Strange True Stories of Louisiana
George Washington Cable
Part 2 out of 5
"We are going out of here together," said Mario; "but John and I will
conduct you only to the door of the hut. Thence we shall return to the
flatboat, and all that two men can do to save our fortune shall be done.
You, monsieur, have enough to do to take care of your daughters. To you,
M. Carpentier--to you, son Celestino, I give the care of these women and
"I can take care of myself," said Maggie.
"You are four, well armed," continued Mario. (My father had his gun and
pistols.) "This dog is worth two men. You have no risks to run; the
danger, if there be any, will be with the boat. Seeing us divided, they
may venture an attack; but one of you stand by the window that faces the
shore. If one of those men in the hut leaves it, or shows a wish to do so,
fire one pistol-shot out of the window, and we shall be ready for them;
but if you are attacked, fire two shots and we will come. Now, forward!"
We went slowly and cautiously: 'Tino first, with a lantern; then the Irish
pair and child; then Mario, leading his two younger boys, and Celeste,
with her daughter asleep in her arms; and for rear-guard papa with one of
us on each arm, and Joseph with his precious burden. The wind and the
irregularities of the ground made us stumble at every step. The rain
lashed us in the face and extorted from time to time sad lamentations from
the children. But, for all that, we were in a few minutes at the door of
"M. Carpentier," said Mario, "I give my family into your care." Joseph
made no answer but to give his hand to the Italian. Mario strode away,
followed by Gordon.
"Knock on the door," said Joseph to 'Tino. The boy knocked. No sound was
heard inside, except the growl of a dog.
"Knock again." The same silence. "We can't stay here in this beating
rain; open and enter," cried Carpentier. 'Tino threw wide the door and we
There was but one room. A large fire burned in a clay chimney that almost
filled one side of the cabin. In one corner four or five chickens showed
their heads. In another, the woman was lying on a wretched pallet in all
her clothes. By her slept the little creature Suzanne had found, her
ribbon still on her frock. Near one wall was a big chest on which another
child was sleeping. A rough table was in the middle, on it some dirty tin
plates and cups, and under it half a dozen dogs and two little boys. I
never saw anything else like it. On the hearth stood the pot and skillet,
still half full of hominy and meat.
Kneeling by the fire was a young man molding bullets and passing them to
his father, seated on a stool at a corner of the chimney, who threw them
into a jar of water, taking them out again to even them with the handle of
a knife. I see it still as if it was before my eyes.
The woman opened her eyes, but did not stir. The dogs rose tumultuously,
but Tom showed his teeth and growled, and they went back under the table.
The young man rose upon one knee, he and his father gazing stupidly at us,
the firelight in their faces. We women shrank against our protectors,
except Maggie, who let go a strong oath. The younger man was frightfully
ugly; pale-faced, large-eyed, haggard, his long, tangled, blonde hair on
his shoulders. The father's face was written all over with depravity and
crime. Joseph advanced and spoke to him.
"What the devil of a language is that?" he asked of his son in English.
"He is asking you," said Maggie, "to let us stay here till the storm is
"And where do you come from this way?"
"From that flatboat tied to the bank."
"Well, the house isn't big nor pretty, but you are its masters."
Maggie went and sat by the window, ready to give the signal. Pat sank at
her feet, and laying his head upon Tom went straight to sleep. Papa sat
down by the fire on an inverted box and took me on one knee. With her head
against his other, Suzanne crouched upon the floor. We were silent, our
hearts beating hard, wishing ourselves with mamma in St. James. Joseph set
Alix upon a stool beside him and removed her wrapping.
"Hello!" said the younger stranger, "I thought you were carrying a child.
It's a woman!"
An hour passed. The woman in the corner seemed to sleep; Celeste, too,
slumbered. When I asked Suzanne, softly, if she was asleep, she would
silently shake her head. The men went on with their task, not speaking. At
last they finished, divided the balls between them, put them into a
leather pouch at their belt, and the father, rising, said:
"Let us go. It is time."
Maggie raised her head. The elder man went and got his gun and loaded it
with two balls, and while the younger was muffling himself in an old
blanket-overcoat such as we give to plantation negroes, moved towards the
door and was about to pass out. But quicker than lightning Maggie had
raised the window, snatched a pistol from her belt, and fired. The two men
stood rooted, the elder frowning at Maggie. Tom rose and showed two rows
"What did you fire that pistol for? What signal are you giving?"
"That is understood at the flatboat," said Maggie, tranquilly. "I was to
fire if you left the house. You started, I fired, and that's all."
"----! And did you know, by yourself, what we were going to do?"
"I haven't a doubt. You were simply going to attack and rob the flatboat."
A second oath, fiercer than the first, escaped the man's lips. "You talk
that way to me! Do you forget that you're in my power?"
"Ah! Do you think so?" cried Maggie, resting her fists on her hips. "Ah,
ha, ha!" That was the first time I ever heard her laugh--and such a laugh!
"Don't you know, my dear sir, that at one turn of my hand this dog will
strangle you like a chicken? Don't you see four of us here armed to the
teeth, and at another signal our comrades yonder ready to join us in an
instant? And besides, this minute they are rolling a little cannon up to
the bow of the boat. Go, meddle with them, you'll see." She lied, but her
lie averted the attack. She quietly sat down again and paid the scoundrel
not the least attention.
"And that's the way you pay us for taking you in, is it? Accuse a man of
crime because he steps out of his own house to look at the weather? Well,
that's all right." While the man spoke he put his gun into a corner,
resumed his seat, and lighted a cob pipe. The son had leaned on his gun
during the colloquy. Now he put it aside and lay down upon the floor to
sleep. The awakened children slept. Maggie sat and smoked. My father,
Joseph, and 'Tino talked in low tones. All at once the old ruffian took
his pipe from his mouth and turned to my father.
"Where do you come from?"
"From New Orleans, sir."
"How long have you been on the way?"
"About a month."
"And where are you going," etc. Joseph, like papa, remained awake, but
like him, like all of us, longed with all his soul for the end of that
night of horror.
At the first crowing of the cock the denizens of the hut were astir. The
father and son took their guns and went into the forest. The fire was
relighted. The woman washed some hominy in a pail and seemed to have
forgotten our presence; but the little girl recognized Alix, who took from
her own neck a bright silk handkerchief and tied it over the child's head,
put a dollar in her hand, and kissed her forehead. Then it was Suzanne's
turn. She covered her with kisses. The little one laughed, and showed the
turban and the silver that "the pretty lady," she said, had given her.
Next, my sister dropped, one by one, upon the pallet ten dollars, amazing
the child with these playthings; and then she took off her red belt and
put it about her little pet's neck.
My father handed me a handful of silver. "They are very poor, my daughter;
pay them well for their hospitality." As I approached the woman I heard
Joseph thank her and offer her money.
"What do you want me to do with that?" she said, pushing my hand away.
"Instead of that, send me some coffee and tobacco."
That ended it; I could not pay in money. But when I looked at the poor
woman's dress so ragged and torn, I took off [J'autai] my shawl, which was
large and warm, and put it on her shoulders,--I had another in the
boat,--and she was well content. When I got back to the flatboat I sent
her some chemises, petticoats, stockings, and a pair of shoes. The shoes
were papa's. Alix also sent her three skirts and two chemises, and Suzanne
two old dresses and two chemises for her children, cutting down what was
too large. Before quitting the hut Celeste had taken from her two lads
their knitted neckerchiefs and given them to the two smaller boys, and
Maggie took the old shawl that covered Pat's shoulders and threw it upon
the third child, who cried out with joy. At length we returned to our
vessel, which had triumphantly fought the wind and floating trees. Mario
took to the cabin our gifts, to which we added sugar, biscuits, and a sack
ALIX PUTS AWAY THE PAST.
For two weeks more our boat continued its slow and silent voyage among the
bayous. We saw signs of civilization, but they were still far apart. These
signs alarmed Mario. He had already chosen his place of abode and spoke of
it with his usual enthusiasm; a prairie where he had camped for two weeks
with his young hunters five years before.
"A principality--that is what I count on establishing there," he cried,
pushing his hand through his hair. "And think!--if, maybe, some one has
occupied it! Oh, the thief! the robber! Let him not fall into my hands!
I'll strangle--I'll kill him!"
My father, to console him, would say that it would be easy to find other
tracts just as fine.
"Never!" replied he, rolling his eyes and brandishing his arms; and his
fury would grow until Maggie cried:
"He is Satan himself! He's the devil!"
One evening the flatboat stopped a few miles only from where is now the
village of Pattersonville. The weather was magnificent, and while papa,
Gordon, and Mario went hunting, Joseph, Alix, and we two walked on the
bank. Little by little we wandered, and, burying ourselves in the
interior, we found ourselves all at once confronting a little cottage
embowered in a grove of oranges. Alix uttered a cry of admiration and
went towards the house. We saw that it was uninhabited and must have been
long abandoned. The little kitchen, the poultry-house, the dovecote, were
in ruins. But the surroundings were admirable: in the rear a large court
was entirely shaded with live-oaks; in front was the green belt of orange
trees; farther away Bayou Teche, like a blue ribbon, marked a natural
boundary, and at the bottom of the picture the great trees of the forest
lifted their green-brown tops.
"Oh!" cried Alix, "if I could stay here I should be happy."
"Who knows?" replied Joseph. "The owner has left the house; he may be
dead. Who knows but I may take this place?"
"Oh! I pray you, Joseph, try. Try!" At that moment my father and Mario
appeared, looking for us, and Alix cried:
"Welcome, gentlemen, to my domain."
Joseph told of his wife's wish and his hope.... "In any case," said Mario,
"count on us. If you decide to settle here we will stay two weeks--a
month, if need be--to help you establish yourself."
As soon as we had breakfasted my father and Joseph set out for a
plantation which they saw in the distance. They found it a rich estate.
The large, well-built house was surrounded by outbuildings, stables,
granaries, and gardens; fields of cane and corn extended to the limit of
view. The owner, M. Gerbeau, was a young Frenchman. He led them into the
house, presented them to his wife, and offered them refreshments.
[M. Gerbeau tells the travelers how he had come from the Mississippi
River parish of St. Bernard to this place with all his effects in a
schooner--doubtless via the mouth of the river and the bay of Atchafalaya;
while Joseph is all impatience to hear of the little deserted home
concerning which he has inquired. But finally he explains that its owner,
a lone Swede, had died of sunstroke two years before, and M. Gerbeau's
best efforts to find, through the Swedish consul at New Orleans or
otherwise, a successor to the little estate had been unavailing. Joseph
could take the place if he would. He ended by generously forcing upon the
father of Francoise and Suzanne the free use of his traveling-carriage and
"two horses, as gentle as lambs and as swift as deer," with which to make
their journey up the Teche to St. Martinville, the gay, not to say
giddy, little capital of the royalist _emigres_.]
My father wished to know what means of transport he could secure, on his
return to this point, to take us home.
"Don't let that trouble you; I will arrange that. I already have a
plan--you shall see."
The same day the work began on the Carpentier's home. The three immigrants
and 'Tino fell bravely to work, and M. Gerbeau brought his carpenter and a
cart-load of lumber. Two new rooms were added. The kitchen was repaired,
then the stable, the dovecote, the poultry-house; the garden fences were
restored; also those of the field. My father gave Joseph one of his cows;
the other was promised to Carlo. Mme. Gerbeau was with us much, helping
Alix, as were we. We often dined with her. One Sunday M. Gerbeau came for
us very early and insisted that Mario and Gordon should join us. Maggie,
with her usual phlegm, had declined.
At dinner our host turned the conversation upon St. Martinville, naming
again all the barons, counts, and marquises of whom he had spoken to my
father, and descanting especially on the grandeur of the balls and parties
he had there attended.
"And we have only our camayeu skirts!" cried Suzanne.
"Daughter," observed papa, "be content with what you have. You are neither
a duchess nor a countess, and besides you are traveling."
"And," said M. Gerbeau, "the stores there are full of knickknacks that
would capture the desires of a queen."
On returning to our flatboat Alix came into my room, where I was alone,
and laying her head on my shoulder:
"Francoise," she said, "I have heard mentioned today the dearest friend I
ever had. That Countess de la Houssaye of whom M. Gerbeau spoke is
Madelaine de Livilier, my companion in convent, almost my sister. We were
married nearly at the same time; we were presented at court the same day;
and now here we are, both, in Louisiana!"
"O Alix!" I cried, "I shall see her. Papa has a letter to her husband; I
shall tell her; she will come to see you; and--"
"No, no! You must not speak of me, Francoise. She knew and loved the
Countess Alix de Morainville. I know her; she would repel with scorn the
wife of the gardener. I am happy in my obscurity. Let nothing remind me of
Seeing that Alix said nothing of all this to Suzanne, I imitated her
example. With all her goodness, Suzanne was so thoughtless and talkative!
 Now generally miscalled St. Martinsville.--TRANSLATOR.
ALIX PLAYS FAIRY.--PARTING TEARS.
In about fifteen days the work on the cottage was nearly done and the
moving began, Celeste, and even Maggie, offering us their services. Alix
"Two things, only, I lack," she said--"a sofa, and something to cover the
One morning M. Gerbeau sent to Carpentier a horse, two fine cows and their
calves, and a number of sheep and pigs. At the same time two or three
negresses, loaded down with chickens, geese, and ducks, made their
appearance. Also M. Gerbeau.
"What does all this mean?" asked Joseph.
"This is the succession of the dead Swede," replied the generous young
"But I have no right to his succession."
"That's a question," responded M. Gerbeau. "You have inherited the house,
you must inherit all. If claimants appear--well, you will be responsible
to them. You will please give me a receipt in due form; that is all."
Tears came into Carpentier's eyes.... As he was signing the receipt M.
Gerbeau stopped him. "Wait; I forgot something. At the time of Karl's [the
Swede's] death, I took from his crib fifty barrels of corn; add that."
"O sir!" cried Joseph, "that is too much--too much."
"Write!" said M. Gerbeau, laying his hand on Joseph's shoulder, "if you
please. I am giving you nothing; I am relieving myself of a burden."
* * * * *
My dear daughter, if I have talked very much about Alix it is because
talking about her is such pleasure. She has been so good to my sister and
me! The memory of her is one of the brightest of my youth.
The flatboat was to go in three days. One morning, when we had passed the
night with Mme. Gerbeau, Patrick came running to say that "Madame 'Lix"
wished to see us at once. We hastened to the cottage. Alix met us on the
"Come in, dear girls. I have a surprise for you and a great favor to ask.
I heard you say, Suzanne, you had nothing to wear--"
"But our camayeu petticoats!"
"But your camayeu petticoats." She smiled.
"And they, it seems, do not tempt your vanity. You want better?"
"Ah, indeed we do!" replied Suzanne.
"Well, let us play Cinderella. The dresses of velvet, silk, and lace, the
jewels, the slippers--all are in yonder chest. Listen, my dear girls. Upon
the first signs of the Revolution my frightened mother left France and
crossed into England. She took with her all her wardrobe, her jewels, the
pictures from her bedroom, and part of her plate. She bought, before
going, a quantity of silks and ribbons.... When I reached England my
mother was dead, and all that she had possessed was restored to me by the
authorities. My poor mother loved dress, and in that chest is all her
apparel. Part of it I had altered for my own use; but she was much larger
than I--taller than you. I can neither use them nor consent to sell them.
If each of you will accept a ball toilet, you will make me very happy."
And she looked at us with her eyes full of supplication, her hands
We each snatched a hand and kissed it. Then she opened the chest, and for
the first and last time in my life I saw fabrics, ornaments, and coiffures
that truly seemed to have been made by the fairies. After many trials and
much debate she laid aside for me a lovely dress of blue brocade
glistening with large silver flowers the reflections of which seemed like
rays of light. It was short in front, with a train; was very full on the
sides, and was caught up with knots of ribbon. The long pointed waist was
cut square and trimmed with magnificent laces that re-appeared on the
half-long sleeves. The arms, to the elbow, were to be covered with white
frosted gloves fastened with twelve silver buttons. To complete my toilet
she gave me a blue silk fan beautifully painted, blue satin slippers with
high heels and silver buckles, white silk stockings with blue clocks, a
broidered white cambric handkerchief trimmed with Brussels point lace,
and, last, a lovely set of silver filigree that she assured us was of
slight value, comprising the necklace, the comb, the earrings, bracelets,
and a belt whose silver tassels of the same design fell down the front of
My sister's toilet was exactly like mine, save that it was rose color.
Alix had us try them on. While our eyes were ravished, she, with more
expert taste, decided to take up a little in one place, lower a ribbon in
another, add something here, take away there, and, above all, to iron the
whole with care. We staid all day helping her; and when, about 3 o'clock,
all was finished, our fairy godmother said she would now dress our hair,
and that we must observe closely.
"For Suzanne will have to coiffe Francoise and Francoise coiffe Suzanne,"
she said. She took from the chest two pasteboard boxes that she said
contained the headdresses belonging to our costumes, and, making me sit
facing my sister, began to dress her hair. I was all eyes. I did not lose
a movement of the comb. She lifted Suzanne's hair to the middle of the
head in two rosettes that she called _riquettes_ and fastened them with a
silver comb. Next, she made in front, or rather on the forehead, with
hairpins, numberless little knots, or whorls, and placed on each side of
the head a plume of white, rose-tipped feathers, and in front, opposite
the riquettes, placed a rose surrounded with silver leaves. Long
rose-colored, silver-frosted ribbons falling far down on the back
completed the headdress, on which Alix dusted handfuls of silver powder.
Can you believe it, my daughter, that was the first time my sister and I
had ever seen artificial flowers? They made very few of them, even in
France, in those days.
While Suzanne admired herself in the mirror I took her place. My headdress
differed from hers in the ends of my feathers being blue, and in the rose
being white, surrounded by pale blue violets and a few silver leaves. And
now a temptation came to all of us. Alix spoke first:
"Now put on your ball-dresses and I will send for our friends. What do you
"Oh, that would be charming!" cried Suzanne. "Let us hurry!" And while we
dressed, Pat, always prowling about the cottage, was sent to the flatboat
to get his parents and the Carlos, and to M. Gerbeau's to ask my father
and M. and Mme. Gerbeau to come at once to the cottage.... No, I cannot
tell the cries of joy that greeted us. The children did not know us, and
Maggie had to tell Pat over and over that these were Miss Souzie and Miss
Francise. My father's eyes filled with tears as he thanked Alix for her
goodness and generosity to us.
Alas! the happiest days, like the saddest, have an end. On the morrow the
people in the flatboat came to say good-bye. Mario cried like a child.
Celeste carried Alix's hands to her lips and said in the midst of her
"O Madame! I had got so used to you--I hoped never to leave you."
"I will come to see you, Celeste," replied Alix to the young mulattress,
"I promise you."
Maggie herself seemed moved, and in taking leave of Alix put two vigorous
kisses on her cheeks. As to our father, and us, too, the adieus were not
final, we having promised Mario and Gordon to stop [on their journey up
the shore of the bayou] as soon as we saw the flatboat.
"And we hope, my dear Carlo, to find you established in your
"Amen!" responded the Italian.
Alix added to her gifts two pairs of chamois-skin gloves and a box of
lovely artificial flowers. Two days after the flatboat had gone, we having
spent the night with Alix, came M. Gerbeau's carriage to take us once more
upon our journey. Ah! that was a terrible moment. Even Alix could scarce
hold back the tears. We refused to get into the carriage, and walked, all
of us together, to M. Gerbeau's, and then parted amid tears, kisses, and
[So the carriage rolled along the margin of Bayou Teche, with two big
trunks besides Monsieur's on back and top, and a smaller one, lent by
Alix, lashed underneath; but shawls, mats, and baskets were all left
behind with the Carpentiers. The first stop was at the plantation and
residence of Captain Patterson, who "offered his hand in the English way,
saying only, 'Welcomed, young ladies.'" In 1795, the narrator stops to
say, one might see in and about New Orleans some two-story houses; but
along the banks of Bayou Teche, as well as on the Mississippi, they were
all of one sort,--like their own; like Captain Patterson's,--a single
ground floor with three rooms facing front and three back. Yet the very
next stop was at a little cottage covered with roses and with its front
yard full of ducks and geese,--"'A genuine German cottage,' said
papa,"--where a German girl, to call her father, put a great ox's horn to
her lips and blew a loud blast. Almost every one was English or German
till they came to where was just beginning to be the town of Franklin. One
Harlman, a German, offered to exchange all his land for the silver watch
that it best suited Monsieur to travel with. The exchange was made, the
acts were all signed and sealed, and--when Suzanne, twenty years after,
made a visit to Attakapas there was Harlman and his numerous family still
in peaceful possession of the place.... "And I greatly fear that when some
day our grandchildren awaken from that apathy with which I have always
reproached the Creoles, I fear, my daughter, they will have trouble to
prove their titles."
But they journeyed on, Francoise ever looking out the carriage window for
the flatboat, and Suzanne crying:
"Annie, my sister Annie, do you see nothing coming?" And about two miles
from where Franklin was to be they came upon it, greeted with joyous
laughter and cries of "Miss Souzie! O Miss Souzie!" from the women and the
children, and from Mario: "I have it, Signor! I have it! My prinicipality,
Miss Souzie! It is mine, Signorina Francoise!" while he danced, laughed,
and brandished his arms. "He had taken up enough land," says Francoise,
"for five principalities, and was already knocking the flatboat to
She mentioned meeting Jacques and Charles Picot, St. Domingan refugees,
whose story of adventures she says was very wonderful, but with good
artistic judgement omits them. The travelers found, of course, a
_charmante cordialite_ at the home of M. Agricole Fuselier, and saw a
little girl of five who afterward became a great beauty--Uranie Fuselier.
They passed another Indian village, where Francoise persuaded them not to
stop. Its inhabitants were Chetimachas, more civilized than those of the
village near Plaquemine, and their sworn enemies, living in constant fear
of an attack from them. At New Iberia, a town founded by Spaniards, the
voyagers saw "several houses, some drinking-shops and other buildings,"
and spent with "the pretty little Madame Dubuclet ... two of the
pleasantest days of their lives."]
At length, one beautiful evening in July, under a sky resplendent with
stars, amid the perfume of gardens and caressed by the cool night breeze,
we made our entry into the village of St. Martinville--the Little Paris,
the oasis in the desert.
My father ordered Julien [the coachman] to stop at the best inn. He turned
two or three corners and stopped near the bayou [Teche] just beside the
bridge, before a house of the strangest aspect possible. There seemed
first to have been built a _rez-de-chaussee_ house of ordinary size, to
which had been hastily added here a room, there a cabinet, a balcony,
until the "White Pelican"--I seem to see it now--was like a house of
cards, likely to tumble before the first breath of wind. The host's name
was Morphy. He came forward, hat in hand, a pure-blooded American, but
speaking French almost like a Frenchman. In the house all was comfortable
and shining with cleanness. Madame Morphy took us to our room, adjoining
papa's ["tou ta cote de selle de papa"], the two looking out, across the
veranda, upon the waters of the Teche.
After supper my father proposed a walk. Madame Morphy showed us, by its
lights, in the distance, a theater!
"They are playing, this evening, 'The Barber of Seville.'"
We started on our walk, moving slowly, scanning the houses and listening
to the strains of music that reached us from the distance. It seemed but a
dream that at any moment might vanish. On our return to the inn, papa
threw his letters upon the table and began to examine their addresses.
"To whom will you carry the first letter, papa?" I asked.
"To the Baron du Clozel," he replied. "I have already met him in New
Orleans, and even had the pleasure to render him a slight service."
Mechanically Suzanne and I examined the addresses and amused ourselves
reading the pompous title's.
"'Le chevalier Louis de Blanc!'" began my sister; "'L'honorable A.
Declouet'; 'Le comte Louis le Pelletrier de la Houssaye'! Ah!" she cried,
throwing the packet upon the table, "the aristocrats! I am frightened,
poor little plebeian that I am."
"Yes, my daughter," responded my father, "these names represent true
aristocrats, as noble in virtues as in blood. My father has often told me
of two uncles of the Count de la Houssaye: the first, Claude de la
Pelletrier de la Houssaye, was prime minister to King Louis XV.; and the
second, Barthelemy, was employed by the Minister of Finance. The count, he
to whom I bear this letter, married Madelaine Victoire de Livilier. These
are noble names."
Then Alix was not mistaken; it was really her friend, the Countess
Madelaine, whom I was about to meet.
 When I used the name of Agricole Fuselier (or Agricola Fusilier, as I
have it in my novel "The Grandissimes") I fully believed it was my own
careful coinage; but on publishing it I quickly found that my supposed
invention was but an unconscious reminiscence. The name still survives, I
am told, on the Teche.--TRANSLATOR.
THE COUNTESS MADELAINE.
Early the next day I saw, through the partly open door, my father
finishing his toilet.
He had already fastened over his black satin breeches his garters secured
with large buckles of chased silver. Similar buckles were on his shoes.
His silver-buttoned vest of white pique reached low down, and his black
satin coat faced with white silk had large lappets cut square. Such dress
seemed to me very warm for summer; but the fashion and etiquette allowed
only silk and velvet for visits of ceremony, and though you smothered you
had to obey those tyrants. At the moment when I saw him out of the corner
of my eye he was sticking a cluster diamond pin into his shirt-frill and
another diamond into his lace cravat. It was the first time I ever saw
papa so fine, so dressed! Presently we heard him call us to arrange his
queue, and although it was impossible for us to work up a club and pigeon
wings like those I saw on the two young Du Clozels and on M. Neville
Declouet, we arranged a very fine queue wrapped with a black ribbon, and
after smiling at himself in the glass and declaring that he thought the
whole dress was in very good taste he kissed us, took his three-cornered
hat and his gold-headed cane and went out. With what impatience we awaited
About two hours afterward we saw papa coming back accompanied by a
gentleman of a certain age, handsome, noble, elegant in his severe suit of
black velvet. He had the finest black eyes in the world, and his face
beamed with wit and amiability. You have guessed it was the Baron du
Clozel. The baron bowed to us profoundly. He certainly knew who we were,
but etiquette required him to wait until my father had presented us; but
immediately then he asked papa's permission to kiss us, and you may
suppose your grandfather did not refuse.
M. du Clozel had been sent by the baroness to oppose our sojourn at the
inn, and to bring us back with him.
"Run, put on your hoods," said papa; "we will wait for you here."
Mr. and Mrs. Morphy were greatly disappointed to see us go, and the former
declared that if these nobles kept on taking away their custom they would
have to shut up shop. Papa, to appease him, paid him double what he asked.
And the baron gave his arm to Suzanne, as the elder, while I followed, on
papa's. Madame du Clozel and her daughter met us at the street gate. The
baroness, though not young, was still pretty, and so elegant, so majestic!
A few days later I could add, so good, so lovable!
Celeste du Clozel was eighteen. Her hair was black as ebony, and her eyes
a beautiful blue. The young men of the village called her _Celeste la bien
nommee_ [Celeste the well named]; and for all her beauty, fortune, and
high position she was good and simple and always ready to oblige. She was
engaged, we learned afterward, to the Chevalier de Blanc, the same who in
1803 was made post-commandant of Attakapas. Olivier and Charles du
Clozel turned everything to our entertainment, and it was soon decided
that we should all go that same evening to the theater.
Hardly was the sun down when we shut ourselves into our rooms to begin the
work of dressing. Celeste put herself at our service, assuring us that she
knew perfectly how to dress hair. The baroness asked us to let her lend us
ornaments, ribbons--whatever we might need. We could see that she supposed
two young girls who had never seen the great world, who came from a region
where nearly all articles of luxury were wanting, could hardly have a
choice wardrobe. We thanked them, assuring Celeste that we had always
cultivated the habit of dressing each other's hair.
We put on our camayeu petticoats and our black velvet waists, adding
gloves; and in our hair, sparkling with gold powder, we put, each of us, a
bunch of the roses given us by Alix. We found ourselves charming, and
hoped to create a sensation. But if the baroness was satisfied she showed
no astonishment. Her hair, like her daughter's, was powdered, and both
Suzanne on the arm of Olivier, I on Charles's, Celeste beside her fiance,
the grandparents in front, we entered the theater of St. Martinville, and
in a moment more were the observed of all observers. The play was a
vaudeville, of which I remember only the name, but rarely have I seen
amateurs act so well: all the prominent parts were rendered by young men.
But if the French people are polite, amiable, and hospitable, we know that
they are also very inquisitive. Suzanne was more annoyed than I can tell;
yet we knew that our toilets were in excellent taste, even in that place
full of ladies covered with costly jewels. When I asked Celeste how the
merchants of St. Martinville could procure these costly goods, she
explained that near by there was a place named the _Butte a la Rose_ that
greatly shortened the way to market. They were bringing almost
everything from London, owing to the Revolution. Between the acts many
persons came to greet Madame du Clozel. Oh, how I longed to see the friend
of Alix! But I would not ask anything; I resolved to find her by the aid
of my heart alone.
Presently, as by a magnetic power, my attention was drawn to a tall and
beautiful young lady dressed in white satin, with no ornaments except a
set of gold and sapphires, and for headdress a _resille_ the golden
tassels of which touched her neck. Ah! how quickly I recognized those
brown eyes faintly proud, that kind smile, that queenly bearing, that
graceful step! I turned to Charles du Clozel, who sat beside me, and said:
"That is the Countess de la Houssaye, isn't it?"
"Do you know her?"
"I see her for the first time; but--I guessed it."
Several times I saw her looking at me, and once she smiled. During the
last two acts she came and shook hands with us, and, caressing our hair
with her gloved hand, said her husband had seen papa's letter; that it was
from a dear friend, and that she came to ask Madame du Clozel to let her
take us away with her. Against this the baroness cried out, and then the
Countess Madelaine said to us:
"Well, you will come spend the day with me day after to-morrow, will you?
I shall invite only young people. May I come for you?"
Ah, that day! how I remember it!... Madame de la Houssaye was fully five
or six years older than Madame Carpentier, for she was the mother of four
boys, the eldest of whom was fully twelve. Her house was, like Madame
du Clozel's, a single rez-de-chaussee surmounted by a mansard.... From
the drawing-room she conducted us to a room in the rear of the house at
the end of the veranda [galerie], where ... a low window let into a garden
crossed and re-crossed with alleys of orange and jasmine. Several lofty
magnolias filled the air with the fragrance of their great white
"POOR LITTLE ALIX!"
Hardly had we made a few steps into the room when a young girl rose and
advanced, supported on the arm of a young man slightly overdressed. His
club and pigeon-wings were fastened with three or four pins of gold, and
his white-powdered queue was wrapped with a black velvet ribbon shot with
silver. The heat was so great that he had substituted silk for velvet, and
his dress-coat, breeches, and long vest were of pearl-gray silk, changing
to silver, with large silver buttons. On the lace frill of his embroidered
shirt shone three large diamonds, on his cravat was another, and his
fingers were covered with rings. The young girl embraced us with
ceremony, while her companion bowed profoundly. She could hardly have
been over sixteen or seventeen. One could easily guess by her dress that
the pretty creature was the slave of fashion.
"Madame du Rocher," said Charles du Clozel, throwing a wicked glance upon
"Madame!" I stammered.
"Impossible!" cried Suzanne.
"Don't listen to him!" interrupted the young lady, striking Charles's
fingers with her fan. "He is a wretched falsifier. I am called Tonton de
"The widow du Rocher!" cried Olivier, from the other side.
"Ah, this is too much!" she exclaimed. "If you don't stop these ridiculous
jokes at once I'll make Neville call you out upon the field of battle." ...
But a little while afterward Celeste whispered in my ear that her
brothers had said truly. At thirteen years Tonton, eldest daughter of
Commandant Louis de Blanc and sister of Chevalier de Blanc, had been
espoused to Dr. du Rocher, at least forty years older than she. He was
rich, and two years later he died, leaving all his fortune to his
widow.... One after another Madame de la Houssaye introduced to us at
least twenty persons, the most of whose names, unfortunately, I have
forgotten. I kept notes, but have mislaid them....
A few moments before dinner the countess re-appeared among us, followed by
two servants in livery bearing salvers of fruit; and while we ate she
seated herself at the harpsichord and played.
"Do you sing?" she asked me.
"A little, madame."
[The two sisters sang a song together.]
"Children," she cried, "tell me, I pray you, who taught you that duet?"
"A young French lady, one of our friends," replied Suzanne.
"But her name! What is her name?"
The name meant nothing to her. She sighed, and asked us to sing on.... At
dinner we met again my father and the count. After dinner the countess
sent for me to come to her chamber while she was nursing her babe. After a
few unimportant words she said:
"You have had your lessons from a good musician."
"Yes, madame, our friend plays beautifully on the harp."
"On the harp! And you say her name is--"
"Madame Joseph Carpentier."
"It is strange," said Madame de la Houssaye. "The words of your duet are
by me, and the music by my friend the Viscomptesse Alix de Morainville.
All manner of things have happened in this terrible Revolution; I had for
a moment the hope that she had found chance to emigrate and that you had
met her. Do you know M. Carpentier?"
"Yes, madame; he was with her. He is--in fact--a laboring gardener."
"Oh! then there is no hope. I had the thought of a second marriage, but
Alix de Morainville could never stoop so low. Poor, dear, innocent little
Alix! She must be dead--at the hand of butchers, as her father and her
When we returned to the joyous company in the garden all wanted to speak
at once. The countess imposed silence, and then Tonton informed us that a
grand ball was proposed in our honor, to be given in the large dining-room
of Mr. Morphy's tavern, under the direction of Neville Declouet, the
following Monday--that is, in four days.
Oh, that ball! I lay my pen on the table and my head in my hands and see
the bright, pretty faces of young girls and richly clad cavaliers, and
hear the echoes of that music so different from what we have to-day. Alas!
the larger part of that company are sleeping now in the cemetery of St.
Wherever you went, whoever you met, the ball was the subject of all
conversation. All the costumes, masculine and feminine, were prepared in
profound secrecy. Each one vowed to astonish, dazzle, surpass his
neighbor. My father, forgetting the presents from Alix, gave us ever so
much money and begged Madame du Clozel to oversee our toilets; but what
was the astonishment of the dear baroness to see us buy only some vials of
perfumery and two papers of pins. We paid ten dollars for each vial and
fifteen for the pins!
Celeste invited us to see her costume the moment it reached her. It
certainly did great honor to the dressmaker of St. Martinville. The dress
was simply made, of very fine white muslin caught up _en paniers_ on a
skirt of blue satin. Her beautiful black hair was to be fastened with a
pearl comb, and to go between its riquettes she showed us two bunches of
forget-me-nots as blue as her eyes. The extremely long-pointed waist of
her dress was of the same color as the petticoat, was decollete, and on
the front had a drapery of white muslin held in place by a bunch of
forget-me-nots falling to the end of the point. In the whole village she
could get no white gloves. She would have to let that pass and show her
round white arms clasped with two large bracelets of pearls. She showed
also a necklace and earrings of pearls.
Madame du Clozel, slave to the severe etiquette of that day, did not
question us, but did go so far as to say in our presence that camayeu was
never worn at night.
"We know that, madame," replied my sister, slightly hurt. We decided to
show our dresses to our hostess. We arranged them on the bed. When the
baroness and her daughter entered our chamber they stood stupefied. The
baroness spoke first.
"Oh, the villains! How they have fooled us! These things are worthy of a
queen. They are court costumes."
I said to myself, "Poor, dear little Alix!"
 Ancestor of the late Judge Alcibiade de Blanc of St. Martinville,
noted in Reconstruction days.--TRANSLATOR.
 By avoiding the Spanish custom-house.--TRANSLATOR.
 This seems to be simply a girl's thoughtless guess. She reports Alix
as saying that Madelaine and she "were married nearly at the same time."
But this tiny, frail, spiritual Alix, who between twenty-two and
twenty-three looked scant sixteen, could hardly, even in those times, have
been married under the age of fifteen, that is not before 1787-8; whereas
if Madelaine had been married thirteen years she would have been married
when Alix was but ten years old.
This bit of careless guessing helps to indicate the genuineness of Alix's
history. For when, by the light of Francoise's own statements, we correct
this error--totally uncorrected by any earlier hand--the correction agrees
entirely with the story of Alix as told in the separate manuscript. There
Alix is married in March, 1789, and Madelaine about a year before. In
midsummer, 1795, Madelaine had been married between seven and eight years
and her infant was, likely enough, her fourth child.--TRANSLATOR.
 The memoirist omits to say that this person was Neville
THE DISCOVERY OF THE HAT.
"Oh!" cried Celeste, "but what will Tonton say when she sees you?"
"Do not let her know a thing about it, girls," said Madame du Clozel, "or,
rather than yield the scepter of beauty and elegance for but one evening,
she will stay in the white chapel. What! at sixteen you don't know what
the white chapel is? It is our bed."
Before the ball, came Sunday. Madame du Clozel had told us that the
population of the little city--all Catholics--was very pious, that the
little church could hardly contain the crowd of worshipers; and Celeste
had said that there was a grand display of dress there. We thought of
having new dresses made, but the dressmaker declared it impossible; and so
we were obliged to wear our camayeus a second time, adding only a lace
scarf and a hat. A hat! But how could one get in that little town in the
wilderness, amid a maze of lakes and bayous, hundreds of miles from New
Orleans, so rare and novel a thing as a hat? Ah, they call necessity the
mother of invention, but I declare, from experience, that vanity has
performed more miracles of invention, and made greater discoveries than
Galileo or Columbus.
The women of St. Martinville, Tonton at their head, had revolted against
fate and declared they would have hats if they had to get them at the
moon. Behold, now, by what a simple accident the hat was discovered.
Tonton de Blanc had one of the prettiest complexions in the world, all
lily and rose, and what care she took of it! She never went into the yard
or the garden without a sunbonnet and a thick veil. Yet for all that her
jealous critics said she was good and sensible, and would forget
everything, even her toilet, to succor any one in trouble. One day Tonton
heard a great noise in the street before her door. She was told that a
child had just been crushed by a vehicle. Without stopping to ask whether
the child was white or black or if it still lived, Tonton glanced around
for her sun-bonnet, but, not finding it at hand, darted bareheaded into
the street. At the door she met her young brother, and, as the sun was
hot, she took his hat and put it on her own head. The Rubicon was
crossed--Tonton had discovered the hat!
All she had heard was a false alarm. The crushed child was at play again
before its mother's door. It had been startled by a galoping team, had
screamed, and instantly there had been a great hubbub and crowd. But ten
minutes later the little widow, the hat in her hand, entered the domicile
of its maker and astonished the woman by ordering a hat for her own use,
promising five dollars if the work was done to her satisfaction. The
palmetto was to be split into the finest possible strips and platted into
the form furnished by Madame Tonton. It was done; and on Sunday the hat,
trimmed with roses and ribbons, made its appearance in the church of St.
Martin, on the prettiest head in the world. The next Sunday you could see
as many hats as the hatmaker had had time to make, and before the end of
the month all the women in St. Martinville were wearing palmetto hats.
To-day the modistes were furnishing them at the fabulous price of
twenty-five dollars,--trimmed, you understand,--and palmetto hats were
really getting to be a branch of the commerce of the little city; but
ours, thanks to Alix's flowers and ribbons, cost but ten dollars.
The church was crowded. The service, performed by an old priest nearly a
hundred years of age, was listened to with interest; but what astonished
me was to see the crowd stop at the church door, the women kissing; to
hear laughter, chat, and criticism at the door of this sacred place as if
it were the public square. I understood the discontent that knit my
father's brows and the alacrity with which he descended the church steps.
Tonton saw and came to us--so fresh, so young, she was indeed the queen of
beauty and fashion. Out of nothing Tonton could work wonders. Her dress
to-day was of camayeu the pattern of which was bunches of
strawberries--the very same stuff as our dresses; but how had she made it
to look so different? And her hat! It was a new marvel of her invention.
She had taken a man's felt hat and entirely covered it with the feathers
of the cardinal bird, without other ornament than a bunch of white ribbon
on the front and two long cords of white silk falling clear to the waist.
That was the first hat of the kind I ever saw, but it was not the last.
With one turn of her little hand she could make the whole female
population of St. Martinville go as she pleased. Before we left St.
Martinville we had the chance to admire more than fifty hats covered with
the feathers of peacocks, geese, and even guinea-fowl, and--must we
confess it?--when we got home we enlisted all our hunter friends to bring
us numerous innocent cardinals, and tried to make us hats; but they did
not look the least like the pretty widow's.
Sunday was also the day given to visiting. Being already dressed, it was
so easy to go see one's friends.... Among the new visitors was Saint Marc
d'Arby--engaged to little Constance de Blanc, aged thirteen. He came to
invite us to a picnic on the coming Wednesday.
"Ah," I cried, with regret, "the very day papa has chosen for us to leave
for the town of Opelousas!" ...
Since arriving in St. Martinville we had hardly seen papa. He left early
each morning and returned late in the evening, telling of lands he had
bought during the day. His wish was to go to Opelousas to register
them.... To-day the whole town of Opelousas belongs to his heirs; but
those heirs, with Creole heedlessness and afraid to spend a dollar, let
strangers enjoy the possession of the beautiful lands acquired by their
ancestor for so different an end. Shame on all of them!
It was decided for papa to leave us with the baroness during his visit to
"And be ready to depart homeward," said he, "on the following Monday."
The evening before that of the ball gave us lively disappointment. A fine
rain began to fall. But Celeste came to assure us that in St. Martinville
a storm had never prevented a ball, and if one had to go by boat, still
one had to go. Later the weather improved, and several young gentlemen
came to visit us.... "Will there be a supper, chevalier?" asked the
baroness of her future son-in-law.--"Ah, good! For me the supper is the
best part of the affair."
Alas! man proposes. The next morning she was in bed suffering greatly with
her throat. "Neither supper nor ball for me this evening," she said. "The
Countess de la Houssaye will take care of you and Celeste this evening."...
At last our toilets were complete....
When Madame de la Houssaye opened the door and saw us, instead of
approaching, she suddenly stopped with her hands clasped convulsively, and
with eyes dilated and a pallor and look of astonishment that I shall never
forget. I was about to speak when she ran to Suzanne and seized her by the
"Child! for pity answer me! Where did that dress--these jewels, come
"Madame!" said my sister, quickly taking offense.
"Francoise!" cried the countess, "you will answer me. Listen. The last
time I saw the Countess Aurelie de Morainville, six years ago, was at a
reception of Queen Marie Antoinette, and she wore a dress exactly like
that of Suzanne's. My child, pity my emotions and tell me where you bought
that toilet." I answered, almost as deeply moved as she:
"We did not buy it, madame. These costumes were given to us by Madame
"Given! Do you know the price of these things?"
"Yes; and, moreover, Madame du Clozel has told us."
"And you tell me a poor woman, the wife of a gardener, made you these
presents. Oh! I must see this Madame Carpentier. She must have known Alix.
And who knows--oh, yes, yes! I must go myself and see her."
"And I must give her forewarning," I said to myself. But, alas! as I have
just said, "Man proposes, God disposes." About six months after our return
to St. James we heard of the death of the Countess de la Houssaye, which
had occurred only two months after our leaving St. Martinville....
* * * * *
Oh, how my heart beat as I saw the lights of the ball-room and heard its
waves of harmony! I had already attended several dances in the
neighborhood of our home, but they could not compare with this. The walls
were entirely covered with green branches mingled with flowers of all
colors, especially with magnolias whose odor filled the room. Hidden among
the leaves were millions of fantastically colored lampions seeming like
so many glow-worms. To me, poor little rustic of sixteen, it seemed
supernaturally beautiful. But the prettiest part--opposite the door had
been raised a platform surmounted by a dais made of three flags: the
French, Spanish, and Prussian--Prussia was papa's country. And under these
colors, on a pedestal that supported them, were seen, in immense letters
composed of flowers, the one German word, _Bewillkommen_! Papa explained
that the word meant "Welcome." On the platform, attired with inconceivable
elegance, was the master of ceremonies, the handsome Neville Declouet
himself, waiting to wish us welcome anew.
It would take volumes, my daughter, to describe the admirable toilets,
masculine as well as feminine, of that memorable night. The thing is
impossible. But I must describe that of the king of the festival, the
young Neville, that you may understand the immense difference between the
toilets of 1795 and those of 1822.
Neville had arranged his hair exactly as on the day we first saw him. It
was powdered white; his pigeon-wings were fastened with the same pins of
gold, and his long queue was wrapped with a rose-colored ribbon. His coat
was of frosted rose silk with broad facings of black velvet. His vest came
down nearly to his knees. It also was of rose silk, but covered with black
buttons. His breeches, also rose, were fastened at the knees with black
velvet ribbons escaping from diamond buckles and falling upon silk
stockings shot alternately with black and rose. Diamonds sparkled again on
his lace frill, at his wrists, on his cravat of rose silk, and on the
buckles of his pumps.
I cast my eye around to find Tonton, but she had not come. Some one near
me said, "Do you know who will escort Madame du Rocher to the ball?" And
another said, "Here is Neville, so who will replace him at the side of the
As we entered the room the Baron du Clozel passed his arm under papa's and
conducted him to the platform, while his sons, following, drew us forward
to receive the tributes prepared for us. Neville bowed low and began his
address. At first he spoke with feeling and eloquence, but by and by he
lost the thread. He cast a look of despair upon the crowd, which did not
conceal its disposition to laugh, turned again quickly towards us, passed
his hand twice across his forehead, and finished with:
"Yes, I repeat it, we are glad to see you; you are welcome among us,
and--I say to you only that!"
There was a general burst of laughter. But my father pitied the young
man's embarrassment. He mounted the platform, shook his hand, and thanked
him, as well as all the people of St. Martinville, for his gracious
welcome and their warm hospitality. Then, to our great joy, the ball
It began with a minuet danced by twelve couples at once, six on each side.
The minuet in vogue just then was well danced by but few persons. It had
been brought to St. Martinville by emigres who had danced it at the
French court ... But, thanks to the lessons given us by Alix, we had the
pleasure to surprise them.
Now I ought to tell you, my daughter, that these male costumes, so
effeminate, extravagant, and costly, had met great opposition from part of
the people of St. Martin parish. They had been brought in by the French
emigres, and many had adopted them, while others had openly revolted
against them. A league had been formed against them. Among its members
were the Chevalier de Blanc, the elder of the d'Arbys, the Chevalier de la
Houssaye, brother of the count, Paul Briant, Adrian Dumartrait, young
Morse, and many others. They had thrown off entirely the fashionable dress
and had replaced it with an attire much like what men wear now. It was
rumored that the pretty Tonton favored the reform of which her brother was
one of the chiefs.
Just as the minuet was being finished a loud murmur ran through the hall.
All eyes were turned to the door and some couples confused their steps in
the dance. Tonton had come. She was received with a cry of surprise; not
for her beauty, not for her exquisite toilet, but because of him who
entered with her.
"Great God!" exclaimed Celeste du Clozel, "it is Treville de Saint
Julien!"--"Oh!" cried Madame de la Houssaye, "Tonton is a fool, an
arch-fool. Does she want to see bloodshed this evening?"--"The Countess
Madelaine is going to faint!" derisively whispered Olivier in my ear.
"Who," asked Suzanne, "is Treville de Saint Julien?"
"He is 'the hermit of Bayou Tortue,'" responded the gentle Celeste de
"What pretense of simplicity, look you!" said Charles du Clozel, glancing
towards him disdainfully.
"But look at Madame du Rocher," cried a girl standing on a bench, "how she
is dressed. What contempt of fashion and propriety! It is positively
And Tonton, indifferent to these remarks, which she heard and to which she
was accustomed, and to the furious glances thrown upon her cavalier by
Neville Declouet, continued, with her arm in his, to chat and laugh with
him as they walked slowly around the hall.
If I describe to you, my daughter, the toilets of Tonton and of Treville
de Saint Julien, I write it for you alone, dear child, and it seems to me
it would be a theft against you if I did not. But this is the last time I
shall stop to describe petticoats, gowns, and knee-breeches. Treville was
twenty-five; large, dark, of a manly, somber beauty. A great unhappiness
had overtaken him in childhood and left a permanent trace on his forehead.
He wore his hair slightly long, falling behind without queue or powder. In
1795 only soldiers retained their beard. Treville de Saint Julien, despite
the fashion, kept the fine black mustache on his proud lip. His shirt,
without a frill, was fastened with three gold buttons. His broad-skirted
coat, long vest, and breeches were of black woolen stuff. His black
stockings were also of wool. His garters and shoes were without buckles.
But serving him as a garter, and forming a rosette on the front of the
leg, he wore a ribbon of plaided rose and black.
And Tonton. Over a dress--a real dress, such as we have nowadays--of rose
satin, with long-pointed waist, was draped another, of black lace. The
folds, running entirely around the skirt, were caught up by roses
surrounded by their buds and leaves. The same drapery was repeated on the
waist, and in front and on the shoulders re-appeared the roses. The
sleeves were very short, and the arms bare and without gloves. It was
simple, but prettier than you can think. Her hair was in two wide braids,
without powder, forming a heart and falling low upon the neck. Among these
tresses she had placed a rose like those on the skirt. For ornaments she
had only a necklace and bracelets of jet to heighten the fresh whiteness
of her complexion.
They had said Tonton would die of jealousy at our rich toilets. Nothing of
the sort. She came to us with her habitual grace, kissed us, ignoring
etiquette and the big eyes made by the Countess Madelaine. Without an
allusion to our dress or seeming to see it, she sat down between us, told
us persons' names, pointed out the beauty of this one, the pretty dress of
that one, always admiring, never criticising. She knew well she was
without a rival.
I amused myself watching Treville and Neville out of the corner of my
eyes. Treville seemed to see but one woman in the room. He danced several
times, always with her, and when he did not dance he went aside, spoke
with no one, but followed with his glances her whom he seemed to adore. He
made no attempt to hide his adoration; it shone from his eyes: his every
movement was full of it. When she returned to her place, he came, remained
before her chair, leaned towards her, listened with ravished ear, and
rarely sat down by her side. It was good to watch Neville. His eyes
flashed with anger, his fists fidgeted, and more than once I saw him quit
the hall, no doubt to make a quarrel with his rival. Not once did he come
near Tonton! Not once did he dance with her! But he danced with all the
young girls in the room and pretended to be very gay. While I was dancing
with him I said:
"How pretty Tonton is this evening!" And I understood the spite that made
"Ah! mademoiselle, her beauty is certainly not to be compared with yours."
After the supper, which was magnificent, the bolero was danced. Twelve
couples were engaged, continually changing partners. Tonton danced with
Treville, Suzanne with Olivier, and I with Neville.
Alas, alas! all things earthly have an end, and at two in the morning the
ball was over. When we reached our chamber I saw that my sister had
something to tell me.
"Ah!" said she, "have patience. I will tell you after we get into bed."
[What she told was the still famous Saint Julien feud. Treville and
Neville were representatives of the two sides in that, one of the darkest
vendettas known in the traditions of Louisiana. The omission of this
episode in the present translation is the only liberty taken with the
original that probably calls for an apology.]
 Number of millions not stated.--TRANSLATOR.
PICNIC AND FAREWELL.
The day of the picnic rose brightly. Oh, what a day we passed under those
grand trees, on the margin of that clear lake full of every imaginable
sort of fish! What various games! What pleasant companions! All our
friends were there except Treville de Saint Julien, and Madame Tonton gave
her smiles and sweet looks to Neville, who never left her a moment. Oh,
how I regretted that my father was not with us! He had gone to Opelousas.
He had bought several plantations in St. Martin parish, and in a region
called Fausse Pointe, and in another known as the Cote Gelee.
The days that followed were equally fete days--a dinner here, a dance
there, and everywhere the most gracious reception. At length came the day
for us to meet at La Fontaine--a real spring near St. Martinville,
belonging to Neville Declouet's uncle. About five in the afternoon we
gathered on the bank of the bayou. We never saw Tonton twice in the same
dress. To-day she was all in blue. Suddenly the sound of distant music,
and an open flat--not like our boat--approached, arched over with green
branches and flowers. Benches stood about, and in the middle the orchestra
played. In the prow stood the captain [Neville Declouet], and during the
moments of the journey the music was mingled with the laughter and songs
of our joyous company. About 7 o'clock all the trees about La Fontaine
were illuminated, and Neville led us to a floored place encircled by
magnolia trees in bloom and by garlands running from tree to tree and
mingling their perfume with the languishing odor of the magnolias. Only
heaven can tell how Neville was praised and thanked.
I felt sure that Tonton's good taste had directed the details. There was
something singular in this young woman. Without education save what she
had taught herself, Tonton spoke with remarkable correctness, and found
means to amuse every one. Her letters were curious to see, not a single
word correctly spelled; yet her style was charming, and I cannot express
the pleasure they gave me, for during more than a year I received them by
every opportunity that presented itself.
But to return to La Fontaine. About seven the handsome Treville de St.
Julien came on a horse as black as ebony, and I saw the color mount to
Suzanne's forehead. For a wonder he paid Tonton only the attentions
required by politeness, and the pretty widow, while still queen of all,
belonged that evening entirely to Neville.
The following Saturday my father arrived. The next day, after mass, our
friends came in a body to say adieu. And on the morrow, amid kisses,
handshaking, regrets, tears, and waving handkerchiefs, we departed in the
carriage that was to bear us far and forever from Little Paris, and the
friends we shall never meet again. Suzanne and I wept like children. On
the fourth day after, the carriage stopped before the door of M. Gerbeau's
house. I must confess we were not over-polite to Mme. Gerbeau. We embraced
her hurriedly, and, leaving my father talking about lands, started on a
run for Alix's dwelling.
Oh, dear Alix! How happy she seemed to see us again! How proud to show us
the innovations made in her neat little house! With what touching care had
she prepared our chamber! She had wished for a sofa, and Joseph had made
her one and covered it with one of the velvet robes of the Countess
Aurelia de Morainville. And when we went into Alix's own room, Suzanne,
whose eye nothing ever escaped, pointed out to me, half hidden behind the
mosquito-net of the bed, the prettiest little cradle in the world.
"Yes," said Alix, blushing, "I am blessed. I am perfectly happy."
We told her all our adventures and pleasures. She wept when she heard that
the Countess de la Houssaye had not forgotten her.
"You will see her," said Suzanne. "She will come to see you, without a
"Ah, Heaven prevent it! Our destinies are too unlike now. Me perhaps the
Countess Madelaine might welcome affectionately; but Joseph? Oh, no! My
husband's lot is mine; I have no wish for any other. It is better that she
and I remain strangers."
And Joseph? How he confessed his joy in seeing us!
During our absence M. Gerbeau had found means for us to return to St.
James. It seems that two little boats, resembling steamboats in form, kept
up a constant trade in wood--clapboards, _pieux_ [split boards], shingles,
even cordwood--between the lakes and the Bayou Teche plantation. M.
Gerbeau had taken his skiff and two oarsmen and gone in search of one of
these boats, which, as he guessed, was not far away. In fact he met it in
Mexican [now Berwick's] Bay, and for two hundred dollars persuaded the
captain to take us to St. James. "Yes," said M. Gerbeau to us, "you will
make in a week a journey that might have taken you two months."
The following Monday the captain tied up at M. Gerbeau's landing. It was a
droll affair, his boat. You must have seen on plantations what they call a
horse-mill--a long pole on which a man sits, and to which a horse or mule
is hitched. Such was the machinery by which we moved. The boat's cabin was
all one room. The berths, one above another, ran all round the room, hung
with long curtains, and men, women, and children--when there were
any--were all obliged to stay in the same apartment.
We remained with Alix to the last moment. The morning we left she gave
Suzanne a pretty ring, and me a locket containing her portrait. In return
my sister placed upon her finger a ruby encircled with little diamonds;
and I, taking off the gold medal I always wore on my neck, whispered:
"Wear it for love of me."
She smiled. [Just as we were parting she handed me the story of her
At an early hour my father had our trunks, baskets, and mats sent aboard
the _Sirene_; and after many tears, and promises to write and to return,
we took our leave. We had quitted St. James the 20th of May. We landed
there once more on the 26th of September. Need I recount the joy of my
mother and sisters? You understand all that.
And now, my daughter, the tale is told. Read it to your children and
assure them that all is true; that there is here no exaggeration; that
they can put faith in their old grandmother's story and take their part in
her pleasures, her friendships, and her emotions.
 See "HOW I GOT THEM," page 14.
[Illustration: PART OF FIRST PAGE, "ALIX MS."]
ALIX DE MORAINVILLE
_Written in Louisiana this 22d of August, 1795, for my dear friends
Suzanne and Francoise Bossier_.
I have promised you the story of my life, my very dear and good friends
with whom I have had so much pleasure on board the flatboat which has
brought us all to Attakapas. I now make good my promise.
And first I must speak of the place where I was born, of the beautiful
Chateau de Morainville, built above the little village named Morainville
in honor of its lords. This village, situated in Normandy on the margin of
the sea, was peopled only and entirely by fishermen, who gained a
livelihood openly by sardine-fishing, and secretly, it was said, by
smuggling. The chateau was built on a cliff, which it completely occupied.
This cliff was formed of several terraces that rose in a stair one above
another. On the topmost one sat the chateau, like an eagle in its nest. It
had four dentilated turrets, with great casements and immense galleries,
that gave it the grandest possible aspect. On the second terrace you found
yourself in the midst of delightful gardens adorned with statues and
fountains after the fashion of the times. Then came the avenue, entirely
overshaded with trees as old as Noah, and everywhere on the hill, forming
the background of the picture, an immense park. How my Suzanne would have
loved to hunt in that beautiful park full of deer, hare, and all sorts of
And yet no one inhabited that beautiful domain. Its lord and mistress, the
Count Gaston and Countess Aurelie, my father and mother, resided in Paris,
and came to their chateau only during the hunting season, their sojourn
never exceeding six weeks.
Already they had been five years married. The countess, a lady of honor to
the young dauphine, Marie Antoinette, bore the well-merited reputation of
being the most charming woman at the court of the king, Louis the
Fifteenth. Count and countess, wealthy as they were and happy as they
seemed to be, were not overmuch so, because of their desire for a son; for
one thing, which is not seen in this country, you will not doubt, dear
girls, exists in France and other countries of Europe: it is the eldest
son, and never the daughter, who inherits the fortune and titles of the
family. And in case there were no children, the titles and fortune of the
Morainvilles would have to revert in one lump to the nephew of the count
and son of his brother, to Abner de Morainville, who at that time was a
mere babe of four years. This did not meet the wishes of M. and Mme. de
Morainville, who wished to retain their property in their own house.
But great news comes to Morainville: the countess is with child. The
steward of the chateau receives orders to celebrate the event with great
rejoicings. In the avenue long tables are set covered with all sorts of
inviting meats, the fiddlers are called, and the peasants dance, eat, and
drink to the health of the future heir of the Morainvilles. A few months
later my parents arrived bringing a great company with them; and there
were feasts and balls and hunting-parties without end.
It was in the course of one of these hunts that my mother was thrown from
her horse. She was hardly in her seventh month when I came into the world.
She escaped death, but I was born as large as--a mouse! and with one
shoulder much higher than the other.
I must have died had not the happy thought come to the woman-in-waiting to
procure Catharine, the wife of the gardener, Guillaume Carpentier, to be
my nurse; and it is to her care, to her rubbings, and above all to her
good milk, that I owe the capability to amuse you, my dear girls and
friends, with the account of my life--that life whose continuance I truly
owe to my mother Catharine.
When my actual mother had recovered she returned to Paris; and as my
nurse, who had four boys, could not follow her, it was decided that I
should remain at the chateau and that my mother Catharine should stay
there with me.
Her cottage was situated among the gardens. Her husband, father Guillaume,
was the head gardener, and his four sons were Joseph, aged six years; next
Matthieu, who was four; then Jerome, two; and my foster-brother Bastien, a
big lubber of three months.
My father and mother did not at all forget me. They sent me playthings of
all sorts, sweetmeats, silken frocks adorned with embroideries and laces,
and all sorts of presents for mother Catharine and her children. I was
happy, very happy, for I was worshiped by all who surrounded me. Mother
Catharine preferred me above her own children. Father Guillaume would go
down upon his knees before me to get a smile [risette], and Joseph often
tells me he swooned when they let him hold me in his arms. It was a happy
time, I assure you; yes, very happy.
I was two years old when my parents returned, and as they had brought a
great company with them the true mother instructed my nurse to take me
back to her cottage and keep me there, that I might not be disturbed by
noise. Mother Catharine has often said to me that my mother could not bear
to look at my crippled shoulder, and that she called me a hunchback. But
after all it was the truth, and my nurse-mother was wrong to lay that
reproach upon my mother Aurelie.
Seven years passed. I had lived during that time the life of my
foster-brothers, flitting everywhere with them over the flowery grass like
the veritable lark that I was. Two or three times during that period my
parents came to see me, but without company, quite alone. They brought me
a lot of beautiful things; but really I was afraid of them, particularly
of my mother, who was so beautiful and wore a grand air full of dignity
and self-regard. She would kiss me, but in a way very different from
mother Catharine's way--squarely on the forehead, a kiss that seemed made
One fine day she arrived at the cottage with a tall, slender lady who wore
blue spectacles on a singularly long nose. She frightened me, especially
when my mother told me that this was my governess, and that I must return
to the chateau with her and live there to learn a host of fine things of
which even the names were to me unknown; for I had never seen a book
except my picture books.
I uttered piercing cries; but my mother, without paying any attention to
my screams, lifted me cleverly, planted two spanks behind, and passed me
to the hands of Mme. Levicq--that was the name of my governess. The next
day my mother left me and I repeated my disturbance, crying, stamping my
feet, and calling to mother Catharine and Bastien. (To tell the truth,
Jerome and Matthieu were two big lubbers [rougeots] very peevish and
coarse-mannered, which I could not endure.) Madame put a book into my
hands and wished to have me repeat after her; I threw the book at her
head. Then, rightly enough, in despair she placed me where I could see the
cottage in the midst of the garden and told me that when the lesson was
ended I might go and see my mother Catharine and play with my brothers. I
promptly consented, and that is how I learned to read.
This Mme. Levicq was most certainly a woman of good sense. She had a kind
heart and much ability. She taught me nearly all I know--first of all,
French; the harp, the guitar, drawing, embroidery; in short, I say again,
all that I know.
I was fourteen years old when my mother came, and this time not alone. My
cousin Abner was with her. My mother had me called into her chamber,
closely examined my shoulder, loosed my hair, looked at my teeth, made me
read, sing, play the harp, and when all this was ended smiled and said:
"You are beautiful, my daughter; you have profited by the training of your
governess; the defect of your shoulder has not increased. I am
satisfied--well satisfied; and I am going to tell you that I have brought
the Viscomte Abner de Morainville because I have chosen him for your
future husband. Go, join him in the avenue."
I was a little dismayed at first, but when I had seen my intended my
dismay took flight--he was such a handsome fellow, dressed with so much
taste, and wore his sword with so much grace and spirit. At the end of two
days he loved me to distraction and I doted on him. I brought him to my
nurse's cabin and told her all our plans of marriage and all my happiness,
not observing the despair of poor Joseph, who had always worshiped me and
who had not doubted he would have me to love. But who would have thought
it--a laboring gardener lover of his lord's daughter? Ah, I would have
laughed heartily then if I had known it!
On the evening before my departure--I had to leave with my mother this
time--I went to say adieu to mother Catharine. She asked me if I loved
"Oh, yes, mother!" I replied, "I love him with all my soul"; and she said
she was happy to hear it. Then I directed Joseph to go and request
Monsieur the cure, in my name, to give him lessons in reading and writing,
in order to be able to read the letters that I should write to my
nurse-mother and to answer them. This order was carried out to the letter,
and six months later Joseph was the correspondent of the family and read
to them my letters. That was his whole happiness.
I had been quite content to leave for Paris: first, because Abner went
with me, and then because I hoped to see a little of all those beautiful
things of which he had spoken to me with so much charm; but how was I
disappointed! My mother kept me but one day at her house, and did not even
allow Abner to come to see me. During that day I must, she said, collect
my thoughts preparatory to entering the convent. For it was actually to
the convent of the Ursulines, of which my father's sister was the
superior, that she conducted me next day.
Think of it, dear girls! I was fourteen, but not bigger than a lass of
ten, used to the open air and to the caresses of mother Catharine and my
brothers. It seemed to me as if I were a poor little bird shut in a great
My aunt, the abbess, Agnes de Morainville, took me to her room, gave me
bonbons and pictures, told me stories, and kissed and caressed me, but her
black gown and her bonnet appalled me, and I cried with all my might:
"I want mother Catharine! I want Joseph! I want Bastien!"
My aunt, in despair, sent for three or four little pupils to amuse me; but
this was labor lost, and I continued to utter the same outcries. At last,
utterly spent, I fell asleep, and my aunt bore me to my little room and
put me to bed, and then slowly withdrew, leaving the door ajar.
On the second floor of the convent there were large dormitories, where
some hundreds of children slept; but on the first there were a number of
small chambers, the sole furniture of each being a folding bed, a
washstand, and a chair, and you had to pay its weight in gold for the
privilege of occupying one of these cells, in order not to be mixed with
the daughters of the bourgeoisie, of lawyers and merchants. My mother, who
was very proud, had exacted absolutely that they give me one of these
Hardly had my aunt left me when I awoke, and fear joined itself to grief.
Fancy it! I had never lain down in a room alone, and here I awoke in a
corner of a room half lighted by a lamp hung from the ceiling. You can
guess I began again my writhings and cries. Thereupon appeared before me
in the open door the most beautiful creature imaginable. I took her for a
fairy, and fell to gazing at her with my eyes full of amazement and
admiration. You have seen Madelaine, and you can judge of her beauty in
her early youth. It was a fabulous beauty joined to a manner fair, regal,
She took me in her arms, dried my tears, and at last, at the extremity of
her resources, carried me to her bed; and when I awoke the next day I
found myself still in the arms of Madelaine de Livilier. From that moment
began between us that great and good friendship which was everything for
me during the time that I passed in the convent. I should have died of
loneliness and grief without Madelaine. I had neither brothers nor
sisters; she was both these to me: she was older than I, and protected me
while she loved me.
She was the niece of the rich Cardinal de Segur, who had sent and brought
her from Louisiana. This is why Madelaine had such large privileges at the
convent. She told me she was engaged to the young Count Louis le
Pelletrier de la Houssaye, and I, with some change of color, told her of
One day Madelaine's aunt, the Countess de Segur, came to take her to spend
the day at her palace. My dear friend besought her aunt with such
graciousness that she obtained permission to take me with her, and for the
first time I saw the Count Louis, Madelaine's _fiance_. He was a very
handsome young man, of majestic and distinguished air. He had hair and
eyes as black as ink, red lips, and a fine mustache. He wore in his
buttonhole the cross of the royal order of St. Louis, and on his shoulders
the epaulettes of a major. He had lately come from San Domingo [where he
had been fighting the insurgents at the head of his regiment]. Yes, he
was a handsome young man, a bold cavalier; and Madelaine idolized him.
After that day I often accompanied my friend in her visits to the home of
her aunt. Count Louis was always there to wait upon his betrothed, and
Abner, apprised by him, came to join us. Ah! that was a happy time, very
At the end of a year my dear Madelaine quitted the convent to be married.
Ah, how I wept to see her go! I loved her so! I had neither brothers nor
sisters, and Madelaine was my heart's own sister. I was very young,
scarcely fifteen; yet, despite my extreme youth, Madelaine desired me to
be her bridesmaid, and her aunt, the Countess de Segur, and the Baroness
de Chevigne, Count Louis's aunt, went together to find my mother and ask
her to permit me to fill that office. My mother made many objections,
saying that I was too young; but--between you and me--she could refuse
nothing to ladies of such high station. She consented, therefore, and
proceeded at once to order my costume at the dressmaker's.
It was a mass of white silk and lace with intermingled pearls. For the
occasion my mother lent me her pearls, which were of great magnificence.
But, finest of all, the Queen, Marie Antoinette, saw me at the church of
Notre Dame, whither all the court had gathered for the occasion,--for
Count Louis de la Houssaye was a great favorite,--and now the queen sent
one of her lords to apprise my mother that she wished to see me, and
commanded that I be presented at court--_grande rumeur_!
Mamma consented to let me remain the whole week out of the convent. Every
day there was a grand dinner or breakfast and every evening a dance or a
grand ball. Always it was Abner who accompanied me. I wrote of all my
pleasures to my mother Catharine. Joseph read my letters to her, and, as
he told me in later days, they gave him mortal pain. For the presentation
my mother ordered a suit all of gold and velvet. Madelaine and I were
presented the same day. The Countess de Segur was my escort [marraine] and
took me by the hand, while Mme. de Chevigne rendered the same office to
Madelaine. Abner told me that day I was as pretty as an angel. If I was so
to him, it was because he loved me. I knew, myself, I was too small, too
pale, and ever so different from Madelaine. It was she you should have
I went back to the convent, and during the year that I passed there I was
lonely enough to have died. It was decided that I should be married
immediately on leaving the convent, and my mother ordered for me the most
beautiful wedding outfit imaginable. My father bought me jewels of every
sort, and Abner did not spare of beautiful presents.
I had been about fifteen days out of the convent when terrible news caused
me many tears. My dear Madelaine was about to leave me forever and return
to America. The reason was this: there was much disorder in the colony of
Louisiana, and the king deciding to send thither a man capable of
restoring order, his choice fell upon Count Louis de la Houssaye, whose
noble character he had recognized. Count Louis would have refused, for he
had a great liking for France; but [he had lately witnessed the atrocities
committed by the negroes of San Domingo, and] something--a
presentiment--warned him that the Revolution was near at hand. He was glad
to bear his dear wife far from the scenes of horror that were approaching
with rapid strides.
Madelaine undoubtedly experienced pleasure in thinking that she was again
going to see her parents and her native land, but she regretted to leave
France, where she had found so much amusement and where I must remain
behind her without hope of our ever seeing each other again. She wept, oh,
She had bidden me good-bye and we had wept long, and her last evening, the
eve of the day when she was to take the diligence for Havre, where the
vessel awaited them, was to be passed in family group at the residence of
the Baroness de Chevigne. Here were present, first the young couple; the
Cardinal, the Count and Countess de Segur; then Barthelemy de la Houssaye,
brother of the Count, and the old Count de [Maurepas, only a few months
returned from exile and now at the pinnacle of royal favor]. He had
said when he came that he could stay but a few hours and had ordered his
coach to await him below. He was the most lovable old man in the world.
All at once Madelaine said:
"Ah! if I could see Alix once more--only once more!"
The old count without a word slipped away, entered his carriage, and had
himself driven to the Morainville hotel, where there was that evening a
grand ball. Tarrying in the ante-chamber, he had my mother called. She
came with alacrity, and when she knew the object of the count's visit she
sent me to get a great white burnoose, enveloped me in it, and putting my
hand into the count's said to me:
"You have but to show yourself to secure the carriage." But the count
promised to bring me back himself.
Oh, how glad my dear Madelaine was to see me! With what joy she kissed me!
But she has recounted this little scene to you, as you, Francoise, have
A month after the departure of the De la Houssayes, my wedding was
celebrated at Notre Dame. It was a grand occasion. The king was present
with all the court. As my husband was in the king's service, the queen
wished me to become one of her ladies of honor.
Directly after my marriage I had Bastien come to me. I made him my
confidential servant. He rode behind my carriage, waited upon me at table,
and, in short, was my man of all work.
I was married the 16th of March, 1789, at the age of sixteen. Already the
rumbling murmurs of the Revolution were making themselves heard like
distant thunder. On the 13th of July the Bastille was taken and the head
of the governor De Launay [was] carried through the streets. My mother
was frightened and proposed to leave the country. She came to find me and
implored me to go with her to England, and asked Abner to accompany us.
My husband refused with indignation, declaring that his place was near his
"And mine near my husband," said I, throwing my arms around Abner's neck.
My father, like my husband, had refused positively to leave the king, and
it was decided that mamma should go alone. She began by visiting the
shops, and bought stuffs, ribbons, and laces. It was I who helped her pack
her trunks, which she sent in advance to Morainville. She did not dare go
to get her diamonds, which were locked up in the Bank of France; that
would excite suspicion, and she had to content herself with such jewelry
as she had at her residence. She left in a coach with my father, saying as
she embraced me that her absence would be brief, for it would be easy
enough to crush the vile mob. She went down to Morainville, and there,
thanks to the devotion of Guillaume Carpentier and of his sons, she was
carried to England in a contrabandist vessel. As she was accustomed to
luxury, she put into her trunks the plate of the chateau and also several
valuable pictures. My father had given her sixty thousand francs and
charged her to be economical.
Soon I found myself in the midst of terrible scenes that I have not the
courage, my dear girls, to recount. The memory of them makes me even
to-day tremble and turn pale. I will only tell you that one evening a
furious populace entered our palace. I saw my husband dragged far from me
by those wretches, and just as two of the monsters were about to seize me
Bastien took me into his arms, and holding me tightly against his bosom
leaped from a window and took to flight with all his speed.
Happy for us that it was night and that the monsters were busy pillaging
the house. They did not pursue us at all, and my faithful Bastien took me
to the home of his cousin Claudine Leroy. She was a worker in lace, whom,
with my consent, he was to have married within the next fortnight. I had
lost consciousness, but Claudine and Bastien cared for me so well that
they brought me back to life, and I came to myself to learn that my father
and my husband had been arrested and conveyed to the Conciergerie.
My despair was great, as you may well think. Claudine arranged a bed for
me in a closet [cloisette] adjoining her chamber, and there I remained
hidden, dying of fear and grief, as you may well suppose.
At the end of four days I heard some one come into Claudine's room, and
then a deep male voice. My heart ceased to beat and I was about to faint
away, when I recognized the voice of my faithful Joseph. I opened the door
and threw myself upon his breast, crying over and over:
"O Joseph! dear Joseph!"
He pressed me to his bosom, giving me every sort of endearing name, and at
length revealed to me the plan he had formed, to take me at once to
Morainville under the name of Claudine Leroy. He went out with Claudine to
obtain a passport. Thanks to God and good angels Claudine was small like
me, had black hair and eyes like mine, and there was no trouble in
arranging the passport. We took the diligence, and as I was clothed in
peasant dress, a suit of Claudine's, I easily passed for her.
Joseph had the diligence stop beside the park gate, of which he had
brought the key. He wished to avoid the village. We entered therefore by
the park, and soon I was installed in the cottage of my adopted parents,
and Joseph and his brothers said to every one that Claudine Leroy,
appalled by the horrors being committed in Paris, had come for refuge to
Then Joseph went back to Paris to try to save my father and my husband.
Bastien had already got himself engaged as an assistant in the prison. But
alas! all their efforts could effect nothing, and the only consolation
that Joseph brought back to Morainville was that he had seen its lords on
the fatal cart and had received my father's last smile. These frightful
tidings failed to kill me; I lay a month between life and death, and
Joseph, not to expose me to the recognition of the Morainville physician,
went and brought one from Rouen. The good care of mother Catharine was the
best medicine for me, and I was cured to weep over my fate and my cruel
It was at this juncture that for the first time I suspected that Joseph
loved me. His eyes followed me with a most touching expression; he paled
and blushed when I spoke to him, and I divined the love which the poor
fellow could not conceal. It gave me pain to see how he loved me, and
increased my wish to join my mother in England. I knew she had need of me,
and I had need of her.
Meanwhile a letter came to the address of father
Guillaume. It was a contrabandist vessel that brought
of the first evening
other to the address
recognized the writing
set me to sobbing
all, my heart
I began (_Torn off and gone_.)
my father of
added that Abner and I must come also, and that it was nonsense to wish to
remain faithful to a lost cause. She begged my father to go and draw her
diamonds from the bank and to send them to her with at least a hundred
thousand francs. Oh! how I wept after seeing
letter! Mother Catharine
to console me but
then to make. Then
and said to me, Will
to make you
(_Torn off and gone_.) England, Madame
Oh! yes, Joseph
would be so well pleased
the money of
From the way in which, the cabin was built, one could see any one coming
who had business there. But one day--God knows how it happened--a child of
the village all at once entered the chamber where I was and knew me.
"Madame Alix!" he cried, took to his heels and went down the terrace
pell-mell [quatre a quatre] to give the alarm. Ten minutes later Matthieu
came at a full run and covered with sweat, to tell us that all the village
was in commotion and that those people to whom I had always been so good
were about to come and arrest me, to deliver me to the executioners. I ran
to Joseph, beside myself with affright.
"Save me, Joseph! save me!"
"I will use all my efforts for that, Mme. la Viscomtesse." At that moment
Jerome appeared. He came to say that a representative of the people was at
hand and that I was lost beyond a doubt.
"Not yet," responded Joseph. "I have foreseen this and have prepared
everything to save you, Mme. la Viscomtesse, if you will but let me make
myself well understood."
"Oh, all, all! Do _thou_ understand, Joseph, I will do everything thou
"Then," he said, regarding me fixedly and halting at each word--"then it
is necessary that you consent to take Joseph Carpentier for your spouse."
I thought I had [been] misunderstood and drew back haughtily.
"My son!" cried mother Catharine.
"Oh, you see," replied Joseph, "my mother herself accuses me, and
you--you, madame, have no greater confidence in me. But that is nothing; I
must save you at any price. We will go from here together; we will descend
to the village; we will present ourselves at the mayoralty--"
In spite of myself I made a gesture.
"Let me speak, madame," he said. "We have not a moment to lose. Yes, we
will present ourselves at the mayoralty, and there I will espouse you, not
as Claudine Leroy, but as Alix de Morainville. Once my wife you have
nothing to fear. Having become one of the people, the people will protect
you. After the ceremony, madame, I will hand you the certificate of our
marriage, and you will tear it up the moment we shall have touched the
soil of England. Keep it precious till then; it is your only safeguard.
Nothing prevents me from going to England to find employment, and
necessarily my wife will go with me. Are you ready, madame?"
For my only response I put my hand in his; I was too deeply moved to
speak. Mother Catharine threw both her arms about her son's neck and
cried, "My noble child!" and we issued from the cottage guarded by
Guillaume and his three other sons, armed to the teeth.
When the mayor heard the names and surnames of the wedding pair he turned
to Joseph, saying:
"You are not lowering yourself, my boy."
At the door of the mayoralty we found ourselves face to face with an
immense crowd. I trembled violently and pressed against Joseph. He, never
losing his presence of mind [sans perdre la carte], turned, saying:
"Allow me, my friends, to present to you my wife. The Viscomtesse de
Morainville no longer exists; hurrah for the Citoyenne Carpentier." And
the hurrahs and cries of triumph were enough to deafen one. Those who the
moment before were ready to tear me into pieces now wanted to carry me in
triumph. Arrived at the house, Joseph handed me our act of marriage.
"Keep it, madame," said he; "you can destroy it on your arrival in
At length one day, three weeks after our marriage, Joseph came to tell me
that he had secured passage on a vessel, and that we must sail together
under the name of Citoyen and Citoyenne Carpentier. I was truly sorry to
leave my adopted parents and foster-brother, yet at the bottom of my heart
I was rejoiced that I was going to find my mother.
But alas! when I arrived in London, at the address that she had given me,
I found there only her old friend the Chevalier d'Ivoy, who told me that
my mother was dead, and that what was left of her money, with her jewels
and chests, was deposited in the Bank of England. I was more dead than
alive; all these things paralyzed me. But my good Joseph took upon himself
to do everything for me. He went and drew what had been deposited in the
bank. Indeed of money there remained but twelve thousand francs; but
there were plate, jewels, pictures, and many vanities in the form of gowns
and every sort of attire.
Joseph rented a little house in a suburb of London, engaged an old
Frenchwoman to attend me, and he, after all my husband, made himself my
servant, my gardener, my factotum. He ate in the kitchen with the maid,
waited upon me at table, and slept in the garret on a pallet.
"Am I not very wicked?" said I to myself every day, especially when I saw
his pallor and profound sadness. They had taught me in the convent that
the ties of marriage were a sacred thing and that one could not break
them, no matter how they might have been made; and when my patrician pride
revolted at the thought of this union with the son of my nurse
my heart pleaded
hard the cause
of poor J
Joseph. His (_Evidently torn before Alix
care, his wrote on it, as no words
presence, became are wanting in the text_.)
more and more
necessary. I knew not how to do anything myself, but made him my all in
all, avoiding myself every shadow of care or trouble. I must say,
moreover, that since he had married me I had a kind of fear of him and was
afraid that I should hear him speak to me of love; but he scarcely thought
of it, poor fellow:
reverence closed his lips. Thus matters stood when
one evening Joseph
entered the room
(_Opposite page of the where I was reading,
same torn sheet. Alix and standing
has again written upright before
around the rent_.) me, his hat
in his hand, said
to me that he had something to tell me. His expression was so unhappy that
I felt the tears mount to my eyes.
"What is it, dear Joseph?" I asked; and when he could answer nothing on
account of his emotion, I rose, crying:
"More bad news? What has happened to my nurse-mother? Speak, speak,
"Nothing, Mme. la Viscomtesse," he replied. "My mother and Bastien, I
hope, are well. It is of myself I wish to speak."
Then my heart made a sad commotion in my bosom, for I thought he was about
to speak of love. But not at all. He began again, in a low voice:
"I am going to America, madame."
I sprung towards him. "You go away? You go away?" I cried. "And I,
"You, madame?" said he. "You have money. The Revolution will soon be over,
and you can return to your country. There you will find again your
friends, your titles, your fortune."
"Stop!" I cried. "What shall I be in France? You well know my chateau, my
palace are pillaged and burned, my parents are dead."
"My mother and Bastien are in France," he responded.
"But thou--thou, Joseph; what can I do without thee? Why have you
accustomed me to your tenderness, to your protection, and now come
threatening to leave me? Hear me plainly. If you go I go with you."
He uttered a smothered cry and staggered like a drunken man.
"I have guessed your secret," continued I. "You seek to go because you
love me--because you fear you may forget that respect which you fancy you
owe me. But after all I am your wife, Joseph. I have the right to follow
thee, and I am going with thee." And slowly I drew from my dressing-case
the act of our marriage.
He looked, at me, oh! in such a funny way, and--extended his arms. I threw
myself into them, and for half an hour it was tears and kisses and words
of love. For after all I loved Joseph, not as I had loved Abner, but
altogether more profoundly.
The next day a Catholic priest blessed our marriage. A month later we left
for Louisiana, where Joseph hoped to make a fortune for me. But alas! he
was despairing of success, when he met Mr. Carlo, and--you know, dear
girls, the rest.
* * * * *
Roll again and slip into its ancient silken case the small, square
manuscript which some one has sewed at the back with worsted of the pale
tint known as "baby-blue." Blessed little word! Time justified the color.
If you doubt it go to the Teche; ask any of the De la Houssayes--or count,
yourself, the Carpentiers and Charpentiers. You will be more apt to quit
because you are tired than because you have finished. And while there ask,
over on the Attakapas side, for any trace that any one may be able to give
of Dorothea Mueller. She too was from France: at least, not from Normandy
or Paris, like Alix, but, like Francoise's young aunt with the white hair,
a German of Alsace, from a village near Strasbourg; like her, an emigrant,
and, like Francoise, a voyager with father and sister by flatboat from old
New Orleans up the Mississippi, down the Atchafalaya, and into the land of
Attakapas. You may ask, you may seek; but if you find the faintest trace
you will have done what no one else has succeeded in doing. We shall never
know her fate. Her sister's we can tell; and we shall now see how
different from the stories of Alix and Francoise is that of poor Salome
Mueller, even in the same land and almost in the same times.
 Inserted by a later hand than the author's.--TRANSLATOR.
 Inserted by a later hand than the author's.--TRANSLATOR.
 Alix makes a mistake here of one day. The Bastille fell on the
THE WHITE SLAVE.
SALOME AND HER KINDRED.
She may be living yet, in 1889. For when she came to Louisiana, in 1818,
she was too young for the voyage to fix itself in her memory. She could
not, to-day, be more than seventy-five.
In Alsace, France, on the frontier of the Department of Lower Rhine, about
twenty English miles from Strasburg, there was in those days, as I suppose
there still is, a village called Langensoultz. The region was one of hills
and valleys and of broad, flat meadows yearly overflowed by the Rhine. It
was noted for its fertility; a land of wheat and wine, hop-fields,
flax-fields, hay-stacks, and orchards.
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