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nngrant might know his name without ask-
ing. Was it Honor^ Grandissime ? Joseph

was tempted to guess so ; but the inscription
on the silver-mounted pommel of the fine
old Spanish saddle was J, M.

The stranger talked freely. The sun's
rays seemed to set all the sweetness in him
a-working, and his pleasant worldly wisdom
foamed up and out like fermenting honey.

By and by the way led through a broad,
grassy lane where the path turned alter-
nately to right and left among some wild
acacias. The Creole waved his hand to-
ward one of them and said :

" Now, Mr. Frhowenfeld, you see ? one
man walks where-h 'e sees anothe's trhack ;
that is what makes a path ; but you want a
man, instead of passing arhound this
prhickly bush, to lay hold of it with his
naked hands and pull it up by the rhoots."

" But a man armed with the truth is far
from being bare-handed," replied the con-
valescent, and they went on, more and more
interested at every step,— one in this very
raw imported material for an excellent man,
the other in so striking an exponent of a
unique land and people.

They came at length to the crossing of
two streets, and the Creole, pausing in his
speech, laid his hand upon the bridle.

Frowenfeld dismounted.

" Do we paht yeh ? " asked the Creole.
" Well, Mr. Frhowenfeld, I hope to meet
you soon again."

** Indeed, I thank you, sir," said Joseph,
" and I hope we shall, although "

The Creole paused with a foot in the
stirrup and interrupted him with a playful
gesture; then as the horse stirred, he
mounted and drew in the rein.

" I know ; you want to say you cannot
accept my philosophy and I cannot apprhe-
ciate yo's ; but I apprheciate it mo' than you
think, my-de'-seh."

The convalescent's smile showed much

The Creole extended his hand ; the immi-
grant seized it, wished to ask his name, but
did not; and the next moment he was

The convalescent walked meditatively
toward his quarters, with a faint feeling of
having been found asleep on duty, and
awakened by a passing stranger. It was
an unpleasant feeling, and he caught him-
self more than once shaking his head.
He stopped, at length, and looked back;
but the Creole was long since out of sight.
The mortified self-accuser little knew how
very similar a feeling that vanished person
was carrying away with him. He turned

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and resumed his walk, wondering who Mon-
sieur J. M. might be, and a little impatient
with himself that he had not asked.

"It is Honors Grandissime ; it must be
he ! " he said.

Yet see how soon he felt obliged to change
his mind.


On the aftemoori of the same day, having
decided what he would " do," he started out
in search of new quarters. He found noth-
ing then, but next morning came upon a
small, single-story building in the rue Roy-
ale, — corner of Conti, — which he thought
would suit his plans. There were a door
and show-window in the rue Roy ale, two
doors in the intersecting street, and a small
apartment in the rear which would answer
for sleeping, eating, and studying purposes,
and which connected with the front apart-
ment by a door in the left-hand comer. This
connection he would partially conceal by
a prescription-desk. A counter would run
lengthwise toward the rue Royale, along the
wall opposite the side-doors. Such was the
spot that soon became known as ** Frowen-
feld's Comer."

The notice " A Louer " directed him to
inquire at numero — , rue Cond6. Here
he was ushered through the wicket of a
parte coch^re into a broad, paved corridor,
and up a stair into a large, cool room, and
into the presence of a man who seemed, in
some respects, the most remarkable figure he
had yet seen in this little city of strange
people. A strong, clear, olive complexion ;
features that were faultless (unless a woman-
like delicacy, that was yet not effeminate,
was a fault) ; hair en queue, the handsomer
for its premature streakings of gray; a tall,
finely knit form, attired in cloth, linen and
leather of the utmost fineness; manners
Castilian, with a gravity almost oriental, —
made him one of those rare masculine figures
which, on the public promenade, men look
back at and ladies inquire about.

Now, who might this be? The rent
poster had given no name. Even the incu-
rious Frowenfeld would fain guess a little.
For a man to be just of this sort, it seemed
plain that he must live in isolated ease upon
the unceasing droppings of coupons, rents,
and like receivables. Such was the immi-
grant's first conjecture ; and, as with slow,
scant questions and answers they made their
bargain, every new glance strengthened it ;

he was evidently a rentier. What, then, was
his astonishment when Monsieur bent down
and made himself Frowenfeld*s landlord, by
writing what the imiversal mind esteemed
the synonym of enterprise and activity — the
name of Honor6 Grandissime. The land-
lord did not see, or ignored, his tenant's
glance of surprise, and the tenant asked no

We may add here an incident which
seemed, when it took place, as imimportant
as a single fact well could be.

The little sum that Frowenfeld had inher-
ited from his father had been sadly depleted
by the expenses of four funerals ; yet he was
still able to pay a month's rent in advance,
to supply his shop with a scant stock of
drugs, to purchase a celestial globe and some
scientific apparatus, and to buy a dinner or
two of sausages and crackers; but after this
there was no necessity of hiding his purse.

His landlord early contracted a fondness
for dropping in upon him, and conversing
with him, as best the few and labored Eng-
lish phrases at his command would allow.
Frowenfeld soon noticed that he never en-
tered the shop unless its proprietor was
alone, never sat down, and always, with the
same perfection of dignity that characterized
all his movements, departed immediately
upon the arrival of any third person. One
day, when the landlord was making one of
these standing calls, — he always stood beside
a high glass case, on the side of the shop
opposite the counter, — he noticed in Joseph's
hand a sprig of basil, and spoke of it.


The tenant did not understand.

" You — fine — dad — nize ? "

Frowenfeld replied that it had been left
by the oversight of a customer, and ex-
pressed a liking for its odor.

"Ah sane you," said the landlord, — a
speech whose meaning Frowenfeld was not
sure of until the next morning, when a
small, nearly naked, black boy, who could
not speak a word of English, brought to the
apothecary a luxuriant bunch of this basil,
growing in a rough box.



On the twenty-fourth day of December,
1803, at two o'clock, p. M., the thermometer
standing at 79, hygrometer 17, barometer

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29.880, sky partly clouded, wind west, light,
the apothecary of the rue Royale, now
something more than a month established
in his calling, might have been seen standing
behind his counter and beginning to show
embarrassment in the presence of a lady,
who, since she had got her prescription filled
and had paid for it, ought in the conventional
course of things to have gone out, followed
by the pathetically ugly black woman who
tarried at the door as her attendant She
was heavily veiled ; but the sparkle of her
eyes, which no multiplication of veils could
quite extinguish, her symmetrical and well-
fitted figure, just escaping smallness, her
grace of movement, and a soft, joyous voice,
had several da)rs before led Frowenfeld to
the confident conclusion that she was young
and beautifiil.

For this was now the third time she had
come to buy; and, though the purchases
were trivial, the purchaser seemed not so.
On the two previous occasions she had been
accompanied by a slender girl, somewhat
taller than she, veiled also, of graver move-
ment, and of a bearing that seemed to
Joseph almost too regal, with a certain fam-
ily resemblance between her voice and that
of the other, that proclaimed them — he in-
cautiously assumed — sisters. This time, as
we see, the smaller, and probably elder, came

She still held in her hand the small silver
which Frowenfeld had given her in change,
and sighed after the laugh they had just en-
joyed together over a slip in her English.
A very grateful sip of sweet the laugh was
to the all but fiiendless apothecary, and the
embarrassment that rushed in af^er it may
have arisen in part firom a conscious casting
about in his mind for something — ^anything
— that might prolong her stay an instant.
He opened his lips to speak ; but she was
quicker than he, and said, in a stealthy way
that seemed oddly unnecessary :

** You 'ave some basilic ? "

She accompanied her words with a little
peeping movement, directing his attention,
through the open door, to his box of basil,
on the floor in the rear room.

Frowenfeld stepped back to it, cut half
the bunch, and returned, with the bold inten-
tion of making her a present of it ; but as
he hastened back to the spot he had left,
he was astonished to see the lady disappear-
ing firom his farthest front door, followed by
her negress.

" Did she change her mind, or did she
mbunderstand me ? " he asked himself; and.

in the hope that she might return for the
basil, he put it in water in his back room.

The day being, as the figixres have already
shown, an imusually mild one, even for a
Louisiana December, and the finger of the
clock drawing by and by toward the last
hour of sunlight, some half dozen of Frow-
enfeld's townsmen had gathered, inside and
out, some standing, some sitting, about his
front door, and all discussing the popular
topics of the day. For it might have been
anticipated that, in a city where so very little
English was spoken and no newspaper pub-
lished except that beneficiary of eighty sub-
scribers, the " Moniteur de la Louisiane,"
the apothecary shop in the rue Royale would
be the rendezvous for a select company of
English-speaking gentlemen, with a smart
majority of physicians.

The Cession had become an accomplished
fact. With due drum-beatings and act-read-
ing, flag-raising, cannonading and galloping
of aides-de-camp, Nouvelle Orleans had be-
come New Orleans, and Louisiane was Lou-
isiana. This afternoon, the first week of
American jurisdiction was only something
over half gone, and the main topic of public
debate was still the Cession. Was it genu-
ine ? and, if so, would it stand ?

" Mark my words," said one, " the British
flag will be floating over this town within
ninety days ! " and he went on whittling the
back of his chair.

From this main question, the conversation
branched out to the subject of land-titles.
Would that great majority of Spanish titles
derived from the concessions of post-com-
mandants and others of minor authority,
hold good ?

" I suppose you know what thinks

about it?"

« No."

** Well, he has quiedy purchased the grant

made by Carondelet to the Marquis of ^

thirty thousand acres, and now says the
grant is two hundred and thirty thousand.
That is one style of men Governor Claiborne
is going to have on his hands. The town
will presendy be as full of them as my pocket
is of tobacco-crumbs,— every one of them
with a Spanish grant as long as Clark's rope-
walk, and made up since the rumor of the

" I he^r that some of Honor^ Grandis-
sime's titles are likely to turn out bad, — some
of the old Brahmin properties and some of
the Mandarin lands."

" Fudge I " said Doctor Keene.

There was also the subject of rotation in

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office. Would this provisional governor-
general himself be able to stand fast ? Had
not a man better temporize a while, and see
what Casa Calvo and Trudeau were going
to do ? Would not men who sacrificed old
prejudices, braved the popular contumely,
and came forward and gave in their alle-
giance to the President's appointee, have to
take the chances of losing their official posi-
tions at last ? Men like Camille Brahmin,
for instance, or Charlie Mandarin : suppose
Spain or France should get the province
back, then where would they be ?

" One of the things I pity most in this vain
world," drawled Doctor Keene, " is a hive
of patriots who don't know where to swarm."

The apothecary was drawn into the dis-
cussion — at least he thought he was. Inex-
perience is apt to think that Truth will be
knocked down and murdered imless she
comes to the rescue. Somehow, Frowen-
feld's really excellent arguments seemed to
give out more heat than light They were
merciless; their principles were not only
lofty to dizziness, but precipitous, and their
heights unoccupied, and — to the common
sight — ^unattainable. In consequence, they
provoked hostility and even resentment
With the most honest, the kindest, and even
the most modest, intentions, he found him-
self— to his bewilderment and surprise —
sniffed at by the ungenerous, frowned upon
by the impatient, and smiled down by the
good-natured, in a manner that brought
sudden blushes of exasperation to his face,
and often made him ashamed to find him-
self going over these sham battles again in
much savageness of spirit, when alone with
his books; or, in moments of weakness,
casting about for such im worthy weapons as
irony and satire. In the present debate, he
had just provoked a sneer that made his
blood leap and his friends laugh, when Doc-
tor Keene, suddenly rising and beckoning
across the street, exclaimed :

" Oh! Agricolel Agricole! venez ids we
want you."

A murmur of vexed protest arose from
two or three.

" He is coming," said the whittler, who
had also beckoned.

" Good evening, Citizen Fusilier," said
Doctor Keene. " Citizen Fusilier, allow
me to present my friend. Professor Frowen-
feld — ^yes, you are a professor — ^yes, you are.
He is one of your sort. Citizen Fusilier, a
man of thorough scientific education. I
believe on my soul, sir, he knows nearly as
much as you do ! "

The person who confronted the apothe-
cary was a large, heavily built, but well
molded and vigorous man, of whom one
might say that he was adorned with old
age. His brow was dark, and furrowed
partly by time and partly by a persistent
ostentatious frown. His eyes were large,
black and bold, and the gray locks above
them curled short and harsh like the front
of a bull. His nose was fine and strong,
and if there was any deficiency in mouth
or chin, it was hidden by a beard that swept
down over his broad breast like the beard
of a prophet. In his dress, which was
noticeably soiled, the fashions of three
decades were hinted at ; he seemed to have
donned whatever he thought his friends
would most have liked him to leave offl

" Professor," said the old man, extending
something like the paw of a lion, and giving
Frowenfeld plenty of time to become thor-
oughly awed, "this is a pleasure as mag-
nificent as imexpected ! A scientific man ?
— ^in Louisiana ? " He looked around upon
the doctors as upon a graduating class.
"Professor, I am rejoiced!" He paused
again, shaking the apothecary's hand with
great ceremony. " I do assure you, sir, I
dislike to relinquish your grasp. Do me
the honor to allow me to become your
friend! I congratulate my down-trodden
coimtry on the acquisition of such a citizen !
I hope, sir, — at least I might have hoped,
had not Louisiana just passed into the
hands of the most clap-trap government in
the universe, notwithstanding it pretends to
be a republic, — I might have hoped that you
had come among us to fasten the lie direct
upon a late author, who writes of us that ' the
aur of this region is deadly to the Muses.' "

" He didn't say that ? " asked one of the
debaters, with pretended indignation.

" He did, sir, after eating our bread I "

"And sucking our sugar-cane, too, no
doubt 1 " said the inquirer ; but the old man
took no notice of the irony.

Frowenfeld, naturally, was not anxious to
reply, and was greatly relieved to be touched
on the elbow by a child with a picayune in
one hand and a timibler in the other. He
escaped behind the counter and gladly
remained there.

" Citizen Fusilier," asked one of the gos-
sips, " what has the new government to do
with the health of the Muses ? "

" It introduces the English tongue," said
the old man scowling.

" Oh, well," replied the questioner, "the
Creoles will soon learn the language."

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" English is not a language, sir ; it is a
jargon I And when this young simpleton,
Claiborne, attempts to cram it down the
public windpipe in the courts, as I under-
stand he intends, he will fail 1 Hah I sir, I
know men in this city who would rather eat
a dog than speak English ! / speak it, but
I also speak Choctaw."

** The new land titles will be in English."

" They will spurn his rotten titles. And
if he attempts to invalidate their old ones,
why, let him do it ! Napoleon Buonaparte"
(Italian pronunciation) '' will make good
every arpent within the next two years.
Tliink so ? I know it ! Haw f H-I per-
ceive it ! H-I hope the yellow fever may
spare you to witness it."

A sullen grunt from the circle showed the
" citizen " that he had presumed too much
upon the license commonly accorded his
advanced age, and by way of a diversion
he looked around for Frowenfeld to pour
new flatteries upon. But Joseph, behind
his counter, unaware of either the offense
or the resentment, was blushing with pleas-
ure before a visitor who had entered by the
side door farthest from the company.

" Gentlemen," said Agricola, ** h-my dear
friends, you must not expect an old Creole
to like anything in comparison with la belle

" Which language do jrou call la belle f "
asked Doctor Kecne, with pretended sim-

The old man bent upon him a look of
unspeakable contempt, which nobody no-
ticed. The gossips were one by one steal-
ing a glance toward that which ever was, is
and must be, an irresistible lodestone to
the eyes of all the sons of Adam, to wit, a
chaste and graceful complement of — skirts.
Then, in a lower tone, they resumed their
desultory conversation.

It was the seeker after basil who stood
before the counter, holding in her hand, with
her purse, the heavy veil whose folds had
before concealed her features.


Whether the removal of the veil was
because of the milder light of evening, or
the result of accident, or of haste, or both,
or whether, by reason of some exciting or
absorbing course of thought, the wearer had
withdrawn it unconsciously, was a matter
that occupied the apothecary as little as

did Agricola's continued harangue. As he
looked upon the fair face through the light
gauze which still overhung but not obscured
it, he readily perceived, despite the sprightly
smile^ something like distress, and as she
spoke this became still more evident in her
hurried undertone.

" 'Sieiu: FrowenfeP, I want you to sell
me doze basilic,^*

As she slipped the rings of her purse apart
her fingers trembled.

" It is waiting for you," said Frowenfeld ;
but the lady did not hear him; she was
giving her attention to the loud voice of
Agricola saying in the course of discussion :

"The Louisiana Creole is the noblest
variety of enlightened man ! "

"Oo dad is, 'Sieur FrowenfeP?" she
asked, sofUy, but with an excited eye.

"That is Mr. Agricola Fusilier," answered
Joseph in the same tone, his heart leaping
inexplicably as he met her glance. With
an angry flush she looked quickly around,
scrutinized the old man in an instantaneous,
thorough way, and then glanced back at
the apothecary again, as if asking him to
fulfill her request the quicker.

He hesitated, in doubt as to her meaning.

" Wrap it yonder,'* she almost whispered.

He went, and in a moment returned, with
the basil only partially hid in a paper cov-

But the lady, muffled again in her mani-
fold veil, had once more lost her eagerness
for it; at least, instead of taking it, she
moved aside, offering room for a masculine
figure just entering. She did not look to
see who it might be — aplenty of time to do
that by accident, by and by. There she
made a mistake ; for the new-comer, with a
silent bow of thanks, declined the place
made for him, moved across the shop, and
occupied his eyes with the contents of the
glass case, his back being turned to the lady
and Frowenfeld. The apothecary recog-
nized the Creole whom he had met tmder
the live-oak.

The lady put forth her hand suddenly to
receive the package. As she took it and
turned to depart, another small hand was
laid upon it and it was returned to the
counter. Something was said in a low-
pitched undertone, and the two sisters — if
Frowenfeld's guess was right— confit>nted
each other. For a single instant only they
stood so; an earnest and hurried murmur
of French words passed between them, and
they turned together, bowed with great suav-
ity, and were gone.

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*' The Cession is a mere temporary politi-
cal maneuver ! " growled M. Fusilier.

Frowenfeld*s merchant friend came from
his place of waiting, and spoke twice before
he attracted the attention of the bewildered

" Good-day, Mr. Frhowenfeld ; I have
been told that "

Joseph gazed after the two ladies crossing
the street, and felt uncomfortable that the
group of gossips did the same. So did the
black attendant, who glanced furtively back.

"Good day,. Mr. Frhowenfeld; I "

yj " Oh 1 how do you do, sir ? " exclaimed
the apothecary, with great pleasantness of
face. It seemed the most natural thing that
they should resume their late conversation
just where they had left off, and that would
certainly be pleasant. But the man of more
experience showed an imresponsive expres-
sion, that was as if he remembered no con-
versation of any note.

" I have been told that you might be able
to rheplace the glass in this thing out of yo'
prhivate stock."

He presented a smaU, leather-covered
case, evidently containing some optical in-
strument. " It will give me a pretext for
going," he had said to himself, as he put it
into his pocket in his counting-room. He
was not going to let the apothecary know he
had taken such a fancy to him.

" I do not know," replied Frowenfeld, as
he touched the spring of the case ; " I will
see what I have."

He passed into the back room, more than
willing to get out of sight till he might better
collect himself.

" I do not keep these things for sale,"
said he as he went.

" Sir ? " asked the Creole, as if he had
not understood, and followed through the
open door.

" Is this what that lady was getting ? " he
asked, touching the remnant of the basil
in the box.

" Yes, sir," said the apothecary, with his
face in the drawer of a table.

"They had no carrhiage with them."
The Creole spoke with his back turned, at
the same time running his eyes along a shelf
of books. Frowenfeld made only the sound
of rejecting bits of crystal and taking up
others. " I do not know who they ah,"
ventured the merchant.

Joseph still gave no answer, but a moment
after approached, with the instrument in his
extended hand.

"You had it? I am glad," said the

owner, receiving it, but keeping one hand
still on the books.

Frowenfeld put up his materials.

" Mr. Frhowenfeld, ah these yo' books ?
I mean, do you use these books ? "

" Yes, sir."

The Creole stepped back to the door.

" Agrhicola ! "

Citizen Fusilier entered, followed by a
small volley of retorts from those with whom
he had been disputing, and who rose as he
did. The stranger said something very
sprightly in French, running the back of one
finger down the rank of books, and a lively
didogue followed.

" You must be a grheat scholia," said the
unknown by and by, addressing the apothe-

" He is a professor of chimistry," said the
old man.

" I am nothing, as yet, but a student,"
said Joseph, as the three returned into the
shop; "certainly not a scholar, and stiD
less a professor." He spoke with a new
quietness of manner that made the younger
Creole turn upon him a pleasant look.

" H-my young firiend," said the patriarch,
turning toward Joseph with a tremendous
frown, " when I, Agricola Fusilier, pronounce
you a professor, you are a professor. Lou-

Online LibraryGeorge Streynsham MasterThe Century, Volume 19 → online text (page 45 of 160)