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Creole art-effort, so far as I have seen it, is amateurism."

"Amateu - " murmured Clotilde, a little beclouded on the main word and
distracted by a French difference of meaning, but planting an elbow on
one knee in the genuineness of her attention, and responding with a bow.

"That is to say," said Frowenfeld, apologizing for the homeliness of his
further explanation by a smile, "a kind of ambitious indolence that lays
very large eggs, but can neither see the necessity for building a nest
beforehand, nor command the patience to hatch the eggs afterward."

"Of coze," said Aurora.

"It is a great pity," said the sermonizer, looking at the face of
Clotilde, elongated in the brass andiron; and, after a pause: "Nothing
on earth can take the place of hard and patient labor. But that, in this
community, is not esteemed; most sorts of it are contemned; the humbler
sorts are despised, and the higher are regarded with mingled patronage
and commiseration. Most of those who come to my shop with their efforts
at art hasten to explain, either that they are merely seeking pastime,
or else that they are driven to their course by want; and if I advise
them to take their work back and finish it, they take it back and never
return. Industry is not only despised, but has been degraded and
disgraced, handed over into the hands of African savages."

"Doze Creole' is _lezzy_," said Aurora.

"That is a hard word to apply to those who do not _consciously_ deserve
it," said Frowenfeld; "but if they could only wake up to the fact, - find
it out themselves - "

"Ceddenly," said Clotilde.

"'Sieur Frowenfel'," said Aurora, leaning her head on one side, "some
pipple thing it is doze climade; 'ow you lag doze climade?"

"I do not suppose," replied the visitor, "there is a more delightful
climate in the world."

"Ah-h-h!" - both ladies at once, in a low, gracious tone of
acknowledgment.

"I thing Louisiana is a paradize-me!" said Aurora. "W'ere you goin' fin'
sudge a h-air?" She respired a sample of it. "W'ere you goin' fin' sudge
a so ridge groun'? De weed' in my bag yard is twenny-five feet 'igh!"

"Ah! maman!"

"Twenty-six!" said Aurora, correcting herself. "W'ere you fin' sudge a
reever lag dad Mississippi? _On dit_," she said, turning to Clotilde,
"_que ses eaux ont la propriété de contribuer même à multiplier l'espèce
humaine_ - ha, ha, ha!"

Clotilde turned away an unmoved countenance to hear Frowenfeld.

Frowenfeld had contracted a habit of falling into meditation whenever
the French language left him out of the conversation.

"Yes," he said, breaking a contemplative pause, "the climate is _too_
comfortable and the soil too rich, - though I do not think it is entirely
on their account that the people who enjoy them are so sadly in arrears
to the civilized world." He blushed with the fear that his talk was
bookish, and felt grateful to Clotilde for seeming to understand
his speech.

"W'ad you fin' de rizzon is, 'Sieur Frowenfel'?" she asked.

"I do not wish to philosophize," he answered.

"_Mais_, go hon." "_Mais_, go ahade," said both ladies, settling
themselves.

"It is largely owing," exclaimed Frowenfeld, with sudden fervor, "to a
defective organization of society, which keeps this community, and will
continue to keep it for an indefinite time to come, entirely unprepared
and disinclined to follow the course of modern thought."

"Of coze," murmured Aurora, who had lost her bearings almost at the
first word.

"One great general subject of thought now is human rights, - universal
human rights. The entire literature of the world is becoming tinctured
with contradictions of the dogmas upon which society in this section is
built. Human rights is, of all subjects, the one upon which this
community is most violently determined to hear no discussion. It has
pronounced that slavery and caste are right, and sealed up the whole
subject. What, then, will they do with the world's literature? They will
coldly decline to look at it, and will become, more and more as the
world moves on, a comparatively illiterate people."

"Bud, 'Sieur Frowenfel'," said Clotilde, as Frowenfeld paused - Aurora
was stunned to silence, - "de Unitee State' goin' pud doze nigga'
free, aind it?"

Frowenfeld pushed his hair hard back. He was in the stream now, and
might as well go through.

"I have heard that charge made, even by some Americans. I do not know.
But there is a slavery that no legislation can abolish, - the slavery of
caste. That, like all the slaveries on earth, is a double bondage. And
what a bondage it is which compels a community, in order to preserve its
established tyrannies, to walk behind the rest of the intelligent world!
What a bondage is that which incites a people to adopt a system of
social and civil distinctions, possessing all the enormities and none of
the advantages of those systems which Europe is learning to despise!
This system, moreover, is only kept up by a flourish of weapons. We have
here what you may call an armed aristocracy. The class over which these
instruments of main force are held is chosen for its servility,
ignorance, and cowardice; hence, indolence in the ruling class. When a
man's social or civil standing is not dependent on his knowing how to
read, he is not likely to become a scholar."

"Of coze," said Aurora, with a pensive respiration, "I thing id is doze
climade," and the apothecary stopped, as a man should who finds himself
unloading large philosophy in a little parlor.

"I thing, me, dey hought to pud doze quadroon' free?" It was Clotilde
who spoke, ending with the rising inflection to indicate the tentative
character of this daringly premature declaration.

Frowenfeld did not answer hastily.

"The quadroons," said he, "want a great deal more than mere free papers
can secure them. Emancipation before the law, though it may be a right
which man has no right to withhold, is to them little more than a
mockery until they achieve emancipation in the minds and good will of
the people - 'the people,' did I say? I mean the ruling class." He
stopped again. One must inevitably feel a little silly, setting up
tenpins for ladies who are too polite, even if able, to bowl them down.

Aurora and the visitor began to speak simultaneously; both apologized,
and Aurora said:

"'Sieur Frowenfel', w'en I was a lill girl," - and Frowenfeld knew that
he was going to hear the story of Palmyre. Clotilde moved, with the
obvious intention to mend the fire. Aurora asked, in French, why she did
not call the cook to do it, and Frowenfeld said, "Let me," - threw on
some wood, and took a seat nearer Clotilde. Aurora had the floor.




CHAPTER XXV

AURORA AS A HISTORIAN


Alas! the phonograph was invented three-quarters of a century too late.
If type could entrap one-half the pretty oddities of Aurora's
speech, - the arch, the pathetic, the grave, the earnest, the
matter-of-fact, the ecstatic tones of her voice, - nay, could it but
reproduce the movement of her hands, the eloquence of her eyes, or the
shapings of her mouth, - ah! but type - even the phonograph - is such an
inadequate thing! Sometimes she laughed; sometimes Clotilde,
unexpectedly to herself, joined her; and twice or thrice she provoked a
similar demonstration from the ox-like apothecary, - to her own intense
amusement. Sometimes she shook her head in solemn scorn; and, when
Frowenfeld, at a certain point where Palmyre's fate locked hands for a
time with that of Bras-Coupé, asked a fervid question concerning that
strange personage, tears leaped into her eyes, as she said:

"Ah! 'Sieur Frowenfel', iv I tra to tell de sto'y of Bras-Coupé, I goin'
to cry lag a lill bebby."

The account of the childhood days upon the plantation at Cannes Brulées
may be passed by. It was early in Palmyre's fifteenth year that that
Kentuckian, 'mutual friend' of her master and Agricola, prevailed with
M. de Grapion to send her to the paternal Grandissime mansion, - a
complimentary gift, through Agricola, to Mademoiselle, his
niece, - returnable ten years after date.

The journey was made in safety; and, by and by, Palmyre was presented to
her new mistress. The occasion was notable. In a great chair in the
centre sat the _grandpère_, a Chevalier de Grandissime, whose business
had narrowed down to sitting on the front veranda and wearing his
decorations, - the cross of St. Louis being one; on his right, Colonel
Numa Grandissime, with one arm dropped around Honoré, then a boy of
Palmyre's age, expecting to be off in sixty days for France; and on the
left, with Honoré's fair sister nestled against her, "Madame Numa," as
the Creoles would call her, a stately woman and beautiful, a great
admirer of her brother Agricola. (Aurora took pains to explain that she
received these minutiae from Palmyre herself in later years.) One other
member of the group was a young don of some twenty years' age, not an
inmate of the house, but only a cousin of Aurora on her deceased
mother's side. To make the affair complete, and as a seal to this tacit
Grandissime-de-Grapion treaty, this sole available representative of the
"other side" was made a guest for the evening. Like the true Spaniard
that he was, Don José Martinez fell deeply in love with Honoré's sister.
Then there came Agricola leading in Palmyre. There were others, for the
Grandissime mansion was always full of Grandissimes; but this was the
central group.

In this house Palmyre grew to womanhood, retaining without interruption
the place into which she seemed to enter by right of indisputable
superiority over all competitors, - the place of favorite attendant to
the sister of Honoré. Attendant, we say, for servant she never seemed.
She grew tall, arrowy, lithe, imperial, diligent, neat, thorough,
silent. Her new mistress, though scarcely at all her senior, was yet
distinctly her mistress; she had that through her Fusilier blood;
experience was just then beginning to show that the Fusilier Grandissime
was a superb variety; she was a mistress one could wish to obey. Palmyre
loved her, and through her contact ceased, for a time, at least, to be
the pet leopard she had been at the Cannes Brulées.

Honoré went away to Paris only sixty days after Palmyre entered the
house. But even that was not soon enough.

"'Sieur Frowenfel'," said Aurora, in her recital, "Palmyre, she never
tole me dad, _mais_ I am shoe, _shoe_ dad she fall in love wid Honoré
Grandissime. 'Sieur Frowenfel', I thing dad Honoré Grandissime is one
bad man, ent it? Whad you thing, 'Sieur Frowenfel'?"

"I think, as I said to you the last time, that he is one of the best, as
I know that he is one of the kindest and most enlightened gentlemen in
the city," said the apothecary.

"Ah, 'Sieur Frowenfel'! ha, ha!"

"That is my conviction."

The lady went on with her story.

"Hanny'ow, I know she _con_tinue in love wid 'im all doze ten year'
w'at 'e been gone. She baig Mademoiselle Grandissime to wrad dad ledder
to my papa to ass to kip her two years mo'."

Here Aurora carefully omitted that episode which Doctor Keene had
related to Frowenfeld, - her own marriage and removal to Fausse Rivière,
the visit of her husband to the city, his unfortunate and finally fatal
affair with Agricola, and the surrender of all her land and slaves to
that successful duellist.

M. de Grapion, through all that, stood by his engagement concerning
Palmyre; and, at the end of ten years, to his own astonishment,
responded favorably to a letter from Honoré's sister, irresistible for
its goodness, good sense, and eloquent pleading, asking leave to detain
Palmyre two years longer; but this response came only after the old
master and his pretty, stricken Aurora had wept over it until they were
weak and gentle, - and was not a response either, but only a
silent consent.

Shortly before the return of Honoré - and here it was that Aurora took up
again the thread of her account - while his mother, long-widowed, reigned
in the paternal mansion, with Agricola for her manager, Bras-Coupé
appeared. From that advent, and the long and varied mental sufferings
which its consequences brought upon her, sprang that second change in
Palmyre, which made her finally untamable, and ended in a manumission,
granted her more for fear than for conscience' sake. When Aurora
attempted to tell those experiences, even leaving Bras-Coupé as much as
might be out of the recital, she choked with tears at the very start,
stopped, laughed, and said:

"_C'est tout_ - daz all. 'Sieur Frowenfel', oo you fine dad pigtu' to
loog lag, yonnah, hon de wall?"

She spoke as if he might have overlooked it, though twenty times, at
least, in the last hour, she had seen him glance at it.

"It is a good likeness," said the apothecary, turning to Clotilde, yet
showing himself somewhat puzzled in the matter of the costume.

The ladies laughed.

"Daz ma grade-gran'-mamma," said Clotilde.

"Dass one _fille à la cassette_," said Aurora, "my gran'-muzzah; _mais_,
ad de sem tarn id is Clotilde." She touched her daughter under the chin
with a ringed finger. "Clotilde is my gran'-mamma."

Frowenfeld rose to go.

"You muz come again, 'Sieur Frowenfel'," said both ladies, in a breath.

What could he say?




CHAPTER XXVI

A RIDE AND A RESCUE


"Douane or Bienville?"

Such was the choice presented by Honoré Grandissime to Joseph
Frowenfeld, as the former on a lively brown colt and the apothecary on a
nervy chestnut fell into a gentle, preliminary trot while yet in the
rue Royale, looked after by that great admirer of both, Raoul
Innerarity.

"Douane?" said Frowenfeld. (It was the street we call Custom-house.)

"It has mud-holes," objected Honoré.

"Well, then, the rue du Canal?"

"The canal - I can smell it from here. Why not rue Bienville?"

Frowenfeld said he did not know. (We give the statement for what it is
worth.)

Notice their route. A spirit of perversity seems to have entered into
the very topography of this quarter. They turned up the rue Bienville
(up is toward the river); reaching the levee, they took their course up
the shore of the Mississippi (almost due south), and broke into a lively
gallop on the Tchoupitoulas road, which in those days skirted that
margin of the river nearest the sunsetting, namely, the _eastern_ bank.

Conversation moved sluggishly for a time, halting upon trite topics or
swinging easily from polite inquiry to mild affirmation, and back again.
They were men of thought, these two, and one of them did not fully
understand why he was in his present position; hence some reticence. It
was one of those afternoons in early March that make one wonder how the
rest of the world avoids emigrating to Louisiana in a body.

"Is not the season early?" asked Frowenfeld.

M. Grandissime believed it was; but then the Creole spring always seemed
so, he said.

The land was an inverted firmament of flowers. The birds were an
innumerable, busy, joy-compelling multitude, darting and fluttering
hither and thither, as one might imagine the babes do in heaven. The
orange-groves were in blossom; their dark-green boughs seemed snowed
upon from a cloud of incense, and a listening ear might catch an
incessant, whispered trickle of falling petals, dropping "as the
honey-comb." The magnolia was beginning to add to its dark and shining
evergreen foliage frequent sprays of pale new leaves and long, slender,
buff buds of others yet to come. The oaks, both the bare-armed and the
"green-robed senators," the willows, and the plaqueminiers, were putting
out their subdued florescence as if they smiled in grave participation
with the laughing gardens. The homes that gave perfection to this beauty
were those old, large, belvidered colonial villas, of which you may
still here and there see one standing, battered into half ruin, high and
broad, among foundries, cotton-and tobacco-sheds, junk-yards, and
longshoremen's hovels, like one unconquered elephant in a wreck of
artillery. In Frowenfeld's day the "smell of their garments was like
Lebanon." They were seen by glimpses through chance openings in lofty
hedges of Cherokee-rose or bois-d'arc, under boughs of cedar or
pride-of-China, above their groves of orange or down their long,
overarched avenues of oleander; and the lemon and the pomegranate, the
banana, the fig, the shaddock, and at times even the mango and the
guava, joined "hands around" and tossed their fragrant locks above the
lilies and roses. Frowenfeld forgot to ask himself further concerning
the probable intent of M. Grandissime's invitation to ride; these
beauties seemed rich enough in good reasons. He felt glad and grateful.

At a certain point the two horses turned of their own impulse, as by
force of habit, and with a few clambering strides mounted to the top of
the levee and stood still, facing the broad, dancing, hurrying,
brimming river.

The Creole stole an amused glance at the elated, self-forgetful look of
his immigrant friend.

"Mr. Frowenfeld," he said, as the delighted apothecary turned with
unwonted suddenness and saw his smile, "I believe you like this better
than discussion. You find it easier to be in harmony with Louisiana than
with Louisianians, eh?"

Frowenfeld colored with surprise. Something unpleasant had lately
occurred in his shop. Was this to signify that M. Grandissime had
heard of it?

"I am a Louisianian," replied he, as if this were a point assailed.

"I would not insinuate otherwise," said M. Grandissime, with a kindly
gesture. "I would like you to feel so. We are citizens now of a
different government from that under which we lived the morning we first
met. Yet" - the Creole paused and smiled - "you are not, and I am glad you
are not, what we call a Louisianian."

Frowenfeld's color increased. He turned quickly in his saddle as if to
say something very positive, but hesitated, restrained himself
and asked:

"Mr. Grandissime, is not your Creole 'we' a word that does much damage?"

The Creole's response was at first only a smile, followed by a
thoughtful countenance; but he presently said, with some suddenness:

"My-de'-seh, yes. Yet you see I am, even this moment, forgetting we are
not a separate people. Yes, our Creole 'we' does damage, and our Creole
'you' does more. I assure you, sir, I try hard to get my people to
understand that it is time to stop calling those who come and add
themselves to the community, aliens, interlopers, invaders. That is what
I hear my cousins, 'Polyte and Sylvestre, in the heat of discussion,
called you the other evening; is it so?"

"I brought it upon myself," said Frowenfeld. "I brought it upon myself."

"Ah!" interrupted M. Grandissime, with a broad smile, "excuse me - I am
fully prepared to believe it. But the charge is a false one. I told them
so. My-de'-seh - I know that a citizen of the United States in the United
States has a right to become, and to be called, under the laws governing
the case, a Louisianian, a Vermonter, or a Virginian, as it may suit his
whim; and even if he should be found dishonest or dangerous, he has a
right to be treated just exactly as we treat the knaves and ruffians who
are native born! Every discreet man must admit that."

"But if they do not enforce it, Mr. Grandissime," quickly responded the
sore apothecary, "if they continually forget it - if one must surrender
himself to the errors and crimes of the community as he finds it - "

The Creole uttered a low laugh.

"Party differences, Mr. Frowenfeld; they have them in all countries."

"So your cousins said," said Frowenfeld.

"And how did you answer them?"

"Offensively," said the apothecary, with sincere mortification.

"Oh! that was easy," replied the other, amusedly; "but how?"

"I said that, having here only such party differences as are common
elsewhere, we do not behave as they elsewhere do; that in most civilized
countries the immigrant is welcome, but here he is not. I am afraid I
have not learned the art of courteous debate," said Frowenfeld, with a
smile of apology.

"'Tis a great art," said the Creole, quietly, stroking his horse's neck.
"I suppose my cousins denied your statement with indignation, eh?"

"Yes; they said the honest immigrant is always welcome."

"Well, do you not find that true?"

"But, Mr. Grandissime, that is requiring the immigrant to prove his
innocence!" Frowenfeld spoke from the heart. "And even the honest
immigrant is welcome only when he leaves his peculiar opinions behind
him. Is that right, sir?"

The Creole smiled at Frowenfeld's heat.

"My-de'-seh, my cousins complain that you advocate measures fatal to the
prevailing order of society."

"But," replied the unyielding Frowenfeld, turning redder than ever,
"that is the very thing that American liberty gives me the
right - peaceably - to do! Here is a structure of society defective,
dangerous, erected on views of human relations which the world is
abandoning as false; yet the immigrant's welcome is modified with the
warning not to touch these false foundations with one of his fingers."

"Did you tell my cousins the foundations of society here are false?"

"I regret to say I did, very abruptly. I told them they were privately
aware of the fact."

"You may say," said the ever-amiable Creole, "that you allowed debate to
run into controversy, eh?"

Frowenfeld was silent; he compared the gentleness of this Creole's
rebukes with the asperity of his advocacy of right, and felt humiliated.
But M. Grandissime spoke with a rallying smile.

"Mr. Frowenfeld, you never make pills with eight corners eh?"

"No, sir." The apothecary smiled.

"No, you make them round; cannot you make your doctrines the same way?
My-de'-seh, you will think me impertinent; but the reason I speak is
because I wish very much that you and my cousins would not be offended
with each other. To tell you the truth, my-de'-seh, I hoped to use you
with them - pardon my frankness."

"If Louisiana had more men like you, M. Grandissime," cried the
untrained Frowenfeld, "society would be less sore to the touch."

"My-de'-seh," said the Creole, laying his hand out toward his companion
and turning his horse in such a way as to turn the other also, "do me
one favor; remember that it _is_ sore to the touch."

The animals picked their steps down the inner face of the levee and
resumed their course up the road at a walk.

"Did you see that man just turn the bend of the road, away yonder?" the
Creole asked.

"Yes."

"Did you recognize him?"

"It was - my landlord, wasn't it?"

"Yes. Did he not have a conversation with you lately, too?"

"Yes, sir; why do you ask?"

"It has had a bad effect on him. I wonder why he is out here on foot?"

The horses quickened their paces. The two friends rode along in silence.
Frowenfeld noticed his companion frequently cast an eye up along the
distant sunset shadows of the road with a new anxiety. Yet, when M.
Grandissime broke the silence it was only to say:

"I suppose you find the blemishes in our state of society can all be
attributed to one main defect, Mr. Frowenfeld?"

Frowenfeld was glad of the chance to answer:

"I have not overlooked that this society has disadvantages as well as
blemishes; it is distant from enlightened centres; it has a language and
religion different from that of the great people of which it is now
called to be a part. That it has also positive blemishes of organism - "

"Yes," interrupted the Creole, smiling at the immigrant's sudden
magnanimity, "its positive blemishes; do they all spring from one
main defect?"

"I think not. The climate has its influence, the soil has its
influence - dwellers in swamps cannot be mountaineers."

"But after all," persisted the Creole, "the greater part of our troubles
comes from - "

"Slavery," said Frowenfeld, "or rather caste."

"Exactly," said M. Grandissime.

"You surprise me, sir," said the simple apothecary. "I supposed you
were - "

"My-de'-seh," exclaimed M. Grandissime, suddenly becoming very earnest,
"I am nothing, nothing! There is where you have the advantage of me. I
am but a _dilettante_, whether in politics, in philosophy, morals, or
religion. I am afraid to go deeply into anything, lest it should make
ruin in my name, my family, my property."

He laughed unpleasantly.

The question darted into Frowenfeld's mind, whether this might not be a
hint of the matter that M. Grandissime had been trying to see him about.

"Mr. Grandissime," he said, "I can hardly believe you would neglect a
duty either for family, property, or society."

"Well, you mistake," said the Creole, so coldly that Frowenfeld colored.



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