I understood her intention in an instant.
Harp and flute sounded on, and Suzanne, ever gliding, waltzing, leaping, her arms gracefully lifted above her head, softly waved her scarf, giving it a thousand different forms. Thus she made, twice, the circuit of the deck, and at length paused before Mario Carlo. But only for a moment. With a movement as quick as unexpected, she threw the end of her scarf to him. It wound about his neck. The Italian with a shoulder movement loosed the scarf, caught it in his left hand, threw his violin to Celeste, and bowed low to his challenger. All this as the etiquette of the bolero inexorably demanded. Then Maestro Mario smote the deck sharply with his heels, let go a cry like an Indian’s war-whoop, and made two leaps into the air, smiting his heels against each other. He came down on the points of his toes, waving the scarf from his left hand; and twining his right arm about my sister’s waist, he swept her away with him. They danced for at least half an hour, running the one after the other, waltzing, tripping, turning, leaping. The children and Gordon shouted with delight, while my father, M. Carpentier, and even Alix clapped their hands, crying, “Hurrah!”
Suzanne’s want of dignity exasperated me; but when I tried to speak of it, papa and Alix were against me.
“On board a flatboat,” said my father, “a breach of form is permissible.” He resumed his flute with the first measures of a minuet.
“Ah, our turn!” cried Alix; “our turn, Francoise! I will be the cavalier!”
I could dance the minuet as well as I could the bolero—that is, not at all; but Alix promised to guide me: and as, after all, I loved the dance as we love it at sixteen, I was easily persuaded, and fan in hand followed Alix, who for the emergency wore her husband’s hat; and our minuet was received with as much enthusiasm as Suzanne’s bolero. This ball was followed by others, and Alix gave me many lessons in the dance, that some weeks later were very valuable in the wilderness towards which we were journeying.
A BAD STORM IN A BAD PLACE.
The flatboat continued its course, and some slight signs of civilization began to appear at long intervals. Towards the end of a beautiful day in June, six weeks after our departure from New Orleans, the flatboat stopped at the pass of Lake Chicot. The sun was setting in a belt of gray clouds. Our men fastened their vessel securely and then cast their eyes about them.