“And the airs with which they did it! They kept all their rage to themselves, and sent the polite word, that they were not acquainted with the merits of the case, that they were not disposed to make the long and arduous trip to the city and back, and that if M. Fusilier de Grandissime thought he could find any pleasure or profit in owning the place, he was welcome; that the widow of his late friend was not disposed to live on it, but would remain with her father at the paternal home at Cannes Brulees.
“Did you ever hear of a more perfect specimen of Creole pride? That is the way with all of them. Show me any Creole, or any number of Creoles, in any sort of contest, and right down at the foundation of it all, I will find you this same preposterous, apathetic, fantastic, suicidal pride. It is as lethargic and ferocious as an alligator. That is why the Creole almost always is (or thinks he is) on the defensive. See these De Grapions’ haughty good manners to old Agricole; yet there wasn’t a Grandissime in Louisiana who could have set foot on the De Grapion lands but at the risk of his life.
“But I will finish the story: and here is the really sad part. Not many months ago old De Grapion—’old,’ said I; they don’t grow old; I call him old—a few months ago he died. He must have left everything smothered in debt; for, like his race, he had stuck to indigo because his father planted it, and it is a crop that has lost money steadily for years and years. His daughter and granddaughter were left like babes in the wood; and, to crown their disasters, have now made the grave mistake of coming to the city, where they find they haven’t a friend—not one, sir! They called me in to prescribe for a trivial indisposition, shortly after their arrival; and I tell you, Frowenfeld, it made me shiver to see two such beautiful women in such a town as this without a male protector, and even”—the doctor lowered his voice—“without adequate support. The mother says they are perfectly comfortable; tells the old couple so who took them to the ball, and whose little girl is their embroidery scholar; but you cannot believe a Creole on that subject, and I don’t believe her. Would you like to make their acquaintance?”
Frowenfeld hesitated, disliking to say no to his friend, and then shook his head.
“After a while—at least not now, sir, if you please.”
The doctor made a gesture of disappointment.
“Um-hum,” he said grumly—“the only man in New Orleans I would honor with an invitation!—but all right; I’ll go alone.”
He laughed a little at himself, and left Frowenfeld, if ever he should desire it, to make the acquaintance of his pretty neighbors as best he could.
WAS IT HONORE GRANDISSIME?
A Creole gentleman, on horseback one morning with some practical object in view,—drainage, possibly,—had got what he sought,—the evidence of his own eyes on certain points,—and now moved quietly across some old fields toward the town, where more absorbing interests awaited him in the Rue Toulouse; for this Creole gentleman was a merchant, and because he would presently find himself among the appointments and restraints of the counting-room, he heartily gave himself up, for the moment, to the surrounding influences of nature.