YETTA, THE NUN,

A FORGOTTEN TRAGEDY Of OLD NEW ORLEANS.

YETTA, THE NUN.

CHAPTER I.

Rise, O tide of my heart, to her beautiful eyes, On the billows of P'ate, like the sea to the skies.

About the year 1763, Dr. Carlos Alvez, a graduate of the Madrid School of Medicine, left his native country and settled in New Orleans. He was young, intelligent and ambitious and soon controlled a numerous practice. In a few 3'ears he amassed a snug fortune, which he invested in town lots. Toward the end of the last century he estabhshed a drug store at the corner of Esplanade avenue and Rampart street and did a thriving business.

Among the throngs which daily pass the locality, on their way to the business sections of the cit}', probably not one ever heard of the quaint little structure known as " Pharmacie Alvez.'' It was destroyed by fire in 1836. A one-story frame house, at present used as a

fruit stand and grocery combined, has obliterated all signs of the old landmark.

Dr. Alvez prospered wonderfullv. He gradually acquired possession of the land adjoining his original purchase, until his estate included all that tract now comprised within Esplanade avenue, Burgundy. St. Anthony and St. Claude streets.

In 1802 Dr. Alvez married Miss Pepiia Delric. daughter of a college-mate of his father, who, like him, had made Louisiana his home. A son (Louis) blessed this union. From his infancy this 3^oung gentleman was schooled to familiarize himself with the profession which had been followed by his paternal ancestors from time immemorial. Dr. Alvez's ambition was that his offspring should begin as early as possible to assist him in ministering to the ills of his numerous clientele and tradition says he began "talking shop"' to him on the very day he had his first look at the world. In after years, when young Louis had mastered the alphabet and could read words of one or two syllables, the first book of any consequence he had to struggle with, was a medical one. His father would take him on his knee

and expound things which made the toddler open his eyes to their widest capacity and cross-examine his instructor as only a child can. But the Doctor bore this catechism with fortitude and cheerfully explained everything.

Dr. Alvez's father-in-law had only two children— Pepita and Charles. The latter married a Creole girl a few years after the Doctor's inroad into the family and a daughter, Yetta, was born to him.

From the day Louis was allowed to take a peep at his new cousin, he evinced a strong interest in her. As time went by and the young-lady began to understand what transpired about her, she reciprocated his affection and the two romped and played together, as happy as mortals could be. Very often, when evening came and their nurses would coax them to stop their gambols and retire peaceably to bed, they would cryingly protest against such an arbitrary procedure and force had to be employed to separate them.

At twelve years of age, Yetta was bundled off to a convent. Louis was two years her senior, and had attained an age at which most boys consider themselves full-grown men, but this

did not deter him from sobbing like a baby wlien he received a scravvly, tear-bedewed note from his little sweetheart a few days afterward, in which she said she still thought as much of him and had cried every niglit since their separation.

Yetta remained absent seven years. During that period. Louis had news of her only through her parents, as the nuns abhorred men, and spirited away an}' communication addressed to their wards. This is whv Yetta never received the lurid answer Louis penned her.

A few now living may recall the peculiar, semi-octagonal building which vears ago stood in the pentagon formed b\' Bourbon. Dauphine, Union, Royal and Peace streets. This was St. Veronica Convent. It was the first large dwelling constructed in Louisiana, and was for a long time an object of wondering admiration. It was torn down and ils site subdivided into lots about forty 3'ears ago.

But the curiously inclined were not permitted to inspect this quaint structure very minutely. The nuns waged incessant war against intruders. The grounds were surrounded by a high stone wall, topped with broken glass.

etc., and traps were hidden in the most out-of-the-way places within the shadow of the wall. There were large signs at each angle of the wall, on w^hich was conspicuously painted:

NO BOYS OR MEN ALLOWED ON THESE PREMISES.

Fearful stories w^ere told of the fate of boys who had had the temerity to disregard this prohibition. There was a tradition, often whispered at the fireside with shuddering dread, that the nuns' favoiite mode of punishment was to tie tliem b}^ the feet to one end of a short rope, at whose other extremity a wildcat or panther was attached. The whole thing was then thrown over the limb of a tree reserved expressly for such exhibitions and the venturesome youth was never seen or heard of afterward. Other gruesome modes of punishment were vouched for, but this particular one had a more deterrent effect upon predatory urchins than any other.

This explains why, although living but a few^ squares from the convent, Louis never saw his child-love during the seven 3'ears she was away.

Years went by. Spurred by his ambitious father Louis studied zealously, and at twenty-one graduated with high honors. Of course Dr. Alvez could not allow such an event to pass quietly by. He gave a grand ball in his son's honor, to which all the youth and beauty of fashionable New Orleans were invited.

On the morning of the day selected for the ball, Yetta returned from convent. Louis was amazed at the change time had operated in her, and wondered what mysterious agency could have metamorphosed her into such a beautiful woman. Up to that day he had never been seriously in love. He had but a vague idea of what this dangerous passion really was, and little dreamed what momentous changes it could work in the life of a man. He thought that women were created simply to amuse us, and the idea of manacling himself for life to one of these effervescent beings never entered his mind. As he contemplated Yetta on the night of the ball, all his pet theories were forgotten. He pictured to himself what blis£ it would be to pass one's entire life near her, a slave "to her every wish. Memories of the past, dormant for years, whirled through his mind. He imagined

himself walking hand in hand with his child love through his father's park, happy, innocent, thinking only of frolicking about. Could her heart still be beating forliim, or had the advent of womanhood banished the past from her mind ? He felt bewildered, fascinated' and would have parted with the dearest treasures of earth to be left alone with her for a single moment, that he might implore her to unbind the fetters she had gyved around his heart years ago.

Having been immured for seven dreary years in'an institution where even to mention a masculine name evoked a frowning rebuke, Yetta naturally had an unconquerable horror of the dance. It was only after much coaxing that she consented to remain in the parlor; and being a woman of tact and education, she took pains to make herself agreeable.

Louis spent much of his time beside his cousin. Not to appear too boorish, he was compelled to be amiable with all; but whenever he could escape, he would seek Yetta.

'*Your guests will think you very uncivil," said the latter, as Louis approached her and asked the privilege of a promenade. ''You are too often near me."

2

"I have the reputation of being a desperate flirt," Louis observed ; "this will shield me from censure."

Yetta laughed softly and accepted his proffered arm.

They were now in the garden. It was the first time the cousins had a chance to be alone, and Louis resolved to know his fate. He began by talking of the past, and asked Yetta if she recalled the delightful times they had together. To his surprise she seemed displeased, and petulantly said :

*'Let us leave our childhood days alone, I entreat you. I have been so long awa}' from the w^orld that I want to hear oi f resent happenings."

Louis tried to conquer this whim, but seeing he only succeeded in getting Yetta angry, concluded he w^ould have plenty of time to make her talk the ensuing days and turned the conversation into other channels.

•The rest of the evening seemed like a dream to the young doctor. He felt he had at last met his Waterloo; that women were not created simply to amuse us, but to sway our souls with their gentleness and fascinating sweetness.

CHAPTER II.

• I'll obey you, though 't is plain You are jesting with my pain."

For a week after Yetta's arrival, Louis saw her only at meals, as his father kept him closeted all day in his laboratory, instructing him how to compound innumerable chemical compositions and making him delve into almost interminable volumes to more fully illustrate his teachings.

When the young man was at last liberated, he felt overjoyed and roamed all about the house in search of his ideal. He thought how pflad she would be to have a few hours of un-disturbed conversation with her childhood companion ; how volubly they would speak of the delightful events of the past. He attributed her previous restraint to her sudden transition from the dismal quietness of convent life to the dizzy turmoil of the social world, and wondered what queer notions went tumbling about her puzzled little head. She would see her child-lover once more, would confide to him as of old and would find his heart yearning to call back the feeling which had been dormant so long.

What dreams—but his reverie was brought to an end by his coming suddenly upon Yetta, who stood in a doorway overlooking the garden, gazing dreamily about. This incident, coupled with his romantic train of thoughts, served to completely demoralize him. The great love he felt for his cousin overmastered all thoughts of further restraint and he rushed forward, caught her in his arms and showered kiss after kiss upon her roseal, half-parted lips.

"Oh Louis, how you frightened me I" exclaimed the girl, freeing herself from his grasp. "Were I your father," she angrily resumed, "I would keep 3'ou locked up all the time. You are positively dangerous."

"What a fine young lady you are," Louis admiringly said, not heeding her anger. "It. seems to me as if it were but yesterday that we romped together. What a rousing girl you are!"

He advanced with the intention of repeating the osculatory performance.

"I wish you would stop those ungentlemanly manners," Yetta curtly said, pushing him away. "I think over-study has taken away the little intelligence you once possessed."

Louis had expected a more amiable reception.

'*Such a compliment should be punished with a kiss," he replied, affecting gayet}-.

*' Love may cherish such punishments," was the chilling reply ; "indifference detests them."

Louis made no reply, but gazed amusedly at the angry girl, curious to discover what could be her motive in being so curt. He observed that her lips trembled like those of a frightened child, and plainly saw she was far from meaning what she said. He felt an irresistible yearning to take her again in his arms and kiss those pouting lips until they smiled for him; but the harsh manner in which she had spoken had wounded his pride, and he did not care to be too effusive without first teasing her a little. Smiling derisivel3S he said:

*' Your conduct is not very laudable, Yetta."

*' I am aware of it," was the quick retort.

" Then why do 3^ou act that way?"

" Because I do not care to remodel my character to suit your fancy."

Louis bit his lip and changed his tone to one of conciliation.

" Come," he said, " look gay and do not be

r

SO mean. Suppose we stroll about the gardens? It is such a fine evening for walking."

/' I thank you ever so much, but I am tired," was the answer.

*'Tired?" Louis testity exclaimed. *'That word never escaped your lips years ago—"

Yetta impatiently interrupted him.

" I wish you would cease importuning me about my baby days,"^ she said. *'I told 3^ou it displeased me."

Louis gazed sadly at her.

" Do I annoy you ? " he asked.

*' When you speak of our childhood—yes."

*' You really do not care to listen to me?"

" I have proved it often enough."

" It would then cause you unutterable joy if I left you alone?"

'* I assure you it would."

*' Very well, marble-hearted, convent-bred girl, I will pester you no more."

He abruptly left the room. Yetta looked on with unmoved features, but a tear coursed down her cheek as her lover disappeared from sight.

One morning, Louis rose earlier than usual and wandered about the garden, pondering over the singularity of Yetta's conduct. Whenever

Dr. Alvez or any member of the family were present, she was amiable, even affectionate with him, but she would immediately assume an attitude of exasperating coldness should she find herself alone with him and finally leave the room on some trifling pretext.

**That girl is a born coquette," mused Louis, walking aimlessly about. " I never had a flattering opinion of convents,— Hello!"

He had come around a sharp turn of the path and found himself face to face with Yetta, who was reclining in an easy chair, apparently deeply interested in an illustrated magazine. She seemed not to have noticed the intruder.

" Let me try a reconciliation," thought Louis. '* Perhaps she is in good humor this morning."

He advanced toward her and pleasantly said:

" Up already, cousin? This is quite an unexpected pleasure."

Yetta kept on reading with unaltered persistency,

Louis gulped down an angry remark and gallantly resumed:

*' A Madonna would envy your grace, Yetta.

You are as appetizing as a rose bud this morning/'

He made a feint of kissing her, She edged away a little and fixed her dark eyes upon him.

'* I detest time-worn compliments," she said.

'* I will cheerfully coin new ones to please you," answered Louis.

Again those dark eyes w^ere raised to his face in frowning rebuke.

'' I wish you would talk and act sensibh' once in your life," said their owner, coldly. " I am tired to hear everybody say we are going to marry, and I want to come to some definite understanding with you: Do you really love me?"

The suddenness of the question took Louis by surprise.

" It would be folly to deny it," he wonder-ingly replied.

" I felt sure of it," Yetta resumed, "but I wanted to hear you say so. Perhaps I also love you, but I can not confess it. You do not understand my nature, Louis. You think me haughty and cruel; could you read my thoughts 3'ou would unhesitatingly pity me. I know I I make you suffer, but you are not the only

one who feels miserable. Could you be near when I am alone in my room and see the tears that veil my eyes when I ponder over my happy, innocent childhood; could you listen to the beating of my aching heart, you would kneel before me and implore my pardon for every unkind word you spoke to me."

"Sweet love," said Louis, fondly, "If you only knew how dear you were to me."

He made an effort to take her in his arms, but the girl pushed him away, saying:

" No, Louis, I can never be yours. My heart may be longing to remain amid associations of a life which I can never revive, but I must steel it against such thoughts. I must return to convent next week. If you have any compassionate feeling for me, do not make the parting harder. Even if I am rude with you, be kind tome, forgive me!"

She glanced imploringly at him. He started, for he saw in that look the unconscious avowal of a deep, passionate love, whose fervency only death could obliterate. He felt like folding her to his bosom ; but she had so often repulsed him, he remained impassive.

" I admire your frankness, Yetta," he said,

quietly. " I hardly comprehend 3'our motive, but I respect it. Were you my wife, my pathway through life w^ould be strewn with thornless roses; but you deny me that happiness and I wall do as you wish. Give me your hand. If w^e can not be lovers, we can at least part as friends."

He extended his hand, but Yetta eluded it.

" I care no more for your friendship than I do for your love," was the haughty remark. " I thought you loved me trul}^ and felt sorry for you, knowing I could never be your wife. The nuns rightly told me that all men were fickle and false-hearted, and it was foolish of me to believe you sincere for a single moment. If you really cared for me, you would not have proved so faint-hearted ; you would have begged me to marry you with all the ardor which true love inculcates. Instead of giving me up so easily, you would now be on your knees before me."

Louis looked coldly at her.

" I have never knelt before a woman," he said; ** I never will."

He walked rapidly away to conceal his agitation. When he had ofot around the turn in the

path, he stopped, softly retraced his steps and peeped at the scene he had just left. Yetta's head was laid on her arm and he could see by her trembling form that she was sobbing. A satisfied smile displaced the frown which had darkened his features and he walked away with a happier heart. He was now certain of her love.

A few hours later a servant broug-ht the 3'oung doctor the appended note :

"Dear Louis —I hope you are not angry because I treated you so unkindly this morning. I felt nervous and did not mean half the things I said. I am going to make a pilgrimage to the Lover's Oak just now; meet me there as soon as you can escape from that nasty old laboratory and we can talk about anything you like.

"Yetta."

Louis tore the note into minute pieces.

"I will do no such thing," he said. "If she thinks she can make a jumping-jack out of me, she is mistaken. Hang those convent girls, anyhow. I wonder if they are all as chameleonlike as Yetta?"

He went to his desk and began to attend to routine business. By some inexplicable phe nomenon, the miscellaneous rows of jars and

bottles about himgradualW vanished and tliere arose in their stead a stately oak, near which bubbled a little fountain. He looked on more intently. A human form slowly outlined itself, .finally disclosing a saddened, expectant face, whose dark eyes were wistfully turned toward him. He rubbed his eyes and looked again— but only saw medical paraphernalia.

"If that girl does not drive me crazy with her sorcery," he muttered, "I am endowed with phenomenal mental calibre.''

He arose with a sigh and went toward the designated place.

CHAPTER III.

See here : I shut tight my weary eyes, As thousands of times I've done in play.

When I unclose them in soft surprise, Ring out a laugh in your own old way I "

Louis entered the garden with wildly beating heart, and hastened his steps when he neared the Lover's Oak— so called because it had been the try sting-place of amorous couples from time immemorial. As he drew near, however, the spirit of aggressiveness which had ruled since

the lovers had been thrown together, prompted him to open hostihties, and he walked toward Yetta with the avowed intention of getting her angry. Seeing she had not noticed his coming, he hid behind a tree and indulged in the intellectual pastime of watching her every movement. She was knitting, and the sight seemed to Louis the prettiest he had ever witnessed.

For a few moments Yetta went on with her work in silence; then, looking up, quietly said:

*' It seems to me it is quite warm to play hide-and-seek, doctor. Come and sit near me."

How gently she spoke I Louis stared speechlessly at her, wondering if he was not the victim of a delicious vision.

"I see that you are revengeful, continued Yetta, in the same tone. ''Do not be that way. See, I have made a nice, cosy place for you."

And she pushed aside her work.

''I am sure you must think me very stupid," said Louis, taking the proffered seat.

"Not at all. You are a little eccentric, that is all. But you are a doctor and this foible is pardonable. By the by, we have spent so much time wrangling about one thing and another, that you did not once speak to me

about your future plans or your profession. I think it is such a noble one. Confide all your secrets to me, Louis."

She leaned her head upon her hand and looked encouragingly at him. Louis' first thought was that she was making fun of him, and he opened his mouth to say something unkind ; but those clear eyes looking straight into his own disarmed him, and the harsh words remained unuttered.

*'Do you really care to listen to me?" he asked, for want of something else to say.

'' If I was not interested in your welfare, I would not have called you here," was the reproving answer.

Louis hesitatingly pressed her hand. She made no resistance. He then tried to speak, but the phrases he wished to utter went whirhng about his mind in such wild disorder, that he merely stared at the girl and kept on pressing her hand. Yetta's face became a deep pink all over, the color going and coming like the softening glow of a dying ember.

" Why are you holding my hand so tightly and looking at me in such a funny way?" she queried, poutlngly.

*'I—er—that is—er—I was trying to—er— mesmerize you," stammered the doctor, hazarding any reply.

Yetta looked at him in sincere wonder. " I don't understand, Louis. Please explain." Louis was but slightly lamiliar with this mysterious science; nevertheless, he began a graphic portraiture of its effects on certain persons, the Utopian experiments he had witnessed, etc., concluding by getting things so hopelessly confused, that Yetta smilingly interrupted:

" I can not understand your meaning, but it is not your fault if I am dull of comprehension. From the faint knowledge I glean from your explanation, I think it must be so nice to be mesmerized. Could you not try again? I promise not to disturb you."

The unwilling champion of Mesmer winced a little, but it was too late to retreat.

"You must then remain perfectly still and look me straight in the eyes," he gravely remarked.

Yetta did so.

Louis arose, made a few passes, and said: " Don't you feel a Httle drowsy? " "Never was so wide awake in my life." "This is the precursor of the magnetic cur

rent," observed the experimenter, feeling it mandatory to say something.

He next indulged in a nondescript pantomime.

"Are you asleep now?" he asked, faintly.

"Not a bit,'' was the discouraging reply.

Again Louis made spasmodic passes, but Yetta's e3'es shone with tantalizing clearness.

"It is not right to act that way,'' complained the doctor. "You must go to sleep."

" But I don't feel any magnetic current. You know you said this was the principal thing in mesmerism."

"That's nothing; shut tight your eyes and you will feel it quick enough."

She languidly closed her eyes. Louis waited a few moments and said :

"Are you asleep now?'*

"Yes."

" Fast asleep V '"

"Nothing but your domineering mind can awake me.''

The situation was getting embarrassing. Louis knew she was dissembling.

'• I experience a fond longing to pry into the secrets of your heart," he said, in deep, thrilling tones.

•' My lieart is no longer in m}- power," came the response, in a voice so low that the hyp-notizer had to bend \'er\' near to distinguish the sounds.

•'Wluit audacious mortal has dominion over it?" he said, breathlessly.

'• The one whose subtle influence has overmastered my volition."

"And the owner of the heart, has she—"

" I divine your thoughts ere you can utter tliem. No, she has no desire to recall it."

Her answers flashed like lightning !

'•Never mind," thought Louis, '• I'll give you tit for tat."

He noiselessly slipped away and walked be-liind Yetta, intending to take her by surprise and kiss her upturned lips. He slowly stooped over her. Nearer and nearer were her lips ; wilder and wilder beat his heart. Onl}^ one second and he would have tasted the prohibited ambrosia—but the queenly head was swiftlv averted, and he only kissed a fluttering curl.

Louis was naturally indignant.

"I thought you were asleep," he said, frowning.

" I am. See, mv eyes are closed."

'* How then could you have seen me stooping down?"

" I did not see you. I read what was going on in vour mind/'

"How can you read what was going on in my mind, when it is / who mesmerized you? You are a little imposter, Yetta."

'•You have mastery over me in all matters which do not appertain to loving demonstrations—but no turther. The moment you feel the least desire to take familiarities with me, your dominion ceases. A touch suffices to transfer your will power to me."

'' The pupil seems to know more than its instructor," mused Louis. "Let me formulate a poser. Ah, I have it!"

He again faced her and gravely observed:

•' By the mastery my will exercises over thine, O I dormant girl, I command thee to warble a fervid love sonnet—a tune \vhich no mortal ears have yet heard and which mortal lips have yet to utter. Selah I I have spoken."

A slight tremor passed over the girl and her face was very pale as she replied :

'' Director of mv subservient mind, must I

chant of the blissful past, the troublous present or the veiled future?"

" Thy soncT must allude to those three phases of life," was the triumphant response.

Yetta slightly raised her head and sang the following strain, in a voice scarcely audible at first, but which gradually became louder and clearer as she proceeded:

PARTED.

We must part!

Ah, my tones quaver

And my blanched cheeks paler seem ; Can it be that I shall never

See thine eyes with love-looks beam ? Thou art pensive 'cause my cold hand

Trembles as it fondles thine, Telling of wounds which can ne'er mend—

Wounds enshrined by arts of thine.

Courage!

See, my lips are smiling

And my voice hath ceased to quaver; Press my hand just once, my darling.

Ere we drift apart forever. Though from thy side I now hasten.

Still thy dear face e'er will haunt me— Love, I see thy fond eyes glisten ;

Is it—is it— No, I must flee!

Farewell I

As the waning starbeams Linger in the morning sk}-; As the Orient gleams with sunbeams

And the dawn of day is nigh— Still, my lover, I'll be thinking

Of a face which makes mine glow. And my white lips will be pleading: ~ "Darling, 'tis 7iot time to go I "

As the final notes of the soncr floated away, graduall}^ blending with the trillings of the birds, Louis caught Yetta in his arms and passion-ately^mbraced her. She gave a startled cry and rushed awav from him.

CHAPTER IV.

There is no death! The stars go down To rise upon some fairer shore ;

And, bright in Heaven's jeweled crown, Thev shine forevermore."

Louis pressed his hands to his forehead and thought over the occurrences of the past weeks, feeling certain he would become mad if Yetta kept on tantalizing him much longer. Hearing a slight noise, he turned around,— and there stood Yetta, calmly looking at him !

" For God's sake, stop tormenting me!" he cried, putting forth his hands as if to push her away. " I have no strength left to deiend myself."

''I do not come to torment you," sadly replied Yetta, resuming her seat. " If any one has cause to make reproaches, I should do so. I was playing with you, and you should not have taken advantage of my defenceless condition. You have wronged me deeply, Louis, for I now feel I can never conquer the sentiment I have for you." *

She buried her face between her hands and sobbed. Louis drew her gently to him and soothingly caressed her. She presently became calmer and said, suddenly :

'^ Is it true that all men are lickle-hearted and false?"

"With a single exception, yes."

" That exception is yourself? "

"Of course."

'' You then never loved before ? ''

"No."

" Never even had a sweetheart! "

" You are a walking catechism, Yetta."

" You do not answer my question."

" Yes, I did have some. But this does not signif}' that I loved. AlH^oung men are— "

**Never mind other men. I want to know how many sweethearts you have liad thus far."

" That's a funny question. I would answer with pleasure, but I lost the set of books in which I kept their names.''

He smiled, but Yetta looked compassionately at him.

" You are very young to speak so banteringl}^ about such a grave subject,'' said she. *'Do 3'ou mean to tell me that you have loved, adored and forgotten—all within the brief transition from adolescence to manhood?"

"Such is the astounding truth."

Again Yetta looked pityingh^ at him.

"You are indeed worthy of commiseration," she observed, shaking her head. "I wonder it God will forgive you when the Day of Judgment arrives."

"I do not believe in such things," said Louis.

"Do you mean to say you do not think the soul is immortal?"

"I have faith in the soul's immortality, but not in a general day of judgment."

"I fail to understand your meaning, Louis."

"I will make it clearer: You believe in the

revival from the dead, and feel certain the day will come when an angel will descend from Heaven and warn mankind of its approaching doom. The tombs throughout the world will then crumble into dust, and their erst soulless tenants will be vivified and will throng the earth once more. This looks very pretty as an allegorical dissertation, but can never happen in reality. When a human being dies his soul returns to its Maker, who allots it to a place suited to its deportment while roaming the earth. In the meantime the lifeless clay has been entombed, and soon crumbles into dust. Thus nothing is left of the original shape. Centuries drag by. This residue of a once animated creation is gradually absorbed by the atmosphere, vanishing forever as time rolls on. Nows if there is any such thing as a general Day of Judgment, how can all the particles originally composing the body be reassembled into a compact mass? Can the elements restore the dust they have wafted throughout the Universe, and which has been mingling with the exudations from millions upon millions of soulless bodies tor ages past? It is undeniably impossible."

Yetta seemed bewildered.

'' i\nd the soul, Louis," said she, "is its mission ended when it leaves the body?"

"No, it is immortal. If it is a crime-haunted soul, it is whirled into the deepest abyss of the infernal regions, where it squirms in eternal agon}'. If, on the contrar}^ its career has been pure. It is sent into other worlds, where it enters the body of a new-born babe and shields its after life from harm."

'• The soul is then simply one's guardian angel?"

" You may call it thus."

Yetta remained thoughtful for a few moments.

"You speak of other worlds, Louis," she soon resumed, wonderingly; " what do you mean b}^ this?"

t'Every star in the firmament is more or less populated."

The girl fixed her troubled gaze upon her cousin.

"The nuns never told me all this," said she, simply. " I was made to believe that there was nothing but gaping nothingness beyond the clouds. Is there no limit to the universe, Louis."

"Space is unfettered by measurement. Beyond this world are others. Above, around— everywhere you may look, a star will always greet your vision. This star is a living world, peopled with beings who, as they glance in our direction, perhaps wonder what is that insignificant speck in the heavens, billions of miles from them."

" How strange all this is," vaguely observed Yetta. '* I never would have dreamed that such wonderful things existed. What will become of all these planets, Louis, when the end of the world comes? Will they all unite in a solid mass, or—or—"

She stopped short and looked helplessly at the doctor, who smiled at her bewilderment.

" I—I can not conjecture," she said. " The subject is too deep for me."

"The world will never come to an end," Louis quietly said. " The earth might be shattered, stars may forsake their courses and crash against each other through space, but there will always be millions left—thousands of new ones created out of their chaos."

" Matter is then imperishable?"

"The reconstruction of the universe goes on

everlastingly. Watch the sky attentively for a few weeks and 3'ou will notice its changeabilit^^ AW around us old worlds are dying out and new ones springing from their ruins. This is evidenced by the fact that stars which were plainly visible to the naked eye 3'ears ago suddenly disappear and are never seen again. The fixed stars that 3-ou admire so much on a radiant night may have been annihilated centuries ago: the light which reaches 3'our vision is sim-pl3^ its beam, which has perhaps been traveling through space since its source was shattered C3xles ago. This explains WI13' 3'Ou sometimes see a star suddenh' flare with intensity, then as swifth' die out. It is the tale of a catastrophe which happened long vears ago, ere 3'our great-great-grandparents were born."

" How frightful!" exclaimed Yetta, pressing-closer to the speaker. '' It makes me shiver to think of all this. Is it reall3'true that all things will never come to an end?"

" The machiner3'of the universe will never stop. Matter is indestructible: the soul immortal. When your heart" s pulsations are stilled and 3'Our lips closed in ic3' immutabilitv, 30ur soul soars through space, speeding on, on, on,

until it reaches the throne of the Ever Living, the God who moulded it. It may then be sent to animate a human frame millions—aye, billions—of leagues away, but the time comes w^hen it also abandons this clayey tenement and seeks another habitation. Thus it wanders with ceaseless toil until centuries and centuries pass by and the universe is studded anew with worlds."

Yetta pressed her hands to her temples.

"I—I can not countenance it," she faltered. "All this is beyond my comprehension and makes my thoughts whirl as leaves in the grasp of a hurricane."

She cast down her eyes and was soon lost in meditation.

CHAPTER V.

Now back to the world and let Fate do her worst On the heart that for thee such devotion hath nursed.

Louis had reached the conclusion that Yetta had this time permanently strayed into dreamland, when she suddenly remarked:

" I have seriously considered the matter and

I think it is best we should never marry. As I have not yet taken the veil, the Church would release me from my hasty vow, but I am afraid to be free. I can never have unlimited confidence in you. You are too learned in worldly ways. You are an irredeemable inconstant and can never make me happy."

*' You are evidently losing your temper, my dear," said Louis, amusedl}'. '* Come, let us kiss and 'make up. You know I adore you."

He put his arm around her waist, but she angrily pushed it away.

"Do not touch me I" she exclaimed, scorn-lullv. ''This self-same expression you have repeated to as many girls as were foolish enough to listen to you, and the caresses you wish to give me have*been lavished upon women whose features you do not even remember. How can I help doubting your sincerity? I have bared my heart to you, telHng you all my sorrows, yet you look on with pitiless indifference, turning into ridicule everything I say."

Louis hesitatingly approached her. She did not repel him, but fixed her troublous eyes reproachfully upon his face.

" God knows I do not act thus to pain you,"

he kindly said. ''You are the most volcanic, most romantic girl I ever met, and I am sure you do not mean half the things you say. The nuns have taught you from girlhood to think that way and you can not help it. When you have seen a little of the world, you will laugh at those fantastic ideas, which one only meets in sensational novels."

Yetta looked thoughtfully at the speaker, but said nothing. Encouraged, he resumed:

*'Let us put a stop to this nonsense, Yetta. I love 3^ou sincerely, and life without you would be shorn of all that is sublime in the world."

Yetta thrust her hand in her bosom and drew forth a small crucifix.

*^ Kiss this holy cross and swear by the Divinity we both adore that you are serious," she said.

Louis looked at the earnest girl in speechless wonder.

**Doyou refuse?" she asked, tremulously.

The young doctor pressed the sacred metal to his lips.

"I swear T love you truly," he said, his voice trembling with suppressed emotion.

'*What further proof do you want? Speak and you will be obeyed."

Yetta replaced the crucifix in her bosom and said:

'•I am satisfied, Louis. You may be falsehearted, but I believe you are honorable and would not perjure yourself to please a woman. I love you, but how can I know m}^ passion is lastinor? You are the first man who has ever kissed me, the only one who has talked so strangely sweet to me, and I can not help feeling, for you a fascination which I can not define. Suppose I become your bride and then meet the one I am destined to love unreservedly, what will become of me? I would break your heart and lose my soul forever." She stopped a moment, then resum*ed: '*Letus estrange ourselves for a year. During that time I will go into society? encourage admirers and flirt with whomsoever I fancy. If I love you truly, my heart will remain unchanged; if I am simply infatuated, ^-ou will be saved the humiliation of marrying a woman who cared but lightly for you."

Louis gazed amazedly at his cousin. Of all her queer notions, this certainly was the most

extraordinary. Surely, true love could never harbor in such a hardened heart. . He had blindly trusted her, feeling certain she cared lor him, and the idea that she was perhaps toying with him made the blood surge through his veins like molten lava. The madcap blood ol his Spanish ancestors made the sting of defeat still more penetrating. He controlled himself, however, and said, in tones he vainly strove to render dispassionate :

'^You had better become a nun, Yetta. It would be decidedly unwise for you to marry; you might tire of your husband ere the honeymoon is over and cry for your cherished convent."

He approached nearer to her and continued, getting angrier at every sentence:

'•Return to your nunnery, misguided girl, and remain there until eternity. Seek salvation in the arms of those pale-faced nuns. Let them pray night and day to remove the stain my caresses have engrafted on your soul. In after years, when the voice which now blanches your cheeks and kindles your eyes with sudden flame is forever hushed, you will perhaps give a sorrowful thought to the memory of one whose re-

jected love your whole soul yearns to recall. When you^—"

But the sentence remained unfinished. Her eyes flashing with the fire of wounded pride, Yetta angrily pressed her hand to his mouth, checking his mad-brain speech. She then placed a trembling hand on his arm and said:

'* I will make you regret those words, impetuous boy ! I will not return to convent, but will remain to wring your heart with despair and make you idolize me slill more fondly than you now do. I swear by the memory of my saintly ancestors that I love you: but you might implore me to marry you a thousand times more madly than you have thus far done—I will never be yours !"

She attempted to rise, but Louis grasped her arm and compelled her to sit beside him again.

"You swear you will never marry,'' he exclaimed in faltering tones. "This is idle talk. imperious girl I You love me, distractedly, and it lies within m}^ power to make you sway to my \\\\\. Youzui'/lhG rtiy wife, I tell you! I will fan your passion into such soul-consuming fierceness that you will weepingly seek me and implore me on bended knees to assuage your anguish !'"

Yetta looked defiantly at him. Pushing him away from her, she quietly arose and walked off. Involuntarily, Louis stretched forth his arms, hoping she would turn back, but she kept firmlv on and soon vanished throusfh the som-bre oaks.

CHAPTER VI.

Love, when true, can never die; Sweethearts part, but still they sigh

From the time of their stormy interview under the Lovers' Oak, the cousins never met without exchanging unkind words. Everywhere they found themselves face to face, they would contradict each other on the simplest subjects, smiling pleasantly all the while, but choosing expressions they knew would lacerate the heart at which it was aimed.

Louis soon felt he was growing into a state of alarming professional uselessness. He lost all interest in medical subjects, his thoughts wandering to Yetta or some particular act of annoyance he could do her, whenever he began any rational work. He finally resolved to bring 4

matters to a crisis. He had tried all he could to make her consent to become his bride and he would now attempt a last ruse—make love to another girl. He knew what a potent factor jealousy was in love. He had proofs that it was a passion which corroded the purest hearts and burned a pathway to the deepest recesses of the soul. He no more doubted that Yetta loved him. Often he felt tempted to kneel before her and implore her to ease his anguish; but the demon of pride would stalk before him and chill any conciliatory demonstrations.

Louis soon had an opportunity to begin carrying his idea into execution. Dr. Alvez's business increasing, he procured the services of an eminent American chemist, Mr. Carleton Hevlin, who was given a suite of rooms in the Doctor's residence.

Mr. Hevlin was a widower. He had only one child, Lulie, a sweet, blue-eyed lassie of seventeen.

Of course it seemed perfectly natural that Louis should be amiable with Lulie. Being his guest, it was his duty to see that she was well cared for and felt no restraint in her new home.

How well he discharged his task, will be seen later on.

A strong friendship had sprung between Luhe and Yetta. This at first annoyed Louis and made him doubt the feasibility of his plan, but he rightly concluded that the proud girl kept her secret locked in her breast and Lulie suspected nothing.

Child that he was to thus trifle with love. His insane wish to render Yetta jealous made him blind to everything. He never gave consideration to the fact that Lulie was young and inexperienced and little suspected what ravages he was working in her trusting heart. He merely noticed Yetta's restless look whenever he went out alone with his new love, and smiled contentedly.

One evening Louis entered the parlor and found only Yetta present.

"Where's Lulie?" he queried, with feigned annoyance.

" She is in the garden," replied Yetta, indifferently " I can spare your company."

Louis thoughtfully contemplated his cousin. '« Suppose I find this spot more attractive?" he observed, seating himself near by.

*' I would leave you in undisputed possession of it," retorted Yetta, walking out of the room.

** She is getting paler day by day," mused Louis, a remorseful sensation in his breast. *' But she looks so beautiful when her eyes flash in anger—when her bosom heaves with suppressed emotions and her fingers tremble to clutch and hurt me—that it would be a pity to give up Lulie. You make me suffer, overproud girl, but two can play at that game."

He repressed a sigh and went in search of Lulie. As he neared the end of the path leading to the summer-house, he perceived her seated at a window, busil}' knitting. She feigned not to have noticed his coming, but her nervousness betrayed her.

Louis stepped to the window and stood looking at her.

" Cruel girl!" he reproachfully said, pinching her tempting pink ear.

She gave a cry of joyful surprise. "Is that you, Louis?" she exclaimed. "You came in so noiselessly, I did not hear you." " You are a little story-teller," was the laugh-

ing rejoinder. "You did see me coming, and I defy you to look into my face and deny it. Bring that dear head closer that I may kiss those cherub lips."

" No you won't, " answered Lulie, drawing back a little; " I don't think it's nice manners."

Louis moodily w^alked up the steps and sat down in a remote corner.

"Are you angry?" said Lulie, seating herself near him; ^'I'm sure I said nothing to hurt your feelings."

" You refused to kiss me," muttered Louis, sadly.

Lulie laughed merrily.

" Is that all?" she said; "I do not deny it."

" And I, who thought myself so w-elcome when I was beside you," sighed the hypocrite.

Lulie fixed her gaze on the ground.

" I can not kiss you," she said, lowly.

Louis looked apprehensively at her. Could Yetta have been opening her eyes to the true state of things?

*'Why this sudden coolness, LuHe?" he said, uneasily. "See how close my lips are: you

have mere!}' to turn your head a little to louch them with yours."

''It would not be right lor me to do so,'' was the gentle response. "Last night I was counting the kisses you had stolen from me, and I did not have enough fingers to check them all. So I resolved to put a stop to these familiarities. You might see nothing wrong now, but later on you will say: 'That girl allowed me to kiss her without being engaged to me; of course I can't marry her.' That's the wa}^ men are."

She gave a decided toss of her golden curls. Louis felt relieved and smiled at her oddity.

"You are a grand rascal," he said. "Suppose I was 3'our affianced, would you kiss me?',

"I presume so. That is what people get engaged for. "

"I do not know how to begin," w^as the mournful plaint.

"What an absent-minded boy you are I Why, vou have asked me to marry you at least a dozen times in your poems."

"Poetry and reality are different things."

"Well, I guess I'll have to teach you."

She put aside her work. Louis curiously watched her, but was not allowed a long time for observation. Seating herself with an air of unruffled dignity, the self-appointed preceptor began :

*«You must first clasp my hand." Louis did so.

*'Now, look as if you expected the earth was going to swallow you up."

An agonized expression overspread his countenance.

*' You must now go on your knees before me

how your hand trembles ! It is not yet time

to tremble; this comes only after kneehng."

Louis hesitated. The words he had repeated to Yetta, *' / have never knelt before a woman; I never will,'' rang in his ears.

" How pale you are, Louis," resumed Lulie. " Kneel before your queen; I promise she will not be tyrannical."

He obeyed. The vibrations of his heart were painfully irregular; but he looked up into LuHe's smiling face and the pain was somewhat eased.

*' Now," resumed the gentle autocrat, '* prepare for the ordeal. Look as miserable as you

can and say in trembling tones: ' Miss Hevlin, ever since my gaze rested on your seraphic features I have worshiped you night and day. Consent, O! enchanting miss, to become my bride, or my existence will be an eternity of despair.' "

Louis repeated the sentence word for word.

*'Your sentiments find an echoing thrill in my heart, imploring youth," resumed Lube, sweetly bending over her lover. "Assume your customary attitude and be welcome to all the privileges of an affianced."

Before Louis had time to arise, she playfully passed her arm around his neck and pressed her lips to his. It was a pure, girlish embrace, free from voluptuousness—just the sort of caress one would expect from a mirthful child. This innocent' demonstration of love caused an enthralling sensation to possess the unhappy young doctor. For the first time since parting from Yetta he really felt happ}^ He reasoned that the love of this dear girl would be a greater boon to him than the passion of a convent-bred creature, w^hose untenable way of thinking would always prompt her to render his life miserable.

YETTA, THE NUN. - 0/

He sat beside Lulie with the old sensation of tranquillity in his breast, and fondly saidi

*'You do not know, my darling, how happy I am, now that I feel assured you really care for me. Come, let us walk around the garden. The birds will watch us with envious eyes and the heavens will bend over us and bless our happiness. Come, sweetness."

He arose and extended his hand. Lulie gleefully grasped it and they ran down the steps like madcap children. A pet rabbit of LuHe's, which happened to be peacefully dozing in a corner, looked up in affright at the lovers' sudden exit and bolted away as fast as its httle legs could carry it. Lulie chased it, but it soon outstripped her and disappeared in the shrubbery. Ere Louis was aware of it, they had reached the Lovers' Oak and seated themselves beneath its patriarchal boughs.

Lulie presently observed:

'' Do you remember that love song you taught me a few weeks ago ? ''

Louis nodded.

** Suppose we sing it? "

'' Just as you say, dearest."

Clasping each other's hands, the lovers sang the following strain:

SHE AND I. (^Ballad.^

We were wooing in the starlight,

She and I; We were bidding sweetest good-night

'Neath the sky. Ah, our hearts were wildly beating. And the future dawned enchanting, As our lips were pressed at parting,

With a sigh! (^bis.^

We were at the altar kneeling,

She and I; Angels from above were peeping

To espy And to watch love's flow'rets springing. As we both began life's morning, Anthems sweet and loving flinging

To the sky I (^bis.)

We are seated in the starlight.

She and I; We are speaking o'er life's days bright.

Long gone by. Though lier tresses care has silver'd. And my frame with age is fetter'd. Still our love is deep and treasur'd

Ne'er to die I {bis.)

As the last echoes of the song finally died out, Louis heard a crackling noise behind him and started to his feet, filled with an undefined apprehension of danger. He glanced uneasily about, but seeing nothing unusual, resumed his seat.

"How nervous you are," exclaimed Lulie. "It must have been that same little rogue I was chasing a few moments ago. Talk love to me. All your poetry is so fervidly sweet, I am sure you can say such pretty things to the one who is dear to you."

Louis did not reply. In some inexplicable manner his thoughts had suddenly reverted to Yetta, and he regretted having so rashly betrothed himself to Lulie. He knew he could never care for her as he did for the strange girl who seemed to have mastered his very soul. Tears filled his eyes and he pressed his hand to his heart to stay its wild pulsations.

"What is the matter?" said Lulie, wonder-ingl}^ "I am sure I said nothing to make you feel sorry."

Louis clasped her to him.

"It is because I adore you above all things, that I act so strangely," he said, deliriously.

*'Do you know what love is, blue-eyed angel? It is the subhmest, the most princely gift of God to mankind. It assuages grief, thrills the whole world with happiness! By all I hold sacred, I wnll do my best to make you happy. You are a thousand times purer than those nun-bred images, who come into the world to distress mankind with their lurid views of life."

Lulie looked at her lover with dilated pupils.

"How strangely you talk?" she said. "I am almost afraid of you."

Louis kissed the wondering eyes and continued :

"You wnll be m}' treasured bride, sweet girl. Here is to bind our hearts. It is the Alvez betrothal ring. Aye, it has never till this day been the witness of such celestial love."

He put the heirloom around her finger. Her head fell on his bosom and they remained for a long time gazing into each other's eyes, whispering those tender nothings which onl}^ lovers understand. Lulie suddenly started.

"How thoughtless of us," she said, fretfully. "We wdll be late for supper and papa wdll scold. I must run to my room and fix up. Kiss me, quick."

Louis obeyed and Lulie ran down the path. She stopped when a few feet away, detached a rose which nestled in her hair, and threw it to him, saying:

"Keep this in memory of to-night." Louis picked up the flower and placed it near his heart. As he did so, he heard the same noise which had aroused him while singing with Lulie. He looked furtively about and faintly made out the silhouette of a human form flitting between the trees. He started in pursuit, but the misleading twilight had now melted into the darker shades of night and he could no longer discern anything.

CHAPTER VIL

While my pulses thrill and quiver, Thou shalt not enclasp another.

Louis felt nervous at the recurrence of the mysterious noise and remained for a long time lost in meditation.

"Pooh! it's onl3Mmagination," he reasoned; "my nerves are unstrung, and I would not be surprised to find a couple of ghosts waiting for me in my room."

He went to his apartment, refreshed himself, and repaired to the sitting-room. Yetta was reading, but Lahe was not in her accustomed place. The young doctor glanced inquiringly about.

'* Miss Hevlin has retired to her room," observed Yetta, answering his look; "She does not feel well to-night."

"Do you mean to say that Lulie is ill?" asked Louis, anxiously.

"A slight indisposition," answered Yetta, carelessly; "she probably caught cold in the garden. The air is quite chilly to-night. This will give you the opportunity of spending the evening in my company, a luxury which you have not enjoyed for a long time. Sit beside me and chat a little. I am in high spirits tonight."

She smilingly put aside her book.

" I thank you ver}^ much," said Louis, coldly; "I prefer going to the club."

Yetta arose and placed a detaining hand on his arm.

" Why are you so rude?" she reproachfully said. " It is no reason because we do not love

that we should be enemies for Hfe. Let us be friends from to-night."

She looked pleadingly into his face. The young man's undefended heart was powerless against such an unexpected attack. The old love burned in his breast with frenetic ardor; Lulie was instantly forgotten.

" Let us sit on this sofa," said Yetta. *'It is much more comfortable than those high-backed chairs."

Louis obeyed. Taking Yetta's hand in his, he tremulously said:

•'Why do you care for my company to-night, Yetta? You who have been so cruel, so unrelenting in your harshness ! Tell me, sweet girl, why your cheeks are as pink as roses and your eyes shine with unusual lustre to-night? Madcaps that we are to allow the golden hours to slip heedlessly by. Rest your head on my bosom, dearest, and tell me you adore me with as much fervency as I do you."

He passed his arm around her neck and drew her to him. For a moment she remained in his arms, then slowly freed herself.

"Do you love only me-?" she asked, suddenly.

" I swear it," was the fond answer.

** And Lulie?"

Louis felt the blood receding from his face.

"Lulie?" he faltered.

" Yes, Lulie," emphasized Yetta, her eyes flashing. "If you love me only, why does the mere mention of that name frighten you?"

Louis had now regained his self-control.

"Well, that is a good one," he laughingly observed. "Jealous of that little blue-eyed doll-baby! I never gave her a moment's serious thought, dear. I was flirting with her just to tease you."

Yetta took up a small Bible near by and handed it to Louis, saying :

" Swear on this that you love me better than Lulie."

Louis raised the book to his lips.

" I swear—My God, look!'

The Bible fell to the floor and his senses reeled. He had suddenly caught sight of Lulie, who was seated near the door and gazing vacantly about, as if incapable of crediting her senses.

Yetta looked contemptuously at her lover.

" What new lies will vou now invent," said

slie, hotly. " When she ran away from you and you h3^pocritically pressed the rose she threw you to your heart, I followed her, resolved to tell her the truth. I asked her to come to my room after supper and there I told her of your rascality. She indignantly defended you, but I gradually opened her eyes, and she tremblingly surrendered the ring which only those of our blood have thus far worn. Together we came to this room, and when she heard your footsteps, I told her to hide behind the door and she would see what a knave you were. See how distracted she looks— every word we uttered has pierced her trusting heart. Go and soothe her with additional falsehoods."

She pushed him toward Lulie with such passionate force that he would have fallen had he not steadied himself by grasping a chair. During Yetta's angry speech, Lulie had remained immovable; she now pressed both her hands to her heart, gave a choking sob and would have fallen to the floor had*not Louis caught her in his arms.

"Get a glass of water, Yetta, quick!" he cried, wildly.

Yetty glanced scornfully at him. 5

66 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLEANS.

" You claim to be a doctor," said she; "you can spare my assistance.'' Then, changing her tone to one of exquisite sweetness: "You love me better than Lulie, do you not, Louis?"

She bent over him, a strange look in her eyes. His heart gave a great bound to meet her own and his whole frame quivered with emotion. He felt like abandoning Lulie and rushing into the aims of the girl he adored. But the nerveless hand resting in his felt so cold, the pallid face looked so pitiful, he turned his head away and said, in tones which involuntarily trembled:

"I wish you would stop this foolishness, Yetta. Give me a little help, and this poor girl will soon open her eyes."

He kissed Lulie's brow and caressingly smoothed her golden curls. Something flashed and he looked up to discover what it was. The sight which met his gaze froze his blood to icy coldness. Yetta stood staring at Lulie, her eyes aflame with unconcealed hatred, a bejeweled poignard in her hand.

Louis sprang to his feet.

"Yetta," he moaned, " are you mad?"

"It is not for yoii, coward," replied Yetta, pushing him aside.

She swiftly raised the poi^^nard and attempted to phinge it into Liilie's bosom. Louis threw himself across the girl's body. The glittering blade pierced his breast a few inches below the heart, buried to the hilt. A mist passed over his eves and he lost consciousness.

CHAPTER VIII.

Thou hast called me thy angel in moments of bliss, And thy angel I'll be, 'mid the horrors of this."

For months after the events narrated in the preceding chapter, Louis hovered between death and insanity. Night and day he raved about Yetta, imploring her to forgive him and begofinpf her to come back to him. Sometimes he imagined that she relented and was bending over him with smiling lips, murmuring soothing phrases. When he held out his arms, her eyes would instantly flash with the fire of hate, she would become restless and menacing, and flee from him with a cry of horror.

When he finally recovered his faculties and was able to resume the practice of his profes-

sion, Louis was no more the flighty, debonair youth of old. His features were care-worn and sunken, his erst jet-black hair sprinkled w^ith gray, and an expression of settled sadness glowered in his eyes.

Lulie was kind to the invalid during his convalescence, but gradually estranged herself from him as he became stronger. She now-felt only indifference for the one she thought she could love forever, and pitied him. Hers had been a momentary passion—a vounir Sfirl's first love, and she experienced neither pain nor regret that her dream had vanished.

No one spoke of Yetta and Louis dared not mention her n-ame. He had a vague premonition that the walls of St. Veronica Convent entombed her, and many were the anathemas he heaped upon that institution.

One fateful day, while reading Le Courrier de la Loidsiane, Louis came across an article headed ^'Taking the Veil," and carelessly perused it. But something tugged at his heart and the paper fell from his grasp when he came to this paragraph:

•'Among those who became the Brides of Christ was Miss Yetta Delric, of this city.

YETTA, THE NUX.

69

She will be known in religion as Sister Dolores. The young lady is a niece of our eminent physician, Dr. Carlos Alvez."

''Lost forevermore !" Louis passionately cried. "O God! What have I done to be accursed w^ith a hopeless love in the prime of

life."

He buried his face between his hands and

sobbed like a child.

"She is not lost tome," he exclaimed, rising. "Though I have to tear her away from the arms of those accursed nuns, she will yet be my bride." He went to his desk and wrote a long letter to Yetta, beseeching her to grant him an interviews He bribed one of the maids employed about the Convent, who promised to deliver his message with the utmost secrecy and to bring an answer that same evening. She was faithful to her promise—but her message was verbal and conveyed the intelligence that Sister Dolores was lost to the world forever and sent her cousin a crucifix as a parting souvenir.

Louis recogrfized the little cross which had been a silent witness of his ardent vow to Yetta, and he dashed it to the ground. As he turned to go, he met the astonished gaze of his messenger.

"What the-deuce are you gaping at?" he said, impatiently. "I thought you were miles away."

"I was waiting," was the sententious reply.

'•Waiting for what? Am I still your debtor?"

''Monsieur will pardon me. I thought he wanted \.o j>e7'severe.^'

She made a feint of going. A gleam of hope flashed across the horizon of despair.

"Wait," said Louis, eagerly. "You have given me an idea."

He drew forth the memorandum book in which he usually wrote his prescriptions and scribbled the following lines:

"Yetta —At half-past twelve to-night I will scale the wall of 3^our convent and wait for you under the oak which stands a few feet from the entrance. If 3'ou do not meet me there, I will seek 3^ou in your cell. Louis."

He :{olded this and handed it to the impassive girl, who all the time had kept her eyes fixed on the ground.

"Be careful that the nuns do not see this," he said, in admonitory tones.

"Monsieur can rely upon my discretion," rephed the girl, bowing. She mechanically thrust the note into her bosom and was in the

act of walking away, when Louis detained her with this remark:

"Are you also going to become a nun.''"

The blue eyes flashed angrily.

*«No, indeed; I hate them," was the unlooked-for reply.

" You do not prove it," said Louis, laughing.

''On the contrary, Monsieur," answered the girl, mischievously. " Do you think they would feel glad were they to be apprised of what I am doing for you? Ha, ha, ha! You do not know all the tricks I play them."

She bowed effusively and walked off, merrily singing one of Beranger's arias. Louis turned his steps homeward with a hopeful heart, whist-hng the tune his sprightly messenger was chanting

CHAPTER IX.

" They grieved, but no wail from their slumbers will come ; They joyed, but the tongue of their gladness is dumb."

The second week of December, 1826, promised to be a gala one for music-loving New Orleans. Two new plays were to be performed lor the first time at the Orleans Theatre: The

JVew Lord of the Villas^e, by Favieres and Bey-eldier, and An Hour of Matrimony^ by Etienne and Dela3''rac. These were to be followed by a one-act vaudeville from Scribe's prolific pen, A Visit to Bedlam.

When the hour advertised for the beginning of the performance drew near, every available spot was filled by an expectant crowd; it seemed that the whole city had turned out to do homage to the triple bill.

A remarkable incident was noted by all and commented upon in whispers with profound amazement—young Dr. Alvez was present I For the first time in many months he was seen gaily chatting with the ladies, exchanging witticisms with their escorts, and criticising timely topics. As the evening wore on, it was observed that he was one of the foremost in encouraging meritorious artists as well as the first to hiss whenever a bad break was made.

When the curtain fell, Dr. Louis Alvez suddenly disappeared. He had agreed to accompany certain frolicsome young fellows to a midnight supper with several feminine members of the troupe, and was eagerly searched for—

but in vain. As his carriage was also missing, it was concluded that he had gone on a gallant adventure'with a dashing soubrette he had vociferously applauded and clandestinely ogled whenever she appeared on the stage. Such feats were common among the gilded youth of those days and excited very little attention, except if it reached the ears of some doting mamma or jealous sweetheart, when the culprit would be severely reprimanded and only pardoned on his solemn promise not to sin again. Hence, the 3'oung doctor's convivial friends having reached the conclusion that he w^as perfectly satisfied, wherever he was, repaired gaily to the festal hall and soon forgot all about the absentee.

* * * * * *

It lacked a few minutes to midnight. The motly crowd which had poured from the Orleans Theatre, half an hour before, highly pleased with the plays presented, had sought their^respectiv^e homes—except those who made it a point, during the Carnival season, to seek repose only when night ushered morning. But the patter of hurrying feet, the whirring noise of the carriages and the indescribable tumult

incidental to such occasions, had died away, to be revived the next night with the self-same abandon and gayety.

Sixty-four years ago, our principal streets were far from being the well-paved, brilliantly lighted thoroughfares of to-day. Where arc and incandescent lights now dazzle the sight, were ungainly oil-lamps, swinging and creaking from the ends of cross-arms nailed upon some convenient tree. As will be surmised, this gave a very uncertain light, which was extinguished whenever an unusually frisky breeze came whizzing around the corners.

The sidewalks were also very unreliable, being merely hardened ashes, oscillating planks or—more often—the virgin soil, over which pedestrians walked with doleful forebodings. People seldom ventured out on foot after sundown, or, if they were compelled to do so, were preceded by slaves carrying enormous lanterns.

On that special night, nearly all the lamps had succumbed to the impetuous force of the wind. The darkness was intense, objects being undistinguishable a few inches distant. Unmindful of this cheerless aspect, a man hurried along Esplanade avenue, guided by the feeble

YETTA, THE NUN. 'O

rays of a spultering lantern he held aloft. He stumbled several times, but kept on with unabated energy. He soon reached Bourbon street, into which he turned, and walked briskly forward. When a few feet from Peace street, his foot caught in the roots of a tree and he was thrown violently to the ground, the lantern dashing itself to pieces against the trunk of a tree.* With some effort—for the fall had con. siderably unnerved him—the wayfarer regained his feet and proceeded with more caution, pressing his hand to his side and tottering like an

aged man.

Few would have recognized Louis Ah^ez in diat lagging figure—the youth who had been so sprightly, so joyous, less than an hour before. Aye! few could have identified that distorted-colorless face to be the erst mirthful countenance of the young doctor, whose presence had caused so much excitement at the old Orleans Theatre,

Dr. Alvez had now reached the entrance and stood before the frowning walls of St. Veronica Convent, which loomed up like a fortress. He looked about for a suitable place to jump over, and was in the act of attempting

~*Asliattered lantern was found at this spot the day after Dr. Alvez's disappearance. G. A,

the feat, when a light suddenly flared around the Union street angle of the wall. The ill-starred lover hastily clambered down and hid behind a tree.

"Some cursed patrolman making his rounds," he muttered. "Those nuisances are always prowling about when not needed."

The lantern was rapidly coming nearer and Louis apprehensively crouched in the shadow of the tree. Just as it was about to pass b3s the light came to a standstill and he thought himself discovered.

"I can certainly make no tangible explanation of my presence," he resumed, placing a hand on the butt of his revolver. "I have suffered too much to be baffled. Good God, how my wound hurts to-night!"

He was about stepping from his concealment, when the lantern suddenly leaped into the air, described a semi-circle, and forthwith went out. A smothered "All right," came from within the enclosure, the gate noiselessly swung open, and a white form tripped out.

"At last, my Popotte !"

The voice belonged to the swinger of the lantern.

VettA, the nun. //

" How late you are, mon bijou^'' was the rattling response. "Come, we must hurry. The gay cavalier I was telling you about—Sister Dolores' beau—will soon be around, and we might scare him. He is a good customer, and I don't care to lose him. I wonder how he is going to jump these walls, though? If he doesn't get cut to pieces by the broken bottles, he'll surely be cau^t by one of the traps. Ah, mon cher, there will be a sensation worth talking about when morning dawns. . . . What are you loitering here for? Let us go. Re-light your lantern, you clumsy darling! "

Louis recognized the French maid's voice. The mysterious manoeuvres of the lantern-bearer were now^ clear: he was her lover, and the twain were going off to some midnight masquerade. Greatly relieved, the doctor stepped forward. The young girl gave a startled cry and clung to her companion, who would undoubtedly have fled had she not resorted to this stratagem.

"Don't be afraid," said the intruder, reassuringly. " I simply want Popotte to unlock that adamantine barrier for me. Be quick, girl!"

Popotte glanced at her lover, who nodded

affirmatively without the least hesitation. The girl then unlocked the gate and Louis walked in. He heard the door cre-.ik as it swung shut again; Popotte's ceaseless babbling sounded fainter and fainter—he was now alone on the forbidden soil. He guardedly struck a ligrht and looked at his watch. Twenty-five minutes past twelve ! Surely, Yetta must be there. He peered eagerly about, but could discern nothing. He waited, and soon heard the half-hour bell tolling from the convent chapel. Still she did not appear. The three-quarter bell struck—no Yetta.

" It looks as if she wants to defy me," muttered Louis, pacing nervously about. "An Alvez never retrogrades."

He advanced resolutel}'toward the darksome building. A hand was laid on his arm and a voice he adored tremulously faltered:

"I am here, insane boy: Speak lowly or we will be overheard and the nuns will kill you— kill us both. I knew 3^ou were mad enough to carry out your threat and obeyed your summons. I—I—"

She burst into choking sobs. In a second, Louis was fondling her in his arms and the

beatings of her outspent heart once more confessed a love which ages could never obliterate.

They sought a bench near by, lest the nuns should overhear them. They sat very close together, so close that Louis could feel h.er warm breath fanning his cheek and see her eyes shining through the gloom, like twin-stars on a radiant night.

What mad things they must have murmured on that fateful night! How blissful they must have felt, huddled against each other, heedless of the fleeting hours ! It was only when they heard the twitter of the birds and saw the darkness gradually blending with the whitish light of morn that their thoughts returned to earth.

Louis pressed a fervid kiss on Yetta's lips.

*' We must now part, my darhng," he faltered.

The girl threw herself in his arms.

" Take me with 3^ou ! " she cried, deliriously. '*I adore you more than my God—take me away from this awful place, which fetters my body, but can not restrain the leapings of my heart! Let us seek some remote corner of the globe, where you will make me your bride." She stopped'short and buried her face in her hands. *'No, no ! that can never be," she moaned. **No

priest will marry a nun who has proved faithless to her vows. Go, leave me to expiate the wrong I did you."

She caught his head between her hands, repeatedly kissed him, and darted away. He sprang after her, but fell back with a groan. In a moment, she was again beside him.

*'I tell you we must part," she wildly exclaimed. "Be courageous, m}^—is—is this blood?"

"My wound—has—broken—out," gasped the youth. "Kiss—me—farewell,—Yetta."

He caught her hand to press it to his lips, but it fell from his nerveless grasp. Yetta swiftly drew a bejeweled poignard from her bosom, ripped open her lover's garments, and tried to stay the flow of blood with her hand. She felt the heart-throbs becoming fainter and less regular, a slight tremor shook the pain-tossed frame—all was over.

*******

Popotte returned from her escapade half an hour later. She noiselessly slipped in and was horrified to see two bodies lying side by side near the entrance. Her screams soon aroused the nuns, who came trooping out like ghouls

and viewed with liorretil hair the ghastly spectacle.

As a poignard was found buried in Sister Dolores' breast, it was surmised she had first stabbed her lover and then killed herself.

The bodies were buried within the Convent grounds, and to this day the young doctor's disappearance has been a conjectural mystery.

THE END,

LULETTE

LULETTE.

CHAPTER I.

The widely-known cotton house of Margins & Co. had collapsed. Harold Mouques, who had hut recently been promoted from clerk to chief book-keeper of the seemingly prosperous concern, found his air-castles totally demolished. He naturally felt moody and surly as he sat in his drawing-room the morning following the failure, glancing at the schedule of the hrm published in the newspapers.

" I think I'll take Knouril's advice and turn my back on this city," he mused, half aloud. " I have a httle cash laid aside and I might just as well lose it in the Old World.'"

He fumbled in his pocket and took out a letter, which he read carefully over. The concluding hues were thus :

"India is the best place for investing your capital just now. Look at me, for instance. Five years ago I came here with very little

money; to-day I am the head of a firm known throughout the globe. The best thing you can do is to join me. I'll give you a cordial Hft in memory of old days. John Knourii.."

Harold smiled contentedly and replaced the letter in his pocket. That same week, he made up his mind to follow his friend's advice, and before the end of the month was on his way to India. When he arrived at Calcutta, he had no difficulty in finding the house of Knouril & Co., famed throughout the world as dealers in precious stones, and was warmly welcomed by its chief.

Knouril's prosperous career read like a romance. A few years previously, he had suddenly left New Orleans, without even a word of parting to his friends. No explanations could be given for this strange freak. A few months afterward, he had written to his old college-mate, Harold Mouques, telling him of his arrival at Calcutta and vowdng never to return to Louisiana. He gave no reasons for his action, and, although the friends had regularly-corresponded since, the mystery remained unsolved.

Shortly after his arrival, Knouril induced Harold to buy an interest in his firm. The

LULETTK. ^'

business prospered wonderfully, the two friends linally buying out the other partners.

One morning Knouril seemed low-spirited and uneasy, paying little attention to what transpired about him. Upon being questioned by Harold, he observed :

" I had a bad dream last night, old man." '^Is that all?" was the laughing remark. '•You are supersensitive this morning."

" I know it's womanish of me to be thus,'but I can't help feeling rattled. Evil is brooding somewhere."

''What did you dream about?" "Home," was the reply, given in such pathetic accents that Harold glanced wonder-ingly at his friend.

'' You seem surprised at my tenderness," resumed Knouril, sadly smihng.

"Of course I am. I thought you the most unromantic man on earth."

"I have a heart, Harold. I thought it was of marble, but the remembrance of a woman's loving face sufficed to make its old wound bleed afresh."

'• What in the world are you talking about?"

Knouril drew a chair neaip his own and said :

" Sit here and I'll tell you all. Vou are my chum, my partner, and ought to know everything about my life. Do you remember how suddenly I left New Orleans?"

"Yes, especially when you had but recently graduated from the Tulane Medical College. Everybody said you were cranky at the time.'"

"Thanks. But let me tell vou my stor}': As you may perhaps remember, I intended sailing for Europe to complete my studies with an uncle in Berlin, who is a man of note there. A few^ weeks before the time set for my departure, at a ball given at the Theatre de rOpera, I met a young girl —the prettiest and most enthrallin^r creature I had ever seen. I will call her Lulette. It was a case of love at first sight. I went wild over her: her eyes spoke her heart-thoughts. The day for my departure drew near. I formulated innumerable excuses for postponing same, but father positively refused to allow further delay. I insisted, and finally told him I would not go at all if he did not do as I wanted. We are a hotheaded family, Harold. When w^e desire an}'-thing. naught can turn us back. Father and I

quarreled, he strudk me—I retaliated. God forgive me, but it was not my fault."

He bowed his head and a tear coursed down liis cheek.

'•The rest is soon told," he resumed, with some effort. •• The incident was carefully locked in our breasts and the world never heard of it. But I could not endure to face father day by day with the remembrance of that fatal blow o-nawinor at mv heart. Without even tell-ins Lulette—then mv fiancee—farewelL I left the city of my birth and buried myself here. God knows I have suffered enough to atone for my sin."

Before Harold* could frame a reply, a messenger rushed in and handed him a cablegram. He glanced at the superscription and said:

•' It is addressed to 3^ou personally, John."

Knouril's face became as pale as a corpse.

"For Heaven's sake, tear it open and read," he frroaned.

Harold obeyed. The contents were thus:

'- Come home immediately. Father danoer-ously ill. A sksfor you .

*' Marcel Knouril.'

Knouril pressed both Iftnds to his forehead and moaned.

" I knew it—I knew it," he said, in tones of pitiful despair.

"What are you going to do about it?" asked his sympathizing friend.

" The steamship leaves to-morrow; so do I."

CHAPTER II.

A month after Knouril"s departure, his partner recei\ed the following note, hurriedly penned :

"Dear Old Pal: Pardon my reprehensible silence. To tt^ll the truth, I am so happy I can think of nothing but Lulette. Just think of it, old man, we will be married next month ! As I want you to dance at our wedding, leave the business in the hands of Letimlorn. He is competent and reliable in every respect. Fuller particulars when we meet. Johx."

"Not a word about his father," thought Harold. "I presume the old gentleman recovered, but John ought to have curbed his ecstacies for awhile to let me know how matters stood. Poor fellow I His head is completely

turned by his old 4ove. Catch me getting luny just because a woman smiles for me. Ugh !"

He curled his lips contemptuously and resumed his office duties. If he could only have pushed aside the veil which hides the future from mortal gaze!

Within a week, Harold settled the most important transactions of the firm and had the necessary documents drawn up empowering the head clerk of the house, Stephen Letimlorn, to represent Knouril & Co. without reservation. He then took passage on board a steamship bound for Havre, which place he reached just in time to engage a cabin on the Fletcr-de-Lys, the champion vessel of the French Transatlantic Line, plying between Havre and New York.

On board the Fleur-de-Lys Harold became acquainted with the charming Louisianian, Miss Mirelle Arcos, whose final destination also proved to be New Orleans. The young people soon became fast friends, and, as the voyage lengthened—well, it is the same, sweet, old story.

The Fleiir-de-Lys was a strongly built, iron-plated steamship, under the command of Capt. Alcide Ramie, an experienced French navigator.

She was the first iron merchant-vessel to cross the Atlantic and was considered the safest and fastest craft afloat.

Nothing of note happened until the coast of New Foundland was reached, where the vessel came upon a water-logged Norwegian barque. Capt. Ramie took care of her crew, who were nearly famished. The master of the barque reported having been wrecked by icebergs and warned the seamen to keep a sharp look-out.

Capt. Ramie burst into a hearty laugh at this caution.

''Icebergs?'" he said, contemptuously. "This is not a bath-tub. Why, man, we can steam right through a mountain of ice as high and thick as the Great St. Bernard and come out unharmed!"

A boast which was assuredly-monumental, but the gallant tar spoke with such earnestness that the passengers and crew applauded unanimously.

The next day and the one following, the vessel steamed through numberless floes, which crashed and bumped against its iron sides. Huge icebergs were observed in the distance, but no one felt any apprehension. The FleuT'

de-lys was proof against such insignificant obstructions and kept on her course unfettered by their presence.

Evening came. A thick mist arose, enveloping the ship in a veil of impenetrable thickness. As regularly as the ticks of a faithful clock, the fog-whistle echoed its notes of warning, increasing in tone and frequency as the mist became thicker and more chilling.

'' I've never seen such a fog since I've been on the Atlantic," remarked the Norwegian captain, as he gazed [ominously around. " It is a bad sign, especially at this season of the year."

The passengers Avere all grouped about the deck when this remark was made. It had the effect of putting a sudden check to their laughing chats and each looked at the other in unfeigned apprehensiveness.

''Yes," continued the speaker, "a ship rarely reaches port under such circumstances. I've been navigating the seas for forty years, and knovv what Fam talking about."

He then proceeded to narrate innumerable yarns to prove his assertion and recited dismal passages from ''The Ancient Mariner." There

was not a soul who felt comfortable when he concluded. Even jolly Capt. Ramie, though he kept on boasting of the immunity of his ship from peril, looked ill at ease and paced the deck with nervous foot-falls.

Miss Arcos and Harold remained outside for a long time after the other passengers had retired, listening to the swashing of the waves and the groaning of the ponderous machinery.

It was long after midnight when the lovers separated.

CHAPTER III.

About half an hour after retiring to his cabin, Harold awoke with a start and looked wildly about. Everything was tranquil and he turned over to resume his sleep. But this was impossible. Ever}' moment he would be startled by some noise or other and would sit upright in bed, fancying that the sea was already swirling into his stateroom. Midnight tolled. He softly arose, lit a match, and cautiously opened the door. All was quiet, He crept ^^nto bed, but could not sleep. At last, despairing of mastering his fears, he noiselessly slipped

LULETTi:. [)0

out of the cabin and sought the sitting-room. It was deserted, but a cheery blaze flickered in the stove. He lit a cigar and sat beside the fire, smoking and dozing alternately.

*'Crash!"

The huge ship quivered from bow to stern and Harold felt himself thrown to the floor, stunned, surprised, bewildered.

^*Crash! C-r-a-s-h !"

A succession of terrific shakings, followed by the hissing of steam, the sounding of bells and gongs, and the shrill notes of the whistle of distress. The passengers rushed out of their staterooms and the scene became a veritable pandemonium. Men and women screamed and fought madly for the right of way; children wailed and were trampled unmercifully, smothered to death by the very ones from whom they sought succor.

Captain Ramie did superhuman efforts to quell the deadly stampede.

"Stop, you fools!" he yelled. ''There's not the slightest clanger. We only struck a small chunk of ice."

But his words were unheeded. He might just as well have tried to stop the inflow of the

icy waters, which were rapidly <;aining the mastery.

-Flash:"

The lurid sionals of distress illumed the dark-ness for a few seconds, tinging the overhanging clouds a dull red, death-boding hue.

•' Boom 1 Boom?'"

The cannons shrieked out their thunderous affright, blending their noise with the groans of the maddened mass of humanity, which struggled and squirmed about, hardly knowing what they w^ere doing.

" Hue-r-r-r-r-r ! Rowr-r-r-r-r ru-r-r-r !"

The awful notes of the whistle of distress stilled the beatings of the quavering hearts. But it finally died out. The waters rushed in and extinguihhed the fires: men and women fought no more, but stood as if paralyzed, awaiting their doom.

" I've been navio-atin^- the seas foii forty vears,'* Harold heard a feeble voice gasp. " I knew what I was talking about.''

Just then the vessel gave a lurch, oscillating like a boulder about to crash into an untathomed precipice, and the merciless waters swirled about her. She stood still for a few seconds,

then plunged beneath the surface, carrying in her wake the screaming mass, which despairingly clung to the creaking timbers, imploring in vain to be saved.

Harold felt himself going down, down, down with frightful velocity; then he suddenly stopped and was shot toward the surface. He deliriously grasped at a floating piece of furniture, and —

" I say, young gentleman, if you are not more careful, you'll overturn that stove."

Harold glanced up and met the amused gaze of Capt. Ramie.

" Where's Mirelle—tell me, quick—was she also saved?" he gasped.

The old tar looked dubiously at the agitated young man and made a dash for the sideboard.

'* Here,'' said he, pulling out a bottle and pouring some liquor into a glass. " Drink this and you'll feel all right. It always demoralizes a man to make love on a cloudy night."

Harold mechanically swallowed the beverage, rubbed his eyes and looked dazedly about. A bright fire burned in the stove; at his feet was a half consumed cigar. The vibrations of the ship's machinery kept on with the self-same 7

monotony. The shipwreck was only a dream ! He had fallen asleep haunted b\' the terrors of the sea, and his imagination liad evolved this fantastic nicrhtmare.

The ship reached New York in due time. Harold and his fair protege then took passage on a steamship for New Orleans, which place they reached without anything unusual happening. Having been informed of his friend's coming, Knouril was waiting for him at the wharf. He insisted on introducino- the vouno-man at once to his adored Lulette. Remonstrances were useless, and, in less than half an hour after his arrival, Harold found himself in the presence of Knouril's ideal, whose beauty and sweetness he found had not been exaggerated by his friend.

It was only when the partners were once more alone that Harold thought of John's father and asked about him.

"Why. didn't I explain ever\^thing to you?" queried Knouril.

" Certainly not. You raved about Miss Lulette—everything else was a blank."

Knouril burst into a heartv laujiii.

•• It was onlv a scheme to make me come

T.ULETTE.

99

back/* he exclained. "Father was at the theatre the night of my arrival. He treated the whole thing as a practical joke—and here the matter rests.**

Harold gave his friend a heartfelt handshake and the pair separated.

A week afterward Lulette and John were married. Harold was best man, Mirelle his blushing companion. That same night, when he escorted her home, he obtained her promise that the next wedding at the old St. Louis Cathedral would be theirs.

In May, 1882, Harold and his bride left New Orleans for India, which they decided to make their future home. Lulette feeling saddened at the thought of leaving her native land, Knouril abandoned his idea of returning to Calcutta and left his partner in full charge of the business of Knouril & Co.

And, following the diction of the dear old fairy tales which delighted us in our youths, may the lovers live in happiness to the end of their lives.

THE END.

IRRECONCILABLE.

RRECONCILABLE.

"O, why should the spirit ot mortal lie proiul? Like a swift-tleeting meteor, fast-flying cloud, A flash of the lightning, a break ot the wave, .Man passes Irom life to his rest in the grave."--/I'wo.r,

Some sections of the French quarter of New Orleans have of Lite undergone noticeable changes. Damp, ivy-twined dwellings, built during the Spanish domination of Louisiana, have been demolished and handsome stores and cottages erected in their stead.

Many will recall a certain quaint, stately edifice on Royal street, a few squares from Esplanade avenue, which not long ago occupied the site where a vast dry goods establishment now stands. The process of demolition was commenced about a year ago and now, as one admires the elegant building which has so rapidly replaced its predecessor, the sudden change is always a subject of wonder to him.

A few months after the workmen had begun

104 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLEANS.

razing the old building, a secret cabinet was discovered, in which were several chairs, a lounge and two old-fashioned book-cases. Everything was deeply covered with dust, and when the mouldy rags scattered over the lounge were removed, a skeleton rattled to the floor. A rusty pistol, with one chamber empty, was found near by. The newspapers, too busy with the bitter political fight then raging, treated the matter lightly, merely mentioning the strange find in their local columns. The bones were taken in charge by the coroner and buried in Potter's Field.

The writer not long since had occasion to transact some business with the contractor who erected the modern building—a well-known Creole gentleman—and was told of tlie unearthing of the skeleton.

" I always wondered why the press did not make a big sensation out of this," observed the narrator. " I could have furnished them startling details, father having told me the strange story connected with this old house. Many old-timers still recall the crazed father's irrevocable vow and his unexplained disappearance,"

When pressed for a full recital, he laughingly

said:

"My dear boy, I'm too busy. Come and take breakfast with me Sunday and I'll unbosom

myself." . .

He kept his word and furnished the basis lor this touching romance, which is given with

faithful adherence to reality.

* * * * *. * *

About half a century before the present generation was born, there lived in that historic Royal street residence a family by the name of Mizaine, consisting of father, mother, daughter-and a spinster relative.

Major Hamilcar Mizaine was a survivor of the Battle of New Orleans, where his gallantry had cost him an arm. Having amassed a fortune on his sugar plantation in St. Charles parish, he had disposed of it at a handsome profit and moved to his native place, to live in ease and

elegance.

To those whom he liked, the Major was a valued friend, but his sensitive nature resented the slightest affront. As an illustration of his unforgiving disposition, the following .nc.dent

is related :

When attending college, one of his profes-

10(3 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLEANS.

sors, vexed bv some insolent remark, boxed his ears.

" I am only sixteen and powerless,*' warned the furious boy, " but when I become a man, J will make you regret your cowardice."

Every one laughed heartil}^ at this bravado, but the youth resolutely carried out his threat. On the anniversary of his twenty-first birthday, he sought the professor, then still in the prime of life, and publicly slapped his face. x\ duel followed, in which Mizaine sent a bullet through his adversary's heart.

The Major's wife, whose maiden name was Pauline Oursblanc, was one of those cold, indifferent, unapproachable characters fortunately so rare among the descendants of the Franco-Latin race. She was too indolent to look after her sole child, .sweet, timid Juanita, and had left her in the entire care of her sister-in-law, Cecile, who liad proved a real motlier to the girl.

Amid such surroundings, it was ncjt surprising that Juanita did not feel for lier parents those tender sentiments of love and respect which kindness fosters in an immature breast. Her father frowned upon her childisli demon-.

strations of joy; her mother never kissed her babbling lips or tenderly spoke to her. "Aunt Cecile" was the only one in that dismal household who seemed to love her, and to her the child coniided all lier joys and sorrows.

Cecile had given her niece the best preceptors, and at fifteen she was more learned than the average girl of the period—for at that time the education of women was considered unimportant—and gave indications of soon blooming into a beautiful creature. She was one of those delightful caprices of nature, a blonde Creole, and her pretty face was the envy of her schoolmates and the pride of her aunt.

In those days it was customary to marry young, and Mme. Mizaine suddenly discovered she had a daughter old enough to think of beaux. So she nonchalantly remarked one day during breakfast:

*'It is time you should think of marrying, Juanita."

Startled by the suddenness of the question, the young girl opened her blue eyes to their fullest capacity.

"Marrying?" she repeated, in surprised tones, "Whv, I never loved anv one!"

''Love is nonsensical, child,'" was the lymphatic response. "Had I married for love, I would be an old maid to-day.''

The Major looked up amusedly at this frank admission, but said nothing. Mme. Mizaine continued:

"I will give a soiree in a few months to introduce 3'ou to societ}'. In the meanwhile, Ce-cile will instruct you how to behave in company.'"

Juanita looked apprehensively at her mother, afraid to make any observation, and the meal was finished in silence.

On her sixteenth birthday, Juanita made her initial bow to society. She had winning manners, was an excellent pianist, and conquered many hearts that eventful night. But her sweetest smiles and most coquettish looks were bestowed upon Senville Faibus, a rich, handsome 3'oung fellow, who was considered a splendid "catch" by scheming mothers. Mme. Mizaine smiled encouragingly, for in her eyes Senville was a desirable suitor and would undoubtedly make a pliant son-in-law. As for the Major, he cordialh' toasted the young man at supper and invited him to call as often as he desired—a

departure from his usual surliness which elicited general wondering comment.

As the weeks went by, Senville became bolder and more demonstrative in his attentions, completely routing his numerous rivals. One evening, when he had been unusually tender and had departed with unconcealed reluctance, Mizaine patted Jiianita's blonde curls and pleasantly said :

"This is splendid, m}^ child! I am really proud of you!

Juanita looked up in speecliless amazement. Ever since she was a child, slie could not recollect such a warm proof of paternal love.

"Yes," continued the Major, "lam delighted with you. Flirt as much as 3^ou please, but do not go too far."

"What do you mean, father?" said the bewildered girl, made uneasy by liis caressing touch.

"I mean that Senville can be your to\' as long as you please, but your husband—never."

"Father! I thought ^^ou liked him so much?"

"He is a pleasant young fellow, but you are too young to love sincerely. You will change

3^our mind and make him suffer. I watched him closely to-night and I know he will adore you forever.*'

Juanita cast down her eves. What could all tliis mean? He was surely jesting.

*'But father/' she ventured, timidly, '-I do not understand why you do not want us to marr}'. I am old enough to love truly and I ieel I can never forget Senville.''

The Major's features grew sombre.

"I tell you this is all nonsense," he said. "Make him craz3\ drive him wild, but bear in mind that 3'ou can never marr\' him."

•'But I do love him dearly, father. Ho^v can—""

"Love has no existence at your age. You may suffer a little, but 3'ou will forget and be happier later."

In vain Juanita pleaded—Mizaine w^as inexorable. Exasperated In- the girl's earnestness, he finalh- said :

"Enough of this nonsense. If you disobe3^ me, may m3' eternal curse rest on 3'ou, your husband, your children and ever3'thing dear to you.'"

He walked awa3' in a towering passion.

Juanita disconsolately sought lier aunt and told her all, The good soul consoled her and explained what slie thought prompted her brother to hate Senville.

'•Senville's father and Hamilcar were classmates and inseparable friends,'" she began, tenderly kissing the tear-wet cheeks. "When your father was twenty-two, he fell desperately in love with Essie Rurtel, a beautiful American girl. She accepted him and everything was in preparation for the wedding, when she ran away with voungf Faibus. Hamilcar .was frantic with grief and rage and vowed revenge. Everybody expected a duel to the death, as both men were brave and reckless, but vour father did not seek a hostile meeting. Soon after, he married Pauline and his wound was thought to be healed. Do 3'ou now understand, my child?"

Juanita arose, her bosom heaving with emo tion.

"Yes, I now see it all,'" she said indignantly. '•Father thought I would jilt Senville. thus punishing him for his mother's falsity. But I will do no sucii thing. He has never shown a father's solicitude for me and I defy his curse. I vjill marrv Senville."*

''Juanita!" exclaimed Cecile, alarmed at her impetuous words.

The poor girl threw her arms around her neck and kissed the withered cheeks.

"Dear, sweet, darling aunt," she sobbed, •'you are the only one who really cares for me." *****

A few nights after the above conversation took place, Senville found Juanita alone in the garden, and confessed his love. She t^remu-lously told him of her father's terrible words. Senville was dazed.

''God is too just to hearken to such vows," he said. "If you love me, we will be happy. But I do not ask you to disobey your father if your heart dictates otherwise."

She circled her arms around his neck.

"Yes. God is too good to blame us," she said, simpl^^ "I love you and nothing can tempt me to make you feel unhappy."

He kissed her quivering lips and her anguished heart was solaced.

*****

The elopement of Juanita Mizaine and Senville Faibus created quite a stir in social circles. Senville's parents could give no explana

tion to tlie iniuimt'rable questions propounded to them and looked upon the affair as "a romantic escapade of two young fools." To those bold enough to question the Major, he invariably replied:

**My daughter is dead and buried. I do not care to discuss the subject."

Two years after their elopement, the young people returned to New Orleans, bringing a little stranger with them—called by the sweet name of Micaela—whose fair face was so much like Juanita's that she needed no formal .introduction to establish her relationship to that happy young woman.

Juanita tried to communicate with her parents, asking their forgiveness, but her advances were repulsed. Cecile was dead, thus depriving the girl of the only relative who would have welcomed her.

For three years the young people were very happ}'. Then came a sudden change. The bank in which was deposited the fortune of the Faibus family—an institution which had withstood financial crashes for nearly a century— collapsed, leaving Senville penniless. It was then he felt the glamour of money. Former

friends, who fawned around him when fortune's star was in its zenith, now greeted him with coldness and arrogance, and refused assistance. To support his wife and child, he was compelled to work w^ith common laborers on the river front; but this proved too arduous for him and he soon sickened and died. For her child's sake, Juanita wrote a suppliant letter to her father. She received the following answer:

** You are an impostor. My only daughter is dead."

The young widow then found employment in a manufacturing establishment. One day, sundry articles were missed, and, being the poorest employe, suspicion naturally rested upon her and she was discharged.

*' You may thank your stars we do not send you to jail," said the superintendent, sternly. " The balance we owe vou is insicrnificant to cover your thefts, but we will be lenient and gii'C 3^ou a chance to reform."

Poor Juanita ! Her baby—now a prattling, intelligent child of six—had been feverish all night and she was waiting for her week's wages to buy some medecine and toothsome tid-bits. With a despairing heart she souf^ht her wretched

IRRECONCILABLE. Ho

home. Micaela's face became radiant when she saw her mother.

" I thought you would never come, mamma," she said, caressing the pallid cheeks. " I'm so hungry."

Juanita passionately kissed the bright eyes.

" And what delicacy does my precious want to-night?" she said, laughing boisterously to conceal her agitation.

Micaela was pensive a few moments.

" I feel so much Hke eating nic-nacs and milk," she observed longingly. "That good colored woman next door gave me some this morning and it did me such a heap of good."

Juanita fumbled in her purse and found—five cents! Aye, even this simple luxury was denied the little sufferer. A desperate resolve overmastered her pride.

"I can not allow my baby to die," she thought; "I will seek father and compel him to take care of her. He may have no compassion for me, but he must save this innocent life."

The air being cool and the weather drizzly, she wrapped a shawl around the little fevered form and tottered out of the room.

A grand ball was in progress in the spacious

Mizaine parlors. The Major had just been elected to Congress and was honoring his constituents. As he passed through the hallway the door leading into the street cautiously opened and an anxious, frightened face peeped in.

'*What the mischief do you want?" he gruffly queried, opening the door.

But he started, for an appealing face was raised to him and a choking voice faltered:

'*Have mercy, father ! Your grandchild is dying. Abuse me, but save her life."

The old man turned as pale as a corpse. In spite of her faded dress and emaciated features, he had recognized his daughter I For a few^ moments he gazed vacantly at her, unable to speak. Then memories of the past surged through his brain, and he recalled his fateful vow. Recovering his wonted calmness, he coldly said:

" You have come to the wrong house, madam. My only child died seven years ago."

He slammed the door in her face and joined the impatient revelers. That same night he disappeared and was never heard of again.

The next morning an unconscious woman, tightly clasping the dead bodv of a child, was

IRRECONCILABLE. H'

found by the police in a doorway on Royal street, a few doors from Major Mazaine's residence. The unfortunate creature was taken to the Charity Hospital, where kind hands ministered to her, but aid had come too late and she died before sunset. No one identifying her, she was buried by the city.

*

The discovery of a skeleton in the old Spanish building clears away the mystery surrounding Major Mizaine's disappearance. Gnawed by remorse, he had sought this secret spot and put an end to his misdirected life. This theory is rendered irrefutable by the finding of an unloaded pistol near the ancient lounge.

May God have mercy on the poor bones lying uncared for in a pauper's grave!

THE END.

THE

CREOLE FLOWER GIRL

THE CREOLE FLOWER GIRL

CHAPTER I.

At the beginning of this century, in the neighborhood of that world-famed rehc of colonial New Orleansahe French Market, there used to be an attractive flower shop, presided over by a bright-eyed little brunette. She was a charming beauty, full of wit and tact, and did a thriving business. Although very amiable and talkative, she was mysteriously reserved about her personaHty, no one knowing her real name or antecedents. To those indiscreet enough to question her, she gave evasive answers, and no amount of coaxing could induce her to become confidential.

Ernest Fatah was her best and most assiduous customer. His heart had been stolen since the day those delicate fingers pinned a boutonniere for him, but his advances having been coldly received, he consoled himself with the thought that he could at least see her every morning.

Young Fatah was a reporter on the only newspaper then existing in New Orleans— Lc Coiirrier de la Louisiane. He was a popular sketch-writer and versifier, most of his work appearing in the Courrier.

One morning, he met his ideal as she was coming out of the St. Louis Cathedral, and smilingly approached her.

**Do you object to my company as far as your residence," he said.

"Oh, I am not bound for home," was the disappointing response. " I am simply going to visit a sick friend. You may walk w^ith me as far as her door, if you wish."

Ernest's beaming features showed the three last words to be surplusage.

*'You are a mystery to me Mademoiselle," he said, a puzzled expression on his handsome face. " Once I asked you to tell me a little of your life and you seemed unaccountably displeased. Wh}^ are you so unkind? You know it is not a spirit of curiosity which prompts me to—"

** Please do not begin again, I entreat 3^ou," interrupted the girl, '• I know you are an honorable gentleman and I admire your discre-

tion, but I can not tell you more than you already know. It is useless to plead Mr. Fatah."

The young man gave a start of surprise.

" Why, do you know my name?" he said.

The young girl looked confused, but frankly replied:

"You will pardon my curiosity, but you seemed such a quiet gentleman and took my refusal to receive you at my house so philosophically, that I made it a point to ascertain your name. It is a habit I have to know who my regular customers are."

Ernest glanced at her, but she averted his gaze.

"As you know my name," he convincingly said, "would you deem it bold if I asked \'Ours?"

"Not at all, sir," was the quick reply. " I

am Mayoutte, the Creole Flower Girl. I

thought you knew it. Everybody calls me thus."

There was such an innocent look in her lustrous eyes, Ernest's rising displeasure was dispelled.

" I know your g-iven name," he said, softly;

124 ROMANCES Op- NEW ORLEANS.

'' but you surely have another—a family name, miss."

'' Perhaps I once did, but I do not recall it."

"You are jesting. One can see by your conversation and manners that you are not plebeian. Your answer is incomprehensible."

'* There are stranger things in this world, Mr. Fatah. Were you to know my past life you would wonder how I could apparently be so volatile and gay. One day I migiit tell you. For the present, I rely on your honor not to question me. We must now part, as I have reached my destination. Au revoir, sir."

Ernest walked regretfully away, more determined than ever to know the true history of this mysterious girl. The next morning as he stopped for his customary bouquet, Mayoutte seemed less gay than usual.

" What has happened to the queen of flowers," he observed pleasantl3^

Mayoutte pointed to the clouded sky.

" The sun has not given her its morning kiss," she said laughingly. Then, looking graver: "You must not mind me, Mr. Fatah. Once in a while thoughts of the past trouble me and I grow despondent. To-morrow you will find me as of old."

" If it was not a forbidden subject," said Ernest, hesitatingly, " I would ask a few questions."

Mayoutte glanced into his love-lit eyes, but instantly averted them.

" Do not look at me that way," she said nervously.

Ernest feifjned to be vexed.

"If even m}^ looks are hateful to you," be stiffly said, "it would be more chivalrous to leave you alone, I trust you will pardon my intrusion, Miss."

He bowed and walked toward the door. His ruse was successful, for a detaining hand was placed on his arm:

" Do not be angry, Mr. Fatah," was the gentle remark. " I did not mean to offend you. You have been too kind to be treated with ingratitude."

Ernest saw his advantage and persuasively said:

" Be more friendly, cruel girl. Your bright eyes have surely read my heart's secret."

" Do not talk that way," said Mayoutte, apprehensively. " We might be overheard."

l26 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLEANS.

'* Impossible." cautioned Ernest. "This little corner is too removed from the street."

•' It is best to be prudent. When we are certain not to be overheard, I will speak fearlessly."

Ernest's heart gave a bound.

*' This ma}* never happen, unless — "

He stopped, and their eyes met again.

" I will do as you wish, Mr. Fatah," said Mayoutte, lowly. " I do not know how^ it is, but I feel so strange when you look at me that w^ay. I—I do not like it. If I allow you to visit me, will 3'ou promise on your honor never to speak of love to me, unless I tell you to?"

Ernest looked perplexedly at her.

" Do you refuse? It is the only alternative."

She spoke firmly, but her voice quavered a little. Concealing his almost uncontrollable happiness, for the girl's heart-thoughts were mirrored in her reproachful eyes, Ernest indifferently said:

"I agree to respect your wishes. Miss Mayoutte. When may I call? Would this evening-be too soon?"

Mayoutte hesitated and then hastily scribbled on a small slip of paper.

'*Here is my address," she said uneasily. *'Act as your conscience dictates. Please go now. I am afraid people will gossip about us."

Ernest took the precious document and departed. But he pondered for a long time over Mayoutte's singular phrase: ^'Acl asyotir conscience dictates.'''' He felt he Igved her sincerely and would make her his wife if the story of her life proved her to be as pure as he imagined, and he wondered what she meant. The mystery was becoming more bewildering than ever, and he felt a pang at his heart when he thought how tediously long the day would be.

CHAPTER II.

The sun's last rays were tinting the sombre clouds as Ernest stopped before Mayoutte's residence and softly raised the quaint iron knocker. The gate being half-opened and no one responding to his knock, he walked into the garden-path which led to the house and looked musingly about. Roses, dahlias, mig-

128 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLKAXS.

nonettes and bright-colored tropical flowers bloomed in the open air, distilling a delicious fragrance. As he strolled toward the house, the door was suddenly opened and Mayoutte appeared on the threshold.

She was indeed a lovely creature. Of medium height, slender, w^ith large black eyes and a magnificent wealth of chestnut hair, she was well calculated to excite admiration from the most prosaic. iVnd as Ernest did not even remotely belong to this latter class, being a poet and dreamer, his state of mind can better be imagined than described. Mayoutte smiled at his confusion and observed:

"Come in, Mr. Fatah. You will catch cold standing on the damp soil so long. You are earlier than I expected."

She seemed so graciousl}" unconscious of his embarrassment, that Ernest came to his senses.

"I w^as admiringyour pretty flowers," he said. "I hope you will pardon my abstraction."

He took her proffered hand and they entered the house.

Seeing the young girl was so mt-rry. Ernest

did not broach the subject of his visit, but employed his time in subtle assaults upon her undefended heart.

'' I read a very pretty poem by you in the C^/^rr/Vr last Sunday," observed Mayoutte, after a pause in the conversation.

"You are verv charitable, I am sure," said Ernest. "I am delighted to see I had an approving critic."

*' Oh, I always read your poetry with pleasure. Before I knew you I always looked for it in the Cotirrier and was disappointed when you slighted a number. How is it you always sing of love?"

"It is such a sublime—"

But Mayoutte's warning finger stopped him.

"Take care," she said, playfull3^ "Do not venture too rashly on the quicksand of poesy."

"You are despotic. Miss Mayoutte. You push me temptingly near the illusive goal and then blame me for falling in."

"I spoke of your poetry, sir," she scoldingly responded.

" Are you afraid I might become personal?" 9

*'Yes. I know how impetuous you poets are. Once started, an avalanciie can not stop you.''

" But a woman will," said Ernest, teasingl^^ *' In that case your sex should be more dreaded than—than—I should like to know what you are laughing at, Miss?"

" I was just thinking how courageous vou were, Mr. Fatah."

Ernest bit his lip.

*'Now you are angry," resumed Mayoutte, apologetically. " To atone for mv offence, I will ask you to write a verse or two in my album. Poetr}' is an infallible cure for rebellious thoughts."

" Especially when it has a congenial subject," ventured Ernest.

The}^ sat around a table and Ernest began inditing. Now and then he would glance at Mayoutte for an inspiration, but she seemed deeply interested in the texture of her dress and did not once raise her eves. At last the poem was finished and he placed the open book before her.

" Read it aloud," she said. *' It will seem nicer."

Ernest read as follow:

THE POET TO HIS SWEETHEART. When your eyes are upturned to my face, hallowed

love, The bright worlds which glimttier so grandly above

With envy soon fade: When your rosy lips part, fondest phrases to tell, The harpists celestial their rhapsodies quell To listen, fair maid.

You are sweet as the rose by the South wind caressed And your throat is as white as the proud lily's crest;

Your heart pure as snow Which vigilant guardians of Heaven elude. When beside me you sit sorrows dare not intrude

And woes blissful grow.

l'envoy. Rise, fond tide of my heart, to the being I prize. On the billows of Fate, like the sea to the skies,

When she smiles to my call! Hide thy pale rays, O Sun! Jealous moon disappear! . Angels, stay with the stars when this maiden draws

near —

She is fairer than all!

" It is quite pretty," said Mayoutte, " but it is only a poetical conceit? You do not mean it?"

" Of course not," ansvveied Ernest, deci-

sively. " I remember my promise too well to be guilty of actually thinking such things."

But his looks said otherwise, and Mayoutte became once more furiously interested in that tantalizing dress.

" May I return this book to the mantelpiece?" said Ernest, taking this as a pretext to make her look up.

" Certainty," replied Mayoutte,without glancing at him.

He walked briskty as far as the chimney and then came back on tip-toe and stood behind Mayoutte. She slowly raised her head to see where he was and he noticed a tear trembling on her lashes. In an instant, she w^as caught in his arms and he was tenderly kissing her moistened eyes.

"Oh, sir, please leave me go ! " she pleaded, struorg-ling to free herself. "What will you think of me now ! "

"I love you, dearest," said Ernest. "Tell me you care for me."

"No, I hate you," was the sobbing response. "I thought you were a gentleman and extended you the hospitality of my home and now you insult me ! Our friendship ends to-night, Mr.

Fatah. Oh, how cou/d you take advantage of a lone, unhappy woman ! "

She cried as if her heart would break and Ernest be^an to fear she would be overheard.

'*Donotbe so cruel," he gently remonstrated. ''I love you and will make you my wife. Say you approve me, sweet girl."

Mayoutte dried her tears and sadly remarked :

"You have read my heart and wish to know why I can not requite your love. I warned you not to think of me otherwise than as a friend, but you did not heed me. I will tell you the truth, Mr. Fatah. I am married."

Ernest's face became ashy and he sprang to his feet.

''What?" he cried, fiercely.

But the beseeching eyes calmed his anger and he resumed his seat. He hardly gave credence to such an astonishing confession.

" Mayoutte," he presently said, '* you are a Modern Sphinx to me. You have an attractive home; you are endowed with more accom-phshments than the average girl of the period, yet you are not happy. Another thing which puzzles me: Why do you sell flowers when you

could easily fill a more lucrative and exalted calling?''

" Why do I sell flowers?" repeated Mayoutte, dreamily. " I hardh^ know. I like to be independent and I find consolation in m}^flowers. They are never unkind, and I love them." She was lost in thouglit for awhile. " I was too impulsive in judging you, Mr. Fatah," she re-suQied. " I am to blame. I should never have been weak enough to make our friendship stronger. But it is too late now and as I do not wish you to think ill of me, I will tell you the story of my life."

" That is why I am here to-night," said Ernest. " You seemed so gay when I came, I did not wish to make you feel sad by alluding to the subject. Tell me all. I am certain nothing terrible shadows 3'our pure life."

They returned to the sofa and Mayoutte began, hesitatingly at first, but becoming more confidential as she proceeded :

"You were right in thinking me of good birth. My true name is Josef a de Aillieres. My parents still live on our estates in the i\t-takapas and my ancestors, as history has no doubt informed you, rendered gallant services to

THE CREOLE FLOWER GIRL.

135

poor France before the Reign of Terror ensanguined her standard. But father fortunately escaped the horrorsof the Revolution, as he emigrated to Louisiana about 1768, exactly fifty years after New Orleans was founded. He married a few years afterward. I was his eighth child and the only one who survived the terrible epidemic of 1785. I lost five brothers and two sisters within three months. Three died the same day. I was then nearly a baby, but I vividly recall that fearful day—those three coffins ranged side by side and the grief of my parents.* Oh, Mr. Fatah, it v^as awful!"

She placed her handkerchief to her face and sobbed. Ernest's eyes were moist and he felt a choking sensation in his throat, but controlled his emotion and gently comforted the girl. She gradually became calmer and resumed:

"Years went by without anything eventful happening. One day—about five years ago— father brought a stranger to spend a few weeks with us. He was a Northern speculator and was looking for an investment in Louisiana lands. He appeared to be a man of means and refinement, was handsome and intelligent, and

*A historical fact. G. A.

I fell in love with him. He seemed very fond of me, but father considered me a mere child and laughed heartily when I told him the Northerner had asked me to become his w^ife.

'* ' He was making fun of you, you romantic little goose,' he said. 'Run to your room; your dolls are crying for you."

'* When I told this to my suitor, he said he would speak to father that same evening. He did so, but was chilly received.

" ' I can give you no definite answer, sir, ' I overheard father saying. ' I have much friendship for you, but I know nothing of your antecedents. We old Frenchmen are ver}' strict on that score. You were introduced to me by my broker and I asked no questions, not having a marriageable daughter—for Josefa is onl}' fifteen. I do not refuse the honor you wish to confer upon me, but furnish me proper credentials and I w^ill act accordingly.'*

" I thought this was quite unkind of father, m}^ suitor seeming such a perfect gentleman, and I admired the dignified way in which he took his rebuff. He was sad and pensive when

*This may seem odd to the present generation, but it was the laudable and invariable rule of the old Creoles not to entertain anybody. Good credentials were indispensable. G. A.

he met me in the drawing-room and I had not the courage to refuse when he asked me to walk about the garden with him. He then told me he was going in the morning, never to return. He loved me, but respected father's antagonism to Americans and did not want to thrust himself in a family where he was not liked by all. He talked long and earnestly and completely turned my head. I agreed to elope with him, and the next morning abandoned those who had been so kir . to me to please a total stranger. It was the usual sequel, Mr. Fatah. He took me to Philadelphia, where we lived happily for a year. One morning he abandoned me, leaving a letter in which he told me I had better go back to my parents and allowing me enough money to do so. I came as far as New Orleans, but had not the courage to seek those I had so cruelly wronged. Alone and friendless, I did not know what to do, and so rented this littte cottage and opened a flower stand. I first felt humiliated and was shy and nervous, but little b}^ little I accustomed m3^self to my surroundings and to-day I take my fate philosophically." "Have you never heard from your husband?" kindlv observed Ernest.

" I do not even know it he exists. You now understand why we can not be happy, Mr. Fatah?"

**If your husband were dead," said Ernest, expectantly, *'would you marry me?"

He read the answer in her tear-wet eyes and resolved to do all in his power to bring back their happy light.

CHAPTER III.

Ernest quietly instituted inquiries concerning the de Aillieres and soon secured an introduction to that influential Acadian family. Although he longed to speak of the subject w^hich monopolized his thoughts, he deemed it best to be patient and observe a little. He had come ostensibly to "write up" the country and seek material for character sketches. Being of French descent, he was hospitably entertained. His affability soon won the friendship of the good-hearted people and he was told the odd folk-lore and legends of the Attakapas region, which he treasured in his memorandum book for publication in the Coiiri'ier.

One evening, after Mrs, de Allieres had been unusually reminiscent, she sndly observed :

"Our own family has also had its sad romance, . Mr. Fatah. It is a subject which is never alluded to here, but which still causes our hearts to pang."

Ernest could hardly restrain his excitement.

'* Would you think me intrusive if I asked a recital?" he said.

*' Not at all, sir. I have confidence in your discretion."

She then told him the story of Mayoutte's flight with the Northerner, stopping now and then to wipe away a tear.

*' You never knew what became of the poor girl?" queried Ernest, a suspicious tremor in his voice.

*' We did all we could to find her, but to no avail," was the answer. "The wretch who wronged us probably killed her."

" No, madam, your daughter is not dead," said Ernest, forgetting his restraint. "You shall soon see her."

He spoke with such assurance, the old

ladv seized both his hands and imploringly said :

"Oh, sir, do notkeep me in suspense? Tell me everything, whether good or bad."

Ernest obeyed, repeating the story he had heard from Mayoutte's tremulous lips. * * * The next day, INIr. and Mrs. de Aillieres, accompanied by the young journahst, left for New Orleans.

There are happenings in our lives which defy the pen of the chronicler. However ambitious he may be, his ideas become confused and sterile, taking life and dying in the same breath. The heart beats in unison with the event which affects it, the eyes become moist, the bosom oppressed, but the romancer's individuality is lost and he imagines himself a real actor in the scene he 3'earns to depict.

Such were the feelings which overmastered the writer when he attempted to portray the meeting between Mayoutte and her joyful parents. Aye, the pen he wields is not eloquent enough to describe this touching reconciliation and give life to the expressions of unfettered delight which escaped the lips of those three mortals.

Josef a—for she is no more to us Mayoutte, the Creole Flower Girl—followed her parents to their Acadian home. At his fervid solicitations, she consented to correspond with Ernest, her parents agreeing thereto.

A year elapsed. Every five or six weeks Ernest would receive a friendly letter from Josef a. There were no mail-routes in those days, correspondence being carried on by means of couriers, and four weeks was considered a remarkable feat in the transmission of a letter from the interior. What a contrast to the present lightning-hke mail trains? But this was nearly a century ago; one hundred 3^ears hence an inflated generation will mock what we now highly prize and deem indispensable.

One da}^ Ernest received a cheerful—almost loving—letter from Mayoutte, in which was this simple postscript:

"//* you can spare the tune, come and see mer

These mysterious words puzzled the young man not a little. There was only one solution —a personal explanation with the one who framed them. As luck would have it, a planter from Grand Coteau was returning home that

142 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLEANS.

same evening and was delighted to have '* somebody to talk to " during his tedious journey.

Ernest was cordially welcomed by the de Aillieres. Josefa did not conceal her gladness at seeing him again, and seemed unusually tender and attentive. In the evening, when the family was grouped for a friendJv chat around the crackling log wood fire, Josefa handed the young man a newspaper clipping, bidding him to read it.

" It was not from your pen,'' she said, in a low tone, "but it lightened my sorrowful heart."

The printed slip read as follows :

"A letter from Philadelphia to Commagere & Co., of this city, brings news of the suicide of Warren Proctor, the well known broker. Financial ruin is the assigned cause for the deed. Deceased was unmarried."

"I read that in the Courrie?' weeks ago, said Ernest, calml^^ "I see nothing—"

But Josefa had risen and stood before him with extended arms.

"He was my husband," she said, simply.

'* We can now be happy, sweet love. Are you not satisfied to have waited?" A kiss was his answer.

On Conti street, not far from the Mortgage Office, this little sign can be seen :

MORRISON & FATAH,

LAW AND NOTARIAL OFFICES.

The junior partner is a grandson of Ernest Fatah, the Creole poet and author.

THE END.

THE

SIRiNGlER OF COIGfl SQUARE.

lO

THE STRANGLER OE CONGO SQUARE.

I.—THE MANUSCRIPT.

One morning in the latter part of April, 1887, I was busily ticking away at my Caligrafh^ when a cheery voice startled me with this remark:

^* Hello, old man!"

I looked up and perceived Yates Stinton, my college chum and inseparable companion.

" Well, what's up?" I ventured, grasping his extended hand. "Don't stay an eternity in expressing yourself, I entreat you; am tremendously busy to-day."

" All right, I waive prefatory remarks: Published any stories lately?"

*' Not a line since November last; too much office work."

" Feel like launching a stunner?" • " If I can get good stuff, yes."

" I can furnish you all the material needed, having unearthed the strangest manuscript ever

brought to light. Come over this evening and I'll show it to you."

" Anything else?"

I nervously toyed with the keys of my typewriter.

"You are deliciously polite this morning," observed Stinton, giving me a parting shake. "You will surely be around, eh?"

"Yes. So long."

"Crick! Crick!" w^ent the cylinder, as I fed in a new sheet and resumed work in earnest.

Seven was striking w^hen I entered Stinton's room that evening, with this query on my lips:

"Well, where's that unparalleled phenomenon?"

"I'll get it in a minute," was the answer.

He opened a drawer of his book-case and brought out a roll of paper, which he handed me, saying:

"Just go over those pages and tell me how you like the narrator's style. It is just the sort of nonsense ^-ou always write about—intensely romantic love."

I was soon deeply interested in the document. For fully two hours I read on, Stinton in the meantime smoking and pretending to read, but

THE STRAXGLER OF CONGO SQUARE. 149

I could see he was watching the expression of my face. I finally laid down the manuscript and said:

"This can make a capital romance, Yates. I'll take care of it."

"Do you not think it too immoral?"

"As it now^ reads, decidedly."

"You will then edit it?,'

"Yes, but I will have to wait until Court adjourns sine die. As 3^ouknow, there's nothing of much importance to do about the clerk's office from June until November and I can then devote all my time to it."

I again scrutinized the manuscript and observed :

"I say, old fellow, where did you resurrect this? Judging from its mustiness, I have no hesitancy to believe it was brought over from the Old Country by DeSoto. "

"Found it in an old book store on Exchanp;e Alley the other day," observed Stinton, nervously drumming with his fingers on the table and averting my gaze. "Paid a quarter for it, a bargain which seemed to raise a suspicion in the book-seller's mind that I was a crank. He had thrown it away as rubbish, and as his shop

is luckily never swept out, escaped destruction. I read the story, thought it weird and interest-incr and reasoned von could weave somethincr out of it."

"Do you know anything about its history?"

"Not a syllable."

"Well, let it rest. I'll have aU summer to work this up. What do you say to a game of chess? You annihilated me last Sunday and I thirst for revenge."

We were soon deeply engrossed in our favorite pastime, and it was long after midnight before we gave the chessmen a rest.

About a w^eek after my vi^it to Stinton's, he left New Orleans for Paris, Fiance, whither he went with the intention of perfectmg his studies. It seems to me I still see him waving a regretful farewell from the deck of the ViUe de Paris as she steamed into midstream. Poor fellow, I wonder if he ever reached his destination? Although he had promised to keep me faithfully posted about his whereabouts, I have never heard from him.

On the third day of July, 1887—as is the yearly custom in New Orleans—the principal courts adjourned until November following.

There being very little stenographic or typewriting work to do, I found myself at leisure to investigate the history of Stinton's manuscript and discovered that he had told me a stupendous fib. The crusty book-seller in Exchange Alley expressed unfeigned surprise when I broached *the subject and could not recollect having ever seen a person answering Stinton's description. This, coupled with the hitter's unexplained silence, renders the matter still more bewildering, and I have been wondering to this day what could be his motive in concocting such a fable and entrusting me with this stranjje old record. I have of late made a re-markable discovery, which, instead of clearing away the mysterious haze which surrounds this manuscript, renders the matter still more aggravating—Stinton's grandmother was named Edna Narbour. I will not attempt to theorize upon this coincidence. It will avail nothing, as the last descendant of the Narbours was Yates Stinton.

II.—CONGO SQUARE.

On Rampart street, between St. Peter and St. Ann, and about five minutes' walk from

152 ROMANCES OF NEW ORLEANS.

Canal street, is Congo Square. It is one of the prettiest parks in New Orleans, having an elegant circular fountain in the center and inviting shade trees scattered here and there. It is the favorite resort of children and their nurses, and presents an animated, interesting sight every evening—for the weather is never continuously cold enough in New Orleans to prevent out-door exercise.

Years ago Congo Square w^as nearly a waste, its tall, rank grass affording convenient hiding places for a dangerous, unruly element w'hich prowled about at night and rendered the localit}^ unsafe for belated pedestrians on Rampart and adjoining streets. The footpads became so bold and their robberies so frequent, that the residents of the Second District organized themselves into a mutual protective association and subscriptions w^ere raised to reclaim and beautify the park. The weeds were cut, trees trimmed, shelled walks laid out and lamp-posts erected where they w^ould do the most good. The thugs and sand-baggers abandoned the locality and reopened business in the neighor-hood of the Old Basin, where their depredations are still narrated with whispered awe.

THE STRANGLER OF CONGO SQUARE, 153

Not long after the inauguralion of these improvements, excavations were begun in the center of the square for the building of the present fountain. One day a workman was seen to suddenly disappear with a yell of terror, the piled-up earth falling after him. As soon as they had recovered from their surprise, his companions went to his rescue, working cautiously and apprehensively, and soon came upon his insensible body. He was brought back to the open air, restoratives w^ere applied and he soon regained his senses, proving to have been only badly frightened, but not hurt in the least. In the meantime> his fellow workmen had been investigating the cause of the trouble. They came upon a small tunnel, which, upon being cleared of the debris which choked it, widened into a cave about 20 by 30 feet in diameter. In the center was found a heap of bones, presumably a human skeleton. Commenting upon the occurrence, the old iV(?zt^ Orleans Chronicle editorially says :

"i\bout a year before the breaking out of the Mexican War, this city w^as terrorized by a series of mysterious murders near Congo Square. The victims were invariably women, w^ho w^ere in every instance strangled to death. The police

were kept on the alert from sunset to sunrise, but the fiend was never captured. Several times he was chased and closely pressed, but he seemed to vanish into the air as soon as he entered the Square. The discovery of the cave explains the mystery."

From what could be ascertained from the musty records on file at the Central Police Station, this cave was used by the marauders who then infested the localit}^ to hide their plunder, k had long ago been forgotten.

III._THE STORY.

In the year 1845, a Spanish company established a large cigar manufactory in New Orleans, the first of its kind to operate upon an extensive scale in Louisiana. The general manager was one Miguel Zucci, a young man not yet thirty, handsome, conceited, and a boasted twirler of feminine hearts. Having flattering credentials, he was cordiall}^ welcomed into the exclusive social world of the Southern metropolis.

Alice Narbour, the belle of the ^uartie?' Creole and a reputed flirt, resolved to humble the arrogant Castilian and make him swav to

her every whim and caprice. Her less worldly si:^ter, Edna, warned her to be careful in her behavior towards the young man, as she was afraid the revengeful spirit of his race would prompt him to do her harm should he fall seriously in love with her. But Alice only smiled defiantly and continued to enslave the boastful

foreigner.

On a sultry, drizzling evening in June, 1845, the sisters were seated near a window of their fashionable Esplanade Avenue residence, gazing ruefully at the pattering rain.

"I wonder if our gallant friend will brave the elements?" observed Alice, tracing fantastic designs upon the hazy window pane with her rosy finger. '* I presume he will, DooHe. I don't think a West Indian hurricane could

stop him."

She laughed and turned to her companion for approval; but the latter reprovingly said :

"You should cure yourself of that horrible mania of flirting, dear. No good can come of

it."

" Bah, you little morahst; there's no harm at all. It is pure, simple fun. If men are foolish enough to believe all the nonsense I w^hisper, they are w^orthy to be duped."