of Louisiana Literature
George Washington Cable.
The Adventures of Françoise and Suzanne.
TO MY FRIEND JAMES BIRNEY GUTHRIE
||The Two Sisters
||Making Up The Expedition
||Down Bayou Plaquemine. — the Fight With Wild Nature
||The Twice-married Countess
||Odd Partners In The Bolero Dance
||A Bad Storm In A Bad Place
||Maggie And The Robbers
||Alix Puts Away The Past
||Alix Plays Fairy. — parting Tears.
||The Countess Madelaine
||"Poor Little Alix!"
||The Discovery Of The Hat
||Picnic And Farewell
THE ADVENTURES OF FRANÇOISE AND SUZANNE.
passed by. Our war of the Revolution was over. The Indians
Louisiana and Florida were all greedy, smiling gift-takers of his
Majesty. So were some others not Indians; and the Spanish
Louisiana, scheming with them for the acquisition of Kentucky and
regions intervening, had allowed an interprovincial commerce to
Flatboats and barges came floating down the Mississippi past the
plantation home where little Suzanne and Françoise were
growing up to
womanhood. Many of the immigrants who now came to Louisiana were
royalist noblesse flying from the horrors of the French
Governor Carondelet was strengthening his fortifications around
Orleans; for Creole revolutionists had slipped away to Kentucky
there plotting an armed descent in flatboats upon his little
where the rabble were singing the terrible songs of bloody Paris.
of the Revolution had come from France and so "contaminated," as
"the greater part of the province" that he kept order only "at the
of sleepless nights, by frightening some, punishing others, and
several out of the colony." It looks as though Suzanne had caught
of dis-relish for les aristocrates, whose necks the songs
of the day
were promising to the lampposts. To add to all these commotions, a
revolution had swept over San Domingo; the slaves in Louisiana had
of it, insurrection was feared, and at length, in 1794, when
seventeen and Françoise fifteen, it broke out on the
Mississippi no great
matter over a day's ride from their own home, and twenty-three
gibbeted singly at intervals all the way down by their father's
and on to New Orleans, and were left swinging in the weather to
peace and felicity of the land. Two other matters are all we need
for the ready comprehension of Françoise's story.
Immigration was knocking
at every gate of the province, and citizen Étienne de
Boré had just made
himself forever famous in the history of Louisiana by producing
merchantable sugar; land was going to be valuable, even back on
prairies of Opelousas and Attakapas, where, twenty years before,
Acadians, — the cousins of Evangeline, — wandering from far Nova
settled. Such was the region and such were the times when it began
the year 1795.
By good fortune one of the undestroyed fragments of
manuscript is its first page. She was already a grandmother
years old when in 1822 she wrote the tale she had so often told.
the dedication to her only daughter and namesake — one line,
two — has been torn off, leaving only the words, "ma fille unique a
grasse [meaning 'grace'] de dieu [sic]," over her signature and
"14 Julet [sic], 1822."
THE TWO SISTERS.
It is to give pleasure to my dear daughter Fannie and to her
I write this journey. I shall be well satisfied if I can succeed
them this pleasure: by the grace of God, Amen.
Papa, Mr. Pierre Bossier, planter of
St. James parish,
days gone to the city (New Orleans) in his skiff with two rowers,
and Baptiste, when, returning, he embraced us all, gave us some
which he had in his pockets, and announced that he counted on
again in four or five days to go to Attakapas. He had long been
of going there. Papa and mamma were German, and papa loved to
he first came to Louisiana it was with no expectation of staying.
he saw mamma; he loved her, married her, and bought a very fine
plantation, where he cultivated indigo. You know they blue clothes
that drug, and dye cottonade and other things. There we, their
children, were born. . . .
When my father used to go to New Orleans he went in his skiff,
canopy over his head to keep off the sun, and two rowers, who sang
they rowed. Sometimes papa took me with him, and it was very
We would pass the nights of our voyage at the houses of papa's
[des zami de papa]. Sometimes mamma would come, and Suzanne
always — always. She was the daughter next older than I. She barely
being a boy. She was eighteen years of age, went hunting with our
was skillful with a gun, and swam like a fish. Papa called her "my
You must understand the two boys were respectively but two years
months old, and papa, who greatly desired a son, had easily made
Suzanne. My father had brought a few books with him to Louisiana,
among them, you may well suppose, were several volumes of travel.
myself, I rarely touched them; but they were the only books that
read. And you may well think, too, that my father had no sooner
his intention than Suzanne cried:
"I am going with you, am I not, papa?"
"Naturally," replied my father; "and Françoise shall go
Françoise — that was I; poor child of sixteen, who had but
before quitted the school-bench, and totally unlike my
sister — blonde,
where Suzanne was dark; timid, even cowardly, while she had the
and courage of a young lioness; ready to cry at sight of a wounded
while she, gun in hand, brought down as much game as the most
I exclaimed at my father's speech. I had heard there were many
Attakapas; the name means man-eaters. I have a foolish terror of
and a more reasonable one for man-eaters. But papa and Suzanne
my fears; and as, after all, I burned with desire for the journey,
decided that I should go with them.
Necessarily we wanted to know how we were to go — whether we should
by skiff, and how many negroes and negresses would go with us. For
see, my daughter, young people in 1795 were exactly what they are
they could do nothing by themselves, but must have a domestic to
undress them. Especially in traveling, where one had to take
of trunks and put them back again, assistance became an absolute
necessity. Think, then, of our astonishment, of our vexation, when
assured us that he would not take a single slave; that my sister
would be compelled to help each other, and that the skiff would
behind, tied up at the landing where it then lay.
"But explain yourself, Papa, I beg of you," cried Suzanne, with
"That is what I am trying to do," said he. "If you will listen in
I will give you all the explanation you want."
Here, my daughter, to save time, I will borrow my father's speech
of the trip he had made to New Orleans; how he had there found
put into execution his journey to Attakapas, and the companions
to accompany him.
MAKING UP THE EXPEDITION.
In 1795 New Orleans was nothing but a mere market town. The
convent of the Ursulines, five or six cafés, and about a
were all of it.
Can you believe, there were but two dry-goods stores!
And what fabulous prices we had to pay! Pins twenty dollars a
people and children had to make shift with thorns of orange and
amourette [honey locust?]. A needle cost fifty cents, very
stockings five dollars a pair, and other things accordingly.
On the levee was a little pothouse of the lowest sort; yet from
unclean and smoky hole was destined to come one of the finest
Louisiana. They called the proprietor
"Père la Chaise."
He was a
old marten-faced man, always busy and smiling, who every year laid
immense profits. Along the crazy walls extended a few rough
covered with bottles and decanters. Three planks placed on boards
the counter, with Père la Chaise always behind it. There
were two or three
small tables, as many chairs, and one big wooden bench. Here
city's working-class, and often among them one might find a goodly
of the city's élite; for the wine and the beer of the old cabaretier
were famous, and one could be sure in entering there to hear all
told and discussed.
By day the place was quiet, but with evening it became
tumultuous. Père la
Chaise, happily, did not lose his head; he found means to satisfy
smooth down quarrels without calling in the police, to get rid of
drunkards, and to make delinquents pay up.
My father knew the place, and never failed to pay it a visit when
to New Orleans. Poor, dear father! he loved to talk as much as to
Père la Chaise was acquainted with him. One evening papa
entered, sat down
at one of the little tables, and bade Père la Chaise bring
a bottle of his
best wine. The place was already full of people, drinking,
singing. A young man of twenty-six or twenty-seven entered almost
and sat down at the table where my father was — for he saw that all
other places were occupied — and ordered a half-bottle of cider. He
Norman gardener. My father knew him by sight; he had met him here
times without speaking to him. You recognized the peasant at once;
his exquisite neatness, the gentleness of his face, distinguished
his kind. Joseph Carpentier was
in a very ordinary gray woolen
coat; but his coarse shirt was very white, and his hair, when he
his broad-brimmed hat, was well combed and glossy.
As Carpentier was opening his bottle a second frequenter entered
cabaret. This was a man of thirty or thirty-five, with
and the frame of a Hercules. An expression of frankness and gayety
overspread his sunburnt face. Cottonade pantaloons, stuffed into a
dirty boots, and a vareuse of the same stuff made up his
vareuse, unbuttoned, showed his breast, brown and hairy; and a
with long hair covered, without concealing, a mass of red locks
comb had never gone through. A long whip, the stock of which he
his hand, was coiled about his left arm. He advanced to the
asked for a glass of brandy. He was a drayman named John Gordon — an
But, strange, John Gordon, glass in hand, did not drink;
his fingers round the neck of the bottle, failed to pour his
cider; and my
father himself, his eyes attracted to another part of the room,
wine. Every one was looking at an individual gesticulating and
in the middle of the place, to the great amusement of all. My
recognized him at first sight. He was an Italian about the age of
short, thick-set, powerful, swarthy, with the neck of a bull and
black as ebony. He was telling rapidly, with strong gestures, in
incomprehensible mixture of Spanish, English, French, and Italian,
story of a hunting party that he had made up five years before.
Mario Carlo. A Neapolitan by birth, he had for several years
worked as a
blacksmith on the plantation of one of our neighbors, M. Alphonse
Often papa had heard him tell of this hunt, for nothing could be
amusing than to listen to Carlo. Six young men, with Carlo as
cook, had gone on a two-months' expedition into the country of the
"Yes," said the Italian, in conclusion, "game never failed us;
turkeys, ducks, snipe, two or three bears a week. But the
was the rich land. Ah! one must see it to believe it. Plains and
full of animals, lakes and bayous full of fish. Ah! fortune is
five years I have dreamed, I have worked, with but one object in
today the end is reached. I am ready to go. I want only two
aid me in the long journey, and those I have come to look for
John Gordon stepped forward, laid a hand upon the speaker's
"My friend, I am your man."
Mario Carlo seized the hand and shook it with all his force.
"You will not repent the step. But" — turning again to the
crowd — "we want
Joseph Carpentier rose slowly and advanced to the two men.
will be your companion if you will accept me."
Before separating, the three drank together and appointed to meet
day at the house of Gordon, the Irishman.
When my father saw Gordon and Carpentier leave the place, he
hand on Mario's shoulder and said in Italian, "My boy, I want to
At that time, as now, parents were very scrupulous as to the
which they introduced their children, especially their daughters;
knew of a certain circumstance in Carlo's life to which my mother
greatly object. But he knew the man had an honest and noble heart.
passed his arm into the Italian's and drew him to the inn where my
was stopping, and to his room. Here he learned from Mario that he
bought one of those great barges that bring down provisions from
and which, when unloaded, the owners count themselves lucky to
sell at any
reasonable price. When my father proposed to Mario to be taken as
passenger the poor devil's joy knew no bounds; but it disappeared
papa added that he should take his two daughters with him.
The trouble was this: Mario was taking with him in his flatboat
and his four children; his wife and four children were
simply — mulattoes.
However, then as now, we hardly noticed those things, and the idea
entered our minds to inquire into the conduct of our slaves.
Suzanne and I
had known Celeste, Mario's wife, very well before her husband
She had been the maid of Marianne Perret, and on great occasions
had sent her to us to dress our hair and to prepare our toilets.
therefore enchanted to learn that she would be with us on board
flatboat, and that papa had engaged her services in place of the
attendants we had to leave behind.
It was agreed that for one hundred dollars Mario Carlo would
three of us as passengers, that he would furnish a room simply but
comfortably, that papa would share this room with us, that Mario
supply our table, and that his wife would serve as maid and
remained to be seen now whether our other fellow-travelers were
and, if so, what sort of creatures their wives were.
[The next day the four intended travelers met at Gordon's house.
had a wife, Maggie, and a son, Patrick, aged twelve, as unlovely
outward aspect as were his parents. Carpentier, who showed himself
more plainly than on the previous night a man of native
confessed to a young wife without offspring. Mario told his story
and alliance with one as fair of face as he, and whom only cruel
forbade him to call wife and compelled him to buy his children;
the story so well that at its close the father of Françoise
grasped the narrator's hand, and Carpentier, reaching across the
where they sat, gave his, saying:
"You are an honest man, Monsieur Carlo."
"Will your wife think so?" asked the Italian.
"My wife comes from a country where there are no prejudices of
Françoise takes the pains to say of this part of the story
that it was not
told her and Suzanne at this time, but years afterward, when they
themselves wives and mothers. When, on the third day, her father
Carpentier's wife at the Norman peasant's lodgings, he was greatly
surprised at her appearance and manner, and so captivated by them
proposed that their two parties should make one at table during
projected voyage — a proposition gratefully accepted. Then he left
Orleans for his plantation home, intending to return immediately,
his daughters in St. James to prepare for the journey and await
arrival of the flatboat, which must pass their home on its way to
distant wilds of Attakapas.]
You see, my dear child, at that time one post-office served for
parishes: St. James, St. John the Baptist, and St. Charles. It was
far from us, at the extremity of St. John the Baptist, and the
there on the first of each month.
We had to pay — though the price was no object — fifty cents postage
letter. My father received several journals, mostly European.
only one paper, French and Spanish, published in New Orleans —
send to the post-office was an affair of state. Our
father, you see, had not time to write; he was obliged to come to
himself. But such journeys were a matter of course in those days.
"And above all things, my children," said my father, "don't have
I should not have thought of rebelling; but Suzanne raised loud
saying it was an absolute necessity that we go with papa to New
so as not to find ourselves on our journey without
neckerchiefs, and a number of things. In vain did poor papa
explain that we were going into a desert worse than Arabia;
her two hands to her ears and would hear nothing, until, weary of
poor papa yielded.
Our departure being decided upon, he wished to start even the
day; and while we were instructing our sisters Elinore and Marie
concerning some trunks that we should leave behind us, and which
pack and have ready for the flatboat, papa recommended to mamma a
slaughter of fowls, etc., and especially to have ready for
of our best cows. Ah! in those times if the planter wished to live
had to raise everything himself, and the poultry yard and the
something curious to see. Dozens of slaves were kept busy in them
constantly. When my mother had raised two thousand chickens,
turkeys, ducks, geese, guinea-fowls, and pea-fowls, she said she
And the quantity of butter and cheese! And all this without
counting the sauces, the jellies, the preserves, the gherkins, the
the brandied fruits. And not a ham, not a chicken, not a pound of
was sold; all was served on the master's table, or, very often,
those who stood in need of them. Where, now, can you find such
Ah! commerce has destroyed industry.
The next day, after kissing mamma and the children, we got into
skiff with papa and three days later stepped ashore in New
remained there a little over a week, preparing our
Despite the admonitions of papa, we went to the fashionable
modiste of the
day, Madame Cinthelia Lefranc, and ordered for each a suit that
hundred and fifty dollars. The costume was composed of a petticoat
camayeu, very short, caught up in puffs on the side by a
ribbons; and a very long-pointed black velvet jacket (casaquin),
in the back with gold and trimmed on the front with several rows
buttons. The sleeves stopped at the elbows and were trimmed with
Now, my daughter, do you know what camayeu was? You now sometimes
imitation of it in door and window curtains. It was a stuff of
fineness, yet resembling not a little the unbleached cotton of
over which were spread very brilliant designs of prodigious size.
example, Suzanne's petticoat showed bunches of great radishes — not
short kind — surrounded by long, green leaves and tied with a yellow
while on mine were roses as big as a baby's head, interlaced with
and buds and gathered into bouquets graced with a blue ribbon. It
dollars an ell; but, as the petticoats were very short, six ells
enough for each. At that time real hats were unknown. For driving
evening they placed on top of the high, powdered hair what they
catogan, a little bonnet of gauze or lace trimmed with
during the day a sun-bonnet of silk or velvet. You can guess that
Suzanne nor I, in spite of papa's instructions, forgot these.
Our traveling-dresses were gray cirsacas, — the skirt all
without puffs; the jacket coming up high and with long sleeves, — a
sunbonnet of cirsacas, blue stockings, embroidered handkerchief or
cravat about the neck, and high-heeled shoes.
As soon as Celeste heard of our arrival in New Orleans she
hastened to us.
She was a good creature; humble, respectful, and always ready to
She was an excellent cook and washer, and, what we still more
lady's maid and hairdresser of the first order. My sister and I
to see her, and overwhelmed her with questions about Carlo, their
children, their plans, and our traveling companions.
"Ah! Momzelle Suzanne, the little Madame Carpentier seems to me a
lady, ever so genteel; but the Irish woman! Ah! grand Dieu!
she puts me
in mind of a soldier. I'm afraid of her. She smokes — she swears — she
carries a pistol, like a man."
At last the 15th of May came, and papa took us on board the
helped us to find our way to our apartment. If my father had
Carlo, he would have ruined himself in furnishing our room; but
stopped him and directed it himself. The flatboat had been divided
four chambers. These were covered by a slightly arching deck, on
boat was managed by the moving of immense sweeps that sent her
The room in the stern, surrounded by a sort of balcony, which
Carpentier himself had made, belonged to him and his wife; then
then that of Celeste and her family, and the one at the bow was
Irishwoman's. Carlo and Gordon had crammed the provisions, tools,
and plows into the corners of their respective apartments. In the
which our father was to share with us he had had Mario make two
frames mounted on feet. These were our beds, but they were
good bedding and very white sheets. A large cypress table, on
which we saw
a pile of books and our workboxes; a washstand, also of cypress,
furnished and surmounted by a mirror; our trunks in a corner;
rocking-chairs — this was all our furniture. There was neither
All were on board except the Carpentier couple. Suzanne was all
see the Irishwoman. Poor Suzanne! how distressed she was not to be
speak English! So, while I was taking off my capotte — as
of that day was called — and smoothing my hair at the glass, she had
already tossed her capotte upon papa's bed and sprung up the
led to the deck. (Each room had one.) I followed a little later
the satisfaction of seeing Madame Margaretto Gordon, commonly
"Maggie" by her husband and "Maw" by her son Patrick. She was
seated on a
coil of rope, her son on the boards at her feet. An enormous dog
beside them, with his head against Maggie's knee. The mother and
surprisingly clean. Maggie had on a simple brown calico dress and
apron of blue ticking. A big red kerchief was crossed on her
its twin brother covered her well combed and greased black hair.
feet were blue stockings and heavy leather shoes. The blue ticking
and pantaloons and waistcoat of Master Pat were so clean that they
his black cap covered his hair — as well combed as his mother's; but
barefooted. Gordon, Mario, and Celeste's eldest son, aged
busy about the deck; and papa, his cigar in his mouth and his
hands in his
pockets, stood looking out on the levee. I sat down on one of the
benches that had been placed here and there, and presently my
and sat beside me.
"Madame Carpentier seems to be a laggard," she said. She was
see the arrival of her whom we had formed the habit of calling
[Presently Suzanne begins shooting bonbons at little Patrick,
effect out of the corners of her eyes, and by and by gives that
her own, — to which, says Françoise, all flesh invariably
surrendered, — and
so became dumbly acquainted; while Carlo was beginning to swear
raise the dead," writes the memoirist, at the tardiness of the
pair. But just then — ]
A carriage drove up to within a few feet of our chaland
Carpentier alighted, paid the driver, and lifted from it one so
pretty, and small that you might take her at first glance for a
ten years. Suzanne and I had risen quickly and came and leaned
balustrade. To my mortification my sister had passed one arm
waist of the little Irishman and held one of his hands in hers.
uttered a cry of astonishment. "Look, look, Françoise!" But
I was looking,
with eyes wide with astonishment.
The gardener's wife had alighted, and with her little gloved hand
out and re-arranged her toilet. That toilet, very simple to the
Madame Carpentier, was what petrified us with astonishment. I am
describe it to you, my daughter.
We could not see her face, for her hood of blue silk, trimmed
with a light
white fur, was covered with a veil of white lace that entirely
her features. Her traveling-dress, like ours, was of cirsacas, but
was cotton, while hers was silk, in broad rays of gray and blue;
the weather was a little cool that morning, she had exchanged the
unfailing casaquin for a sort of camail to match the
dress, and trimmed,
like the capotte, with a line of white fur. Her petticoat was very
lightly puffed on the sides, and ornamented only with two very
pockets trimmed like the camail. Below the folds of the robe were
Cinderella feet in blue silk stockings and black velvet slippers.
not only the material of this toilet that astonished us, but the
which it was made.
"Maybe she is a modiste. Who knows?" whispered Suzanne.
Another thing: Madame Carpentier wore a veil and gloves, two
which we had heard but which we had never seen. Madame Ferrand had
mentioned them, but said that they sold for their weight in gold
and she had not dared import them, for fear she could not sell
Louisiana. And here was the wife of a laboring gardener, who
himself possessor of but two thousand francs, dressed like a
with veil and gloves!
I could but notice with what touching care Joseph assisted his
board. He led her straight to her room, and quickly rejoined us on
put himself at the disposition of his associates. He explained to
his delay, caused by the difficulty of finding a carriage; at
lifted his shoulders and grimaced. Joseph added that madame — I
that he rarely called her Alix — was rather tired, and would keep
until dinner time. Presently our heavy craft was under way.
Pressing against the long sweeps, which it required a herculean
to move, were seen on one side Carlo and his son Celestino, or
on the other Joseph and Gordon. It moved slowly; so slowly that it
the effect of a great tortoise.
Towards noon we saw Celeste come on deck with her second son,
carrying baskets full of plates, dishes, covers, and a tablecloth.
remember I have often told you of an awning stretched at the stern
flatboat? We found that in fine weather our dining-room was to be
this. There was no table; the cloth was simply spread on the deck,
those who ate had to sit à la Turque or take their
plates on their
knees. The Irish family ate in their room. Just as we were drawing
our repast Madame Carpentier, on her husband's arm, came up on
Dear little Alix! I see you yet as I saw you then. And here,
years after our parting, I have before me the medallion you gave
look tenderly on your dear features, my friend!
She had not changed her dress; only she had replaced her camail
scarf of blue silk about her neck and shoulders and had removed
and capuche. Her rich chestnut hair, unpowdered, was
combed back à la
Chinoise, and the long locks that descended upon her
shoulders were tied
by a broad blue ribbon forming a rosette on the forepart of her
wore no jewelry except a pearl at each ear and her wedding ring.
who always saw everything, remarked afterward that Madame
"As for her earrings," she added, "they are nothing great.
some as fine, that cost, I think, ten dollars."
Poor Suzanne, a judge of jewelry! Madame Carpentier's earrings
great pearls, worth at least two hundred dollars. Never have I met
so charming, so lovely, as Alix Carpentier. Her every movement was
She moved, spoke, smiled, and in all things acted differently from
women I had ever met until then. She made one think she had lived
world all unlike ours; and withal she was simple, sweet, good, and
her seemed the most natural thing on earth. There was nothing
extraordinary in her beauty; the charm was in her intelligence and
Maggie, the Irishwoman, was very taciturn. She never mingled with
spoke to any one except Suzanne, and to her in monosyllables only
addressed. You would see her sometimes sitting alone at the bow of
boat, sewing, knitting, or saying her beads. During this last
her eyes never quitted Alix. One would say it was to her she
prayers; and one day, when she saw my regard fixed upon Alix, she
"It does me good to look at her; she must look like the Virgin
Her little form, so graceful and delicate, had, however, one
defect; but this was hidden under the folds of her robe or of the
that she knew how to arrange with such grace. One shoulder was a
higher than the other.
After having greeted my father, whom she already knew, she turned
hesitated a moment, and then, her two little hands extended, and
most charming smile, she advanced, first to me and then to
embraced us both as if we had been old acquaintances. And from
we were good friends.
It had been decided that the boat should not travel by night,
notwithstanding the assurance of Carlo, who had a map of
Attakapas. But in
the Mississippi there was no danger; and as papa was pressed to
plantation, we traveled all that first night.
The next day Alix — she required us to call her by that
name — invited us to
visit her in her room. Suzanne and I could not withhold a cry of
as we entered the little chamber. (Remember one thing: papa took
from home, not knowing even by what means we should return; but
Carpentiers were going for good and taking everything.) Joseph had
rough walls whitewashed. A cheap carpet — but high-priced in those
times — of bright colors covered the floor; a very low French bed
one corner, and from a sort of dais escaped the folds of an
bobbinet mosquito-bar. It was the first mosquito-bar of that kind
ever seen. Alix explained that she had made it from the curtains
same bed, and that both bed and curtains she had brought with her
England. New mystery!
Beside the bed a walnut dressing-table and mirror, opposite to it
washstand, at the bed's foot a príedieu, a
chairs — these were all the furniture; but [an enumeration follows
manner of pretty feminine belongings, in crystal, silver, gold,
picture of the crucifixion and another of the Virgin]. On the
a rich box of colors, several books, and some portfolios of music.
small peg hung a guitar.
But Suzanne was not satisfied. Her gaze never left an object of
form enveloped in green serge. Alix noticed, laughed, rose, and,
the covering, said:
"This is my harp, Suzanne; later I will play it for you."
The second evening and those that followed, papa, despite Carlo's
representation and the magnificent moonlight, opposed the
the journey by night; and it was not until the morning of the
that we reached St. James.
You can fancy the joy with which we were received at the
had but begun our voyage, and already my mother and sisters ran to
extended arms as though they had not seen us for years. Needless
they were charmed with Alix; and when after dinner we had to say a
adieu to the loved ones left behind, we boarded the flatboat and
waving handkerchiefs, and kisses
finger-tips. No one wept, but in saying good-bye to my father, my
"Pierre, how are you going to return?"
"Dear wife, by the mercy of God all things are possible to the
his pocket full of money."
During the few days that we passed on the Mississippi each day
the one before. We sat on the deck and watched the slow swinging
long sweeps, or read, or embroidered, or in the chamber of Alix
to her harp or guitar; and at the end of another week, we arrived
DOWN BAYOU PLAQUEMINE — THE FIGHT
WITH WILD NATURE.
Plaquemine was composed of a church, two stores, as many
and about fifty cabins, one of which was the court-house. Here
multitude of Catalans, Acadians, negroes, and Indians. When
Maggie, accompanied by my father and John Gordon, went ashore, I
to follow, preferring to stay aboard with Joseph and Alix. It was
Plaquemine that we bade adieu to the old Mississippi. Here our
made a détour and entered
Hardly had we started when our men saw and were frightened by the
the current. The enormous flatboat, that Suzanne had likened to a
tortoise, darted now like an arrow, dragged by the current. The
Plaquemine had forewarned our men and recommended the greatest
"Do everything possible to hold back your boat, for if you strike
those tree-trunks of which the bayou is full it would easily sink
Think how reassuring all this was, and the more when they informed
this was the first time a flatboat had ventured into the bayou!
Mario, swearing in all the known languages, sought to reassure
aided by his two associates, changed the manoeuvring, and with
eye found ways to avoid the great uprooted trees in which the
bayous of Attakapas abound. But how clouded was Carpentier's brow!
father? Ah! he repented enough. Then he realized that gold is not
the vanquisher of every obstacle. At last, thanks to Heaven, our
came off victor over the snags, and after some hours we arrived at
Indian village of which you have heard me tell.
If I was afraid at sight of a dozen savages among the Spaniards
Plaquemine, what was to become of me now? The bank was entirely
with men, their faces painted, their heads full of feathers,
their feet, and bows on shoulder — Indians indeed, with women simply
wrapped in blankets, and children without the shadow of a garment;
these Indians running, calling to one another, making signs to us,
addressing us in incomprehensible language. Suzanne, standing up
bow of the flatboat, replied to their signs and called with all
of her lungs every Indian word that — God knows where — she had
"Chacounam finnan! O Choctaw! Conno Poposso!" And the Indians
their hands, laughing with pleasure and increasing yet more their
The village, about fifty huts, lay along the edge of the water.
unfortunates were not timid. Presently several came close to the
and showed us two deer and some wild turkeys and ducks, the spoils
their hunting. Then came the women laden with sacks made of bark
of blackberries, vegetables, and a great quantity of baskets;
motioning us to come down, and repeating in French and Spanish,
It was decided that Mario and Gordon should stay on board and
that all the
rest of the joyous band should go ashore. My father, M.
'Tino loaded their pistols and put them into their belts. Suzanne
likewise, while Maggie called Tom, her bulldog, to follow her.
declined to go, because of her children. As to Alix and me, a
contest was raging in us between fright and curiosity, but the
conquered. Suzanne and papa laughed so about our fears that Alix,
cowardly than I, yielded first, and joined the others. This was
Grasping my father's arm and begging him not to leave me for an
let him conduct me, while Alix followed me, taking her husband's
both her hands. In front marched 'Tino, his gun on his shoulder;
went Maggie, followed by Tom; and then Suzanne and little Patrick,
Hardly had we gone a few steps when we were surrounded by a human
and I realized with a shiver how easy it would be for these
savages to get
rid of us and take all our possessions. But the poor devils
never thought of it: they showed us their game, of which papa
greater part, as well as several sacks of berries, and also
But the baskets! They were veritable wonders. As several of those
bought that day are still in your possession, I will not lose much
telling of them. How those half-savage people could make things so
contrived and ornamented with such brilliant colors is still a
us. Papa bought for mamma thirty-two little baskets fitting into
another, the largest about as tall as a child of five years, and
smallest just large enough to receive a thimble. When he asked the
expected to hear the seller say at least thirty dollars, but his
reply was five dollars. For a deer he asked one dollar; for a wild
twenty-five cents. Despite the advice of papa, who asked us how we
going to carry our purchases home, Suzanne and I bought, between
than forty baskets, great and small. To papa's question, Suzanne
with an arch smile:
"God will provide."
Maggie and Alix also bought several; and Alix, who never forgot
bought two charming little baskets that she carried to Celeste.
us, even Maggie, secured a broad parti-colored mat to use on the
a couch à la Turque. Our last purchases were two
Indian bows painted red
and blue and adorned with feathers; the first bought by Celestino
and the other by Suzanne for her chevalier, Patrick Gordon.
An Indian woman who spoke a little French asked if we would not
visit the queen. We assented, and in a few moments she led us into
thatched with palmetto leaves and in all respects like the others.
interior was disgustingly unclean. The queen was a woman quite or
hundred years old. She sat on a mat upon the earth, her arms
her breast, her eyes half closed, muttering between her teeth
resembling a prayer. She paid no attention to us, and after a
went out. We entered two or three other huts and found the same
and squalor. The men did not follow us about, but the women — the
tribe, I think — marched step by step behind us, touching our
capuches, our jewelry, and asking for everything; and I
content when, standing on our deck, I could make them our last
Our flatboat moved ever onward. Day by day, hour by hour, every
advanced — slowly it is true, in the diminished current, but it
no longer knew where I was. We came at times where I thought we
and then I thought of mamma and my dear sisters and my two pretty
brothers, whom I might never see again, and I was swallowed up.
Suzanne would make fun of me and Alix would caress me, and that
good. There were many bayous, — a labyrinth, as papa said, — and Mario
his map at hand showing the way. Sometimes it seemed
impracticable, and it
was only by great efforts of our men ["no zomme," says the
we could pass on. One thing is sure — those who traverse those same
and bayous to-day have not the faintest idea of what they were [il
Great vines hung down from lofty trees that shaded the banks and
one another a hundred — a thousand — ways to prevent the boat's
retard its progress, as if the devil himself was mixed in it; and,
frankly, I believe that he had something to do with us in that
Often our emigrants were forced to take their axes and hatchets in
open a road. At other times tree-trunks, heaped upon one another,
completely closed a bayou. Then think what trouble there was to
gate and pass through. And, to make all complete, troops of hungry
alligators clambered upon the sides of our flatboat with jaws open
devour us. There was much outcry; I fled, Alix fled with me,
laughed. But our men were always ready for them with their guns.
THE TWICE-MARRIED COUNTESS.
But with all the sluggishness of the flatboat, the toils, the
and the frights, what happy times, what gay moments, we passed
the rough deck of our rude vessel, or in the little cells that we
It was in these rooms, when the sun was hot on deck, that my
sister and I
would join Alix to learn from her a new stitch in embroidery, or
the charming songs she had brought from France and which she
with harp or guitar.
Often she read to us, and when she grew tired put the book into
or Suzanne's, and gave us precious lessons in reading, as she had
singing and in embroidery. At times, in these moments of intimacy,
made certain half-disclosures that astonished us more and more.
Suzanne took between her own two hands that hand so small and
cried out all at once:
"How comes it, Alix, that you wear two wedding rings?"
"Because," she sweetly answered, "if it gives you pleasure to
know, I have
been twice married."
We both exclaimed with surprise.
"Ah!" she said, "no doubt you think me younger [bocou plus jeune]
really am. What do you suppose is my age?"
Suzanne replied: "You look younger than Françoise, and she
"I am twenty-three," replied Alix, laughing again and again.
Another time my sister took a book, haphazard, from the shelves.
Ordinarily [audinaremend] Alix herself chose our reading, but she
embroidering. Suzanne sat down and began to read aloud a romance
"Ah!" cried my sister, "these two girls must be Françoise
"Oh no, no!" exclaimed Alix, with a heavy sigh, and Suzanne began
reading. It told of two sisters of noble family. The elder had
married to a count, handsome, noble, and rich; and the other,
parents' wish, to a poor workingman who had taken her to a distant
country, where she died of regret and misery. Alix and I listened
attentively; but before Suzanne had finished, Alix softly took the
from her hands and replaced it on the shelf.
"I would not have chosen that book for you; it is full of
"And yet," said Suzanne, "see with what truth the lot of the
described! How happy she was in her emblazoned coach, and her
laces, her dresses of velvet and brocade! Ah, Françoise! of
destinies I choose that one."
Alix looked at her for a moment and then dropped her head in
Suzanne went on in her giddy way:
"And the other: how she was punished for her plebeian tastes!"
"So, my dear Suzanne," responded Alix, "you would not marry — "
"A man not my equal — a workman? Ah! certainly not."
Madame Carpentier turned slightly pale. I looked at Suzanne with
of reproach; and Suzanne remembering the gardener, at that moment
shirt sleeves pushing one of the boat's long sweeps, bit her lip
turned to hide her tears. But Alix — the dear little creature! — rose,
her arms about my sister's neck, kissed her, and said:
"I know very well that you had no wish to give me pain, dear
have only called up some dreadful things that I am trying to
forget. I am
the daughter of a count. My childhood and youth were passed in
and palaces, surrounded by every pleasure that an immense fortune
supply. As the wife of a viscount I have been received at court; I
been the companion of princesses. To-day all that is a dreadful
Before me I have a future the most modest and humble. I am the
Joseph the gardener; but poor and humble as is my present lot, I
exchange it for the brilliant past, hidden from me by a veil of
tears. Some day I will write and send you my history; for I want
it plain to you, Suzanne, that titles and riches do not make
but that the poorest fate illumined by the fires of love is very
radiant with pleasure."
We remained mute. I took Alix's hand in mine and silently pressed
Suzanne, the inquisitive Suzanne, spoke not a word. She was
kiss Alix and wipe away her tears.
If the day had its pleasures, it was in the evenings, when we
reunited on deck, that the moments of gayety began. When we had
moonlight the flatboat would continue its course to a late hour.
those calm, cool moments, when the movement of our vessel was so
that it seemed to slide on the water, amid the odorous breezes of
the instruments of music were brought upon deck and our concerts
father played the flute delightfully; Carlo, by ear, played the
pleasantly; and there, on the deck of that old flatboat, before an
indulgent audience, our improvised instruments waked the sleeping
creatures of the centuries-old forest and called around us the
fishes and alligators. My father and Alix played admirable duos on
and harp, and sometimes Carlo added the notes of his violin or
us cotillons and Spanish dances. Finally Suzanne and I, to please
sang together Spanish songs, or songs of the negroes, that made
auditors nearly die a-laughing; or French ballads, in which Alix
mingle her sweet voice. Then Carlo, with gestures that always
Patrick, made the air resound with Italian refrains, to which
always succeeded the Irish ballads of the Gordons.
But when it happened that the flatboat made an early stop to let
rest, the programme was changed. Celeste and Maggie went ashore to
the two suppers there. Their children gathered wood and lighted
fires. Mario and Gordon, or Gordon and 'Tino, went into the forest
their guns. Sometimes my father went along, or sat down by M.
who was the fisherman. Alix, too, generally sat near her husband,
sketch-book on her knee, and copied the surrounding scene. Often,
fishing, we gathered flowers and wild fruits. I generally staid
and her husband, letting Suzanne run ahead with Patrick and Tom.
It was a
strange thing, the friendship between my sister and this little
Never during the journey did he address one word to me; he never
a question from Alix; he ran away if my father or Joseph spoke to
turned pale and hid if Mario looked at him. But with Suzanne he
laughed, obeyed her every word, called her Miss Souzie, and was
happy as when serving her. And when, twenty years afterward, she
journey to Attakapas, the wealthy M. Patrick Gordon, hearing by
her presence, came with his daughter to make her his guest for a
still calling her Miss Souzie, as of old.
ODD PARTNERS IN THE BOLERO DANCE.
Only one thing we lacked — mass and Sunday prayers. But on that day
flatboat remained moored, we put on our Sunday clothes, gathered
and papa read the mass aloud surrounded by our whole party,
in the parts where the choir is heard in church, Alix, my sister,
seconded by papa and Mario, sang hymns.
One evening — we had already been five weeks on our journey — the
was floating slowly along, as if it were tired of going, between
narrow banks of a bayou marked in red ink on Carlo's map, "Bayou
It was about six in the afternoon. There had been a suffocating
day. It was with joy that we came up on deck. My father, as he
appearance, showed us his flute. It was a signal: Carlo ran for
violin, Suzanne for Alix's guitar, and presently Carpentier
his wife's harp. Ah! I see them still: Gordon and 'Tino seated on
Celeste and her children; Mario with his violin; Maggie; Patrick
feet of Suzanne; Alix seated and tuning her harp; papa at her
side; and M.
Carpentier and I seated on the bench nearest the musicians.
My father and Alix had already played some pieces, when papa
asked her to accompany him in a new bolero which was then the
vogue in New
Orleans. In those days, at all the balls and parties, the boleros,
fandangos, and other Spanish dances had their place with the
contra-dances and waltzes. Suzanne had made her entrance into
three years before, and danced ravishingly. Not so with me. I had
my first ball only a few months before, and had taken nearly all
dancing-lessons from Suzanne. What was to become of me, then, when
my father ask me to dance the bolero which he and Alix were
playing!. . .
Every one made room for us, crying, "Oh, oui, Mlle. Suzanne;
dancez, Mlle. Françoise!" I did not wish to disobey
my father. I did not
want to disoblige my friends. Suzanne loosed her red scarf and
end to me. I caught the end of the shawl that Suzanne was already
over her head and began the first steps, but it took me only an
see that the task was beyond my powers. I grew confused, my head
I stopped. But Alix did not stop playing; and Suzanne, wrapped in
shawl and turning upon herself, cried, "Play on!"
I understood her intention in an instant.
Harp and flute sounded on, and Suzanne, ever gliding, waltzing,
her arms gracefully lifted above her head, softly waved her scarf,
it a thousand different forms. Thus she made, twice, the circuit
deck, and at length paused before Mario Carlo. But only for a
a movement as quick as unexpected, she threw the end of her scarf
It wound about his neck. The Italian with a shoulder movement
scarf, caught it in his left hand, threw his violin to Celeste,
low to his challenger. All this as the etiquette of the bolero
demanded. Then Maestro Mario smote the deck sharply with his
heels, let go
a cry like an Indian's war-whoop, and made two leaps into the air,
his heels against each other. He came down on the points of his
waving the scarf from his left hand; and twining his right arm
sister's waist, he swept her away with him. They danced for at
an hour, running the one after the other, waltzing, tripping,
leaping. The children and Gordon shouted with delight, while my
Carpentier, and even Alix clapped their hands, crying, "Hurrah!"
Suzanne's want of dignity exasperated me; but when I tried to
speak of it,
papa and Alix were against me.
"On board a flatboat," said my father, "a breach of form is
He resumed his flute with the first measures of a minuet.
"Ah, our turn!" cried Alix; "our turn, Françoise! I will
be the cavalier!"
I could dance the minuet as well as I could the bolero — that is,
all; but Alix promised to guide me: and as, after all, I loved the
as we love it at sixteen, I was easily persuaded, and fan in hand
Alix, who for the emergency wore her husband's hat; and our minuet
received with as much enthusiasm as Suzanne's bolero. This ball
followed by others, and Alix gave me many lessons in the dance,
weeks later were very valuable in the wilderness towards which we
A BAD STORM IN A BAD PLACE.
The flatboat continued its course, and some slight signs of
began to appear at long intervals. Towards the end of a beautiful
June, six weeks after our departure from New Orleans, the flatboat
at the pass of
The sun was setting in a belt of
clouds. Our men fastened their vessel securely and then cast their
"Ah!" cried Mario, "I do not like this place; it is inhabited."
to a wretched hut half hidden by the forest. Except two or three
cabins seen in the distance, this was
the first habitation
our eyes since leaving the Mississippi.
A woman showed herself at the door. She was scarcely dressed at
feet were naked, and her tousled hair escaped from a wretched
that she had thrown upon her head. Hidden in the bushes and behind
trees half a dozen half-nude children gazed at us, ready to fly at
slightest sound. Suddenly two men with guns came out of the woods,
the sight of the flatboat stood petrified. Mario shook his head.
"If it were not so late I would take the boat farther on."
[Yet he went hunting with 'Tino and Gordon along the shore,
father of Françoise and Suzanne lying on the deck with sick
Joseph fishing in the flatboat's little skiff, and the women and
on the bank, gazed at from a little distance by the sitting
figures of the
two strange men and the woman. Then the hunters returned, supper
prepared, and both messes ate on shore. Gordon and Mario joining
the conversation of the more cultivated group, and making
strange Babel of English, French, Spanish, and Italian.]
After supper Joseph and Alix, followed by my sister and me,
the denser part of the woods.
"Take care, comrade," we heard Mario say; "don't go far."
The last rays of the sun were in the treetops. There were flowers
everywhere. Alix ran here and there, all enthusiasm. Presently
uttered a cry and recoiled with affright from a thicket of
In an instant Joseph was at her side; but she laughed aloud,
the assault, and drew by force from the bushes a little girl of
four years. The child fought and cried; but Suzanne held on, drew
the trunk of a tree, sat down, and held her on her lap by force.
little thing was horribly dirty, but under its rags there were
features and a sweetness that inspired pity. Alix sat down by my
and stroked the child's hair, and, like Suzanne, spite of the
her several times; but the little creature still fought, and
"Let me alone! I want to go home! I want to go home!"
Joseph advised my sister to let the child go, and Suzanne was
about to do
so when she remembered having at supper filled her pocket with
quickly filled the child's hands with them and the Rubicon was
passed. . . .
She said that her name was Annie; that her father, mother, and
lived in the hut. That was all she could say. She did not know her
parents' name. When Suzanne put her down she ran with all her legs
the cabin to show Alix's gift, her pretty ribbon.
Before the sun went down the wind rose. Great clouds covered the
large rain-drops began to fall. Joseph covered the head of his
with her mantle, and we hastened back to the camp.
"Do you fear a storm, Joseph?" asked Alix.
"I do not know too much," he replied; "but when you are near, all
We found the camp deserted; all our companions were on board the
The wind rose to fury, and now the rain fell in torrents. We
our rooms. Papa was asleep. We did not disturb him, though we were
frightened. . . . Joseph and Gordon went below to sleep. Mario and
loosed the three bull-dogs, but first removed the planks that
boat to the shore. Then he hoisted a great lantern upon a mast in
lighted his pipe, and sat down to keep his son awake with stories
voyages and hunts.
The storm seemed to increase in violence every minute. The rain
its fury. Frightful thunders echoed each other's roars. The
tossed by the wind and waves, seemed to writhe in agony, while now
then the trunks of uprooted trees, lifted by the waves, smote it
passed. Without a thought of the people in the hut, I made every
keep awake in the face of these menaces of Nature. Suzanne held my
tightly in hers, and several times spoke to me in a low voice,
wake papa, whom we could hear breathing regularly, sleeping
suspicion of the surrounding dangers. Yet an hour had not passed
ere I was
sleeping profoundly. A knock on the partition awoke us and made us
the door. Mario was waiting there.
"Quick, monsieur! Get the young ladies ready. The flatboat has
but ten minutes to live. We must take the women and children
please, signorina," — to my sister, — "call M. and Mme. Carpentier."
Joseph had heard all, and showed himself at the door of our room.
"Ashore? At such a time?"
"We have no choice. We must go or perish."
"To the hut. We have no time to talk. My family is ready". . . .
It took but a few minutes to obey papa's orders. We were already
dressed; and as sabots were worn at that time to protect the shoes
the mud and wet, we had them on in a moment. A thick shawl and a
hood completed our outfits. Alix was ready in a few moments.
"Save your jewels, — those you prize most, — my love," cried
"while I dress."
Alix ran to her dressing-case, threw its combs, brushes, etc.,
into the bureau, opened a lower part of the case and took out four
jewel-boxes that glided into her pockets, and two lockets that she
carefully in her corsage. Joseph always kept their little fortune
leathern belt beneath his shirt. He put on his vest and over it a
great-coat, slung his gun by its shoulder-belt, secured his
then taking from one of his trunks a large woolen cloak he wrapped
it, and lifted her like a child of eight, while she crossed her
arms about his neck and rested her head on his bosom. Then he
into Mario's room, where his two associates were waiting. At
we might have laughed at Maggie, but not now. She had slipped into
belt two horse-pistols. In one hand she held in leash her bull-dog
and in the other a short carbine, her own property.
MAGGIE AND THE ROBBERS.
"We are going out of here together," said Mario; "but John and I
conduct you only to the door of the hut. Thence we shall return to
flatboat, and all that two men can do to save our fortune shall be
You, monsieur, have enough to do to take care of your daughters.
M. Carpentier — to you, son Celestino, I give the care of these
"I can take care of myself," said Maggie.
"You are four, well armed," continued Mario. (My father had his
pistols.) "This dog is worth two men. You have no risks to run;
danger, if there be any, will be with the boat. Seeing us divided,
may venture an attack; but one of you stand by the window that
shore. If one of those men in the hut leaves it, or shows a wish
to do so,
fire one pistol-shot out of the window, and we shall be ready for
but if you are attacked, fire two shots and we will come. Now,
We went slowly and cautiously: 'Tino first, with a lantern; then
pair and child; then Mario, leading his two younger boys, and
with her daughter asleep in her arms; and for rear-guard papa with
us on each arm, and Joseph with his precious burden. The wind and
irregularities of the ground made us stumble at every step. The
lashed us in the face and extorted from time to time sad
the children. But, for all that, we were in a few minutes at the
"M. Carpentier," said Mario, "I give my family into your care."
made no answer but to give his hand to the Italian. Mario strode
followed by Gordon.
"Knock on the door," said Joseph to 'Tino. The boy knocked. No
heard inside, except the growl of a dog.
"Knock again." The same silence. "We can't stay here in this
rain; open and enter," cried Carpentier. 'Tino threw wide the door
There was but one room. A large fire burned in a clay chimney
filled one side of the cabin. In one corner four or five chickens
their heads. In another, the woman was lying on a wretched pallet
her clothes. By her slept the little creature Suzanne had found,
ribbon still on her frock. Near one wall was a big chest on which
child was sleeping. A rough table was in the middle, on it some
plates and cups, and under it half a dozen dogs and two little
never saw anything else like it. On the hearth stood the pot and
still half full of hominy and meat.
Kneeling by the fire was a young man molding bullets and passing
his father, seated on a stool at a corner of the chimney, who
into a jar of water, taking them out again to even them with the
a knife. I see it still as if it was before my eyes.
The woman opened her eyes, but did not stir. The dogs rose
but Tom showed his teeth and growled, and they went back under the
The young man rose upon one knee, he and his father gazing
stupidly at us,
the firelight in their faces. We women shrank against our
except Maggie, who let go a strong oath. The younger man was
ugly; pale-faced, large-eyed, haggard, his long, tangled, blonde
his shoulders. The father's face was written all over with
crime. Joseph advanced and spoke to him.
"What the devil of a language is that?" he asked of his son in
"He is asking you," said Maggie, "to let us stay here till the
"And where do you come from this way?"
"From that flatboat tied to the bank."
"Well, the house isn't big nor pretty, but you are its masters."
Maggie went and sat by the window, ready to give the signal. Pat
her feet, and laying his head upon Tom went straight to sleep.
down by the fire on an inverted box and took me on one knee. With
against his other, Suzanne crouched upon the floor. We were
hearts beating hard, wishing ourselves with mamma in St. James.
Alix upon a stool beside him and removed her wrapping.
"Hello!" said the younger stranger, "I thought you were carrying
It's a woman!"
An hour passed. The woman in the corner seemed to sleep; Celeste,
slumbered. When I asked Suzanne, softly, if she was asleep, she
silently shake her head. The men went on with their task, not
last they finished, divided the balls between them, put them into
leather pouch at their belt, and the father, rising, said:
"Let us go. It is time."
Maggie raised her head. The elder man went and got his gun and
with two balls, and while the younger was muffling himself in an
blanket-overcoat such as we give to plantation negroes, moved
door and was about to pass out. But quicker than lightning Maggie
raised the window, snatched a pistol from her belt, and fired. The
stood rooted, the elder frowning at Maggie. Tom rose and showed
"What did you fire that pistol for? What signal are you giving?"
"That is understood at the flatboat," said Maggie, tranquilly. "I
fire if you left the house. You started, I fired, and that's all."
" — — ! And did you know, by yourself, what we were going to do?"
"I haven't a doubt. You were simply going to attack and rob the
A second oath, fiercer than the first, escaped the man's lips.
that way to me! Do you forget that you're in my power?"
"Ah! Do you think so?" cried Maggie, resting her fists on her
ha, ha!" That was the first time I ever heard her laugh — and such a
"Don't you know, my dear sir, that at one turn of my hand this dog
strangle you like a chicken? Don't you see four of us here armed
teeth, and at another signal our comrades yonder ready to join us
instant? And besides, this minute they are rolling a little cannon
the bow of the boat. Go, meddle with them, you'll see." She lied,
lie averted the attack. She quietly sat down again and paid the
not the least attention.
"And that's the way you pay us for taking you in, is it? Accuse a
crime because he steps out of his own house to look at the
that's all right." While the man spoke he put his gun into a
resumed his seat, and lighted a cob pipe. The son had leaned on
during the colloquy. Now he put it aside and lay down upon the
sleep. The awakened children slept. Maggie sat and smoked. My
Joseph, and 'Tino talked in low tones. All at once the old ruffian
his pipe from his mouth and turned to my father.
"Where do you come from?"
"From New Orleans, sir."
"How long have you been on the way?"
"About a month."
"And where are you going," etc. Joseph, like papa, remained
like him, like all of us, longed with all his soul for the end of
night of horror.
At the first crowing of the cock the denizens of the hut were
father and son took their guns and went into the forest. The fire
relighted. The woman washed some hominy in a pail and seemed to
forgotten our presence; but the little girl recognized Alix, who
her own neck a bright silk handkerchief and tied it over the
put a dollar in her hand, and kissed her forehead. Then it was
turn. She covered her with kisses. The little one laughed, and
turban and the silver that "the pretty lady," she said, had given
Next, my sister dropped, one by one, upon the pallet ten dollars,
the child with these playthings; and then she took off her red
put it about her little pet's neck.
My father handed me a handful of silver. "They are very poor, my
pay them well for their hospitality." As I approached the woman I
Joseph thank her and offer her money.
"What do you want me to do with that?" she said, pushing my hand
"Instead of that, send me some coffee and tobacco."
That ended it; I could not pay in money. But when I looked at the
woman's dress so ragged and torn, I took off [J'autai] my shawl,
large and warm, and put it on her shoulders, — I had another in the
boat, — and she was well content. When I got back to the flatboat I
her some chemises, petticoats, stockings, and a pair of shoes. The
were papa's. Alix also sent her three skirts and two chemises, and
two old dresses and two chemises for her children, cutting down
too large. Before quitting the hut Celeste had taken from her two
their knitted neckerchiefs and given them to the two smaller boys,
Maggie took the old shawl that covered Pat's shoulders and threw
the third child, who cried out with joy. At length we returned to
vessel, which had triumphantly fought the wind and floating trees.
took to the cabin our gifts, to which we added sugar, biscuits,
and a sack
ALIX PUTS AWAY THE PAST.
For two weeks more our boat continued its slow and silent voyage
bayous. We saw signs of civilization, but they were still far
signs alarmed Mario. He had already chosen his place of abode and
it with his usual enthusiasm; a prairie where he had camped for
with his young hunters five years before.
"A principality — that is what I count on establishing there," he
pushing his hand through his hair. "And think! — if, maybe, some one
occupied it! Oh, the thief! the robber! Let him not fall into my
I'll strangle — I'll kill him!"
My father, to console him, would say that it would be easy to
tracts just as fine.
"Never!" replied he, rolling his eyes and brandishing his arms;
fury would grow until Maggie cried:
"He is Satan himself! He's the devil!"
One evening the flatboat stopped a few miles only from where is
village of Pattersonville. The weather was magnificent, and while
Gordon, and Mario went hunting, Joseph, Alix, and we two walked on
bank. Little by little we wandered, and, burying ourselves in the
interior, we found ourselves all at once confronting a little
embowered in a grove of oranges. Alix uttered a cry of admiration
went towards the house. We saw that it was uninhabited and must
long abandoned. The little kitchen, the poultry-house, the
in ruins. But the surroundings were admirable: in the rear a large
was entirely shaded with live-oaks; in front was the green belt of
trees; farther away Bayou Teche, like a blue ribbon, marked a
boundary, and at the bottom of the picture the great trees of the
lifted their green-brown tops.
"Oh!" cried Alix, "if I could stay here I should be happy."
"Who knows?" replied Joseph. "The owner has left the house; he
dead. Who knows but I may take this place?"
"Oh! I pray you, Joseph, try. Try!" At that moment my father and
appeared, looking for us, and Alix cried:
"Welcome, gentlemen, to my domain."
Joseph told of his wife's wish and his hope. . . . "In any case,"
"count on us. If you decide to settle here we will stay two
weeks — a
month, if need be — to help you establish yourself."
As soon as we had breakfasted my father and Joseph set out for a
plantation which they saw in the distance. They found it a rich
The large, well-built house was surrounded by outbuildings,
granaries, and gardens; fields of cane and corn extended to the
view. The owner, M. Gerbeau, was a young Frenchman. He led them
house, presented them to his wife, and offered them refreshments.
[M. Gerbeau tells the travelers how he had come from the
River parish of St. Bernard to this place with all his effects in
schooner — doubtless via the mouth of the river and the bay of
while Joseph is all impatience to hear of the little deserted home
concerning which he has inquired. But finally he explains that its
a lone Swede, had died of sunstroke two years before, and M.
best efforts to find, through the Swedish consul at New Orleans or
otherwise, a successor to the little estate had been unavailing.
could take the place if he would. He ended by generously forcing
father of Françoise and Suzanne the free use of his
"two horses, as gentle as lambs and as swift as deer," with which
their journey up the Teche to
the gay, not to say
giddy, little capital of the royalist émigrés.]
My father wished to know what means of transport he could secure,
return to this point, to take us home.
"Don't let that trouble you; I will arrange that. I already have
plan — you shall see."
The same day the work began on the Carpentier's home. The three
and 'Tino fell bravely to work, and M. Gerbeau brought his
carpenter and a
cart-load of lumber. Two new rooms were added. The kitchen was
then the stable, the dovecote, the poultry-house; the garden
restored; also those of the field. My father gave Joseph one of
the other was promised to Carlo. Mme. Gerbeau was with us much,
Alix, as were we. We often dined with her. One Sunday M. Gerbeau
us very early and insisted that Mario and Gordon should join us.
with her usual phlegm, had declined.
At dinner our host turned the conversation upon St. Martinville,
again all the barons, counts, and marquises of whom he had spoken
father, and descanting especially on the grandeur of the balls and
he had there attended.
"And we have only our camayeu skirts!" cried Suzanne.
"Daughter," observed papa, "be content with what you have. You
a duchess nor a countess, and besides you are traveling."
"And," said M. Gerbeau, "the stores there are full of knickknacks
would capture the desires of a queen."
On returning to our flatboat Alix came into my room, where I was
and laying her head on my shoulder:
"Françoise," she said, "I have heard mentioned today the
dearest friend I
ever had. That Countess de la Houssaye of whom M. Gerbeau spoke is
Madelaine de Livilier, my companion in convent, almost my sister.
married nearly at the same time; we were presented at court the
and now here we are, both, in Louisiana!"
"O Alix!" I cried, "I shall see her. Papa has a letter to her
shall tell her; she will come to see you; and — "
"No, no! You must not speak of me, Françoise. She knew and
Countess Alix de Morainville. I know her; she would repel with
wife of the gardener. I am happy in my obscurity. Let nothing
remind me of
Seeing that Alix said nothing of all this to Suzanne, I imitated
example. With all her goodness, Suzanne was so thoughtless and
ALIX PLAYS FAIRY — PARTING TEARS.
In about fifteen days the work on the cottage was nearly done and
moving began, Celeste, and even Maggie, offering us their
"Two things, only, I lack," she said — "a sofa, and something to
One morning M. Gerbeau sent to Carpentier a horse, two fine cows
calves, and a number of sheep and pigs. At the same time two or
negresses, loaded down with chickens, geese, and ducks, made their
appearance. Also M. Gerbeau.
"What does all this mean?" asked Joseph.
"This is the succession of the dead Swede," replied the generous
"But I have no right to his succession."
"That's a question," responded M. Gerbeau. "You have inherited
you must inherit all. If claimants appear — well, you will be
to them. You will please give me a receipt in due form; that is
Tears came into Carpentier's eyes. . . . As he was signing the
Gerbeau stopped him. "Wait; I forgot something. At the time of
Swede's] death, I took from his crib fifty barrels of corn; add
"O sir!" cried Joseph, "that is too much — too much."
"Write!" said M. Gerbeau, laying his hand on Joseph's shoulder,
please. I am giving you nothing; I am relieving myself of a
My dear daughter, if I have talked very much about Alix it is
talking about her is such pleasure. She has been so good to my
me! The memory of her is one of the brightest of my youth.
The flatboat was to go in three days. One morning, when we had
night with Mme. Gerbeau, Patrick came running to say that "Madame
wished to see us at once. We hastened to the cottage. Alix met us
"Come in, dear girls. I have a surprise for you and a great favor
I heard you say, Suzanne, you had nothing to wear — "
"But our camayeu petticoats!"
"But your camayeu petticoats." She smiled.
"And they, it seems, do not tempt your vanity. You want better?"
"Ah, indeed we do!" replied Suzanne.
"Well, let us play Cinderella. The dresses of velvet, silk, and
jewels, the slippers — all are in yonder chest. Listen, my dear
the first signs of the Revolution my frightened mother left France
crossed into England. She took with her all her wardrobe, her
pictures from her bedroom, and part of her plate. She bought,
going, a quantity of silks and ribbons. . . . When I reached England
mother was dead, and all that she had possessed was restored to me
authorities. My poor mother loved dress, and in that chest is all
apparel. Part of it I had altered for my own use; but she was much
than I — taller than you. I can neither use them nor consent to sell
If each of you will accept a ball toilet, you will make me very
And she looked at us with her eyes full of supplication, her hands
We each snatched a hand and kissed it. Then she opened the chest,
the first and last time in my life I saw fabrics, ornaments, and
that truly seemed to have been made by the fairies. After many
much debate she laid aside for me a lovely dress of blue brocade
glistening with large silver flowers the reflections of which
rays of light. It was short in front, with a train; was very full
sides, and was caught up with knots of ribbon. The long pointed
cut square and trimmed with magnificent laces that re-appeared on
half-long sleeves. The arms, to the elbow, were to be covered with
frosted gloves fastened with twelve silver buttons. To complete my
she gave me a blue silk fan beautifully painted, blue satin
high heels and silver buckles, white silk stockings with blue
broidered white cambric handkerchief trimmed with Brussels point
and, last, a lovely set of silver filigree that she assured us was
slight value, comprising the necklace, the comb, the earrings,
and a belt whose silver tassels of the same design fell down the
My sister's toilet was exactly like mine, save that it was rose
Alix had us try them on. While our eyes were ravished, she, with
expert taste, decided to take up a little in one place, lower a
another, add something here, take away there, and, above all, to
whole with care. We staid all day helping her; and when, about 3
all was finished, our fairy godmother said she would now dress our
and that we must observe closely.
"For Suzanne will have to coiffe Françoise and
Françoise coiffe Suzanne,"
she said. She took from the chest two pasteboard boxes that she
contained the headdresses belonging to our costumes, and, making
facing my sister, began to dress her hair. I was all eyes. I did
a movement of the comb. She lifted Suzanne's hair to the middle of
head in two rosettes that she called riquettes and
fastened them with a
silver comb. Next, she made in front, or rather on the forehead,
hairpins, numberless little knots, or whorls, and placed on each
the head a plume of white, rose-tipped feathers, and in front,
the riquettes, placed a rose surrounded with silver leaves. Long
rose-colored, silver-frosted ribbons falling far down on the back
completed the headdress, on which Alix dusted handfuls of silver
Can you believe it, my daughter, that was the first time my sister
had ever seen artificial flowers? They made very few of them, even
France, in those days.
While Suzanne admired herself in the mirror I took her place. My
differed from hers in the ends of my feathers being blue, and in
being white, surrounded by pale blue violets and a few silver
now a temptation came to all of us. Alix spoke first:
"Now put on your ball-dresses and I will send for our friends.
What do you
"Oh, that would be charming!" cried Suzanne. "Let us hurry!" And
dressed, Pat, always prowling about the cottage, was sent to the
to get his parents and the Carlos, and to M. Gerbeau's to ask my
and M. and Mme. Gerbeau to come at once to the cottage. . . . No, I
tell the cries of joy that greeted us. The children did not know
Maggie had to tell Pat over and over that these were Miss Souzie
Francise. My father's eyes filled with tears as he thanked Alix
goodness and generosity to us.
Alas! the happiest days, like the saddest, have an end. On the
people in the flatboat came to say good-bye. Mario cried like a
Celeste carried Àlix's hands to her lips and said in the
midst of her
"O Madame! I had got so used to you — I hoped never to leave you."
"I will come to see you, Celeste," replied Alix to the young
"I promise you."
Maggie herself seemed moved, and in taking leave of Alix put two
kisses on her cheeks. As to our father, and us, too, the adieus
final, we having promised Mario and Gordon to stop [on their
the shore of the bayou] as soon as we saw the flatboat.
"And we hope, my dear Carlo, to find you established in your
"Amen!" responded the Italian.
Alix added to her gifts two pairs of chamois-skin gloves and a
lovely artificial flowers. Two days after the flatboat had gone,
spent the night with Alix, came M. Gerbeau's carriage to take us
upon our journey. Ah! that was a terrible moment. Even Alix could
hold back the tears. We refused to get into the carriage, and
of us together, to M. Gerbeau's, and then parted amid tears,
[So the carriage rolled along the margin of Bayou Teche, with two
trunks besides Monsieur's on back and top, and a smaller one, lent
Alix, lashed underneath; but shawls, mats, and baskets were all
behind with the Carpentiers. The first stop was at the plantation
residence of Captain Patterson, who "offered his hand in the
saying only, 'Welcomed, young ladies.'" In 1795, the narrator
say, one might see in and about New Orleans some two-story houses;
along the banks of Bayou Teche, as well as on the Mississippi,
all of one sort, — like their own; like Captain Patterson's, — a
ground floor with three rooms facing front and three back. Yet the
next stop was at a little cottage covered with roses and with its
yard full of ducks and geese, — "'A genuine German cottage,' said
papa," — where a German girl, to call her father, put a great ox's
her lips and blew a loud blast. Almost every one was English or
till they came to where was just beginning to be the town of
Harlman, a German, offered to exchange all his land for the silver
that it best suited Monsieur to travel with. The exchange was
acts were all signed and sealed, and — when Suzanne, twenty years
made a visit to Attakapas there was Harlman and his numerous
in peaceful possession of the place. . . . "And I greatly fear that
day our grandchildren awaken from that apathy with which I have
reproached the Creoles, I fear, my daughter, they will have
prove their titles."
But they journeyed on, Françoise ever looking out the
carriage window for
the flatboat, and Suzanne crying:
"Annie, my sister Annie, do you see nothing coming?" And about
from where Franklin was to be they came upon it, greeted with
laughter and cries of "Miss Souzie! O Miss Souzie!" from the women
children, and from Mario: "I have it, Signor! I have it! My
Miss Souzie! It is mine, Signorina Françoise!" while he
and brandished his arms. "He had taken up enough land," says
"for five principalities, and was already knocking the flatboat to
She mentioned meeting Jacques and Charles Picot, St. Domingan
whose story of adventures she says was very wonderful, but with
artistic judgement omits them. The travelers found, of course, a
at the home of
and saw a
little girl of five who afterward became a great beauty — Uranie
They passed another Indian village, where Françoise
persuaded them not to
stop. Its inhabitants were Chetimachas, more civilized than those
village near Plaquemine, and their sworn enemies, living in
of an attack from them. At New Iberia, a town founded by
voyagers saw "several houses, some drinking-shops and other
and spent with "the pretty little Madame Dubuclet . . . two of the
pleasantest days of their lives."]
At length, one beautiful evening in July, under a sky resplendent
stars, amid the perfume of gardens and caressed by the cool night
we made our entry into the village of St. Martinville — the Little
the oasis in the desert.
My father ordered Julien [the coachman] to stop at the best inn.
two or three corners and stopped near the bayou [Teche] just
bridge, before a house of the strangest aspect possible. There
first to have been built a rez-de-chaussée house of
ordinary size, to
which had been hastily added here a room, there a cabinet, a
until the "White Pelican" — I seem to see it now — was like a house of
cards, likely to tumble before the first breath of wind. The
was Morphy. He came forward, hat in hand, a pure-blooded American,
speaking French almost like a Frenchman. In the house all was
and shining with cleanness. Madame Morphy took us to our room,
papa's ["tou ta côté de selle de papa"], the two
looking out, across the
veranda, upon the waters of the Teche.
After supper my father proposed a walk. Madame Morphy showed us,
lights, in the distance, a theater!
"They are playing, this evening, 'The Barber of Seville.'"
We started on our walk, moving slowly, scanning the houses and
to the strains of music that reached us from the distance. It
seemed but a
dream that at any moment might vanish. On our return to the inn,
threw his letters upon the table and began to examine their
"To whom will you carry the first letter, papa?" I asked.
"To the Baron du Clozel," he replied. "I have already met him in
Orleans, and even had the pleasure to render him a slight
Mechanically Suzanne and I examined the addresses and amused
reading the pompous title's.
"'Le chevalier Louis de Blanc!'" began my sister; "'L'honorable
Déclouet'; 'Le comte Louis le Pelletrier de la Houssaye'!
Ah!" she cried,
throwing the packet upon the table, "the aristocrats! I am
poor little plebeian that I am."
"Yes, my daughter," responded my father, "these names represent
aristocrats, as noble in virtues as in blood. My father has often
of two uncles of the Count de la Houssaye: the first, Claude de la
Pelletrier de la Houssaye, was prime minister to King Louis XV.;
second, Barthelemy, was employed by the Minister of Finance. The
to whom I bear this letter, married Madelaine Victoire de
are noble names."
Then Alix was not mistaken; it was really her friend, the
Madelaine, whom I was about to meet.
THE COUNTESS MADELAINE.
Early the next day I saw, through the partly open door, my father
finishing his toilet.
He had already fastened over his black satin breeches his garters
with large buckles of chased silver. Similar buckles were on his
His silver-buttoned vest of white piqué reached low down,
and his black
satin coat faced with white silk had large lappets cut square.
seemed to me very warm for summer; but the fashion and etiquette
only silk and velvet for visits of ceremony, and though you
had to obey those tyrants. At the moment when I saw him out of the
of my eye he was sticking a cluster diamond pin into his
another diamond into his lace cravat. It was the first time I ever
papa so fine, so dressed! Presently we heard him call us to
queue, and although it was impossible for us to work up a club and
wings like those I saw on the two young Du Clozels and on M.
Déclouet, we arranged a very fine queue wrapped with a
black ribbon, and
after smiling at himself in the glass and declaring that he
whole dress was in very good taste he kissed us, took his
hat and his gold-headed cane and went out. With what impatience we
About two hours afterward we saw papa coming back accompanied by
gentleman of a certain age, handsome, noble, elegant in his severe
black velvet. He had the finest black eyes in the world, and his
beamed with wit and amiability. You have guessed it was the Baron
Clozel. The baron bowed to us profoundly. He certainly knew who we
but etiquette required him to wait until my father had presented
immediately then he asked papa's permission to kiss us, and you
suppose your grandfather did not refuse.
M. du Clozel had been sent by the baroness to oppose our sojourn
inn, and to bring us back with him.
"Run, put on your hoods," said papa; "we will wait for you here."
Mr. and Mrs. Morphy were greatly disappointed to see us go, and
declared that if these nobles kept on taking away their custom
have to shut up shop. Papa, to appease him, paid him double what
And the baron gave his arm to Suzanne, as the elder, while I
papa's. Madame du Clozel and her daughter met us at the street
baroness, though not young, was still pretty, and so elegant, so
A few days later I could add, so good, so lovable!
Celeste du Clozel was eighteen. Her hair was black as ebony, and
a beautiful blue. The young men of the village called her Celeste
nommée [Celeste the well named]; and for all her
beauty, fortune, and
high position she was good and simple and always ready to oblige.
engaged, we learned afterward, to the
Chevalier de Blanc,
1803 was made post-commandant of Attakapas.
Olivier and Charles du
Clozel turned everything to our entertainment, and it was soon
that we should all go that same evening to the theater.
Hardly was the sun down when we shut ourselves into our rooms to
work of dressing. Celeste put herself at our service, assuring us
knew perfectly how to dress hair. The baroness asked us to let her
ornaments, ribbons — whatever we might need. We could see that she
two young girls who had never seen the great world, who came from
where nearly all articles of luxury were wanting, could hardly
choice wardrobe. We thanked them, assuring Celeste that we had
cultivated the habit of dressing each other's hair.
We put on our camayeu petticoats and our black velvet waists,
gloves; and in our hair, sparkling with gold powder, we put, each
of us, a
bunch of the roses given us by Alix. We found ourselves charming,
hoped to create a sensation. But if the baroness was satisfied she
no astonishment. Her hair, like her daughter's, was powdered, and
Suzanne on the arm of Olivier, I on Charles's, Celeste beside her
the grandparents in front, we entered the theater of St.
in a moment more were the observed of all observers. The play was
vaudeville, of which I remember only the name, but rarely have I
amateurs act so well: all the prominent parts were rendered by
But if the French people are polite, amiable, and hospitable, we
they are also very inquisitive. Suzanne was more annoyed than I
yet we knew that our toilets were in excellent taste, even in that
full of ladies covered with costly jewels. When I asked Celeste
merchants of St. Martinville could procure these costly goods, she
explained that near by there was a place named the Butte
à la Rose that
greatly shortened the way to market.
They were bringing almost
everything from London, owing to the Revolution. Between the acts
persons came to greet Madame du Clozel. Oh, how I longed to see
of Alix! But I would not ask anything; I resolved to find her by
of my heart alone.
Presently, as by a magnetic power, my attention was drawn to a
beautiful young lady dressed in white satin, with no ornaments
set of gold and sapphires, and for headdress a résille
tassels of which touched her neck. Ah! how quickly I recognized
brown eyes faintly proud, that kind smile, that queenly bearing,
graceful step! I turned to Charles du Clozel, who sat beside me,
"That is the Countess de la Houssaye, isn't it?"
"Do you know her?"
"I see her for the first time; but — I guessed it."
Several times I saw her looking at me, and once she smiled.
last two acts she came and shook hands with us, and, caressing our
with her gloved hand, said her husband had seen papa's letter;
that it was
from a dear friend, and that she came to ask Madame du Clozel to
take us away with her. Against this the baroness cried out, and
Countess Madelaine said to us:
"Well, you will come spend the day with me day after to-morrow,
I shall invite only young people. May I come for you?"
Ah, that day! how I remember it! . . . Madame de la Houssaye was
or six years older than
for she was the mother
boys, the eldest of whom was fully twelve.
Her house was, like Madame
du Clozel's, a single rez-de-chaussée surmounted by a
mansard. . . . From
the drawing-room she conducted us to a room in the rear of the
the end of the veranda [galerie], where . . . a low window let into
crossed and re-crossed with alleys of orange and jasmine. Several
magnolias filled the air with the fragrance of their great white
flowers. . . .
“POOR LITTLE ALIX!”
Hardly had we made a few steps into the room when a young girl
advanced, supported on the arm of
a young man slightly
club and pigeon-wings were fastened with three or four pins of
his white-powdered queue was wrapped with a black velvet ribbon
silver. The heat was so great that he had substituted silk for
his dress-coat, breeches, and long vest were of pearl-gray silk,
to silver, with large silver buttons. On the lace frill of his
shirt shone three large diamonds, on his cravat was another, and
fingers were covered with rings.
The young girl embraced us with
ceremony, while her companion bowed profoundly. She could hardly
been over sixteen or seventeen. One could easily guess by her
the pretty creature was the slave of fashion.
"Madame du Rocher," said Charles du Clozel, throwing a wicked
"Madame!" I stammered.
"Impossible!" cried Suzanne.
"Don't listen to him!" interrupted the young lady, striking
fingers with her fan. "He is a wretched falsifier. I am called
"The widow du Rocher!" cried Olivier, from the other side.
"Ah, this is too much!" she exclaimed. "If you don't stop these
jokes at once I'll make Neville call you out upon the field of
. . . But a little while afterward Celeste whispered in my ear that
brothers had said truly. At thirteen years Tonton, eldest daughter
Commandant Louis de Blanc and sister of Chevalier de Blanc, had
espoused to Dr. du Rocher, at least forty years older than she. He
rich, and two years later he died, leaving all his fortune to his
widow. . . . One after another Madame de la Houssaye introduced to us
least twenty persons, the most of whose names, unfortunately, I
forgotten. I kept notes, but have mislaid them. . . .
A few moments before dinner the countess re-appeared among us,
two servants in livery bearing salvers of fruit; and while we ate
seated herself at the harpsichord and played.
"Do you sing?" she asked me.
"A little, madame."
[The two sisters sang a song together.]
"Children," she cried, "tell me, I pray you, who taught you that
"A young French lady, one of our friends," replied Suzanne.
"But her name! What is her name?"
The name meant nothing to her. She sighed, and asked us to sing
on. . . . At
dinner we met again my father and the count. After dinner the
sent for me to come to her chamber while she was nursing her babe.
few unimportant words she said:
"You have had your lessons from a good musician."
"Yes, madame, our friend plays beautifully on the harp."
"On the harp! And you say her name is — "
"Madame Joseph Carpentier."
"It is strange," said Madame de la Houssaye. "The words of your
by me, and the music by my friend the Viscomptesse Alix de
All manner of things have happened in this terrible Revolution; I
a moment the hope that she had found chance to emigrate and that
met her. Do you know M. Carpentier?"
"Yes, madame; he was with her. He is — in fact — a laboring
"Oh! then there is no hope. I had the thought of a second
Alix de Morainville could never stoop so low. Poor, dear, innocent
Alix! She must be dead — at the hand of butchers, as her father and
When we returned to the joyous company in the garden all wanted
at once. The countess imposed silence, and then Tonton informed us
grand ball was proposed in our honor, to be given in the large
of Mr. Morphy's tavern, under the direction of Neville
following Monday — that is, in four days.
Oh, that ball! I lay my pen on the table and my head in my hands
the bright, pretty faces of young girls and richly clad cavaliers,
hear the echoes of that music so different from what we have
the larger part of that company are sleeping now in the cemetery
Wherever you went, whoever you met, the ball was the subject of
conversation. All the costumes, masculine and feminine, were
profound secrecy. Each one vowed to astonish, dazzle, surpass his
neighbor. My father, forgetting the presents from Alix, gave us
much money and begged Madame du Clozel to oversee our toilets; but
was the astonishment of the dear baroness to see us buy only some
perfumery and two papers of pins. We paid ten dollars for each
fifteen for the pins!
Celeste invited us to see her costume the moment it reached her.
certainly did great honor to the dressmaker of St. Martinville.
was simply made, of very fine white muslin caught up en
paniers on a
skirt of blue satin. Her beautiful black hair was to be fastened
pearl comb, and to go between its riquettes she showed us two
forget-me-nots as blue as her eyes. The extremely long-pointed
her dress was of the same color as the petticoat, was
decolleté, and on
the front had a drapery of white muslin held in place by a bunch
forget-me-nots falling to the end of the point. In the whole
could get no white gloves. She would have to let that pass and
round white arms clasped with two large bracelets of pearls. She
also a necklace and earrings of pearls.
Madame du Clozel, slave to the severe etiquette of that day, did
question us, but did go so far as to say in our presence that
never worn at night.
"We know that, madame," replied my sister, slightly hurt. We
show our dresses to our hostess. We arranged them on the bed. When
baroness and her daughter entered our chamber they stood
baroness spoke first.
"Oh, the villains! How they have fooled us! These things are
worthy of a
queen. They are court costumes."
I said to myself, "Poor, dear little Alix!"
THE DISCOVERY OF THE HAT.
"Oh!" cried Celeste, "but what will Tonton say when she sees
"Do not let her know a thing about it, girls," said Madame du
rather than yield the scepter of beauty and elegance for but one
she will stay in the white chapel. What! at sixteen you don't know
the white chapel is? It is our bed."
Before the ball, came Sunday. Madame du Clozel had told us that
population of the little city — all Catholics — was very pious, that
little church could hardly contain the crowd of worshipers; and
had said that there was a grand display of dress there. We thought
having new dresses made, but the dressmaker declared it
impossible; and so
we were obliged to wear our camayeus a second time, adding only a
scarf and a hat. A hat! But how could one get in that little town
wilderness, amid a maze of lakes and bayous, hundreds of miles
Orleans, so rare and novel a thing as a hat? Ah, they call
mother of invention, but I declare, from experience, that vanity
performed more miracles of invention, and made greater discoveries
Galileo or Columbus.
The women of St. Martinville, Tonton at their head, had revolted
fate and declared they would have hats if they had to get them at
moon. Behold, now, by what a simple accident the hat was
Tonton de Blanc had one of the prettiest complexions in the world,
lily and rose, and what care she took of it! She never went into
or the garden without a sunbonnet and a thick veil. Yet for all
jealous critics said she was good and sensible, and would forget
everything, even her toilet, to succor any one in trouble. One day
heard a great noise in the street before her door. She was told
child had just been crushed by a vehicle. Without stopping to ask
the child was white or black or if it still lived, Tonton glanced
for her sun-bonnet, but, not finding it at hand, darted bareheaded
the street. At the door she met her young brother, and, as the sun
hot, she took his hat and put it on her own head. The Rubicon was
crossed — Tonton had discovered the hat!
All she had heard was a false alarm. The crushed child was at
before its mother's door. It had been startled by a galoping team,
screamed, and instantly there had been a great hubbub and crowd.
minutes later the little widow, the hat in her hand, entered the
of its maker and astonished the woman by ordering a hat for her
promising five dollars if the work was done to her satisfaction.
palmetto was to be split into the finest possible strips and
the form furnished by Madame Tonton. It was done; and on Sunday
trimmed with roses and ribbons, made its appearance in the church
Martin, on the prettiest head in the world. The next Sunday you
as many hats as the hatmaker had had time to make, and before the
the month all the women in St. Martinville were wearing palmetto
To-day the modistes were furnishing them at the fabulous price of
twenty-five dollars, — trimmed, you understand, — and palmetto hats
really getting to be a branch of the commerce of the little city;
ours, thanks to Alix's flowers and ribbons, cost but ten dollars.
The church was crowded. The service, performed by an old priest
hundred years of age, was listened to with interest; but what
me was to see the crowd stop at the church door, the women
hear laughter, chat, and criticism at the door of this sacred
place as if
it were the public square. I understood the discontent that knit
father's brows and the alacrity with which he descended the church
Tonton saw and came to us — so fresh, so young, she was indeed the
beauty and fashion. Out of nothing Tonton could work wonders. Her
to-day was of camayeu the pattern of which was bunches of
strawberries — the very same stuff as our dresses; but how had she
to look so different? And her hat! It was a new marvel of her
She had taken a man's felt hat and entirely covered it with the
of the cardinal bird, without other ornament than a bunch of white
on the front and two long cords of white silk falling clear to the
That was the first hat of the kind I ever saw, but it was not the
With one turn of her little hand she could make the whole female
population of St. Martinville go as she pleased. Before we left
Martinville we had the chance to admire more than fifty hats
the feathers of peacocks, geese, and even guinea-fowl, and — must we
confess it? — when we got home we enlisted all our hunter friends to
us numerous innocent cardinals, and tried to make us hats; but
not look the least like the pretty widow's.
Sunday was also the day given to visiting. Being already dressed,
so easy to go see one's friends. . . . Among the new visitors was
d'Arby — engaged to little Constance de Blanc, aged thirteen. He
invite us to a picnic on the coming Wednesday.
"Ah," I cried, with regret, "the very day papa has chosen for us
for the town of Opelousas!" . . .
Since arriving in St. Martinville we had hardly seen papa. He
each morning and returned late in the evening, telling of lands he
bought during the day. His wish was to go to Opelousas to register
them. . . . To-day the whole town of Opelousas belongs to his heirs;
those heirs, with Creole heedlessness and afraid to spend a
strangers enjoy the possession of the beautiful lands acquired by
ancestor for so different an end. Shame on all of them!
It was decided for papa to leave us with the baroness during his
"And be ready to depart homeward," said he, "on the following
The evening before that of the ball gave us lively
disappointment. A fine
rain began to fall. But Celeste came to assure us that in St.
a storm had never prevented a ball, and if one had to go by boat,
one had to go. Later the weather improved, and several young
came to visit us. . . . "Will there be a supper, chevalier?" asked
baroness of her future son-in-law. — "Ah, good! For me the supper is
best part of the affair."
Alas! man proposes. The next morning she was in bed suffering
her throat. "Neither supper nor ball for me this evening," she
Countess de la Houssaye will take care of you and Celeste this
evening." . . .
At last our toilets were complete. . . .
When Madame de la Houssaye opened the door and saw us, instead of
approaching, she suddenly stopped with her hands clasped
with eyes dilated and a pallor and look of astonishment that I
forget. I was about to speak when she ran to Suzanne and seized
her by the
"Child! for pity answer me! Where did that dress — these jewels,
"Madame!" said my sister, quickly taking offense.
"Françoise!" cried the countess, "you will answer me.
Listen. The last
time I saw the Countess Aurélie de Morainville, six years
ago, was at a
reception of Queen Marie Antoinette, and she wore a dress exactly
that of Suzanne's. My child, pity my emotions and tell me where
that toilet." I answered, almost as deeply moved as she:
"We did not buy it, madame. These costumes were given to us by
"Given! Do you know the price of these things?"
"Yes; and, moreover, Madame du Clozel has told us."
"And you tell me a poor woman, the wife of a gardener, made you
presents. Oh! I must see this Madame Carpentier. She must have
And who knows — oh, yes, yes! I must go myself and see her."
"And I must give her forewarning," I said to myself. But, alas!
as I have
just said, "Man proposes, God disposes." About six months after
to St. James we heard of the death of the Countess de la Houssaye,
had occurred only two months after our leaving St. Martinville. . . .
Oh, how my heart beat as I saw the lights of the ball-room and
waves of harmony! I had already attended several dances in the
neighborhood of our home, but they could not compare with this.
were entirely covered with green branches mingled with flowers of
colors, especially with magnolias whose odor filled the room.
the leaves were millions of fantastically colored lampions seeming
so many glow-worms.
To me, poor little rustic of sixteen, it seemed
supernaturally beautiful. But the prettiest part — opposite the door
been raised a platform surmounted by a dais made of three flags:
French, Spanish, and Prussian — Prussia was papa's country. And
colors, on a pedestal that supported them, were seen, in immense
composed of flowers, the one German word, Bewillkommen!
that the word meant "Welcome." On the platform, attired with
elegance, was the master of ceremonies, the handsome Neville
himself, waiting to wish us welcome anew.
It would take volumes, my daughter, to describe the admirable
masculine as well as feminine, of that memorable night. The thing
impossible. But I must describe that of the king of the festival,
young Neville, that you may understand the immense difference
toilets of 1795 and those of 1822.
Neville had arranged his hair exactly as on the day we first saw
was powdered white; his pigeon-wings were fastened with the same
gold, and his long queue was wrapped with a rose-colored ribbon.
was of frosted rose silk with broad facings of black velvet. His
down nearly to his knees. It also was of rose silk, but covered
buttons. His breeches, also rose, were fastened at the knees with
velvet ribbons escaping from diamond buckles and falling upon silk
stockings shot alternately with black and rose. Diamonds sparkled
his lace frill, at his wrists, on his cravat of rose silk, and on
buckles of his pumps.
I cast my eye around to find Tonton, but she had not come. Some
me said, "Do you know who will escort Madame du Rocher to the
another said, "Here is Neville, so who will replace him at the
side of the
As we entered the room the Baron du Clozel passed his arm under
conducted him to the platform, while his sons, following, drew us
to receive the tributes prepared for us. Neville bowed low and
address. At first he spoke with feeling and eloquence, but by and
lost the thread. He cast a look of despair upon the crowd, which
conceal its disposition to laugh, turned again quickly towards us,
his hand twice across his forehead, and finished with:
"Yes, I repeat it, we are glad to see you; you are welcome among
and — I say to you only that!"
There was a general burst of laughter. But my father pitied the
man's embarrassment. He mounted the platform, shook his hand, and
him, as well as all the people of St. Martinville, for his
welcome and their warm hospitality. Then, to our great joy, the
It began with a minuet danced by twelve couples at once, six on
The minuet in vogue just then was well danced by but few persons.
been brought to St. Martinville by émigrés who had
danced it at the
French court . . . But, thanks to the lessons given us by Alix, we
pleasure to surprise them.
Now I ought to tell you, my daughter, that these male costumes,
effeminate, extravagant, and costly, had met great opposition from
the people of St. Martin parish. They had been brought in by the
émigrés, and many had adopted them, while others had
against them. A league had been formed against them. Among its
were the Chevalier de Blanc, the elder of the d'Arbys, the
Chevalier de la
Houssaye, brother of the count, Paul Briant, Adrian Dumartrait,
Morse, and many others. They had thrown off entirely the
and had replaced it with an attire much like what men wear now. It
rumored that the pretty Tonton favored the reform of which her
one of the chiefs.
Just as the minuet was being finished a loud murmur ran through
All eyes were turned to the door and some couples confused their
the dance. Tonton had come. She was received with a cry of
for her beauty, not for her exquisite toilet, but because of him
entered with her.
"Great God!" exclaimed Celeste du Clozel, "it is Tréville
Julien!" — "Oh!" cried Madame de la Houssaye, "Tonton is a fool, an
arch-fool. Does she want to see bloodshed this evening?" — "The
Madelaine is going to faint!" derisively whispered Olivier in my
"Who," asked Suzanne, "is Tréville de Saint Julien?"
"He is 'the hermit of Bayou Tortue,'" responded the gentle
"What pretense of simplicity, look you!" said Charles du Clozel,
towards him disdainfully.
"But look at Madame du Rocher," cried a girl standing on a bench,
is dressed. What contempt of fashion and propriety! It is
And Tonton, indifferent to these remarks, which she heard and to
was accustomed, and to the furious glances thrown upon her
Neville Déclouet, continued, with her arm in his, to chat
and laugh with
him as they walked slowly around the hall.
If I describe to you, my daughter, the toilets of Tonton and of
de Saint Julien, I write it for you alone, dear child, and it
seems to me
it would be a theft against you if I did not. But this is the last
shall stop to describe petticoats, gowns, and knee-breeches.
twenty-five; large, dark, of a manly, somber beauty. A great
had overtaken him in childhood and left a permanent trace on his
He wore his hair slightly long, falling behind without queue or
1795 only soldiers retained their beard. Tréville de Saint
the fashion, kept the fine black mustache on his proud lip. His
without a frill, was fastened with three gold buttons. His
coat, long vest, and breeches were of black woolen stuff. His
stockings were also of wool. His garters and shoes were without
But serving him as a garter, and forming a rosette on the front of
leg, he wore a ribbon of plaided rose and black.
And Tonton. Over a dress — a real dress, such as we have
nowadays — of rose
satin, with long-pointed waist, was draped another, of black lace.
folds, running entirely around the skirt, were caught up by roses
surrounded by their buds and leaves. The same drapery was repeated
waist, and in front and on the shoulders re-appeared the roses.
sleeves were very short, and the arms bare and without gloves. It
simple, but prettier than you can think. Her hair was in two wide
without powder, forming a heart and falling low upon the neck.
tresses she had placed a rose like those on the skirt. For
had only a necklace and bracelets of jet to heighten the fresh
of her complexion.
They had said Tonton would die of jealousy at our rich toilets.
the sort. She came to us with her habitual grace, kissed us,
etiquette and the big eyes made by the Countess Madelaine. Without
allusion to our dress or seeming to see it, she sat down between
us persons' names, pointed out the beauty of this one, the pretty
that one, always admiring, never criticising. She knew well she
without a rival.
I amused myself watching Tréville and Neville out of the
corner of my
eyes. Tréville seemed to see but one woman in the room. He
times, always with her, and when he did not dance he went aside,
with no one, but followed with his glances her whom he seemed to
made no attempt to hide his adoration; it shone from his eyes: his
movement was full of it. When she returned to her place, he came,
before her chair, leaned towards her, listened with ravished ear,
rarely sat down by her side. It was good to watch Neville. His
flashed with anger, his fists fidgeted, and more than once I saw
the hall, no doubt to make a quarrel with his rival. Not once did
near Tonton! Not once did he dance with her! But he danced with
young girls in the room and pretended to be very gay. While I was
with him I said:
"How pretty Tonton is this evening!" And I understood the spite
"Ah! mademoiselle, her beauty is certainly not to be compared
After the supper, which was magnificent, the bolero was danced.
couples were engaged, continually changing partners. Tonton danced
Tréville, Suzanne with Olivier, and I with Neville.
Alas, alas! all things earthly have an end, and at two in the
ball was over. When we reached our chamber I saw that my sister
something to tell me.
"Ah!" said she, "have patience. I will tell you after we get into
[What she told was the still famous Saint Julien feud.
Neville were representatives of the two sides in that, one of the
vendettas known in the traditions of Louisiana. The omission of
episode in the present translation is the only liberty taken with
original that probably calls for an apology.]
PICNIC AND FAREWELL.
The day of the picnic rose brightly. Oh, what a day we passed
grand trees, on the margin of that clear lake full of every
sort of fish! What various games! What pleasant companions! All
friends were there except Tréville de Saint Julien, and
Madame Tonton gave
her smiles and sweet looks to Neville, who never left her a
how I regretted that my father was not with us! He had gone to
He had bought several plantations in St. Martin parish, and in a
called Fausse Pointe, and in another known as the Côte
The days that followed were equally fête days — a dinner
here, a dance
there, and everywhere the most gracious reception. At length came
for us to meet at La Fontaine — a real spring near St. Martinville,
belonging to Neville Déclouet's uncle. About five in the
gathered on the bank of the bayou. We never saw Tonton twice in
dress. To-day she was all in blue. Suddenly the sound of distant
and an open flat — not like our boat — approached, arched over with
branches and flowers. Benches stood about, and in the middle the
played. In the prow stood the captain [Neville Déclouet],
and during the
moments of the journey the music was mingled with the laughter and
of our joyous company. About 7 o'clock all the trees about La
were illuminated, and Neville led us to a floored place encircled
magnolia trees in bloom and by garlands running from tree to tree
mingling their perfume with the languishing odor of the magnolias.
heaven can tell how Neville was praised and thanked.
I felt sure that Tonton's good taste had directed the details.
something singular in this young woman. Without education save
had taught herself, Tonton spoke with remarkable correctness, and
means to amuse every one. Her letters were curious to see, not a
word correctly spelled; yet her style was charming, and I cannot
the pleasure they gave me, for during more than a year I received
every opportunity that presented itself.
But to return to La Fontaine. About seven the handsome
Tréville de St.
Julien came on a horse as black as ebony, and I saw the color
Suzanne's forehead. For a wonder he paid Tonton only the
required by politeness, and the pretty widow, while still queen of
belonged that evening entirely to Neville.
The following Saturday my father arrived. The next day, after
friends came in a body to say adieu. And on the morrow, amid
handshaking, regrets, tears, and waving handkerchiefs, we departed
carriage that was to bear us far and forever from Little Paris,
friends we shall never meet again. Suzanne and I wept like
the fourth day after, the carriage stopped before the door of M.
house. I must confess we were not over-polite to Mme. Gerbeau. We
her hurriedly, and, leaving my father talking about lands, started
run for Alix's dwelling.
Oh, dear Alix! How happy she seemed to see us again! How proud to
the innovations made in her neat little house! With what touching
she prepared our chamber! She had wished for a sofa, and Joseph
her one and covered it with one of the velvet robes of the
Aurelia de Morainville. And when we went into Alix's own room,
whose eye nothing ever escaped, pointed out to me, half hidden
mosquito-net of the bed, the prettiest little cradle in the world.
"Yes," said Alix, blushing, "I am blessed. I am perfectly happy."
We told her all our adventures and pleasures. She wept when she
the Countess de la Houssaye had not forgotten her.
"You will see her," said Suzanne. "She will come to see you,
"Ah, Heaven prevent it! Our destinies are too unlike now. Me
Countess Madelaine might welcome affectionately; but Joseph? Oh,
husband's lot is mine; I have no wish for any other. It is better
and I remain strangers."
And Joseph? How he confessed his joy in seeing us!
During our absence M. Gerbeau had found means for us to return to
James. It seems that two little boats, resembling steamboats in
up a constant trade in wood — clapboards, pieux [split
even cordwood — between the lakes and the Bayou Teche plantation. M.
Gerbeau had taken his skiff and two oarsmen and gone in search of
these boats, which, as he guessed, was not far away. In fact he
met it in
Mexican [now Berwick's] Bay, and for two hundred dollars persuaded
captain to take us to St. James. "Yes," said M. Gerbeau to us,
make in a week a journey that might have taken you two months."
The following Monday the captain tied up at M. Gerbeau's landing.
It was a
droll affair, his boat. You must have seen on plantations what
they call a
horse-mill — a long pole on which a man sits, and to which a horse
is hitched. Such was the machinery by which we moved. The boat's
all one room. The berths, one above another, ran all round the
with long curtains, and men, women, and children — when there were
any — were all obliged to stay in the same apartment.
We remained with Alix to the last moment. The morning we left she
Suzanne a pretty ring, and me a locket containing her portrait. In
my sister placed upon her finger a ruby encircled with little
and I, taking off the gold medal I always wore on my neck,
"Wear it for love of me."
She smiled. [Just as we were parting
she handed me the story of
At an early hour my father had our trunks, baskets, and mats sent
the Sirène; and after many tears, and promises to
write and to return,
we took our leave. We had quitted St. James the 20th of May. We
there once more on the 26th of September. Need I recount the joy
mother and sisters? You understand all that.
And now, my daughter, the tale is told. Read it to your children
assure them that all is true; that there is here no exaggeration;
they can put faith in their old grandmother's story and take their
her pleasures, her friendships, and her emotions.
St. James parish. Name of the
parish, or county. — Translator.
Hundred houses. An extreme
underestimate, easy for a girl to make of a scattered town
hidden among gardens and groves. — Translator.
Père la Chaise. Without
doubting the existence of the cabaret and the nickname,
De la Chaise estate, I think, came from a real De la Chaise, true
of Pere la Chaise, the famous confessor of Louis XIV. The nephew
royal commissary under Bienville, and one of the worthiest fathers
colony of Louisiana. — Translator.
Dressed. In all
likelihood described here as seen by the writer herself later,
on the journey. — Translator.
"The Gazette." Another error
easy to make. For "Gazette" read "Moniteur"; "The
Gazette" appeared a little later. — Translator.
Lost her crop. The
translator feels constrained to say that he was not on the spot.
Amid huzzas. Amid cheers. According
to a common habit of the Southern slaves. — Translator.
Bayou Plaquemine. Flowing,
not into, but out of, the Mississippi, and, like it, towards
the Gulf. — Translator.
Lake Chicot. That
is, "Lake full of snags." — Translator.
The first habitation.The Indian
village having the Mississippi probably but a few miles in
its rear. — Translator.
St. Martinville. Now
generally miscalled St. Martinsville. — Translator.
Charmante cordialité. Charming cordiality.
Fuselier. When I
used the name of Agricole Fuselier (or Agricola Fusilier, as I
have it in my novel "The Grandissimes") I fully believed it was my
careful coinage; but on publishing it I quickly found that my
invention was but an unconscious reminiscence. The name still
am told, on the Teche. — Translator.
Chevalier de Blanc. Ancestor
of the late Judge Alcibiade de Blanc of St. Martinville,
noted in Reconstruction days. — Translator.
Greatly shortened the way to market. By
avoiding the Spanish custom-house. — Translator.
- Madame Carpentier. This seems
to be simply a girl's thoughtless guess. She reports Alix
as saying that Madelaine and she "were married nearly at the same
But this tiny, frail, spiritual Alix, who between twenty-two and
twenty-three looked scant sixteen, could hardly, even in those
been married under the age of fifteen, that is not before 1787-8;
if Madelaine had been married thirteen years she would have been
when Alix was but ten years old.
This bit of careless guessing helps to indicate the genuineness of
history. For when, by the light of Françoise's own
statements, we correct
this error — totally uncorrected by any earlier hand — the correction
entirely with the story of Alix as told in the separate
Alix is married in March, 1789, and Madelaine about a year before.
midsummer, 1795, Madelaine had been married between seven and
and her infant was, likely enough, her fourth child. — Translator.
A young man slightly
memoirist omits to say that this person was Neville
Déclouet. — Translator.
She handed me the story of
"How I Got Them." — Translator.
Page Prepared by:
- Chatara Bell
- Murphy Chestnut
- Courtney Dismuke
- Bruce R. Magee
- Taly Merker
- Jasalyn Russell
- Cassidy Stringer
Cable, George Washington.
“The Adventures of Françoise and Suzanne.”
Strange True Stories of Louisiana.
New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1890. 34-120. Internet
Archive. 2 Aug. 2007. Web. 22 May 2013.
archive. org/ details/ strange true stori 00cabluoft>.
Anthology of Louisiana