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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Grandissimes - Chapter 11. Sudden Flashes Of Light
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The Grandissimes - Chapter 11. Sudden Flashes Of Light Post by :ksloan Category :Long Stories Author :George Washington Cable Date :May 2012 Read :2927

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The Grandissimes - Chapter 11. Sudden Flashes Of Light

CHAPTER XI. SUDDEN FLASHES OF LIGHT

The day was nearly gone. The company that had been chatting at the front door, and which in warmer weather would have tarried until bedtime, had wandered off; however, by stepping toward the light the young merchant could decipher the letters on the purse. Citizen Fusilier drew out a pair of spectacles, looked over his junior's shoulder, read aloud, "_Aurore De G. Nanca_--," and uttered an imprecation.

"Do not speak to me!" he thundered; "do not approach me! she did it maliciously!"

"Sir!" began Frowenfeld.

But the old man uttered another tremendous malediction and hurried into the street and away.

"Let him pass," said the other Creole calmly.

"What is the matter with him?" asked Frowenfeld.

"He is getting old." The Creole extended the purse carelessly to the apothecary. "Has it anything inside?"

"But a single pistareen."

"That is why she wanted the _basilic_, eh?"

"I do not understand you, sir."

"Do you not know what she was going to do with it?"

"With the basil? No sir."

"May be she was going to make a little tisane, eh?" said the Creole, forcing down a smile.

But a portion of the smile would come when Frowenfeld answered, with unnecessary resentment:

"She was going to make some proper use of it, which need not concern me."

"Without doubt."

The Creole quietly walked a step or two forward and back and looked idly into the glass case. "Is this young man in love with her?" he asked himself. He turned around.

"Do you know those ladies, Mr. Frowenfeld? Do you visit them at home?"

He drew out his porte-monnaie.

"No, sir."

"I will pay you for the repair of this instrument; have you change for--"

"I will see," said the apothecary.

As he spoke he laid the purse on a stool, till he should light his shop, and then went to his till without again taking it.

The Creole sauntered across to the counter and nipped the herb which still lay there.

"Mr. Frowenfeld, you know what some very excellent people do with this? They rub it on the sill of the door to make the money come into the house."

Joseph stopped aghast with the drawer half drawn.

"Not persons of intelligence and--"

"All kinds. It is only some of the foolishness which they take from the slaves. Many of your best people consult the voudou horses."

"Horses?"

"Priestesses, you might call them," explained the Creole, "like Momselle Marcelline or 'Zabeth Philosophe."

"Witches!" whispered Frowenfeld.

"Oh no," said the other with a shrug; "that is too hard a name; say fortune-tellers. But Mr. Frowenfeld, I wish you to lend me your good offices. Just supposing the possi_bil_ity that that lady may be in need of money, you know, and will send back or come back for the purse, you know, knowing that she most likely lost it here, I ask you the favor that you will not let her know I have filled it with gold. In fact, if she mentions my name--"

"To confess the truth, sir, I am not acquainted with your name."

The Creole smiled a genuine surprise.

"I thought you knew it." He laughed a little at himself. "We have nevertheless become very good friends--I believe? Well, in fact then, Mr. Frowenfeld, you might say you do not know who put the money in." He extended his open palm with the purse hanging across it. Joseph was about to object to this statement, but the Creole, putting on an expression of anxious desire, said: "I mean, not by name. It is somewhat important to me, Mr. Frowenfeld, that that lady should not know my present action. If you want to do those two ladies a favor, you may rest assured the way to do it is to say you do not know who put this gold." The Creole in his earnestness slipped in his idiom. "You will excuse me if I do not tell you my name; you can find it out at any time from Agricola. Ah! I am glad she did not see me! You must not tell anybody about this little event, eh?"

"No, sir," said Joseph, as he finally accepted the purse. "I shall say nothing to any one else, and only what I cannot avoid saying to the lady and her sister."

"_'Tis not her sister_" responded the Creole, "_'tis her daughter_."

The italics signify, not how the words were said, but how they sounded to Joseph. As if a dark lantern were suddenly turned full upon it, he saw the significance of Citizen Fusilier's transport. The fair strangers were the widow and daughter of the man whom Agricola had killed in duel--the ladies with whom Doctor Keene had desired to make him acquainted.

"Well, good evening, Mr. Frowenfeld." The Creole extended his hand (his people are great hand-shakers). "Ah--" and then, for the first time, he came to the true object of his visit. "The conversation we had some weeks ago, Mr. Frowenfeld, has started a train of thought in my mind"--he began to smile as if to convey the idea that Joseph would find the subject a trivial one--"which has almost brought me to the--"

A light footfall accompanied with the soft sweep of robes cut short his words. There had been two or three entrances and exits during the time the Creole had tarried, but he had not allowed them to disturb him. Now, however, he had no sooner turned and fixed his glance upon this last comer, than without so much as the invariable Creole leave-taking of "Well, good evening, sir," he hurried out.

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