The Flower of the Chapdelaines eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 160 pages of information about The Flower of the Chapdelaines.

The girl blushed.  “Mr. Chester, take away the ‘although’ and I’ll tell the story.”

“I take it away.  Although——­”

XX

THE CHAPDELAINES

“A yellow primrose was to him——­”

Yonder in the parlor with the Ducatels, ignorant of the poet’s lines as they, the two aunts—­those two consciously irremovable, unadjustable, incarnated interdictions to their niece’s marriage—­saw the primrose, the “business,” as the pair in the bower thought they saw it themselves.  Were not Aline and Chester immersed in that tale of servile insurrection so destitute of angels, guiding stars, and lovers?  And was not Hector with them?  And are not three as truly a crowd in French as in American?

“Well, to begin,” Chester urged, “your grandfather, Theophile Chapdelaine, was born in this old quarter, in such a street.  Royal?”

“Yes.  Nearly opposite the ladies’ entrance of that Hotel St. Louis now perishing.”

“Except its dome.  I hear there’s a movement——­

“Yes, to save that.  I hope ’twill succeed.  To me that old dome is a monument of those two men.”

“But if it comes down the home remains, opposite, where both were born, were they not?”

“Yes.  Yet I’d rather the dome.  We Creoles, you know, are called very conservative.”

“Yet no race is more radical than the French.”

“True.  And we Chapdelaines have always been radical. Grandpere was, though a slaveholder.”

“Oh, none of my ancestors justified slavery, yet as planters they had to own negroes.”

“But the Chapdelaines were not planters.  They were agents of ships.  Fifty times on one page in the old Picayune, or in L’Abeille—­’For freight or passage apply to the master on board or to T. Chapdelaine & Son, agents.’  Even then there were two Theophiles, and grandpapa was the son.  They were wholesale agents also for French exporters of artistic china, porcelain, glass, bronze.  Twice they furnished the hotel with everything of that kind; when it first opened, and when it changed hands.  That’s how they came to hold stock in it.  Grandpapa, outdoor man of the firm, was every day in the rotunda, under that dome.”

“Yes,” Chester said, “it was a kind of Rialto, I know.  They called it the ‘Exchange,’ as earlier they had called Maspero’s.”

“You love our small antiquities.  So do I. Well, grandpapa did much business there, both of French goods and of ships; and because the hotel was the favorite of the sugar-planters its rotunda was one of the principal places for slave auctions.”

“Yes, they were, I know, almost daily.  The old slave-block is shown there yet, if genuine.”

“Ah, genuine or not, what difference?  From one that was there grandpere bought many slaves.  He and his father speculated in them.”

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The Flower of the Chapdelaines from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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