Ow pharmacie knock all in pieces! My
pigshoe is los'!"
He dropped into a chair and burst into tears.
Shall we never learn to withhold our tears until we are sure of our
trouble? Raoul little knew the joy in store for him. 'Polyte, it
transpired the next day, had rushed in after the first volley of
missiles, and while others were gleefully making off with jars of
asafoetida and decanters of distilled water, lifted in his arms and bore
away unharmed "Louisiana" firmly refusing to the last to enter the
Union. It may not be premature to add that about four weeks later Honore
Grandissime, upon Raoul's announcement that he was "betrothed,"
purchased this painting and presented it to a club of _natural
OVER THE NEW STORE
The accident of the ladies Nancanou making their new home over
Frowenfeld's drug-store occurred in the following rather amusing way. It
chanced that the building was about completed at the time that the
apothecary's stock in trade was destroyed; Frowenfeld leased the lower
floor. Honore Grandissime f.m.c. was the owner. He being concealed from
his enemies, Joseph treated with that person's inadequately remunerated
employe. In those days, as still in the old French Quarter, it was not
uncommon for persons, even of wealth, to make their homes over stores,
and buildings were constructed with a view to their partition in this
way. Hence, in Chartres and Decatur streets, to-day--and in the
cross-streets between--so many store-buildings with balconies, dormer
windows, and sometimes even belvideres. This new building caught the eye
and fancy of Aurora and Clotilde. The apartments for the store were
entirely isolated. Through a large _porte-cochere_, opening upon the
banquette immediately beside and abreast of the store-front, one entered
a high, covered carriage-way with a tessellated pavement and green
plastered walls, and reached,--just where this way (corridor, the
Creoles always called it) opened into a sunny court surrounded with
narrow parterres,--a broad stairway leading to a hall over the
"corridor" and to the drawing-rooms over the store. They liked it!
Aurora would find out at once what sort of an establishment was likely
to be opened below, and if that proved unexceptionable she would lease
the upper part without more ado.
Next day she said:
"Clotilde, thou beautiful, I have signed the lease!"
"Then the store below is to be occupied by a--what?"
"Guess a pharmacien!"
Clotilde's lips parted, she was going to smile, when her thought changed
and she blushed offendedly.
"'Sieur Frowenf--ah, ha, ha, ha!--_ha, ha, ha_!"
Clotilde burst into tears.
Still they moved in--it was written in the bond; and so did the
apothecary; and probably two sensible young lovers never before nor
since behaved with such abject fear of each other--for a time. Later,
and after much oft-repeated good advice given to each separately and to
both together, Honore Grandissime persuaded them that Clotilde could
make excellent use of a portion of her means by reenforcing Frowenfeld's
very slender stock and well filling his rather empty-looking store, and
so they signed regular articles of copartnership, blushing frightfully.
Frowenfeld became a visitor, Honore not; once Honore had seen the
ladies' moneys satisfactorily invested, he kept aloof. It is pleasant
here to remark that neither Aurora nor Clotilde made any waste of their
sudden acquisitions; they furnished their rooms with much beauty at
moderate cost, and their _salon_ with artistic, not extravagant,
elegance, and, for the sake of greater propriety, employed a decayed
lady as housekeeper; but, being discreet in all other directions, they
agreed upon one bold outlay--a volante.
Almost any afternoon you might have seen this vehicle on the Terre aux
Boeuf, or Bayou, or Tchoupitoulas Road; and because of the brilliant
beauty of its occupants it became known from all other volantes as
Frowenfeld's visits were not infrequent; he insisted on Clotdlde's
knowing just what was being done with her money. Without indulging
ourselves in the pleasure of contemplating his continued mental
unfolding, we may say that his growth became more rapid in this season
of universal expansion; love had entered into his still compacted soul
like a cupid into a rose, and was crowding it wide open. However, as
yet, it had not made him brave. Aurora used to slip out of the
drawing-room, and in some secluded nook of the hall throw up her clasped
hands and go through all the motions of screaming merriment.
"The little fool!"--it was of her own daughter she whispered this
complimentary remark--"the little fool is afraid of the fish!"
"You!" she said to Clotilde, one evening after Joseph had gone, "you
call yourself a Creole girl!"
But she expected too much. Nothing so terrorizes a blushing girl as a
blushing man. And then--though they did sometimes digress--Clotilde and
her partner met to talk "business" in a purely literal sense.
Aurora, after a time, had taken her money into her own keeping.
"You mighd gid robb' ag'in, you know, 'Sieur Frowenfel'," she said.
But when he mentioned Clotilde's fortune as subject to the same
contingency, Aurora replied:
"Ah! bud Clotilde mighd gid robb'!"
But for all the exuberance of Aurora's spirits, there was a cloud in her
sky. Indeed, we know it is only when clouds are in the sky that we get
the rosiest tints; and so it was with Aurora. One night, when she had
heard the wicket in the _porte-cochere_ shut behind three evening
callers, one of whom she had rejected a week before, another of whom she
expected to dispose of similarly, and the last of whom was Joseph
Frowenfeld, she began such a merry raillery at Clotilde and such a
hilarious ridicule of the "Professor" that Clotilde would have wept
again had not Aurora, all at once, in the midst of a laugh, dropped her
face in her hands and run from the room in tears. It is one of the
penalties we pay for being joyous, that nobody thinks us capable of care
or the victim of trouble until, in some moment of extraordinary
expansion, our bubble of gayety bursts. Aurora had been crying of
nights. Even that same night, Clotilde awoke, opened her eyes and beheld
her mother risen from the pillow and sitting upright in the bed beside
her; the moon, shining brightly through the mosquito-bar revealed with
distinctness her head slightly drooped, her face again in her hands and
the dark folds of her hair falling about her shoulders, half-concealing
the richly embroidered bosom of her snowy gown, and coiling in
continuous abundance about her waist and on the slight summer covering
of the bed. Before her on the sheet lay a white paper. Clotilde did not
try to decipher the writing on it; she knew, at sight, the slip that had
fallen from the statement of account on the evening of the ninth of
March. Aurora withdrew her hands from her face--Clotilde shut her eyes;
she heard Aurora put the paper in her bosom.
"Clotilde," she said, very softly.
"Maman," the daughter replied, opening her eyes, reached up her arms and
drew the dear head down.
"Clotilde, once upon a time I woke this way, and, while you were asleep,
left the bed and made a vow to Monsieur Danny. Oh! it was a sin! but I
cannot do those things now; I have been frightened ever since. I shall
never do so any more. I shall never commit another sin as long as
Their lips met fervently.
"My sweet sweet," whispered Clotilde, "you looked so beautiful sitting
up with the moonlight all around you!"
"Clotilde, my beautiful daughter," said Aurora, pushing her bedmate from
her and pretending to repress a smile, "I tell you now, because you
don't know, and it is my duty as your mother to tell you--the meanest
wickedness a woman can do in all this bad, bad world is to look ugly
Clotilde answered nothing, and Aurora dropped her outstretched arms,
turned away with an involuntary, tremulous sigh, and after two or three
hours of patient wakefulness, fell asleep.
But at daybreak next morning, he that wrote the paper had not closed his
A PROPOSAL OF MARRIAGE
There was always some flutter among Frowenfeld's employes when he was
asked for, and this time it was the more pronounced because he was
sought by a housemaid from the upper floor. It was hard for these two or
three young Ariels to keep their Creole feet to the ground when it was
presently revealed to their sharp ears that the "prof-fis-or" was
requested to come upstairs.
The new store was an extremely neat, bright, and well-ordered
establishment; yet to ascend into the drawing-rooms seemed to the
apothecary like going from the hold of one of those smart old
packet-ships of his day into the cabin. Aurora came forward, with the
slippers of a Cinderella twinkling at the edge of her robe. It seemed
unfit that the floor under them should not be clouds.
"Proffis-or Frowenfel', good-day! Teg a cha'." She laughed. It was the
pure joy of existence. "You's well? You lookin' verrie well! Halways
bizzie? You fine dad agriz wid you' healt', 'Sieur Frowenfel'? Yes? Ha,
ha, ha!" She suddenly leaned toward him across the arm of her chair,
with an earnest face. "'Sieur Frowenfel', Palmyre wand see you. You don'
wan' come ad 'er 'ouse, eh?--an' you don' wan' her to come ad yo'
bureau. You know, 'Sieur Frowenfel', she drez the hair of Clotilde an'
mieself. So w'en she tell me dad, I juz say, 'Palmyre, I will sen' for
Proffis-or Frowenfel' to come yeh; but I don' thing 'e comin'.' You
know, I din' wan' you to 'ave dad troub'; but Clotilde--ha, ha, ha!
Clotilde is sudge a foolish--she nevva thing of dad troub' to you--she
say she thing you was too kine-'arted to call dad troub'--ha, ha, ha! So
anny'ow we sen' for you, eh!"
Frowenfeld said he was glad they had done so, whereupon Aurora rose
"I go an' sen' her." She started away, but turned back to add: "You
know, 'Sieur Frowenfel', she say she cann' truz nobody bud y'u." She
ended with a low, melodious laugh, bending her joyous eyes upon the
apothecary with her head dropped to one side in a way to move a heart
She turned and passed through a door, and by the same way Palmyre
entered. The philosophe came forward noiselessly and with a subdued
expression, different from any Frowenfeld had ever before seen. At the
first sight of her a thrill of disrelish ran through him of which he was
instantly ashamed; as she came nearer he met her with a deferential bow
and the silent tender of a chair. She sat down, and, after a moment's
pause, handed him a sealed letter.
He turned it over twice, recognized the handwriting, felt the disrelish
return, and said:
"This is addressed to yourself."
"Do you know who wrote it?" he asked.
She bowed again.
"You wish me to open it? I cannot read French."
She seemed to have some explanation to offer, but could not command the
necessary English; however, with the aid of Frowenfeld's limited
guessing powers, she made him understand that the bearer of the letter
to her had brought word from the writer that it was written in English
purposely that M. Frowenfeld--the only person he was willing should see
it--might read it. Frowenfeld broke the seal and ran his eye over the
writing, but remained silent.
The woman stirred, as if to say "Well?" But he hesitated.
"Palmyre," he suddenly said, with a slight, dissuasive smile, "it would
be a profanation for me to read this."
She bowed to signify that she caught his meaning, then raised her elbows
with an expression of dubiety, and said:
"'E hask you--"
"Yes," murmured the apothecary. He shook his head as if to protest to
himself, and read in a low but audible voice:
"Star of my soul, I approach to die. It is not for me
possible to live without Palmyre. Long time have I so done,
but now, cut off from to see thee, by imprisonment, as it may
be called, love is starving to death. Oh, have pity on the
faithful heart which, since ten years, change not, but forget
heaven and earth for you. Now in the peril of the life,
hidden away, that absence from the sight of you make his
seclusion the more worse than death. Halas! I pine! Not other
ten years of despair can I commence. Accept this love. If so
I will live for you, but if to the contraire, I must die for
you. Is there anything at all what I will not give or even do
if Palmyre will be my wife? Ah, no, far otherwise, there is
Frowenfeld looked over the top of the letter. Palmyre sat with her eyes
cast down, slowly shaking her head. He returned his glance to the page,
coloring somewhat with annoyance at being made a proposing medium.
"The English is very faulty here," he said, without looking up. "He
mentions Bras-Coupe." Palmyre started and turned toward him; but he went
on without lifting his eyes. "He speaks of your old pride and affection
toward him as one who with your aid might have been a leader and
deliverer of his people." Frowenfeld looked up. "Do you under--"
"_Allez, Miche_" said she, leaning forward, her great eyes fixed on the
apothecary and her face full of distress. "_Mo comprend bien_."
"He asks you to let him be to you in the place of Bras-Coupe."
The eyes of the philosophe, probably for the first time since the death
of the giant, lost their pride. They gazed upon Frowenfeld almost with
piteousness; but she compressed her lips and again slowly shook
"You see," said Frowenfeld, suddenly feeling a new interest, "he
understands their wants. He knows their wrongs. He is acquainted with
laws and men. He could speak for them. It would not be insurrection--it
would be advocacy. He would give his time, his pen, his speech, his
means, to get them justice--to get them their rights."
She hushed the over-zealous advocate with a sad and bitter smile and
essayed to speak, studied as if for English words, and, suddenly
abandoning that attempt, said, with ill-concealed scorn and in the
"What is all that? What I want is vengeance!"
"I will finish reading," said Frowenfeld, quickly, not caring to
understand the passionate speech.
"Ah, Palmyre! Palmyre! What you love and hope to love you
because his heart keep itself free, he is loving another!"
_"Qui ci ca, Miche?"_
Frowenfeld was loth to repeat. She had understood, as her face showed;
but she dared not believe. He made it shorter:
"He means that Honore Grandissime loves another woman."
"'Tis a lie!" she exclaimed, a better command of English coming with the
momentary loss of restraint.
The apothecary thought a moment and then decided to speak.
"I do not think so," he quietly said.
"'Ow you know dat?"
She, too, spoke quietly, but under a fearful strain. She had thrown
herself forward, but, as she spoke, forced herself back into her seat.
"He told me so himself."
The tall figure of Palmyre rose slowly and silently from her chair, her
eyes lifted up and her lips moving noiselessly. She seemed to have lost
all knowledge of place or of human presence. She walked down the
drawing-room quite to its curtained windows and there stopped, her face
turned away and her hand laid with a visible tension on the back of a
chair. She remained so long that Frowenfeld had begun to think of
leaving her so, when she turned and came back. Her form was erect, her
step firm and nerved, her lips set together and her hands dropped easily
at her side; but when she came close up before the apothecary she was
trembling. For a moment she seemed speechless, and then, while her eyes
gleamed with passion, she said, in a cold, clear tone, and in her
"Very well: if I cannot love I can have my revenge." She took the letter
from him and bowed her thanks, still adding, in the same tongue, "There
is now no longer anything to prevent."
The apothecary understood the dark speech. She meant that, with no hope
of Honore's love, there was no restraining motive to withhold her from
wreaking what vengeance she could upon Agricola. But he saw the folly
of a debate.
"That is all I can do?" asked he.
"_Oui, merci, Miche_" she said; then she added, in perfect English, "but
that is not all _I_ can do," and then--laughed.
The apothecary had already turned to go, and the laugh was a low one;
but it chilled his blood. He was glad to get back to his employments.
We have now recorded some of the events which characterized the five
months during which Doctor Keene had been vainly seeking to recover his
health in the West Indies.
"Is Mr. Frowenfeld in?" he asked, walking very slowly, and with a cane,
into the new drug-store on the morning of his return to the city.
"If Professo' Frowenfel' 's in?" replied a young man in shirt-sleeves,
speaking rapidly, slapping a paper package which he had just tied, and
sliding it smartly down the counter. "No, seh."
A quick step behind the doctor caused him to turn; Raoul was just
entering, with a bright look of business on his face, taking his coat
off as he came.
"Docta Keene! _Teck_ a chair. 'Ow you like de noo sto'? See? Fo'
counters! T'ree clerk'! De whole interieure paint undre mie h-own
direction! If dat is not a beautiful! eh? Look at dat sign."
He pointed to some lettering in harmonious colors near the ceiling at
the farther end of the house. The doctor looked and read:
MANDARIN, AG'T, APOTHECARY.
"Why not Frowenfeld?" he asked.
"'Tis better dis way."
That was his explanation.
"Not the De Brahmin Mandarin who was Honore's manager?"
"Yes. Honore was n' able to kip 'im no long-er. Honore is n' so rich lak
"And Mandarin is really in charge here?"
"Oh, yes. Profess-or Frowenfel' all de time at de ole corner, w'ere 'e
_con_tinue to keep 'is private room and h-use de ole shop fo' ware'ouse.
'E h-only come yeh w'en Mandarin cann' git 'long widout 'im."
"What does he do there? _He's_ not rich."
Raoul bent down toward the doctor's chair and whispered the dark secret:
Doctor Keene went out.
Everything seemed changed to the returned wanderer. Poor man! The
changes were very slight save in their altered relation to him. To one
broken in health, and still more to one with a broken heart, old scenes
fall upon the sight in broken rays. A sort of vague alienation seemed to
the little doctor to come like a film over the long-familiar vistas of
the town where he had once walked in the vigor and complacency of
strength and distinction. This was not the same New Orleans. The people
he met on the street were more or less familiar to his memory, but many
that should have recognized him failed to do so, and others were made to
notice him rather by his cough than by his face. Some did not know he
had been away. It made him cross.
He had walked slowly down beyond the old Frowenfeld corner and had just
crossed the street to avoid the dust of a building which was being torn
down to make place for a new one, when he saw coming toward him,
unconscious of his proximity, Joseph Frowenfeld.
"Doctor Keene!" said Frowenfeld, with almost the enthusiasm of Raoul.
The doctor was very much quieter.
They went back to the new drug-store, sat down in a pleasant little rear
corner enclosed by a railing and curtains, and talked.
"And did the trip prove of no advantage to you?"
"You see. But never mind me; tell me about Honore; how does that row
with his family progress?"
"It still continues; the most of his people hold ideas of justice and
prerogative that run parallel with family and party lines, lines of
caste, of custom and the like they have imparted their bad feeling
against him to the community at large; very easy to do just now, for the
election for President of the States comes on in the fall, and though we
in Louisiana have little or nothing to do with it, the people are
"The country's chill-day," said Doctor Keene; "dumb chill, hot fever."
"The excitement is intense," said Frowenfeld. "It seems we are not to
be granted suffrage yet; but the Creoles have a way of casting votes in
their mind. For example, they have voted Honore Grandissime a traitor;
they have voted me an encumbrance; I hear one of them casting that
Some one near the front of the store was talking excitedly with Raoul:
"An'--an'--an' w'at are the consequence? The consequence are that we
smash his shop for him an' 'e 'ave to make a noo-start with a Creole
partner's money an' put 'is sto' in charge of Creole'! If I know he is
yo' frien'? Yesseh! Valuable citizen? An' w'at we care for valuable
citizen? Let him be valuable if he want; it keep' him from gettin' the
neck broke; but--he mus'-tek-kyeh--'ow--he--talk'! He-mus'-tek-kyeh 'ow
he stir the 'ot blood of Louisyanna!"
"He is perfectly right," said the little doctor, in his husky undertone;
"neither you nor Honore is a bit sound, and I shouldn't wonder if they
would hang you both, yet; and as for that darkey who has had the
impudence to try to make a commercial white gentleman of himself--it may
not be I that ought to say it, but--he will get his deserts--sure!"
"There are a great many Americans that think as you do," said
"But," said the little doctor, "what did that fellow mean by your Creole
partner? Mandarin is in charge of your store, but he is not your
partner, is he? Have you one?"
"A silent one," said the apothecary
"So silent as to be none of my business?"
"Well, who is it, then?"
"It is Mademoiselle Nancanou."
"Your partner in business?"
"Well, Joseph Frowenfeld,--"
The insinuation conveyed in the doctor's manner was very trying, but
Joseph merely reddened.
"Purely business, I suppose," presently said the doctor, with a ghastly
ironical smile. "Does the arrangem'--" his utterance failed him--"does
it end there?"
"It ends there."
"And you don't see that it ought either not to have begun, or else ought
not to have ended there?"
Frowenfeld blushed angrily. The doctor asked:
"And who takes care of Aurora's money?"
They both smiled more good-naturedly.
"She's a coon;" and the little doctor rose up and crawled away,
ostensibly to see another friend, but really to drag himself into his
bedchamber and lock himself in. The next day--the yellow fever was bad
again--he resumed the practice of his profession.
"'Twill be a sort of decent suicide without the element of
pusillanimity," he thought to himself.
LOVE LIES A-BLEEDING
When Honore Grandissime heard that Doctor Keene had returned to the city
in a very feeble state of health, he rose at once from the desk where he
was sitting and went to see him; but it was on that morning when the
doctor was sitting and talking with Joseph, and Honore found his chamber
door locked. Doctor Keene called twice, within the following two days,
upon Honore at his counting-room; but on both occasions Honore's chair
was empty. So it was several days before they met. But one hot morning
in the latter part of August,--the August days were hotter before the
cypress forest was cut down between the city and the lake than they are
now,--as Doctor Keene stood in the middle of his room breathing
distressedly after a sad fit of coughing, and looking toward one of his
windows whose closed sash he longed to see opened, Honore knocked at
"Well, come in!" said the fretful invalid. "Why, Honore,--well, it
serves you right for stopping to knock. Sit down."
Each took a hasty, scrutinizing glance at the other; and, after a pause,
Doctor Keene said:
"Honore, you are pretty badly stove."
M. Grandissime smiled.
"Do you think so, Doctor? I will be more complimentary to you; you might
look more sick."
"Oh, I have resumed my trade," replied Doctor Keene.
"So I have heard; but, Charlie, that is all in favor of the people who
want a skilful and advanced physician and do not mind killing him; I
should advise you not to do it."
"You mean" (the incorrigible little doctor smiled cynically) "if I
should ask your advice. I am going to get well, Honore."
His visitor shrugged.
"So much the better. I do confess I am tempted to make use of you in
your official capacity, right now. Do you feel strong enough to go with
me in your gig a little way?"
"A professional call?"
"Yes, and a difficult case; also a confidential one."
"Ah! confidential!" said the little man, in his painful, husky irony.
"You want to get me into the sort of scrape I got our 'professor'
"Possibly a worse one," replied the amiable Creole.
"And I must be mum, eh?"
"I would prefer."
"Shall I need any instruments? No?"--with a shade of disappointment on
He pulled a bell-rope and ordered his gig to the street door.
"How are affairs about town?" he asked, as he made some slight
preparation for the street.
"Excitement continues. Just as I came along, a private difficulty
between a Creole and an Americain drew instantly half the street
together to take sides strictly according to belongings and without
asking a question. My-de'-seh, we are having, as Frowenfeld says, a war
of human acids and alkalies."
They descended and drove away. At the first corner the lad who drove
turned, by Honore's direction, toward the rue Dauphine, entered it,
passed down it to the rue Dumaine, turned into this toward the river
again and entered the rue Conde. The route was circuitous. They stopped
at the carriage-door of a large brick house. The wicket was opened by
Clemence. They alighted without driving in.
"Hey, old witch," said the doctor, with mock severity; "not hung yet?"
The houses of any pretension to comfortable spaciousness in the closely
built parts of the town were all of the one, general, Spanish-American
plan. Honore led the doctor through the cool, high, tessellated
carriage-hall, on one side of which were the drawing-rooms, closed and
darkened. They turned at the bottom, ascended a broad, iron-railed
staircase to the floor above, and halted before the open half of a
glazed double door with a clumsy iron latch. It was the entrance to two
spacious chambers, which were thrown into one by folded doors.
The doctor made a low, indrawn whistle and raised his eyebrows--the
rooms were so sumptuously furnished; immovable largeness and heaviness,
lofty sobriety, abundance of finely wrought brass mounting, motionless
richness of upholstery, much silent twinkle of pendulous crystal, a soft
semi-obscurity--such were the characteristics. The long windows of the
farther apartment could be seen to open over the street, and the air
from behind, coming in over a green mass of fig-trees that stood in the
paved court below, moved through the rooms, making them cool and
"You don't call this a hiding place, do you--in his own bedchamber?" the
"It is necessary, now, only to keep out of sight," softly answered
Honore. "Agricole and some others ransacked this house one night last
March--the day I announced the new firm; but of course, then, he was
They entered, and the figure of Honore Grandissime, f.m.c., came into
view in the centre of the farther room, reclining in an attitude of
extreme languor on a low couch, whither he had come from the high bed
near by, as the impression of his form among its pillows showed. He
turned upon the two visitors his slow, melancholy eyes, and, without an
attempt to rise or speak, indicated, by a feeble motion of the hand, an
invitation to be seated.
"Good morning," said Doctor Keene, selecting a light chair and drawing
it close to the side of the couch.
The patient before him was emaciated. The limp and bloodless hand, which
had not responded to the doctor's friendly pressure but sank idly back
upon the edge of the couch, was cool and moist, and its nails
"Lie still," said the doctor, reassuringly, as the rentier began to lift
the one knee and slippered foot which was drawn up on the couch and the
hand which hung out of sight across a large, linen-covered cushion.
By pleasant talk that seemed all chat, the physician soon acquainted
himself with the case before him. It was a very plain one. By and by he
rubbed his face and red curls and suddenly said:
"You will not take my prescription."
The f.m.c. did not say yes or no.
"Still,"--the doctor turned sideways in his chair, as was his wont, and,
as he spoke, allowed the corners of his mouth to take that little
satirical downward pull which his friends disliked, "I'll do my duty.
I'll give Honore the details as to diet; no physic; but my prescription
to you is, Get up and get out. Never mind the risk of rough handling;
they can but kill you, and you will die anyhow if you stay here." He
rose. "I'll send you a chalybeate tonic; or--I will leave it at
Frowenfeld's to-morrow morning, and you can call there and get it. It
will give you an object for going out."
The two visitors presently said adieu and retired together. Reaching the
bottom of the stairs in the carriage "corridor," they turned in a
direction opposite to the entrance and took chairs in a cool nook of the
paved court, at a small table where the hospitality of Clemence had
placed glasses of lemonade.
"No," said the doctor, as they sat down, "there is, as yet, no incurable
organic derangement; a little heart trouble easily removed; still
"My half-brother," said Honore.
"Your patient," said Doctor Keene, "is an emphatic 'yes' to the question
the girls sometimes ask us doctors--Does love ever kill?' It will kill
him _soon_, if you do not get him to rouse up. There is absolutely
nothing the matter with him but his unrequited love."
"Fortunately, the most of us," said Honore, with something of the
doctor's smile, "do not love hard enough to be killed by it."
"Very few." The doctor paused, and his blue eyes, distended in reverie,
gazed upon the glass which he was slowly turning around with his
attenuated fingers as it stood on the board, while he added: "However,
one _may_ love as hopelessly and harder than that man upstairs, and
yet not die."
"There is comfort in that--to those who must live," said Honore with
"Yes," said the other, still toying with his glass.
He slowly lifted his glance, and the eyes of the two men met and
remained steadfastly fixed each upon each.
"You've got it bad," said Doctor Keene, mechanically.
"And you?" retorted the Creole.
"It isn't going to kill me."
"It has not killed me. And," added M. Grandissime, as they passed
through the carriage-way toward the street, "while I keep in mind the
numberless other sorrows of life, the burials of wives and sons and
daughters, the agonies and desolations, I shall never die of love,
my-de'-seh, for very shame's sake."
This was much sentiment to risk within Doctor Keene's reach; but he took
no advantage of it.
"Honore," said he, as they joined hands on the banquette beside the
doctor's gig, to say good-day, "if you think there's a chance for you,
why stickle upon such fine-drawn points as I reckon you are making? Why,
sir, as I understand it, this is the only weak spot your action has
shown; you have taken an inoculation of Quixotic conscience from our
transcendental apothecary and perpetrated a lot of heroic behavior that
would have done honor to four-and-twenty Brutuses; and now that you have
a chance to do something easy and human, you shiver and shrink at the
'looks o' the thing.' Why, what do you care--"
"Hush!" said Honore; "do you suppose I have not temptation enough
He began to move away.
"Honore," said the doctor, following him a step, "I couldn't have made a
mistake--It's the little Monk,--it's Aurora, isn't it?"
Honore nodded, then faced his friend more directly, with a sudden new
"But, Doctor, why not take your own advice? I know not how you are
prevented; you have as good a right as Frowenfeld."
"It wouldn't be honest," said the doctor; "it wouldn't be the straight
up and down manly thing."
The doctor stepped into his gig--
"Not till I feel all right _here_." (In his chest.)
FROWENFELD AT THE GRANDISSIME MANSION
One afternoon--it seems to have been some time in June, and consequently
earlier than Doctor Keene's return--the Grandissimes were set all
a-tremble with vexation by the discovery that another of their number
had, to use Agricola's expression, "gone over to the enemy,"--a phrase
first applied by him to Honore.
"What do you intend to convey by that term?" Frowenfeld had asked on
that earlier occasion.
"Gone over to the enemy means, my son, gone over to the enemy!" replied
Agricola. "It implies affiliation with Americains in matters of business
and of government! It implies the exchange of social amenities with a
race of upstarts! It implies a craven consent to submit the sacredest
prejudices of our fathers to the new-fangled measuring-rods of pert,
imported theories upon moral and political progress! It implies a
listening to, and reasoning with, the condemners of some of our most
time-honored and respectable practices! Reasoning with? N-a-hay! but
Honore has positively sat down and eaten with them! What?--and h-walked
out into the stre-heet with them, arm in arm! It implies in his case an
act--two separate and distinct acts--so base that--that--I simply do not
understand them! _H-you_ know, Professor Frowenfeld, what he has done!
You know how ignominiously he has surrendered the key of a moral
position which for the honor of the Grandissime-Fusilier name we have
felt it necessary to hold against our hereditary enemies!
And--you--know--" here Agricola actually dropped all artificiality and
spoke from the depths of his feelings, without figure--"h-h-he has
joined himself in business h-with a man of negro blood! What can we do?
What can we say? It is Honore Grandissime. We can only say, 'Farewell!
He is gone over to the enemy.'"
The new cause of exasperation was the defection of Raoul Innerarity.
Raoul had, somewhat from a distance, contemplated such part as he could
understand of Joseph Frowenfeld's character with ever-broadening
admiration. We know how devoted he became to the interests and fame of
"Frowenfeld's." It was in April he had married. Not to divide his
generous heart he took rooms opposite the drug-store, resolved that
"Frowenfeld's" should be not only the latest closed but the earliest
opened of all the pharmacies in New Orleans.
This, it is true, was allowable. Not many weeks afterward his bride fell
suddenly and seriously ill. The overflowing souls of Aurora and Clotilde
could not be so near to trouble and not know it, and before Raoul was
nearly enough recovered from the shock of this peril to remember that he
was a Grandissime, these last two of the De Grapions had hastened across
the street to the small, white-walled sick-room and filled it as full of
universal human love as the cup of a magnolia is full of perfume. Madame
Innerarity recovered. A warm affection was all she and her husband could
pay such ministration in, and this they paid bountifully; the four
became friends. The little madame found herself drawn most toward
Clotilde; to her she opened her heart--and her wardrobe, and showed her
all her beautiful new underclothing. Raoul found Clotilde to be, for
him, rather--what shall we say?--starry; starrily inaccessible; but
Aurora was emphatically after his liking; he was delighted with Aurora.
He told her in confidence that "Profess-or Frowenfel'" was the best man
in the world; but she boldly said, taking pains to speak with a
tear-and-a-half of genuine gratitude,--"Egcep' Monsieur Honore
Grandissime," and he assented, at first with hesitation and then with
ardor. The four formed a group of their own; and it is not certain that
this was not the very first specimen ever produced in the Crescent City
of that social variety of New Orleans life now distinguished as
Almost the first thing acquired by Raoul in the camp of the enemy was a
certain Aurorean audacity; and on the afternoon to which we allude,
having told Frowenfeld a rousing fib to the effect that the
multitudinous inmates of the maternal Grandissime mansion had insisted
on his bringing his esteemed employer to see them, he and his bride had
the hardihood to present him on the front veranda.
The straightforward Frowenfeld was much pleased with his reception. It
was not possible for such as he to guess the ire with which his presence
was secretly regarded. New Orleans, let us say once more, was small, and
the apothecary of the rue Royale locally famed; and what with curiosity
and that innate politeness which it is the Creole's boast that he cannot
mortify, the veranda, about the top of the great front stair, was well
crowded with people of both sexes and all ages. It would be most
pleasant to tarry once more in description of this gathering of nobility
and beauty; to recount the points of Creole loveliness in midsummer
dress; to tell in particular of one and another eye-kindling face,
form, manner, wit; to define the subtle qualities of Creole air and sky
and scene, or the yet more delicate graces that characterize the music
of Creole voice and speech and the light of Creole eyes; to set forth
the gracious, unaccentuated dignity of the matrons and the ravishing
archness of their daughters. To Frowenfeld the experience seemed all
unreal. Nor was this unreality removed by conversation on grave
subjects; for few among either the maturer or the younger beauty could
do aught but listen to his foreign tongue like unearthly strangers in
the old fairy tales. They came, however, in the course of their talk to
the subject of love and marriage. It is not certain that they entered
deeper into the great question than a comparison of its attendant
Anglo-American and Franco-American conventionalities; but sure it is
that somehow--let those young souls divine the method who can--every
unearthly stranger on that veranda contrived to understand Frowenfeld's
English. Suddenly the conversation began to move over the ground of
inter-marriage between hostile families. Then what eyes and ears! A
certain suspicion had already found lodgement in the universal
Grandissime breast, and every one knew in a moment that, to all intents
and purposes, they were about to argue the case of Honore and Aurora.
The conversation became discussion, Frowenfeld, Raoul and Raoul's little
seraph against the whole host, chariots, horse and archery. Ah! such
strokes as the apothecary dealt! And if Raoul and "Madame Raoul" played
parts most closely resembling the blowing of horns and breaking of
pitchers, still they bore themselves gallantly. The engagement was
short; we need not say that nobody surrendered; nobody ever gives up the
ship in parlor or veranda debate: and yet--as is generally the case in
such affairs--truth and justice made some unacknowledged headway. If
anybody on either side came out wounded--this to the credit of the
Creoles as a people--the sufferer had the heroic good manners not to say
so. But the results were more marked than this; indeed, in more than one
or two candid young hearts and impressible minds the wrongs and rights
of sovereign true love began there on the spot to be more generously
conceded and allowed. "My-de'-seh," Honore had once on a time said to
Frowenfeld, meaning that to prevail in conversational debate one should
never follow up a faltering opponent, "you mus' _crack_ the egg, not
smash it!" And Joseph, on rising to take his leave, could the more
amiably overlook the feebleness of the invitation to call again, since
he rejoiced, for Honore's sake, in the conviction that the egg
Agricola, the Grandissimes told the apothecary, was ill in his room, and
Madame de Grandissime, his sister--Honore's mother--begged to be excused
that she might keep him company. The Fusiliers were a very close order;
or one might say they garrisoned the citadel.
But Joseph's rising to go was not immediately upon the close of the
discussion; those courtly people would not let even an unwelcome guest
go with the faintest feeling of disrelish for them. They were casting
about in their minds for some momentary diversion with which to add a
finishing touch to their guest's entertainment, when Clemence appeared
in the front garden walk and was quickly surrounded by bounding
children, alternately begging and demanding a song. Many of even the
younger adults remembered well when she had been "one of the hands on
the place," and a passionate lover of the African dance. In the same
instant half a dozen voices proposed that for Joseph's amusement
Clemence should put her cakes off her head, come up on the veranda and
show a few of her best steps.
"But who will sing?"
"Very well; and what shall it be?"
No, Clemence objected.
"Well, well, stand back--something better than 'Madame Gaba.'"
Raoul began to sing and Clemence instantly to pace and turn, posture,
bow, respond to the song, start, swing, straighten, stamp, wheel, lift
her hand, stoop, twist, walk, whirl, tiptoe with crossed ankles, smite
her palms, march, circle, leap,--an endless improvisation of rhythmic
motion to this modulated responsive chant:
Raoul. "_Mo pas l'aimein ca_."
Clemence. "_Miche Igenne, oap! oap! oap!_"
He. "_Ye donne vingt cinq sous pou' manze poule_."
She. "_Miche Igenne, dit--dit--dit--_"
He. "_Mo pas l'aimein ca!_"
She. "_Miche Igenne, oap! oap! oap!_"
He. "_Mo pas l'aimein ca!_"
She. "_Miche Igenne, oap! oap! oap!_"
Frowenfeld was not so greatly amused as the ladies thought he should
have been, and was told that this was not a fair indication of what he
would see if there were ten dancers instead of one.
How much less was it an indication of what he would have seen in that
mansion early the next morning, when there was found just outside of
Agricola's bedroom door a fresh egg, not cracked, according to Honore's
maxim, but smashed, according to the lore of the voudous. Who could have
got in in the night? And did the intruder get in by magic, by outside
lock-picking, or by inside collusion? Later in the morning, the children
playing in the basement found--it had evidently been accidentally
dropped, since the true use of its contents required them to be
scattered in some person's path--a small cloth bag, containing a
quantity of dogs' and cats' hair, cut fine and mixed with salt
"Pooh! Clemence. No! But as sure as the sun turns around the
The excitement and alarm produced by the practical threat of voudou
curses upon Agricola was one thing, Creole lethargy was quite another;
and when, three mornings later, a full quartette of voudou charms was
found in the four corners of Agricola's pillow, the great Grandissime
family were ignorant of how they could have come there. Let us examine
these terrible engines of mischief. In one corner was an acorn drilled
through with two holes at right angles to each other, a small feather
run through each hole; in the second a joint of cornstalk with a cavity
scooped from the middle, the pith left intact at the ends, and the space
filled with parings from that small callous spot near the knee of the
horse, called the "nail;" in the third corner a bunch of parti-colored
feathers; something equally meaningless in the fourth. No thread was
used in any of them. All fastening was done with the gum of trees. It
was no easy task for his kindred to prevent Agricola, beside himself
with rage and fright, from going straight to Palmyre's house and
shooting her down in open day.
"We shall have to watch our house by night," said a gentleman of the
household, when they had at length restored the Citizen to a condition
of mind which enabled them to hold him in a chair.
"Watch this house?" cried a chorus. "You don't suppose she comes near
here, do you? She does it all from a distance. No, no; watch
Did Agricola believe in the supernatural potency of these gimcracks? No,
and yes. Not to be foolhardy, he quietly slipped down every day to the
levee, had a slave-boy row him across the river in a skiff, landed,
re-embarked, and in the middle of the stream surreptitiously cast a
picayune over his shoulder into the river. Monsieur D'Embarras, the imp
of death thus placated, must have been a sort of spiritual Cheap John.
Several more nights passed. The house of Palmyre, closely watched,
revealed nothing. No one came out, no one went in, no light was seen.
They should have watched in broad daylight. At last, one midnight,
'Polyte Grandissime stepped cautiously up to one of the batten doors
with an auger, and succeeded, without arousing any one, in boring a
hole. He discovered a lighted candle standing in a glass of water.
"Nothing but a bedroom light," said one.
"Ah, bah!" whispered the other; "it is to make the spell work strong."
"We will not tell Agricola first; we had better tell Honore," said
"You forget," said 'Polyte, "that I no longer have any acquaintance with
Monsieur Honore Grandissime."
They told Agamemnon; and it would have gone hard with the
"_milatraise_" but for the additional fact that suspicion had fastened
upon another person; but now this person in turn had to be identified.
It was decided not to report progress to old Agricola, but to wait and
seek further developments. Agricola, having lost all ability to sleep in
the mansion, moved into a small cottage in a grove near the house. But
the very next morning, he turned cold with horror to find on his
doorstep a small black-coffined doll, with pins run through the heart, a
burned-out candle at the head and another at the feet.
"You know it is Palmyre, do you?" asked Agamemnon, seizing the old man
as he was going at a headlong pace through the garden gate. "What if I
should tell you that by watching the Congo dancing-ground at midnight
to-night, you will see the real author of this mischief--eh?"
"And why to-night?"
"Because the moon rises at midnight."
There was firing that night in the deserted Congo dancing-grounds under
the ruins of Fort St. Joseph, or, as we would say now, in Congo Square,
from three pistols--Agricola's, 'Polyte's, and the weapon of an
ill-defined, retreating figure answering the description of the person
who had stabbed Agricola the preceding February. "And yet," said
'Polyte, "I would have sworn that it was Palmyre doing this work."
Through Raoul these events came to the ear of Frowenfield. It was about
the time that Raoul's fishing party, after a few days' mishaps, had
returned home. Palmyre, on several later dates, had craved further
audiences and shown other letters from the hidden f.m.c. She had heard
them calmly, and steadfastly preserved the one attitude of refusal. But
it could not escape Frowenfeld's notice that she encouraged the sending
of additional letters. He easily guessed the courier to be Clemence; and
now, as he came to ponder these revelations of Raoul, he found that
within twenty-four hours after every visit of Clemence to the house of
Palmyre, Agricola suffered a visitation.
The fig-tree, in Louisiana, sometimes sheds its leaves while it is yet
summer. In the rear of the Grandissme mansion, about two hundred yards
northwest of it and fifty northeast of the cottage in which Agricola had
made his new abode, on the edge of the grove of which we have spoken,
stood one of these trees, whose leaves were beginning to lie thickly
upon the ground beneath it. An ancient and luxuriant hedge of
Cherokee-rose started from this tree and stretched toward the northwest
across the level country, until it merged into the green confusion of
gardened homes in the vicinity of Bayou St. Jean, or, by night, into the
common obscurity of a starlit perspective. When an unclouded moon shone
upon it, it cast a shadow as black as velvet.
Under this fig-tree, some three hours later than that at which Honore
bade Joseph good-night, a man was stooping down and covering something
with the broad, fallen leaves.
"The moon will rise about three o'clock," thought he. "That, the hour of
universal slumber, will be, by all odds, the time most likely to bring
He was the same person who had spent the most of the day in a
blacksmith's shop in St. Louis street, superintending a piece of
smithing. Now that he seemed to have got the thing well hid, he turned
to the base of the tree and tried the security of some attachment. Yes,
it was firmly chained. He was not a robber; he was not an assassin; he
was not an officer of police; and what is more notable, seeing he was a
Louisianian, he was not a soldier nor even an ex-soldier; and this
although, under his clothing, he was encased from head to foot in a
complete suit of mail. Of steel? No. Of brass? No. It was all one
piece--_a white skin_; and on his head he wore an invisible helmet--the
name of Grandissime. As he straightened up and withdrew into the grove,
you would have recognized at once--by his thick-set, powerful frame,
clothed seemingly in black, but really, as you might guess, in blue
cottonade, by his black beard and the general look of a seafarer--a
frequent visitor at the Grandissime mansion, a country member of that
great family, one whom we saw at the _fete de grandpere_.
Capitain Jean-Baptiste Grandissime was a man of few words, no
sentiments, short methods; materialistic, we might say; quietly
ferocious; indifferent as to means, positive as to ends, quick of
perception, sure in matters of saltpetre, a stranger at the
custom-house, and altogether--_take him right_--very much of a
gentleman. He had been, for a whole day, beset with the idea that the
way to catch a voudou was--to catch him; and as he had caught numbers of
them on both sides of the tropical and semi-tropical Atlantic, he
decided to try his skill privately on the one who--his experience told
him--was likely to visit Agricola's doorstep to-night. All things being
now prepared, he sat down at the root of a tree in the grove, where the
shadow was very dark, and seemed quite comfortable. He did not strike at
the mosquitoes; they appeared to understand that he did not wish to
trifle. Neither did his thoughts or feelings trouble him; he sat and
sharpened a small penknife on his boot.
His mind--his occasional transient meditation--was the more comfortable
because he was one of those few who had coolly and unsentimentally
allowed Honore Grandissime to sell their lands. It continued to grow
plainer every day that the grants with which theirs were classed--grants
of old French or Spanish under-officials--were bad. Their sagacious
cousin seemed to have struck the right standard, and while those titles
which he still held on to remained unimpeached, those that he had
parted with to purchasers--as, for instance, the grant held by this
Capitain Jean-Baptiste Grandissime--could be bought back now for half
what he had got for it. Certainly, as to that, the Capitain might well
have that quietude of mind which enabled him to find occupation in
perfecting the edge of his penknife and trimming his nails in the dark.
By and by he put up the little tool and sat looking out upon the
prospect. The time of greatest probability had not come, but the voudou
might choose not to wait for that; and so he kept watch. There was a
great stillness. The cocks had finished a round and were silent. No dog
barked. A few tiny crickets made the quiet land seem the more deserted.
Its beauties were not entirely overlooked--the innumerable host of stars
above, the twinkle of myriad fireflies on the dark earth below. Between
a quarter and a half-mile away, almost in a line with the Cherokee
hedge, was a faint rise of ground, and on it a wide-spreading live-oak.
There the keen, seaman's eye of the Capitain came to a stop, fixed upon
a spot which he had not noticed before. He kept his eye on it, and
waited for the stronger light of the moon.
Presently behind the grove at his back she rose; and almost the first
beam that passed over the tops of the trees, and stretched across the
plain, struck the object of his scrutiny. What was it? The ground, he
knew; the tree, he knew; he knew there ought to be a white paling
enclosure about the trunk of the tree: for there were buried--ah!--he
came as near laughing at himself as ever he did in his life; the
apothecary of the rue Royale had lately erected some marble headstones
"Oh! my God!"
While Capitain Jean-Baptiste had been trying to guess what the
tombstones were, a woman had been coming toward him in the shadow of the
hedge. She was not expecting to meet him; she did not know that he was
there; she knew she had risks to run, but was ignorant of what they
were; she did not know there was anything under the fig-tree which she
so nearly and noiselessly approached. One moment her foot was lifted
above the spot where the unknown object lay with wide-stretched jaws
under the leaves, and the next, she uttered that cry of agony and
consternation which interrupted the watcher's meditation. She was caught
in a huge steel-trap.
Capitain Jean-Baptiste Grandissime remained perfectly still. She fell, a
snarling, struggling, groaning heap, to the ground, wild with pain and
fright, and began the hopeless effort to draw the jaws of the trap apart
with her fingers.
"_Ah! bon Dieu, bon Dieu!_ Quit a-_bi-i-i-i-tin' me_! Oh! Lawd 'a'
mussy! Ow-ow-ow! lemme go! Dey go'n' to kyetch an' hang me! Oh! an' I
hain' done nutt'n' 'gainst _no_body! Ah! _bon Dieu! ein pov' vie
negresse_! Oh! Jemimy! I cyan' gid dis yeh t'ing loose--oh! m-m-m-m! An'
dey'll tra to mek out't I voudou' Mich-Agricole! An' I did n' had
nutt'n' do wid it! Oh Lawd, oh _Lawd_, you'll be mighty good ef you
lemme loose! I'm a po' nigga! Oh! dey had n' ought to mek it so
Hands, teeth, the free foot, the writhing body, every combination of
available forces failed to spread the savage jaws, though she strove
until hands and mouth were bleeding.
Suddenly she became silent; a thought of precaution came to her; she
lifted from the earth a burden she had dropped there, struggled to a
half-standing posture, and, with her foot still in the trap, was
endeavoring to approach the end of the hedge near by, to thrust this
burden under it, when she opened her throat in a speechless ecstasy of
fright on feeling her arm grasped by her captor.
"O-o-o-h! Lawd! o-o-oh! Lawd!" she cried, in a frantic, husky whisper,
going down upon her knees, "_Oh, Miche! pou' l'amou' du bon Dieu! Pou'
l'amou du bon Dieu ayez pitie d'ein pov' negresse! Pov' negresse,
Miche_, w'at nevva done nutt'n' to nobody on'y jis sell _calas_! I iss
comin' 'long an' step inteh dis-yeh bah-trap by acci_dent_! Ah! _Miche,
Miche_, ple-e-ease be good! _Ah! mon Dieu_!--an' de Lawd'll reward
you--'deed 'E will, _Miche_!"
"_Qui ci ca?_" asked the Capitain, sternly, stooping and grasping her
burden, which she had been trying to conceal under herself.
"Oh, Miche, don' trouble dat! Please jes tek dis yeh trap offen me--da's
all! Oh, don't, mawstah, ple-e-ease don' spill all my wash'n' t'ings!
'Tain't nutt'n' but my old dress roll' up into a ball. Oh, please--now,
you see? nutt'n' but a po' nigga's dr--_oh! fo' de love o' God, Miche
Jean-Baptiste, don' open dat ah box! Y'en a rien du tout la-dans, Miche
Jean-Baptiste; du tout, du tout_! Oh, my God! _Miche_, on'y jis teck
dis-yeh t'ing off'n my laig, ef yo' _please_, it's bit'n' me lak a
_dawg_!--if you _please, Miche_! Oh! you git kill' if you open dat ah
box, Mawse Jean-Baptiste! _Mo' parole d'honneur le plus sacre_--I'll
kiss de cross! Oh, _sweet Miche Jean, laisse moi aller_! Nutt'n' but
some dutty close _la-dans_." She repeated this again and again, even
after Capitain Jean-Baptiste had disengaged a small black coffin from
the old dress in which it was wrapped. "_Rien du tout, Miche_; nutt'n'
but some wash'n' fo' one o' de boys."
He removed the lid and saw within, resting on the cushioned bottom, the
image, in myrtle-wax, moulded and painted with some rude skill, of a
negro's bloody arm cut off near the shoulder--a _bras coupe_--with a
dirk grasped in its hand.
The old woman lifted her eyes to heaven; her teeth chattered; she gasped
twice before she could recover utterance. "_Oh, Miche_ Jean-Baptiste, I
di' n' mek dat ah! _Mo' te pas fe ca_! I swea' befo' God! Oh, no, no,
no! 'Tain' nutt'n' nohow but a lill play-toy, _Miche_. Oh, sweet _Miche
Jean_, you not gwan to kill me? I di' n' mek it! It was--ef you lemme
go, I tell you who mek it! Sho's I live I tell you, _Miche Jean_--ef you
lemme go! Sho's God's good to me--ef you lemme go! Oh, God A'mighty,
_Miche Jean_, sho's God's good to me."
She was becoming incoherent.
Then Capitain Jean-Baptiste Grandissime for the first time spoke at
"Do you see this?" he spoke the French of the Atchafalaya. He put his
long flintlock pistol close to her face. "I shall take the trap off; you
will walk three feet in front of me; if you make it four I blow your
brains out; we shall go to Agricole. But right here, just now, before I
count ten, you will tell me who sent you here; at the word ten, if I
reach it, I pull the trigger. One--two--three--"
"Oh, _Miche_, she gwan to gib me to de devil wid _houdou_ ef I tell
you--Oh, good _Lawdy_!"
But he did not pause.
"Palmyre!" gasped the negress, and grovelled on the ground.
The trap was loosened from her bleeding leg, the burden placed in her
arms, and they disappeared in the direction of the mansion.
* * * * *
A black shape, a boy, the lad who had carried the basil to Frowenfeld,
rose up from where he had all this time lain, close against the hedge,
and glided off down its black shadow to warn the philosophe.
When Clemence was searched, there was found on her person an old
table-knife with its end ground to a point.
BLOOD FOR A BLOW
It seems to be one of the self-punitive characteristics of tyranny,
whether the tyrant be a man, a community, or a caste, to have a
pusillanimous fear of its victim. It was not when Clemence lay in irons,
it is barely now, that our South is casting off a certain apprehensive
tremor, generally latent, but at the slightest provocation active, and
now and then violent, concerning her "blacks." This fear, like others
similar elsewhere in the world, has always been met by the same one
antidote--terrific cruelty to the tyrant's victim. So we shall presently
see the Grandissime ladies, deeming themselves compassionate, urging
their kinsmen to "give the poor wretch a sound whipping and let her go."
Ah! what atrocities are we unconsciously perpetrating North and South
now, in the name of mercy or defence, which the advancing light of
progressive thought will presently show out in their enormity?
Agricola slept late. He had gone to his room the evening before much
incensed at the presumption of some younger Grandissimes who had brought
up the subject, and spoken in defence, of their cousin Honore. He had
retired, however, not to rest, but to construct an engine of offensive
warfare which would revenge him a hundred-fold upon the miserable
school of imported thought which had sent its revolting influences to
the very Grandissime hearthstone; he wrote a "_Phillipique Generale
contre la Conduite du Gouvernement de la Louisiane_" and a short but
vigorous chapter in English on "The Insanity of Educating the Masses."
This accomplished, he had gone to bed in a condition of peaceful
elation, eager for the next day to come that he might take these mighty
productions to Joseph Frowenfeld, and make him a present of them for
insertion in his book of tables.
Jean-Baptiste felt no need of his advice, that he should rouse him; and,
for a long time before the old man awoke, his younger kinsmen were
stirring about unwontedly, going and coming through the hall of the
mansion, along its verandas and up and down its outer flight of stairs.
Gates were opening and shutting, errands were being carried by negro
boys on bareback horses, Charlie Mandarin of St. Bernard parish and an
Armand Fusilier from Faubourg Ste. Marie had on some account come--as
they told the ladies--"to take breakfast;" and the ladies, not yet
informed, amusedly wondering at all this trampling and stage whispering,
were up a trifle early. In those days Creole society was a ship, in
which the fair sex were all passengers and the ruder sex the crew. The
ladies of the Grandissime mansion this morning asked passengers'
questions, got sailors' answers, retorted wittily and more or less
satirically, and laughed often, feeling their constrained
insignificance. However, in a house so full of bright-eyed children,
with mothers and sisters of all ages as their confederates, the secret
was soon out, and before Agricola had left his little cottage in the
grove the topic of all tongues was the abysmal treachery and
_ingratitude_ of negro slaves. The whole tribe of Grandissime believed,
this morning, in the doctrine of total depravity--of the negro.
And right in the face of this belief, the ladies put forth the
generously intentioned prayer for mercy. They were answered that they
little knew what frightful perils they were thus inviting upon
The male Grandissimes were not surprised at this exhibition of weak
clemency in their lovely women; they were proud of it; it showed the
magnanimity that was natural to the universal Grandissime heart, when
not restrained and repressed by the stern necessities of the hour. But
Agricola disappointed them. Why should he weaken and hesitate, and
suggest delays and middle courses, and stammer over their proposed
measures as "extreme"? In very truth, it seemed as though that
drivelling, woman-beaten Deutsch apotheke--ha! ha! ha!--in the rue
Royale had bewitched Agricola as well as Honore. The fact was, Agricola
had never got over the interview which had saved Sylvestre his life.
"Here, Agricole," his kinsmen at length said, "you see you are too old
for this sort of thing; besides, it would be bad taste for you, who
might be presumed to harbor feelings of revenge, to have a voice in
this council." And then they added to one another: "We will wait until
'Polyte reports whether or not they have caught Palmyre; much will
depend on that."
Agricola, thus ruled out, did a thing he did not fully understand; he
rolled up the "_Philippique Generale_" and "The Insanity of Educating
the Masses," and, with these in one hand and his staff in the other, set
out for Frowenfeld's, not merely smarting but trembling under the
humiliation of having been sent, for the first time in his life, to the
rear as a non-combatant.
He found the apothecary among his clerks, preparing with his own hands
the "chalybeate tonic" for which the f.m.c. was expected to call. Raoul
Innerarity stood at his elbow, looking on with an amiable air of having
been superseded for the moment by his master.
"Ha-ah! Professor Frowenfeld!"
The old man nourished his scroll.
Frowenfeld said good-morning, and they shook hands across the counter;
but the old man's grasp was so tremulous that the apothecary looked at
"Does my hand tremble, Joseph? It is not strange; I have had much to
excite me this morning."
"Wat's de mattah?" demanded Raoul, quickly.
"My life--which I admit, Professor Frowenfeld, is of little value
compared with such a one as yours--has been--if not attempted, at least
"How?" cried Raoul.
"H-really, Professor, we must agree that a trifle like that ought not to
make old Agricola Fusilier nervous. But I find it painful, sir, very
painful. I can lift up this right hand, Joseph, and swear I never gave a
slave--man or woman--a blow in my life but according to my notion of
justice. And now to find my life attempted by former slaves of my own
household, and taunted with the righteous hamstringing of a dangerous
runaway! But they have apprehended the miscreants; one is actually in
hand, and justice will take its course; trust the Grandissimes for
that--though, really, Joseph, I assure you, I counselled leniency."
"Do you say they have caught her?" Frowenfeld's question was sudden and
excited; but the next moment he had controlled himself.
"H-h-my son, I did not say it was a 'her'!"
"Was it not Clemence? Have they caught her?"
The apothecary turned to Raoul.
"Go tell Honore Grandissime."
"But, Professor Frowenfeld--" began Agricola.
Frowenfeld turned to repeat his instruction, but Raoul was already
leaving the store.
Agricola straightened up angrily.
"Pro-hofessor Frowenfeld, by what right do you interfere?"
"No matter," said the apothecary, turning half-way and pouring the
tonic into a vial.
"Sir," thundered the old lion, "h-I demand of you to answer! How dare
you insinuate that my kinsmen may deal otherwise than justly?"
"Will they treat her exactly as if she were white, and had threatened
the life of a slave?" asked Frowenfeld from behind the desk at the end
of the counter.
The old man concentrated all the indignation of his nature in the reply.
As he spoke, a shadow approaching from the door caused him to turn. The
tall, dark, finely clad form of the f.m.c, in its old soft-stepping
dignity and its sad emaciation, came silently toward the spot where
Frowenfeld saw this, and hurried forward inside the counter with the
preparation in his hand.
"Professor Frowenfeld," said Agricola, pointing with his ugly staff, "I
demand of you, as a keeper of a white man's pharmacy, to turn that
"Citizen Fusilier!" exclaimed the apothecary; "Mister Grandis--"
He felt as though no price would be too dear at that moment to pay for
the presence of the other Honore. He had to go clear to the end of the
counter and come down the outside again to reach the two men. They did
not wait for him. Agricola turned upon the f.m.c.
"Take off your hat!"
A sudden activity seized every one connected with the establishment as
the quadroon let his thin right hand slowly into his bosom, and answered
in French, in his soft, low voice:
"I wear my hat on my head."
Frowenfeld was hurrying toward them; others stepped forward, and from
two or three there came half-uttered exclamations of protest; but
unfortunately nothing had been done or said to provoke any one to rush
upon them, when Agricola suddenly advanced a step and struck the f.m.c.
on the head with his staff. Then the general outcry and forward rush
came too late; the two crashed together and fell, Agricola above, the
f.m.c. below, and a long knife lifted up from underneath sank to its
hilt, once--twice--thrice,--in the old man's back.
The two men rose, one in the arms of his friends, the other upon his own
feet. While every one's attention was directed toward the wounded man,
his antagonist restored his dagger to its sheath, took up his hat and
walked away unmolested. When Frowenfeld, with Agricola still in his
arms, looked around for the quadroon, he was gone.
Doctor Keene, sent for instantly, was soon at Agricola's side.
"Take him upstairs; he can't be moved any further."
Frowenfeld turned and began to instruct some one to run upstairs and
ask permission, but the little doctor stopped him.
"Joe, for shame! you don't know those women better than that? Take the
old man right up!"
"Honore," said Agricola, faintly, "where is Honore!"
"He has been sent for," said Doctor Keene and the two ladies in a
Raoul, bearing the word concerning Clemence, and the later messenger
summoning him to Agricola's bedside, reached Honore within a minute of
each other. His instructions were quickly given, for Raoul to take his
horse and ride down to the family mansion, to break gently to his mother
the news of Agricola's disaster, and to say to his kinsmen with
imperative emphasis, not to touch the _marchande des calas_ till he
should come. Then he hurried to the rue Royale.
But when Raoul arrived at the mansion he saw at a glance that the news
had outrun him. The family carriage was already coming round the bottom
of the front stairs for three Mesdames Grandissime and Madame Martinez.
The children on all sides had dropped their play, and stood about,
hushed and staring. The servants moved with quiet rapidity. In the hall
he was stopped by two beautiful girls.
"Raoul! Oh, Raoul, how is he now? Oh! Raoul, if you could only stop
them! They have taken old Clemence down into the swamp--as soon as they
heard about Agricole--Oh, Raoul, surely that would be cruel! She nursed
me--and me--when we were babies!"
"Where is Agamemnon?"
"Gone to the city."
"What did he say about it?"
"He said they were doing wrong, that he did not approve their action,
and that they would get themselves into trouble: that he washed his
hands of it."
"Ah-h-h!" exclaimed Raoul, "wash his hands! Oh, yes, wash his hands?
Suppose we all wash our hands? But where is Valentine? Where is Charlie
"Ah! Valentine is gone with Agamemnon, saying the same thing, and
Charlie Mandarin is down in the swamp, the worst of all of them!"
"But why did you let Agamemnon and Valentine go off that way, you?"
"Ah! listen to Raoul! What can a woman do?"
"What can a woman--Well, even if I was a woman, I would do something!"
He hurried from the house, leaped into the saddle and galloped across
the fields toward the forest.
Some rods within the edge of the swamp, which, at this season, was
quite dry in many places, on a spot where the fallen dead bodies of
trees overlay one another and a dense growth of willows and vines and
dwarf palmetto shut out the light of the open fields, the younger and
some of the harsher senior members of the Grandissime family were
sitting or standing about, in an irregular circle whose centre was a big
and singularly misshapen water-willow. At the base of this tree sat
Clemence, motionless and silent, a wan, sickly color in her face, and
that vacant look in her large, white-balled, brown-veined eyes, with
which hope-forsaken cowardice waits for death. Somewhat apart from the
rest, on an old cypress stump, half-stood, half-sat, in whispered
consultation, Jean-Baptiste Grandissime and Charlie Mandarin.
"_Eh bien_, old woman," said Mandarin, turning, without rising, and
speaking sharply in the negro French, "have you any reason to give why
you should not be hung to that limb over your head?"
She lifted her eyes slowly to his, and made a feeble gesture of
"_Mo te pas fe cette bras_, Mawse Challie--I di'n't mek dat ahm; no
'ndeed I di'n', Mawse Challie. I ain' wuth hangin', gen'lemen; you'd
oughteh jis gimme fawty an' lemme go. I--I--I--I di'n' 'ten' no hawm to
Mawse-Agricole; I wa'n't gwan to hu't nobody in God's worl'; 'ndeed I
wasn'. I done tote dat old case-knife fo' twenty year'--_mo po'te ca
dipi vingt ans_. I'm a po' ole _marchande des calas; mo courri_ 'mongs'
de sojer boys to sell my cakes, you know, and da's de onyest reason why
I cyah dat ah ole fool knife." She seemed to take some hope from the
silence with which they heard her. Her eye brightened and her voice took
a tone of excitement. "You'd oughteh tek me and put me in calaboose, an'
let de law tek 'is co'se. You's all nice gen'lemen--werry nice
gen'lemen, an' you sorter owes it to yo'sev's fo' to not do no sich
nasty wuck as hangin' a po' ole nigga wench; 'deed you does. 'Tain' no
use to hang me; you gwan to kyetch Palmyre yit; _li courri dans marais;_
she is in de swamp yeh, sum'ers; but as concernin' me, you'd oughteh jis
gimme fawty an lemme go. You mus'n't b'lieve all dis-yeh nonsense 'bout
insurrectionin'; all fool-nigga talk. W'at we want to be insurrectionin'
faw? We de happies' people in de God's worl'!" She gave a start, and
cast a furtive glance of alarm behind her. "Yes, we is; you jis' oughteh
gimme fawty an' lemme go! Please, gen'lemen! God'll be good to you, you
nice, sweet gen'lemen!"
Charlie Mandarin made a sign to one who stood at her back, who responded
by dropping a rawhide noose over her head. She bounded up with a cry of
terror; it may be that she had all along hoped that all was
make-believe. She caught the noose wildly with both hands and tried to
lift it over her head.
"Ah! no, mawsteh, you cyan' do dat! It's ag'in' de law! I's 'bleeged to
have my trial, yit. Oh, no, no! Oh, good God, no! Even if I is a nigga!
You cyan' jis' murdeh me hyeh in de woods! _Mo dis la zize_! I tell de
judge on you! You ain' got no mo' biznis to do me so 'an if I was a
white 'oman! You dassent tek a white 'oman out'n de Pa'sh Pris'n an' do
'er so! Oh, sweet mawsteh, fo' de love o' God! Oh, Mawse Challie, _pou'
l'amou' du bon Dieu n'fe pas ca_! Oh, Mawse 'Polyte, is you gwan to let
'em kill ole Clemence? Oh, fo' de mussy o' Jesus Christ, Mawse 'Polyte,
leas' of all, _you_! You dassent help to kill me, Mawse 'Polyte! You
knows why! Oh God, Mawse 'Polyte, you knows why! Leas' of all you, Mawse
'Polyte! Oh, God 'a' mussy on my wicked ole soul! I aint fitt'n to die!
Oh, gen'lemen, I kyan' look God in de face! _Oh, Miches, ayez pitie de
moin! Oh, God A'mighty ha' mussy on my soul_! Oh, gen'lemen, dough yo'
kinfolks kyvvah up yo' tricks now, dey'll dwap f'um undeh you some day!
_Sole leve la, li couche la_! Yo' tu'n will come! Oh, God A'mighty! de
God o' de po' nigga wench! Look down, oh God, look down an' stop dis yeh
foolishness! Oh, God, fo' de love o' Jesus! _Oh, Miches, y'en a ein
zizement_! Oh, yes, deh's a judgmen' day! Den it wont be a bit o' use to
you to be white! Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, fo', fo', fo', de, de, _love 0'
They drew her up.
Raoul was not far off. He heard the woman's last cry, and came threshing
through the bushes on foot. He saw Sylvestre, unconscious of any
approach, spring forward, jerk away the hands that had drawn the thong
over the branch, let the strangling woman down and loosen the noose. Her
eyes, starting out with horror, turned to him; she fell on her knees and
clasped her hands. The tears were rolling down Sylvestre's face.
"My friends, we must not do this! You _shall_ not do it!"
He hurled away, with twice his natural strength, one who put out a hand.
"No, sirs!" cried Raoul, "you shall not do it! I come from Honore! Touch
her who dares!"
He drew a weapon.
"Monsieur Innerarity," said 'Polyte, "_who is_ Monsieur Honore
Grandissime? There are two of the name, you know,--partners--brothers.
Which of--but it makes no difference; before either of them sees this
assassin she is going to be a lump of nothing!"
The next word astonished every one. It was Charlie Mandarin who spoke.
"Let her go!"
"Let her go!" said Jean-Baptiste Grandissime; "give her a run for life.
Old woman, rise up. We propose to let you go. Can you run? Never mind,
we shall see. Achille, put her upon her feet. Now, old woman, run!"
She walked rapidly, but with unsteady feet, toward the fields.
"Run! If you don't run I will shoot you this minute!"
She ran faster.
"Run, Clemence! Ha, ha, ha!" It was so funny to see her scuttling and
tripping and stumbling. "_Courri! courri, Clemence! c'est pou to' vie!_
ha, ha, ha--"
A pistol-shot rang out close behind Raoul's ear; it was never told who
fired it. The negress leaped into the air and fell at full length to the
ground, stone dead.
Drivers of vehicles in the rue Royale turned aside before two slight
barriers spanning the way, one at the corner below, the other at that
above, the house where the aged high-priest of a doomed civilization lay
bleeding to death. The floor of the store below, the pavement of the
corridor where stood the idle volante, were covered with straw, and
servants came and went by the beckoning of the hand.
"This way," whispered a guide of the four ladies from the Grandissime
mansion. As Honore's mother turned the angle half-way up the muffled
stair, she saw at the landing above, standing as if about to part, yet
in grave council, a man and a woman, the fairest--she noted it even in
this moment of extreme distress--she had ever looked upon. He had
already set one foot down upon the stair, but at sight of the ascending
group drew back and said:
"It is my mother;" then turned to his mother and took her hand; they had
been for months estranged, but now they silently kissed.
"He is sleeping," said Honore. "Maman, Madame Nancanou."
The ladies bowed--the one looking very large and splendid, the other
very sweet and small. There was a single instant of silence, and Aurora
burst into tears.
For a moment Madame Grandissime assumed a frown that was almost a
reminder of her brother's, and then the very pride of the Fusiliers
broke down. She uttered an inaudible exclamation, drew the weeper firmly
into her bosom, and with streaming eyes and choking voice, but yet with
majesty, whispered, laying her hand on Aurora's head:
"Never mind, my child; never mind; never mind."
And Honore's sister, when she was presently introduced, kissed Aurora
"The good God bless thee! It is He who has brought us together."
"Who is with him just now?" whispered the two other ladies, while Honore
and his mother stood a moment aside in hurried consultation.
"My daughter," said Aurora, "and--"
"Agamemnon," suggested Madame Martinez.
"I believe so," said Aurora.
Valentine appeared from the direction of the sick-room and beckoned to
Honore. Doctor Keene did the same and continued to advance.
"Awake?" asked Honore.
"Alas! my brother!" said Madame Grandissime, and started forward,
followed by the other women.
"Wait," said Honore, and they paused. "Charlie," he said, as the little
doctor persistently pushed by him at the head of the stair.
"Oh, there's no chance, Honore, you'd as well all go in there."
They gathered into the room and about the bed. Madame Grandissime bent
"Ah! sister," said the dying man, "is that you? I had the sweetest dream
just now--just for a minute." He sighed. "I feel very weak. Where is
He had spoken in French; he repeated his question in English. He thought
he saw the doctor.
"Charlie, if I must meet the worst I hope you will tell me so; I am
fully prepared. Ah! excuse--I thought it was--
"My eyes seem dim this evening. _Est-ce-vous_, Honore? Ah, Honore, you
went over to the enemy, did you?--Well,--the Fusilier blood would
al--ways--do as it pleased. Here's your old uncle's hand, Honore. I
forgive you, Honore--my noble-hearted, foolish--boy." He spoke feebly,
and with great nervousness.
It was given him by Aurora. He looked in her face; they could not be
sure whether he recognized her or not. He sank back, closed his eyes,
and said, more softly and dreamily, as if to himself, "I forgive
everybody. A man must die--I forgive--even the enemies--of Louisiana."
He lay still a few moments, and then revived excitedly. "Honore! tell
Professor Frowenfeld to take care of that _Philippique Generale_. 'Tis a
grand thing, Honore, on a grand theme! I wrote it myself in one evening.
Your Yankee Government is a failure, Honore, a drivelling failure. It
may live a year or two, not longer. Truth will triumph. The old
Louisiana will rise again. She will get back her trampled rights. When
she does, remem'--" His voice failed, but he held up one finger firmly
by way of accentuation.
There was a stir among the kindred. Surely this was a turn for the
better. The doctor ought to be brought back. A little while ago he was
not nearly so strong. "Ask Honore if the doctor should not come." But
Honore shook his head. The old man began again.
"Honore! Where is Honore? Stand by me, here, Honore; and sister?--on
this other side. My eyes are very poor to-day. Why do I perspire so?
Give me a drink. You see--I am better now; I have ceased--to throw up
blood. Nay, let me talk." He sighed, closed his eyes, and opened them
again suddenly. "Oh, Honore, you and the Yankees--you and--all--going
"If he would only forget," said one, in an agonized whisper, "that
Aurora whispered earnestly and tearfully to Madame Grandissime. Surely
they were not going to let him go thus! A priest could at least do no
harm. But when the proposition was made to him by his sister, he said:
"No;--no priest. You have my will, Honore,--in your iron box. Professor
Frowenfeld,"--he changed his speech to English,--"I have written you an
article on--" his words died on his lips.
"Joseph, son, I do not see you. Beware, my son, of the doctrine of equal
rights--a bottomless iniquity. Master and man--arch and pier--arch
above--pier below." He tried to suit the gesture to the words, but both
hands and feet were growing uncontrollably restless.
"Society, Professor,"--he addressed himself to a weeping girl,--"society
has pyramids to build which make menials a necessity, and Nature
furnishes the menials all in dark uniform. She--I cannot tell you--you
will find--all in the _Philippique Generale_. Ah! Honore, is it--"
He suddenly ceased.
"I have lost my glasses."
Beads of sweat stood out upon his face. He grew frightfully pale. There
was a general dismayed haste, and they gave him a stimulant.
"Brother," said the sister, tenderly.
He did not notice her.
"Agamemnon! Go and tell Jean-Baptiste--" his eyes drooped and flashed
"I am here, Agricole," said the voice of Jean-Baptiste, close beside the
"I told you to let--that negress--"
"Yes, we have let her go. We have let all of them go."
"All of them," echoed the dying man, feebly, with wandering eyes.
Suddenly he brightened again and tossed his arms. "Why, there you were
wrong, Jean-Baptiste; the community must be protected." His voice sank
to a murmur. "He would not take off--'you must remem'--" He was silent.
"You must remem'--those people are--are not--white people." He ceased a
moment. "Where am I going?" He began evidently to look, or try to look,
for some person; but they could not divine his wish until, with piteous
feebleness, he called:
"Aurore De Grapion!"
So he had known her all the time.
Honore's mother had dropped on her knees beside the bed, dragging Aurora
down with her.
They rose together.
The old man groped distressfully with one hand. She laid her own in it.
"What could he want?" wondered the tearful family. He was feeling about
with the other hand.
"Hon'--Honore"--his weak clutch could scarcely close upon his nephew's
"Put them--put--put them--"
What could it mean? The four hands clasped.
"Ah!" said one, with fresh tears, "he is trying to speak and cannot."
But he did.
"Aurora De Gra--I pledge'--pledge'--pledged--this union--to your
The family looked at each other in dejected amazement. They had never
"He is going," said Agamemnon; and indeed it seemed as though he was
gone; but he rallied.
"Agamemnon! Valentine! Honore! patriots! protect the race! Beware of
the"--that sentence escaped him. He seemed to fancy himself haranguing a
crowd; made another struggle for intelligence, tried once, twice, to
speak, and the third time succeeded:
"Louis'--Louisian'--a--for--ever!" and lay still.
They put those two words on his tomb.
WHERE SOME CREOLE MONEY GOES
And yet the family committee that ordered the inscription, the mason who
cut it in the marble--himself a sort of half-Grandissime,
half-nobody--and even the fair women who each eve of All-Saints came,
attended by flower-laden slave girls, to lay coronals upon the old man's
tomb, felt, feebly at first, and more and more distinctly as years went
by, that Forever was a trifle long for one to confine one's patriotic
affection to a small fraction of a great country.
* * * * *
"And you say your family decline to accept the assistance of the police
in their endeavors to bring the killer of your uncle to justice?" asked
some _Americain_ or other of 'Polyte Grandissime.
"'Sir, mie fam'lie do not want to fetch him to justice!--neither
Palmyre! We are goin' to fetch the justice to them! And sir, when we
cannot do that, sir, by ourselves, sir,--no, sir! no police!"
So Clemence was the only victim of the family wrath; for the other two
were never taken; and it helps our good feeling for the Grandissimes to
know that in later times, under the gentler influences of a higher
civilization, their old Spanish-colonial ferocity was gradually absorbed
by the growth of better traits. To-day almost all the savagery that can
justly be charged against Louisiana must--strange to say--be laid at
the door of the _Americain_. The Creole character has been diluted and
One morning early in September, some two weeks after the death of
Agricola, the same brig which something less than a year before had
brought the Frowenfelds to New Orleans crossed, outward bound, the sharp
line dividing the sometimes tawny waters of Mobile Bay from the deep
blue Gulf, and bent her way toward Europe.
She had two passengers; a tall, dark, wasted yet handsome man of
thirty-seven or thirty-eight years of age, and a woman seemingly some
three years younger, of beautiful though severe countenance; "very
elegant-looking people and evidently rich," so the brig-master described
them,--"had much the look of some of the Mississippi River 'Lower Coast'
aristocracy." Their appearance was the more interesting for a look of
mental distress evident on the face of each. Brother and sister they
called themselves; but, if so, she was the most severely reserved and
distant sister the master of the vessel had ever seen.
They landed, if the account comes down to us right, at Bordeaux. The
captain, a fellow of the peeping sort, found pastime in keeping them in
sight after they had passed out of his care ashore. They went to
The vessel was detained some weeks in this harbor, and her master
continued to enjoy himself in the way in which he had begun. He saw his
late passengers meet often, in a certain quiet path under the trees of
the Quinconce. Their conversations were low; in the patois they used
they could have afforded to speak louder; their faces were always grave
and almost always troubled. The interviews seemed to give neither of
them any pleasure. The monsieur grew thinner than ever, and
"He wants to charter her," the seaman concluded, "but she doesn't like
One day, the last that he saw them together, they seemed to be, each in
a way different from the other, under a great strain. He was haggard,
woebegone, nervous; she high-strung, resolute,--with "eyes that shone
like lamps," as said the observer.
"She's a-sendin' him 'way to lew-ard," thought he. Finally the Monsieur