George Washington Cable
Part 3 out of 8
thrice, rose, drew a step backward, sank upon the other knee, rapped
thrice, rose again, stepped backward, knelt the third time, the third
time rapped, and then, rising, murmured a vow to pour upon the ground
next day an oblation of champagne--then closed the doors and window and
crept back to bed. Then she knew how cold she had become. It seemed as
though her very marrow was frozen. She was seized with such an
uncontrollable shivering that Clotilde presently opened her eyes, threw
her arm about her mother's neck, and said:
"Ah! my sweet mother, are you so cold?"
"The blanket was all off of me," said the mother, returning the embrace,
and the two sank into unconsciousness together.
* * * * *
Into slumber sank almost at the same moment Joseph Frowenfeld. He awoke,
not a great while later, to find himself standing in the middle of the
floor. Three or four men had shouted at once, and three pistol-shots,
almost in one instant, had resounded just outside his shop. He had
barely time to throw himself into half his garments when the knocker
sounded on his street door, and when he opened it Agricola Fusilier
entered, supported by his nephew Honore on one side and Doctor Keene on
the other. The latter's right hand was pressed hard against a bloody
place in Agricola's side.
"Give us plenty of light, Frowenfeld," said the doctor, "and a chair and
some lint, and some Castile soap, and some towels and sticking-plaster,
and anything else you can think of. Agricola's about scared to death--"
"Professor Frowenfeld," groaned the aged citizen, "I am basely and
"Right on, Frowenfeld," continued the doctor, "right on into the back
room. Fasten that front door. Here, Agricola, sit down here. That's
right, Frow., stir up a little fire. Give me--never mind, I'll just cut
the cloth open."
There was a moment of silent suspense while the wound was being
reached, and then the doctor spoke again.
"Just as I thought; only a safe and comfortable gash that will keep you
in-doors a while with your arm in a sling. You are more scared than
hurt, I think, old gentleman."
"You think an infernal falsehood, sir!"
"See here, sir," said the doctor, without ceasing to ply his dexterous
hands in his art, "I'll jab these scissors into your back if you say
"I suppose," growled the "citizen," "it is just the thing your
professional researches have qualified you for, sir!"
"Just stand here, Mr. Frowenfeld," said the little doctor, settling down
to a professional tone, "and hand me things as I ask for them. Honore,
please hold this arm; so." And so, after a moderate lapse of time, the
treatment that medical science of those days dictated was
applied--whatever that was. Let those who do not know give thanks.
M. Grandissime explained to Frowenfeld what had occurred.
"You see, I succeeded in meeting my uncle, and we went together to my
office. My uncle keeps his accounts with me. Sometimes we look them
over. We stayed until midnight; I dismissed my carriage. As we walked
homeward we met some friends coming out of the rooms of the Bagatelle
Club; five or six of my uncles and cousins, and also Doctor Keene. We
all fell a-talking of my grandfather's _fete de grandpere_ of next
month, and went to have some coffee. When we separated, and my uncle and
my cousin Achille Grandissime and Doctor Keene and myself came down
Royal street, out from that dark alley behind your shop jumped a little
man and stuck my uncle with a knife. If I had not caught his arm he
would have killed my uncle."
"And he escaped," said the apothecary.
"No, sir!" said Agricola, with his back turned.
"I think he did. I do not think he was struck."
"And Mr. ----, your cousin?"
"Achille? I have sent him for a carriage."
"Why, Agricola," said the doctor, snipping the loose ravellings from his
patient's bandages, "an old man like you should not have enemies."
"I am _not_ an old man, sir!"
"I said _young_ man."
"I am not a _young_ man, sir!"
"I wonder who the fellow was," continued Doctor Keene, as he readjusted
the ripped sleeve.
"That is _my_ affair, sir; I know who it was."
* * * * *
"And yet she insists," M. Grandissime was asking Frowenfeld, standing
with his leg thrown across the celestial globe, "that I knocked her down
Frowenfeld, about to answer, was interrupted by a rap on the door.
"That is my cousin, with the carriage," said M. Grandissime, following
the apothecary into the shop.
Frowenfeld opened to a young man,--a rather poor specimen of the
Grandissime type, deficient in stature but not in stage manner.
"_Est il mort_?" he cried at the threshold.
"Mr. Frowenfeld, let me make you acquainted with my cousin, Achille
Mr. Achille Grandissime gave Frowenfeld such a bow as we see now only in
"Ve'y 'appe to meck, yo' acquaintenz!"
Agricola entered, followed by the doctor, and demanded in indignant
thunder-tones, as he entered:
"I did," said Honore. "Will you please get into it at once."
"Ah! dear Honore!" exclaimed the old man, "always too kind! I go in it
purely to please you."
Good-night was exchanged; Honore entered the vehicle and Agricola was
helped in. Achille touched his hat, bowed and waved his hand to Joseph,
and shook hands with the doctor, and saying, "Well, good-night. Doctor
Keene," he shut himself out of the shop with another low bow. "Think I
am going to shake hands with an apothecary?" thought M. Achille.
Doctor Keene had refused Honore's invitation to go with them.
"Frowenfeld," he said, as he stood in the middle of the shop wiping a
ring with a towel and looking at his delicate, freckled hand, "I
propose, before going to bed with you, to eat some of your bread and
cheese. Aren't you glad?"
"I shall be, Doctor," replied the apothecary, "if you will tell me what
all this means."
"Indeed I will not,--that is, not to-night. What? Why, it would take
until breakfast to tell what 'all this means,'--the story of that
pestiferous darky Bras Coupe, with the rest? Oh, no, sir. I would sooner
not have any bread and cheese. What on earth has waked your curiosity so
"Have you any idea who stabbed Citizen Fusilier?" was Joseph's response.
"Why, at first I thought it was the other Honore Grandissime; but when I
saw how small the fellow was, I was at a loss, completely. But, whoever
it is, he has my bullet in him, whatever Honore may think."
"Will Mr. Fusilier's wound give him much trouble?" asked Joseph, as they
sat down to a luncheon at the fire.
"Hardly; he has too much of the blood of Lufki-Humma in him. But I need
not say that; for the Grandissime blood is just as strong. A wonderful
family, those Grandissimes! They are an old, illustrious line, and the
strength that was once in the intellect and will is going down into the
muscles. I have an idea that their greatness began, hundreds of years
ago, in ponderosity of arm,--of frame, say,--and developed from
generation to generation, in a rising scale, first into fineness of
sinew, then, we will say, into force of will, then into power of mind,
then into subtleties of genius. Now they are going back down the
incline. Look at Honore; he is high up on the scale, intellectual and
sagacious. But look at him physically, too. What an exquisite mold! What
compact strength! I should not wonder if he gets that from the Indian
Queen. What endurance he has! He will probably go to his business by and
by and not see his bed for seventeen or eighteen hours. He is the flower
of the family, and possibly the last one. Now, old Agricola shows the
downward grade better. Seventy-five, if he is a day, with, maybe,
one-fourth the attainments he pretends to have, and still less good
sense; but strong--as an orang-outang. Shall we go to bed?"
NEW LIGHT UPON DARK PLACES
When the long, wakeful night was over, and the doctor gone, Frowenfeld
seated himself to record his usual observations of the weather; but his
mind was elsewhere--here, there, yonder. There are understandings that
expand, not imperceptibly hour by hour, but as certain flowers do, by
little explosive ruptures, with periods of quiescence between. After
this night of experiences it was natural that Frowenfeld should find the
circumference of his perceptions consciously enlarged. The daylight
shone, not into his shop alone, but into his heart as well. The face of
Aurora, which had been the dawn to him before, was now a perfect
sunrise, while in pleasant timeliness had come in this Apollo of a
Honore Grandissime. The young immigrant was dazzled. He felt a longing
to rise up and run forward in this flood of beams. He was unconscious of
fatigue, or nearly so--would, have been wholly so but for the return by
and by of that same dim shadow, or shadows, still rising and darting
across every motion of the fancy that grouped again the actors in last
night's scenes; not such shadows as naturally go with sunlight to make
it seem brighter, but a something which qualified the light's perfection
and the air's freshness.
Wherefore, resolved: that he would compound his life, from this time
forward, by a new formula: books, so much; observation, so much; social
intercourse, so much; love--as to that, time enough for that in the
future (if he was in love with anybody, he certainly did not know it);
of love, therefore, amount not yet necessary to state, but probably
(when it should be introduced), in the generous proportion in which
physicians prescribe _aqua_. Resolved, in other words, without ceasing
to be Frowenfeld the studious, to begin at once the perusal of this
newly found book, the Community of New Orleans. True, he knew he should
find it a difficult task--not only that much of it was in a strange
tongue, but that it was a volume whose displaced leaves would have to be
lifted tenderly, blown free of much dust, re-arranged, some torn
fragments laid together again with much painstaking, and even the
purport of some pages guessed out. Obviously, the place to commence at
was that brightly illuminated title-page, the ladies Nancanou.
As the sun rose and diffused its beams in an atmosphere whose
temperature had just been recorded as 50 deg. F., the apothecary stepped
half out of his shop-door to face the bracing air that came blowing upon
his tired forehead from the north. As he did so, he said to himself:
"How are these two Honore Grandissimes related to each other, and why
should one be thought capable of attempting the life of Agricola?"
The answer was on its way to him.
There is left to our eyes but a poor vestige of the picturesque view
presented to those who looked down the rue Royale before the garish day
that changed the rue Enghien into Ingine street, and dropped the 'e'
from Royale. It was a long, narrowing perspective of arcades, lattices,
balconies, _zaguans_, dormer windows, and blue sky--of low, tiled roofs,
red and wrinkled, huddled down into their own shadows; of canvas awnings
with fluttering borders, and of grimy lamp-posts twenty feet in height,
each reaching out a gaunt iron arm over the narrow street and dangling a
lamp from its end. The human life which dotted the view displayed a
variety of tints and costumes such as a painter would be glad to take
just as he found them: the gayly feathered Indian, the slashed and
tinselled Mexican, the leather-breeched raftsmen, the blue-or
yellow-turbaned _negresse_, the sugar-planter in white flannel and
moccasins, the average townsman in the last suit of clothes of the
lately deceased century, and now and then a fashionable man in that
costume whose union of tight-buttoned martial severity, swathed throat,
and effeminate superabundance of fine linen seemed to offer a sort of
state's evidence against the pompous tyrannies and frivolities of
The _marchande des calas_ was out. She came toward Joseph's shop,
singing in a high-pitched nasal tone this new song:
"De'tit zozos--ye te assis--
De'tit zozos--si la barrier.
De'tit zozos, qui zabotte;
Qui ca ye di' mo pas conne.
"Manzeur-poulet vini simin,
Croupe si ye et croque ye;
Personn' pli' 'tend' ye zabotte--
De'tit zozos si la barrier."
"You lak dat song?" she asked, with a chuckle, as she let down from her
turbaned head a flat Indian basket of warm rice cakes.
"What does it mean?"
She laughed again--more than the questioner could see occasion for.
"Dat mean--two lill birds; dey was sittin' on de fence an' gabblin'
togeddah, you know, lak you see two young gals sometime', an' you can't
mek out w'at dey sayin', even ef dey know demself? H-ya! Chicken-hawk
come 'long dat road an' jes' set down an' munch 'em, an' nobody can't no
mo' hea' deir lill gabblin' on de fence, you know."
Here she laughed again.
Joseph looked at her with severe suspicion, but she found refuge in
"Honey, you ought to be asleep dis werry minit; look lak folks been
a-worr'in' you. I's gwine to pick out de werry bes' _calas_ I's got
As she delivered them she courtesied, first to Joseph and then, lower
and with hushed gravity, to a person who passed into the shop behind
him, bowing and murmuring politely as he passed. She followed the
new-comer with her eyes, hastily accepted the price of the cakes,
whispered, "Dat's my mawstah," lifted her basket to her head and went
away. Her master was Frowenfeld's landlord.
Frowenfeld entered after him, calas in hand, and with a grave
"--m'sieu'," responded the landlord, with a low bow.
Frowenfeld waited in silence.
The landlord hesitated, looked around him, seemed about to speak,
smiled, and said, in his soft, solemn voice, feeling his way word by
word through the unfamiliar language:
"Ah lag to teg you apar'."
"See me alone?"
The landlord recognized his error by a fleeting smile.
"Alone," said he.
"Shall we go into my room?"
"_S'il vous plait, m'sieu'_."
Frowenfeld's breakfast, furnished by contract from a neighboring
kitchen, stood on the table. It was a frugal one, but more comfortable
than formerly, and included coffee, that subject of just pride in Creole
cookery. Joseph deposited his _calas_ with these things and made haste
to produce a chair, which his visitor, as usual, declined.
"Idd you' bregfuz, m'sieu'."
"I can do that afterward," said Frowenfeld; but the landlord insisted
and turned away from him to look up at the books on the wall, precisely
as that other of the same name had done a few weeks before.
Frowenfeld, as he broke his loaf, noticed this, and, as the landlord
turned his face to speak, wondered that he had not before seen the
"Dez stog," said the sombre man.
"What, sir? Oh!--dead stock? But how can the materials of an education
be dead stock?"
The landlord shrugged. He would not argue the point. One American trait
which the Creole is never entirely ready to encounter is this gratuitous
Yankee way of going straight to the root of things.
"Dead stock in a mercantile sense, you mean," continued the apothecary;
"but are men right in measuring such things only by their present
The landlord had no reply. It was little to him, his manner intimated;
his contemplation dwelt on deeper flaws in human right and wrong;
yet--but it was needless to discuss it. However, he did speak.
"Ah was elevade in Pariz."
"Educated in Paris," exclaimed Joseph, admiringly. "Then you certainly
cannot find your education dead stock."
The grave, not amused, smile which was the landlord's only rejoinder,
though perfectly courteous, intimated that his tenant was sailing over
depths of the question that he was little aware of. But the smile in a
moment gave way for the look of one who was engrossed with
"M'sieu'," he began; but just then Joseph made an apologetic gesture and
went forward to wait upon an inquirer after "Godfrey's Cordial;" for
that comforter was known to be obtainable at "Frowenfeld's." The
business of the American drug-store was daily increasing. When
Frowenfeld returned his landlord stood ready to address him, with the
air of having decided to make short of a matter.
"Have a seat, sir," urged the apothecary.
His visitor again declined, with his uniform melancholy grace. He drew
close to Frowenfeld.
"Ah wand you mague me one _ouangan_," he said.
Joseph shook his head. He remembered Doctor Keene's expressed suspicion
concerning the assault of the night before.
"I do not understand you, sir; what is that?"
The landlord offered a heavy, persuading smile.
"An unguent? Is that what you mean--an ointment?"
"M'sieu'," said the applicant, with a not-to-be-deceived expression,
"_vous etes astrologue--magicien--"
The landlord was grossly incredulous.
"You godd one 'P'tit Albert.'"
He dropped his forefinger upon an iron-clasped book on the table, whose
title much use had effaced.
"That is the Bible. I do not know what the Tee Albare is!"
Frowenfeld darted an aroused glance into the ever-courteous eyes of his
visitor, who said without a motion:
"You di'n't gave Agricola Fusilier _une ouangan, la nuit passe_?"
"Ee was yeh?--laz nighd?"
"Mr. Fusilier was here last night--yes. He had been attacked by an
assassin and slightly wounded. He was accompanied by his nephew, who, I
suppose, is your cousin: he has the same name."
Frowenfeld, hoping he had changed the subject, concluded with a
propitiatory smile, which, however, was not reflected.
"Ma bruzzah," said the visitor.
"Ma whide bruzzah; ah ham nod whide, m'sieu'."
Joseph said nothing. He was too much awed to speak; the ejaculation
that started toward his lips turned back and rushed into his heart, and
it was the quadroon who, after a moment, broke the silence:
"Ah ham de holdez son of Numa Grandissime."
"Yes--yes," said Frowenfeld, as if he would wave away something
"Nod sell me--_ouangan_?" asked the landlord, again.
"Sir," exclaimed Frowenfeld, taking a step backward, "pardon me if I
offend you; that mixture of blood which draws upon you the scorn of this
community is to me nothing--nothing! And every invidious distinction
made against you on that account I despise! But, sir, whatever may be
either your private wrongs, or the wrongs you suffer in common with your
class, if you have it in your mind to employ any manner of secret art
against the interests or person of any one--"
The landlord was making silent protestations, and his tenant, lost in a
wilderness of indignant emotions, stopped.
"M'sieu'," began the quadroon, but ceased and stood with an expression
of annoyance every moment deepening on his face, until he finally shook
his head slowly, and said with a baffled smile: "Ah can nod
"Write it," said Frowenfeld, lifting forward a chair.
The landlord, for the first time in their acquaintance, accepted a
seat, bowing low as he did so, with a demonstration of profound
gratitude that just perceptibly heightened his even dignity. Paper,
quills, and ink were handed down from a shelf and Joseph retired
into the shop.
Honore Grandissime, f.m.c. (these initials could hardly have come into
use until some months later, but the convenience covers the sin of the
slight anachronism), Honore Grandissime, free man of color, entered from
the rear room so silently that Joseph was first made aware of his
presence by feeling him at his elbow. He handed the apothecary--but a
few words in time, lest we misjudge.
* * * * *
The father of the two Honores was that Numa Grandissime--that mere
child--whom the Grand Marquis, to the great chagrin of the De Grapions,
had so early cadetted. The commission seems not to have been thrown
away. While the province was still in first hands, Numa's was a shining
name in the annals of Kerlerec's unsatisfactory Indian wars; and in 1768
(when the colonists, ill-informed, inflammable, and long ill-governed,
resisted the transfer of Louisiana to Spain), at a time of life when
most young men absorb all the political extravagances of their day, he
had stood by the side of law and government, though the popular cry was
a frenzied one for "liberty." Moreover, he had held back his whole
chafing and stamping tribe from a precipice of disaster, and had secured
valuable recognition of their office-holding capacities from that
really good governor and princely Irishman whose one act of summary
vengeance upon a few insurgent office-coveters has branded him in
history as Cruel O'Reilly. But the experience of those days turned Numa
gray, and withal he was not satisfied with their outcome. In the midst
of the struggle he had weakened in one manly resolve--against his will
he married. The lady was a Fusilier, Agricola's sister, a person of rare
intelligence and beauty, whom, from early childhood, the secret counsels
of his seniors had assigned to him. Despite this, he had said he would
never marry; he made, he said, no pretensions to severe
conscientiousness, or to being better than others, but--as between his
Maker and himself--he had forfeited the right to wed, they all knew how.
But the Fusiliers had become very angry and Numa, finding strife about
to ensue just when without unity he could not bring an undivided clan
through the torrent of the revolution, had "nobly sacrificed a little
sentimental feeling," as his family defined it, by breaking faith with
the mother of the man now standing at Joseph Frowenfeld's elbow, and who
was then a little toddling boy. It was necessary to save the party--nay,
that was a slip; we should say, to save the family; this is not a
parable. Yet Numa loved his wife. She bore him a boy and a girl, twins;
and as her son grew in physical, intellectual, and moral symmetry, he
indulged the hope that--the ambition and pride of all the various
Grandissimes now centering in this lawful son, and all strife being
lulled--he should yet see this Honore right the wrongs which he had not
quite dared to uproot. And Honore inherited the hope and began to make
it an intention and aim even before his departure (with his half-brother
the other Honore) for school in Paris, at the early age of fifteen. Numa
soon after died, and Honore, after various fortunes in Paris, London,
and elsewhere, in the care, or at least company, of a pious uncle in
holy orders, returned to the ancestral mansion. The father's will--by
the law they might have set it aside, but that was not their way--left
the darker Honore the bulk of his fortune, the younger a competency. The
latter--instead of taking office, as an ancient Grandissime should have
done--to the dismay and mortification of his kindred, established
himself in a prosperous commercial business. The elder bought houses and
became a _rentier_.
* * * * *
The landlord handed the apothecary the following writing:
MR. JOSEPH FROWENFELD:
Think not that anybody is to be either poisoned by me nor yet
to be made a sufferer by the exercise of anything by me of
the character of what is generally known as grigri, otherwise
magique. This, sir, I do beg your permission to offer my
assurance to you of the same. Ah, no! it is not for that! I
am the victim of another entirely and a far differente and
dissimilar passion, _i.e._, Love. Esteemed sir, speaking or
writing to you as unto the only man of exclusively white
blood whom I believe is in Louisiana willing to do my dumb,
suffering race the real justice, I love Palmyre la Philosophe
with a madness which is by the human lips or tongues not
possible to be exclaimed (as, I may add, that I have in the
same like manner since exactley nine years and seven months
and some days). Alas! heavens! I can't help it in the least
particles at all! What, what shall I do, for ah! it is
pitiful! She loves me not at all, but, on the other hand, is
(if I suspicion not wrongfully) wrapped up head and ears in
devotion of one who does not love her, either, so cold and
incapable of appreciation is he. I allude to Honore
Ah! well do I remember the day when we returned--he and
me--from the France. She was there when we landed on that
levee, she was among that throng of kindreds and domestiques,
she shind like the evening star as she stood there (it was
the first time I saw her, but she was known to him when at
fifteen he left his home, but I resided not under my own
white father's roof--not at all--far from that). She cried
out "A la fin to vini!" and leap herself with both
resplendant arm around his neck and kist him twice on the one
cheek and the other, and her resplendant eyes shining with a
so great beauty.
If you will give me a _poudre d'amour_ such as I doubt not
your great knowledge enable you to make of a power that
cannot to be resist, while still at the same time of a
harmless character toward the life or the health of such that
I shall succeed in its use to gain the affections of that
emperice of my soul, I hesitate not to give you such price as
it may please you to nominate up as high as to $l,000--nay,
more. Sir, will you do that?
I have the honor to remain, sir,
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Frowenfeld slowly transferred his gaze from the paper to his landlord's
face. Dejection and hope struggled with each other in the gaze that was
returned; but when Joseph said, with a countenance full of pity, "I have
no power to help you," the disappointed lover merely looked fixedly for
a moment in the direction of the street, then lifted his hat toward his
head, bowed, and departed.
ART AND COMMERCE
It was some two or three days after the interview just related that the
apothecary of the rue Royale found it necessary to ask a friend to sit
in the shop a few minutes while he should go on a short errand. He was
kept away somewhat longer than he had intended to stay, for, as they
were coming out of the cathedral, he met Aurora and Clotilde. Both the
ladies greeted him with a cordiality which was almost inebriating,
Aurora even extending her hand. He stood but a moment, responding
blushingly to two or three trivial questions from her; yet even in so
short a time, and although Clotilde gave ear with the sweetest smiles
and loveliest changes of countenance, he experienced a lively renewal of
a conviction that this young lady was most unjustly harboring toward him
a vague disrelish, if not a positive distrust. That she had some mental
reservation was certain.
"'Sieur Frowenfel'," said Aurora, as he raised his hat for good-day,
"you din come home yet."
He did not understand until he had crimsoned and answered he knew not
what--something about having intended every day. He felt lifted he knew
not where, Paradise opened, there was a flood of glory, and then he was
alone; the ladies, leaving adieus sweeter than the perfume they carried
away with them, floated into the south and were gone. Why was it that
the elder, though plainly regarded by the younger with admiration,
dependence, and overflowing affection, seemed sometimes to be, one might
almost say, watched by her? He liked Aurora the better.
On his return to the shop his friend remarked that if he received many
such visitors as the one who had called during his absence, he might be
permitted to be vain. It was Honore Grandissime, and he had left
"Frowenfeld," said his friend, "it would pay you to employ a regular
Joseph was in an abstracted mood.
"I have some thought of doing so."
Unlucky slip! As he pushed open his door next morning, what was his
dismay to find himself confronted by some forty men. Five of them leaped
up from the door-sill, and some thirty-five from the edge of the
_trottoir_, brushed that part of their wearing-apparel which always fits
with great neatness on a Creole, and trooped into the shop. The
apothecary fell behind his defences, that is to say, his prescription
desk, and explained to them in a short and spirited address that he did
not wish to employ any of them on any terms. Nine-tenths of them
understood not a word of English; but his gesture was unmistakable. They
bowed gratefully, and said good-day.
Now Frowenfeld did these young men an injustice; and though they were
far from letting him know it, some of them felt it and interchanged
expressions of feeling reproachful to him as they stopped on the next
corner to watch a man painting a sign. He had treated them as if they
all wanted situations. Was this so? Far from it. Only twenty men were
applicants; the other twenty were friends who had come to see them get
the place. And again, though, as the apothecary had said, none of them
knew anything about the drug business--no, nor about any other business
under the heavens--they were all willing that he should teach
them--except one. A young man of patrician softness and costly apparel
tarried a moment after the general exodus, and quickly concluded that on
Frowenfeld's account it was probably as well that he could not qualify,
since he was expecting from France an important government appointment
as soon as these troubles should be settled and Louisiana restored to
her former happy condition. But he had a friend--a cousin--whom he would
recommend, just the man for the position; a splendid fellow; popular,
accomplished--what? the best trainer of dogs that M. Frowenfeld might
ever hope to look upon; a "so good fisherman as I never saw! "--the
marvel of the ball-room--could handle a partner of twice his weight; the
speaker had seen him take a lady so tall that his head hardly came up to
her bosom, whirl her in the waltz from right to left--this way! and
then, as quick as lightning, turn and whirl her this way, from left to
right--"so grezful ligue a peajohn! He could read and write, and knew
more comig song!"--the speaker would hasten to secure him before he
should take some other situation.
The wonderful waltzer never appeared upon the scene; yet Joseph made
shift to get along, and by and by found a man who partially met his
requirements. The way of it was this: With his forefinger in a book
which he had been reading, he was one day pacing his shop floor in deep
thought. There were two loose threads hanging from the web of incident
weaving around him which ought to connect somewhere; but where? They
were the two visits made to his shop by the young merchant, Honore
Grandissime. He stopped still to think; what "train of thought" could he
have started in the mind of such a man?
He was about to resume his walk, when there came in, or more strictly
speaking, there shot in, a young, auburn-curled, blue-eyed man, whose
adolescent buoyancy, as much as his delicate, silver-buckled feet and
clothes of perfect fit, pronounced him all-pure Creole. His name, when
it was presently heard, accounted for the blond type by revealing a
"'Sieur Frowenfel'," he said, advancing like a boy coming in after
recess, "I 'ave somet'ing beauteeful to place into yo' window."
He wheeled half around as he spoke and seized from a naked black boy,
who at that instant entered, a rectangular object enveloped in paper.
Frowenfeld's window was fast growing to be a place of art exposition. A
pair of statuettes, a golden tobacco-box, a costly jewel-casket, or a
pair of richly gemmed horse-pistols--the property of some ancient
gentleman or dame of emaciated fortune, and which must be sold to keep
up the bravery of good clothes and pomade that hid slow starvation--went
into the shop-window of the ever-obliging apothecary, to be disposed of
by _tombola_. And it is worthy of note in passing, concerning the moral
education of one who proposed to make no conscious compromise with any
sort of evil, that in this drivelling species of gambling he saw nothing
hurtful or improper. But "in Frowenfeld's window" appeared also articles
for simple sale or mere transient exhibition; as, for instance, the
wonderful tapestries of a blind widow of ninety; tremulous little
bunches of flowers, proudly stated to have been made entirely of the
bones of the ordinary catfish; others, large and spreading, the sight of
which would make any botanist fall down "and die as mad as the wild
waves be," whose ticketed merit was that they were composed exclusively
of materials produced upon Creole soil; a picture of the Ursulines'
convent and chapel, done in forty-five minutes by a child of ten years,
the daughter of the widow Felicie Grandissime; and the siege of Troy, in
ordinary ink, done entirely with the pen, the labor of twenty years, by
"a citizen of New Orleans." It was natural that these things should come
to "Frowenfeld's corner," for there, oftener than elsewhere, the critics
were gathered together. Ah! wonderful men, those critics; and,
fortunately, we have a few still left.
The young man with auburn curls rested the edge of his burden upon the
counter, tore away its wrappings and disclosed a painting.
He said nothing--with his mouth; but stood at arm's length balancing the
painting and casting now upon it and now upon Joseph Frowenfeld a look
more replete with triumph than Caesar's three-worded dispatch.
The apothecary fixed upon it long and silently the gaze of a
somnambulist. At length he spoke:
"What is it?"
"Louisiana rif-using to hanter de h-Union!" replied the Creole, with an
ecstasy that threatened to burst forth in hip-hurrahs.
Joseph said nothing, but silently wondered at Louisiana's anatomy.
"Gran' subjec'!" said the Creole.
"Allegorical," replied the hard-pressed apothecary.
"Allegoricon? No, sir! Allegoricon never saw dat pigshoe. If you insist
to know who make dat pigshoe--de hartis' stan' bif-ore you!"
"It is your work?"
"'Tis de work of me, Raoul Innerarity, cousin to de disting-wish Honore
Grandissime. I swear to you, sir, on stack of Bible' as 'igh as
He smote his breast.
"Do you wish to put it in the window?"
M. Raoul Innerarity hesitated a moment before replying:
"'Sieur Frowenfel', I think it is a foolishness to be too proud, eh? I
want you to say, 'My frien', 'Sieur Innerarity, never care to sell
anything; 'tis for egs-hibby-shun'; _mais_--when somebody
look at it, so," the artist cast upon his work a look of languishing
covetousness, "'you say, _foudre tonnerre!_ what de dev'!--I take dat
ris-pon-sibble-ty--you can have her for two hun'red fifty dollah!'
Better not be too proud, eh, 'Sieur Frowenfel'?"
"No, sir," said Joseph, proceeding to place it in the window, his new
friend following him about spanielwise; "but you had better let me say
plainly that it is for sale."
"Oh--I don't care--_mais_--my rillation' will never forgive me!
_Mais_--go-ahead-I-don't-care! 'T is for sale."
"'Sieur Frowenfel'," he resumed, as they came away from the window, "one
week ago"--he held up one finger--"what I was doing? Makin' bill of
ladin', my faith!--for my cousin Honore! an' now, I ham a hartis'! So
soon I foun' dat, I say, 'Cousin Honore,'"--the eloquent speaker lifted
his foot and administered to the empty air a soft, polite kick--"I never
goin' to do anoder lick o' work so long I live; adieu!"
He lifted a kiss from his lips and wafted it in the direction of his
"Mr. Innerarity," exclaimed the apothecary, "I fear you are making a
"You tink I hass too much?"
"Well, sir, to be candid, I do; but that is not your greatest mistake."
"What she's worse?"
The apothecary simultaneously smiled and blushed.
"I would rather not say; it is a passably good example of Creole art;
there is but one way by which it can ever be worth what you ask for it."
"What dat is?"
The smile faded and the blush deepened as Frowenfeld replied:
"If it could become the means of reminding this community that crude
ability counts next to nothing in art, and that nothing else in this
world ought to work so hard as genius, it would be worth thousands
"You tink she is worse a t'ousand dollah?" asked the Creole, shadow and
sunshine chasing each other across his face.
The unwilling critic strove unnecessarily against his smile.
"Ow much you tink?"
"Mr. Innerarity, as an exercise it is worth whatever truth or skill it
has taught you; to a judge of paintings it is ten dollars' worth of
paint thrown away; but as an article of sale it is worth what it will
bring without misrepresentation."
"Two--hun-rade an'--fifty--dollahs or--not'in'!" said the indignant
Creole, clenching one fist, and with the other hand lifting his hat by
the front corner and slapping it down upon the counter. "Ha, ha, ha! a
pase of waint--a wase of paint! 'Sieur Frowenfel', you don' know not'in'
'bout it! You har a jedge of painting?" he added cautiously.
"_Eh, bien! foudre tonnerre_!--look yeh! you know? 'Sieur Frowenfel'?
Dat de way de publique halways talk about a hartis's firs' pigshoe. But,
I hass you to pardon me, Monsieur Frowenfel', if I 'ave speak a lill
"Then you must forgive me if, in my desire to set you right, I have
spoken with too much liberty. I probably should have said only what I
first intended to say, that unless you are a person of independent
"You t'ink I would make bill of ladin'? Ah! Hm-m!"
"--that you had made a mistake in throwing up your means of support--"
"But 'e 'as fill de place an' don' want me no mo'. You want a
clerk?--one what can speak fo' lang-widge--French, Eng-lish, Spanish,
_an'_ Italienne? Come! I work for you in de mawnin' an' paint in de
Joseph was taken unaware. He smiled, frowned, passed his hand across his
brow, noticed, for the first time since his delivery of the picture, the
naked little boy standing against the edge of a door, said, "Why--," and
"I riffer you to my cousin Honore," said Innerarity.
"Have you any knowledge of this business?"
"Can you keep shop in the forenoon or afternoon indifferently, as I may
"Eh? Forenoon--afternoon?" was the reply.
"Can you paint sometimes in the morning and keep shop in the evening?"
Minor details were arranged on the spot. Raoul dismissed the black boy,
took off his coat and fell to work decanting something, with the
understanding that his salary, a microscopic one, should begin from date
if his cousin should recommend him.
"'Sieur Frowenfel'," he called from under the counter, later in the day,
"you t'ink it would be hanny disgrace to paint de pigshoe of a niggah?"
"Ah, my soul! what a pigshoe I could paint of Bras-Coupe!"
We have the afflatus in Louisiana, if nothing else.
A VERY NATURAL MISTAKE
MR. Raoul Innerarity proved a treasure. The fact became patent in a few
hours. To a student of the community he was a key, a lamp, a lexicon, a
microscope, a tabulated statement, a book of heraldry, a city directory,
a glass of wine, a Book of Days, a pair of wings, a comic almanac, a
diving bell, a Creole _veritas_. Before the day had had time to cool,
his continual stream of words had done more to elucidate the mysteries
in which his employer had begun to be befogged than half a year of the
apothecary's slow and scrupulous guessing. It was like showing how to
carve a strange fowl. The way he dovetailed story into story and drew
forward in panoramic procession Lufki-Humma and Epaminondas Fusilier,
Zephyr Grandissime and the lady of the _lettre de cachet_, Demosthenes
De Grapion and the _fille a l'hopital_, Georges De Grapion and the
_fille a la cassette_, Numa Grandissime, father of the two Honores,
young Nancanou and old Agricola,--the way he made them
"Knit hands and beat the ground
In a light, fantastic round,"
would have shamed the skilled volubility of Sheharazade.
"Look!" said the story-teller, summing up; "you take hanny 'istory of
France an' see the hage of my familie. Pipple talk about de Boulignys,
de Sauves, de Grandpres, de Lemoynes, de St. Maxents,--bla-a-a! De
Grandissimes is as hole as de dev'! What? De mose of de Creole families
is not so hold as plenty of my yallah kinfolks!"
The apothecary found very soon that a little salt improved M. Raoul's
But here he was, a perfect treasure, and Frowenfeld, fleeing before his
illimitable talking power in order to digest in seclusion the ancestral
episodes of the Grandissimes and De Grapions, laid pleasant plans for
the immediate future. To-morrow morning he would leave the shop in
Raoul's care and call on M. Honore Grandissime to advise with him
concerning the retention of the born artist as a drug-clerk. To-morrow
evening he would pluck courage and force his large but bashful feet up
to the doorstep of Number 19 rue Bienville. And the next evening he
would go and see what might be the matter with Doctor Keene, who had
looked ill on last parting with the evening group that lounged in
Frowenfeld's door, some three days before. The intermediate hours were
to be devoted, of course, to the prescription desk and his "dead stock."
And yet after this order of movement had been thus compactly planned,
there all the more seemed still to be that abroad which, now on this
side, and now on that, was urging him in a nervous whisper to make
haste. There had escaped into the air, it seemed, and was gliding
about, the expectation of a crisis.
Such a feeling would have been natural enough to the tenants of Number
19 rue Bienville, now spending the tenth of the eighteen days of grace
allowed them in which to save their little fortress. For Palmyre's
assurance that the candle burning would certainly cause the rent-money
to be forthcoming in time was to Clotilde unknown, and to Aurora it was
poor stuff to make peace of mind of. But there was a degree of
impracticability in these ladies, which, if it was unfortunate, was,
nevertheless, a part of their Creole beauty, and made the absence of any
really brilliant outlook what the galaxy makes a moonless sky. Perhaps
they had not been as diligent as they might have been in canvassing all
possible ways and means for meeting the pecuniary emergency so fast
bearing down upon them. From a Creole standpoint, they were not bad
managers. They could dress delightfully on an incredibly small outlay;
could wear a well-to-do smile over an inward sigh of stifled hunger;
could tell the parents of their one or two scholars to consult their
convenience, and then come home to a table that would make any kind soul
weep; but as to estimating the velocity of bills-payable in their
orbits, such trained sagacity was not theirs. Their economy knew how to
avoid what the Creole-African apothegm calls _commerce Man Lizon--qui
assete pou' trois picaillons et vend' pou' ein escalin_ (bought for
three picayunes and sold for two); but it was an economy that made
their very hound a Spartan; for, had that economy been half as wise as
it was heroic, his one meal a day would not always have been the cook's
leavings of cold rice and the lickings of the gumbo plates.
On the morning fixed by Joseph Frowenfeld for calling on M. Grandissime,
on the banquette of the rue Toulouse, directly in front of an old
Spanish archway and opposite a blacksmith's shop,--this blacksmith's
shop stood between a jeweller's store and a large, balconied and
dormer-windowed wine-warehouse--Aurore Nancanou, closely veiled, had
halted in a hesitating way and was inquiring of a gigantic negro cartman
the whereabouts of the counting-room of M. Honore Grandissime.
Before he could respond she descried the name upon a staircase within
the archway, and, thanking the cartman as she would have thanked a
prince, hastened to ascend. An inspiring smell of warm rusks, coming
from a bakery in the paved court below, rushed through the archway and
up the stair and accompanied her into the cemetery-like silence of the
counting-room. There were in the department some fourteen clerks. It was
a den of Grandissimes. More than half of them were men beyond middle
life, and some were yet older. One or two were so handsome, under their
noble silvery locks, that almost any woman--Clotilde, for
instance,--would have thought, "No doubt that one, or that one, is the
head of the house." Aurora approached the railing which shut in the
silent toilers and directed her eyes to the farthest corner of the
room. There sat there at a large desk a thin, sickly-looking man with
very sore eyes and two pairs of spectacles, plying a quill with a
"H-h-m-m!" said she, very softly.
A young man laid down his rule and stepped to the rail with a silent
bow. His face showed a jaded look. Night revelry, rather than care or
years, had wrinkled it; but his bow was high-bred.
"Madame,"--in an undertone.
"Monsieur, it is M. Grandissime whom I wish to see," she said in French.
But the young man responded in English.
"You har one tenant, ent it?"
"Zen eet ees M. De Brahmin zat you 'ave to see."
"No, seh; M. Grandissime."
"M. Grandissime nevva see one tenant."
"I muz see M. Grandissime."
Aurora lifted her veil and laid it up on her bonnet.
The clerk immediately crossed the floor to the distant desk. The quill
of the sore-eyed man scratched louder--scratch, scratch--as though it
were trying to scratch under the door of Number 19 rue Bienville--for a
moment, and then ceased. The clerk, with one hand behind him and one
touching the desk, murmured a few words, to which the other, after
glancing under his arm at Aurora, gave a short, low reply and resumed
his pen. The clerk returned, came through a gateway in the railing, led
the way into a rich inner room, and turning with another courtly bow,
handed her a cushioned armchair and retired.
"After eighteen years," thought Aurora, as she found herself alone. It
had been eighteen years since any representative of the De Grapion line
had met a Grandissime face to face, so far as she knew; even that
representative was only her deceased husband, a mere connection by
marriage. How many years it was since her grandfather, Georges De
Grapion, captain of dragoons, had had his fatal meeting with a Mandarin
de Grandissime, she did not remember. There, opposite her on the wall,
was the portrait of a young man in a corslet who might have been M.
Mandarin himself. She felt the blood of her race growing warmer in her
veins. "Insolent tribe," she said, without speaking, "we have no more
men left to fight you; but now wait. See what a woman can do."
These thoughts ran through her mind as her eye passed from one object to
another. Something reminded her of Frowenfeld, and, with mingled
defiance at her inherited enemies and amusement at the apothecary, she
indulged in a quiet smile. The smile was still there as her glance in
its gradual sweep reached a small mirror.
She almost leaped from her seat.
Not because that mirror revealed a recess which she had not previously
noticed; not because behind a costly desk therein sat a youngish man,
reading a letter; not because he might have been observing her, for it
was altogether likely that, to avoid premature interruption, he had
avoided looking up; nor because this was evidently Honore Grandissime;
but because Honore Grandissime, if this were he, was the same person
whom she had seen only with his back turned in the pharmacy--the rider
whose horse ten days ago had knocked her down, the Lieutenant of
Dragoons who had unmasked and to whom she had unmasked at the ball! Fly!
But where? How? It was too late; she had not even time to lower her
veil. M. Grandissime looked up at the glass, dropped the letter with a
slight start of consternation and advanced quickly toward her. For an
instant her embarrassment showed itself in a mantling blush and a
distressful yearning to escape; but the next moment she rose, all
a-flutter within, it is true, but with a face as nearly sedate as the
inborn witchery of her eyes would allow.
He spoke in Parisian French:
"Please be seated, madame."
She sank down.
"Do you wish to see me?"
She did not see her way out of this falsehood, but--she couldn't say
"I wish to see M. Honore Grandissime."
"That is my name, madame."
"Ah!"--with an angelic smile; she had collected her wits now, and was
ready for war. "You are not one of his clerks?"
M. Grandissime smiled softly, while he said to himself: "You little
honey-bee, you want to sting me, eh?" and then he answered her question.
"No, madame; I am the gentleman you are looking for."
"The gentleman she was look--" her pride resented the fact.
"Me!"--thought she--"I am the lady whom, I have not a doubt, you have
been longing to meet ever since the ball;" but her look was unmoved
gravity. She touched her handkerchief to her lips and handed him the
"I received that from your office the Monday before last."
There was a slight emphasis in the announcement of the time; it was the
day of the run-over.
Honore Grandissime, stopping with the rent-notice only half unfolded,
saw the advisability of calling up all the resources of his sagacity and
wit in order to answer wisely; and as they answered his call a brighter
nobility so overspread face and person that Aurora inwardly exclaimed at
it even while she exulted in her thrust.
"Monday before last?"
She slightly bowed.
"A serious misfortune befell me that day," said M. Grandissime.
"Ah?" replied the lady, raising her brows with polite distress, "but
you have entirely recovered, I suppose."
"It was I, madame, who that evening caused you a mortification for which
I fear you will accept no apology."
"On the contrary," said Aurora, with an air of generous protestation,
"it is I who should apologize; I fear I injured your horse."
M. Grandissime only smiled, and opening the rent-notice dropped his
glance upon it while he said in a preoccupied tone:
"My horse is very well, I thank you."
But as he read the paper, his face assumed a serious air and he seemed
to take an unnecessary length of time to reach the bottom of it.
"He is trying to think how he will get rid of me," thought Aurora; "he
is making up some pretext with which to dismiss me, and when the tenth
of March comes we shall be put into the street."
M. Grandissime extended the letter toward her, but she did not lift her
"I beg to assure you, madame, I could never have permitted this notice
to reach you from my office; I am not the Honore Grandissime for whom
this is signed."
Aurora smiled in a way to signify clearly that that was just the
subterfuge she had been anticipating. Had she been at home she would
have thrown herself, face downward, upon the bed; but she only smiled
meditatively upward at the picture of an East Indian harbor and made an
unnecessary rearrangement of her handkerchief under her folded hands.
"There are, you know,"--began Honore, with a smile which changed the
meaning to "You know very well there are"--"two Honore Grandissimes.
This one who sent you this letter is a man of color--"
"Oh!" exclaimed Aurora, with a sudden malicious sparkle.
"If you will entrust this paper to me," said Honore, quietly, "I will
see him and do now engage that you shall have no further trouble about
it. Of course, I do not mean that I will pay it, myself; I dare not
offer to take such a liberty."
Then he felt that a warm impulse had carried him a step too far.
Aurora rose up with a refusal as firm as it was silent. She neither
smiled nor scintillated now, but wore an expression of amiable
practicality as she presently said, receiving back the rent-notice as
"I thank you, sir, but it might seem strange to him to find his notice
in the hands of a person who can claim no interest in the matter. I
shall have to attend to it myself."
"Ah! little enchantress," thought her grave-faced listener, as he gave
attention, "this, after all--ball and all--is the mood in which you look
your very, very best"--a fact which nobody knew better than the
He walked beside her toward the open door leading back into the
counting-room, and the dozen or more clerks, who, each by some ingenuity
of his own, managed to secure a glimpse of them, could not fail to feel
that they had never before seen quite so fair a couple. But she dropped
her veil, bowed M. Grandissime a polite "No farther," and passed out.
M. Grandissime walked once up and down his private office, gave the door
a soft push with his foot and lighted a cigar.
The clerk who had before acted as usher came in and handed him a slip of
paper with a name written on it. M. Grandissime folded it twice, gazed
out the window, and finally nodded. The clerk disappeared, and Joseph
Frowenfeld paused an instant in the door and then advanced, with a
"Good-morning," responded M. Grandissime.
He smiled and extended his hand, yet there was a mechanical and
preoccupied air that was not what Joseph felt justified in expecting.
"How can I serve you, Mr. Frhowenfeld?" asked the merchant, glancing
through into the counting-room. His coldness was almost all in Joseph's
imagination, but to the apothecary it seemed such that he was nearly
induced to walk away without answering. However, he replied:
"A young man whom I have employed refers to you to recommend him."
"Yes, sir? Prhay, who is that?"
"Your cousin, I believe, Mr. Raoul Innerarity."
M. Grandissime gave a low, short laugh, and took two steps toward his
"Rhaoul? Oh yes, I rhecommend Rhaoul to you. As an assistant in yo'
sto'?--the best man you could find."
"Thank you, sir," said Joseph, coldly. "Good-morning!" he added turning
"Mr. Frhowenfeld," said the other, "do you evva rhide?"
"I used to ride," replied the apothecary, turning, hat in hand, and
wondering what such a question could mean.
"If I send a saddle-hoss to yo' do' on day aftah to-morrhow evening at
fo' o'clock, will you rhide out with me for-h about a hour-h and a
half--just for a little pleasu'e?"
Joseph was yet more astonished than before. He hesitated, accepted the
invitation, and once more said good-morning.
DOCTOR KEENE RECOVERS HIS BULLET
It early attracted the apothecary's notice, in observing the
civilization around him, that it kept the flimsy false bottoms in its
social errors only by incessant reiteration. As he re-entered the shop,
dissatisfied with himself for accepting M. Grandissime's invitation to
ride, he knew by the fervent words which he overheard from the lips of
his employee that the f.m.c. had been making one of his reconnoisances,
and possibly had ventured in to inquire for his tenant.
"I t'ink, me, dat hanny w'ite man is a gen'leman; but I don't care if a
man are good like a h-angel, if 'e har not pu'e w'ite '_ow can_ 'e be a
Raoul's words were addressed to a man who, as he rose up and handed
Frowenfeld a note, ratified the Creole's sentiment by a spurt of tobacco
juice and an affirmative "Hm-m."
The note was a lead-pencil scrawl, without date.
DEAR JOE: Come and see me some time this evening.
I am on my back in bed. Want your help in a little
matter. Yours, Keene.
I have found out who ---- ----"
Frowenfeld pondered: "I have found out who ---- ----" Ah! Doctor Keene
had found out who stabbed Agricola.
Some delays occurred in the afternoon, but toward sunset the apothecary
dressed and went out. From the doctor's bedside in the rue St. Louis, if
not delayed beyond all expectation, he would proceed to visit the ladies
at Number 19 rue Bienville. The air was growing cold and threatening
He found the Doctor prostrate, wasted, hoarse, cross and almost too weak
for speech. He could only whisper, as his friend approached his pillow:
"These vile lungs!"
The invalid held up three small, freckled fingers.
Joseph dared not show pity in his gaze, but it seemed savage not to
express some feeling, so after standing a moment he began to say:
"I am very sorry--"
"You needn't bother yourself!" whispered the doctor, who lay frowning
upward. By and by he whispered again.
Frowenfeld bent his ear, and the little man, so merry when well,
repeated, in a savage hiss:
It was some time before he again broke the silence.
"Tell you what I want--you to do--for me."
"Hold on!" gasped the invalid, shutting his eyes with impatience,--"till
I get through."
He lay a little while motionless, and then drew from under his pillow a
wallet, and from the wallet a pistol-ball.
"Took that out--a badly neglected wound--last day I saw you." Here a
pause, an appalling cough, and by and by a whisper: "Knew the bullet in
an instant." He smiled wearily. "Peculiar size." He made a feeble
motion. Frowenfeld guessed the meaning of it and handed him a pistol
from a small table. The ball slipped softly home. "Refused two hundred
dollars--those pistols"--with a sigh and closed eyes. By and by
again--"Patient had smart fever--but it will be gone--time you
get--there. Want you to--take care--t' I get up."
The sick man turned away his face with a petulant frown; but presently,
with an effort at self-control, brought it back and whispered:
"You mean you--not physician?"
"No. No more are half--doc's. You can do it. Simple gun-shot wound in
the shoulder." A rest. "Pretty wound; ranges"--he gave up the effort to
describe it. "You'll see it." Another rest. "You see--this matter has
been kept quiet so far. I don't want any one--else to know--anything
about it." He sighed audibly and looked as though he had gone to sleep,
but whispered again, with his eyes closed--"'specially on culprit's
Frowenfeld was silent: but the invalid was waiting for an answer, and,
not getting it, stirred peevishly.
"Do you wish me to go to-night?" asked the apothecary.
"To-morrow morning. Will you--?"
The invalid lay quite still for several minutes, looking steadily at his
friend, and finally let a faint smile play about his mouth,--a wan
reminder of his habitual roguery.
"Good boy," he whispered.
Frowenfeld rose and straightened the bedclothes, took a few steps about
the room, and finally returned. The Doctor's restless eye had followed
him at every movement.
"Yes," replied the apothecary, hat in hand; "where is it?"
"Corner Bienville and Bourbon,--upper river corner,--yellow one-story
house, doorsteps on street. You know the house?"
"I think I do."
"Good-night. Here!--I wish you would send that black girl in here--as
you go out--make me better fire--Joe!" the call was a ghostly whisper.
Frowenfeld paused in the door.
"You don't mind my--bad manners, Joe?"
The apothecary gave one of his infrequent smiles.
He started toward Number 19 rue Bienville, but a light, cold sprinkle
set in, and he turned back toward his shop. No sooner had the rain got
him there than it stopped, as rain sometimes will do.
WARS WITHIN THE BREAST
The next morning came in frigid and gray. The unseasonable numerals
which the meteorologist recorded in his tables might have provoked a
superstitious lover of better weather to suppose that Monsieur Danny,
the head imp of discord, had been among the aerial currents. The
passionate southern sky, looking down and seeing some six thousand to
seventy-five hundred of her favorite children disconcerted and
shivering, tried in vain, for two hours, to smile upon them with a
little frozen sunshine, and finally burst into tears.
In thus giving way to despondency, it is sad to say, the sky was closely
imitating the simultaneous behavior of Aurora Nancanou. Never was pretty
lady in cheerier mood than that in which she had come home from Honore's
counting-room. Hard would it be to find the material with which to build
again the castles-in-air that she founded upon two or three little
discoveries there made. Should she tell them to Clotilde? Ah! and for
what? No, Clotilde was a dear daughter--ha! few women were capable of
having such a daughter as Clotilde; but there were things about which
she was entirely too scrupulous. So, when she came in from that errand
profoundly satisfied that she would in future hear no more about the
rent than she might choose to hear, she had been too shrewd to expose
herself to her daughter's catechising. She would save her little
revelations for disclosure when they might be used to advantage. As she
threw her bonnet upon the bed, she exclaimed, in a tone of gentle and
"Why did you not remind me that M. Honore Grandissime, that precious
somebody-great, has the honor to rejoice in a quadroon half-brother of
the same illustrious name? Why did you not remind me, eh?"
"Ah! and you know it as well as A, B, C," playfully retorted Clotilde.
"Well, guess which one is our landlord?"
"_Ma foi_! how do _I_ know? I had to wait a shameful long time to see
_Monsieur le prince_,--just because I am a De Grapion, I know. When at
last I saw him, he says, 'Madame, this is the other Honore Grandissime.'
There, you see we are the victims of a conspiracy; if I go to the other,
he will send me back to the first. But, Clotilde, my darling," cried the
beautiful speaker, beamingly, "dismiss all fear and care; we shall have
no more trouble about it."
"And how, indeed, do you know that?"
"Something tells it to me in my ear. I feel it! Trust in Providence, my
child. Look at me, how happy I am; but you--you never trust in
Providence. That is why we have so much trouble,--because you don't
trust in Providence. Oh! I am so hungry, let us have dinner."
"What sort of a person is M. Grandissime in his appearance?" asked
Clotilde, over their feeble excuse for a dinner.
"What sort? Do you imagine I had nothing better to do than notice
whether a Grandissime is good-looking or not? For all I know to the
contrary, he is--some more rice, please, my dear."
But this light-heartedness did not last long. It was based on an
unutterable secret, all her own, about which she still had trembling
doubts; this, too, notwithstanding her consultation of the dark oracles.
She was going to stop that. In the long run, these charms and spells
themselves bring bad luck. Moreover, the practice, indulged in to
excess, was wicked, and she had promised Clotilde,--that droll little
saint,--to resort to them no more. Hereafter, she should do nothing of
the sort, except, to be sure, to take such ordinary precautions against
misfortune as casting upon the floor a little of whatever she might be
eating or drinking to propitiate M. Assonquer. She would have liked,
could she have done it without fear of detection, to pour upon the front
door-sill an oblation of beer sweetened with black molasses to Papa
Lebat (who keeps the invisible keys of all the doors that admit
suitors), but she dared not; and then, the hound would surely have
licked it up. Ah me! was she forgetting that she was a widow?
She was in poor plight to meet the all but icy gray morning; and, to
make her misery still greater, she found, on dressing, that an accident
had overtaken her, which she knew to be a trustworthy sign of love grown
cold. She had lost--alas! how can we communicate it in English!--a small
piece of lute-string ribbon, about _so long_, which she used for--not a
necktie exactly, but--
And she hunted and hunted, and couldn't bear to give up the search, and
sat down to breakfast and ate nothing, and rose up and searched again
(not that she cared for the omen), and struck the hound with the broom,
and broke the broom, and hunted again, and looked out the front window,
and saw the rain beginning to fall, and dropped into a chair--crying,
"Oh! Clotilde, my child, my child! the rent collector will be here
Saturday and turn us into the street!" and so fell a-weeping.
A little tear-letting lightened her unrevealable burden, and she rose,
rejoicing that Clotilde had happened to be out of eye-and-ear-shot. The
scanty fire in the fireplace was ample to warm the room; the fire within
her made it too insufferably hot! Rain or no rain, she parted the
window-curtains and lifted the sash. What a mark for Love's arrow she
was, as, at the window, she stretched her two arms upward! And, "right
so," who should chance to come cantering by, the big drops of rain
pattering after him, but the knightliest man in that old town, and the
fittest to perfect the fine old-fashioned poetry of the scene!
"Clotilde," said Aurora, turning from her mirror, whither she had
hastened to see if her face showed signs of tears (Clotilde was entering
the room), "we shall never be turned out of this house by Honore
"Why?" asked Clotilde, stopping short in the floor, forgetting Aurora's
trust in Providence, and expecting to hear that M. Grandissime had been
found dead in his bed.
"Because I saw him just now; he rode by on horseback. A man with that
noble face could never _do such a thing_!"
The astonished Clotilde looked at her mother searchingly. This sort of
speech about a Grandissime? But Aurora was the picture of innocence.
Clotilde uttered a derisive laugh.
"_Impertinente_!" exclaimed the other, laboring not to join in it.
"Ah-h-h!" cried Clotilde, in the same mood, "and what face had he when
he wrote that letter?"
"Yes, what face?"
"I do not know what face you mean," said Aurora.
"What face," repeated Clotilde, "had Monsieur Honore de Grandissime on
the day that he wrote--"
"Ah, f-fah!" cried Aurora, and turned away, "you don't know what you are
talking about! You make me wish sometimes that I were dead!"
Clotilde had gone and shut down the sash, as it began to rain hard and
blow. As she was turning away, her eye was attracted by an object at
"What is it?" asked Aurora, from a seat before the fire.
"Nothing," said Clotilde, weary of the sensational,--"a man in the
It was the apothecary of the rue Royale, turning from that street toward
the rue Bourbon, and bowing his head against the swirling norther.
FROWENFELD KEEPS HIS APPOINTMENT
Doctor Keene, his ill-humor slept off, lay in bed in a quiescent state
of great mental enjoyment. At times he would smile and close his eyes,
open them again and murmur to himself, and turn his head languidly and
smile again. And when the rain and wind, all tangled together, came
against the window with a whirl and a slap, his smile broadened almost
"He's in it," he murmured, "he's just reaching there. I would give fifty
dollars to see him when he first gets into the house and sees where
As this wish was finding expression on the lips of the little sick man,
Joseph Frowenfeld was making room on a narrow doorstep for the outward
opening of a pair of small batten doors, upon which he had knocked with
the vigorous haste of a man in the rain. As they parted, he hurriedly
helped them open, darted within, heedless of the odd black shape which
shuffled out of his way, wheeled and clapped them shut again, swung down
the bar and then turned, and with the good-natured face that properly
goes with a ducking, looked to see where he was.
One object--around which everything else instantly became nothing--set
his gaze. On the high bed, whose hangings of blue we have already
described, silently regarding the intruder with a pair of eyes that sent
an icy thrill through him and fastened him where he stood, lay Palmyre
Philosophe. Her dress was a long, snowy morning-gown, wound loosely
about at the waist with a cord and tassel of scarlet silk; a
bright-colored woollen shawl covered her from the waist down, and a
necklace of red coral heightened to its utmost her untamable beauty.
An instantaneous indignation against Doctor Keene set the face of the
speechless apothecary on fire, and this, being as instantaneously
comprehended by the philosophe, was the best of introductions. Yet her
gaze did not change.
The Congo negress broke the spell with a bristling protest, all in
African b's and k's, but hushed and drew off at a single word of command
from her mistress.
In Frowenfeld's mind an angry determination was taking shape, to be
neither trifled with nor contemned. And this again the quadroon
discerned, before he was himself aware of it.
"Doctor Keene"--he began, but stopped, so uncomfortable were her eyes.
She did not stir or reply.
Then he bethought him with a start, and took off his dripping hat.
At this a perceptible sparkle of imperious approval shot along her
glance; it gave the apothecary speech.
"The doctor is sick, and he asked me to dress your wound."
She made the slightest discernible motion of the head, remained for a
moment silent, and then, still with the same eye, motioned her hand
toward a chair near a comfortable fire.
He sat down. It would be well to dry himself. He drew near the hearth
and let his gaze fall into the fire. When he presently lifted his eyes
and looked full upon the woman with a steady, candid glance, she was
regarding him with apparent coldness, but with secret diligence and
scrutiny, and a yet more inward and secret surprise and admiration. Hard
rubbing was bringing out the grain of the apothecary. But she presently
suppressed the feeling. She hated men.
But Frowenfeld, even while his eyes met hers, could not resent her
hostility. This monument of the shame of two races--this poisonous
blossom of crime growing out of crime--this final, unanswerable white
man's accuser--this would-be murderess--what ranks and companies would
have to stand up in the Great Day with her and answer as accessory
before the fact! He looked again into the fire.
The patient spoke:
"_Eh bi'n, Miche_?" Her look was severe, but less aggressive. The
shuffle of the old negress's feet was heard and she appeared bearing
warm and cold water and fresh bandages; after depositing them
"Your fever is gone," said Frowenfeld, standing by the bed. He had laid
his fingers on her wrist. She brushed them off and once more turned full
upon him the cold hostility of her passionate eyes.
The apothecary, instead of blushing, turned pale.
"You--" he was going to say, "You insult me;" but his lips came tightly
together. Two big cords appeared between his brows, and his blue eyes
spoke for him. Then, as the returning blood rushed even to his forehead,
he said, speaking his words one by one;
"Please understand that you must trust me."
She may not have understood his English, but she comprehended,
nevertheless. She looked up fixedly for a moment, then passively closed
her eyes. Then she turned, and Frowenfeld put out one strong arm, helped
her to a sitting posture on the side of the bed and drew the shawl
"Zizi," she said, and the negress, who had stood perfectly still since
depositing the water and bandages, came forward and proceeded to bare
the philosophe's superb shoulder. As Frowenfeld again put forward his
hand, she lifted her own as if to prevent him, but he kindly and firmly
put it away and addressed himself with silent diligence to his task; and
by the time he had finished, his womanly touch, his commanding
gentleness, his easy despatch, had inspired Palmyre not only with a
sense of safety, comfort, and repose, but with a pleased wonder.
This woman had stood all her life with dagger drawn, on the defensive
against what certainly was to her an unmerciful world. With possibly
one exception, the man now before her was the only one she had ever
encountered whose speech and gesture were clearly keyed to that profound
respect which is woman's first, foundation claim on man. And yet, by
inexorable decree, she belonged to what we used to call "the happiest
people under the sun." We ought to stop saying that.
So far as Palmyre knew, the entire masculine wing of the mighty and
exalted race, three-fourths of whose blood bequeathed her none of its
prerogatives, regarded her as legitimate prey. The man before her did
not. There lay the fundamental difference that, in her sight, as soon as
she discovered it, glorified him. Before this assurance the cold
fierceness of her eyes gave way, and a friendlier light from them
rewarded the apothecary's final touch. He called for more pillows, made
a nest of them, and, as she let herself softly into it, directed his
next consideration toward his hat and the door.
It was many an hour after he had backed out into the trivial remains of
the rain-storm before he could replace with more tranquillizing images
the vision of the philosophe reclining among her pillows, in the act of
making that uneasy movement of her fingers upon the collar button of her
robe, which women make when they are uncertain about the perfection of
their dishabille, and giving her inaudible adieu with the majesty of
FROWENFELD MAKES AN ARGUMENT
On the afternoon of the same day on which Frowenfeld visited the house
of the philosophe, the weather, which had been so unfavorable to his
late plans, changed; the rain ceased, the wind drew around to the south,
and the barometer promised a clear sky. Wherefore he decided to leave
his business, when he should have made his evening weather notes, to the
care of M. Raoul Innerarity, and venture to test both Mademoiselle
Clotilde's repellent attitude and Aurora's seeming cordiality at Number
19 rue Bienville.
Why he should go was a question which the apothecary felt himself but
partially prepared to answer. What necessity called him, what good was
to be effected, what was to happen next, were points he would have liked
to be clear upon. That he should be going merely because he was invited
to come--merely for the pleasure of breathing their atmosphere--that he
should be supinely gravitating toward them--this conclusion he
positively could not allow; no, no; the love of books and the fear of
women alike protested.
True, they were a part of that book which is pronounced "the proper
study of mankind,"--indeed, that was probably the reason which he
sought: he was going to contemplate them as a frontispiece to that
unwriteable volume which he had undertaken to con. Also, there was a
charitable motive. Doctor Keene, months before, had expressed a deep
concern regarding their lack of protection and even of daily provision;
he must quietly look into that. Would some unforeseen circumstance shut
him off this evening again from this very proper use of time and
As he was sitting at the table in his back room, registering his sunset
observations, and wondering what would become of him if Aurora should be
out and that other in, he was startled by a loud, deep voice exclaiming,
close behind him:
"_Eh, bien! Monsieur le Professeur!_"
Frowenfeld knew by the tone, before he looked behind him, that he would
find M. Agricola Fusilier very red in the face; and when he looked, the
only qualification he could make was that the citizen's countenance was
not so ruddy as the red handkerchief in which his arm was hanging.
"What have you there?" slowly continued the patriarch, taking his free
hand off his fettered arm and laying it upon the page as Frowenfeld
hurriedly rose, and endeavored to shut the book.
"Some private memoranda," answered the meteorologist, managing to get
one page turned backward, reddening with confusion and indignation, and
noticing that Agricola's spectacles were upside down.
"Private! Eh? No such thing, sir! Professor Frowenfeld, allow me" (a
classic oath) "to say to your face, sir, that you are the most brilliant
and the most valuable man--of your years--in afflicted Louisiana! Ha!"
(reading:) "'Morning observation; Cathedral clock, 7 A.M. Thermometer 70
degrees.' Ha! 'Hygrometer l5'--but this is not to-day's weather? Ah! no.
Ha! 'Barometer 30.380.' Ha! 'Sky cloudy, dark; wind, south, light.' Ha!
'River rising.' Ha! Professor Frowenfeld, when will you give your
splendid services to your section? You must tell me, my son, for I ask
you, my son, not from curiosity, but out of impatient interest."
"I cannot say that I shall ever publish my tables," replied the "son,"
pulling at the book.
"Then, sir, in the name of Louisiana," thundered the old man, clinging
to the book, "I can! They shall be published! Ah! yes, dear Frowenfeld.
The book, of course, will be in French, eh? You would not so affront the
most sacred prejudices of the noble people to whom you owe everything as
to publish it in English? You--ah! have we torn it?"
"I do not write French," said the apothecary, laying the torn edges
"Professor Frowenfeld, men are born for each other. What do I behold
before me? I behold before me, in the person of my gifted young friend,
a supplement to myself! Why has Nature strengthened the soul of Agricola
to hold the crumbling fortress of this body until these eyes--which were
once, my dear boy, as proud and piercing as the battle-steed's--have
Joseph's insurmountable respect for gray hairs kept him standing, but
he did not respond with any conjecture as to Nature's intentions, and
there was a stern silence.
The crumbling fortress resumed, his voice pitched low like the beginning
of the long roll. He knew Nature's design.
"It was in order that you, Professor Frowenfeld, might become my vicar!
Your book shall be in French! We must give it a wide scope! It shall
contain valuable geographical, topographical, biographical, and
historical notes. It shall contain complete lists of all the officials
in the province (I don't say territory, I say province) with their
salaries and perquisites; ah! we will expose that! And--ha! I will write
some political essays for it. Raoul shall illustrate it. Honore shall
give you money to publish it. Ah! Professor Frowenfeld, the star of your
fame is rising out of the waves of oblivion! Come--I dropped in
purposely to ask you--come across the street and take a glass of
_taffia_ with Agricola Fusilier."
This crowning honor the apothecary was insane enough to decline, and
Agricola went away with many professions of endearment, but secretly
offended because Joseph had not asked about his wound.
All the same the apothecary, without loss of time, departed for the
yellow-washed cottage, Number 19 rue Bienville.
"To-morrow, at four P.M.," he said to himself, "if the weather is
favorable, I ride with M. Grandissime."
He almost saw his books and instruments look up at him reproachfully.
The ladies were at home. Aurora herself opened the door, and Clotilde
came forward from the bright fireplace with a cordiality never before so
unqualified. There was something about these ladies--in their simple,
but noble grace, in their half-Gallic, half-classic beauty, in a jocund
buoyancy mated to an amiable dignity--that made them appear to the
scholar as though they had just bounded into life from the garlanded
procession of some old fresco. The resemblance was not a little helped
on by the costume of the late Revolution (most acceptably chastened and
belated by the distance from Paris). Their black hair, somewhat heavier
on Clotilde's head, where it rippled once or twice, was knotted _en
Grecque_, and adorned only with the spoils of a nosegay given to
Clotilde by a chivalric small boy in the home of her music scholar.
"We was expectin' you since several days," said Clotilde, as the three
sat down before the fire, Frowenfeld in a cushioned chair whose
moth-holes had been carefully darned.
Frowenfeld intimated, with tolerable composure, that matters beyond his
control had delayed his coming, beyond his intention.
"You gedd'n' ridge," said Aurora, dropping her wrists across each other.
Frowenfeld, for once, laughed outright, and it seemed so odd in him to
do so that both the ladies followed his example. The ambition to be rich
had never entered his thought, although in an unemotional, German way,
he was prospering in a little city where wealth was daily pouring in,
and a man had only to keep step, so to say, to march into possessions.
"You hought to 'ave a mo' larger sto' an' some clerque," pursued Aurora.
The apothecary answered that he was contemplating the enlargement of his
present place or removal to a roomier, and that he had already employed
"Oo it is, 'Sieur Frowenfel'?"
Clotilde turned toward the questioner a remonstrative glance.
"His name," replied Frowenfeld, betraying a slight embarrassment,
"is--Innerarity; Mr. Raoul Innerarity; he is--"
"Ee pain' dad pigtu' w'at 'angin' in yo' window?"
Clotilde's remonstrance rose to a slight movement and a murmur.
Frowenfeld answered in the affirmative, and possibly betrayed the faint
shadow of a smile. The response was a peal of laughter from both ladies.
"He is an excellent drug clerk," said Frowenfeld defensively.
Whereat Aurora laughed again, leaning over and touching Clotilde's knee
with one finger.
"An' excellen' drug cl'--ha, ha, ha! oh!"
"You muz podden uz, M'sieu' Frowenfel'," said Clotilde, with forced
Aurora sighed her participation in the apology; and, a few moments
later, the apothecary and both ladies (the one as fond of the abstract
as the other two were ignorant of the concrete) were engaged in an
animated, running discussion on art, society, climate, education,--all
those large, secondary _desiderata_ which seem of first importance to
young ambition and secluded beauty, flying to and fro among these
subjects with all the liveliness and uncertainty of a game of
Frowenfeld had never before spent such an hour. At its expiration, he
had so well held his own against both the others, that the three had
settled down to this sort of entertainment: Aurora would make an
assertion, or Clotilde would ask a question; and Frowenfeld, moved by
that frankness and ardent zeal for truth which had enlisted the early
friendship of Dr. Keene, amused and attracted Honore Grandissime, won
the confidence of the f.m.c., and tamed the fiery distrust and enmity of
Palmyre, would present his opinions without the thought of a reservation
either in himself or his hearers. On their part, they would sit in deep
attention, shielding their faces from the fire, and responding to
enunciations directly contrary to their convictions with an occasional
"yes-seh," or "ceddenly," or "of coze," or,--prettier affirmation
still,--a solemn drooping of the eyelids, a slight compression of the
lips, and a low, slow declination of the head.
"The bane of all Creole art-effort"--(we take up the apothecary's words
at a point where Clotilde was leaning forward and slightly frowning in
an honest attempt to comprehend his condensed English)--"the bane of all
Creole art-effort, so far as I have seen it, is amateurism."
"Amateu--" murmured Clotilde, a little beclouded on the main word and
distracted by a French difference of meaning, but planting an elbow on
one knee in the genuineness of her attention, and responding with a bow.
"That is to say," said Frowenfeld, apologizing for the homeliness of his
further explanation by a smile, "a kind of ambitious indolence that lays
very large eggs, but can neither see the necessity for building a nest
beforehand, nor command the patience to hatch the eggs afterward."
"Of coze," said Aurora.
"It is a great pity," said the sermonizer, looking at the face of
Clotilde, elongated in the brass andiron; and, after a pause: "Nothing
on earth can take the place of hard and patient labor. But that, in this
community, is not esteemed; most sorts of it are contemned; the humbler
sorts are despised, and the higher are regarded with mingled patronage
and commiseration. Most of those who come to my shop with their efforts
at art hasten to explain, either that they are merely seeking pastime,
or else that they are driven to their course by want; and if I advise
them to take their work back and finish it, they take it back and never
return. Industry is not only despised, but has been degraded and
disgraced, handed over into the hands of African savages."
"Doze Creole' is _lezzy_," said Aurora.
"That is a hard word to apply to those who do not _consciously_ deserve
it," said Frowenfeld; "but if they could only wake up to the fact,--find
it out themselves--"
"Ceddenly," said Clotilde.
"'Sieur Frowenfel'," said Aurora, leaning her head on one side, "some
pipple thing it is doze climade; 'ow you lag doze climade?"
"I do not suppose," replied the visitor, "there is a more delightful
climate in the world."
"Ah-h-h!"--both ladies at once, in a low, gracious tone of
"I thing Louisiana is a paradize-me!" said Aurora. "W'ere you goin' fin'
sudge a h-air?" She respired a sample of it. "W'ere you goin' fin' sudge
a so ridge groun'? De weed' in my bag yard is twenny-five feet 'igh!"
"Twenty-six!" said Aurora, correcting herself. "W'ere you fin' sudge a
reever lag dad Mississippi? _On dit_," she said, turning to Clotilde,
"_que ses eaux ont la propriete de contribuer meme a multiplier l'espece
humaine_--ha, ha, ha!"
Clotilde turned away an unmoved countenance to hear Frowenfeld.
Frowenfeld had contracted a habit of falling into meditation whenever
the French language left him out of the conversation.
"Yes," he said, breaking a contemplative pause, "the climate is _too_
comfortable and the soil too rich,--though I do not think it is entirely
on their account that the people who enjoy them are so sadly in arrears
to the civilized world." He blushed with the fear that his talk was
bookish, and felt grateful to Clotilde for seeming to understand
"W'ad you fin' de rizzon is, 'Sieur Frowenfel'?" she asked.
"I do not wish to philosophize," he answered.
"_Mais_, go hon." "_Mais_, go ahade," said both ladies, settling
"It is largely owing," exclaimed Frowenfeld, with sudden fervor, "to a
defective organization of society, which keeps this community, and will
continue to keep it for an indefinite time to come, entirely unprepared
and disinclined to follow the course of modern thought."
"Of coze," murmured Aurora, who had lost her bearings almost at the
"One great general subject of thought now is human rights,--universal
human rights. The entire literature of the world is becoming tinctured
with contradictions of the dogmas upon which society in this section is
built. Human rights is, of all subjects, the one upon which this
community is most violently determined to hear no discussion. It has
pronounced that slavery and caste are right, and sealed up the whole
subject. What, then, will they do with the world's literature? They will
coldly decline to look at it, and will become, more and more as the
world moves on, a comparatively illiterate people."
"Bud, 'Sieur Frowenfel'," said Clotilde, as Frowenfeld paused--Aurora
was stunned to silence,--"de Unitee State' goin' pud doze nigga'
free, aind it?"
Frowenfeld pushed his hair hard back. He was in the stream now, and
might as well go through.
"I have heard that charge made, even by some Americans. I do not know.
But there is a slavery that no legislation can abolish,--the slavery of
caste. That, like all the slaveries on earth, is a double bondage. And
what a bondage it is which compels a community, in order to preserve its
established tyrannies, to walk behind the rest of the intelligent world!
What a bondage is that which incites a people to adopt a system of
social and civil distinctions, possessing all the enormities and none of
the advantages of those systems which Europe is learning to despise!
This system, moreover, is only kept up by a flourish of weapons. We have
here what you may call an armed aristocracy. The class over which these
instruments of main force are held is chosen for its servility,
ignorance, and cowardice; hence, indolence in the ruling class. When a
man's social or civil standing is not dependent on his knowing how to
read, he is not likely to become a scholar."
"Of coze," said Aurora, with a pensive respiration, "I thing id is doze
climade," and the apothecary stopped, as a man should who finds himself
unloading large philosophy in a little parlor.
"I thing, me, dey hought to pud doze quadroon' free?" It was Clotilde
who spoke, ending with the rising inflection to indicate the tentative
character of this daringly premature declaration.
Frowenfeld did not answer hastily.
"The quadroons," said he, "want a great deal more than mere free papers
can secure them. Emancipation before the law, though it may be a right
which man has no right to withhold, is to them little more than a
mockery until they achieve emancipation in the minds and good will of
the people--'the people,' did I say? I mean the ruling class." He
stopped again. One must inevitably feel a little silly, setting up
tenpins for ladies who are too polite, even if able, to bowl them down.
Aurora and the visitor began to speak simultaneously; both apologized,
and Aurora said:
"'Sieur Frowenfel', w'en I was a lill girl,"--and Frowenfeld knew that
he was going to hear the story of Palmyre. Clotilde moved, with the
obvious intention to mend the fire. Aurora asked, in French, why she did
not call the cook to do it, and Frowenfeld said, "Let me,"--threw on
some wood, and took a seat nearer Clotilde. Aurora had the floor.
AURORA AS A HISTORIAN
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