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write me letter, when you was yondah, you like him fus' class!"

Claude let silence speak consent. He stooped and began to load himself with their joint property. He had had, in his life, several sorts of trouble of mind; only just now at twenty was he making the acquaintance of his conscience. Vermillionville was the call that had been sounding within him all these months, and Marguerite was the haunting fantasy.



I WOULD not wish to offend the self-regard of Vermillionville. But-what a place in which to seek enlargement of life! I know worth and greatness have sometimes, not to say ofttimes, emerged from much worse spots-from little lazy villages, noisy only on Sunday, with grimier court-houses, deeper dust and mud, their trade more entirely in the hands of ratfaced Isaacs and Jacobs, with more frequent huge and solitary swine slowly scavenging about in abysmal self-occupation, fewer vineclad cottages, raggeder negroes, and more decay. Vermillionville is not the worst, at all. I have known lives to be large and grow large there.

Hither came the two St. Pierres. "No," Claude said; "we will not go to the Beausoleil house." Privately, he would make himself believe he had not returned to anything named Beausoleil, but only and simply to Vermillionville. On a corner opposite the public square there was another "hotel," and it was no great matter to them if it was mostly pine-boards, pale wall-paper, and transferable whitewash. But, not to be outdone by its rival around the corner, it had, besides, a piano of a quality you may guess, and a landlady's daughter who seven times a day played and sang, "I want to be somebody's darling," and had no want beyond. The travelers turned thence, found a third house full, conjectured the same of the only remaining one, and took their way, after all, towards Zoséphine's. It was quite right, now, to go there, thought Claude, since destiny led; and so he let it lead both his own steps and the thumping boots of this dear figure in Campeachy hat and soft, untrimmed beard, that followed ever at his side.

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expecting to find her still a tavern maid! So, farewell, fantasy! 'Twas better so; much better. Now life was simplified. Oh, yes; and St. Pierre made matters better still by saying to Zoséphine:

"I di' n' know you got one li'l' gal. Claude never tell me 'bout dat. I 'spec' dat why he dawn't want come yeh. He dawn't like gal; he run f'om 'em like dog from yalla-jacket. He dawn't like none of 'm. What he like, dass his daddy. He jus' married to his daddy." The father dropped his hand, smilingly, upon his son's shoulder with a weight that would have crushed it in had it been ordinary castiron.

Claude took the hand and held it, while Zoséphine smiled and secretly thanked God that her child was away. In her letters to Marguerite she made no haste to mention the young man's reappearance, and presently a small thing occurred that made it well that she had left it untold.

With Claude and his father some days passed unemployed. Yet both felt them to be heavy with significance. The weight and pressure of new and, to them, large conditions were putting their inmost quality to proof. Claude saw now what he could not see before - why his friend, the engineer, had cast him loose without a word of advice as to where he should go or what he should do. It was because by asking no advice he had really purposed to be his own master. Now, could he do it? Dare he try it?

The first step he took was taken, I suppose, instinctively rather than intelligently; certainly it was perilous; he retreated into himself. St. Pierre found work afield, for of this sort there was plenty; the husbandmen's year, and the herders', too, were just gathering good momentum. But Claude now stood looking on empty-handed where other men were busy with agricultural utensils or machine; or now kept his room, whittling out the toy miniature of some apparatus, which when made was not like the one he had seen. At last a great distress began to fill the father's mind. There had been a time when he could be idle and whittle; but that time had gone by. That was at Grande Pointe, and now for his son-for Claude-to become a lounger in tavern quarters - Claude had not announced himself to Vermillionville as a surveyor, or as anything

Claude to be a hater of honest labor — was this what Bonaventure called civilize-ation? Better, surely better, go back to the old pastoral life. How yearningly it was calling them to its fragrant bosom! And almost everything was answering the call. The town was tricking out its neglected decay with great trailing robes of roses. The spade and the hoe

were busy in front flower-beds and rear kitchengardens. Lanes were green, skies blue, roads good. In the bas fonds the oaks of many kinds and the tupelo-gums were hiding all their gray in shimmering green; from their leafy covert, and in the reedy marshes, all the feathered flocks not gone away north were broken into nesting pairs; in the fields crops were springing almost at the sowers' heels; on the prairie pastures, once so vast, now being narrowed so fast by the people's thrift, the flocks and herds ate eagerly of the bright new grass, and foals, calves, and lambs stood and staggered on their first legs, while in the door-yards housewives, hens, and mother geese warned away the puppies and children from downy broods under the shade of the china-trees. But Claude? Even his books lay unstudied and his instruments gathered dust, while he pottered over two or three little wooden things that a boy could not play with without breaking. At last St. Pierre could bear it no longer.

"Well, Claude, dass ten days han'-runnin' now, we ain't do nothin' but whittlin'."

Claude slowly pushed his model from him, looked, as one in a dream, into his father's face, and suddenly and for the first time saw what that father had suffered for a fortnight. But into his own face there came no distress; only, for a moment, a look of tender protestation, and then strong hope and confidence.

"Yass," he said, rising, "dass true. But we dawn't got whittle no mo'." He pointed to the model, then threw his strong arms akimbo and asked, "You know what is dat?"

"Naw," replied the father, "I dunno. I t'ink 't ain't no real mash-in * 'cause I dawn't never see nut'n' like dat at Belle Alliance plant-ation, neider at Belmont; and I know, me, if anybody got one mash-in, any place, for do anyt'in' mo' betteh or mo' quicker, Mister Walleece an' M'sieu Le Bourgeois dey boun' to 'ave 'em. Can't hitch nut'n' to dat t'ing you got dare. She too small for a rat. What she is, Claude?"

A yet stronger hope and courage lighted Claude's face. He laid one hand upon the table before him and the other upon the shoulder of his sitting companion.

"Papa, if you want to go wid me to de city, we make one big enough for two mule'. Dass a mash-in — a new mash-inmy mash-in my invention!"

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"Invench? What dat is-invench?" Some one knocked on the door. Claude lifted the model, moved on tiptoe, and placed it softly under the bed. As he rose and turned again with reddened face, a card was slipped under the door. He took it and read, in a pencil scrawl," State Superintendent of Public

* Machine.

Education". looked at his father with a broad grin, and opened the door.

Mr. Tarbox had come at the right moment. There was a good hour and a half of the afternoon still left, and he and Claude took a walk together. Beyond a stile and a frail bridge that spanned a gully at one end of the town a noble avenue of oaks leads toward Vermillion River. On one side of this avenue the town has since begun to spread, but at that time there were only wide fields on the right hand and on the left. At the farther end a turn almost at right angles to the left takes you through a great gate and across the railway, then along a ruined hedge of roses, and presently into the oak-grove of the old exgovernor's homestead. This was their walk.

By the time they reached the stile Claude had learned that his friend was at the head of his line, and yet had determined to abandon that line for another—

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Also that his friend had liked him, had watched him, would need him, and was willing then and there to assure him a modest salary, the amount of which he specified, simply to do whatever he might call upon him to do in his (Claude's) "line."

They were walking slowly, and now and then more slowly still. As they entered the avenue of oaks, Claude declined the offer. Then they went very slowly indeed. Claude learned that Mr. Tarbox, by some chance not explained, had been in company with his friend the engineer; that the engineer had said, "Tarbox, you 're a born contractor," and that Claude and he would make a "strong team"; that Mr. Tarbox's favorite study was human nature; that he knew talent when he saw it; had studied Claude; had fully expected him to decline to be his employee, and liked him the better for so doing.

"That was just a kind of test vote; see?" Then Mr. Tarbox offered Claude a partnership; not an equal one, but withal a fair interest.

"We've got to commence small and branch out gradually; see?" And Claude saw.

"Now, you wonder why I don't go in alone. Well, I'll tell you; and when I tell you, I'll astonish you. I lack education! Now, Claude, I'm taking you into my confidence. You 've done nothing but go to school and study for about six years. I had a different kind of father from yours; I never got one solid year's schooling, all told, in my life. I 've picked up cords of information; but an ounce of education 's worth a ton of information. Don't you believe that? Eh? It's so! I say it, and I'm

the author of the A. of U. I.' I like to call it that, because it brings you and I so near together; see?" The speaker smiled, was still, and resumed:

"That's why I need you. And I'm just as sure you need me. I need not only the education you have now, but what you 're getting every day. When you see me you see a man who is always looking awa-a-ay ahead. I see what you're going to be, and I'm making this offer to the Claude St. Pierre of the future."

Mr. Tarbox waited for a reply. The avenue had been passed, the railway crossed, and the hedge skirted. They loitered slowly into the governor's grove, under whose canopy the beams of the late afternoon sun were striking and glancing. But all their light seemed hardly so much as that which danced in the blue eyes of Mr. Tarbox while Claude slowly said:

"I dunno if we can fix dat. I was glad to see you comin'. I reckon you jus' right kind of man I want. I jus' make a new invention. I t'ink 'f you find dass good, dat be cawntrac' enough for right smart while. And beside', I t'ink I invent some mo' b'fo' long."

But Mr. Tarbox was not rash. He only asked quiet and careful questions for some time. The long sunset was sending its last rays across the grove-dotted land, and the birds in every tree were filling the air with their sunset song-burst, when the two friends reëntered the avenue of oaks. They had agreed to join their fortunes. Now their talk drifted upon other subjects.

"I came back to Vermillionville purposely to see you," said Mr. Tarbox. "But I'll tell you privately, you was n't the only cause of my coming."

Claude looked at him suddenly. Was this another haunted man? Were there two men haunted and only one fantasy? He felt ill at ease. Mr. Tarbox saw, but did not understand. He thought it best to speak plainly.

"I'm courting her, Claude; and I think I'm going to get her."

Claude stopped short, with jaws set and a bad look in his eye.

"Git who?"

But Mr. Tarbox was calm even complacent. He pushed his silk hat from his forehead, and said:

"One made up

Of loveliness alone;

A woman, of her gentle sex The seeming paragon.'

I refer to the Rose of Vermillionville, the Pearl of the Parish, the loveliest love and fairest fair that ever wore the shining name of Beausoleil. She's got to change it to Tarbox, Claude. Before yon sun has run its course again, I'm going to ask her for the second time. I've

just begun asking, Claude; I'm going to keep it up till she says yes."

"She's not yondah!" snarled Claude, with the frown and growl of a mastiff. "She's gone to de city."

Mr. Tarbox gazed a moment in blank amazement. Then he slowly lifted his hat from his head, expanded his eyes, drew a long slow groan, turned slowly half around, let the inhalation go in a keen, continuous whistle, and cried:

"Oh! taste! taste! who 's got the taste! What do you take me for? Who are you talking about? That little monkey! Why, man alive, it's the mother I 'm after; ha, ha, ha!"

If Claude said anything in reply, I can not imagine what it was. Mr. Tarbox had a right to his opinion and taste, if taste it could be called, and Claude was helpless to resent it, even in words; but for hours afterward he execrated his offender's stupidity, little guessing that Mr. Tarbox, in a neighboring chamber, alone, and in his night-robe, was bending, smiting his thigh in silent merriment, and whispering to himself:

"He thinks I'm an ass! He thinks I'm an ass! He can't see that I was simply investigating him!"



CLAUDE and his father left the next day. Saturday. Only the author of the "A. of U. I." knew whither they were gone. As they were going, he said very privately to Claude:

"I'll be with you day after to-morrow. You can't be ready for me before then, and you and your father can take Sunday to look around and kind o' see the city. But don't go into the down-town part; you'll not like it; nothing but narrow streets and old buildings with histories to 'em, and gardens hid away inside of 'em, and damp archways, and paganlooking females, who can't talk English, peeping out over balconies that offer to drop down on you and then don't keep their word; everything old-timey, and Frenchy, and Spanishy; unprogressive-you would n't like it. Go uptown. That 's American. It's new and fresh. There you'll find beautiful mansions; mostly frame, it's true, but made to look like stone, you know. There you 'll see wealth! There 'll get the broad daylight the merry, you merry sunshine, that makes the heart so gay'; see? Yes, and Monday we'll meet at Jones's, 17 Tchoupitoulas street; all right; I'll be on hand. But to-day and to-morrow - 'Alabama'

-'here I rest.' I feel constrained"- he laid his hand upon his heart, closed one eye, and whispered "to stay. I would fain spend

the Sabbath in sweet Vermillionville. You get my idea?

The Sabbath afternoon beyond the town, where Mr. Tarbox strolled, was lovelier than can be told. Yet he was troubled. Zoséphine had not thus far given him a moment alone. I suppose when a hundred generations more have succeeded us on the earth, lovers will still be blind to the fact that women do not do things our way. How can they? That would be capitulation at once, and even we should find the whole business as stupid as shooting barn-yard fowls.

Zoséphine had walked out earlier than Tarbox. He had seen her go, but dared not follow. He read "Thou shalt not," as plain as print, on her back as she walked quietly away; that same little peremptory back that once in her father's caleche used to hold itself stiff when 'Thanase rode up behind. The occasional townsman that lifted his slouch hat in deep deference to her silent bow did not read unusual care on her fair brow; yet she, too, was troubled.

Marguerite! she was the trouble. Zoséphine knew her child could never come back to these old surroundings and be content. The mother was not willing she should. She looked at a photograph that her daughter had lately sent her. What a change from the child that had left her! It was like the change from a leaf to a flower. There was but one thing to do-follow her. So Zoséphine had resolved to sell the inn. She was gone now to talk with the old exgovernor about finding a purchaser. Her route was not by the avenue of oaks, but around by a northern and then an eastern circuit. She knew Mr. Tarbox must have seen her go; had a genuine fear that he would guess whither she was bound, and yet, deeper down in her heart than woman ever lets soliloquy go, was willing he should. For she had another trouble. We shall come to that presently.

Her suitor walked in the avenue of oaks. "She's gone," he said to himself, "to consult the governor about something, and she 'll come back this way." He loitered out across fields, but not too far off or out of sight, and by and by there she came, with just the slightest haste in her walk. She received him with kindly reserve, and they went more slowly, together.

She told where she had been, and that the governor approved a decision she had made. "Yass; I goin' sell my hotel."

"He's right!" exclaimed her companion, with joy; "and you 're right!"

"Well, 't ain't sold yet," she responded. She did not smile as she looked at him. He read trouble, some trouble apart from the subject, in her quiet, intense eyes.

"You know somboddie want buy dat?" she asked.

"I'll find some one," he promptly replied. Then they talked a little about the proper price for it, and then were very still until Mr. Tarbox said:

"I walked out here hoping to meet you." Madame Beausoleil looked slightly startled, and then bowed gravely.

"Yes; I want your advice. It's only business, but it's important, and it's a point where a woman's instinct is better than a man's judgment."

There was some melancholy satire in her responding smile, but it passed away, and Mr. Tarbox went on :

"You never liked my line of business—' Zoséphine interrupted, with kind resentment, "Ah!"

"No; I know you did n't. You 're one of the few women whose subscription I've sought in vain. Till then, I loved my business. I've never loved it since. I've decided to sell out and quit. I'm going into another business; one that you'll admire. I don't say anything about the man going into it

"Honor and shame from no condition rise; Act well your part, there all the honor lies'

but I want your advice about the party I think of going in with. It 's Claude St. Pierre."

Zoséphine turned upon the speaker a look of steady penetration. He met it with a glance of perfect confiding. "She sees me," he said, at the same time, far within himself.

It was as natural to Mr. Tarbox to spin a web as it is for a spider. To manoeuvre was the profoundest instinct of his unprofound nature. Zoséphine felt the slender threads weaving around her. But in her heart of hearts there was a certain pleasure in being snared. It could not, to her, seem wholly bad for Tarbox to play spider, provided he should play the harmless spider. Mr. Tarbox spoke again, and she listened amiably.

"Claude is talented. He has what I have n't; I have what he has n't; and together we could make each other's fortunes, if he 's only the square, high-style fellow I think he is. I'm a student of human nature, and I think I've made him out. I think he 'll do to tie to. But will he? You can tell me. You read people by instinct. I ask you just as a matter of business advice and in business confidence. What do you think? Will you trust me and tell me -as my one only trusted friend-freely and fully - as I would tell you?”

Madame Beausoleil felt the odds against her, but she looked into her companion's face

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“Yass,” she said, very sadly and sweetly. "Thanks! And if Claude and I become partners, that will naturally bring him into our circle, as it were; see?"

The little madame looked up with a sudden austere exaltation of frame and intensity of face, but her companion rushed on with"And I'm going to tell you, let the risk to me be what it may, that it may result in great unhappiness to Claude; for he loves your daughter, who, I know, you must think too good for him!"

Madame Beausoleil blushed as though she herself were Marguerite and Tarbox were Claude.

"Ah! love Marguerite! Naw, naw! He dawn't love noboddie but hees papa! Hees papa tell me dat! Ah, naw! 't is not so!"

Mr. Tarbox stopped still; and when Zoséphine saw they were in the shadow of the trees, while all about them was brightened by the momentary southern twilight, she, too, stopped, and he spoke :

"What brought Claude back here when by right he should have gone straight to the city? You might have guessed it when you saw him." He paused to let her revolve the thought, and added in his own mind, "If you had disliked the idea, you 'd 'a' suspected him quick enough"- and was pleased. He spoke again. "But I did n't stop with guessing."

Zoséphine looked up to his face from the little foot that edgewise was writing nothings in the dust.

"No," continued her companion. "I walked with him two evenings ago in this avenue; and right where we stand now, without his ever knowing it then or now-he as good as told me. Yes, Josephine, he dares to love your beautiful and accomplished daughter! The thought may offend you, but—was I not right to tell you?"

She nodded and began to move slowly on, he following.

"I'm not betraying any one's confidence," persisted he; "but I can't help but have a care for you. Not that you need it, or anybody's. You can take care of yourself if any man or woman can. Every time your foot touches the ground it says so as plain as words. That's what first caught my fancy. You

haven't got to have somebody to take care of you. O Josephine! that's just why I want to take care of you so bad! I can take care of myself, and I used to like to do it; I was just that selfish and small; but love's widened me. I can take care of myself; but, oh! what satisfaction is there in it? Is there any? Now, I ask you! It may do for you, for you 're worth taking care of; but I want to take care of something I need n't be ashamed to love!" He softly stole her hand as they went. She let it stay, yet looked away from him, up through the darkling branches, and distressfully shook her head.

"Don't, Josephine! - don't do that! I want you to take care of me. You could do better, I know, if love was n't the count; but when it comes to loving you, I'm the edition deloox! I know you've an aspiring nature, but so have I; and I believe with you to love and you loving me, and counseling and guiding me, I could climb high. O Josephine! it is n't this poor Tarbox I 'm asking you to give yourself to; it's the Tarbox that is to be; it's the coming Tarbox! Why, it's even a good business move! If it was n't, I would n't say a word! You know I can, and will, take the very best care of everything you 've got; and I know you'll take the same of mine. It's a good move, every way. Why, here's everything just fixed for it! Listen to the mocking-bird! See him yonder, just at the right of the stile. See! O Josephine! don't you see he is n't

"Still singing where the weeping-willow waves'; he 's on the myrtle; the myrtle, Josephine, and the crape-myrtle at that!-widowhood, unwidowed! - Now he's on the fence-but he'll not stay there,-and you must n't either!" The suitor smiled at his own ludicrousness, yet for all that looked beseechingly in earnest. He stood still again, continuing to hold her hand. She stole a furtive glance here and there for possible spectators. He smiled again.

"You don't see anybody; the world waives its claim." But there was such distress in her face that his smile passed away, and he made a new effort to accommodate his suit to her mood. "Josephine, there's no eye on us except it's overhead. Tell me this: if he that was yours until ten years ago was looking down now and could speak to us, don't you believe he 'd say yes?"

"Oh! I dunno. Not to-day! Not dis day!" The widow's eyes met his gaze of tender inquiry and then sank to the ground. She shook her head mournfully. "Naw, naw; not dis day. 'Tis to-day 'Thanase was kill'!"

Mr. Tarbox relaxed his grasp and Zoséphine's hand escaped. She never had betrayed to him so much distress as filled her face now.

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