In 1855 this Attalie Brouillard—so called, mark you, for present convenience only—lived in the French quarter of New Orleans; I think they say in Bienville street, but that is no matter; somewhere in the vieux carre of Bienville’s original town. She was a worthy woman; youngish, honest, rather handsome, with a little money—just a little; of attractive dress, with good manners, too; alone in the world, and—a quadroon. She kept furnished rooms to rent—as a matter of course; what would she do?
Hence she was not so utterly alone in the world as she might have been. She even did what Stevenson says is so good, but not so easy, to do, “to keep a few friends, but these without capitulation.” For instance there was Camille Ducour. That was not his name; but as we have called the woman A.B., let the man be represented as C.D.
He, too, was a quadroon; an f.m.c. His personal appearance has not been described to us, but he must have had one. Fancy a small figure, thin, let us say, narrow-chested, round-shouldered, his complexion a dull clay color spattered with large red freckles, his eyes small, gray, and close together, his hair not long or bushy, but dense, crinkled, and hesitating between a dull yellow and a hot red; his clothes his own and his linen last week’s.
He is said to have been a shrewd fellow; had picked up much practical knowledge of the law, especially of notarial business, and drove a smart trade giving private advice on points of law to people of his caste. From many a trap had he saved his poor clients of an hour. Out of many a danger of their own making had he safely drawn them, all unseen by, though not unknown to, the legitimate guild of judges, lawyers, and notaries out of whose professional garbage barrel he enjoyed a sort of stray dog’s privilege of feeding.
His meetings with Attalie Brouillard were almost always on the street and by accident. Yet such meetings were invariably turned into pleasant visits in the middle of the sidewalk, after the time-honored Southern fashion. Hopes, ailments, the hardness of the times, the health of each one’s “folks,” and the condition of their own souls, could not be told all in a breath. He never failed, when he could detain her no longer, to bid her feel free to call on him whenever she found herself in dire need of a wise friend’s counsel. There was always in his words the hint that, though he never had quite enough cash for one, he never failed of knowledge and wisdom enough for two. And the gentle Attalie believed both clauses of his avowal.
Attalie had another friend, a white man.
 Free man of color.
This other friend was a big, burly Englishman, forty-something years old, but looking older; a big pink cabbage-rose of a man who had for many years been Attalie’s principal lodger. He, too, was alone in the world.