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Strange True Stories of Louisiana eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 268 pages of information about Strange True Stories of Louisiana.

But when it happened that the flatboat made an early stop to let our men rest, the programme was changed.  Celeste and Maggie went ashore to cook the two suppers there.  Their children gathered wood and lighted the fires.  Mario and Gordon, or Gordon and ’Tino, went into the forest with their guns.  Sometimes my father went along, or sat down by M. Carpentier, who was the fisherman.  Alix, too, generally sat near her husband, her sketch-book on her knee, and copied the surrounding scene.  Often, tired of fishing, we gathered flowers and wild fruits.  I generally staid near Alix and her husband, letting Suzanne run ahead with Patrick and Tom.  It was a strange thing, the friendship between my sister and this little Irish boy.  Never during the journey did he address one word to me; he never answered a question from Alix; he ran away if my father or Joseph spoke to him; he turned pale and hid if Mario looked at him.  But with Suzanne he talked, laughed, obeyed her every word, called her Miss Souzie, and was never so happy as when serving her.  And when, twenty years afterward, she made a journey to Attakapas, the wealthy M. Patrick Gordon, hearing by chance of her presence, came with his daughter to make her his guest for a week, still calling her Miss Souzie, as of old.

VII.

ODD PARTNERS IN THE BOLERO DANCE.

Only one thing we lacked—­mass and Sunday prayers.  But on that day the flatboat remained moored, we put on our Sunday clothes, gathered on deck, and papa read the mass aloud surrounded by our whole party, kneeling; and in the parts where the choir is heard in church, Alix, my sister, and I, seconded by papa and Mario, sang hymns.

One evening—­we had already been five weeks on our journey—­the flatboat was floating slowly along, as if it were tired of going, between the narrow banks of a bayou marked in red ink on Carlo’s map, “Bayou Sorrel.”  It was about six in the afternoon.  There had been a suffocating heat all day.  It was with joy that we came up on deck.  My father, as he made his appearance, showed us his flute.  It was a signal:  Carlo ran for his violin, Suzanne for Alix’s guitar, and presently Carpentier appeared with his wife’s harp.  Ah!  I see them still:  Gordon and ’Tino seated on a mat; Celeste and her children; Mario with his violin; Maggie; Patrick at the feet of Suzanne; Alix seated and tuning her harp; papa at her side; and M. Carpentier and I seated on the bench nearest the musicians.

My father and Alix had already played some pieces, when papa stopped and asked her to accompany him in a new bolero which was then the vogue in New Orleans.  In those days, at all the balls and parties, the boleros, fandangos, and other Spanish dances had their place with the French contra-dances and waltzes.  Suzanne had made her entrance into society three years before, and danced ravishingly.  Not so with me.  I had attended my first ball only a few months before,

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