He took his pirogue; but the bayou played with his impatience, maddened his passion, bringing him so near, to meander with him again so far away. There was only a short prairie between him and ——, a prairie thick with lily-roots—one could almost walk over their heads, so close, and gleaming in the moonlight. But this is all only inference.
The pirogue was found tethered to the paddle stuck upright in the soft bank, and—Adorine’s parents related the rest. Nothing else was found until the summer drought had bared the swamp.
There was a little girl in the house when we arrived—all else were in the field—a stupid, solemn, pretty child, the child of a brother. How she kept away from Adorine, and how much that testified!
It would have been too painful. The little arms around her neck, the head nestling to her bosom, sleepily pressing against it. And the little one might ask to be sung to sleep. Sung to sleep!
The little bed-chamber, with its high mattressed bed, covered with the Acadian home-spun quilt, trimmed with netting fringe, its bit of mirror over the bureau, the bottle of perfumed grease to keep the locks black and glossy, the prayer-beads and blessed palms hanging on the wall, the low, black polished spinning-wheel, the loom,—the metier d’ Adorine famed throughout the parish,—the ever goodly store of cotton and yarn hanks swinging from the ceiling, and the little square, open window which looked under the mossy oak-branches to look over the prairie; and once again all blue and white lilies—they were all there, as Adorine was there; but there was more—not there.
Old Jeanne Marie leaned her hand against the house, and the tears rolled down her cheeks. She had not wept since she buried her last child. With her it was one trouble, one weeping, no more; and her wrinkled, hard, polished skin so far had known only the tears that come after death. The trouble in her heart now was almost exactly like the trouble caused by death; although she knew it was not so bad as death, yet, when she thought of this to console herself, the tears rolled all the faster. She took the end of the red cotton kerchief tied over her head, and wiped them away; for the furrows in her face did not merely run up and down—they ran in all directions, and carried her tears all over her face at once. She could understand death, but she could not understand this.
It came about in this way: Anne Marie and she lived in the little red-washed cabin against which she leaned; had lived there alone with each other for fifty years, ever since Jeanne Marie’s husband had died, and the three children after him, in the fever epidemic.
The little two-roomed cabin, the stable where there used to be a cow, the patch of ground planted with onions, had all been bought and paid for by the husband; for he was a thrifty, hard-working Gascon, and had he lived there would not have been one better off, or with a larger family, either in that quarter or in any of the red-washed suburbs with which Gascony has surrounded New Orleans. His women, however,—the wife and sister-in-law,—had done their share in the work: a man’s share apiece, for with the Gascon women there is no discrimination of sex when it comes to work.