It is not at all certain that so hot a blood would not have boiled away entirely before the night of the bal masque, but for an event which led to the union of that blood with a stream equally clear and ruddy, but of a milder vintage. This event fell out some fifty-two years after that cast of the dice which made the princess Lufki-Humma the mother of all the Fusiliers and of none of the De Grapions. Clotilde, the Casket-Girl, the little maid who would not marry, was one of an heroic sort, worth—the De Grapions maintained—whole swampfuls of Indian queens. And yet the portrait of this great ancestress, which served as a pattern to one who, at the ball, personated the long-deceased heroine en masque, is hopelessly lost in some garret. Those Creoles have such a shocking way of filing their family relics and records in rat-holes.
One fact alone remains to be stated: that the De Grapions, try to spurn it as they would, never could quite suppress a hard feeling in the face of the record, that from the two young men, who, when lost in the horrors of Louisiana’s swamps, had been esteemed as good as dead, and particularly from him who married at his leisure,—from Zephyr de Grandissime,—sprang there so many as the sands of the Mississippi innumerable.
A MAIDEN WHO WILL NOT MARRY
Midway between the times of Lufki-Humma and those of her proud descendant, Agricola Fusilier, fifty-two years lying on either side, were the days of Pierre Rigaut, the magnificent, the “Grand Marquis,” the Governor, De Vaudreuil. He was the Solomon of Louisiana. For splendor, however, not for wisdom. Those were the gala days of license, extravagance and pomp. He made paper money to be as the leaves of the forest for multitude; it was nothing accounted of in the days of the Grand Marquis. For Louis Quinze was king.
Clotilde, orphan of a murdered Huguenot, was one of sixty, the last royal allotment to Louisiana, of imported wives. The king’s agents had inveigled her away from France with fair stories: “They will give you a quiet home with some lady of the colony. Have to marry?—not unless it pleases you. The king himself pays your passage and gives you a casket of clothes. Think of that these times, fillette; and passage free, withal, to—the garden of Eden, as you may call it—what more, say you, can a poor girl want? Without doubt, too, like a model colonist, you will accept a good husband and have a great many beautiful children, who will say with pride, ’Me, I am no House-of-Correction-girl stock; my mother’—or ‘grandmother,’ as the case may be—’was a fille a la cassette!’”
The sixty were landed in New Orleans and given into the care of the Ursuline nuns; and, before many days had elapsed, fifty-nine soldiers of the king were well wived and ready to settle upon their riparian land-grants. The residuum in the nuns’ hands was one stiff-necked little heretic, named, in part, Clotilde. They bore with her for sixty days, and then complained to the Grand Marquis. But the Grand Marquis, with all his pomp, was gracious and kind-hearted, and loved his ease almost as much as his marchioness loved money. He bade them try her another month. They did so, and then returned with her; she would neither marry nor pray to Mary.