where the rabble were singing the terrible songs of
bloody Paris. Agents of the Revolution had come
from France and so “contaminated,” as he
says, “the greater part of the province”
that he kept order only “at the cost of sleepless
nights, by frightening some, punishing others, and
driving several out of the colony.” It
looks as though Suzanne had caught a touch of dis-relish
for les aristocrates
, whose necks the songs
of the day were promising to the lampposts. To
add to all these commotions, a hideous revolution
had swept over San Domingo; the slaves in Louisiana
had heard of it, insurrection was feared, and at length,
in 1794, when Susanne was seventeen and Francoise
fifteen, it broke out on the Mississippi no great
matter over a day’s ride from their own home,
and twenty-three blacks were gibbeted singly at intervals
all the way down by their father’s plantation
and on to New Orleans, and were left swinging in the
weather to insure the peace and felicity of the land.
Two other matters are all we need notice for the ready
comprehension of Francoise’s story. Immigration
was knocking at every gate of the province, and citizen
Etienne de Bore had just made himself forever famous
in the history of Louisiana by producing merchantable
sugar; land was going to be valuable, even back on
the wild prairies of Opelousas and Attakapas, where,
twenty years before, the Acadians,—the
cousins of Evangeline,—wandering from far
Nova Scotia, had settled. Such was the region
and such were the times when it began to be the year
By good fortune one of the undestroyed fragments of
Francoise’s own manuscript is its first page.
She was already a grandmother forty-three years old
when in 1822 she wrote the tale she had so often told.
Part of the dedication to her only daughter and namesake—one
line, possibly two—has been torn off, leaving
only the words, “ma fille unique a la grasse
[meaning ‘grace’] de dieu [sic],”
over her signature and the date, “14 Julet [sic],
THE TWO SISTERS.
It is to give pleasure to my dear daughter Fannie
and to her children that I write this journey.
I shall be well satisfied if I can succeed in giving
them this pleasure: by the grace of God, Amen.
Papa, Mr. Pierre Bossier, planter of St. James parish,
had been fifteen days gone to the city (New Orleans)
in his skiff with two rowers, Louis and Baptiste,
when, returning, he embraced us all, gave us some caramels
which he had in his pockets, and announced that he
counted on leaving us again in four or five days to
go to Attakapas. He had long been speaking of
going there. Papa and mamma were German, and papa
loved to travel. When he first came to Louisiana
it was with no expectation of staying. But here
he saw mamma; he loved her, married her, and bought
a very fine plantation, where he cultivated indigo.
You know they blue clothes with that drug, and dye
cottonade and other things. There we, their eight
children, were born....