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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!"
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 manœuvre 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
"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. 'T is 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.
"De man what kill' him git away! You t'ink I git marrie' while dat man alive? Ho-o-o! You t'ink I let Marguerite see me do dat? Ah, naw!" She waved him away and turned to leave the spot, but he pressed after, and she paused once more. A new possibility lighted his eyes. He said eagerly:
"Describe the man to me. Describe him. How tall was he? How old would he be now? Did they try to catch him? Did you hear me talking yesterday about a man? Is there any picture of him? Have you got one? Yes, you have; it's in your pocket now with your hand on it. Let me see it."
"Ah! I di' n' want you to see dat!" "No, I don't suppose, as far as you know yourself, you did." He received it from her, and, with his eyes still on her, continued: "No, but you knew that if I got a ghost of a chance I'd see you alone. You knew what I'd ask you- - yes, you did, Josephine, and you put this thing into your pocket to make it easier to say no."
"Hah! easier! Hah! easier! I need somethin' to help me do dat? Hah! 'Tis not so! But the weakness of the wordy denial was it self almost a confession.
They moved on. A few steps brought them into better light. Mr. Tarbox looked at the picture. Zoséphine saw a slight flash of recognition. He handed it back in silence, and they walked on, saying not a word until they reached the stile. But there, putting his foot upon it to bar the way, he said:
"Josephine, the devil never bid so high for me before in his life as he 's bidding for me now. And there's only one thing in the way; he 's bid too late."
Her eyes flashed with injured resentment. "Ah, you! you dawn't know nut'n'-" But he interrupted:
"Stop, I don't mean more than just what I say. Six years ago-six and a half-I met a man of a kind I'd never met, to know it, before. You know who I mean, don't you?" "Bonaventure ?"
"Yes. That meeting made a turning-point in my life. You've told me that whatever is best in you you owe to him. Well, knowing him as I do, I can believe it; and if it's true, then it's the same with me; for first he, and then you, have made another man out of me." "Ah, naw! Bonaventure, may be; but not me; ah, naw!"
"But I tell you, yes! you, Josephine! I'm poor sort enough, yet; but I could have done things once that I can't do now. There was a time when if some miserable outlaw stood, or even seemed, maybe, to stand between me and my chances for happiness, I could have handed him over to human justice, so called,
as easy as wink; but now? No, never any more! Josephine, I know that man whose picture I've just looked at. I could see you avenged. I could lay my hands, and the hands of the law, on him inside of twenty-four hours. You say you can't marry till the law has laid its penalties on him, or at least while he lives and escapes them. Is that right?"
Zoséphine had set her face to oppose his words only with unyielding silence, but the answer escaped her:
Yass, 't is so. 'Tis ri-ight!"
"No, Josephine. I know you feel as if it were; but you don't think so. No, you don't; I know you better in this matter than you know yourself, and you don't think it's right. You know justice belongs to the State, and that when you talk to yourself about what you owe to justice it means something else, that you 're too sweet and good to give the right name to and still want it. You don't want it; you don't want revenge, and here's the proof; for, Josephine, you know, and I know, that if I- -even without speaking with no more than one look of the eye - should offer to buy your favor at that price, even ever so lawfully, you'd thank me for one minute and then loathe me to the end of your days."
Zoséphine's face had lost its hardness. It was drawn with distress. With a gesture of repulsion and pain she exclaimed:
"I di' n' mean- I di' n' mean "What? private revenge? No, of course you did n't! But what else would it be? O Josephine! don't I know you did n't mean it ? Did n't I tell you so? But I want you to go farther. I want you to put away forever the feeling. I want to move and stand between you and it, and say - whatever it costs me to say it-God forbid! I do say it; I say it now. I can't say more; I can't say less; and somehow,- I don't know how - wherever you learned it — I 've learned it from you."
Zoséphine opened her lips to refuse; but they closed and tightened upon each other, her narrowed eyes sent short flashes out upon his, and her breath came and went long and deep without sound. But at his last words she saw-the strangest thing - to be where she saw it—a tear tears· standing in his eyes; saw them a moment, and then could see them no more for her own. Her lips relaxed, her form drooped, she lifted her face to reply, but her mouth twitched; she could not speak.
"I'm not so foolish as I look," he said, trying to smile away his emotion. "If the State chose to hunt him out and put him to trial and punishment, I don't say I'd stand in the way; that's the State's business; that 's for the public safety. But it 's too late-you and Bonaventure have made it too late - for me
to help any one, least of all the one I love, to be revenged." He saw his words were prevailing and followed them up. "Oh! you don't need it any more than you really want it, Josephine. You must n't ever look toward it again. I throw myself and my love across the path. Don't walk over us. Take my hand; give me yours; come another way; and if you 'll let such a poor excuse for a teacher and guide help you, I'll help you all I can to learn to say, Forgive us our trespasses.' You can begin now, by forgiving me. I may have thrown away my last chance with you, but I can't help it; it's my love that spoke. And if I have spoiled all, and if for the tears you 're shedding I've got to pay with the greatest disappointment of my life, still I 've had the glory and the sanctification of loving you. If I must say, I can say,
"T is better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all.'
Must I? Are you going to make me say that?" Zoséphine, still in tears, silently and with drooping head pushed her way across the stile and left him standing on the other side. He sent one pleading word after her:
"Isn't it most too late to go the rest of the way alone?"
She turned, lifted her eyes to his for an instant, and nodded. In a twinkling he was at her side. She glanced at him again and said quite contentedly:
"Yass; 't is so," and they went the short remnant of the way together.
THE BEAUSOLEILS AND THE ST. PIERRES.
You think of going to New Orleans in the spring. Certainly the spring is the time to go. When you find yourself there go some day for luncheon - if they haven't moved it: there is talk of that— to the Christian Women's Exchange, already mentioned, in the Rue Bourbon,- French Quarter. You step immediately from the sidewalk into the former drawingroom of a house built early in the century as a fashionable residence. That at least is its aspect. Notice, for instance, in the back parlor, crowded now, like the front one, with eating-tables, a really interesting old wooden mantel-piece. Of course this is not the way persons used to go in old times. They entered in by the porte-cochère and carriageway upon which these drawing-rooms still open by several glass doors on your right. Step out there. You find a veranda crowded with neat whiteclothed tables. Before some late alterations, there was a great trellis full of green sunshine and broken breezes entangled among vines of
trumpet-creeper and the Scuppernong grape. Here you will be waited on, by small, bluecalico-robed damsels of Methodist unsophistication and Presbyterian propriety, to excellent refreshment; only, if you know your soul's true interest, eschew their fresh bread and insist on having yesterday's.
However, that is a matter of taste there, and no matter at all here. All I need to add is that there are good apartments overhead to be rented to women too good for this world, and that in the latter end of April, 1884, Zoséphine and Marguerite Beausoleil here made their home.
The tavern was sold. The old life was left far behind. They had done that dreadful thing. that everybody deprecates and everybody likes to do-left the country and come to live in the city. And Zoséphine was well pleased. A man who had tried and failed to be a merchant in the city, and his wife, took the tavern; so Zoséphine had not reduced the rural population-had not sinned against "stastistics."
Besides, she had the good conscience of put U. and I. having fled from Mr. Tarbox apart, as it were- and yet without being so find her. Just now he was far away prosecuthid but a suitor's proper persistency could ing the commerical interests of Claude's one or two inventions; but he was having great success; he wrote once or twice - but got no reply and hoped to be back within a month.
of each of these letters, thought she saw a When Marguerite, after her mother's receipt cloud on her brow, Zoséphine explained, with a revival of that old look of sweet self command which the daughter so loved to see, that they contained matters of business not at all to be called troubles. But the little mother did not show the letters. She could not; Marguerite did not even know their writer had changed his business. As to Claude, his name was never mentioned. Each supposed the other was ignorant that he was in the city, and because he was never mentioned each one knew the other was thinking of him.
Ah, Claude! what are you thinking of? Has not your new partner in business told you they are here? No, not a word of it. "That 'll keep till I get back," Mr. Tarbox had said to himself; and such shrewdness was probably not so ungenerous after all. "If you want a thing done well, do it yourself," he said one evening to a man who could not make out what he was driving at; and later, Mr. Tarbox added to himself, "The man that flies the kite must hold the thread." So he kept his counsel.
But that does not explain. For we remember that Claude already knew that Marguerite was in the city, at least had her own mother's
word for it. Here, weeks had passed. New Orleans is not so large; its active center is very small. Even by accident, on the street, Canal street especially, he should have seen her time and again.
He did not; at any rate, not to know it. She really kept very busy indoors; and in other doors so did he. More than that, there was his father. When the two first came to the city St. Pierre endured the town for a week. But it was martyrdom doing it. Claude saw this. Mr. Tarbox was with him the latter part of the week. He saw it. He gave his suggestive mind to it for one night. The next day St. Pierre and he wandered off in streetcars and on foot, and by the time the sun went down again a new provision had been made. At about ninety minutes' jaunt from the city's center, up the river, and on its farther shore, near where the old "Company Canal" runs from a lock in the river bank, back through the swamps and into the Baratarian lakes, St. Pierre had bought with his lifetime savings a neat house and fair-sized orangery. No fields? None.
"You see, bom-bye Claude git doze new mash-in all right, he go to ingineerin' ag'in, and him and you [Tarbox] be takin' some cawntrac' for buil' levee or break up old steamboat, or raise somet'in' what been sunk, or somet'in' dat way. And den he certain' want someboddie to boss gang o' fellows. And den he say, 'Papa, I want you.' And den I say how I got fifty arpent'* rice in field. And den he say, 'How I goin' do wid out you?' And den dare be fifty arpent' rice gone." No, no fields.
Better here, with the vast wet forest at his back; the river at his feet; the canal, the key to all Barataria, Lafourche, and Terrebonne, full of Acadian fishermen, hunters, timber-cutters, moss-gatherers, and the like; the great city in sight from yonder neighbor's balustraded house-top; and Claude there to rally to his side or he to Claude's at a moment's warning. He would be an operator - think of that! not of the telegraph; a commercial operator in the wild products of the swamp, the prairies tremblantes, the lakes, and in the small harvests of the pointes and bayou margins: moss, saw-logs, venison, wild-duck, fish, crabs, shrimp, melons, garlic, oranges, Perique to bacco. "Knowledge is power." He knew wood, water, and sky by heart; spoke two languages; could read and write, and understood the ways and tastes of two or three odd sorts of lowly human kind. Self-command is dominion; I do not say the bottle never went to his lips, but it never was lifted high. And now to the blessed maxim gotten from BonaForty-two acres.
venture he added one given him by Tarbox: "In h-union ees strank!" Not mere union of hands alone, but of counsels! There were Claude and Tarbox and he! For instance : at Mr. Tarbox's suggestion Claude brought to his father from the city every evening, now the "Picayune" and now the "TimesDemocrat." From European and national news he modestly turned aside. Whether he read the book-notices I do not know; I hope not. But when he had served supper- he was a capital camp-cook — and he and Claude had eaten, and their pipes were lighted, you should have seen him scanning the latest quotations and debating the fluctuations of the moss market, the shrimp market, and the garlic market!
Thus Claude was rarely in the city save in the busy hours of the day. Much oftener than otherwise he saw the crimson sunsets and the cool purple sunrises as he and St. Pierre pulled in the father's skiff diagonally to or fro across the Mississippi between their cottage and the sleepy outposts of city street-cars just under the levee at the edge of that green oak-dotted plain where a certain man, as gentle, shy, and unworldly as our engineer friend thought Claude to be, was raising the vast buildings of the next year's Universal Exposition.
But all this explains only why Claude did not, to his knowledge, see Marguerite by accident. Yet by intention! why not by intention? First, there was his fear of sinning against his father's love. That alone might have failed to hold him back; but, second, there was his helplessness. Love made Tarbox brave; it made Claude a coward. And, third, there was that helpless terror of society in general, of which we have heard his friend talk. I have seen a strong horse sink trembling to the earth at the beating of an empty drum. Claude looked with amazed despair at a man's ability to overtake a pretty acquaintance in Canal street and walk and talk with her. He often asked himself how he had ever been a moment at his ease those November evenings in the tavern's back-parlor at Vermillionville. It was because he had a task there; sociality was not the business of the hour.
Now I have something else to confess about Claude; something mortifying in the extreme. For you see the poverty of all these explanations. Their very multitude makes. them weak. "Many fires cannot quench love." What was the real matter? I will tell.
Claude's love was a deep sentiment. He had never allowed it to assert itself as a passion. The most he would allow it to be was a yearning. It was scarcely personal. While he was with Marguerite in the inn, his diffidence alone was enough to hide from him the impression she was making on his heart. In all