Chester turned: “Beloiseau, I want to talk with you. Go, give yourself a dip, brush some of that hair, and we’ll dine alone in some place away from things.”
“A dip, hah! Always I scrub me any’ow till I come to the skin. Also I’ll put a clean shirt. You can wait? I’ll leave you this book.”
Chester waited. When presently, with Scipion still picturesque though clean-shirted, they left the shop together, he gave the book a word of praise that set its owner off on the history of his craft. “But hammered into a matrix”—he drew his watch and halted: “Spanish Fort, juzt too late; half-hour till negs train; I’ll show you an example, my father’s work.” They turned back.
Thus they lost a second train, and dined in the same snug nook as on the day before with Aline and the rest. At twilight they took seats in Jackson Square on a cast-iron bench “hardly worthy of the place,” as Chester suggested.
And Scipion flashed back: “Or, my dear sir, of any worthy place! But you was asking me——”
“About those four boys over in France, one of them yours.”
“Biccause sinze all day yesterday——?”
“That’s it. I can’t help thinking that mademoiselle is somehow the cause of their going.”
“Ah, of three she is, but of my son, no. My son he was already there when that war commence’, and the cause of that was a very simple and or-din-ary in him, but not in the story of my father. I would like to tell you ab-out that biccause tha’z also ab-out that house where we was juz’ seeing all that open-work on those balconie’, and biccause so interested, you, in old building’, you are bound to hear ab-out that some day and probably hear it wrong.”
“Let’s have it now; she told me yesterday to ask you for it.”
THE LOST FORTUNE
“Mighty solid,” the ironworker said, “that old house, so square and high. They are no Creole brick it is make with, that old house.”
Chester began to speak approvingly of the wide balconies running unbrokenly around its four sides at both upper stories, but Beloiseau shook his head: “They don’t billong to the firz’ building of that house, else they might have been Spanish, like here on the Cabildo and that old Cafe Veau-qui-tete. They would not be cast iron and of that complicate’ disign, hah! But they are not even a French cast iron, like those and those”—he waved right and left to the wide balconies of the Pontalba buildings flanking the square with such graceful dignity. “Oh, they make that old house look pretty good, those balconie’, but tha’z a pity they were not wrought iron, biccause M. Lefevre—he was rich—sugar-planter—could have what he choose, and she was a very fashionable, his ladie. They tell some strange stories ab-out them and that ‘ouse; cruelty to slave’, intrigue with slave’, duel’ ab-out slave’. Maybe tha’z biccause those iron bar’ up and down in sidewalk window’, old Spanish fashion; maybe biccause in confusion with that Haunted House in Royal Street, they are so allike, those two house’. But they are cock-an’-bull, those tale’. Wha’s true they don’t tell, biccause they don’ know, and tha’z what I’m telling you ad the present.