“An’ you,” exclaimed Aurora, “it is nod pozzyble dad you—”
“I tole ’im I know ’im bette’n ‘e know annyt’in’ ’boud id!”
The speaker dropped her face into her mother’s lap.
“Ha, ha!” laughed Aurora, “an’ wad of dad? I would say dad, me, fo’ time’ a day. I gi’e you my word ‘e don godd dad sens’ to know wad dad mean.”
“Ah! don godd sens’!” cried Clotilde, lifting her head up suddenly with a face of agony. “’E reg—’e reggo-ni-i-ize me!”
Aurora caught her daughter’s cheeks between her hands and laughed all over them.
“Mais, don you see ‘ow dad was luggy? Now, you know?—’e goin’ fall in love wid you an’ you goin’ ’ave dad sadizfagzion to rif-use de biggis’ hand in Noo-’leans. An’ you will be h-even, ha, ha! Bud me—you wand to know wad I thing aboud ’im? I thing ‘e is one—egcellen’ drug-cl—ah, ha, ha!”
Clotilde replied with a smile of grieved incredulity.
“De bez in de ciddy!” insisted the other. She crossed the forefinger of one hand upon that of the other and kissed them, reversed the cross and kissed them again. “Mais, ad de sem tam,” she added, giving her daughter time to smile, “I thing ’e is one noble gen’leman. Nod to sood me, of coze, mais, ca fait rien—daz nott’n; me, I am now a h’ole woman, you know, eh? Noboddie can’ nevva sood me no mo’, nod ivven dad Govenno’ Cleb-orne.”
She tried to look old and jaded.
“Ah, Govenno’ Cleb-orne!” exclaimed Clotilde.
“Yass!—Ah, you!—you thing iv a man is nod a Creole ’e bown to be no ‘coun’! I assu’ you dey don’ godd no boddy wad I fine a so nize gen’leman lag Govenno’ Cleb-orne! Ah! Clotilde, you godd no lib’ral’ty!”
The speaker rose, cast a discouraged parting look upon her narrow-minded companion and went to investigate the slumbrous silence of the kitchen.
AURORA’S LAST PICAYUNE
Not often in Aurora’s life had joy and trembling so been mingled in one cup as on this day. Clotilde wept; and certainly the mother’s heart could but respond; yet Clotilde’s tears filled her with a secret pleasure which fought its way up into the beams of her eyes and asserted itself in the frequency and heartiness of her laugh despite her sincere participation in her companion’s distresses and a fearful looking forward to to-morrow.
Why these flashes of gladness? If we do not know, it is because we have overlooked one of her sources of trouble. From the night of the bal masque she had—we dare say no more than that she had been haunted; she certainly would not at first have admitted even so much to herself. Yet the fact was not thereby altered, and first the fact and later the feeling had given her much distress of mind. Who he was whose image would not down, for a long time she did not know. This, alone, was torture; not merely because it was mystery, but because it helped to force upon her consciousness that her affections, spite of her, were ready and waiting for him and he did not come after them. That he loved her, she knew; she had achieved at the ball an overwhelming victory, to her certain knowledge, or, depend upon it, she never would have unmasked—never.