“Can you keep shop in the forenoon or afternoon indifferently, as I may require?”
“Eh? Forenoon—afternoon?” was the reply.
“Can you paint sometimes in the morning and keep shop in the evening?”
Minor details were arranged on the spot. Raoul dismissed the black boy, took off his coat and fell to work decanting something, with the understanding that his salary, a microscopic one, should begin from date if his cousin should recommend him.
“’Sieur Frowenfel’,” he called from under the counter, later in the day, “you t’ink it would be hanny disgrace to paint de pigshoe of a niggah?”
“Ah, my soul! what a pigshoe I could paint of Bras-Coupe!”
We have the afflatus in Louisiana, if nothing else.
A VERY NATURAL MISTAKE
MR. Raoul Innerarity proved a treasure. The fact became patent in a few hours. To a student of the community he was a key, a lamp, a lexicon, a microscope, a tabulated statement, a book of heraldry, a city directory, a glass of wine, a Book of Days, a pair of wings, a comic almanac, a diving bell, a Creole veritas. Before the day had had time to cool, his continual stream of words had done more to elucidate the mysteries in which his employer had begun to be befogged than half a year of the apothecary’s slow and scrupulous guessing. It was like showing how to carve a strange fowl. The way he dovetailed story into story and drew forward in panoramic procession Lufki-Humma and Epaminondas Fusilier, Zephyr Grandissime and the lady of the lettre de cachet, Demosthenes De Grapion and the fille a l’hopital, Georges De Grapion and the fille a la cassette, Numa Grandissime, father of the two Honores, young Nancanou and old Agricola,—the way he made them
“Knit hands and
beat the ground
In a light, fantastic round,”
would have shamed the skilled volubility of Sheharazade.
“Look!” said the story-teller, summing up; “you take hanny ’istory of France an’ see the hage of my familie. Pipple talk about de Boulignys, de Sauves, de Grandpres, de Lemoynes, de St. Maxents,—bla-a-a! De Grandissimes is as hole as de dev’! What? De mose of de Creole families is not so hold as plenty of my yallah kinfolks!”
The apothecary found very soon that a little salt improved M. Raoul’s statements.
But here he was, a perfect treasure, and Frowenfeld, fleeing before his illimitable talking power in order to digest in seclusion the ancestral episodes of the Grandissimes and De Grapions, laid pleasant plans for the immediate future. To-morrow morning he would leave the shop in Raoul’s care and call on M. Honore Grandissime to advise with him concerning the retention of the born artist as a drug-clerk. To-morrow evening he would pluck courage and force his large but bashful feet up to the doorstep of Number 19 rue Bienville. And the next evening he would go and see what might be the matter with Doctor Keene, who had looked ill on last parting with the evening group that lounged in Frowenfeld’s door, some three days before. The intermediate hours were to be devoted, of course, to the prescription desk and his “dead stock.”