George Washington Cable
Part 2 out of 8
Frowenfeld's merchant friend came from his place of waiting, and spoke
twice before he attracted the attention of the bewildered apothecary.
"Good-day, Mr. Frowenfeld; I have been told that--"
Joseph gazed after the two ladies crossing the street, and felt
uncomfortable that the group of gossips did the same. So did the black
attendant who glanced furtively back.
"Good-day, Mr. Frowenfeld; I--"
"Oh! how do you do, sir?" exclaimed the apothecary, with great
pleasantness, of face. It seemed the most natural thing that they should
resume their late conversation just where they had left off, and that
would certainly be pleasant. But the man of more experience showed an
unresponsive expression, that was as if he remembered no conversation
of any note.
"I have been told that you might be able to replace the glass in this
thing out of your private stock."
He presented a small, leather-covered case, evidently containing some
optical instrument. "It will give me a pretext for going," he had said
to himself, as he put it into his pocket in his counting-room. He was
not going to let the apothecary know he had taken such a fancy to him.
"I do not know," replied Frowenfeld, as he touched the spring of the
case; "I will see what I have."
He passed into the back room, more than willing to get out of sight
till he might better collect himself.
"I do not keep these things for sale," said he as he went.
"Sir?" asked the Creole, as if he had not understood, and followed
through the open door.
"Is this what that lady was getting?" he asked, touching the remnant of
the basil in the box.
"Yes, sir," said the apothecary, with his face in the drawer of a table.
"They had no carriage with them." The Creole spoke with his back turned,
at the same time running his eyes along a shelf of books. Frowenfeld
made only the sound of rejecting bits of crystal and taking up others.
"I do not know who they are," ventured the merchant.
Joseph still gave no answer, but a moment after approached, with the
instrument in his extended hand.
"You had it? I am glad," said the owner, receiving it, but keeping one
hand still on the books.
Frowenfeld put up his materials.
"Mr. Frowenfeld, are these your books? I mean do you use these books?"
The Creole stepped back to the door.
Citizen Fusilier entered, followed by a small volley of retorts from
those with whom he had been disputing, and who rose as he did. The
stranger said something very sprightly in French, running the back of
one finger down the rank of books, and a lively dialogue followed.
"You must be a great scholar," said the unknown by and by, addressing
"He is a professor of chimistry," said the old man.
"I am nothing, as yet, but a student," said Joseph, as the three
returned into the shop; "certainly not a scholar, and still less a
professor." He spoke with a new quietness of manner that made the
younger Creole turn upon him a pleasant look.
"H-my young friend," said the patriarch, turning toward Joseph with a
tremendous frown, "when I, Agricola Fusilier, pronounce you a professor,
you are a professor. Louisiana will not look to _you_ for your
credentials; she will look to me!"
He stumbled upon some slight impediment under foot. There were times
when it took but little to make Agricola stumble.
Looking to see what it was, Joseph picked up a silken purse. There was a
name embroidered on it.
SUDDEN FLASHES OF LIGHT
The day was nearly gone. The company that had been chatting at the front
door, and which in warmer weather would have tarried until bedtime, had
wandered off; however, by stepping toward the light the young merchant
could decipher the letters on the purse. Citizen Fusilier drew out a
pair of spectacles, looked over his junior's shoulder, read aloud,
"_Aurore De G. Nanca_--," and uttered an imprecation.
"Do not speak to me!" he thundered; "do not approach me! she did it
"Sir!" began Frowenfeld.
But the old man uttered another tremendous malediction and hurried into
the street and away.
"Let him pass," said the other Creole calmly.
"What is the matter with him?" asked Frowenfeld.
"He is getting old." The Creole extended the purse carelessly to the
apothecary. "Has it anything inside?"
"But a single pistareen."
"That is why she wanted the _basilic_, eh?"
"I do not understand you, sir."
"Do you not know what she was going to do with it?"
"With the basil? No sir."
"May be she was going to make a little tisane, eh?" said the Creole,
forcing down a smile.
But a portion of the smile would come when Frowenfeld answered, with
"She was going to make some proper use of it, which need not concern
The Creole quietly walked a step or two forward and back and looked idly
into the glass case. "Is this young man in love with her?" he asked
himself. He turned around.
"Do you know those ladies, Mr. Frowenfeld? Do you visit them at home?"
He drew out his porte-monnaie.
"I will pay you for the repair of this instrument; have you change
"I will see," said the apothecary.
As he spoke he laid the purse on a stool, till he should light his shop,
and then went to his till without again taking it.
The Creole sauntered across to the counter and nipped the herb which
still lay there.
"Mr. Frowenfeld, you know what some very excellent people do with this?
They rub it on the sill of the door to make the money come into
Joseph stopped aghast with the drawer half drawn.
"Not persons of intelligence and--"
"All kinds. It is only some of the foolishness which they take from the
slaves. Many of your best people consult the voudou horses."
"Priestesses, you might call them," explained the Creole, "like Momselle
Marcelline or 'Zabeth Philosophe."
"Witches!" whispered Frowenfeld.
"Oh no," said the other with a shrug; "that is too hard a name; say
fortune-tellers. But Mr. Frowenfeld, I wish you to lend me your good
offices. Just supposing the possi_bil_ity that that lady may be in need
of money, you know, and will send back or come back for the purse, you
know, knowing that she most likely lost it here, I ask you the favor
that you will not let her know I have filled it with gold. In fact, if
she mentions my name--"
"To confess the truth, sir, I am not acquainted with your name."
The Creole smiled a genuine surprise.
"I thought you knew it." He laughed a little at himself. "We have
nevertheless become very good friends--I believe? Well, in fact then,
Mr. Frowenfeld, you might say you do not know who put the money in." He
extended his open palm with the purse hanging across it. Joseph was
about to object to this statement, but the Creole, putting on an
expression of anxious desire, said: "I mean, not by name. It is somewhat
important to me, Mr. Frowenfeld, that that lady should not know my
present action. If you want to do those two ladies a favor, you may
rest assured the way to do it is to say you do not know who put this
gold." The Creole in his earnestness slipped in his idiom. "You will
excuse me if I do not tell you my name; you can find it out at any time
from Agricola. Ah! I am glad she did not see me! You must not tell
anybody about this little event, eh?"
"No, sir," said Joseph, as he finally accepted the purse. "I shall say
nothing to any one else, and only what I cannot avoid saying to the lady
and her sister."
"_'Tis not her sister_" responded the Creole, "_'tis her daughter_."
The italics signify, not how the words were said, but how they sounded
to Joseph. As if a dark lantern were suddenly turned full upon it, he
saw the significance of Citizen Fusilier's transport. The fair strangers
were the widow and daughter of the man whom Agricola had killed in
duel--the ladies with whom Doctor Keene had desired to make him
"Well, good evening, Mr. Frowenfeld." The Creole extended his hand (his
people are great hand-shakers). "Ah--" and then, for the first time, he
came to the true object of his visit. "The conversation we had some
weeks ago, Mr. Frowenfeld, has started a train of thought in my
mind"--he began to smile as if to convey the idea that Joseph would find
the subject a trivial one--"which has almost brought me to the--"
A light footfall accompanied with the soft sweep of robes cut short his
words. There had been two or three entrances and exits during the time
the Creole had tarried, but he had not allowed them to disturb him. Now,
however, he had no sooner turned and fixed his glance upon this last
comer, than without so much as the invariable Creole leave-taking of
"Well, good evening, sir," he hurried out.
The apothecary felt an inward nervous start as there advanced into the
light of his hanging lamp and toward the spot where he had halted, just
outside the counter, a woman of the quadroon caste, of superb stature
and poise, severely handsome features, clear, tawny skin and large,
passionate black eyes.
"_Bon soi', Miche_." [Monsieur.] A rather hard, yet not repellent smile
showed her faultless teeth.
"_Mo vien c'erc'er la bourse de Madame_."
She spoke the best French at her command, but it was not understood.
The apothecary could only shake his head.
"_La bourse_" she repeated, softly smiling, but with a scintillation of
the eyes in resentment of his scrutiny. "_La bourse_" she reiterated.
"You are sent for it?"
He drew it from his breast pocket and marked the sudden glisten of her
eyes, reflecting the glisten of the gold in the silken mesh.
"_Oui, c'est ca_," said she, putting her hand out eagerly.
"I am afraid to give you this to-night," said Joseph.
"_Oui_," ventured she, dubiously, the lightning playing deep back in her
"You might be robbed," said Frowenfeld. "It is very dangerous for you to
be out alone. It will not be long, now, until gun-fire." (Eight o'clock
P.M.--the gun to warn slaves to be in-doors, under pain of arrest and
The object of this solicitude shook her head with a smile at its
gratuitousness. The smile showed determination also.
"_Mo pas compren_'," she said.
"Tell the lady to send for it to-morrow."
She smiled helplessly and somewhat vexedly, shrugged and again shook her
head. As she did so she heard footsteps and voices in the door at
"_C'est ca_" she said again with a hurried attempt at extreme
amiability; "Dat it; _oui_;" and lifting her hand with some rapidity
made a sudden eager reach for the purse, but failed.
"No!" said Frowenfeld, indignantly.
"Hello!" said Charlie Keene amusedly, as he approached from the door.
The woman turned, and in one or two rapid sentences in the Creole
dialect offered her explanation.
"Give her the purse, Joe; I will answer for its being all right."
Frowenfeld handed it to her. She started to pass through the door in the
rue Royale by which Doctor Keene had entered; but on seeing on its
threshold Agricola frowning upon her, she turned quickly with evident
trepidation, and hurried out into the darkness of the other street.
Agricola entered. Doctor Keene looked about the shop.
"I tell you, Agricole, you didn't have it with you; Frowenfeld, you
haven't seen a big knotted walking-stick?"
Frowenfeld was sure no walking-stick had been left there.
"Oh, yes, Frowenfeld," said Doctor Keene, with a little laugh, as the
three sat down, "I'd a'most as soon trust that woman as if she
The apothecary said nothing.
"How free," said Agricola, beginning with a meditative gaze at the sky
without, and ending with a philosopher's smile upon his two
companions,--"how free we people are from prejudice against the negro!"
"The white people," said Frowenfeld, half abstractedly, half
"H-my young friend, when we say, 'we people,' we _always_ mean we white
people. The non-mention of color always implies pure white; and whatever
is not pure white is to all intents and purposes pure black. When I say
the 'whole community,' I mean the whole white portion; when I speak of
the 'undivided public sentiment,' I mean the sentiment of the white
population. What else could I mean? Could you suppose, sir, the
expression which you may have heard me use--'my downtrodden
country'--includes blacks and mulattoes? What is that up yonder in the
sky? The moon. The new moon, or the old moon, or the moon in her third
quarter, but always the moon! Which part of it? Why, the shining
part--the white part, always and only! Not that there is a prejudice
against the negro. By no means. Wherever he can be of any service in a
strictly menial capacity we kindly and generously tolerate his
Was the immigrant growing wise, or weak, that he remained silent?
Agricola rose as he concluded and said he would go home. Doctor Keene
gave him his hand lazily, without rising.
"Frowenfeld," he said, with a smile and in an undertone, as Agricola's
footsteps died away, "don't you know who that woman is?"
"Well, I'll tell you."
He told him.
* * * * *
On that lonely plantation at the Cannes Brulees, where Aurore Nancanou's
childhood had been passed without brothers or sisters, there had been
given her, according to the well-known custom of plantation life, a
little quadroon slave-maid as her constant and only playmate. This maid
began early to show herself in many ways remarkable. While yet a child
she grew tall, lithe, agile; her eyes were large and black, and rolled
and sparkled if she but turned to answer to her name. Her pale yellow
forehead, low and shapely, with the jet hair above it, the heavily
pencilled eyebrows and long lashes below, the faint red tinge that
blushed with a kind of cold passion through the clear yellow skin of the
cheek, the fulness of the red, voluptuous lips and the roundness of her
perfect neck, gave her, even at fourteen, a barbaric and magnetic
beauty, that startled the beholder like an unexpected drawing out of a
jewelled sword. Such a type could have sprung only from high Latin
ancestry on the one side and--we might venture--Jaloff African on the
other. To these charms of person she added mental acuteness,
conversational adroitness, concealed cunning, and noiseless but visible
strength of will; and to these, that rarest of gifts in one of her
tincture, the purity of true womanhood.
At fourteen a necessity which had been parleyed with for two years or
more became imperative, and Aurore's maid was taken from her.
Explanation is almost superfluous. Aurore was to become a lady and her
playmate a lady's maid; but not _her_ maid, because the maid had become,
of the two, the ruling spirit. It was a question of grave debate in the
mind of M. De Grapion what disposition to make of her.
About this time the Grandissimes and De Grapions, through certain
efforts of Honore's father (since dead) were making some feeble
pretences of mutual good feeling, and one of those Kentuckian dealers in
corn and tobacco whose flatboat fleets were always drifting down the
Mississippi, becoming one day M. De Grapion's transient guest,
accidentally mentioned a wish of Agricola Fusilier. Agricola, it
appeared, had commissioned him to buy the most beautiful lady's maid
that in his extended journeyings he might be able to find; he wanted to
make her a gift to his niece, Honore's sister. The Kentuckian saw the
demand met in Aurore's playmate. M. De Grapion would not sell her.
(Trade with a Grandissime? Let them suspect he needed money?) No; but he
would ask Agricola to accept the services of the waiting-maid for, say,
ten years. The Kentuckian accepted the proposition on the spot and it
was by and by carried out. She was never recalled to the Cannes Brulees,
but in subsequent years received her freedom from her master, and in New
Orleans became Palmyre la Philosophe, as they say in the corrupt French
of the old Creoles, or Palmyre Philosophe, noted for her taste and skill
as a hair-dresser, for the efficiency of her spells and the sagacity of
her divinations, but most of all for the chaste austerity with which she
practised the less baleful rites of the voudous.
"That's the woman," said Doctor Keene, rising to go, as he concluded
the narrative,--"that's she, Palmyre Philosophe. Now you get a view of
the vastness of Agricole's generosity; he tolerates her even though she
does not present herself in the 'strictly menial capacity.' Reason
why--_he's afraid of her_."
Time passed, if that may be called time which we have to measure with a
clock. The apothecary of the rue Royale found better ways of
measurement. As quietly as a spider he was spinning information into
knowledge and knowledge into what is supposed to be wisdom; whether it
was or not we shall see. His unidentified merchant friend who had
adjured him to become acclimated as "they all did" had also exhorted him
to study the human mass of which he had become a unit; but whether that
study, if pursued, was sweetening and ripening, or whether it was
corrupting him, that friend did not come to see; it was the busy time of
year. Certainly so young a solitary, coming among a people whose
conventionalities were so at variance with his own door-yard ethics, was
in sad danger of being unduly--as we might say--Timonized. His
acquaintances continued to be few in number.
During this fermenting period he chronicled much wet and some cold
weather. This may in part account for the uneventfulness of its passage;
events do not happen rapidly among the Creoles in bad weather. However,
trade was good.
But the weather cleared; and when it was getting well on into the
Creole spring and approaching the spring of the almanacs, something did
occur that extended Frowenfeld's acquaintance without Doctor Keene's
A CALL FROM THE RENT-SPECTRE
It is nearly noon of a balmy morning late in February. Aurore Nancanou
and her daughter have only this moment ceased sewing, in the small front
room of No. 19 rue Bienville. Number 19 is the right-hand half of a
single-story, low-roofed tenement, washed with yellow ochre, which it
shares generously with whoever leans against it. It sits as fast on the
ground as a toad. There is a kitchen belonging to it somewhere among the
weeds in the back yard, and besides this room where the ladies are,
there is, directly behind it, a sleeping apartment. Somewhere back of
this there is a little nook where in pleasant weather they eat. Their
cook and housemaid is the plain person who attends them on the street.
Her bedchamber is the kitchen and her bed the floor. The house's only
other protector is a hound, the aim of whose life is to get thrust out
of the ladies' apartments every fifteen minutes.
Yet if you hastily picture to yourself a forlorn-looking establishment,
you will be moving straight away from the fact. Neatness, order,
excellence, are prevalent qualities in all the details of the main
house's inward garniture. The furniture is old-fashioned, rich, French,
imported. The carpets, if not new, are not cheap, either. Bits of
crystal and silver, visible here and there, are as bright as they are
antiquated; and one or two portraits, and the picture of Our Lady of
Many Sorrows, are passably good productions. The brass work, of which
there is much, is brilliantly burnished, and the front room is bright
At the street door of this room somebody has just knocked. Aurore has
risen from her seat. The other still sits on a low chair with her hands
and sewing dropped into her lap, looking up steadfastly into her
mother's face with a mingled expression of fondness and dismayed
expectation. Aurore hesitates beside her chair, desirous of resuming her
seat, even lifts her sewing from it; but tarries a moment, her alert
suspense showing in her eyes. Her daughter still looks up into them. It
is not strange that the dwellers round about dispute as to which is the
fairer, nor that in the six months during which the two have occupied
Number 19 the neighbors have reached no conclusion on this subject. If
some young enthusiast compares the daughter--in her eighteenth year--to
a bursting blush rosebud full of promise, some older one immediately
retorts that the other--in her thirty-fifth--is the red, red,
full-blown, faultless joy of the garden. If one says the maiden has the
dew of youth,--"But!" cry two or three mothers in a breath, "that other
one, child, will never grow old. With her it will always be morning.
That woman is going to last forever; ha-a-a-a!--even longer!"
There was one direction in which the widow evidently had the advantage;
you could see from the street or the opposite windows that she was a
wise householder. On the day they moved into Number 19 she had been seen
to enter in advance of all her other movables, carrying into the empty
house a new broom, a looking-glass, and a silver coin. Every morning
since, a little watching would have discovered her at the hour of
sunrise sprinkling water from her side casement, and her opposite
neighbors often had occasion to notice that, sitting at her sewing by
the front window, she never pricked her finger but she quickly ran it up
behind her ear, and then went on with her work. Would anybody but Joseph
Frowenfeld ever have lived in and moved away from the two-story brick
next them on the right and not have known of the existence of such
"Ha!" they said, "she knows how to keep off bad luck, that Madame
yonder. And the younger one seems not to like it. Girls think themselves
so smart these days."
Ah, there was the knock again, right there on the street-door, as loud
as if it had been given with a joint of sugar-cane!
The daughter's hand, which had just resumed the needle, stood still in
mid-course with the white thread half-drawn. Aurore tiptoed slowly over
the carpeted floor. There came a shuffling sound, and the corner of a
folded white paper commenced appearing and disappearing under the door.
She mounted a chair and peeped through that odd little _jalousie_ which
formerly was in almost all New Orleans street-doors; but the missive had
meantime found its way across the sill, and she saw only the
unpicturesque back of a departing errand-boy. But that was well. She had
a pride, to maintain which--and a poverty, to conceal which--she felt to
be necessary to her self-respect; and this made her of necessity a
trifle unsocial in her own castle. Do you suppose she was going to put
on the face of having been born or married to this degraded condition
Who knows?--the knock might have been from 'Sieur Frowenfel'--ha, ha! He
might be just silly enough to call so early; or it might have been from
that _polisson_ of a Grandissime,--which one didn't matter, they were
all detestable,--coming to collect the rent. That was her original fear;
or, worse still, it might have been, had it been softer, the knock of
some possible lady visitor. She had no intention of admitting any
feminine eyes to detect this carefully covered up indigence. Besides, it
was Monday. There is no sense in trifling with bad luck. The reception
of Monday callers is a source of misfortune never known to fail, save in
rare cases when good luck has already been secured by smearing the
front walk or the banquette with Venetian red.
Before the daughter could dart up and disengage herself from her work
her mother had pounced upon the paper. She was standing and reading, her
rich black lashes curtaining their downcast eyes, her infant waist and
round, close-fitted, childish arms harmonizing prettily with her mock
frown of infantile perplexity, and her long, limp robe heightening the
grace of her posture, when the younger started from her seat with the
air of determining not to be left at a disadvantage.
But what is that on the dark eyelash? With a sudden additional energy
the daughter dashes the sewing and chair to right and left, bounds up,
and in a moment has Aurore weeping in her embrace and has snatched the
note from her hand.
"_Ah! maman! Ah! ma chere mere_!"
The mother forced a laugh. She was not to be mothered by her daughter;
so she made a dash at Clotilde's uplifted hand to recover the note,
which was unavailing. Immediately there arose in colonial French the
loveliest of contentions, the issue of which was that the pair sat down
side by side, like two sisters over one love-letter, and undertook to
decipher the paper. It read as follows:
"NEW ORLEANS, 20 Feb're, 1804.
"MADAME NANCANOU: I muss oblige to ass you for rent of that
house whare you living, it is at number 19 Bienville street
whare I do not received thos rent from you not since tree
mons and I demand you this is mabe thirteen time. And I give
to you notice of 19 das writen in Anglish as the new law
requi. That witch the law make necessare only for 15 das, and
when you not pay me those rent in 19 das till the tense of
Marh I will rekes you to move out. That witch make me to be
verry sorry. I have the honor to remain, Madam,
"Your humble servant,
There was a short French postscript on the opposite page signed only by
M. Zenon Francois, explaining that he, who had allowed them in the past
to address him as their landlord and by his name, was but the landlord's
agent; that the landlord was a far better-dressed man than he could
afford to be; that the writing opposite was a notice for them to quit
the premises they had rented (not leased), or pay up; that it gave the
writer great pain to send it, although it was but the necessary legal
form and he only an irresponsible drawer of an inadequate salary, with
thirteen children to support; and that he implored them to tear off and
burn up this postscript immediately they had read it.
"Ah, the miserable!" was all the comment made upon it as the two ladies
addressed their energies to the previous English. They had never
suspected him of being M. Grandissime.
Their eyes dragged slowly and ineffectually along the lines to the
"H. Grandissime! Loog ad 'im!" cried the widow, with a sudden short
laugh, that brought the tears after it like a wind-gust in a rose-tree.
She held the letter out before them as if she was lifting something
alive by the back of the neck, and to intensify her scorn spoke in the
hated tongue prescribed by the new courts. "Loog ad 'im! dad ridge
gen'leman oo give so mudge money to de 'ozpill!"
"Bud, _maman_," said the daughter, laying her hand appeasingly upon her
mother's knee, "_ee_ do nod know 'ow we is poor."
"Ah!" retorted Aurore, "_par example! Non?_ Ee thingue we is ridge, eh?
Ligue his oncle, eh? Ee thing so, too, eh?" She cast upon her daughter
the look of burning scorn intended for Agricola Fusilier. "You wan' to
tague the pard of dose Grandissime'?"
The daughter returned a look of agony.
"No," she said, "bud a man wad godd some 'ouses to rend, muz ee nod
boun' to ged 'is rend?"
"Boun' to ged--ah! yez ee muz do 'is possible to ged 'is rend. Oh!
certain_lee_. Ee is ridge, bud ee need a lill money, bad, bad. Fo'
w'at?" The excited speaker rose to her feet under a sudden inspiration.
"_Tenez, Mademoiselle!_" She began to make great show of unfastening
"_Mais, comment?_" demanded the suffering daughter.
"Yez!" continued Aurore, keeping up the demonstration, "you wand 'im to
'ave 'is rend so bad! An' I godd honely my cloze; so you juz tague diz
to you' fine gen'lemen, 'Sieur Honore Grandissime."
"Ah-h-h-h!" cried the martyr.
"An' you is righd," persisted the tormentor, still unfastening; but the
daughter's tears gushed forth, and the repentant tease threw herself
upon her knees, drew her child's head into her bosom and wept afresh.
Half an hour was passed in council; at the end of which they stood
beneath their lofty mantelshelf, each with a foot on a brazen fire-dog,
and no conclusion reached.
"Ah, my child!"--they had come to themselves now and were speaking in
their peculiar French--"if we had here in these hands but the tenth part
of what your papa often played away in one night without once getting
angry! But we have not. Ah! but your father was a fine fellow; if he
could have lived for you to know him! So accomplished! Ha, ha, ha! I can
never avoid laughing, when I remember him teaching me to speak English;
I used to enrage him so!"
The daughter brought the conversation back to the subject of discussion.
There were nineteen days yet allowed them. God knows--by the expiration
of that time they might be able to pay. With the two music scholars whom
she then had and three more whom she had some hope to get, she made bold
to say they could pay the rent.
"Ah, Clotilde, my child," exclaimed Aurore, with sudden brightness, "you
don't need a mask and costume to resemble your great-grandmother, the
casket-girl!" Aurore felt sure, on her part, that with the one
embroidery scholar then under her tutelage, and the three others who had
declined to take lessons, they could easily pay the rent--and how kind
it was of Monsieur, the aged father of that one embroidery scholar, to
procure those invitations to the ball! The dear old man! He said he must
see one more ball before he should die.
Aurore looked so pretty in the reverie into which she fell that her
daughter was content to admire her silently.
"Clotilde," said the mother, presently looking up, "do you remember the
evening you treated me so ill?"
The daughter smiled at the preposterous charge.
"I did not treat you ill."
"Yes, don't you know--the evening you made me lose my purse?"
"Certainly, I know!" The daughter took her foot from the andiron; her
eyes lighted up aggressively. "For losing your purse blame yourself. For
the way you found it again--which was far worse--thank Palmyre. If you
had not asked her to find it and shared the gold with her we could have
returned with it to 'Sieur Frowenfel'; but now we are ashamed to let him
see us. I do not doubt he filled the purse."
"He? He never knew it was empty. It was Nobody who filled it. Palmyre
says that Papa Lebat--"
"Ha!" exclaimed Clotilde at this superstitious mention.
The mother tossed her head and turned her back, swallowing the
unendurable bitterness of being rebuked by her daughter. But the cloud
hung over but a moment.
"Clotilde," she said, a minute after, turning with a look of sun-bright
resolve, "I am going to see him."
"To see whom?" asked the other, looking back from the window, whither
she had gone to recover from a reactionary trembling.
"To whom, my child? Why--"
"You do not expect mercy from Honore Grandissime? You would not ask it?"
"No. There is no mercy in the Grandissime blood; but cannot I demand
justice? Ha! it is justice that I shall demand!"
"And you will really go and see him?"
"You will see, Mademoiselle," replied Aurore, dropping a broom with
which she had begun to sweep up some spilled buttons.
"And I with you?"
"No! To a counting-room? To the presence of the chief of that detestable
"But you don't know where his office is."
"Anybody can tell me."
Preparation began at once. By and by--
Clotilde was stooping behind her mother, with a ribbon between her lips,
arranging a flounce.
"You must not watch me go out of sight; do you hear? ... But it _is_
dangerous. I knew of a gentleman who watched his wife go out of his
sight and she never came back!"
"Hold still!" said Clotilde.
"But when my hand itches," retorted Aurore in a high key, "haven't I got
to put it instantly into my pocket if I want the money to come there?
The daughter proposed to go to the kitchen and tell Alphonsina to put on
"My child," cried Aurore, "you are crazy! Do you want Alphonsina to be
seized for the rent?"
"But you cannot go alone--and on foot!"
"I must go alone; and--can you lend me your carriage? Ah, you have none?
Certainly I must go alone and on foot if I am to say I cannot pay the
rent. It is no indiscretion of mine. If anything happens to me it is M.
Grandissime who is responsible."
Now she is ready for the adventurous errand. She darts to the mirror.
The high-water marks are gone from her eyes. She wheels half around and
looks over her shoulder. The flaring bonnet and loose ribbons gave her a
more girlish look than ever.
"Now which is the older, little old woman?" she chirrups, and smites her
daughter's cheek softly with her palm.
"And you are not afraid to go alone?"
"No; but remember! look at that dog!"
The brute sinks apologetically to the floor. Clotilde opens the street
door, hands Aurore the note, Aurore lays a frantic kiss upon her lips,
pressing it on tight so as to get it again when she comes back,
and--while Clotilde calls the cook to gather up the buttons and take
away the broom, and while the cook, to make one trip of it, gathers the
hound into her bosom and carries broom and dog out together--Aurore
sallies forth, leaving Clotilde to resume her sewing and await the
coming of a guitar scholar.
"It will keep her fully an hour," thought the girl, far from imagining
that Aurore had set about a little private business which she proposed
to herself to accomplish before she even started in the direction of M.
In old times, most of the sidewalks of New Orleans not in the heart of
town were only a rough, rank turf, lined on the side next the ditch with
the gunwales of broken-up flatboats--ugly, narrow, slippery objects. As
Aurora--it sounds so much pleasanter to anglicize her name--as Aurora
gained a corner where two of these gunwales met, she stopped and looked
back to make sure that Clotilde was not watching her. That others had
noticed her here and there she did not care; that was something beauty
would have to endure, and it only made her smile to herself.
"Everybody sees I am from the country--walking on the street without a
A boy passed, hushing his whistle, and gazing at the lone lady until his
turning neck could twist no farther. She was so dewy fresh! After he had
got across the street he turned to look again. Where could she have
The only object to be seen on the corner from which she had vanished was
a small, yellow-washed house much like the one Aurora occupied, as it
was like hundreds that then characterized and still characterize the
town, only that now they are of brick instead of adobe. They showed in
those days, even more than now, the wide contrast between their homely
exteriors and the often elegant apartments within. However, in this
house the front room was merely neat. The furniture was of rude, heavy
pattern, Creole-made, and the walls were unadorned; the day of cheap
pictures had not come. The lofty bedstead which filled one corner was
spread and hung with a blue stuff showing through a web of white
needlework. The brazen feet of the chairs were brightly burnished, as
were the brass mountings of the bedstead and the brass globes on the
cold andirons. Curtains of blue and white hung at the single window. The
floor, from habitual scrubbing with the common weed which politeness
has to call _Helenium autumnale_, was stained a bright, clean yellow.
On it were, here and there in places, white mats woven of bleached
palmetto-leaf. Such were the room's appointments; there was but one
thing more, a singular bit of fantastic carving,--a small table of dark
mahogany supported on the upward-writhing images of three
Aurora sat down beside this table. A dwarf Congo woman, as black as
soot, had ushered her in, and, having barred the door, had disappeared,
and now the mistress of the house entered.
February though it was, she was dressed--and looked comfortable--in
white. That barbaric beauty which had begun to bud twenty years before
was now in perfect bloom. The united grace and pride of her movement was
inspiring but--what shall we say?--feline? It was a femininity without
humanity,--something that made her, with all her superbness, a creature
that one would want to find chained. It was the woman who had received
the gold from Frowenfeld--Palmyre Philosophe.
The moment her eyes fell upon Aurora her whole appearance changed. A
girlish smile lighted up her face, and as Aurora rose up reflecting it
back, they simultaneously clapped hands, laughed and advanced joyously
toward each other, talking rapidly without regard to each other's words.
"Sit down," said Palmyre, in the plantation French of their childhood,
as they shook hands.
They took chairs and drew up face to face as close as they could come,
then sighed and smiled a moment, and then looked grave and were silent.
For in the nature of things, and notwithstanding the amusing familiarity
common between Creole ladies and the menial class, the unprotected
little widow should have had a very serious errand to bring her to the
"Palmyre," began the lady, in a sad tone.
"I want you to help me." The former mistress not only cast her hands
into her lap, lifted her eyes supplicatingly and dropped them again, but
actually locked her fingers to keep them from trembling.
"Momselle Aurore--" began Palmyre, solemnly.
"Now, I know what you are going to say--but it is of no use to say it;
do this much for me this one time and then I will let voudou alone as
much as you wish--forever!"
"You have not lost your purse _again?_"
"Ah! foolishness, no."
Both laughed a little, the philosophe feebly, and Aurora with an excited
"Well?" demanded the quadroon, looking grave again.
Aurora did not answer.
"Do you wish me to work a spell for you?"
The widow nodded, with her eyes cast down.
Both sat quite still for some time; then the philosophe gently drew the
landlord's letter from between Aurora's hands.
"What is this?" She could not read in any language.
"I must pay my rent within nineteen days."
"Have you not paid it?"
The delinquent shook her head.
"Where is the gold that came into your purse? All gone?"
"For rice and potatoes," said Aurora, and for the first time she uttered
a genuine laugh, under that condition of mind which Latins usually
substitute for fortitude. Palmyre laughed too, very properly.
Another silence followed. The lady could not return the quadroon's
"Momselle Aurore," suddenly said Palmyre, "you want me to work a spell
for something else."
Aurora started, looked up for an instant in a frightened way, and then
dropped her eyes and let her head droop, murmuring:
"No, I do not."
Palmyre fixed a long look upon her former mistress. She saw that though
Aurora might be distressed about the rent, there was something else,--a
deeper feeling,--impelling her upon a course the very thought of which
drove the color from her lips and made her tremble.
"You are wearing red," said the philosophe.
Aurora's hand went nervously to the red ribbon about her neck.
"It is an accident; I had nothing else convenient."
"Miche Agoussou loves red," persisted Palmyre. (Monsieur Agoussou is
the demon upon whom the voudous call in matters of love.)
The color that came into Aurora's cheek ought to have suited Monsieur
"It is an accident," she feebly insisted.
"Well," presently said Palmyre, with a pretence of abandoning her
impression, "then you want me to work you a spell for money, do you?"
Aurora nodded, while she still avoided the quadroon's glance.
"I know better," thought the philosophe. "You shall have the sort you
The widow stole an upward glance.
"Oh!" said Palmyre, with the manner of one making a decided digression,
"I have been wanting to ask you something. That evening at the
pharmacy--was there a tall, handsome gentleman standing by the counter?"
"He was standing on the other side."
"Did you see his face?"
"No; his back was turned."
"Momselle Aurore," said Palmyre, dropping her elbows upon her knees and
taking the lady's hand as if the better to secure the truth, "was that
the gentleman you met at the ball?"
"My faith!" said Aurora, stretching her eyebrows upward. "I did not
think to look. Who was it?"
But Palmyre Philosophe was not going to give more than she got, even to
her old-time Momselle; she merely straightened back into her chair with
an amiable face.
"Who do you think he is?" persisted Aurora, after a pause, smiling
downward and toying with her rings.
The quadroon shrugged.
They both sat in reverie for a moment--a long moment for such sprightly
natures--and Palmyre's mien took on a professional gravity. She
presently pushed the landlord's letter under the lady's hands as they
lay clasped in her lap, and a moment after drew Aurora's glance with her
large, strong eyes and asked:
"What shall we do?"
The lady immediately looked startled and alarmed and again dropped her
eyes in silence. The quadroon had to speak again.
"We will burn a candle."
"No," she succeeded in saying.
"Yes," said Palmyre, "you must get your rent money." But the charm which
she was meditating had no reference to rent money. "She knows that,"
thought the voudou.
As she rose and called her Congo slave-woman, Aurora made as if to
protest further; but utterance failed her. She clenched her hands and
prayed to fate for Clotilde to come and lead her away as she had done at
the apothecary's. And well she might.
The articles brought in by the servant were simply a little pound-cake
and cordial, a tumbler half-filled with the _sirop naturelle_ of the
sugar-cane, and a small piece of candle of the kind made from the
fragrant green wax of the candleberry myrtle. These were set upon the
small table, the bit of candle standing, lighted, in the tumbler of
sirup, the cake on a plate, the cordial in a wine-glass. This feeble
child's play was all; except that as Palmyre closed out all daylight
from the room and received the offering of silver that "paid the floor"
and averted _guillons_ (interferences of outside imps), Aurora,--alas!
alas!--went down upon her knees with her gaze fixed upon the candle's
flame, and silently called on Assonquer (the imp of good fortune) to
cast his snare in her behalf around the mind and heart of--she knew
By and by her lips, which had moved at first, were still and she only
watched the burning wax. When the flame rose clear and long it was a
sign that Assonquer was enlisted in the coveted endeavor. When the wick
sputtered, the devotee trembled in fear of failure. Its charred end
curled down and twisted away from her and her heart sank; but the tall
figure of Palmyre for a moment came between, the wick was snuffed, the
flame tapered up again, and for a long time burned, a bright, tremulous
cone. Again the wick turned down, but this time toward her,--a
propitious omen,--and suddenly fell through the expended wax and went
out in the sirup.
The daylight, as Palmyre let it once more into the apartment, showed
Aurora sadly agitated. In evidence of the innocence of her fluttering
heart, guilt, at least for the moment, lay on it, an appalling burden.
"That is all, Palmyre, is it not? I am sure that is all--it must be all.
I cannot stay any longer. I wish I was with Clotilde; I have stayed
"Yes; all for the present," replied the quadroon. "Here, here is some
charmed basil; hold it between your lips as you walk--"
"But I am going to my landlord's office!"
"Office? Nobody is at his office now; it is too late. You would find
that your landlord had gone to dinner. I will tell you, though, where
you _must_ go. First go home; eat your dinner; and this evening [the
Creoles never say afternoon], about a half-hour before sunset, walk down
Royale to the lower corner of the Place d'Armes, pass entirely around
the square and return up Royale. Never look behind until you get into
your house again."
Aurora blushed with shame.
"Alone?" she exclaimed, quite unnerved and tremulous.
"You will seem to be alone; but I will follow behind you when you pass
here. Nothing shall hurt you. If you do that, the charm will certainly
work; if you do not--"
The quadroon's intentions were good. She was determined to see who it
was that could so infatuate her dear little Momselle; and, as on such an
evening as the present afternoon promised to merge into all New Orleans
promenaded on the Place d'Armes and the levee, her charm was a very
"And that will bring the money, will it?" asked Aurora.
"It will bring anything you want."
"These things that _you_ want, Momselle Aurore, are easy to bring. You
have no charms working against you. But, oh, I wish to God I could work
the _curse_ I want to work!" The woman's eyes blazed, her bosom heaved,
she lifted her clenched hand above her head and looked upward, crying:
"I would give this right hand off at the wrist to catch Agricola
Fusilier where I could work him a curse! But I shall; I shall some day
be revenged!" She pitched her voice still higher. "I cannot die till I
have been! There is nothing that could kill me, I want my revenge so
bad!" As suddenly as she had broken out, she hushed, unbarred the door,
and with a stern farewell smile saw Aurora turn homeward.
"Give me something to eat, _cherie_," cried the exhausted lady, dropping
into Clotilde's chair and trying to die.
"Ah! _maman_, what makes you look so sick?"
Aurora waved her hand contemptuously and gasped.
"Did you see him? What kept you so long--so long?"
"Ask me nothing; I am so enraged with disappointment. He was gone to
"Ah! my poor mother!"
"And I must go back as soon as I can take a little _sieste_. I am
determined to see him this very day."
"Ah! my poor mother!"
ROLLED IN THE DUST
"No, Frowenfeld," said little Doctor Keene, speaking for the
after-dinner loungers, "you must take a little human advice. Go, get the
air on the Plaza. We will keep shop for you. Stay as long as you like
and come home in any condition you think best." And Joseph, tormented
into this course, put on his hat and went out.
"Hard to move as a cow in the moonlight," continued Doctor Keene, "and
knows just about as much of the world. He wasn't aware, until I told him
to-day, that there are two Honore Grandissimes." [Laughter.]
"Why did you tell him?"
"I didn't give him anything but the bare fact. I want to see how long it
will take him to find out the rest."
The Place d'Armes offered amusement to every one else rather than to the
immigrant. The family relation, the most noticeable feature of its'
well-pleased groups, was to him too painful a reminder of his late
losses, and, after an honest endeavor to flutter out of the inner
twilight of himself into the outer glare of a moving world, he had given
up the effort and had passed beyond the square and seated himself upon a
rude bench which encircled the trunk of a willow on the levee.
The negress, who, resting near by with a tray of cakes before her, has
been for some time contemplating the three-quarter face of her
unconscious neighbor, drops her head at last with a small, Ethiopian,
feminine laugh. It is a self-confession that, pleasant as the study of
his countenance is, to resolve that study into knowledge is beyond her
powers; and very pardonably so it is, she being but a _marchande des
gateaux_ (an itinerant cake-vender), and he, she concludes, a man of
parts. There is a purpose, too, as well as an admission, in the laugh.
She would like to engage him in conversation. But he does not notice.
Little supposing he is the object of even a cake-merchant's attention,
he is lost in idle meditation.
One would guess his age to be as much as twenty-six. His face is
beardless, of course, like almost everybody's around him, and of a
German kind of seriousness. A certain diffidence in his look may tend to
render him unattractive to careless eyes, the more so since he has a
slight appearance of self-neglect. On a second glance, his refinement
shows out more distinctly, and one also sees that he is not shabby. The
little that seems lacking is woman's care, the brush of attentive
fingers here and there, the turning of a fold in the high-collared coat,
and a mere touch on the neckerchief and shirt-frill. He has a decidedly
good forehead. His blue eyes, while they are both strong and modest, are
noticeable, too, as betraying fatigue, and the shade of gravity in them
is deepened by a certain worn look of excess--in books; a most unusual
look in New Orleans in those days, and pointedly out of keeping with the
scene which was absorbing his attention.
You might mistake the time for mid-May. Before the view lies the Place
d'Armes in its green-breasted uniform of new spring grass crossed
diagonally with white shell walks for facings, and dotted with the
_elite_ of the city for decorations. Over the line of shade-trees which
marks its farther boundary, the white-topped twin turrets of St. Louis
Cathedral look across it and beyond the bared site of the removed
battery (built by the busy Carondelet to protect Louisiana from herself
and Kentucky, and razed by his immediate successors) and out upon the
Mississippi, the color of whose surface is beginning to change with the
changing sky of this beautiful and now departing day. A breeze, which is
almost early June, and which has been hovering over the bosom of the
great river and above the turf-covered levee, ceases, as if it sank
exhausted under its burden of spring odors, and in the profound calm the
cathedral bell strikes the sunset hour. From its neighboring garden, the
convent of the Ursulines responds in a tone of devoutness, while from
the parapet of the less pious little Fort St. Charles, the evening gun
sends a solemn ejaculation rumbling down the "coast;" a drum rolls, the
air rises again from the water like a flock of birds, and many in the
square and on the levee's crown turn and accept its gentle blowing.
Rising over the levee willows, and sinking into the streets,--which are
lower than the water,--it flutters among the balconies and in and out of
dim Spanish arcades, and finally drifts away toward that part of the sky
where the sun is sinking behind the low, unbroken line of forest. There
is such seduction in the evening air, such sweetness of flowers on its
every motion, such lack of cold, or heat, or dust, or wet, that the
people have no heart to stay in-doors; nor is there any reason why they
should. The levee road is dotted with horsemen, and the willow avenue on
the levee's crown, the whole short mile between Terre aux Boeufs gate on
the right and Tchoupitoulas gate on the left, is bright with
promenaders, although the hour is brief and there will be no twilight;
for, so far from being May, it is merely that same nineteenth of which
we have already spoken,--the nineteenth of Louisiana's delicious
Among the throng were many whose names were going to be written large in
history. There was Casa Calvo,--Sebastian de Casa Calvo de la Puerta y
O'Farril, Marquis of Casa Calvo,--a man then at the fine age of
fifty-three, elegant, fascinating, perfect in Spanish courtesy and
Spanish diplomacy, rolling by in a showy equipage surrounded by a
clanking body-guard of the Catholic king's cavalry. There was young
Daniel Clark, already beginning to amass those riches which an age of
litigation has not to this day consumed; it was he whom the French
colonial prefect, Laussat, in a late letter to France, had extolled as a
man whose "talents for intrigue were carried to a rare degree of
excellence." There was Laussat himself, in the flower of his years, sour
with pride, conscious of great official insignificance and full of petty
spites--he yet tarried in a land where his beautiful wife was the "model
of taste." There was that convivial old fox, Wilkinson, who had plotted
for years with Miro and did not sell himself and his country to Spain
because--as we now say--"he found he could do better;" who modestly
confessed himself in a traitor's letter to the Spanish king as a man
"whose head may err, but whose heart cannot deceive!" and who brought
Governor Gayoso to an early death-bed by simply out-drinking him. There
also was Edward Livingston, attorney-at-law, inseparably joined to the
mention of the famous Batture cases--though that was later. There also
was that terror of colonial peculators, the old ex-Intendant Morales,
who, having quarrelled with every governor of Louisiana he ever saw, was
now snarling at Casa Calvo from force of habit.
And the Creoles--the Knickerbockers of Louisiana--but time would fail
us. The Villeres and Destrehans--patriots and patriots' sons; the De La
Chaise family in mourning for young Auguste La Chaise of
Kentuckian-Louisianian-San Domingan history; the Livaudaises, _pere et
fils_, of Haunted House fame, descendants of the first pilot of the
Belize; the pirate brothers Lafitte, moving among the best; Marigny de
Mandeville, afterwards the marquis member of Congress; the Davezacs, the
Mossys, the Boulignys, the Labatuts, the Bringiers, the De Trudeaus, the
De Macartys, the De la Houssayes, the De Lavilleboeuvres, the Grandpres,
the Forstalls; and the proselyted Creoles: Etienne de Bore (he was the
father of all such as handle the sugar-kettle); old man Pitot, who
became mayor; Madame Pontalba and her unsuccessful suitor, John
McDonough; the three Girods, the two Graviers, or the lone Julian
Poydras, godfather of orphan girls. Besides these, and among them as
shining fractions of the community, the numerous representatives of the
not only noble, but noticeable and ubiquitous, family of Grandissime:
Grandissimes simple and Grandissimes compound; Brahmins, Mandarins and
Fusiliers. One, 'Polyte by name, a light, gay fellow, with classic
features, hair turning gray, is standing and conversing with this group
here by the mock-cannon inclosure of the grounds. Another, his cousin,
Charlie Mandarin, a tall, very slender, bronzed gentleman in a flannel
hunting-shirt and buckskin leggings, is walking, in moccasins, with a
sweet lady in whose tasteful attire feminine scrutiny, but such only,
might detect economy, but whose marked beauty of yesterday is retreating
and reappearing in the flock of children who are noisily running round
and round them, nominally in the care of three fat and venerable black
nurses. Another, yonder, Theophile Grandissime, is whipping his
stockings with his cane, a lithe youngster in the height of the fashion
(be it understood the fashion in New Orleans was five years or so behind
Paris), with a joyous, noble face, a merry tongue and giddy laugh, and a
confession of experiences which these pages, fortunately for their moral
tone, need not recount. All these were there and many others.
This throng, shifting like the fragments of colored glass in the
kaleidoscope, had its far-away interest to the contemplative Joseph. To
them he was of little interest, or none. Of the many passers, scarcely
an occasional one greeted him, and such only with an extremely polite
and silent dignity which seemed to him like saying something of this
sort: "Most noble alien, give you good-day--stay where you are.
Two men came through the Place d'Armes on conspicuously fine horses. One
it is not necessary to describe. The other, a man of perhaps
thirty-three or thirty-four years of age, was extremely handsome and
well dressed, the martial fashion of the day showing his tall and finely
knit figure to much advantage. He sat his horse with an uncommon grace,
and, as he rode beside his companion, spoke and gave ear by turns with
an easy dignity sufficient of itself to have attracted popular
observation. It was the apothecary's unknown friend. Frowenfeld noticed
them while they were yet in the middle of the grounds. He could hardly
have failed to do so, for some one close beside his bench in undoubted
allusion to one of the approaching figures exclaimed:
"Here comes Honore Grandissime."
Moreover, at that moment there was a slight unwonted stir on the Place
d'Armes. It began at the farther corner of the square, hard by the
Principal, and spread so quickly through the groups near about, that in
a minute the entire company were quietly made aware of something going
notably wrong in their immediate presence. There was no running to see
it. There seemed to be not so much as any verbal communication of the
matter from mouth to mouth. Rather a consciousness appeared to catch
noiselessly from one to another as the knowledge of human intrusion
comes to groups of deer in a park. There was the same elevating of the
head here and there, the same rounding of beautiful eyes. Some stared,
others slowly approached, while others turned and moved away; but a
common indignation was in the breast of that thing dreadful everywhere,
but terrible in Louisiana, the Majority. For there, in the presence of
those good citizens, before the eyes of the proudest and fairest mothers
and daughters of New Orleans, glaringly, on the open Plaza, the Creole
whom Joseph had met by the graves in the field, Honore Grandissime, the
uttermost flower on the topmost branch of the tallest family tree ever
transplanted from France to Louisiana, Honore,--the worshiped, the
magnificent,--in the broad light of the sun's going down, rode side by
side with the Yankee governor and was not ashamed!
Joseph, on his bench, sat contemplating the two parties to this scandal
as they came toward him. Their horses' flanks were damp from some
pleasant gallop, but their present gait was the soft, mettlesome
movement of animals who will even submit to walk if their masters
insist. As they wheeled out of the broad diagonal path that crossed the
square, and turned toward him in the highway, he fancied that the Creole
observed him. He was not mistaken. As they seemed about to pass the spot
where he sat, M. Grandissime interrupted the governor with a word and,
turning his horse's head, rode up to the bench, lifting his hat as
"Good-evening, Mr. Frowenfeld."
Joseph, looking brighter than when he sat unaccosted, rose and blushed.
"Mr. Frowenfeld, you know my uncle very well, I believe--Agricole
"Oh! yes, sir, certainly."
"Well, Mr. Frowenfeld, I shall be much obliged if you will tell
him--that is, should you meet him this evening--that I wish to see him.
If you will be so kind?"
"Oh! yes, sir, certainly."
Frowenfeld's diffidence made itself evident in this reiterated phrase.
"I do not know that you will see him, but if you should, you know--"
"Oh, certainly, sir!"
The two paused a single instant, exchanging a smile of amiable reminder
from the horseman and of bashful but pleased acknowledgment from the one
who saw his precepts being reduced to practice.
"Well, good-evening, Mr. Frowenfeld."
M. Grandissime lifted his hat and turned. Frowenfeld sat down.
"_Bou zou, Miche Honore!_" called the _marchande_.
"_Comment to ye, Clemence?_"
The merchant waved his hand as he rode away with his companion.
"_Beau Miche, la_," said the _marchande_, catching Joseph's eye.
He smiled his ignorance and shook his head.
"Dass one fine gen'leman," she repeated. "_Mo pa'le Angle_," she added
with a chuckle.
"You know him?"
"Oh! yass, sah; Mawse Honore knows me, yass. All de gen'lemens knows me.
I sell de _calas;_ mawnin's sell _calas_, evenin's sell zinzer-cake.
_You_ know me" (a fact which Joseph had all along been aware of). "Dat
me w'at pass in rue Royale ev'y mawnin' holl'in' '_Be calas touts
chauds_,' an' singin'; don't you know?"
The enthusiasm of an artist overcame any timidity she might have been
supposed to possess, and, waiving the formality of an invitation, she
began, to Frowenfeld's consternation, to sing, in a loud, nasal voice.
But the performance, long familiar, attracted no public attention, and
he for whose special delight it was intended had taken an attitude of
disclaimer and was again contemplating the quiet groups of the Place
d'Armes and the pleasant hurry of the levee road.
"Don't you know?" persisted the woman. "Yass, sah, dass me; I's
But Frowenfeld was looking another way.
"You know my boy," suddenly said she.
Frowenfeld looked at her.
"Yass, sah. Dat boy w'at bring you de box of _basilic_ lass Chrismus;
dass my boy."
She straightened her cakes on the tray and made some changes in their
arrangement that possibly were important.
"I learned to speak English in Fijinny. Bawn dah."
She looked steadily into the apothecary's absorbed countenance for a
full minute, then let her eyes wander down the highway. The human tide
was turning cityward. Presently she spoke again.
"Folks comin' home a'ready, yass."
Her hearer looked down the road.
Suddenly a voice that, once heard, was always known,--deep and pompous,
as if a lion roared,--sounded so close behind him as to startle him half
from his seat.
"Is this a corporeal man, or must I doubt my eyes? Hah! Professor
Frowenfeld!" it said.
"Mr. Fusilier!" exclaimed Frowenfeld in a subdued voice, while he
blushed again and looked at the new-comer with that sort of awe which
children experience in a menagerie.
"_Citizen_ Fusilier," said the lion.
Agricola indulged to excess the grim hypocrisy of brandishing the
catchwords of new-fangled reforms; they served to spice a breath that
was strong with the praise of the "superior liberties of Europe,"--those
old, cast-iron tyrannies to get rid of which America was settled.
Frowenfeld smiled amusedly and apologetically at the same moment.
"I am glad to meet you. I--"
He was going on to give Honore Grandissime's message, but was
"My young friend," rumbled the old man in his deepest key, smiling
emotionally and holding and solemning continuing to shake Joseph's hand,
"I am sure you are. You ought to thank God that you have my
Frowenfeld colored to the temples.
"I must acknowledge--" he began.
"Ah!" growled the lion, "your beautiful modesty leads you to misconstrue
me, sir. You pay my judgment no compliment. I know your worth, sir; I
merely meant, sir, that in me--poor, humble me--you have secured a
sympathizer in your tastes and plans. Agricola Fusilier, sir, is not a
cock on a dunghill, to find a jewel and then scratch it aside."
The smile of diffidence, but not the flush, passed from the young man's
face, and he sat down forcibly.
"You jest," he said.
The reply was a majestic growl.
"I _never_ jest!" The speaker half sat down, then straightened up again.
"Ah, the Marquis of Caso Calvo!--I must bow to him, though an honest
man's bow is more than he deserves."
"More than he deserves?" was Frowenfeld's query.
"More than he deserves!" was the response.
"What has he done? I have never heard--"
The denunciator turned upon Frowenfeld his most royal frown, and
retorted with a question which still grows wild in Louisiana:
"What"--he seemed to shake his mane--"what has he _not_ done, sir?" and
then he withdrew his frown slowly, as if to add, "You'll be careful next
time how you cast doubt upon a public official's guilt."
The marquis's cavalcade came briskly jingling by. Frowenfeld saw within
the carriage two men, one in citizen's dress, the other in a brilliant
uniform. The latter leaned forward, and, with a cordiality which struck
the young spectator as delightful, bowed. The immigrant glanced at
Citizen Fusilier, expecting to see the greeting returned with great
haughtiness; instead of which that person uncovered his leonine head,
and, with a solemn sweep of his cocked hat, bowed half his length. Nay,
he more than bowed, he bowed down--so that the action hurt Frowenfeld
from head to foot.
"What large gentlemen was that sitting on the other side?" asked the
young man, as his companion sat down with the air of having finished
"No gentleman at all!" thundered the citizen. "That fellow" (beetling
frown), "that _fellow_ is Edward Livingston."
"The great lawyer?"
"The great villain!"
Frowenfeld himself frowned.
The old man laid a hand upon his junior's shoulder and growled
"My young friend, your displeasure delights me!"
The patience with which Frowenfeld was bearing all this forced a chuckle
and shake of the head from the _marchande_.
Citizen Fusilier went on speaking in a manner that might be construed
either as address or soliloquy, gesticulating much and occasionally
letting out a fervent word that made passers look around and Joseph
inwardly wince. With eyes closed and hands folded on the top of the
knotted staff which he carried but never used, he delivered an
apostrophe to the "spotless soul of youth," enticed by the "spirit of
adventure" to "launch away upon the unploughed sea of the future!" He
lifted one hand and smote the back of the other solemnly, once, twice,
and again, nodding his head faintly several times without opening his
eyes, as who should say, "Very impressive; go on," and so resumed; spoke
of this spotless soul of youth searching under unknown latitudes for the
"sunken treasures of experience"; indulged, as the reporters of our day
would say, in "many beautiful nights of rhetoric," and finally depicted
the loathing with which the spotless soul of youth "recoils!"--suiting
the action to the word so emphatically as to make a pretty little boy
who stood gaping at him start back--"on encountering in the holy
chambers of public office the vultures hatched in the nests of ambition
Three or four persons lingered carelessly near by with ears wide open.
Frowenfeld felt that he must bring this to an end, and, like any young
person who has learned neither deceit nor disrespect to seniors, he
attempted to reason it down.
"You do not think many of our public men are dishonest!"
"Sir!" replied the rhetorician, with a patronizing smile, "h-you must be
thinking of France!"
"No, sir; of Louisiana."
"Louisiana! Dishonest? All, sir, all. They are all as corrupt as
"Well," said Frowenfeld, with more feeling than was called for, "there
is one who, I feel sure, is pure. I know it by his face!"
The old man gave a look of stern interrogation.
"Ye-e-e g-hods! Claiborne! _Claiborne!_ Why, he is a Yankee!"
The lion glowered over the lamb like a thundercloud.
"He is a Virginian," said Frowenfeld.
"He is an American, and no American can be honest."
"You are prejudiced," exclaimed the young man.
Citizen Fusilier made himself larger.
"What is prejudice? I do not know."
"I am an American myself," said Frowenfeld, rising up with his face
The citizen rose up also, but unruffled.
"My beloved young friend," laying his hand heavily upon the other's
shoulder, "you are not. You were merely born in America."
But Frowenfeld was not appeased.
"Hear me through," persisted the flatterer. "You were merely born in
America. I, too, was born in America--but will any man responsible for
his opinion mistake me--Agricola Fusilier--for an American?"
He clutched his cane in the middle and glared around, but no person
seemed to be making the mistake to which he so scornfully alluded, and
he was about to speak again when an outcry of alarm coming
simultaneously from Joseph and the _marchande_ directed his attention to
a lady in danger.
The scene, as afterward recalled to the mind of the un-American citizen,
included the figures of his nephew and the new governor returning up
the road at a canter; but, at the time, he knew only that a lady of
unmistakable gentility, her back toward him, had just gathered her robes
and started to cross the road, when there was a general cry of warning,
and the _marchande_ cried, "_Garde choual!_" while the lady leaped
directly into the danger and his nephew's horse knocked her to
Though there was a rush to the rescue from every direction, she was on
her feet before any one could reach her, her lips compressed, nostrils
dilated, cheek burning, and eyes flashing a lady's wrath upon a
dismounted horseman. It was the governor. As the crowd had rushed in,
the startled horses, from whom the two riders had instantly leaped, drew
violently back, jerking their masters with them and leaving only the
governor in range of the lady's angry eye.
"Mademoiselle!" he cried, striving to reach her.
She pointed him in gasping indignation to his empty saddle, and, as the
crowd farther separated them, waved away all permission to apologize and
turned her back.
"Hah!" cried the crowd, echoing her humor.
"Lady," interposed the governor, "do not drive us to the rudeness of
"_Animal, vous!_" cried half a dozen, and the lady gave him such a look
of scorn that he did not finish his sentence.
"Open the way, there," called a voice in French.
It was Honore Grandissime. But just then he saw that the lady had found
the best of protectors, and the two horsemen, having no choice,
remounted and rode away. As they did so, M. Grandissime called something
hurriedly to Frowenfeld, on whose arm the lady hung, concerning the care
of her; but his words were lost in the short yell of derision sent after
himself and his companion by the crowd.
Old Agricola, meanwhile, was having a trouble of his own. He had
followed Joseph's wake as he pushed through the throng; but as the lady
turned her face he wheeled abruptly away. This brought again into view
the bench he had just left, whereupon he, in turn, cried out, and,
dashing through all obstructions, rushed back to it, lifting his ugly
staff as he went and flourishing it in the face of Palmyre Philosophe.
She stood beside the seat with the smile of one foiled and intensely
conscious of peril, but neither frightened nor suppliant, holding back
with her eyes the execution of Agricola's threat against her life.
Presently she drew a short step backward, then another, then a third,
and then turned and moved away down the avenue of willows, followed for
a few steps by the lion and by the laughing comment of the _marchande_,
who stood looking after them with her tray balanced on her head.
"_Ya, ya! ye connais voudou bien!_"
[Footnote 1: "They're up in the voudou arts."]
The old man turned to rejoin his companion. The day was rapidly giving
place to night and the people were withdrawing to their homes. He
crossed the levee, passed through the Place d'Armes and on into the
city without meeting the object of his search. For Joseph and the lady
had hurried off together.
As the populace floated away in knots of three, four and five, those who
had witnessed mademoiselle's (?) mishap told it to those who had not;
explaining that it was the accursed Yankee governor who had designedly
driven his horse at his utmost speed against the fair victim (some of
them butted against their hearers by way of illustration); that the
fiend had then maliciously laughed; that this was all the Yankees came
to New Orleans for, and that there was an understanding among
them--"Understanding, indeed!" exclaimed one, "They have instructions
from the President!"--that unprotected ladies should be run down
wherever overtaken. If you didn't believe it you could ask the tyrant,
Claiborne, himself; he made no secret of it. One or two--but they were
considered by others extravagant--testified that, as the lady fell, they
had seen his face distorted with a horrid delight, and had heard him
cry: "Daz de way to knog them!"
"But how came a lady to be out on the levee, at sunset, on foot and
alone?" asked a citizen, and another replied--both using the French of
the late province:
"As for being on foot"--a shrug. "But she was not alone; she had a
_milatraisse_ behind her."
"Ah! so; that was well."
"But--ha, ha!--the _milatraisse_, seeing her mistress out of danger,
takes the opportunity to try to bring the curse upon Agricola Fusilier
by sitting down where he had just risen up, and had to get away from him
as quickly as possible to save her own skull."
"And left the lady?"
"Yes; and who took her to her home at last, but Frowenfeld, the
"Ho, ho! the astrologer! We ought to hang that fellow."
"With his books tied to his feet," suggested a third citizen. "It is no
more than we owe to the community to go and smash his show-window. He
had better behave himself. Come, gentlemen, a little _taffia_ will do us
good. When shall we ever get through these exciting times?"
STARLIGHT IN THE RUE CHARTRES
"Oh! M'sieur Frowenfel', tague me ad home!"
It was Aurora, who caught the apothecary's arm vehemently in both her
hands with a look of beautiful terror. And whatever Joseph's astronomy
might have previously taught him to the contrary, he knew by his senses
that the earth thereupon turned entirely over three times in
His confused response, though unintelligible, answered all purposes, as
the lady found herself the next moment hurrying across the Place d'Armes
close to his side, and as they by-and-by passed its farther limits she
began to be conscious that she was clinging to her protector as though
she would climb up and hide under his elbow. As they turned up the rue
Chartres she broke the silence.
"Oh!-h!"--breathlessly,--"'h!--M'sieur Frowenf'--you walkin' so faz!"
"Oh!" echoed Frowenfeld, "I did not know what I was doing."
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the lady, "me, too, juz de sem lag you!
They halted; a moment's deft manipulation of a veil turned it into a
wrapping for her neck.
"'Sieur Frowenfel', oo dad man was? You know 'im?"
She returned her hand to Frowenfeld's arm and they moved on.
"The one who spoke to you, or--you know the one who got near enough to
apologize is not the one whose horse struck you!"
"I din know. But oo dad odder one? I saw h-only 'is back, bud I thing it
is de sem--"
She identified it with the back that was turned to her during her last
visit to Frowenfeld's shop; but finding herself about to mention a
matter so nearly connected with the purse of gold, she checked herself;
but Frowenfeld, eager to say a good word for his acquaintance, ventured
to extol his character while he concealed his name.
"While I have never been introduced to him, I have some acquaintance
with him, and esteem him a noble gentleman."
"W'ere you meet him?"
"I met him first," he said, "at the graves of my parents and sisters."
There was a kind of hush after the mention, and the lady made no reply.
"It was some weeks after my loss," resumed Frowenfeld.
"In wad _cimetiere_ dad was?"
"In no cemetery--being Protestants, you know--"
"Ah, yes, sir?" with a gentle sigh.
"The physician who attended me procured permission to bury them on some
private land below the city."
"Not in de groun'?"
[Footnote 2: Only Jews and paupers are buried in the ground in New
"Yes; that was my father's expressed wish when he died."
"You 'ad de fivver? Oo nurse you w'en you was sick?"
"An old hired negress."
"Dad was all?"
"Hm-m-m!" she said piteously, and laughed in her sleeve.
Who could hope to catch and reproduce the continuous lively thrill which
traversed the frame of the escaped book-worm as every moment there was
repeated to his consciousness the knowledge that he was walking across
the vault of heaven with the evening star on his arm--at least, that he
was, at her instigation, killing time along the dim, ill-lighted
_trottoirs_ of the rue Chartres, with Aurora listening sympathetically
at his side. But let it go; also the sweet broken English with which she
now and then interrupted him; also the inward, hidden sparkle of her
dancing Gallic blood; her low, merry laugh; the roguish mental
reservation that lurked behind her graver speeches; the droll bravados
she uttered against the powers that be, as with timid fingers he brushed
from her shoulder a little remaining dust of the late encounter--these
things, we say, we let go,--as we let butterflies go rather than pin
them to paper.
They had turned into the rue Bienville, and were walking toward the
river, Frowenfeld in the midst of a long sentence, when a low cry of
tearful delight sounded in front of them, some one in long robes glided
forward, and he found his arm relieved of its burden and that burden
transferred to the bosom and passionate embrace of another--we had
almost said a fairer--Creole, amid a bewildering interchange of kisses
and a pelting shower of Creole French.
A moment after, Frowenfeld found himself introduced to "my dotter,
Clotilde," who all at once ceased her demonstrations of affection and
bowed to him with a majestic sweetness, that seemed one instant grateful
and the next, distant.
"I can hardly understand that you are not sisters," said Frowenfeld, a
"Ah! _ecoutez!_" exclaimed the younger.
"Ah! _par exemple!_" cried the elder, and they laughed down each other's
throats, while the immigrant blushed.
This encounter was presently followed by a silent surprise when they
stopped and turned before the door of Number 19, and Frowenfeld
contrasted the women with their painfully humble dwelling. But therein
is where your true Creole was, and still continues to be, properly, yea,
delightfully un-American; the outside of his house may be as rough as
the outside of a bird's nest; it is the inside that is for the birds;
and the front room of this house, when the daughter presently threw open
the batten shutters of its single street door, looked as bright and
happy, with its candelabra glittering on the mantel, and its curtains of
snowy lace, as its bright-eyed tenants.
"'Sieur Frowenfel', if you pliz to come in," said Aurora, and the timid
apothecary would have bravely accepted the invitation, but for a quick
look which he saw the daughter give the mother; whereupon he asked,
instead, permission to call at some future day, and received the cordial
leave of Aurora and another bow from Clotilde.
Do we not fail to accord to our nights their true value? We are ever
giving to our days the credit and blame of all we do and mis-do,
forgetting those silent, glimmering hours when plans--and sometimes
plots--are laid; when resolutions are formed or changed; when heaven,
and sometimes heaven's enemies, are invoked; when anger and evil
thoughts are recalled, and sometimes hate made to inflame and fester;
when problems are solved, riddles guessed, and things made apparent in
the dark, which day refused to reveal. Our nights are the keys to our
days. They explain them. They are also the day's correctors. Night's
leisure untangles the mistakes of day's haste. We should not attempt to
comprise our pasts in the phrase, "in those days;" we should rather say
"in those days and nights."
That night was a long-remembered one to the apothecary of the rue
Royale. But it was after he had closed his shop, and in his back room
sat pondering the unusual experiences of the evening, that it began to
be, in a higher degree, a night of events to most of those persons who
had a part in its earlier incidents.
That Honore Grandissime whom Frowenfeld had only this day learned to
know as _the_ Honore Grandissime and the young governor-general were
"What can you expect, my-de'-seh?" the Creole was asking, as they
confronted each other in the smoke of their choice tobacco. "Remember,
they are citizens by compulsion. You say your best and wisest law is
that one prohibiting the slave-trade; my-de'-seh, I assure you,
privately, I agree with you; but they abhor your law!
"Your principal danger--at least, I mean difficulty--is this: that the
Louisianais themselves, some in pure lawlessness, some through loss of
office, some in a vague hope of preserving the old condition of things,
will not only hold off from all participation in your government, but
will make all sympathy with it, all advocacy of its principles, and
especially all office-holding under it, odious--disreputable--infamous.
You may find yourself constrained to fill your offices with men who can
face down the contumely of a whole people. You know what such men
generally are. One out of a hundred may be a moral hero--the ninety-nine
will be scamps; and the moral hero will most likely get his brains blown
out early in the day.
"Count O'Reilly, when he established the Spanish power here thirty-five
years ago, cut a similar knot with the executioner's sword; but,
my-de'-seh, you are here to establish a _free_ government; and how can
you make it freer than the people wish it? There is your riddle! They
hold off and say, 'Make your government as free as you can, but do not
ask us to help you;' and before you know it you have no retainers but a
gang of shameless mercenaries, who will desert you whenever the
indignation of this people overbalances their indolence; and you will
fall the victim of what you may call our mutinous patriotism."
The governor made a very quiet, unappreciative remark about a
"patriotism that lets its government get choked up with corruption and
then blows it out with gunpowder!"
The Creole shrugged.
"And repeats the operation indefinitely," he said.
The governor said something often heard, before and since, to the effect
that communities will not sacrifice themselves for mere ideas.
"My-de'-seh," replied the Creole, "you speak like a true Anglo-Saxon;
but, sir! how many communities have _committed_ suicide. And this
one?--why, it is _just_ the kind to do it!"
"Well," said the governor, smilingly, "you have pointed out what you
consider to be the breakers, now can you point out the channel?"
"Channel? There is none! And you, nor I, cannot dig one. Two great
forces _may_ ultimately do it, Religion and Education--as I was telling
you I said to my young friend, the apothecary,--but still I am free to
say what would be my first and principal step, if I was in your
place--as I thank God I am not."
The listener asked him what that was.
"Wherever I could find a Creole that I could venture to trust,
my-de'-seh, I would put him in office. Never mind a little political
heterodoxy, you know; almost any man can be trusted to shoot away from
the uniform he has on. And then--"
"But," said the other, "I have offered you--"
"Oh!" replied the Creole, like a true merchant, "me, I am too busy; it
is impossible! But, I say, I would _compel_, my-de'-seh, this people to
"And pray, how would you give a people a free government and then compel
them to administer it?"
"My-de'-seh, you should not give one poor Creole the puzzle which
belongs to your whole Congress; but you may depend on this, that the
worst thing for all parties--and I say it only because it is worst for
all--would be a feeble and dilatory punishment of bad faith."
When this interview finally drew to a close the governor had made a
memorandum of some fifteen or twenty Grandissimes, scattered through
different cantons of Louisiana, who, their kinsman Honore thought, would
not decline appointments.
* * * * *
Certain of the Muses were abroad that night. Faintly audible to the
apothecary of the rue Royale through that deserted stillness which is
yet the marked peculiarity of New Orleans streets by night, came from a
neighboring slave-yard the monotonous chant and machine-like tune-beat
of an African dance. There our lately met _marchande_ (albeit she was
but a guest, fortified against the street-watch with her master's
written "pass") led the ancient Calinda dance with that well-known song
of derision, in whose ever multiplying stanzas the helpless satire of a
feeble race still continues to celebrate the personal failings of each
newly prominent figure among the dominant caste. There was a new distich
to the song to-night, signifying that the pride of the Grandissimes must
find his friends now among the Yankees:
"Miche Hon're, alle! h-alle!
Trouve to zamis parmi les Yankis.
Dance calinda, bou-joum! bou-joum!
Dance calinda, bou-joum! bou-joum!
Frowenfeld, as we have already said, had closed his shop, and was
sitting in the room behind it with one arm on his table and the other on
his celestial globe, watching the flicker of his small fire and musing
upon the unusual experiences of the evening. Upon every side there
seemed to start away from his turning glance the multiplied shadows of
something wrong. The melancholy face of that Honore Grandissime, his
landlord, at whose mention Dr. Keene had thought it fair to laugh
without explaining; the tall, bright-eyed _milatraisse_; old Agricola;
the lady of the basil; the newly identified merchant friend, now the
more satisfactory Honore,--they all came before him in his meditation,
provoking among themselves a certain discord, faint but persistent, to
which he strove to close his ear. For he was brain-weary. Even in the
bright recollection of the lady and her talk he became involved among
shadows, and going from bad to worse, seemed at length almost to gasp in
an atmosphere of hints, allusions, faint unspoken admissions,
ill-concealed antipathies, unfinished speeches, mistaken identities and
whisperings of hidden strife. The cathedral clock struck twelve and was
answered again from the convent belfry; and as the notes died away he
suddenly became aware that the weird, drowsy throb of the African song
and dance had been swinging drowsily in his brain for an unknown
lapse of time.
The apothecary nodded once or twice, and thereupon rose up and prepared
for bed, thinking to sleep till morning.
* * * * *
Aurora and her daughter had long ago put out their chamber light. Early
in the evening the younger had made favorable mention of retiring, to
which the elder replied by asking to be left awhile to her own thoughts.
Clotilde, after some tender protestations, consented, and passed through
the open door that showed, beyond it, their couch. The air had grown
just cool and humid enough to make the warmth of one small brand on the
hearth acceptable, and before this the fair widow settled herself to
gaze beyond her tiny, slippered feet into its wavering flame, and think.
Her thoughts were such as to bestow upon her face that enhancement of
beauty that comes of pleasant reverie, and to make it certain that that
little city afforded no fairer sight,--unless, indeed, it was the figure
of Clotilde just beyond the open door, as in her white nightdress,
enriched with the work of a diligent needle, she knelt upon the low
_prie-Dieu_ before the little family altar, and committed her pure soul
to the Divine keeping.
Clotilde could not have been many minutes asleep when Aurora changed her
mind and decided to follow. The shade upon her face had deepened for a
moment into a look of trouble; but a bright philosophy, which was part
of her paternal birthright, quickly chased it away, and she passed to
her room, disrobed, lay softly down beside the beauty already there and
smiled herself to sleep,--
"Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again."
But she also wakened again, and lay beside her unconscious bedmate,
occupied with the company of her own thoughts. "Why should these little
concealments ruffle my bosom? Does not even Nature herself practise
wiles? Look at the innocent birds; do they build where everybody can
count their eggs? And shall a poor human creature try to be better than
a bird? Didn't I say my prayers under the blanket just now?"
Her companion stirred in her sleep, and she rose upon one elbow to bend
upon the sleeper a gaze of ardent admiration. "Ah, beautiful little
chick! how guileless! indeed, how deficient in that respect!" She sat
up in the bed and hearkened; the bell struck for midnight. Was that the
hour? The fates were smiling! Surely M. Assonquer himself must have
wakened her to so choice an opportunity. She ought not to despise it.
Now, by the application of another and easily wrought charm, that
darkened hour lately spent with Palmyre would have, as it were, its
The night had grown much cooler. Stealthily, by degrees, she rose and
left the couch. The openings of the room were a window and two doors,
and these, with much caution, she contrived to open without noise. None
of them exposed her to the possibility of public view. One door looked
into the dim front room; the window let in only a flood of moonlight
over the top of a high house which was without openings on that side;
the other door revealed a weed-grown back yard, and that invaluable
protector, the cook's hound, lying fast asleep.
In her night-clothes as she was, she stood a moment in the centre of the
chamber, then sank upon one knee, rapped the floor gently but audibly
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