So he had known her all the time.
Honore’s mother had dropped on her knees beside the bed, dragging Aurora down with her.
They rose together.
The old man groped distressfully with one hand. She laid her own in it.
“What could he want?” wondered the tearful family. He was feeling about with the other hand.
“Hon’—Honore”—his weak clutch could scarcely close upon his nephew’s hand.
“Put them—put—put them—”
What could it mean? The four hands clasped.
“Ah!” said one, with fresh tears, “he is trying to speak and cannot.”
But he did.
“Aurora De Gra—I pledge’—pledge’—pledged—this union—to your fa’—father—twenty—years—ago.”
The family looked at each other in dejected amazement. They had never known it.
“He is going,” said Agamemnon; and indeed it seemed as though he was gone; but he rallied.
“Agamemnon! Valentine! Honore! patriots! protect the race! Beware of the”—that sentence escaped him. He seemed to fancy himself haranguing a crowd; made another struggle for intelligence, tried once, twice, to speak, and the third time succeeded:
“Louis’—Louisian’—a—for—ever!” and lay still.
They put those two words on his tomb.
WHERE SOME CREOLE MONEY GOES
And yet the family committee that ordered the inscription, the mason who cut it in the marble—himself a sort of half-Grandissime, half-nobody—and even the fair women who each eve of All-Saints came, attended by flower-laden slave girls, to lay coronals upon the old man’s tomb, felt, feebly at first, and more and more distinctly as years went by, that Forever was a trifle long for one to confine one’s patriotic affection to a small fraction of a great country.
* * * * *
“And you say your family decline to accept the assistance of the police in their endeavors to bring the killer of your uncle to justice?” asked some Americain or other of ’Polyte Grandissime.
“’Sir, mie fam’lie do not want to fetch him to justice!—neither Palmyre! We are goin’ to fetch the justice to them! And sir, when we cannot do that, sir, by ourselves, sir,—no, sir! no police!”
So Clemence was the only victim of the family wrath; for the other two were never taken; and it helps our good feeling for the Grandissimes to know that in later times, under the gentler influences of a higher civilization, their old Spanish-colonial ferocity was gradually absorbed by the growth of better traits. To-day almost all the savagery that can justly be charged against Louisiana must—strange to say—be laid at the door of the Americain. The Creole character has been diluted and sweetened.
One morning early in September, some two weeks after the death of Agricola, the same brig which something less than a year before had brought the Frowenfelds to New Orleans crossed, outward bound, the sharp line dividing the sometimes tawny waters of Mobile Bay from the deep blue Gulf, and bent her way toward Europe.