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

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Roll again and slip into its ancient silken case the small, square manuscript which some one has sewed at the back with worsted of the pale tint known as “baby-blue.”  Blessed little word!  Time justified the color.  If you doubt it go to the Teche; ask any of the De la Houssayes—­or count, yourself, the Carpentiers and Charpentiers.  You will be more apt to quit because you are tired than because you have finished.  And while there ask, over on the Attakapas side, for any trace that any one may be able to give of Dorothea Mueller.  She too was from France:  at least, not from Normandy or Paris, like Alix, but, like Francoise’s young aunt with the white hair, a German of Alsace, from a village near Strasbourg; like her, an emigrant, and, like Francoise, a voyager with father and sister by flatboat from old New Orleans up the Mississippi, down the Atchafalaya, and into the land of Attakapas.  You may ask, you may seek; but if you find the faintest trace you will have done what no one else has succeeded in doing.  We shall never know her fate.  Her sister’s we can tell; and we shall now see how different from the stories of Alix and Francoise is that of poor Salome Mueller, even in the same land and almost in the same times.

FOOTNOTES:  [23] Inserted by a later hand than the author’s.—­TRANSLATOR. [24] Inserted by a later hand than the author’s.—­TRANSLATOR. [25] Alix makes a mistake here of one day.  The Bastille fell on the 14th.—­TRANSLATOR.

SALOME MUELLER,

THE WHITE SLAVE.

1818-45.

I.

SALOME AND HER KINDRED.

She may be living yet, in 1889.  For when she came to Louisiana, in 1818, she was too young for the voyage to fix itself in her memory.  She could not, to-day, be more than seventy-five.

In Alsace, France, on the frontier of the Department of Lower Rhine, about twenty English miles from Strasburg, there was in those days, as I suppose there still is, a village called Langensoultz.  The region was one of hills and valleys and of broad, flat meadows yearly overflowed by the Rhine.  It was noted for its fertility; a land of wheat and wine, hop-fields, flax-fields, hay-stacks, and orchards.

It had been three hundred and seventy years under French rule, yet the people were still, in speech and traditions, German.  Those were not the times to make them French.  The land swept by Napoleon’s wars, their firesides robbed of fathers and sons by the conscription, the awful mortality of the Russian campaign, the emperor’s waning star, Waterloo—­these were not the things or conditions to give them comfort in French domination.  There was a widespread longing among them to seek another land where men and women and children were not doomed to feed the ambition of European princes.

In the summer of 1817 there lay at the Dutch port of Helder—­for the great ship-canal that now lets the largest vessels out from Amsterdam was not yet constructed—­a big, foul, old Russian ship which a certain man had bought purposing to crowd it full of emigrants to America.

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