“Sir,” thundered the old lion, “h-I demand of you to answer! How dare you insinuate that my kinsmen may deal otherwise than justly?”
“Will they treat her exactly as if she were white, and had threatened the life of a slave?” asked Frowenfeld from behind the desk at the end of the counter.
The old man concentrated all the indignation of his nature in the reply.
As he spoke, a shadow approaching from the door caused him to turn. The tall, dark, finely clad form of the f.m.c, in its old soft-stepping dignity and its sad emaciation, came silently toward the spot where he stood.
Frowenfeld saw this, and hurried forward inside the counter with the preparation in his hand.
“Professor Frowenfeld,” said Agricola, pointing with his ugly staff, “I demand of you, as a keeper of a white man’s pharmacy, to turn that negro out.”
“Citizen Fusilier!” exclaimed the apothecary; “Mister Grandis—”
He felt as though no price would be too dear at that moment to pay for the presence of the other Honore. He had to go clear to the end of the counter and come down the outside again to reach the two men. They did not wait for him. Agricola turned upon the f.m.c.
“Take off your hat!”
A sudden activity seized every one connected with the establishment as the quadroon let his thin right hand slowly into his bosom, and answered in French, in his soft, low voice:
“I wear my hat on my head.”
Frowenfeld was hurrying toward them; others stepped forward, and from two or three there came half-uttered exclamations of protest; but unfortunately nothing had been done or said to provoke any one to rush upon them, when Agricola suddenly advanced a step and struck the f.m.c. on the head with his staff. Then the general outcry and forward rush came too late; the two crashed together and fell, Agricola above, the f.m.c. below, and a long knife lifted up from underneath sank to its hilt, once—twice—thrice,—in the old man’s back.
The two men rose, one in the arms of his friends, the other upon his own feet. While every one’s attention was directed toward the wounded man, his antagonist restored his dagger to its sheath, took up his hat and walked away unmolested. When Frowenfeld, with Agricola still in his arms, looked around for the quadroon, he was gone.
Doctor Keene, sent for instantly, was soon at Agricola’s side.
“Take him upstairs; he can’t be moved any further.”
Frowenfeld turned and began to instruct some one to run upstairs and ask permission, but the little doctor stopped him.
“Joe, for shame! you don’t know those women better than that? Take the old man right up!”
“Honore,” said Agricola, faintly, “where is Honore!”
“He has been sent for,” said Doctor Keene and the two ladies in a breath.