For nearly two hundred years—ever since the city had had a post-office—the post-office had been not too superior to remain in the vieux carre. Now, like so many old Creole homes themselves, it was “away up” in the American quarter—or “nine-tenth’”—at Lafayette Square. On holidays any one anxious enough for his mail to go “away up yondah” between nine and ten A.M., could have it for the asking. And such a one was Chester.
He had his reward. Twice and again he read the magazine’s name on the envelope as he bore it to the Camp Street front of the building, but would not open the missive. That should be her privilege and honor. He lifted his eyes from it and behold, here came the two cars! But where was she? Certainly not in the front one. There he made out, in pairs, M. De l’Isle and Mme. Alexandre. Mlle. Yvonne and M. Dubroca, M. Castanado, and Mme. De l’Isle. Then in the rear car his alarmed eye picked out Beloiseau and Mlle. Corinne, with Cupid between them; Mmes. Dubroca and Castanado, especially the latter; and then, oh, then! Behind the smaller woman a vacant seat and behind the vaster one Aline Chapdelaine.
“You’ve heard?” cried M. De Elsie, slowing to the curb. Chester fluttered his prize. “Click, clap!”—he was in without the stopping of a wheel and had passed the letter to Aline.
“Accepted?” asked several, while both cars resumed their speed up-town.
“We’ll open it in Audubon Park,” she said to Chester, and Mme. Castanado and Dubroca passed the word forward to Beloiseau and Mlle. Corinne. These soon got it to Castanado and Mme. De l’Isle.
“Not to be open’ till Audubon Park,” sped the word still forward till Mlle. Yvonne and Dubroca had passed it to Mme. Alexandre and M. De l’Isle.
“Ahah!” he said, as he turned Lee Circle and went spinning up St. Charles Avenue. “Not in the pewblic street, but in Audubon Park, and to the singing of bird’!”
Out near the riverside end of the park the two cars stopped abreast under a vast live-oak, and Aline, rising, opened the letter and read aloud:
MY DEAR MR. CHESTER:
Your manuscript, “The Holy Cross,” accompanied by your letter of the — inst., is received and will have our early attention.
All other outcries ceased half-uttered when the Chapdelaine sisters clapped hands for joy, crying:
“Agcepted! Agcepted! Ah, Aline! by that kindnezz and sag-acitie of Mr. Chezter—and all the rez’ of our Royal Street frien’—you are biccome the diz-ting-uish’ and lucrative authorezz, Mlle. Chapdelaine!”
M. De l’Isle’s wrath was too hot for his tongue, but Scipion stood waiting to speak, and Mme. Castanado beckoned attention and spoke his name.