Palmyre had needed no pleading to induce her to exonerate Joseph. The doctors were present at Frowenfeld’s in more than usual number. There was unusualness, too, in their manner and their talk. They were not entirely free from the excitement of the day, and as they talked—with an air of superiority, of Creole inflammability, and with some contempt—concerning Camille Brahmin’s and Charlie Mandarin’s efforts to precipitate a war, they were yet visibly in a state of expectation. Frowenfeld, they softly said, had in his odd way been indiscreet among these inflammables at Maspero’s just when he could least afford to be so, and there was no telling what they might take the notion to do to him before bedtime. All that over and above the independent, unexplained scandal of the early morning. So Joseph and his friends this evening, like Aurora and Clotilde in the morning, were, as we nowadays say of buyers and sellers, “apart,” when suddenly and unannounced, Palmyre presented herself among them. When the f.m.c. saw her, she had already handed Joseph his hat and with much sober grace was apologizing for her slave’s mistake. All evidence of her being wounded was concealed. The extraordinary excitement of the morning had not hurt her, and she seemed in perfect health. The doctors sat or stood around and gave rapt attention to her patois, one or two translating it for Joseph, and he blushing to the hair, but standing erect and receiving it at second hand with silent bows. The f.m.c. had gazed on her for a moment, and then forced himself away. He was among the few who had not heard the morning scandal, and he did not comprehend the evening scene. He now asked Honore concerning it, and quietly showed great relief when it was explained.
Then Honore, breaking a silence, called the attention of the f.m.c. to the fact that the latter had two tenants at Number 19 rue Bienville. Honore became the narrator now and told all, finally stating that the die was cast—restitution made.
And then the darker Honore made a proposition to the other, which, it is little to say, was startling. They discussed it for hours.
“So just a condition,” said the merchant, raising his whisper so much that the rentier laid a hand in his elbow,—“such mere justice,” he said, more softly, “ought to be an easy condition. God knows”—he lifted his glance reverently—“my very right to exist comes after yours. You are the elder.”
The solemn man offered no disclaimer.
What could the proposition be which involved so grave an issue, and to which M. Grandissime’s final answer was “I will do it”?
It was that Honore f.m.c. should become a member of the mercantile house of H. Grandissime, enlisting in its capital all his wealth. And the one condition was that the new style should be Grandissime Brothers.
THE PIQUE-EN-TERRE LOSES ONE OF HER CREW