“I am the custodian of all Mr. [Englishman’s] accounts and assets. This gentleman is a judge, this one is a lawyer,—I believe you know them all by sight,—this one is a banker, and this one—a—in fact, a detective. We wish you to feel at all times free to call upon any or all of us for advice, and to bear in mind that our eyes are ever on you with a positively solicitous interest. You are a busy man, Mr. Ducour, living largely by your wits, and we must not detain you longer. We are glad that you are yourself to receive fifteen hundred dollars. We doubt not you have determined to settle the affairs of the estate without other remuneration, and we not merely approve but distinctly recommend that decision. The task will involve an outlay of your time and labor, for which fifteen hundred dollars will be a generous, a handsome, but not an excessive remuneration. You will be glad to know there will still be something left for Madame Brouillard. And now, Mr. Ducour,”—he arose and approached the pallid scamp, smiling benevolently,—“remember us as your friends, who will watch you”—he smote him on the shoulder with all the weight of his open palm—“with no ordinary interest. Be assured you shall get your fifteen hundred, and Attalie shall have the rest, which—as Attalie tells me she has well known for years—will be about thirty thousand dollars. Gentlemen, our dinner at the lake will be waiting. Good-day, Mr. Ducour. Good-day, Madame Brouillard. Have no fear. Mr. Ducour is going to render you full justice,—without unnecessary delay,—in solid cash.”
And he did.
[The following diary was originally written in lead pencil and in a book the leaves of which were too soft to take ink legibly. I have it direct from the hands of its writer, a lady whom I have had the honor to know for nearly thirty years. For good reasons the author’s name is omitted, and the initials of people and the names of places are sometimes fictitiously given. Many of the persons mentioned were my own acquaintances and friends. When some twenty years afterwards she first resolved to publish it, she brought me a clear, complete copy in ink. It had cost much trouble, she said, for much of the pencil writing had been made under such disadvantages and was so faint that at times she could decipher it only under direct sunlight. She had succeeded, however, in making a copy, verbatim except for occasional improvement in the grammatical form of a sentence, or now and then the omission, for brevity’s sake, of something unessential. The narrative has since been severely abridged to bring it within the limits of this volume.
In reading this diary one is much charmed with its constant understatement of romantic and perilous incidents and conditions. But the original penciled pages show that, even in copying, the strong bent of the writer to be brief has often led to the exclusion of facts that enhance the interest of exciting situations, and sometimes the omission robs her own heroism of due emphasis. I have restored one example of this in the short paragraph following her account of the night she spent fanning her sick husband on their perilous voyage down the Mississippi.]