“’If you know anybody’s got that pompon in Louisiana, age of me, or elze, if older, the sizter of my mother, she’s lost yonder sinze mo’ than twen’y-five year’. My anceztor’ they are name’ Pompon for that li’l’ gray spot.’
“Well, then they—and her ‘usband, coming in—they make great frien’. My father he show’ them thiz picture, and when he tell them the origin-al of that also is name’ Fortune, like that child an’ her mother, and been from in-fancy a slave, they had to cry, all of them together. And then they tell my father all ab-out those two sizter’, how they get marrie’ in that village with two young men, cousin’ to each other, and how one pair, a year avter, emigrate’ to Louisiana with li’l’ baby name’ Fortune, and—once mo’ that old story—they are bound to the captain of the ship for the prise of the passage till somebody in Ammerica rid-eem them and they are bound to him to work that out. And coming accrozz, the father—ship-fever—die’, and arriving, the passage is pay by the devil know’ who’.
“Then my father he tell them that chile muz’ be orpheline at two-three year’, biccause while seeming so white she never think she wasn’ black.
“And so my father, coming ad that village the moz’ unhappy in the worl’, he went away negs day the moz’ happy. And he took with him some photo’ showing that mother and chile with the mother’s hair comb’ to egspose that pompon gris; and also he took copy from those record’ of babtism of the babtism of that li’l’ Fortune, emigre.
“Same time, here at home, our Fortune she was so sick with something the doctor he coul’n’ make out the nature, and she coul’n’ eat till they’re af-raid she’ll die. And one day the doctor bring her father confessor, there where she’s in bed, and break that gently that my father he’s come home, and then that he’s bring with him the perfec’ proof that she’s as white as she look’. Well, negs day she’s out of bed; secon’ she’s dress—and laughing!—and eating! And every day my father he’s paying his intention’, and Mme. Lefevre she’s rij-oice, biccause that riproach is pass’ from monsieur her ’usband and pritty quick they are marrie’, and tha’z my mother.”
After a reverent silence Chester spoke: “And lived long and happily together?”
“Yes, a long, beautiful life. Maybe that life woul’n’ be of a diztinction sufficient to you, but to them, yes. They are gone but since lately.”
“And that Lefevre house?”
“Ah, you know! Full of Italian’—ten-twelve familie’, with washing on street veranda eight day ev’ry week. Pauvre vieux carre!”
“I suppose,” Chester said, breaking another silence, “you and that mother, and your father, have sat in the flowery sunshine of this old plaza together——”
“A thousan’ time’,” the ironworker replied, mused a bit, and added: “My frien’, you are a so patient listener as I never see. Biccause I know you are all that time waiting for a differen’ story. And now—I shall tell you that?”