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with her usual phlegm, had declined.

At dinner our host turned the conversation upon St. Martinville, naming
again all the barons, counts, and marquises of whom he had spoken to my
father, and descanting especially on the grandeur of the balls and parties
he had there attended.

"And we have only our camayeu skirts!" cried Suzanne.

"Daughter," observed papa, "be content with what you have. You are neither
a duchess nor a countess, and besides you are traveling."

"And," said M. Gerbeau, "the stores there are full of knickknacks that
would capture the desires of a queen."

On returning to our flatboat Alix came into my room, where I was alone,
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. We were
married nearly at the same time; we were presented at court the same day;
and now here we are, both, in Louisiana!"

"O Alix!" I cried, "I shall see her. Papa has a letter to her husband; I
shall tell her; she will come to see you; and - "

"No, no! You must not speak of me, Françoise. She knew and loved the
Countess Alix de Morainville. I know her; she would repel with scorn the
wife of the gardener. I am happy in my obscurity. Let nothing remind me of
other days."

Seeing that Alix said nothing of all this to Suzanne, I imitated her
example. With all her goodness, Suzanne was so thoughtless and talkative!

FOOTNOTES:
[15] Now generally miscalled St. Martinsville. - TRANSLATOR.




XI.

ALIX PLAYS FAIRY. - PARTING TEARS.


In about fifteen days the work on the cottage was nearly done and the
moving began, Celeste, and even Maggie, offering us their services. Alix
seemed enchanted.

"Two things, only, I lack," she said - "a sofa, and something to cover the
walls."

One morning M. Gerbeau sent to Carpentier a horse, two fine cows and their
calves, and a number of sheep and pigs. At the same time two or three
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 young
man.

"But I have no right to his succession."

"That's a question," responded M. Gerbeau. "You have inherited the house,
you must inherit all. If claimants appear - well, you will be responsible
to them. You will please give me a receipt in due form; that is all."

Tears came into Carpentier's eyes.... As he was signing the receipt M.
Gerbeau stopped him. "Wait; I forgot something. At the time of Karl's [the
Swede's] death, I took from his crib fifty barrels of corn; add that."

"O sir!" cried Joseph, "that is too much - too much."

"Write!" said M. Gerbeau, laying his hand on Joseph's shoulder, "if you
please. I am giving you nothing; I am relieving myself of a burden."

* * * * *

My dear daughter, if I have talked very much about Alix it is because
talking about her is such pleasure. She has been so good to my sister and
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 passed the
night with Mme. Gerbeau, Patrick came running to say that "Madame 'Lix"
wished to see us at once. We hastened to the cottage. Alix met us on the
gallery [veranda].

"Come in, dear girls. I have a surprise for you and a great favor to ask.
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 lace, the
jewels, the slippers - all are in yonder chest. Listen, my dear girls. Upon
the first signs of the Revolution my frightened mother left France and
crossed into England. She took with her all her wardrobe, her jewels, the
pictures from her bedroom, and part of her plate. She bought, before
going, a quantity of silks and ribbons.... When I reached England my
mother was dead, and all that she had possessed was restored to me by the
authorities. My poor mother loved dress, and in that chest is all her
apparel. Part of it I had altered for my own use; but she was much larger
than I - taller than you. I can neither use them nor consent to sell them.
If each of you will accept a ball toilet, you will make me very happy."
And she looked at us with her eyes full of supplication, her hands
clasped.

We each snatched a hand and kissed it. Then she opened the chest, and for
the first and last time in my life I saw fabrics, ornaments, and coiffures
that truly seemed to have been made by the fairies. After many trials and
much debate she laid aside for me a lovely dress of blue brocade
glistening with large silver flowers the reflections of which seemed like
rays of light. It was short in front, with a train; was very full on the
sides, and was caught up with knots of ribbon. The long pointed waist was
cut square and trimmed with magnificent laces that re-appeared on the
half-long sleeves. The arms, to the elbow, were to be covered with white
frosted gloves fastened with twelve silver buttons. To complete my toilet
she gave me a blue silk fan beautifully painted, blue satin slippers with
high heels and silver buckles, white silk stockings with blue clocks, a
broidered white cambric handkerchief trimmed with Brussels point lace,
and, last, a lovely set of silver filigree that she assured us was of
slight value, comprising the necklace, the comb, the earrings, bracelets,
and a belt whose silver tassels of the same design fell down the front of
the dress.

My sister's toilet was exactly like mine, save that it was rose color.
Alix had us try them on. While our eyes were ravished, she, with more
expert taste, decided to take up a little in one place, lower a ribbon in
another, add something here, take away there, and, above all, to iron the
whole with care. We staid all day helping her; and when, about 3 o'clock,
all was finished, our fairy godmother said she would now dress our hair,
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 said
contained the headdresses belonging to our costumes, and, making me sit
facing my sister, began to dress her hair. I was all eyes. I did not lose
a movement of the comb. She lifted Suzanne's hair to the middle of the
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, with
hairpins, numberless little knots, or whorls, and placed on each side of
the head a plume of white, rose-tipped feathers, and in front, opposite
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 powder.
Can you believe it, my daughter, that was the first time my sister and I
had ever seen artificial flowers? They made very few of them, even in
France, in those days.

While Suzanne admired herself in the mirror I took her place. My headdress
differed from hers in the ends of my feathers being blue, and in the rose
being white, surrounded by pale blue violets and a few silver leaves. And
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
think?"

"Oh, that would be charming!" cried Suzanne. "Let us hurry!" And while we
dressed, Pat, always prowling about the cottage, was sent to the flatboat
to get his parents and the Carlos, and to M. Gerbeau's to ask my father
and M. and Mme. Gerbeau to come at once to the cottage.... No, I cannot
tell the cries of joy that greeted us. The children did not know us, and
Maggie had to tell Pat over and over that these were Miss Souzie and Miss
Francise. My father's eyes filled with tears as he thanked Alix for her
goodness and generosity to us.

Alas! the happiest days, like the saddest, have an end. On the morrow the
people in the flatboat came to say good-bye. Mario cried like a child.
Celeste carried Àlix's hands to her lips and said in the midst of her
tears:

"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 mulattress,
"I promise you."

Maggie herself seemed moved, and in taking leave of Alix put two vigorous
kisses on her cheeks. As to our father, and us, too, the adieus were not
final, we having promised Mario and Gordon to stop [on their journey up
the shore of the bayou] as soon as we saw the flatboat.

"And we hope, my dear Carlo, to find you established in your
principality."

"Amen!" responded the Italian.

Alix added to her gifts two pairs of chamois-skin gloves and a box of
lovely artificial flowers. Two days after the flatboat had gone, we having
spent the night with Alix, came M. Gerbeau's carriage to take us once more
upon our journey. Ah! that was a terrible moment. Even Alix could scarce
hold back the tears. We refused to get into the carriage, and walked, all
of us together, to M. Gerbeau's, and then parted amid tears, kisses, and
promises.




XII.

LITTLE PARIS.


[So the carriage rolled along the margin of Bayou Teche, with two big
trunks besides Monsieur's on back and top, and a smaller one, lent by
Alix, lashed underneath; but shawls, mats, and baskets were all left
behind with the Carpentiers. The first stop was at the plantation and
residence of Captain Patterson, who "offered his hand in the English way,
saying only, 'Welcomed, young ladies.'" In 1795, the narrator stops to
say, one might see in and about New Orleans some two-story houses; but
along the banks of Bayou Teche, as well as on the Mississippi, they were
all of one sort, - like their own; like Captain Patterson's, - a single
ground floor with three rooms facing front and three back. Yet the very
next stop was at a little cottage covered with roses and with its front
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 horn to
her lips and blew a loud blast. Almost every one was English or German
till they came to where was just beginning to be the town of Franklin. One
Harlman, a German, offered to exchange all his land for the silver watch
that it best suited Monsieur to travel with. The exchange was made, the
acts were all signed and sealed, and - when Suzanne, twenty years after,
made a visit to Attakapas there was Harlman and his numerous family still
in peaceful possession of the place.... "And I greatly fear that when some
day our grandchildren awaken from that apathy with which I have always
reproached the Creoles, I fear, my daughter, they will have trouble to
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 two miles
from where Franklin was to be they came upon it, greeted with joyous
laughter and cries of "Miss Souzie! O Miss Souzie!" from the women and the
children, and from Mario: "I have it, Signor! I have it! My prinicipality,
Miss Souzie! It is mine, Signorina Françoise!" while he danced, laughed,
and brandished his arms. "He had taken up enough land," says Françoise,
"for five principalities, and was already knocking the flatboat to
pieces."

She mentioned meeting Jacques and Charles Picot, St. Domingan refugees,
whose story of adventures she says was very wonderful, but with good
artistic judgement omits them. The travelers found, of course, a
_charmante cordialité_ at the home of M. Agricole Fuselier[16], and saw a
little girl of five who afterward became a great beauty - Uranie Fuselier.
They passed another Indian village, where Françoise persuaded them not to
stop. Its inhabitants were Chetimachas, more civilized than those of the
village near Plaquemine, and their sworn enemies, living in constant fear
of an attack from them. At New Iberia, a town founded by Spaniards, the
voyagers saw "several houses, some drinking-shops and other buildings,"
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 with
stars, amid the perfume of gardens and caressed by the cool night breeze,
we made our entry into the village of St. Martinville - the Little Paris,
the oasis in the desert.

My father ordered Julien [the coachman] to stop at the best inn. He turned
two or three corners and stopped near the bayou [Teche] just beside the
bridge, before a house of the strangest aspect possible. There seemed
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 balcony,
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 host's name
was Morphy. He came forward, hat in hand, a pure-blooded American, but
speaking French almost like a Frenchman. In the house all was comfortable
and shining with cleanness. Madame Morphy took us to our room, adjoining
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, by its
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 listening
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, papa
threw his letters upon the table and began to examine their addresses.

"To whom will you carry the first letter, papa?" I asked.

"To the Baron du Clozel," he replied. "I have already met him in New
Orleans, and even had the pleasure to render him a slight service."

Mechanically Suzanne and I examined the addresses and amused ourselves
reading the pompous title's.

"'Le chevalier Louis de Blanc!'" began my sister; "'L'honorable A.
Déclouet'; 'Le comte Louis le Pelletrier de la Houssaye'! Ah!" she cried,
throwing the packet upon the table, "the aristocrats! I am frightened,
poor little plebeian that I am."

"Yes, my daughter," responded my father, "these names represent true
aristocrats, as noble in virtues as in blood. My father has often told me
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.; and the
second, Barthelemy, was employed by the Minister of Finance. The count, he
to whom I bear this letter, married Madelaine Victoire de Livilier. These
are noble names."

Then Alix was not mistaken; it was really her friend, the Countess
Madelaine, whom I was about to meet.

FOOTNOTES:
[16] 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 own
careful coinage; but on publishing it I quickly found that my supposed
invention was but an unconscious reminiscence. The name still survives, I
am told, on the Teche. - TRANSLATOR.




XIII.

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 secured
with large buckles of chased silver. Similar buckles were on his shoes.
His silver-buttoned vest of white piqué reached low down, and his black
satin coat faced with white silk had large lappets cut square. Such dress
seemed to me very warm for summer; but the fashion and etiquette allowed
only silk and velvet for visits of ceremony, and though you smothered you
had to obey those tyrants. At the moment when I saw him out of the corner
of my eye he was sticking a cluster diamond pin into his shirt-frill and
another diamond into his lace cravat. It was the first time I ever saw
papa so fine, so dressed! Presently we heard him call us to arrange his
queue, and although it was impossible for us to work up a club and pigeon
wings like those I saw on the two young Du Clozels and on M. Neville
Déclouet, we arranged a very fine queue wrapped with a black ribbon, and
after smiling at himself in the glass and declaring that he thought the
whole dress was in very good taste he kissed us, took his three-cornered
hat and his gold-headed cane and went out. With what impatience we awaited
his return!

About two hours afterward we saw papa coming back accompanied by a
gentleman of a certain age, handsome, noble, elegant in his severe suit of
black velvet. He had the finest black eyes in the world, and his face
beamed with wit and amiability. You have guessed it was the Baron du
Clozel. The baron bowed to us profoundly. He certainly knew who we were,
but etiquette required him to wait until my father had presented us; but
immediately then he asked papa's permission to kiss us, and you may
suppose your grandfather did not refuse.

M. du Clozel had been sent by the baroness to oppose our sojourn at the
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 the former
declared that if these nobles kept on taking away their custom they would
have to shut up shop. Papa, to appease him, paid him double what he asked.
And the baron gave his arm to Suzanne, as the elder, while I followed, on
papa's. Madame du Clozel and her daughter met us at the street gate. The
baroness, though not young, was still pretty, and so elegant, so majestic!
A few days later I could add, so good, so lovable!

Celeste du Clozel was eighteen. Her hair was black as ebony, and her eyes
a beautiful blue. The young men of the village called her _Celeste la bien
nommée_ [Celeste the well named]; and for all her beauty, fortune, and
high position she was good and simple and always ready to oblige. She was
engaged, we learned afterward, to the Chevalier de Blanc, the same who in
1803 was made post-commandant of Attakapas.[17] Olivier and Charles du
Clozel turned everything to our entertainment, and it was soon decided
that we should all go that same evening to the theater.

Hardly was the sun down when we shut ourselves into our rooms to begin the
work of dressing. Celeste put herself at our service, assuring us that she
knew perfectly how to dress hair. The baroness asked us to let her lend us
ornaments, ribbons - whatever we might need. We could see that she supposed
two young girls who had never seen the great world, who came from a region
where nearly all articles of luxury were wanting, could hardly have a
choice wardrobe. We thanked them, assuring Celeste that we had always
cultivated the habit of dressing each other's hair.

We put on our camayeu petticoats and our black velvet waists, adding
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, and
hoped to create a sensation. But if the baroness was satisfied she showed
no astonishment. Her hair, like her daughter's, was powdered, and both
wore gloves.

Suzanne on the arm of Olivier, I on Charles's, Celeste beside her fiancé,
the grandparents in front, we entered the theater of St. Martinville, and
in a moment more were the observed of all observers. The play was a
vaudeville, of which I remember only the name, but rarely have I seen
amateurs act so well: all the prominent parts were rendered by young men.
But if the French people are polite, amiable, and hospitable, we know that
they are also very inquisitive. Suzanne was more annoyed than I can tell;
yet we knew that our toilets were in excellent taste, even in that place
full of ladies covered with costly jewels. When I asked Celeste how the
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.[18] They were bringing almost
everything from London, owing to the Revolution. Between the acts many
persons came to greet Madame du Clozel. Oh, how I longed to see the friend
of Alix! But I would not ask anything; I resolved to find her by the aid
of my heart alone.

Presently, as by a magnetic power, my attention was drawn to a tall and
beautiful young lady dressed in white satin, with no ornaments except a
set of gold and sapphires, and for headdress a _résille_ the golden
tassels of which touched her neck. Ah! how quickly I recognized those
brown eyes faintly proud, that kind smile, that queenly bearing, that
graceful step! I turned to Charles du Clozel, who sat beside me, and said:

"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. During the
last two acts she came and shook hands with us, and, caressing our hair
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 let her
take us away with her. Against this the baroness cried out, and then the
Countess Madelaine said to us:

"Well, you will come spend the day with me day after to-morrow, will you?
I shall invite only young people. May I come for you?"

Ah, that day! how I remember it!... Madame de la Houssaye was fully five
or six years older than Madame Carpentier, for she was the mother of four
boys, the eldest of whom was fully twelve.[19] 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 house at
the end of the veranda [galerie], where ... a low window let into a garden
crossed and re-crossed with alleys of orange and jasmine. Several lofty
magnolias filled the air with the fragrance of their great white
flowers....



XIV.

"POOR LITTLE ALIX!"


Hardly had we made a few steps into the room when a young girl rose and
advanced, supported on the arm of a young man slightly overdressed. His
club and pigeon-wings were fastened with three or four pins of gold, and
his white-powdered queue was wrapped with a black velvet ribbon shot with
silver. The heat was so great that he had substituted silk for velvet, and
his dress-coat, breeches, and long vest were of pearl-gray silk, changing
to silver, with large silver buttons. On the lace frill of his embroidered
shirt shone three large diamonds, on his cravat was another, and his
fingers were covered with rings.[20] The young girl embraced us with
ceremony, while her companion bowed profoundly. She could hardly have
been over sixteen or seventeen. One could easily guess by her dress that
the pretty creature was the slave of fashion.

"Madame du Rocher," said Charles du Clozel, throwing a wicked glance upon
her.

"Madame!" I stammered.

"Impossible!" cried Suzanne.

"Don't listen to him!" interrupted the young lady, striking Charles's
fingers with her fan. "He is a wretched falsifier. I am called Tonton de
Blanc."

"The widow du Rocher!" cried Olivier, from the other side.

"Ah, this is too much!" she exclaimed. "If you don't stop these ridiculous
jokes at once I'll make Neville call you out upon the field of battle." ...
But a little while afterward Celeste whispered in my ear that her
brothers had said truly. At thirteen years Tonton, eldest daughter of
Commandant Louis de Blanc and sister of Chevalier de Blanc, had been
espoused to Dr. du Rocher, at least forty years older than she. He was
rich, and two years later he died, leaving all his fortune to his
widow.... One after another Madame de la Houssaye introduced to us at
least twenty persons, the most of whose names, unfortunately, I have
forgotten. I kept notes, but have mislaid them....

A few moments before dinner the countess re-appeared among us, followed by
two servants in livery bearing salvers of fruit; and while we ate she
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 duet?"

"A young French lady, one of our friends," replied Suzanne.


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