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give 'im some watta, an' don' give 'im some
watta." •

Dining what lapse of time — whether
moments or days— this lasted, Joseph could
not then know ; but at last these things
faded away, and there came to him a posi-
tive knowledge that he was on a sick-bed,
where unless something could be done for
him he should be dead in an hour. Then a
spoon touched his lips, and a taste of
brandy and water went all through him;



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and when he fell into sweet slumber and
awoke, and found the tea-spoon ready at
his lips again, he had to lift a little the two
hands lying before him on the coverlet to
know that they were his — they were so
wasted and yellow. He turned his eyes,
and through the white gauze of the mos-
quito-bar saw, for an instant, a strange and
beautiful young face ; but the lids fell over
his eyes, and when he raised them again
the blue-turbaned black nurse was tucking
the covering about his feet.

"Sister!"

No answer.

" Where is my mother?**

The negress shook her head.

He was too weak to speak again, but
asked with his eyes so persistently, and so
pleadingly, that by and by she gave him
an audible answer. He tried hard to im-
derstand it, but could not, it being in these
words :

" Li pa^ oule vini ^ci — li pas capabeP

Thrice a day for three days more, came
a little man with a large head surrounded by
short, red curls and with small freckles in a
fine skin, and sat down by the bed with a
word of good cheer and the air of a com-
mander. At length they had something
like an extended conversation.

" So you concluded not to die, eh ?
Yes, Tm the doctor — Doctor Keene. A
young lady ? What young lady ? No, sir,
there has been no young lady here. You're
mistaken. Vagary of your fever. There
has been no one here but this black girl
and me. No, my dear fellow, your father
and mother can't see you yet ; you don't
want them to catch the fever, do you?
Good-bye. Do as your niu^e tells you,
and next week you may raise your head
and shoulders a little; but if you don't
mind her you'll have a back-set, and the
devil himself wouldn't engage to cure you."

The patient had been sitting up a litde at
a time for several days, when at length the
doctor came to pay a final call, " as a mat-
ter of form j " but, after a few pleasantries,
he drew his chair up gi%vely, and, in a ten-
der tone need we say it ? He had come

to tell Joseph that his father, mother, sisters,
all, were gone on a second — a longer — voy-
age, to shores where there could be no dis-
appointments and no fevers, forever.

" And, Frowenfeld," he said, at the end
of their long and painful talk, " if there is
any blame attached to not letting you go
with them, I think I can take part of it ;
Kftf if you ever want a friend,— one who is



courteous to strangers and ill-mannered only
to those he likes, — ^you can call for Charlie
Keene. I'll drop in to see you, anyhow,
from time to time, till you get stronger. I
have taken a heap of trouble to keep you
alive, and if you should relapse now and
give us the slip, it would be a deal of good
physic wasted ; so keep in the house."

The polite neighbors who lifted their
cocked hats to Joseph, as he spent a slow
convalescence just within his open door,
were not bound to know how or when he
might have suffered. There were no " How-
ards" or " Y. M. C. A's " in those days ; no
" Peabody Reliefs." Even had the neighbors
chosen to take cognizance of those bereave-
ments, they were not so unusual as to fix
upon him any extraordinary interest as an
object of sight ; and he was beginning most
distressfully to realize that " great solitude "
which the philosopher attributes to towns,
when matters took a decided turn.

CHAPTER III.
" AND WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR ? "

We say matters took a turn ; or, better,
that Frowenfeld's interest in affairs received
a new life. This had its beginning in Doctor
Keene's making himself specially entertain-
ing in an old-family-history way, with a view
to keeping his patient within-doors for a safe
period. He had conceived a great liking
for Frowenfeld, and often, if an afternoon,
would drift in to challenge him to a game
of chess — a game, by the way, for which
neither of them cared a farthing. The im-
migrant had learned its moves to gratify his
father, and the doctor — well, the truth is, the
doctor had never quite learned them; but
he was one of those men who cannot easily
consent to acknowledge a mere affection for
one, least of all one of their own sex. It
may safely be supposed, then, that the board
often displayed an arrangement of pieces
that would have bewildered Morphy him-
self.

" By the by, Frowenfeld," he said one
evening, after the one preliminary move with
which he invariably opened his game, " you
haven't made the acquaintance of yoiu- pretty
neighbors next door."

Frowenfeld knew of no specially pretty
neighbors next door on either side — ^had
noticed no ladies.

" Well, I will take you in to see them
sometime." The doctor laughed a little,
rubbing his face and his thin, red curls with
one hand, as he laughed.



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103



The convalescent wondered what there
could be to laugh at.

" Who are they ? " he inquired.

" Their name is De Grapion — oh, De
Grapion, says I ! — their name is Nancanou.
They are, without exception, the finest
women — the brightest, the best, and the
bravest — that I know in New Orleans."
The doctor resumed a cigar which lay
against the edge of the chess-board, found
it extinguished, and proceeded to relight it.
**Best blood of the Province; good as the
Grandissimes. Blood is a great thing
here, in certain odd ways," he went on.
** Very curious sometimes." He stooped
to the floor, where his coat had fallen,
and took his handkerchief from a breast-
pocket. "At a grand mask baU about
two months ago, where I had a bewilder-
ingly fine time with those ladies, the proud-
est old turkey in the theater was an old
fellow whose Indian blood shows in his
very behavior, and yet — ha, ha ! I saw that
same old man, at a quadroon ball a few
years ago, walk up to the handsomest, best
dressed man in the house, a man with a
dun whiter than his own, — a perfect gen-
tleman as to looks and manners, — and with-
out a word slap him in the face."

" You laugh ? " asked Frowenfeld.

" Laugh ? Why shouldn't I ? The fel-
low had no business there. Those balls are
not given to quadroon males^ my friend.
He was lucky to get out alive, and that was
about all he did."

" They are right ! " the doctor persisted,
in response to Frowenfeld's puzzled look.
** The people here have got to be particu-
lar. However, that is not what we were
talking about Quadroon baUs are not
to be mentioned in connection. Those

ladies " He addressed himself to the

resuscitation of his cigar. " Singular people
in this country," he resumed ; but his cigar
would not revive. He was a poor story-
tdler. To Frowenfeld — as it would have
been to any one, except a Creole or the
most thoroughly Creoleized Am^ricain — his
narrative, when it was done, was little more
than a thick mist of strange names, places
and events; yet there shone a light of
romance upon it that filled it with color and
populated it with phantoms. Frowenfeld's
interest rose — was allured into this mist —
and there was left befogged. As a physi-
cian, Doctor Keene thus accomplished his
end, — the mental diversion of his late pa-
tient, — for in the midst of the mist Frow-
enfeld encountered and grappled a problem



of human life in Creole type, the possible
correlations of whose quantities we shall
presently find him revolving in a studious
and sympathetic mind, as the poet of to-day
ponders the

" Flower in the crannied wall."

The quantities in that problem were the
ancestral — the maternal — ^roots of those two
rival and hostile families whose descendants
— some brave, others fair — we find unwit-
tingly thrown together at the ball, and with
whom we are shortly to have the honor of
an unmasked acquaintance.



CHAPTER IV,
FAMILY TREES.

In the year 1673, and in the royal hovel
of a Tchoupitoulas village not far removed
firom that " Buflfalo's Grazing-ground," now
better known as New Orleans, was bom
Lufki-Humma, otherwise Red Clay. The
mother of Red Clay was a princess by birth
as well as by marriage. For the father,
with that devotion to his people's interests,
presumably common to rulers, had ten
moons before ventured northward into the
territory of the proud and exclusive Natchez
nation, and had so prevailed with — so out-
smoked — their "Great Sun," as to find
himself, as he finally knocked the ashes
fix>m his successfiil calumet, possessor of a
wife whose pedigree included a long line of
royal mothers, — fathers being of little ac-
count in Natchez heraldry,— extending back
beyond the Mexican origin of her nation,
and disappearing only in the efiulgence of
her great original, the orb of day himself.
As to Red Clay's paternal ancestry, we
must content ourselves with the fact that
the father was not only the diplomate we
have already found him, but a chief of
considerable eminence; that is to say, of
seven feet statiu-e.

It scarce need be said that when Lufki-
Humma was bom, the mother arose at once
fi"om her couch of skins, herself bore the
infant to the neighboring bayou and bathed
it — ^not for singularity, nor for independ-
ence, nor for vainglory, but only as one
of the heart-curdling conventionalities which
made up the experience of that most pitifiil
of holy things, an Indian mother.

Outside the lodge door sat and continued
to sit, as she passed out, her master or hus-



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band. His interest in the trivialities of the
moment may be summed up in this, that
he was as fully prepared as some men are
in more civilized times and places to hold
his queen to strict account for the sex of
her oflfepring. Girls for the Natchez, if
they preferred them, but the chief of the
Tchoupitoulas wanted a son. She returned
from the water, came near, sank upon her
knees, laid the infant at his feet, and lo ! a
daughter.

Then she fell forward heavily upon her
face. It may have been muscular exhaust-
ion, it may have been the mere wind of
her hasty-tempered matrimonial master's
stone hatchet as it whiffed by her skull ; an
inquest now would be too grave an irony ;
but something blew out her " vile candle."

Among the squaws who came to offer
the accustomed funeral bowlings, and
seize mementoes from the deceased lady's
scant leavings, was one who had in her own
palmetto hut an empty cradle scarcely cold,
and therefore a necessity at her breast, if
not a place in her heart, for the unfortimate
Lufki-Huomia ; and thus it was that this
little waif came to be tossed, a droll hy-
pothesis of flesh, blood, nerve and brain,
mto the hands of wild nature with carte
blanche as to the disposal of it And
now, since this was Agricola's most boasted
ancestor — since it appears the darkness of
her cheek had no effect to make him less
white, or qualify his right to smite the
fairest and most distant descendant of an
African on the face, and since this proud
station and right could not have sprung
from the squalid surroundings of her birth,
let us for a moment contemplate these
crude materials.

As for the flesh, it was indeed only some
of that " one flesh " of which we all are
made; but the blood — to go into finer
distinctions — ^the blood, as distinguished
from the milk of her Alibamon foster-
mother, was the blood of the royal caste
of the great Toltec mother-race, which,
before it yielded its Mexican splendors
to the conquering Aztec, throned the
jeweled and gold-laden Inca in the South,
and sent the sacred fire of its temples into
the North by the hand of the Natchez.
For it is a short way of expressing the truth
concerning Red Clay's tissues to say she
had the blood of her mother and the nerve
of her father, the nerve of the true North
American Indian, and had it in its finest
strength.

As to her infantine bones, they were



such as needed not to fail of straightness in
the limbs, compactness in the body, sroall-
ness in hands and feet, and exceedmg sym-
metry and comeliness throughout. Possibly
between the two sides of the occipital pro-
file there may have been an Incaean tendency
to inequality ; but if by any good fortune
her impressible little cranium should escape
the cradle-straps, the shapeliness that nature
loves would soon appear. And this very
fortune befell her. Her father's detestarion
of an infant that had not consulted his
wishes as to sex, prompted a verbal decree
which, among other prohibitions, forbade
her skull the distortions that ambitious
and fashionable Indian mothers delighted
to produce upon their o£&pring.

And as to her brain : what can we say ?
The casket in which Nature sealed that
brain, and in which Nature's great step-sister.
Death, finally laid it away, has never fallen
into the delighted fingers — and the remark-
able fineness of its textiu-e will never kindle
admiration in the triumphant eyes— of those
whose scientific himger drives them to dig
for crania Americana ; nor yet will all their
learned excavatings ever draw forth one of
those pale souvenirs of mortality with walls
of shapelier contour or more delicate fine-
ness, or an interior of more admirable
spaciousness, than the fair council-cham-
ber imder whose dome the mind of
Lufki-Humma used, about two centuries
ago, to sit in frequent conclave with high
thoughts.

" I have these facts," it was Agricola Fu-
silier's habit to say, " by family tradition ;
but you know, sir, h-tradition is much more
authentic than history ! "

Listening Crane, the tribal medicine-man,
one day stepped softly into the lodge of the
giant chief, sat down opposite him on a mat
of plaited rushes, accepted a lighted calu-
met, and, after the silence of a decent hour,
broken at length by the warrior's intimation
that " the ear of Raging fiufi^o listened for
the voice of his brother," said, in effect, that
if that ear would turn toward the village
play-ground, it would catch a murmur like
the pleasing sound of bees among the blos-
soms of the catalpa, albeit the catalpa was
now dropping her leaves, for it was the
moon of turkeys. No, it was the repressed
laughter of squaws, wallowing with their
young ones about the village pole, wonder-
ing at the Natchez-Tchoupitoulas child,
whose eye was the eye of the panther, and
whose words were the words of an aged
chief in council.



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105



There was more added; we record only
enough to indicate the direction of Listening
Crane's aim. The eye of Raging Buffalo
was opened to see a vision : the daughter
of the Natchez sitting in majesty, clothed in
many-colored robes of shining feathers
crossed and recrossed with girdles of serpent-
skins and of wampum, her feet in quilled
and painted moccasins, her head under a
glory of plumes, the carpet of buffalo-robes
about her throne covered with the trophies
of conquest, and the atmosphere of her
lodge blue with the smoke of embassadors'
calumets ; and this extravagant dream the
capricious chief at once resolved should
eventually become reality. " Let her be
taken to the village temple,'* he said to his
prime-minister, ** and be fed by warriors on
the flesh of wolves."

The Listening Crane was a patient man ;
he was the "roan that waits" of the old
French proverb; all things came to him.
He had waited for an opportunity to change
his brother's mind, and it had come. Again,
he waited for him to die ; and, like Methu-
selah and others, he died. He had heard
of a race more powerful than the Natchez
— a white race; he waited for them; and
when the year 1682 saw a humble " black
gown^ dragging and splashing his way, with
La Salle and Tonti, through the swamps of
Louisiana, holding forth the crucifix and
backed by French carbines and Mohican
tomahawkis, among the marvels of that wil-
derness was found this: a child of nine
sitting, and — ^with some unostentatious aid
fi-om her medicine-man — ruHng; queen of
her tribe and high-priestess of their temple.
Fortified by the acumen and self-collected
ambition of Listening Crane, confirmed in
her regal title by the white man's Manitou
through the medium of the " black gown,"
and inheriting her father's fear-compelling
frown, she ruled with majesty and wisdom,
somerimes a decreer of bloody justice, some-
times an Amazonian counselor of warriors,
and at all rimes — ^year after year, until she had
reached the perfect womanhood of twenty-
six — a virgin queen.

On the nth of March, 1699, two over-
bold young Frenchmen of M. D'Iberville's
little exploring party tossed guns on shoul-
der, and ventured away from their canoes
on the bank of the Mississippi into the wil-
derness. Two men they were whom an ex-
plorer would have been justified in hoarding
up, rather than in letting out at such
risks ; a pair to lean on, noble and strong.
They hunted, killed nothing, were overtaken



by rain, then by night, hunger, alarm,
despair.

And when they had lain down to die, and
had only succeeded in falling asleep, the
Diana of the Tchoupitoulas, ranging the
magnolia groves with bow and quiver,
came upon them in all the poetry of their
hope-forsaken strength and beauty, and fell
sick of love. We say not whether with
Zephyr Grandissime or Epaminondas Fusil-
ier; that, for the time being, was her
secret

The two captives were made guests. Lis-
tening Crane rejoiced in them as representa-
tives of the great gift-making race, and
indulged himself in a dream of pipe-smok-
ings, orations, treaties, presents and alliances,
finding its climax in the marriage of his vir-
gin queen to the king of France, and unva-
ryingly tending to the swiftly increasing
aggrandizement of Listening Crane. They
sat down to bear's meat, sagamite and
beans. The queen sat down with them,
clothed in her entire wardrobe : vest of
swan's skin, with facings of purple and
green fix)m the neck of the maUard ; petti-
coat of plaited hair, with embroideries of
quills; leggings of fawn-skin; garters of
wampum ; black and green serpent-skin moc-
casins, that rested on pelts of tiger-cat and
buffalo; armlets of gars' scales, necklaces
of bears' claws and alligators' teeth, plaited
tresses, plumes of raven and flamingo, wing
of the pink curlew, and odors of bay and
sassafras. Young men danced before them,
blowing upon reeds, hooting, yelling, rattling
beans in gourds and touching hands and
feet One day was like another, and the
nights were made brilliant with flambeau
dances and processions.

Some days later M. D'Iberville's canoe
fleet, returning down the river found and
took fi-om the shore the two men, whom
they had given up for dead, and with them,
by her own request, the abdicating queen,
who left behind her a crowd of weeping
and howling squaws and warriors. Three
canoes that put off in their wake, at a word
from her, turned back; but one old man
leaped into the water, swam after them a
little way, and then unexpectedly sank. It
was that cautious wader but inexperienced
swimmer, the Listening Crane.

When the expedition reached Biloxi,
there were two suitors for the hand of Agric-
ola's great ancestress. Neither of them was
Zephyr Grandissime. (Ah ! the strong heads
of those Grandissimes.)

They threw dice for her. Demosthenes



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De Grapion — he who, tradition says, first
hoisted the flag of France over the little
fort — seemed to think he ought to have a
chance, and being accorded it, cast an
astonishingly high number; but Epaminon-
das cast a number higher by one (which
Demosthenes never could quite understand),
and got a. wife who had loved him from
first sight

Thus, while the pilgrim fathers of the
Mississippi Delta with Gallic recklessness
were takmg wives and moot-wives fix>m the
ill specimens of three races, arose, with the
church's benediction, the royal house of the
Fusiliers in Louisiana. But the true, main
Grandissime stock, on which the Fusiliers
did early, ever, and yet do, love to marry,
has kept itself lily-white ever since France
has loved lilies — as to marriage, that is;
as to less responsible entanglements, why,
of course

After a litde, the disappointed Demos-
thenes, with due ecclesiastical sanction, also
took a most excellent wife, from the first
cargo of House of Correction girls. Her
biography, too, is as short as Methuselah's,
or shorter ; she died. Zephyr Grandissime
married, still later, a lady of rank, a widow
without children, sent from France to
Biloxi under a Uttre de cachet. Demosthenes
De Grapion, himself an only son, left but
one son, who also left but one. Yet they
were prone to early marriages.

So also were the Grandissimes, or, as the
name is signed in all the old notarial
papers, the Brahmin Mandarin de Grandis-
simes. That was one thing that kept their
many-stranded family line so firee from knots
and kinks. Once the leisurely Zephyr gave
them a start, generation followed genera-
tion with a rapidity that kept the competing
De Grapions incessantly exasperated, and
new-made Grandissime fathers continually
throwing themselves into the fond arms
and upon the proud necks of congratu-
latory grandsires. Verily it seemed as
though their family tree was a fig-tree ; you
could not look for blossoms on it, but there,
instead, was the finit full of seed. And
with all their speed they were for the most
part fine of stature, strong of limb and fair
of face. The old nobility of their stock,
including particularly the unnamed blood
of her of the leitre de cachet y showed forth in
a gracefulness of carriage, that almost identi-
fied a De Grandissime wherever you saw him,
and in a transparency of flesh and classic
beauty of feature, that made their daughters
extra-marriageable in a land and day



which was bearing a wide reproach for a
male celibacy not of the pious sort.

In a flock of Grandissimes might always be
seen a Fusilier or two ; fierce-eyed, strong-
beaked, dark, heavy-taloned birds, who, if
they could not sing, were of rich plumage, and
could talk and bite, and strike, and keep up a
rufided crest and a self-exalting bad humor.
They early learned one favorite cry, with
which they greeted all strangers, crying the
louder the more the endeavor was niade to
appease them : " Invaders! Invaders ! "

There was a real pathos in the contrast
offered to this family line by that other
which sprang up as slenderiy as a stalk of
wild oats firom the loins of Demosthenes
De Grapion. A lone son following a lone
son, and he another — it was sad to contem-
plate, in that colonial beginning of days,
three generations of good, Gallic blood trip-
ping jocundly along in attenuated Indian
file. It made it no less pathetic to see that
they were brilliant, gallant, much-loved,
early epauletted fellows, who did not let
twenty-one catch them without wives sealed
with the authentic wedding kiss, nor allow
twenty-two to find them without an heir.
But they had a sad aptness for dying young.
It was altogether supposable that they
would have spread out broadly in the land;
but they were such inveterate duelists, such
brave Indian-fighters, such adventurous
swamp-rangers, and such lively frec-liveis,
that, however numerously their half-kin may
have been scattered about in an unacknowl-
edged way, the avowed name of De Grapion
had become less and less firequent in lists
where leading citizens subscribed their
signatures, and was not to be seen in the
list of managers of the late ball.

It is not at all certain that so hot a blood
would not have boiled away entirely before
the night of the bal masquky but for an
event which led to the union of that blood
with a stream equally clear and ruddy, but
of a milder vintage. This event fell out
some fifty-two years after that cast of the
dice which made the princess Lufki-Humroa
the mother of all the Fusiliers and of none
of the De Grapions. Clotilde, the Casket-
Girl, the litde maid who would not marry,
was one of an heroic sort, worth — the
De Grapions maintained — whole swamp-
ftils of Indian queens. And yet the por-
trait of this great ancestress, which served
as a pattern to one who, at the ball,
personated the long-deceased heroine en



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