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word correctly spelled; yet her style was charming, and I cannot express
the pleasure they gave me, for during more than a year I received them by
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 mount to
Suzanne's forehead. For a wonder he paid Tonton only the attentions
required by politeness, and the pretty widow, while still queen of all,
belonged that evening entirely to Neville.

The following Saturday my father arrived. The next day, after mass, our
friends came in a body to say adieu. And on the morrow, amid kisses,
handshaking, regrets, tears, and waving handkerchiefs, we departed in the
carriage that was to bear us far and forever from Little Paris, and the
friends we shall never meet again. Suzanne and I wept like children. On
the fourth day after, the carriage stopped before the door of M. Gerbeau's
house. I must confess we were not over-polite to Mme. Gerbeau. We embraced
her hurriedly, and, leaving my father talking about lands, started on a
run for Alix's dwelling.

Oh, dear Alix! How happy she seemed to see us again! How proud to show us
the innovations made in her neat little house! With what touching care had
she prepared our chamber! She had wished for a sofa, and Joseph had made
her one and covered it with one of the velvet robes of the Countess
Aurelia de Morainville. And when we went into Alix's own room, Suzanne,
whose eye nothing ever escaped, pointed out to me, half hidden behind the
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 heard that
the Countess de la Houssaye had not forgotten her.

"You will see her," said Suzanne. "She will come to see you, without a

"Ah, Heaven prevent it! Our destinies are too unlike now. Me perhaps the
Countess Madelaine might welcome affectionately; but Joseph? Oh, no! My
husband's lot is mine; I have no wish for any other. It is better that she
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 St.
James. It seems that two little boats, resembling steamboats in form, kept
up a constant trade in wood - clapboards, _pieux_ [split boards], shingles,
even cordwood - between the lakes and the Bayou Teche plantation. M.
Gerbeau had taken his skiff and two oarsmen and gone in search of one 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 the
captain to take us to St. James. "Yes," said M. Gerbeau to us, "you will
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 or mule
is hitched. Such was the machinery by which we moved. The boat's cabin was
all one room. The berths, one above another, ran all round the room, hung
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 gave
Suzanne a pretty ring, and me a locket containing her portrait. In return
my sister placed upon her finger a ruby encircled with little diamonds;
and I, taking off the gold medal I always wore on my neck, whispered:

"Wear it for love of me."

She smiled. [Just as we were parting she handed me the story of her

At an early hour my father had our trunks, baskets, and mats sent aboard
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 landed
there once more on the 26th of September. Need I recount the joy of my
mother and sisters? You understand all that.

And now, my daughter, the tale is told. Read it to your children and
assure them that all is true; that there is here no exaggeration; that
they can put faith in their old grandmother's story and take their part in
her pleasures, her friendships, and her emotions.

[22] See "HOW I GOT THEM," page 14.

[Illustration: PART OF FIRST PAGE, "ALIX MS."]



_Written in Louisiana this 22d of August, 1795, for my dear friends
Suzanne and Françoise Bossier_.

I have promised you the story of my life, my very dear and good friends
with whom I have had so much pleasure on board the flatboat which has
brought us all to Attakapas. I now make good my promise.

And first I must speak of the place where I was born, of the beautiful
Château de Morainville, built above the little village named Morainville
in honor of its lords. This village, situated in Normandy on the margin of
the sea, was peopled only and entirely by fishermen, who gained a
livelihood openly by sardine-fishing, and secretly, it was said, by
smuggling. The château was built on a cliff, which it completely occupied.
This cliff was formed of several terraces that rose in a stair one above
another. On the topmost one sat the château, like an eagle in its nest. It
had four dentilated turrets, with great casements and immense galleries,
that gave it the grandest possible aspect. On the second terrace you found
yourself in the midst of delightful gardens adorned with statues and
fountains after the fashion of the times. Then came the avenue, entirely
overshaded with trees as old as Noah, and everywhere on the hill, forming
the background of the picture, an immense park. How my Suzanne would have
loved to hunt in that beautiful park full of deer, hare, and all sorts of
feathered game!

And yet no one inhabited that beautiful domain. Its lord and mistress, the
Count Gaston and Countess Aurélie, my father and mother, resided in Paris,
and came to their château only during the hunting season, their sojourn
never exceeding six weeks.

Already they had been five years married. The countess, a lady of honor to
the young dauphine, Marie Antoinette, bore the well-merited reputation of
being the most charming woman at the court of the king, Louis the
Fifteenth. Count and countess, wealthy as they were and happy as they
seemed to be, were not overmuch so, because of their desire for a son; for
one thing, which is not seen in this country, you will not doubt, dear
girls, exists in France and other countries of Europe: it is the eldest
son, and never the daughter, who inherits the fortune and titles of the
family. And in case there were no children, the titles and fortune of the
Morainvilles would have to revert in one lump to the nephew of the count
and son of his brother, to Abner de Morainville, who at that time was a
mere babe of four years. This did not meet the wishes of M. and Mme. de
Morainville, who wished to retain their property in their own house.

But great news comes to Morainville: the countess is with child. The
steward of the château receives orders to celebrate the event with great
rejoicings. In the avenue long tables are set covered with all sorts of
inviting meats, the fiddlers are called, and the peasants dance, eat, and
drink to the health of the future heir of the Morainvilles. A few months
later my parents arrived bringing a great company with them; and there
were feasts and balls and hunting-parties without end.

It was in the course of one of these hunts that my mother was thrown from
her horse. She was hardly in her seventh month when I came into the world.
She escaped death, but I was born as large as - a mouse! and with one
shoulder much higher than the other.

I must have died had not the happy thought come to the woman-in-waiting to
procure Catharine, the wife of the gardener, Guillaume Carpentier, to be
my nurse; and it is to her care, to her rubbings, and above all to her
good milk, that I owe the capability to amuse you, my dear girls and
friends, with the account of my life - that life whose continuance I truly
owe to my mother Catharine.

When my actual mother had recovered she returned to Paris; and as my
nurse, who had four boys, could not follow her, it was decided that I
should remain at the château and that my mother Catharine should stay
there with me.

Her cottage was situated among the gardens. Her husband, father Guillaume,
was the head gardener, and his four sons were Joseph, aged six years; next
Matthieu, who was four; then Jerome, two; and my foster-brother Bastien, a
big lubber of three months.

My father and mother did not at all forget me. They sent me playthings of
all sorts, sweetmeats, silken frocks adorned with embroideries and laces,
and all sorts of presents for mother Catharine and her children. I was
happy, very happy, for I was worshiped by all who surrounded me. Mother
Catharine preferred me above her own children. Father Guillaume would go
down upon his knees before me to get a smile [risette], and Joseph often
tells me he swooned when they let him hold me in his arms. It was a happy
time, I assure you; yes, very happy.

I was two years old when my parents returned, and as they had brought a
great company with them the true mother instructed my nurse to take me
back to her cottage and keep me there, that I might not be disturbed by
noise. Mother Catharine has often said to me that my mother could not bear
to look at my crippled shoulder, and that she called me a hunchback. But
after all it was the truth, and my nurse-mother was wrong to lay that
reproach upon my mother Aurélie.

Seven years passed. I had lived during that time the life of my
foster-brothers, flitting everywhere with them over the flowery grass like
the veritable lark that I was. Two or three times during that period my
parents came to see me, but without company, quite alone. They brought me
a lot of beautiful things; but really I was afraid of them, particularly
of my mother, who was so beautiful and wore a grand air full of dignity
and self-regard. She would kiss me, but in a way very different from
mother Catharine's way - squarely on the forehead, a kiss that seemed made
of ice.

One fine day she arrived at the cottage with a tall, slender lady who wore
blue spectacles on a singularly long nose. She frightened me, especially
when my mother told me that this was my governess, and that I must return
to the château with her and live there to learn a host of fine things of
which even the names were to me unknown; for I had never seen a book
except my picture books.

I uttered piercing cries; but my mother, without paying any attention to
my screams, lifted me cleverly, planted two spanks behind, and passed me
to the hands of Mme. Levicq - that was the name of my governess. The next
day my mother left me and I repeated my disturbance, crying, stamping my
feet, and calling to mother Catharine and Bastien. (To tell the truth,
Jerome and Matthieu were two big lubbers [rougeots] very peevish and
coarse-mannered, which I could not endure.) Madame put a book into my
hands and wished to have me repeat after her; I threw the book at her
head. Then, rightly enough, in despair she placed me where I could see the
cottage in the midst of the garden and told me that when the lesson was
ended I might go and see my mother Catharine and play with my brothers. I
promptly consented, and that is how I learned to read.

This Mme. Levicq was most certainly a woman of good sense. She had a kind
heart and much ability. She taught me nearly all I know - first of all,
French; the harp, the guitar, drawing, embroidery; in short, I say again,
all that I know.

I was fourteen years old when my mother came, and this time not alone. My
cousin Abner was with her. My mother had me called into her chamber,
closely examined my shoulder, loosed my hair, looked at my teeth, made me
read, sing, play the harp, and when all this was ended smiled and said:

"You are beautiful, my daughter; you have profited by the training of your
governess; the defect of your shoulder has not increased. I am
satisfied - well satisfied; and I am going to tell you that I have brought
the Viscomte Abner de Morainville because I have chosen him for your
future husband. Go, join him in the avenue."

I was a little dismayed at first, but when I had seen my intended my
dismay took flight - he was such a handsome fellow, dressed with so much
taste, and wore his sword with so much grace and spirit. At the end of two
days he loved me to distraction and I doted on him. I brought him to my
nurse's cabin and told her all our plans of marriage and all my happiness,
not observing the despair of poor Joseph, who had always worshiped me and
who had not doubted he would have me to love. But who would have thought
it - a laboring gardener lover of his lord's daughter? Ah, I would have
laughed heartily then if I had known it!

On the evening before my departure - I had to leave with my mother this
time - I went to say adieu to mother Catharine. She asked me if I loved

"Oh, yes, mother!" I replied, "I love him with all my soul"; and she said
she was happy to hear it. Then I directed Joseph to go and request
Monsieur the curé, in my name, to give him lessons in reading and writing,
in order to be able to read the letters that I should write to my
nurse-mother and to answer them. This order was carried out to the letter,
and six months later Joseph was the correspondent of the family and read
to them my letters. That was his whole happiness.

I had been quite content to leave for Paris: first, because Abner went
with me, and then because I hoped to see a little of all those beautiful
things of which he had spoken to me with so much charm; but how was I
disappointed! My mother kept me but one day at her house, and did not even
allow Abner to come to see me. During that day I must, she said, collect
my thoughts preparatory to entering the convent. For it was actually to
the convent of the Ursulines, of which my father's sister was the
superior, that she conducted me next day.

Think of it, dear girls! I was fourteen, but not bigger than a lass of
ten, used to the open air and to the caresses of mother Catharine and my
brothers. It seemed to me as if I were a poor little bird shut in a great
dark cage.

My aunt, the abbess, Agnes de Morainville, took me to her room, gave me
bonbons and pictures, told me stories, and kissed and caressed me, but her
black gown and her bonnet appalled me, and I cried with all my might:

"I want mother Catharine! I want Joseph! I want Bastien!"

My aunt, in despair, sent for three or four little pupils to amuse me; but
this was labor lost, and I continued to utter the same outcries. At last,
utterly spent, I fell asleep, and my aunt bore me to my little room and
put me to bed, and then slowly withdrew, leaving the door ajar.

On the second floor of the convent there were large dormitories, where
some hundreds of children slept; but on the first there were a number of
small chambers, the sole furniture of each being a folding bed, a
washstand, and a chair, and you had to pay its weight in gold for the
privilege of occupying one of these cells, in order not to be mixed with
the daughters of the bourgeoisie, of lawyers and merchants. My mother, who
was very proud, had exacted absolutely that they give me one of these
select cells.

Hardly had my aunt left me when I awoke, and fear joined itself to grief.
Fancy it! I had never lain down in a room alone, and here I awoke in a
corner of a room half lighted by a lamp hung from the ceiling. You can
guess I began again my writhings and cries. Thereupon appeared before me
in the open door the most beautiful creature imaginable. I took her for a
fairy, and fell to gazing at her with my eyes full of amazement and
admiration. You have seen Madelaine, and you can judge of her beauty in
her early youth. It was a fabulous beauty joined to a manner fair, regal,
and good.

She took me in her arms, dried my tears, and at last, at the extremity of
her resources, carried me to her bed; and when I awoke the next day I
found myself still in the arms of Madelaine de Livilier. From that moment
began between us that great and good friendship which was everything for
me during the time that I passed in the convent. I should have died of
loneliness and grief without Madelaine. I had neither brothers nor
sisters; she was both these to me: she was older than I, and protected me
while she loved me.

She was the niece of the rich Cardinal de Ségur, who had sent and brought
her from Louisiana. This is why Madelaine had such large privileges at the
convent. She told me she was engaged to the young Count Louis le
Pelletrier de la Houssaye, and I, with some change of color, told her of

One day Madelaine's aunt, the Countess de Ségur, came to take her to spend
the day at her palace. My dear friend besought her aunt with such
graciousness that she obtained permission to take me with her, and for the
first time I saw the Count Louis, Madelaine's _fiancé_. He was a very
handsome young man, of majestic and distinguished air. He had hair and
eyes as black as ink, red lips, and a fine mustache. He wore in his
buttonhole the cross of the royal order of St. Louis, and on his shoulders
the epaulettes of a major. He had lately come from San Domingo [where he
had been fighting the insurgents at the head of his regiment].[23] Yes, he
was a handsome young man, a bold cavalier; and Madelaine idolized him.
After that day I often accompanied my friend in her visits to the home of
her aunt. Count Louis was always there to wait upon his betrothed, and
Abner, apprised by him, came to join us. Ah! that was a happy time, very

At the end of a year my dear Madelaine quitted the convent to be married.
Ah, how I wept to see her go! I loved her so! I had neither brothers nor
sisters, and Madelaine was my heart's own sister. I was very young,
scarcely fifteen; yet, despite my extreme youth, Madelaine desired me to
be her bridesmaid, and her aunt, the Countess de Ségur, and the Baroness
de Chevigné, Count Louis's aunt, went together to find my mother and ask
her to permit me to fill that office. My mother made many objections,
saying that I was too young; but - between you and me - she could refuse
nothing to ladies of such high station. She consented, therefore, and
proceeded at once to order my costume at the dressmaker's.

It was a mass of white silk and lace with intermingled pearls. For the
occasion my mother lent me her pearls, which were of great magnificence.
But, finest of all, the Queen, Marie Antoinette, saw me at the church of
Notre Dame, whither all the court had gathered for the occasion, - for
Count Louis de la Houssaye was a great favorite, - and now the queen sent
one of her lords to apprise my mother that she wished to see me, and
commanded that I be presented at court - _grande rumeur_!

Mamma consented to let me remain the whole week out of the convent. Every
day there was a grand dinner or breakfast and every evening a dance or a
grand ball. Always it was Abner who accompanied me. I wrote of all my
pleasures to my mother Catharine. Joseph read my letters to her, and, as
he told me in later days, they gave him mortal pain. For the presentation
my mother ordered a suit all of gold and velvet. Madelaine and I were
presented the same day. The Countess de Ségur was my escort [marraine] and
took me by the hand, while Mme. de Chevigné rendered the same office to
Madelaine. Abner told me that day I was as pretty as an angel. If I was so
to him, it was because he loved me. I knew, myself, I was too small, too
pale, and ever so different from Madelaine. It was she you should have

I went back to the convent, and during the year that I passed there I was
lonely enough to have died. It was decided that I should be married
immediately on leaving the convent, and my mother ordered for me the most
beautiful wedding outfit imaginable. My father bought me jewels of every
sort, and Abner did not spare of beautiful presents.

I had been about fifteen days out of the convent when terrible news caused
me many tears. My dear Madelaine was about to leave me forever and return
to America. The reason was this: there was much disorder in the colony of
Louisiana, and the king deciding to send thither a man capable of
restoring order, his choice fell upon Count Louis de la Houssaye, whose
noble character he had recognized. Count Louis would have refused, for he
had a great liking for France; but [he had lately witnessed the atrocities
committed by the negroes of San Domingo, and[24]] something - a
presentiment - warned him that the Revolution was near at hand. He was glad
to bear his dear wife far from the scenes of horror that were approaching
with rapid strides.

Madelaine undoubtedly experienced pleasure in thinking that she was again
going to see her parents and her native land, but she regretted to leave
France, where she had found so much amusement and where I must remain
behind her without hope of our ever seeing each other again. She wept, oh,
so much!

She had bidden me good-bye and we had wept long, and her last evening, the
eve of the day when she was to take the diligence for Havre, where the
vessel awaited them, was to be passed in family group at the residence of
the Baroness de Chevigné. Here were present, first the young couple; the
Cardinal, the Count and Countess de Ségur; then Barthelemy de la Houssaye,
brother of the Count, and the old Count de [Maurepas, only a few months
returned from exile and now at the pinnacle of royal favor].[24] He had
said when he came that he could stay but a few hours and had ordered his
coach to await him below. He was the most lovable old man in the world.
All at once Madelaine said:

"Ah! if I could see Alix once more - only once more!"

The old count without a word slipped away, entered his carriage, and had
himself driven to the Morainville hotel, where there was that evening a
grand ball. Tarrying in the ante-chamber, he had my mother called. She
came with alacrity, and when she knew the object of the count's visit she
sent me to get a great white burnoose, enveloped me in it, and putting my
hand into the count's said to me:

"You have but to show yourself to secure the carriage." But the count
promised to bring me back himself.

Oh, how glad my dear Madelaine was to see me! With what joy she kissed me!
But she has recounted this little scene to you, as you, Françoise, have
told me.

A month after the departure of the De la Houssayes, my wedding was
celebrated at Notre Dame. It was a grand occasion. The king was present
with all the court. As my husband was in the king's service, the queen
wished me to become one of her ladies of honor.

Directly after my marriage I had Bastien come to me. I made him my
confidential servant. He rode behind my carriage, waited upon me at table,
and, in short, was my man of all work.

I was married the 16th of March, 1789, at the age of sixteen. Already the
rumbling murmurs of the Revolution were making themselves heard like
distant thunder. On the 13th of July the Bastille was taken and the head
of the governor De Launay [was] carried through the streets.[25] My mother
was frightened and proposed to leave the country. She came to find me and
implored me to go with her to England, and asked Abner to accompany us.
My husband refused with indignation, declaring that his place was near his

"And mine near my husband," said I, throwing my arms around Abner's neck.

My father, like my husband, had refused positively to leave the king, and
it was decided that mamma should go alone. She began by visiting the
shops, and bought stuffs, ribbons, and laces. It was I who helped her pack
her trunks, which she sent in advance to Morainville. She did not dare go
to get her diamonds, which were locked up in the Bank of France; that
would excite suspicion, and she had to content herself with such jewelry
as she had at her residence. She left in a coach with my father, saying as
she embraced me that her absence would be brief, for it would be easy
enough to crush the vile mob. She went down to Morainville, and there,
thanks to the devotion of Guillaume Carpentier and of his sons, she was
carried to England in a contrabandist vessel. As she was accustomed to
luxury, she put into her trunks the plate of the château and also several
valuable pictures. My father had given her sixty thousand francs and

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