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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Grandissimes - Chapter 32. Interrupted Preliminaries
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The Grandissimes - Chapter 32. Interrupted Preliminaries Post by :dr3tz Category :Long Stories Author :George Washington Cable Date :May 2012 Read :752

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The Grandissimes - Chapter 32. Interrupted Preliminaries

CHAPTER XXXII. INTERRUPTED PRELIMINARIES

About the same time of day, three gentlemen (we use the term gentlemen in its petrified state) were walking down the rue Royale from the direction of the Faubourg Ste. Marie.

They were coming down toward Palmyre's corner. The middle one, tall and shapely, might have been mistaken at first glance for Honore Grandissime, but was taller and broader, and wore a cocked hat, which Honore did not. It was Valentine. The short, black-bearded man in buckskin breeches on his right was Jean-Baptiste Grandissime, and the slight one on the left, who, with the prettiest and most graceful gestures and balancings, was leading the conversation, was Hippolyte Brahmin-Mandarin, a cousin and counterpart of that sturdy-hearted challenger of Agricola, Sylvestre.

"But after all," he was saying in Louisiana French, "there is no spot comparable, for comfortable seclusion, to the old orange grove under the levee on the Point; twenty minutes in a skiff, five minutes for preliminaries--you would not want more, the ground has been measured off five hundred times--'are you ready?'--"

"Ah, bah!" said Valentine, tossing his head, "the Yankees would be down on us before you could count one."

"Well, then, behind the Jesuits' warehouses, if you insist. I don't care. Perdition take such a government! I am almost sorry I went to the governor's reception."

"It was quiet, I hear; a sort of quiet ball, all promenading and no contra-dances. One quadroon ball is worth five of such."

This was the opinion of Jean-Baptiste.

"No, it was fine, anyhow. There was a contra-dance. The music was--tarata joonc, tara, tara--tarata joonc, tararata joonc, tara--oh! it was the finest thing--and composed here. They compose as fine things here as they do anywhere in the--look there! That man came out of Palmyre's house; see how he staggered just then!"

"Drunk," said Jean-Baptiste.

"No, he seems to be hurt. He has been struck on the head. Oho, I tell you, gentlemen, that same Palmyre is a wonderful animal! Do you see? She not only defends herself and ejects the wretch, but she puts her mark upon him; she identifies him, ha, ha, ha! Look at the high art of the thing; she keeps his hat as a small souvenir and gives him a receipt for it on the back of his head. Ah! but hasn't she taught him a lesson? Why, gentlemen,--it is--if it isn't that sorcerer of an apothecary!"

"What?" exclaimed the other two; "well, well, but this is too good! Caught at last, ha, ha, ha, the saintly villain! Ah, ha, ha! Will not Honore be proud of him now? _Ah! voila un joli Joseph! What did I tell you? Didn't I _always tell you so?"

"But the beauty of it is, he is caught so cleverly. No escape--no possible explanation. There he is, gentlemen, as plain as a rat in a barrel, and with as plain a case. Ha, ha, ha! Isn't it just glorious?"

And all three laughed in such an ecstasy of glee that Frowenfeld looked back, saw them, and knew forthwith that his good name was gone. The three gentlemen, with tears of merriment still in their eyes, reached a corner and disappeared.

"Mister," said a child, trotting along under Frowenfeld's elbow,--the odd English of the New Orleans street-urchin was at that day just beginning to be heard--"Mister, dey got some blood on de back of you' hade!"

But Frowenfeld hurried on groaning with mental anguish.

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