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Full text of ""Zulma" a story of the old South"

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A Story of the Old South. 



BA^ 



MARY FRANCES SEIBERT. 



NATCHEZ. MISS. 

NATCHEZ PRINTING AND STATIONERY 'cO., 

102-104 N. UN40N STREET, 

1897. 



COPYRIGHTED, 1897, 



MARY FRANCES SEIBERT. 



MY BELOVED FATHER, 

THIS LITTLE BOOK IS DEDICATED 
AS A TRIBUTE OF LOVE 
BY HIS AFFECTIONATE DAUGHTER, 
MARY F. SEIBERT. 



3Z5S'/C 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/zulmastoryofoldsOOseib 



COISTTENTS. 



INTRODUCTION. 

chapti:r I— rp:trospections. 

CHAPTER II— AWAY TO THE WOODS. 

CHAPTER III— PIONEERING. 

CHAPTER IV-IN CHALPA SWAMP. 

CHAPTER V— A NARROW^ ESCAPE. 

CHAPTER VI— LUCILE'S GUEST. 

CHAPTER VII— THE DAWSEYS. 

CHAPTER VIII- THE DAWN OF A NEW LIFE. 

CHAPTER IX-NEW SCENES. 

CHAPTER X— FIRST IMPRESSIONS. 

CHAPTER XI— INITIATION. 

CHAPTER XII— LETTERS FROM THE CONVENT. 

CHAPTER XIII— HOME AGAIN. 

CHAPTER XIV— ECHOES FROM THE WAR. 

CHAPTER XV— CORN^E A CHEVREUIL. 

CHAPTER XVI— JOURNEYING TO SAINT FRANCIS- CHURCH 

CHAPTER XVII— BENEATH THE LIGHT OF THE STARS. 

CHAPTER XVIII— AN UNEXPECTED CALL and REVELATION 

CHAPTER XIX -EPISODES ON ALL SAINTS' DAY. 

CHAPTER XX— THE PATHOS AND THE COMEDY OF WAR. 

CHAPTER XXI— THE COUSINS. 

CHAPTER XXII- JUST FOR FUN. 

CHAPTER XXIII— LOVE'S WARFARE. 

CHAPTER XXIV— ON PROBATION. 

CHAPTER XXV— LAWLERS' INVASION. 

CHAPTER XXVI— FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 

CHAPTER XXVII— OVERFLOW AND DISPERSION. 

CONCLUSION. 



INTRODUCTION. 



TN introducing " Zulma, a Story of the Old South,'' to the 
^ reading public, I believe that in this day of progress and 
despite the influence of its so-called realistic literature, there 
are still some who care to pause now and then and cast a back 
ward glance at those institutions laid low b}- Time, the arch- 
iconoclast. 

Whatever view may be taken of that problem of the South, 
proposed at Sumpter and solved by Lee's surrender, the writer 
of romance must derive from the old conditions an ever fruit- 
ful field of labor, the philosopher, a pregnant theme of 
thought. 

Personal knowledge of the incidents interwoven with her 
story — Miss Seibert having resided in Louisiana during the most 
vital epoch through which this section has passed — ^has sug- 
gested to the author the work of which this volume is the is- 
sue. And while the voice of ''Topsj^" is lifted up in the land 
proclaiming only the "seamy"' side ot "Uncle Tom's Cabin, " 
it is not unfit even at this later date, that a "Zulma" be heard 
in turn and allowed to tell us in her homely way of the kindly, 
almost paternal relations that existed between master and 
slave on the old Grosse Tete plantations. 

J'inall}', I would say that the b( ok must prove its own 
raison d'etre. Literature, like wine, needs no gaudy label; 
its own ''hoHquet" must testify unto its worth. 

Bespeaking tor the book the fair mindedness which we 
are wont to claim as onr Jin de siecle virtue", I commend this 
"Story of the Old South" to the courtesy of its homeland 
press. IRWIN HUNTINGTON. 

Natchez, Miss., March 1, 1897. 



i i 



ZUL_MR." 



CHAPTER I. 



B.ETROSPECTIONS. 



A FEW miles southward from the old town of Waterloo, in 
■'*■ the parish of Pointe Coupee, La. , a lovely river winds its 
way through fertile lands, and clasps in its limpid embrace, an 
island of almost tropical beauty. Standing on the opposite 
shore, one watches with unwearied delight, the shifting phases 
of the landscape reflected on the glassy surface of the river- 
lake. It is a snare for the azure of the sk}', and the wander- 
ing clouds by day, and the playgrounds of the moonbeams by 
night The quaint habitations of the islanders nestle among 
luxuriant orchards and superb trees like villas on the Larian 
Lakes; and eveiywhere, along the green banks, the Cherokee 
spreads and glorifies the land with the light of its golden heart. 
Farther down, beyond the shadows of the tall pecan trees, 
ancient willows and cotton woods dip their straggling roots 
among the yellow blossoms of the American lotus. 

Sometimes, a {irogue is seen anchored among the lily- 
pads, where countless flowers lift up their royal heads to greet 
the matin rays of the sun. The craft sways gently over the 
dimpling waves and the angler jerks in quick succession, the 

silver-scaled beauties from their canopied retreat. 



10 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

All along the shores, cattle are seen standing in pellucid 
pastures, munching the succulent weeds which abound in the 
shallow water. The sight is a delightful feature in the aspect 
of the river; it harmonizes with the whole and enhances the 
beauty of the landscape. 

The sunsets, viewed from ditf'eient points, are gorgeous 
beyond description; carmine and amber glow and shift across 
the water until the grey of twilight falls with spectral lustre 
over the scene. . 

At night, the distant outlines of wood and shore, form a 
weird contrast with the moonlight fjkimmering on the waves; 
and the fugitive light of the stars, dives into its throbbing 
depths like spirits falling from among the heavenly hosts. 

But this placid beauty of land and water bus but lately 
succeeded to a wilder and grander prospect. 

Years ago, before the cut-offs had been made at Waterloo 
and Hermitage, False River was the actual bed of the Missis- 
sippi river; and that mighty stream, with its swift current and 
turbid waters, here made a detour on its passage to the gulf. 
It was through this channel that La Salle and his bold fol- 
lowers, passed on their voyage of discovery; Bienville and his 
gallant brothers gazed on the wild scenery, Spanish adventurers 
with their countrys standards waving on the breeze, awoke the 
echoes of its primival forests, and with their shotguns, startled 
the deer from his Cherokee thicket. x\nd later still, after 
Louisiana had been ceded to the United States, and settle- 
ments had sprung up in various parts of the countrv, Western 
traders floated their ])arges down around its picturesque shores. 
Sloops and schooners sailed from New Orleans with tropical 
cargoes which they bartered for the natural products of the 
country. 



kii 



RETROSPECTIONS 11 

Such had been the condition of this section before False 
River was divorced, from that stupendous water system which 
now drains the richest and most important region of the Union. 

During the administration of Governor Bienville, permis- 
sion was given to a set of pioneers to dig a canal from the up- 
per to the lower ends of this bend in the river. The distance 
across being only three miles, it required but a short period of 
years, for the scouring waters to divert themselves from the 
natural to the artificial ctiannel. The old bed was then diked 
at both ends leaving an isolated body of water, now known as 
False River. 

Previous to this changCj this territory was in possession 
of the French, who had overrun the country, raised forts and 
planted colonies in the most advantageous situations. A fort 
and chapel had been erected on the west bank of the Missis- 
sippi river a couple of leagues from the scene already described. 

Its successor, the old Saint Francis Church, was built in 
1765 at a period when the ancestors of those figuring in this 
story, held a prominent place among the early settlers. 

A few years previous to the transfer of Louisiana to Spain, 
a Frenchman by the name of Lafitte, established himself here, 
on the picturesque bank of False River. This was shortly after 
the act of free navigation of the Mississippi had been secured 
by a treaty between the United States and Spain. 

Mr. Lafitte acquired a considerable amount of wealth, not 
only b}' the sale of his home products, but by a judicious mode 
of trafficking with the Indians dispersed around the country. 

Monsieur Lafitte, usually styled ■ ' Ze bourgeois,'' was a 
very popular man among the Creoles. He and his four manly 
sons were of a social disposition, delighting in the chase and 
reckless adventures; their place was inconsequence, the ren- 
dezvous of all the jovial characters of the neighborhood. 



12 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

The Lafitte residence, though lacking in elegance, was 
considered spacious and commodious. Its hipped-roof, mud- 
daubed walls and deep galleries made the characteristics of all 
Creole houses at that period — a style, though fallen in desue- 
tude, still seen in the old domiciles which have escaped the 
ravages of time, and now stand as landmarks to the coming 
generation. 

This capacious edifice stood prominent in the midst of a 
broad meadow where droves of horses and cattle led a life of 
pleasantness beneath the shade of oaks, grey with the moss of 
a century's growth. 

A pair of antiered horns surmounted the posts of the 
front gate — from which circumstance the place derives its 
name; ^'■Cornea ChevreuiV (deer-horn plantation.) 

These trophies bear evidencfe of the family's taste for 
field sports; in truth, to this overpowering passion for the 
hounds and chase, may be attributed the losses which, in the 
course of time jeopardized their property. 

Once fallen into thriftless and extravagant habits, they 
neglected their business, before, so absorbing and lucrative. 
As years rolled on, the place ceased to yield an income and the 
family began the struggle against accumulating debts. Then, 
a great sorrow darkened the doors of '^la maision liepJai'snvce," 
as the Lafittes loved to call their home. 

One summer afternoon, the aged father, who was taking 
his accustomed nap on the cool gallery, was suddenly aroused 
by the bearers of cruel tidings. Eugene, his first-born, had 
been snatched from life in the prime of his manhood. That 
very inorning, he had left home with gay companions laughing 
and jesting, little dreaming of the tragic death which awaited 
him, though for the hundreth time, it liad been predicted on 
account of his reckless management of horses. Thej' laid his 



RETROSPECTIONS. 13 

bruised body upon his bed, and the wretched father, in agony 
of grief, fell senseless upon the remains of him who had been 
his pride and best beloved. He refused all consolation, and so 
wrapped himself in his sorrow that his health and energies 
collapsed as by the efiect of some overpowering malady. When 
death claimed him as the next victim of that household, he 
yielded up his life without a struggle. 

In less than a month after Mr. Lafitte's demise, the 
youngest of the family, a youth gay, handsome and generous- 
hearted, succumbed to a malignant fever, aggravated by grief 
and despondency. 

Jean Baptiste and Edmond Lafitte returned from their 
brotlier's burial with hearts oppressed with discouragement. 
The sight of their deserted home awakened a thousand recol- 
lections which rushed upon their minds like phantoms loosened 
from some dismal abode. The brothers turned hastily away, 
as if to escape the pain so cruelly thrust upon them. They 
wandered aimlessly across the fields in the direction of a strip 
of woods, once the hunters' rendezvous. This familiar spot, 
associated with the happy, careless past, again re-opened the 
floodgates of sad retrospections, and Edmond, the younger of 
the two, threw himself in one of the rustic seats beneath the 
trees, and burst into a passionate fit of weeping. Jean Baptiste 
with arms folded across his sturdy breast leaned against the 
trunk of an oak and silently contemplated his brother's emo- 
tion. His expression grew hard and cold and his lips com- 
pressed with the eft'orts he made to control his own feelings. 

Little by little, his brother's sobs subsided, he lifted his 
eyes and listlessh' watched the gambols of a red squirrel in the 
branches above him. 

Dull apathy had succeeded to the wild, uncontrolable 
anguish which had wrung his heart, a moment before. 



14 ZULMA, ACSTORY[OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Every faculty of his intelligence, every natural emotion, 
seemed paralyzed and his senses no longer grasped the full 
measure of his afflictions. 

Jean Baptiste quietly took a seat beside his brother and 
laid his hand affectionately upon his arm, saying: '■'■Tu es le 
suel lien (pii ))i attache a laterre, cherfreref" Then, followed 
a conscious pause — a silence more emphatic than words. But 
the spell was brief; their mutual sorrow, poignant sympathy 
and discouragement demanded expression, and they talked 
long and sadly of the ones who hud been so suddenly removed 
from life — and of their own bereavement and forlorn condition. 

Their father had died insolvent; the estate was heavily 
mortgaged. Jean Baptiste touched feelingly upon the subject, 
signifying his desire to remain on the place and pay off the 
debts. Edmond decidedl} refused to adopt his brother's 
plans. "We are homeless and penniless" he said; "the 
wisest course for us to pursue, is to deliver up the property 
and leave the country. A man thrown on his own resources, 
has a better chance among strangers — far from associations 
which will only tend to weaken his purpose and disqualify him 
for earnest work." 

An unwonted light leaped into the moistened eye of Jean 
Baptiste; his lips quivered with suppressed emotion. 

"Abandon the old home!" he exclaimed with warmth; 
"the spot sacred to me by a thousand recollections? Never, 
brother, jieverl This heritage bequeathed to us by the hand 
of misfortune, shall never fall to the lot of strangers! I shall 
devote my life's labor to save it from desecration. You will 
abandon me — well — the struggle will be harder, but the pros- 
pect does not alarm me; I will fight life's battle alone." 

"Let us dismiss the subject from our minds," answered 
Edmond after a moments painful reflection, "at least, until 



RETROSPECTIONS. 15 

after we have resigned ourselves to the inevitable. "Come, 
brother!" he continued, rising from his seat — "there is no 

escape from the ordeal before us the desolation which 

awaits us at home." 

Jean Baptiste silently followed his brother through the 
long evening shadows, his eyes full of unshed tears, searched 
for, though dreading to catch the first glimpse of their lonely 
home. It emerged from a grove of catalpa trees; the dying 
rays of the setting sun fell athwart their 3'oung, uplifted 
branches and cast a faint glow against the gable end of the 
building. 

At their approach, half a dozen hounds scampered down 
the galler}' steps, yelping in doeful chorus, A flock of pigeons 
whirled on restless wings about the barn; they clamored for 
the accustomed feed often distributed to them by hands now 
cold in the stony clasp of death. 

The unhappy brothers, dreading to pass the threshold of 
their deserted home, loitered about the place, mechanically 
performing their farm work. After dusk, thev sat on the 
gallery until the moon arose and bridged with gold the undu- 
lating waves of the river. Climbing over'the trees, she looked 
down with milder radiance upon the bereaved ones, and flooded 
with light, the three vacant chairs beside them. 

In the course of time, settlements were made and the 
wishes of both brothers were realized. Edmond made a sur- 
render of his rights and left the country. Jean Baptiste 
assumed the debts and entered his new career. His life of 
ease and indolence, was exchanged for one of tireless labor 
and privation. At the end of fifteen years, he found himself 
sole owner of the '•'■Come a ChevreuiV plantation. The better 
part of his life had been spent in accomplishing his purpose. 
He had denied himself every pleasure, even the most legiti- 
mate or such as the mind derives from nature without the 
expenditure of time and labor. 



16 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

He then brought to its solitude, a sweet-faced woman, 
who had faithfull}' loved him throughout his struggles. Dur- 
ing the waiting, the charms and graces of youth had van- 
ished; for both had passed the prime of life. But their 
wedding day dawned upon their heads with subdued happiness. 

The wife's gentle presence in that great, rambling house, 
contributed much towards dissipating the gloom which had for 
so long pervaded its atmosphere; and the cloud of tender 
melancholy under which they had been wedded, vanished like 
mist under the benign influence of the sun. 

On a blight morning in June; while the mocking birds 
vied with each other in thrilling concerts, Jean Baptiste Lafitte, 
with an undefinible expression on his countenance, walked 
with elastic steps, the length of his broad gallery. Now and 
then, he paused to listen to the merry warblers; the melod}' oi 
their singing had never before entered his soul. On glancing 
at the river, he noticed how the waves sparkled in the sunlight; 
he even contrasted the verdant banks and peaceful scenery on 
the opposite shore, with the intense blue of the water. 

Why was he idle on that day, and what caused the strange 
workings of a mind hitherto insensible to the beauties of nature? 

Within a darkened chamber of the old home, two bright 

eyes strove for the first time to pierce its obscurity eyes 

destined to dispel the last lingering regrets for a wasted vouth, 
and to cheer and brighten up the remaining years of the lonely 
couple. The coming of the baby was the crowning event of 
their life. Day by day, they watched with increasing wonder 
and happiness the unfolding beauty and mental qualities of 
the child. 

At the age of fourteen, she was sent to the 8acred Heart 
Convent, then the most prominent female school in the State, 
She acquired accomplishments which added considerably to 
her natural advantages. 



RETROSPECTIONS. 17 

Her fond parents and former companions looked upon her 
as a prodigy; but Elise never made a display of her superior 
knowledge. The sweetness of her disposition and the artless 
graciousness of her manners, won her the friendship of all who 
approached her. Her beauty was of that unobstrusive sort 
which improves under scrutiny. There was a lack of brilliancy 
about her general appearance ; but all watched with pleasure, 
the timid glances of her dark eyes and the sweet, winning 
smile which parted her red lips. 

One of the events on False Kiver,at this particular period, 
was a "king ball." *rhis was an affair in which any gentleman 
willing to assist in defraying expenses, was entitled to the 
privilege of choosing his "queen." The maiden whom he thus 
invested with regal honors, usually received his undivided at- 
tentions during the ball. From time to time, Elise Lafitte 
graced with her presence these popular gatherings. On such 
occasions, the boldest and handsomest of "cavaliers" com- 
peted for the honor ot crowning her fair brow with roses. It 
was at one of these balls, that a distinguished looking stranger 
first formed her acquintance. The fact of meeting in this 
community, a creole who spoke the English language, gave 
him unexpected pleasure, as well as an excuse for lingering at 
her side — much to the annoyance of older admirers. Her 
musical voice, enhanced by her sweet French accent, charmed 
him. The calm dignity of her beauty and other winning 
graces, captivated his heart. 

And she who had so often turned a deaf ear to the plead- 
ings of the Creole boys, listened to the "American's" love 
story and found herself vanquished by the thrilling glances of 
his dark-blue eyes, 

Arthur Hunt was a Virginian by birth; ihe came from an 
old aristocratic family who had lost their wealth by injudicious 
management. Being of a venturesome turn of mind, he 
launched out at an early age to seek his fortune. Time and 
tide drifted him to this romantic part of the parish and its 



18 ZtfLMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

quaint population. He was of a genial disposition and ex- 
tremely clever; consequently, was much liked by the Creole 
families. 

His frank, charming manners rendered him a great favorite 
among the ladies; though he did not always inspire the same 
friendl}' feelings in the hearts of the younger men of the 
country. 

The air of ease and unstudied elegance with which he car- 
ried himself, his tone of confidence and self-possession, often 
subjected him to unpleasant experiences. The young men 
looked upon him as an interloper and dangerous rival, and 
somewhat resented the ready and indispuitible manner in which 
he was received and lionized by the prominent families of the 
communit3^ This circumstance only stimulated him to increase 
his popularity among the better class, and to render himself 
truly worth) of their respect and friendship. 

With a little assistance, he started in a mercantile enter- 
prise. There were few stores in the country at that time, and 
every merchant endowed with the least business capacity held 
the nucleous of a fortune. 

Mr. Hunt's unprecedented success, enboldened him to ask 
for the hand of the woman he loved. When he presented 
himself for permission to address their daughter, the old couple 
made but faint resistance. They recalled their own prolonged 
courtship and wasted youth, and yielded without demur, their 
heart's treasure, to the bold and handsome suitor, who, in 
every respect, seemed worthy of the prize to which he aspired. 
The wedding took place in the old home where the numerous 
friends and admirers of the happy pair flocked to offer their 
congratulations. 

Mr. Hunt took his lovely bride to an attractive and com- 
fortable cottage he had prepared for her reception, half a dozen 
miles from her paternal roof. 

After their daughter's marriage, Mr. Lafitte and his gentle 
wife, once more, subsided into their accustomed ways. 

The grave, weather-beaten husband pursued his life of 
toil and his faithful companion plodded by his side, as indus- 
trious and economical as though they still depended on their 
daily labor for their livelihood. 



AWAY TO THE WOODS ! l9 



CHAPTER II. 

AWAY TO THE WOODS ! 

A QUARTER of a century prior to the Confederate war, 
False River and the adjacent countr}', formed the most 
interesting region in Louisiana. 

It was famous for its genial and salubrious climate, for 
the fertility of its soil and for the value and variety of its for- 
est trees. Bayous, alive with the finest fish, intersected the 
country and diversified its scenery. Many of the planters were 
immensely wealthy and owned plantations which extended sev- 
eral miles along the river front. Here, primitive homes were 
seen through vistas of live oaks, catalpis and china trees. 
Here, the people lived on the abundant fruit of their labor, 
undisturbed and oblivious of the agitations and progress of 
modern lite. 

None enjoyed tran([uility more; none dispensed more 
liberal hospitality when occasion required. No wonder 
strangers tarried in their midst, and when away, longed, once 
more, to taste of the magic waters of False River. 

But the country was not without its disadvantages. The 
Mississippi river, at certain seasons of the year, became a 
source of expense and annoj'ance to the population living be- 
hind the levees. For a long period, especially during the 
French and the Spanish rule, levees had been kept up by the 
front proprietors, though in time of danger, planters occupying 
alluvial lands back of the river, were required to lend assist- 
ance. But in 1849, Congress passed an act, donatinj^ to 
Louisiana, the swamps and lowlands subject to overflows. 
This concession was made in order to encourage the people to 
purchase the lands and aid in the construction ,of these costly 
embankments. 



20 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Previous to this, the work done on the levees, was so in- 
adequate iind defeetiA^e, that no reliance could be placed on 
them. 

Year after year, they succumbed to the overwhelming 
waters and disastrous overflows spread over a wide extent of 
territory. The front lands along False River escaped these 
inundations, but thousands of acres which rivaled in fertility, 
the fruitful valley of the Nile, lay idle in consequence of this 
impending danger. 

The Grosse Tete country was then a trackless wilderness; 
its virgin soil, rich beyond description, needed but the plow- 
share and seed to burst into fecundity. Hitherto, its only 
paths had been made by wild beasts and cattle roaming in 
search of food. The Indian and the hunter were the only 
human beings who had traversed them or built camp-fires in 
the midst of its luxurance. 

But after the levees had been strengthened and enlarged, 
the enterprising lost no time in seizing opportunities which 
they knew would open to them a wide avenue to future wealth. 

People from all parts of the parish turned with longing 
hearts to this Land of Promise. 

Tlie labor of leveling the forests when once begun, was 
prosecuted with incredible zeal and expedition. 

Within a few years, passable roads were made across the 
country and the most enterprising adventurers had reared 
primitive dwellings among the stumps on the freshly cleared 
lands. 

From the east bank of the Mississippi, from the tired old 
hills, the people came and cast their lots with those who had 
ventured nearer home. On False River, that region of romance 
and ethereal loveliness, merchants and planters disposed of 
their property to invest in Grrosse Tete lands. The glowing 
accounts the new settlers gave of life in the backwoods; the 



AWAY TO THE WOODS ! 21 

spontaneous growth of the crops and their marvelous yields; 
the abundance of fish, of game; the fine pasturage and numer- 
ous other advantages, induced Mr. Hunt to give up merchan- 
dizing in order to launch in this new enterprise. He bought 
nearly a thousand acres of this public land and began clearing 
that portion of it fronting baj'ou Grosse Tete. In less than 
nine months, the stalwart force he had put to work, had 
cleared and prepared for cultivation a hundred acres of the 
richest land in the valley of the Mississippi; and a year after 
the purchase, a dozen substantial buildings had been erected 
among the blackened stumps and cane stubbles. At some 
distance from the precipitous bank of the bayou, stood a cabin, 
larger and more commodious than those destined for the 
slaves ; it was a temporaiy dwelling for the master's family. 
Mr Hunt remained on the place to superintend the work, and 
was, for many months, the sole occupant of this lonely abode. 
He had confided his wife and child to the care of the old people 
at '■^Cornea Cheveruil." 

In the meantime, he hastened the arrangements for their 
reception; he could no longer endure life without their com- 
panionship. 

The day of their departure for Grosse Tete, fell on a 
warm, serene morning in the month of December, such a De- 
cember as dawns in Louisiana, when a balmy fall, with its 
genial train, precipitates itsehf into the arms of winter. For 
a fortnight, the south winds had been gamboling over the 
freshly carpeted earth, and the mellow rays of the sun had 
weaved their golden shreds about the leafless branches of the 
trees. The mocking birds returned to their haunts, and re- 
opened their musical career. All day the robins and sparrows 
chattered unmindful of their comrades, that from time to timS; 
toppled over, igaomiuous sLrangled with china balls. 



22 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

During the last week of Ler sojourn at the old home, Mrs. 
Hunt found a melancholy pleasure in watching from the gal- 
lery, the reflection of the moon on False Eiver. She confessed 
that she had never before adequately appreciated the splendor 
of the spectacle until the time came to leave this familiar scene 
of her youth. 

Her little daughter, Lucile, then scarcely five yeara old, 
was a remaikably interesting and intelligent child. She had 
inherited her father's fine complexion and dark-blue eyes, and 
her mother's beautiful mouth. Her face was exquisitely 
moulded and the loveliest of dimples played hide-and-seek on 
her dainty chin. Lucile had become the idol of her grandpar- 
ents, and the thought of separation grieved them sorely. It 
was pitiful to witness their distress on the day of her departure 
for Grosse Tete. They cluag to her till the last moment, call- 
ing her by the most endearing names their love suggested. 
^'■Chere coeur,' ^^bijon," '■^hien ahnee,'' were a few, among the 
affectionate terms they bestowed upon her, as Mrs. Hunt, 
with a dull, aching pain at her heart, withdrew the child from 
their detaining arms. 

Mr. Hunt sent Dave, the trusty driver, after his wife and 
child; he himself stayed to prepare for their reception and to. 
extend to them, the welcome they so richly deserved. He 
knew that the anticipations of this meeting, would, in a great 
measure, assuage the pain of the separation with the lonel^^ 
old people and perhaps, divert their minds from the dreary, 
and uninviting part of the country through which they would 
pass, on their homeward journey. 

The long ride, through the woods and canebrakes, was 
fatiguing and monotonous to Mrs. Hunt, but it was an enjoya- 
ble one to Lucile, who often amused her mother with her cute 
observations. During one of her silent spells, Mrs. Hunt 
watched with affectionate interest, the puzzled expression of 
the child's lively countenance. 



AWAY TO THE WOODS ! 23 

"Does my baby find the trees and bashes pretty?" she 
asked, toying with the bright ringlets escaped from the crimson 
hood. "I'm looking at the long ropes, God ties the trees 
with," answered Lucile, ca<?ting a solemn look on her mother. 

"Ropes!" exclaimed the lad}', laughing. "Why, darling, 
those are muscadine vines. "" 

After due reflection, Lucile came to the conclusion that 
Uncle Dave had lost his way and insisted on his taking them 
back to her grandparents. 

"Too late fur to go back now," replied the old man, turn- 
ing to cast a look on the wistful face. "Don't you be skeered; 
I's takin you straight ter yo' paw an' dem rabbits he got fur 
you. 

Lucile rallied after this eucourasfing promipe, and at every 
settlement, strained her lovel}- eyes, trying to catch a glimpse 
of her father. She was too full of pleasant anticipations to 
make any further remarks. But when they reached the bank 
of Grosse Tete, she stood up in the carriage and leaned out of 
the window to watch the alligators swimming across the bayou, 
and the grey turtles sunning themselves on the logs. At last, 
oh joy! she beheld her father crossing a lot and walking with 
rapid strides towards the road. How handsome he looked, 
standing upon the style, bareheaded, flushed with happiness 
and frantically wafting them a welcome! 

"0 papa! " cried Lucile, throwing herself into his out- 
stretched arms. "I've brouglit you a basket of tomatoes and 
ever so many pretty flowers! " 

"Bless your precious heart!" exclaimed Mr. Hunt kissing 
her red lips. "Is it summer time out on False River? " 

"I — ' spect so, papa," answered Lucile gazing around on 
the dreary scenery, but its winter out here, aint it?" 

Mr. Hunt gave no answer to the child's question, but 
drew his wife to his bosom, saying: 



24 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"You are a thousand times welcome, darling. How I 
thank you for coming! '" 

Uncle Dave, the silent spectator of this joyful meeting 
and re-union of loving hearts, chuckled with inward satisfaction 
as he slowly gathered up the reins to drive through the bars. 

The little family crossed the rustic stile and stepped into 
an enclosure, where felled timber and cane stubbles were 
among the prominent features of the place. 

The humble dwelling, which, for coming years, was to be 
their home, was built of rough weather-boarding, without orna- 
ments of any sort, save a coat of whitewash. A chimney of 
hospitable proportions flanked one end of the cabin; two small 
windows were the onl}' openings at the other. In the rear of 
the building, was a bayou of considerable size, fringed with 
rank undergrowth. Old cypress trees grew in its bed and 
lifted their gaunt, moss-laden branches high above the thickets 
and smooth limbed sapplings. The aspect was cheerless even 
in the adorning light of a mid-day sun, and Mrs. Hunt made 
strenuous efforts to conceal her disappointment and overcome 
the feeling of despondency which was gradually overpowering 
her senses. 

On perceiving her emotion, her husband passed his arm 
around her slender waist. "It will not be thus, always', 
dearest," he said in a low voice. "Bear it for awhile, for my 
sake, Elise." 

She raised towards him her tearful, (reproachful eyes. "O 
Arthur, you misjudge me! With you. any place on earth is 
paradise to me! " 

Mr. Hunt drew her close to his heart and tenderly kissed 
her. "Heaven knows how d9e!')ly I appreciate the sacrifice 
you have made for me, dear Elise. My life's devotion shall 
repay it! " 

The happy couple followed the heedless child who bounded 
before them in the direction of the cnbin-home, where her papa 
had informed her, she would find the rabbits. 



PIONEERING. 25 



CHAPTER III. 

PIONEERING. 

/^UR pioneers soon became accustomed to their lonely, un- 
^-^ attractive home and reconciled to the many privations 
entailed on them by reason of the distance which separated 
them from the social world. 

Mrs. Hunt did not adapt herself as readily to her sur- 
roundings as Lucile did. 

The new life proved ver}' congenial to the child's nature. 
She loved to roam over the place, among the bushes and trail- 
ing vines where "lived the frolicsome squirrels and rabbits. " 
Many a time she came to her mother with interesting descrip- 
tions of the snakes she had seen dangling from the thickets, 
or found beautifully coiled in the wagon track. On fine days, 
she was allowed to accompany her father to the field, where 
she spent her time diligently hunting for water lilies for her 
mother, or watching the hands at work. 

She would stand on the headlands and watch, with childish 
delight, the gleaming plow-shares cutting into the earth and 
upturning in undulant furrows, the rich, mellow soil. 

The plantation was intersected by numerous ba3'ous, which 
by the way, served the purpose of drainage; whenever she 
wished to go across any of these, one of the hands placed her 
on his shoulder and carried her over. The honor was generally 
conferred upon Jonas, a jovial hearted fellow, who was alwa3's 
but too glad to drop his hoe for a few minutes' frolic. 

With Lucile comfortably perched on his back, he would 
caper around in imitation of an unmanageable horse. These 
manoeuvres always delighted the child ; her mirth and ringing 
laughter only served to emulate the darkie to further alarming 
demonstrations. 



26 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

No matter how pressing the work, Mr. Hunt never 
interfered witli Lucile's amusements. One morning in spring, 
the first she spent on the place, she started off as usual, on one 
of her rambles to meet her father. As was her wont, she 
called upon Jonas to carr}' her across one of the bayous. 

"Now, you grab hold as tight as you kin, little misses," 
said Jonas falling on his knees and throwing off his old slouch 
hat, "for dis yere hawse, he got de debil in 'im dis morning." 

After an unusual display of equestrian feats, such as 
pitching, rearing and snorting, Jonas leaped on the opposite 
bank and collapsed on all fours. 

"Clum off, little misses," he said, puffing and blowing. 
"Clam off, I say. Dis here hawse dun cross ober dat ribber. " 

Lucile clutched the tighter to his wooly locks and strenu- 
ously refused to dismount. 

"Git otT, chile," he continued, giving her a vigorous 
shake, and rolling his eyeballs in protest. ' 'Dis yere animal' 
dun win-broke; sides dat, he got his row to hoe. ' 

But bis appeal was in vain; Lucile shook with decision 
her shining curls. 

"I shant get off, Jonas, till you uncross that bayou! " 

"Lawd, hevp mercy 'pon my soul," cried Jonas, casting- 
an eye across the cut where a cloud of dust indicated the 
progress of his squad; "she's clutchin' on ter me reg'ler as a 
tick, and how she's gwine to be took oft', is more'n den I kin 
tell." 

•Unmindful of his distress, Lucile secured a firmer hold of 
the slave's natty hair and tugged at it with unflagging determi- 
nation. "Get-along! Get-along! " she cried, beating her tiny 
heels against his lust}' chest. Seeing no chance for respite, 
the unfortunate Jonas recommenced his equine exploits. 

After a repetition of frantic vaults and feints to over- 



PIONEERING. 27 

throw bis tireless rider, the complaisant slave, once more' 
dropped on his knees. "Dere! " he exclaimed, wiping witEi' 
his sleeve the great drops of perspiration which trickled down, 
his ebony cheeks. "I's gwine to ketch a lickin' sho!" 

"But didn't we have fun though? ' asked Lucile brushing, 
back the tangled hair from her laughing eyes. 

''You dun troo wid yo' fun little missus. AVhen yoir 
hears me hollowin' ober dere, you can be satisfied-, I's gittio.' 
mine."' 

"Who are you going to ride Jonas? " asked she with 
some misgiving in her voice. 

"Who?" exclaimed he, staring significantly into her 
questioning eyes. "Its Uncle Dave gwine to ride me. Didn't 
I teil ye I's gwiue to ketch a lickin'. "' 

Just at this moment, Lucile spied her father walking rap- 
idly across the cut. 

"0 papa! " she cried, running to meet him, "Jonas had 
to cross me over the bayou and he won't catch a lickin', will 
he?" 

Mr. Hunt pretended to examine the case with due consid- 
eration. "I shall turn him over to Uncle Dave, '" he answered, 
with solemn gravity. 

Such a decision set Jonas to a vigorous scratching of his 
pate . 

"She made me do it, marster; 'sisted on me crossin' an'' 
uncrossin' dat er bayou." 

"Indeed, I did," cried Lucile, coming to his rescue. 

"Very well, Jonas," replied his master, you certainly had 
to obey the orders of your little mistress. "Tell Uncle Dave I 
say it's all right." 

The light-hearted negro dropped to the ground, turned a( 
somersault and gave a whoop which the woods flung back in" 
wild echoes. 



28 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Life was not altogether cheerless to the inmates of the 
little cabin home. During the coarse of summer, they enter- 
tained many friends and relatives from ' 'le sol nafif." The 
place appeared to visitors like a God-forsaken wilderness; its 
proximity to the woods increased its dreariness of aspect. 
They missed the dusty highway and the lovely sheet of water 
Jtheir eyes were accustomed to rest upon. 

It was with pardonable pride that Mr. Hunt piloted his 
friends through the broad acres under cultivation. 

The old planters of False River, who were accustomed to 
a rigid and undeviating mode of management, were staggered 
at his loose experiments and the success w-hich crowned them. 

The generous soil yielded such abundant crops, that there 
was alwaj's a surplus of farm-truck on the plantation. 

There was no finer country for stock; they throve and 

multiplied in magnificent canebrakes, which Mr. Hunt enclosed 

for pasturage. And many were the pounds of delicious butter 

turned from the churn in the little dairy-house beneath the 

X)aks. 

Grosse Tete melons were proverbial for their flavor and 

extraordinary size. The negroes on the place had full run of 

the patch as well as the orchard, wherein, all summer, they 

feasted on lucious peaches. 

Mr. Hunt encouraged his slaves to cultivate their own 
gardens and potato patches, and to raise chickens. Hence, it 
was no unusual custom for the women to place before their 
families, a tempting omelet or a bowl of iragrant gomho-JiH 
with the more substantial hunck of pork or bacon. 

One summer evening the Hunt family were seated on their 
little gallery enjoying the moonlight and listening to the soft 
rustle of leaves in the neighboring trees when they w'ere sud- 
denly startled by a loud, blood-curdling shriek which proceeded 
from a group of bearded oaks, on the banks of the bayou. 



PIONEERING. 29"^ 

Lucile started from her comfortable attitude on ber ' 
father's knee, and looking up into bis face, said, smiling: 

"I'm not afraid of owls now papa." 

"You were silly to be afraid of tbem before, Birdie.'' 
"Once upon a time, you were under the impression that they 
craved as much for a little girl like you for a supper as they 
did for one of your mamma's fat chickens.' 

"Indeed I did; and when I heard them crying like that 
one, I used to cover up my head and say a prayer. " 

"Hush! — listen! " exclaimed Mrs. Hunt, laying her band-' 
on her child's head. 

"How exquisite! " said ber husband. 

"Who is singing, mamma? " 

"How can I tell? One would think Jennie Lind was sere- 
nading the darkies." 

The voice which had arrested Mrs. Hunt's attention, pro- 
ceeded from the negro quarters. It was a powerful, but flute- 
like soprano. The clear, pure notes seemed to drop from the 
singer's lips like a shower of pearls. 

The air, "Les Roses, " was a familiar one to Mrs. Hunt, 
and it was rendered with charming melody and precision. 

When, at last, the brilliant notes died away in the still- - 
ness of night, the melody of it still lingered on the ears of - 
those it had fascinated. 

"Who can it be?" Mrs. Hunt asked of her husband, 
"That was the most beautiful voice I ever heard.' 

"May be it was an angel singing" suggested Lucile. 

"It would be ridiculous for an angel to sing a waltz-song,, 
would it not dear? " answered her father. 

His curiosity was aroused, however, and he went to the 
quarters to ascertain who was the extraordinary singer. 

When he returned, there was a mischevious twinkle in his- 
eyes. 



30 /ULMA, A STORYCOP THE OLD SOUTH. 

"Well, who is the prima-dona? " asked Mrs. Hunt. 

"Tell us quick, papa, did you really see her?" asked 
liUcile. 

"I was permitted to gaze upon the light of her counte- 
jiance ' 

"Was she ver}- beautiful?" inquired Lucile, with eager- 
ines.s. 

' 'She is as black as the ace of spades. " 

"One of our women? " asked Mrs. Hunt. 

"Yes; it was Zulma, the girl I bought at old Landry's 
sale, yesterday." 

"Why, she has a glorious voice, Arthur, What shall we 
do with a slave endowed with such a gift? " 

"I gave fitteen hundred dollars for her; she promises to 
,make a splendid field-hand."' 

"I wish you would send her to me to-morrow morning. I 
am anxious to see her." 

"Not with the intention of spoiling her, I hope. Elise? " 

"Give me credit for having more common sense, dear 
husband," replied Mrs. Hunt rising. "Lucile, kiss your papa 
.■good night; it is bedtime." 

Immediately after breakfast, the foUowina morning, Zulma 
wajked up to the house and planted herself in the back door 
-of the dining-room. Naturally, Mrs. Hunt had formed her 
ideas of the appearance of the sweet singer, but the reality fell 
;60 short of the ideal, that it was with a mental effort she over- 
came her surprise. She expected to see a full grown girl, with 
a serious mouth and eyes, restless with the fire of pent up 
genius; the girl who stood before her, though nearlj' sixteen 
years of age, was small, plump, but as straight as an arrow. 
She was quick and lithesome in her movements, and held up 
•iier head with an air of independence, which Mrs. Hunt 
ithought quite unbecoming for one in her station. Her lips, 



PIONEERING. 31 

■whence had flowed the pearly notes of the waltz-song, were 
uncommonly well-shaped, for one of her color. When she 
smiled, a set of faultless teeth gleamed behind them. Her 
eyes twinkled with intelligence. 

"Well, Zulma, how do you like the place? " asked her 
mistress with a kindly smile. 

"Putty wile sort of a place fur me," replied Zulma, in no 
very amiable mood. 

"You seemed to be enjoying yourself last night, we heard 
you singing." 

"I sings mos' all de time." 

' 'Indeed ! Who taught you the songs you sang last night? " 

"I cotch 'em from my little mistis. " 

"Some of these evenings, you must come and sing for 
Lucile. " 

A broad grin overspread Zulma's features. 

"Dat little gal over dere, ma'am?" asked she, nodding 
in the direction where Lucile stood. 

"Yes, that's your little mistress: you must not call her 
'gal' again." 

"No'em, I won't;'" rieplied Zulma, gazing admiringly on 
her young mistress. 

"She's a pooty gal! " The words fell inadvertently from 
her lips ; she started and glanced timidly at Mrs, Hunt who 
pretended to ignore the mishap. 

"Have you eaten your breakfast? " she asked kindly. 

"Dere it;" responed the girl, tapping the tin bucket which 
Ihung on her arm. 

"But ham and buttered biscuits are nicer than what you 
have here" said Lucile, uncovering her bucket. 

"Look, mamma, only fried meat and corn dodgers. Shall 
I give her an eog too? " 



32 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"One day's indulgence will not spoil her, I bope. Offer 
lier a cup of coffee, Lucile," added Mrs. Hunt smiling. 

After Zulma had drank her coffee, Mrs. Hunt said to her: 

"I shall not keep you here longer, child, Uncle Dave 
might not like it. 

"Who dat, you calls unkle Daye? " 

"One of the hands — an overseer; he keeps the others 
straight during your master's absence." 

"Sakes! I knows he goin' to skin me. " 

"Not if you do your work right and obey orders." 

"I don't speck it'tle make much difrunce dough; my po 
back dun use to cowhide." 

"Perhaps, you do not know, that you have the best and 
kindest of masters? " 

"Dey tells me so." 

"Then, I hope you will l)ehave yourself so well, as never 
to need a whipping." 

Zulma turned upon her mistress with an incredulous stare, 
then burst into laughter; but it was a sort of a nervous hilar- 
ity which she quickl}' subdued. "l"s gwine to do my bes'," 
she said, with a scared look, • 'an' I aint gwine to run off, eider, 
if I kin hep it." 

"You will not improve your conrlition by running off, 
Zulma; and that is one thing the people on this place never do. 
It is to be hoped, you will not set them the bad example." 

•'I hain't gwine to set 'em notin' bad, 'cept dey gib me 
sass; I nebber take dat frum no nigger; but I's gwine to do my 
bes" fur de master, befo' de Lawd, I is." 

"You may go now Zulma," said her mistress. 

"The slave took up her bucket and walked out of the room. 

"She's a case" remarked Mrs. Hunt. 

"That means she's bad, mamma?'" asked Lucile with 
some concern. 



PIONEERING. 33 

"Yes, that she has a character of her own and may give 
trouble." 

"Why did God give her such a tine voice, mamma? He 
should have given it to a white girl." 

•'You must not speak about God in that way, Lucile, nor 
question His motives. Poor Zulma is doomed to a life of 
slavery; her love for singing may, in a great measure, lighten 
her labor and give her the only pleasure she can enjoy in this 
world." 

"Y''ou make me sorry mamma, for Zulma and all the 
darkies working in the field." 

"There are thousands of poor white people ten times 
worse otf than our negroes, dear. Do you not think your papa 
kind to his slaves? Are they not well fed, well clothed, and 
have they not good, comfortable homes to live in? " 

"Yes — but — must they not work in the field for their 
masters, whether they want to or not? '" 

' 'Why yes ; they are bought for that purpose. Every one 
must work for a living unless he has money." 
"Will the negroes ever get rich, mamma? " 
The child's simple question embarrassed the woman and 
while deliberating with herself for a plausible answer, Lucile 
came to her relief. 

"1 reckon the}' will, mamma," said she meditatingly, they 
sell so many eggs to the people out on False River. 

"They certainly do, my love, and I am sure some of them 
have laid aside snug little fortunes, that is, a sufficient sum to 
buy their fineries and trinkets ; they are in need of nothing 
else, I imagine." 

That evening Lucile and her mother walked back through 
the fields to look at the crops. 

They met the hands on their way home. 



34 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Mrs. Hunt, whose sensitive heart had been disturbed by 
unusual doubts and emotions brought up by Lucile's questions 
on the subject of shivery, now listened with strange satisfac- 
tion to the peals of laughter which came from the light-hearted 
laborers. "They are happy, even after a day's toil," thought 
she; "that joyous ring certainly comes from a contented 
heart." And her own leaped gladly at the thought. 

Mr. Hunt had purchased Zulma for a field hand, and she 
proved an uncommonly valuable one. Her laborious occupa- 
tions never interfered with her gayety; the woods and brakes 
daily resounded with the echoes of her thrilling songs. She 
was light-hearted and chuck full of worldly love, a fact which 
rendered her an acquisition to the quarters. 

About six weeks after the purchase of this interesting 
slave, she suddenly vanished from the premises. Search and 
Inquiries failed to throw light on the cause of her disappear- 
ance. Mr, Hunt was a kind master; the improbability of her 
abscondence lett no doubt that the girl had met with some dire 
misfortune. After the lapse of a few days, and when the mas- 
ter had become somewhat reconciled to his loss, to his aston- 
ishment, the creature glided like a ghost in his path and throw- 
ing herself upon her knees, exclaimed: 

"Oh master, pardon me! as long as I lib, I nebber do dat 
agin." 

Her features were haggard and her shrunken eyes betrayed 
suffering from privations and exposure. 

"Where in the world have you been and what has hap- 
pened to you, my poor girl? " asked Mr. Hunt. 

"I was gone "marron," master, I was dun run off." 

"And in tlie name of goodness, what put you into the 
notion of running off from me." 



PIONEERING. 35 

"For de life on ine, I can't tell, marster; dat was jist my 
way of doin' wid my todder master. If you don't wip me dis 
time, I nebber do dat agin; befo' de Lawd, I won't." 

It WHS difficult for Mr. Hunt to control his humor. The 
idea of the girl running off from comfortable quarters from 
mere impulse or habit, was one extremely ludicrous to him. 

It was with an effort that he maintained his dignity and 
concealed his propensity to burst into laughter. 

He ordered her to "march to the quarters." Dusk was 
rapidly setting over the landscape. Old Dave, the overseer or 
general manager among the blacks, was busily engaged in 
splitting a lot of kmdling wood. He dropped his axe and 
stared at the emaciated form in bewilderment. 

"Here is our runawa}-, Dave," said Mr. Hunt. "She 
looks as though she has been sufficiently punished for her 
escapade, don't you think? " 

Dave scrutinized the culprit. 

"She want grub wurser den a wipin', marster." 

"I should think so; I shall take her to the house and 
have her wants attended to." 

"Dat's de bess 3'ou kin do fur 'er, jis now," answered 
Dave, picking up his axe, "termorrer, I'll see to her." 

"Let the punishment be light, Dave." 

"Don't 3'ou bother, marster, 'twont hurt 'er much." 

"Have you found her papa? " joyfully cried Lucile, run- 
ning to meet them. "Oh! mamma, here's poorZulma! Were 
you lost, Zulma, lost in the woods among the bears? " "Do 
tell me all about it. You had a dreadful time, hadn't you? " 

The girl maintained a sullen silence and hung her head in 
mortification. 

"Zulma has been a bad girl, dear, and is quite undeserv- 
ing of your sympathy. She ran off from us of her own free 
will." 



36 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

A painful expression settled over the child's features. 

"You promised mamma never to do it." 

"I wont do it agin," cried Zulma. 

I'm sure she will keep her word this time, papa; you are 
not going to punish her are you? 

"No, not I," replied he evasively. "Now pet, go in and 
give our runaway a good supper; she is in sore need of it." 

The next morning Dave stood on the )3ank of the bayou in 
the rear of the house, apparently watching the hands as they 
filed off to their day's labor. Zulma with her hoe thrown over 
her shoulder, slowly followed her squad. At the bottom of the 
bayou, a couple of logs served for a temporary bridge. Just 
as Zulma reached this spot, Dave pounced upon her and 
dragged her down the steep embankment. 

It so happened, that Lucile, on this particular morning,, 
had taken a notion to catch a mess of crawfish. Line in hand, 
she appeared on the scene, just as Dave had reached the crossing. 

"Where are you going with Zulma, Uncle Dave? " she 
asked with evident surprise. 

"I's gwine to duck 'er, little missis;" he responded, strug- 
gling to get a firm hold of Zulma's hands. . 

"And what for? you bad old man, you! " 

"Cause she dun run otf frum yo' paw, honey." 

"But Uncle Dave, if you drown Zulma, papa will be 
awfully mad" cried Lucile with a sob, and at the same time, 
going down to the rescue, "let her loose. Uncle! " 

' 'You go long, little misses, I aint gwine ter dron de gal, 
I's jist washin' the liveliness out 'er her.'' 

And without further ceremony, he jerked the terrified girl 
from the log and plunged her several times into the water. 

Zulma yelled. Lucile screamed in concert and called her 
father with all her might to come to Zulma's assistance. 



PIONEERING. 37 

The water in the baj^ou was only a few feet deep, but the 
tact did not lessen the unpleasantness of the sousing to Zulma, 
who firmly believed that Dave was trying his best to drown 
her. 

''Dere, now, you little runaway 'eathen, you," he cried, 
releasing her hands, I dun turn you in ter regler hard-shell 
Baptis'." "Doan you uiver call yo'self Catlick no more." 

This novel mode of punishment permanently cured Zulma 
of her unnatural propensity to escape from her work, and Uncle 
Dave was never again called upon to repeat the chastisement. 



38 ZDLMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



CHAPTER IV. 

IN CHALPA SWAMP. 

MR. HUNT owned a valuable cypress swamp several miles 
distance in the rear of his plantation. Here, in this 
aboriginal forest of giant timber, he erected a large sawmill. 
There was at that time a great demand for lumber and Mr. 
Hunt, without neglecting his crop, continued to furnish a con- 
siderable amount of it to the settlers. At certain periods dur- 
ing the course of the year, he withdrew from the field part of 
his laborers whom he dispatched to the swamp under the care 
of a foreman and engineer. 

These were provided with safe quarters upon the elevated 
platform of the mill. 

The adjunct of a capacious mud chimney contributed 
greatly to the comfort of the campers, and thej' needed only 
their blankets, their rations, an oven and a skillet to complete 
their domestic outfit and make life as enjoyable as it was out 
on the plantation. 

The woods were full of game, and there was always a coon 
or a rabbit baking on the hearth. 

After their evening meal, the darkies were accustomed to 
sit out in the moonlight confabulating, or singing plantation 
songs with real break-down choruses. And yet, these jolly 
rogues, in order to establish a reputation as heroes, carried home 
the most exaefgerated accounts of the hardships of life in 
Chalpa. The remoteness of this dismal region from the settle- 
ments, tendered to increase its manifold dangers and fascina- 
tions. The credulous were made to believe that in the shift, 
ing shadows of the twilight, gaunt cypresses assumed the forms 



IN CHALPA SWAMP. 39l 

of ghosts, stalking silently in the gloom. That the air re- 
sounded with unearthly grunts and cries; the deadly moccasia 
and venomous reptiles crawled beneath the bushes and infested 
every corner of their temporary domicile. The ba}''ou near the 
mill was alive with alligators splashing in its turbid waters; 
the woods were full of howling wolves, wild cats and panthers. 
During the day, the whirr and buzz of the wheel and saw 
"scared away" these unwelcome creatures, but at nightfall 
gruesome birds emerged from their haunts, flocks of croaking 
buzzards and screech-owls flapped their ghoulish wings among 
the trees. 

Such were the tales related by the swampers to their fel- 
low-laborers at home; and Zulma communicated them to 
Lucile. The subject became a very fascinating one to the 
child and she was seized with an ungovernable desire to look, 
upon a scene thus teeming with untold perils and enchantment. 
For a time, her father remained deaf to her pleading for per- 
mission to ride behind him on one of his frequent visits to the 
mill. 

Her perseverance, at length, won his consent. 

It was a warm, sultry afternoon, in the latter part of 
August. In order to avoid the heat, they concluded to make 
the trip through the woods by following a cattle track which 
led directly to the sawmill. 

"We shall be in time for supper," said Mr. Hunt to his 
wife, as he lifted the delighted Lucile to a seat behind him, 
' 'but in case night overtakes us out there we shall make up 
our minds to camp out. Get Zulma to stay with you till our 
return." 

He spoke in a jesting tone, but a shade of uneasiness, 
swept across his wife's countenance. 

"Please do not jest on so serious a subject," she answered 
reproachfully. "I shall be worried to death if you do not re- 



40 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

turu to-uiglit. Wh}', you ina}' be attacked by a bear or a wild- 
cat, or be bitten bv a rattlesnake! " 

"Lupus wont let 'em bite, mamma," cried Lucile with 
trustful readiness. "Hell bark and drive all the bears and 
snakes out of the woods." 

The riders found the cattle path inconveniently narrow, 
besides, their passage through the woods was greatly retarded 
by the projecting limbs of trees. But it was pleasant riding 
beneath the cool shade, and there was fun dodging the vines 
and branches. They came across the cows; at the sound of 
Lucile's familiar voice they ceased browsing and stared at her 
with astonishment depicted in their soft, questioning eyes. 

"The darlings! " exclaimed Lucile, "they think it funny 
to see me out here; eh, papa?" 

"No doubt, pet; and they think we have no right to be 
tramping over their pasture and intruding on their privacy," 

Lucile's quick eye detected a variety of plants which had 
hitherto escaped her father's notice. She pointed out to him 
a bouquet of magnificent ferns luxuriating in the trunk of a 
hollow tree, a rustic vase in Nature's conservatory. 

All along the route her little fingers clutched at the allur- 
ing leaves, blossoms, or bunches of wild grapes falling within 
her reach. Now, they dived into a golden mass of love-vine 
rioting over a thorn bush; then grasped a cluster of flowing 
trumpet flowers, or a panicle of purple asters. The gaudy 
woodpeckers clinging to the bark of the trees reminded her of 
tiger lilies flung there by a gust of wind. At every turn they 
came across rabbits and squirrels which Lupus dutif nil}' chased 
out of sight. 

So absored were the minds of our travelers in rural obser- 
vations, they were totally unconscious of the change which had 
taken place in the weather, until a canopy of black clouds was 



IN CHALPA SWAMP. 41 

suddenly drawn across the heavens. Its threatening aspect 
alarmed Mr. Hunt; he increased his speed that he might reach 
his journey's end before the outbreak of the approaching storm. 
The noise of the engine fell gratefully upon his ear. A 
blast of cold wind swooped upon the woods just as they reached 
the sawmill. Amid the loud commotion of wind among the 
swaying branches and creaking timber, Mr. Hunt heard with 
dismay, the sharp and omiuious cracking of the fabric which 
was the only shelter within reach. At this moment, some of 
the hands came rushing in carrying their working imi)lements; 
at the sight of their master, they broke into exclamations of 
surprise: 

"Lawd, yere's marstar! " 

"Sake's alive! an' he dun brung de gal wid 'im! " 

"Whar you cum frum, marstar?" asked-one taking his 
master's bridle rein. "Was dat you bring dis yere blow? " 

"Don't ask idle questions Andre!" replied Mr. Hunt; 
hitch my horse to that sapling over yonder. Run up one of 
you boys and tell Mr. Prospere to put out the furnace fire. 
"Come darling, " continued he, gathering Lucile in his arms, 
"let us get out of the wind." 

The negroes ran under the ground floor of the mill and 
their master carried Lucile up to the engine-room. 

The blow, which for a moment, had threatened to demol- 
ish the building, had subsided to so portentous a calm, that 
nature seemed to have suspended animation, or like a living 
thing, had fallen into a trance. The frightful stillness became 
so oppressive to those who waited that it was a relief to hear 
the thunder growling at a distance and to see the trees shiv- 
ering in the gathering gloom. At intervals, the lightning 
licked with fiery tongue, the dusky vault of heaven, or broke 
the brooding silence with fierce explosions. 



42 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

This was the prelude to the impending storm which sud- 
denly swept over the place like a West Indian hurricane. 

The panic-stricken negroes scrambled up the steps and ran 
to their master, huddling around him like so many sheep. 

' Marster, " cried one in a hoarse voice, "I's feared de-da 
judgment day's 'bout bustin' on us." 

"I reckon not Andre; the Bibie says that the world is lo 
be destroyed by fire. Don't you hear how it's ruining? " 

''Tank God!" responded Andre witli fervency. 

A lurid flame flashed through the building, exposing with 
fearful distmctness the ghostly features of its inmates. It was 
followed by a crash so terrific and deafening, Mr. Hunt be- 
lieved that the mill had been struck; he sprang to his feet with 

Luciie in his arms. 

Simultaneously with the explosion, the negroes fell upon 

their knees, groaning and enjaculating: 

"Lawd Jesus, sabe us! " cried one. 

"Little mo' time, Lawd ter sabe my po' soul," came from 
another, in a heart-rending tone. 

"I dun grievus 'gmst yo', Lawd; ef yo' leave me off dis 
once, yo' aint gwine ter know me fur de same nigger, Lawd.' 

Such were the prayers and confessions which fell involun- 
tarily from the lips of the would-be penitents; they mingled 
with the roar of the elements and created a pandemonium din 
which filled Luciie with consternation. 

"0 papa! " she cried throwing her arms around her 
father's neck. "God won't let the lightning kill them; I've 
asked him not to — tell them that papa — tell them quick! " she 
reiterated, as once again, the promiscuous groans and praj-^ers 
predominated over the noise outside. 

Mr. Hunt's clieek flushed witii vexation; he unwound the 
child's arms from around his neck and turned to the cowering 
slaves. 



IN CHALPA SWAMP. 43 

"See here," he said, in a commanding voice, "I want you 
to stop this nonsense; you are frightening your little mistress 
by your cowardly behavior. Can't you pray without making 
such a racket? " 

' 'But marster, " responded one of the sinners lifting his eyes 
with pitiful humility, "we'se a parcel of ripo bates an' de Lawd 
ain't gwine to notice 'cept we makes all dis yere fuss!" 

The timely reprimand produced its desired effect; the 
avowed reprobates subdued the turbulence of their souls and 
awaited in silent resignation the final proceedings of the 
tempest. 

After awhile, the wind began to subside, but the rain 
still fell in torrents. Mr. Hunt was now seriously disturbed 
on Lucile's account; he was aware of the obstacles which would 
prevent them from returning home that night even were the 
rain to cease. It was with misgiving he broached the subject 
to the child. 

"I am afraid pet," he began, with marked hesitation, "I'm 
afraid — we will have to stay here to-night. We could hardl}' 
pass through those dark woods after such a storm. We could 
never find our way through the tangled bushes; we may stumble 
over fallen trees or meet with some other accident. Would 
you not stay here with me until morning?" 

''I shouldn't mind staying with you, papa," she answered, 
looking up with tears in her eyes, "but we can't leave poor 
mamma all by herself, you know." 

"You little goose! mamma is better off than we are; won't 
she have a nice, dry bed to sleep on and Zulma to keep her 
company. You had better think of ourselves, who will have 
to rough it like real soldiers! " 

"And will it be camping out in Chalj^a? " she asked with 
childish interest. 



44 ZULMA, A STORY OP TH« OLD SOUTH. 

"A genuine campaign my Love; that will be something 

to boast of at home." 

And Lucile vigorously nodded in approval. 

Night descended upon the sodden waste of leaves and 
moss beaten down by the rain. A soughing wind continued to 
harass the dripping trees and saplings, which bent over and 
staggered like a set of ragged beggars plodding through the 
misty darkness. All sorts of strange noises now began to 
assert themselves. Winged visitants flitted hack ;ind forth 
with unpleasant and persistent familiarity. Tlie incessant 
chirping of the insect tribes, the doeful shrieks of mght birds 
combined with the stentorian bellowing of the bullfrog, pro- 
duced a concatenation of sounds which greatly enhanced tlie 
dreaiiness of the dismal place. 

The hosts now manifested hospitality by hustling around 
and kindling a fire. As it was made of dry cypress twigs, the 
flames instantly leaped into a mass of radiant tongues, accom- 
panied by a cheerful crackle and a discharge of sparks which 
greatly contributed to dissipate the shadows of nightfall. 

"What have you for supper, Dick? " asked the master, 
as the head cook busied himself among the pots and tin pans. 

"Jis w'atyougin us marsteran' a leetle over," he ventured 
to say with a knowing smile and glancing around at his mas- 
ter with an eye half cocked, as one laboring under a misgiving. 

"And what may that be, I wonder? " 

The negro uncovered an oven which sat upon a shelf and 
with an iron fork lifted from it a rabbit baked t© a russet 

brown. 

"Is that all, Dick? " 

"If dat ain't nuflf fur yo' an' little mistis, " he replied, 
dropping the tempting rodent back into the pot and contem- 
plating its contents with a mischievous twinkle — "ef 'tain't, 
day's de hind part of a shoat layin' 'side ov it. " 



IN CHALPA SWAMP. 45 

"You incorrigible scamp! " exclaimed Mr. Hunt starting 
up from his comfortable position on the tool chest. "Did I 
not forbid you to kill anything but game and you know I meant 
wild animals." 

"Dat's 'zactly wot we dun, mars; dis yere berry shoat 
was rarin' wile w'en Mr. Prospere shoot 'im. " 

"Now, let this be the last time I hear of your shooting 
hogs around here. Haven't you enough to eat without killing 
what don't belong to you. ? " 

"We got plenty bakin' 'tatoesand cornmeal, marster." 

"And as much game as you want." 

"Dat's so; an' Mr. Prospere, he got eggs an' coffee — an' 
— an' " — stammered he with a glance in the direction where 
the engmeer sat smoking his clay pipe, ''an' sum'n else in dat 
chess of his — he got a jug! " 

"That's none ot your business. Dick, " replied Mr. Hunt, 
turning his head to hide his amusement at the slave's cunning 
insinuations. 

Her long ride and the novelty of eating a meal from a tin 
plate greatly stimulated Lucile's apppetite. The baked rabbit, 
tried bacon and corn cakes proved the most palatable repast 
she had ever tasted. The negroes, her humble hosts, waited 
upon her with loving assiduity, continually replenishing her 
plate with the rarest tit-bits found in their menu After this 
much relished supper was over, the master and his slaves sat 
out on the platform, the former to get a whiff of air and the 
latter to smoke and discuss the late storm. 

Lucile and Lupus, after a critical survey of the domestic 
arrangements at the mill, concluded to join the group outside. 

' 'Ain't you awfully afraid and lonesome here at night? " 
she asked, looking at the negroes with sympathetic interest. 



46 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

"Dey's times we is, little mistis, " answered one of the 
number, "but yo' see 'taint always dark and slushy like dis 
ev'y night. AV'en de moon shine, we got good time huntin' 
coon an' possum, or we sits out here an' sings." 

"Why don't you sing when it's dark? " asked the child 
with awakened curiosity. 

"Lor, we dun no honey, can't tell w'at sort of sperits bees 
prowlin' round dese yere swamps." 

"But papa IS here to-night; you won't be afraid to sing, 
will you? '■ 

"I reckon not; does you want to hear us bad? " 

"Yes, I do, and Lupus wants it too," replied Lucile seat- 
ing herself on one of the logs. 

The complacent darkies scrutinized their puny audience 
with broad grins and began tuning their souls to the right 
pitch by clapping together their brawny hands. 

"Less sing Poor ole Ned," said one. 

"No, Jim Crack Corn de be'," suggested another. 

"Dis yere ritrlit time fur ter Coon Hunt," put in a third, 
who acted as the leader of the Nubian orchestra. "Me and Jim 
gwine to do de singing an' you all boys muss jine in de choris. 
Les start, Jim! " 

'•Oh come darkiea out in de moolight. 

CHORUS. 

Ho! heigh ho! heigh ho! 
Possum an' de coons' all out to-night. 

Ho! heigh ho! heigh hoi 
Dey's prancin' 'ronn' de ole siramon tree. 

Sho, dat's so, less go! 
An' callin' all de}' frens fur ter see. 

Ho! less go! less go! 
Ole possum can't fool dis .yere nigger. 

Ho! less go; less go! 
He'll kick twixt de dog an' de trigger. 

Ho! heigh ho! heigh ho! 



IN CHALPA SWAMP. 47 

, Dey a feas' comin' on putty sooa. 
Boj's, less go! less go I 
Less us skip fur ter fetch datter coon. 

Boys, less go I less go! 
We kin meet wid de gals dat we knows. 

Shol dat's so! dat's so! 
Dey will come on de wing of de crows. 
Boys, less go! less go! " 

"When the song was ended the last words of the chorus re- 
echoed against the neighboring wall of cypress trees, in weird, 
unearthly sounds. Although their song was of the rousing sort, 
there was something extremely pathetic in this earnest out- 
pouring of their music-loving nature. 

The expression of their black faces was not visible in the 
starlight, but there was in there bosoms an undercurrent of 
pleasurable excitement whicLi clearly revealed itself in their 
singing. 

"How does you like dish vere singing, little mistis?" 
asked Jonas with conscious p'"ide. 

The whole performance had somewhat stupified Lucile; 
she had never before listened to such boisterous singing; 
nevertheless, she was vastly entertained. 

"That was a fine song, Jonas, I want you all to sing 
another one just like it.' 

But the conductor here lifted his finger in a listening atti- 
tude. 

"Heah dat? old Tige dun fall on de trac of sum sort of 
varmint! " 

Lupus too, heard the baying; he pricked his ears, whined 
and shook his shaggy frame with impatience, 

"AV'at fur yo' cuttin' all dem siiines, Lupis? " asked 
Jonas; "you yeard dem yedder dargs kavotin' in dem woods 
an' j'ou bees wan tin' to jine 'em, eh? But you's too big a 
CO wid to do it; aint dat so? " 



48 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Lupus seemed to comprehend that his valor was impugned 
and he instantly refuted the charge by rushing to the edge of 
tne platform and uttering a growl of indignation. 

"Dat's all you kin do! " cried Jonas tauntingly. "Why 
don't you jump down an' jine de cirkis? " 

Quivering with excitement, the dog bounded back to 
where his mistress sat; he poised on his haunches and gazed 
in her face with a pleading, questioning look. 

"Lupus IS not at all afraid to go, Jonas, he things I want 
him to stay with me and — I — 'm — not a bit afraid to tell him 
to go either," she added with a little tremor in her voice. 

"Dem gi' 'im a chance, little mistis, an' let 'im rip," re- 
plied the darky in a provoking manner. 

Lucile made a noble effort to stifle her fears and mistrust, 
but she was determined to give the dog an opportunity to prove 
his prowess. 

"Go Lupus," she said, pointing to the steps, but to her 
dismay Lupus began capering around instead of availing him- 
self of the permission accorded him. 

At this moment the baying of a half a dozen dogs fell 
clamorously upon his ear. 

"Go and catch the coon, Lupus," his mistress cried, in a 
pleading voice. 

The creature now seemed to appreciate the motive which 
prompted his dismissal with such unusual do(tision. He 
bounded to the edge of the platform, sniffed and hung his 
head down as if calculating the distance for a leap. 

"He's feared to crack his neck-bone!" observed Jonas, 
with a wicket grin; "get 'im to take de step, little mistis." 

As soon as he was shown the safe exit. Lupus scampered 
down and joined without delay the chorus outsidej 



IN CHALPA SWAMP. 49 

' 'Now boys, " said Andre, rising and knocking the ashes out 
of his pipe. "Less go an' inves' dis yere buznus." 

"We gwine to swamp sho', " suggested Jonas. 

"(jrit out man, can't we swim? Come on! " 

On their return, the negroes informed their master that 
the dog had alread}' "treed de coon;" it was too dark to see it, 
but they had fastened Tige and Growler to the tree to keep the 
quarry "company." Lupus, to Lucile's chagrin, had volun- 
teered to keep guard with the rest. 

"He's de bess coon dawg I ebber laid eyes on," remarked 
Jonas, now turned eulogist, "you ort ter see 'im, little mistis; 
he's whoopin' mad, a tearin' roun' dat tree, skinnin' ebery bit 
of de bark off tryin' ter git at dat varmint." 

"Nebber seed such eagersom dawgs! " added Dick, his 
eyes batting with animation, "dey doan' take time to breeve, 
dey so full of satisfaction! " 

The inmates of the mill now retired; each went to his in- 
dividual blanket. With Mr. Prospere's overcoat, Lucile made 
herself a comfortable couch upon which she slept sweetl}^ and 
soundly until daybreak. She was then awakened b}' the loud 
talkmg and commotion outside of the building. She was at 
first bewildered by her strange and unfamiliar surroundings. 
The grey dawn lighted up the wide opening at the front; she 
ran to the spot in hope of seeing her father. She caught sight 
of him standing a few yards off surrounded by the mill hands, 
who appeared to be in a high state of excitement, Jonas was 
in the crowd and he was struggling with all his might to escape 
from the grip of one of his companions. 

"Lawd a mussy!" he cried, in a terror stricken voice, 
"let me run! " 

"You dun run fur 'nough fur de bref dat's lef you," 
answered his captor tightening his grasp. "Now tell me w'at 
dat yea ruuniu' frum? " 



50 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"Let me loose fuss," pleaded Jonas, with eyes protruding 
with terror. 

"Ain't gwine to truss 3^ou, man. Say, did you see dead 
people back dare? " 

"0 Lawd, no; 'twas up in de tree! " 

"You waut'er tell me you raisin' all dish yere rackit 'bout 
dat coon in de tree? " 

"Lawd, yes; but — it — it wa'nt a coon," he corrected him- 
self, "it war a critter big as er — er tiger." 

"Lis'en ter dat fool, will yer! He nebber laid eyes on no 
tiger 'cept it bees ole Tige," said Andre with a sneer. 

"He must have seen a wildcat," said Mr. Hunt. "Come 
on, boys, and let us find out. Andre, run up and get the rifle 
and ask Mr. Prosper to stay with Lucile till our retern." 

'You kin run now, you cbickiu'- hearted nigger you!" ex- 
claimed Andre, giving Jonas a parting shake. "Run under de 
beb an' stay dare till we gits through settlin' dish yere hash of 
yourn." 

But Jonas had twofold reason for declining to make use 
of his liberty "to run." 

In the first place, his master's presence promised his per- 
sonal safety; in the second, his ire had been provoked and he 
was aroused to a dogged resolution to follow his companions 
as far as was consistent with his reviving courage. 

The tree around which tiie dogs had been cutting up such 
"high jinks" as the darkies expressed it, was a huge hickory 
%o thickly draped witli moss th:i,t it w:i,s with diflieulty the eye 
penetrated the deep recesses ot its interior branches. Mr. 
Hunt ahd his part}'^ halted at some distance from it to examine 
the rifle and to put themselves in a position of defense in case 
of an emergency. Lie judged from the frantic behavior of the 
dogs, that there was serious cause for their extraordinary 
demonstrations. 



IN CHALPA SWAMP. 51 

"My Lawd!" ejaculated Aadre, "jis lis'ea to dat tremea- 
yous fuss. 'Cordiu' ter de trandum dey's raisin' dey must 'ave 
treed a lellephant. I say, contined he, tip-toeing towards the 
spot and peeping cautiously up where the thick, grey moss 
hung in heavy bunches. "I say, an' it's my 'pinion dat it 's 
er — er — By jingo! " he exclaimed with a look of horror. "Let 
me git out er yere, folks! " Springing back to a safe distance, 
he stood for a few seconds puffing like an ox and speechless 
with fear and surprise. "Come back yere, marstar! dere's 
sum'in' settin' up dare w — wursser den — den a wil'cat. " 

But Mr. Hunt approached the tree, peermg with anxious 
eye in the direction indicated by Andre. 

Crouched on one of the horizontal limbs, he saw the 
shadowy form of an immense panther slashing his tail back 
and forth with suppressed fury. It was evident that the crea- 
ture's powers of endurance were exhausted and that he was on 
the point of terminating his long seige b}' making a spring 
upon his tormenters. Mr. Hunt realized the danger of his 
situation ; he thought of Lucile , his lips compressed and the 
blood retreated to his heart. There was not a moment's time 
to lose. He raised his rifle with utmost precaution, took aim 
and fired. The report was followed by a furious howl and a 
terrific crash among the branches. The beast had been shot 
through the loins and fell from its place of refuge, with a 
dead, heavy thud. 

As soon as he reached the ground, the dogs, with deafen- 
ing outcries, sprang upon him with teeth and paw and the 
negroes rushed to the spot with dreadful shrieks. 

"Gi' it to him, Tige!" 

"Whoopee! dat's right! Scratch his eyes out, Lupis!" 

"Ain't dis fun, dough!" 



52 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

"Dem dawus shakin' de life outer 'im," cried Dick, hold- 
ing for a second bis club suspended in air; "dey doan gee no 
body er chance fur er chunk at dat animal." 

"We was all migiity jubious 'bout gettin' 'im," exclaimed 
Jonas exultantly, "l.)Ut we's pounin'on 'im now, aint we boys?" 

"An' you's a fine one to brag, you tarnacious cowid, you! 
answered Dick with flashing eyes. "You feels putty safe now 
chunl<ia' at dish yere dead critter, doz you? " 

"Ishodoz," replied Jonas with the air of a hero. "I 
was de deaf of 'im." 

The turmoil and excitement was overwhelming. Mr. 
Hunt, unable to control the combatants or end the animal's 
suffering, stood silently watching tlie unequal conflict. 

The noise of this trigi)tful turbulence reached Lucile; her 
dismay and anxiety concerning her father's safety were such 
that her guardian was forced to conduct her to the scene of 
carnage, where she witnessed with tears of anguish and cries 
of terror, the death struggles of the mighty panther of Uhalpu 
Swamp. 



A NARROW ESCAPE. 53 



CHAPTER V. 

A NARROW ESCAPE. 

A N INTERESTING event in the life of our pioneers, was a 
■^ visit to the old folks at Come a Chevreuil. The rides 
out to False River were truely delightful, especially in early 
fall, when the air was as fragrant and exhilerating as that of 
a mountain region. The road-sides were lined with wild flow- 
ers. The pale, feathery asters filled the woods with sweet 
odors, and the sturdy vagabonds in tyrian purple, sported 
among the thistle and aromatic thyme. The sweet songs of 
familiar birds, mingled with the shrill cries of the jay and the 
tinkling of cow-bells in the distance, suggested running waters, 
cool retreats and other woodland mysteries. 

Our travellers never accustomed themselves to the sudden 
change of scenery, from murky bayous and gloomy woods, to 
the radiant and picturesque landscape which greeted their eyes 
on reaching the banks of False River. 

Lucile went into raptures over the enchanting coup-d'oeul, 
but her mother gazed upon it with subdued pleasure. Here 
was the panorama of the blue river quivering in the sunlight, of 
the island dotted with little brown houses, and more beautiful 
still, were the circling shores, dissolving in the etherial atmos- 
phere. There was a pastoral charm in the flocks of sheep 
strolling on the banks, and in the cows contentedly feasting on 
the floating algae. 

Lucile greatly enjoyed visits to her grandparents, for 
she dearly loved the rambling old house, its quaint furniture 
and the smoky, allegorical pictures which hung on the walls; 
she loved to roam over the big yard, where the cattle and 



54 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

sheep browsed luxuriously on the mossy turf, and to play un- 
der the liveoaks which, once upon a time, had sheltered from 
the noonday sun, the Lafitte brothers. She doated on her 
grandparents, especially on her grandpere, who was perfectly 
devoted to her. She would sit for hours upon his knee, relat- 
ing to him some of the stirring events she had read in history, 
or the wonderful accounts travellers gave of their experiences 
in foreign lands. M. Lafitte silently listened, and absorbed 
with child-like interest, whatever Lucile, with her superior 
knowledge, was pleased to impart to him. When weary of her 
task, she would lay her head against his broad shoulder, and 
twirling his silver watch chain about her slender fingers, de- 
mand a story in recurn. 

' 'No, no grandpere, " she often protested, with a determ- 
ined shake of her curls, "You've already told me about Com- 
pere Renard and Bonqui, I want to hear something about 
giants and fairies." 

Grandpere a knowledge of these supernatural beings was 
sadly deficient and he was often compelled to have recourse to 
his own inventive powers which, unfortunately, were so inad- 
equate, that he invariably disgraced himself in the eyes of his 
disappointed grandchild. 

Lucille was very fond of wandering about the fields and 
roadside in search of wild flowers. One morning in Autumn, 
whilst strolling along the banks of the baj'ou, bent on her favor- 
ite persuit, she espied, to her infinite delight, her grandfather's 
antiquated cabriolet coming up the road. Old Sorrel harnessed 
to it, was jogging along in his usual contemplative gait. She 
waved with delirious joy the bunch of verbenas she had just 
gathered, and hastened to shorten the distance between the be- 
loved visitors and herself. Tiie reader is left to imagine the 
meeting. M. Lafitte never came so near being strangled, and 



A NARROW ESCAPE. 55 

his venerable wife's lace kerchief was so rumpled, she was 
ashamed to present herself, after the ordeal. 

As soon as the visitors were seated and had fallen into 
quiet conversation, Lucile, as was her wont, ran to the kitchen 
for a live coal for grandpere to light his pipe with; he had 
no use for matches and always carried his flint-Jjox, in case of 
an emergency. 

^'■Grandpere was dying to see his sauvagesse^" said the 
old man, placing his grandchild on his knee and passmg his 
fingers caressingly through her shining curls. 

"Were you, old precious? Then I wish you'd feel like 
that all the time; we would have you here every day." 

Granrlpere threw back his head and puffed out great vol- 
umes of smoke. 

"Are you afraid to make me cry, grandpiref asked Lu- 
cile, with a touching smile. 

"Yes, ma chere, this old peri'qve will surely draw the 
tears from your eyes. Go over there and tease your grand- 
mere 'til I get through smoking." 

"No, I sha'n't; I'll go to the bayou and catch some nice 
fish for dinner — sacalaifs, grandpere." 

"What a fine idea, petite, you make my mouth water. 
Take your line and go." 

Lucile bounded out of the room and ran to the poultry- 
yard, where Zulma was counting a brood of chickens. "Zul- 
ma, " she cried, "I'm going to catch a mess of fish for grand- 
pere s dinner. I want you to go with me." 

"Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen. Dere now, " said Zulma, 
dropping into a soap-box the last one of the downy chicks. 
"I's been countin' em tree time over and ev'y time dey's one 
mo' of 'em." 



56 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

<*If you keep on counting, " said Lucile, laughing, "you 
need not to set any more hens, Zulma. " 

"I'd ruther carry on dis here bizness de reg'lar way, Miss 
Lucile; I doan' want no conger chicken, me." 

The bayou teemed with the finest fishes, at all seasons 
of the year, and in less than an hour's time, one could catch a 
mess of the finest perch and trout. Lucile and Zulma pro- 
cured their bait and tackle and started oflf towards a favorite 
haunt of theirs — a group of willows, in the midst of which lay 
the prostrate trunk of a large gum tree. 

It had fallen partly across the water and its gaunt limbs, 
extending in every direction, reminded Lucile of a Briarens 
struggling to raise himself up from the earth. 

Regardless of the danger, she ran along ihe full length of 
the trunk, which projected a considerable distance across the 
water. Here she settled herself upon a forked limb and 
planted her booted feet for support against a section of half 
decayed bark. Within a convenient distance between them. 
Zulma had suspended to a projecting limb, her receptacle for 
future captives, this was a coffee bag, which she partly 
emersed to keep the fish alive. 

"Da'll all feel so comtor'able in dere, little Missis, da'll 
never dream da gwine into de tryin' pan. " 

On the opposite shore was a building in course of con- 
struction; it was a cabin, destined for a new settler. The 
strokes of the hammer sounded loud and clear, and the rever- 
ating echoes filled the woods with incessant clamor. 

"If that man keeps on hammering, he'll frighten away all 
the fish in the bayou, won't he? " asked Lucile. 

"I 'clare he will. I got a great notion to holler at him, 
and ax him to jump down dat roof till we cotch a mess." 



A NARROW ESCAPE. 57 

'■Doa't do it, let them finish their house, maybe they're 
in a hurr}-.'" 

"No bigger hurr}' dan we all; he can help dat todder one 
to toat de shingles 'till we's ready to go." 

••You had better leave them alone, Zuluia. '" 

Lucile had thrown off her wide-brimmed hat; the breeze, 
which ruffled the surface of the dark green water, lifted from 
lier brow and cheeks the pretty curls, escaped from confine- 
ment. She made a pretty picture, perched on her rustic seat, 
her bright e^"es eagerly watching the gaudy floats. 

"Put on yo' hat, Miss Lucile; dey's a streak of shine plum 
on yo' face: fuss thing you'll know, all de turkev eggs'll be 
out." 

"What sort of eggs are those,"' asked Lucile. 

"Dem's black specks on white folk's faces." 

"You mean freckles? O, Zulma, T have a bite!'" Lucile 
jerked from the water a vicious looking fish. 

"Swing him 'roun' little mistis; it's nuffln' but nole cat!'" 
Zuhiia ([uickly disengaged the hook from the throat of the 
despised prey and pitched it back into the water. • 'Dere 
now: dat's de way we serves 'em, ware I cum frnm." The 
last expression was one she had often thrown in parenthesis, 
when recalling events in her former sphere of life. 

Lucile's curiosity to ascertain the situation of that boasted 
locality was aroused, and she asked: "Where did you come 
from anyway?" 

"Oh, fur frum dis yere place; clost to a big river." 

"I know; from False River, where, grandpere and grand, 
mere live. " 

"Dat I didn't; I cum frum. fudder'n dat. I cum frum a 
place clost to Waterloo. Ever bin dar, little mistis?" 

"No, I neverj but papa has." 



58 



ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



'•I rekin so. I kin tell you, it's de fust place iu de Ian' 
fursuckis'. Yo' pa ever tuck you to a suckis?" 

"No, but he promised to take me to the convent, and 
that's as good as a circus, T know." 

"Is niver bin ter de convint, but I'se bin ter de suckis, 
an' T knows dat can't be beat. I seed dere, a gal litttlier den 
you, tearin' roun' on top of six hawses.'' 

"0 Zulma! what a story!" 

"Befo' de Lawd, 'taint. She did go Jlyin roun' a holin' 
de reins a bowin' an' seudin" olf kisses. But I seed more'n dat 
in dem suckisses. ' 

"I don't want to hear about it. Don't talk." 

Naturally, Lucile was nettled at Zulma's worldly knowledge 

and experience, and she was fearful of being questioned and 

compelled to expose her own ignorance. 

Tbe fish bad begun to bite, and the anglers were jerking 

out of their native element quite a supply of the reddish-brown 

beauties. 

"You ever seed a steamboat, little raistis?" asked Zulma, 
breaking the silence and casting a side glance at Lucile. . 

Lucile restled with her conscieuce for a second or so, 
trying to find an excuse to save herself fi'om further humila- 
tion as well as prevarication. 

"Of course I have,'' she ventured to reply. 
"Ware dat yon seed dat steamboat, Miss Lucile?'" 
There was no retreat; she had tried to mislead Zulma^ 

but she had not the lieart to tell a downright falsehood; truth 

with her was like second nature. 

"Why, I saw it in a book. Zulma," Lucile answered in a 
dfesperate sort of way. 



A NARROW ESCAPE. ')U 

"Ob, you git out I lifle mistis! Dem steamboats you see 
in de book eau't hole a candle to dem real Jivr 'ems, stnittin' 
'long in de Mississip]»i river." 

"I'm going on a boat, when papa takes me to the con- 
vent,"' said Lucile with a triumphant smile. 

•'You is? Better look out! dey pooty tricky!' 
"How are they tricky, I should like to know?" 
"How?" echoed Zulmii with a warning stare. -'P^f you 
had seed all the hex-plosions I seed, you wouldn't ax dat ques- 
tin, litle mistis." 

"Tell me about these hex-plosions, " asked Lucile, igno- 
rantly repeating Zulmas pronunciation of the word. "What 
are they?" 

"Dey's de bustin's chile, de mos" awful sight under de 
sun. Look! look! over yunder at dat coppy-head streakin' 
troo de water. Aiut it glidin' slick an' cunnin' dough?" 

Both gazed in breathless admiration at the approaching 
reptile. Its sinuous folds glistened below the dark, green 
waves, its eyes gleamed fiercely in the proudly poised head. 

"Dat snake 'mme me of one of dem boats I's tellin" you 
'bout little mistis. Dey so pooty to look at wid dey lights an' 
dey caloos (dat's de music), an" de ladies trampin' rouu' de galry. 
But law! we'n dey blows up! Save me! Sich noise, screechin" 
fin' hollerin' you niver heerd of! Some of dem passengers 
(dems de people on de boat), dey flies up in de air, some drap 
down in de big fernice in de bottom of de boat, toddeis bus' 
dey heads on de levees. De ole folks, de}' grabs hole of cotton 
bales and cheers and chunks of wood, but dem po chillums, 
dey goes right under; nobody gwine to look arter em, you bet! 
It's ev'y nigger fur hisself and de devil take de hin'mos'. '" 

Lucile listened to these details with a soul filled with 
vague terrors. She pictured in her mind one of these awfql 



60 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

catastiophies in wliieli ber parents and herself were to be the 
unfortunate victims. In ber abstraction, ber fishing rod dropped 
from her fingers; she made a sudden motion to regain it. The 
bark against which she was resting her feet, gavewa}'; she lost 
her balance and fell from her seat into the cold depths of the 
bayou. Zulma uttered a shrill cry and stared, with a wild, 
despairing look, on the spot whence the child had disappeared. 
Lucile arose to the surface of the water, throwing up her arras 
and calling her father in a choking, unnatural voice. In a 
second, she again disappeared from sight. Zulma, although 
frantic with terror, prostrated herself on the body of the tree 
and extended her hand in readiness to seize her little mistress, 
in case she once more emerged within reach. 

But a second seemed like an eternit}' to the faithful slave. 
She would not allow Lucile to perish without risking her own 
life in trying to save her. Selecting a position where she could 
sustain herself by clinging to one of the strongest branches, 
she lowered herself iato the water. At that very moment, 
Lucile's inanimate form re-appeared, and Zulma, with a des- 
perate effort, contrived to seize it. 

With one arm she clung to the limb for support, and 
grasped her burden with the other. 

The air was rent with her loud and unearthly outcries. 
"Oh! Lawd, Lawd! Come quick! — somebody! — come quick! 
Miss Lucile dun drown! People, come on, fur God sake!" 
She held Lucile in her close embrace, and with presence of 
mind rare in similar cases, she lifted with hpr chin the face of 
unconscious child from the water. Her superhuman exer- 
tions and the excitement under which she labored were fast 
overpowering her strength. But she clung to her young mis- 
tress, even when despair had overtaken her. 

The workmen on the opposite shore had, from the first, 
taken in the situation, and with all possible expedition, had 



A NARROW ESCAPE. Gl 

hurried to the rescue. They rushed down the bank to the 
skiff in which they were in the habit of crossing the bayou 
each morning. 

"Ole on, 'ole on, gal!" cried one of the men, as he ex- 
peditiously unfastened the skiff. "Take courage, we comin' 
— ole up, gal.'' 

With a dozen strokes of his oars he managed to reach 
the spot where the exhausted slave was on the point of sink- 
ing with her precious burden. 

He lifted the child from Zulma's arm and laid her gently 
down in the bottom of the boat. He then endeavored to per- 
suade the other to re-ascend the trunk of the fallen tree, as his 
skiff was small and there was danger of its overturning. This 
he found impossible; the girl had overtaxed her strength and 
was in no condition to make the exertions. 

"Taker away fuss — tak'er to her ma! Til 'ole on," cried 
the generous creature, clinging desperately to the limb which 
had been the means of rescue 

The family, now frantic with terror, appeared on the bank. 

Zulma's piercing screams had reached their ears; for an 
instant all were stunned with surprise and apprehension. 

It ivquired some seconds to ascertain whence had come 
the ominious cries, or to realize the cause. 

With one accord, they rushed to the bank of the bayou; 
the scene which met their eyes once more paralyzed them with 
terror and agon}-. 

They saw only the precious body which lay limp and life- 
less in the bottom of the boat. 

A smothered cry escaped the mother's white lips and she 
dropped like a stone as a black shadow fell between her and 
the appalling sight. 



02 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OIJi SOUTH. 

"Is she dead?' asked Mr. Lafitte, as the skili' touched 
the shore. His voice was hoarse and strange; his frame shook 
with cruel apprehensions. 

"I think she has only fainted," replied the man; "she did 
not remain long in the water. " 

"■Uh ma ptite! ma cheref cried the stricken grandfather. 
"It was through my fault that thy precious life was endanger- 
ed, and I would lay down a thousand lives for thine!'' 

It is unnecessary to record the scenes which followed Lu- 
cile's resuscitation; Zulma's rescue, Mr. Hunt's unutterable 
feelings when recalled from the field, or the joy which succeed- 
ed despair when the suil'erers had been restored to health. 

"Mamma, I have something to tell you.' said Lucile, the 
next morning after the accident which had so nearly cost htr 
her life, "(lod was very good to let Zulraa take me out of the 
water!" 

"Indeed He was, m}' precious, we should never forget 
His mercy." 

"But mamma, He had a great notion to let me drown. I 
had been very wicked just a little while before I fell in." 

"You, wicked, Lucile! what do yuu mean?" 

"I wanted to tell Zulma a story, mamma," answered the 
child, covering her face to hide her confusion. 

"A story! and why should you?'' exclaimed Mrs. Hunt 
Aviih amazement. 

"Well mamma she was telling me aljout so many things 
I knew nothing of and I had never seen. I was ashamed that 
she knew more tban I. When she asked me whether I had 
ever seen a steamboat — she meant a rral steamboat — I told her 
I had." 

"My darling, how could you? 



A NARROW ESCAPE. 63 

"I though t I had fixed it up all right with my conscience, 
that voice you told me of. I had seen pictures of steamboats. 
I thought it came to the same — that is — I tried to think so, 
but it would never do: I know it would be wrong." 

"If you meant to deceive her, it was certainly wrong." 

"And was it a story, mamma?" 

"I am sorry to say, it was. ' 

Tears started in the large, sad eyes of the child. 

"And suppose I had drowned, mamma?" 

Mrs. Hunt kissed her quivering lips. 

"God is all merciful, m}- love, when you struggled in the 
cold water, j^ou remembered your sins and felt sorry for them, 
no doubt. " 

"No, I did not; it was so awful, I could think of nothing; 
only when I came up and saw the banks and trees again, I 
thought of papa and called him to take me out." 

At this moment Zulma appeared at the door. 

"Come, Zulma," cried Lucile, extending her hand. 

"How does )'ou feel. Miss Lucile? ' 

"O very much better than last night."' 

Zulma approached the bed and laid her small, black hand 
upon Lucile's fair and delicate fingers. 

"I thank you a thousand times Zulma, for taking me out 
of the water." 

"0 datnuflBn', little mistis, " replied the slave timidly and 
with hesitation. ' 'I wasn't gwine to let you drown by yourself, 
nohow." 

"What must I give you for what you did?" 

"Nuffin' 'fall, mistis, 1 was glad 'nuff to pick j-ou out 'er 
de bayou; but," continued she, glancing towards her mistress, 
"I was pooty skeered, I kin tell you." 



64 ZUl.MA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOTTII. 

As soon as Mrs. Hunt left the room, Zulma stooped over 
and asked in a low voice: "Did you go an' tell yo' ma how 
you cum fall off de ole log, little mistis?" 

"What do you mean?" asked Lucile, recalling with appre- 
hension the circumstances of her falsehood. 

"Don't you "member "bout dat boat bustin'?" 

"No, I didn't tell mamma, for I don't know myself, luni- 
I came to fall off that tree. " 

"Den, fur de Lawd, don't you tell, Miss Lucile, I'se niver 
gwine to furgiv" myself fur skeerin' you so!'" 

"I shall never speak of it Zulma, but papa intends to pay 
you for saving my life. He will giA'e you (inijthltiy you ask 
for Zulma.'" 

"Go 'long, little mistis! I dont want no pay fur lishin" 
you out. Didn't I tell you it was me skeered you inter de 
bayou?" 

"Well that wouldn't keep you from asking for something 
you wanted real l)ad, Zulma." 

"Dat's so!" replied Zn^ma, running her eyes along the 
ceiling while making a mental inventory of her wardrobe. 
There was nothing in that line that could add to her comfort 
or happiness, she thought except a pink calico gown for next 
Easter, but then, there ought to be something better than that, 
a pair of cloth gaiters, for instance! "No," decidedly thought 
Zulma, da'U wear out befo' I km turn 'roun', my feet deaf on 
shoes. "0 yes! now I got it!'' she exclaimed, looking beam- 
ingly down on Lucile. "Sumfin' I wants drea'ful bad, but I 
knows dey's no use axin, 1 wont git it." 

"Tell me what it is," asked Lucile, somewhat dismayed at 
Znlraa's ambitious demand, whatever that might be, "perhaps 
papa will buy-^it when he goes to New Orleans. *' 



A NARROW ESCAPE. 65 

"But he ain't gwine ter buy it," replied Zulma. with an 
emphatic nod. 

Lucile stared at the girl with increasing surprise. ' 'Where 
must he get it from then?" 

" He ain't gwine to git, jis gwine ter say: '■'■Zidma, you 
kin leave de feel noio an go ter de house; I gee pouter yo' little 
mistis, fur good an' fin- ever!''' 

"Why Zulma!" cried Lucile, with a joyous expression 
lightening up her pretty face, "that won't be a hit hard for 
papa to say, and I'll be ever so glad to have you to wait on me 
just a little, you know, Zulma, like Plaisance does on grand- 
mere." 

"Dat'll be a 'unded times easier den pullin' de hoe, an' 
pickin' dead loads of cotton," remarked Zulma, lifting Lucile 
from the pillows in order to shake and rearrange them. "An' 
den," continued she, "I'd rudder b'long to you, 'cause I love 
you, little mistis!" 

Lucile had no difficulty in obtaining Zulma's request. 



66 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



CHAPTER VI. 

lucile's guest. 

/^NE evening, in the early part of September, Zulma came 
^-^ to her mistress for permission to take Lucile out to gather 
muscadines. 

Since the incident recorded in the preceding chapter, 
Zulma had been unusually indulged by her owners; her wishes 
were seldom disregarded. 

"We jis gwine ter de fur bridge," she explained, "lyeard 
muscadines 'bout dere jis bnstin' wid juice." 

Ijucile, who was sitting under the mulberry trees hemming 
handkerchiefs, started up with an eager expression on her face. 

"Let me go, mamma," she pleaded, "I shall bring you 
the nicest I find." 

"On one condition, darling," replied her mother, gazing 
fondly into the child's Ijright eyes. 

"I know, mamma; I musn't run along the trunks of trees 
when they're near the water. " 

Mrs, Hunt smiled rather ruefully. "And you must not 
stray off farther than the bridge " 

About a half a mile from the house, a deep bayou ran 
from the rear of the place into Grosse Tete. A decided depres- 
sion at its mouth compelled Mr. Hunt to bridge it at a consid- 
erable distance above it, thus leaving a large strip of land be- 
tween the bayou and the public road. The wild grape and 
muscadine vines scaled the veneral)le trees which shaded the 
ground; the Virginia Creeper and Parsiflora clutched at every 
bush within reach. It was a spot where the birds loved to 



lucile's guest. 67 

build and to enliven with their songs. The bridge with its 
natural surroundings was a charming bit of landscape. The 
willow and gum trees which grew in the bed of the bayou, in- 
terlaced their limbs above it in the form of a canopy. The 
place was a favorite resort of the Hunt family, and many were 
the Sabbath evenings they spent here, sitting on the glossy 
slope, listening to the low murmur of the water pouring into 
Grrosse Tete. 

Lucile and Zulma began prospecting as soon as they 
reached their destination. 

"Le' 's hunt fur maypops fuss thing, little mistis," said 
Zulma, peering into a bush. "Lor me! here's a ness of 'em!" 

"A nest of birds' eggs?" 

"Of maypops, chile; jess look at 'em!" 

Lucile stood on tiptoe and peered into the recess. 

"My! are they not fine and ripe?" 

"You bet; dey's mos' a dozen of 'em; jess 'nuff fur you 
an' me." 

"Why, how many can you. eat — you?" 

"Looky 'ere. Miss Lucile, dat'en what's gwine to crawl 
'mongst dem snakes, got de right tode biggest sheer." 

"Are there snakes under there?" asked Lucile. 

"You better b'lieve, an' rattlesnakes too." 

"Mamma shouldn't like for me to be bitten," said Lucile, 
in a deprecating tone; "nor would she like for them to bite 
you; come away, Zulma. " 

Zulma laughed at the precautions of her young mistress. 

"Go 'long — I'se useter snakes! ^'ew I was livin' wid my 
tudder marster, snakes an' me useter sleep under de same bush. " 
She took no notice of the horror-stricken v isage beside her, but 
plunged headlong into the tangled shrubbery, and quickly 
jSlled her apron with the fragrant fruit, 



68 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

She then went from one muscadine vine to auotiier, and 
shook to the ground the grapes which were in reality "bursting 
with juice and ripeness." , 

"The basket is full now, let us swing," said Lucile climb- 
ing upon one of the vines which proved most convenient for 
that purpose. She sat upon it for some time, swaying grace- 
fully to and fro, like a flower on its stem. 

The sound of approaching steps alarmed her; she had 
never before been intruded upon m her ramblings; she sprang 
lightly from her seat and stood for a moment in a listening at- 
titude. 

"From where did 3'ou drop, child?" 

Lucile gazed with astonishment into the face of a stranger 
who stood staring at her with equal amazement. 

"From the muscadine vine, Sir," responded she, giving a 
literal interpretation to his question. 

"Let's run, Miss Lucile, he's a 'sassiner!'" cried Zulma, 
standing in the background!" 

But her mistress swept the curls from her moistened brow 
and gazed inquiringly into the stranger's face. 

"And you sir — where did — yoa drop from?" asked she 
with a sunny smile. 

"From the sk}", would you suppose?" 

"I know better than that," replied Lucile, emphatically, 
shaking her head. 

"But how came you to find us out. Could you see us 

from the road?" 

"No, but I heard you t:dking; you were having a merry 

time, eh?" 

"Indeed we were, swinging and gathering muscadines." 
"Miss Lucile, I say, cum away; dat man's a robber — fuss 
thing }ou know, he'll clap oil' yo' 'ead an' run off wid boff yo' 

year-ring. "' 



lucile's quest. 69 

The idea was so preposterous, the child broke into a 
merry peal of laughter. 

"But 3'ou won't, though?" she asked, turning her bright 
countenance towards the stranger. 

' 'Not for all the ear-rings m the world, my little friend. 
You may trust me!" 

In truth, there was nothing in the gentleman's appear- 
ance to alarm Lucile. His attire, his deportment and the 
benevolent expression of his features disarmed her fears. He 
was very much like her own papa, she thought ; only, his whiskers 
were grey. He, m turn, surveyed her with surprise, and spec- 
ulated on her grace, her beauty and her dress — a jaconet 
dotted with pale blue stars, tastefully trimmed with valenci- 
enne. He noticed too, the neatness with which her shoes were 
laced, and even the tiny handkerchief which protruded from 
her apron pocket. As he so rudely interrupted the party, he 
offered to assist Lucile in gathering the muscadines that had 
been spilt from the basket. She thanked him with a sweet, 
frank smile, saying: 

"Xow, I'm going home; shouldn't you like to come with 
me?" 

"Thank you very much; nothing would give me more 
pleasure." 

He had wandered out of his way ; he was tired, the day 
was at its close, what harm could there be in accepting the 
child's invitation? And then, he was curious to know some- 
thing of her connections: her surroundings were so incongru- 
ous with her gentility of appearance. 

He thus mentally framed his excuses as he followed, lead- 
ing his horse by the bridle, 

Zulma, with a lowering countenance, walked at some dis- 
ta nee behind them carrying a formidable looking club. 



70 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

When they got to the bridge, the stranger paused for a 
moment and glanced up at the drooping boughs entwined by 
the thick, clustering vines. 

"'Tis a real bower!" he exclaimed in admiration. 

"May I tell y©u what it is?" asked Lugile. 

"I shall be glad to know." 

'•A wisteria vine." 

"Indeed! and how did you find out?" 

"Because in spring it is covered with beautiful purple 
flowers; they hang all about it in great bunches. Mamma 
picked some of them to pieces and said they were wisterias. 
Can you analyze?" 

"I am ashamed to confess, I cannot." 

"You needn't be ashamed of it; papa himself can't." 

The child bounded oflf from the bridge to a small elevation 
of land opposite. 

"Do you know what tJds is?" 

"A knoll, I should think." 

"Well, no; this is an Indian grave; the darkeys told me 
so, and I come here sometimes to pray for their poor souls." 

The stranger laughed outright. 

Lucile stood upon the mound, abashed. Her rosebud lips 
formed themselves into a pout and she descended, crestfallen. 

"Please forgive me, little friend; I meant no offense; but 
the idea of your praying for the Indians struck me as being 
very — funny." 

"You're as bad as Zuliua there; when I ask her to pray 
for them, she laughs too, and says she glad the3''e dead." 

' 'An' I is, " responded a voice in the rear. 

Great was Mrs. Hunt's astonishment on beholding her 
daughter crossing the stile with a stranger at her heels. 



lucile's guest. 71 

< 'Mamma, " said Lucile on reaching the house, "this is a 
gentleman I found on the road, near the bridge; he was lost 
and I asked him to come." 

The view the child had taken of her protege was so much 
like that she might have taken of a kitten or some stray animal 
fallen on her way, that Mrs. Hunt found it hard to control her 
humor. 

"Madam," said the stranger, "I hope you will excuse 
this intrusion, and the liberty I have taken m accepting your 
daughter's kind invitation. My name is Davis. I was on my 
way to Fordoche, and was examining the features of this part 
of the country, when I came upon her. I must confess, the 
sight of such a child in a wilderness, was surprising and per- 
plexing to a traveler. 

An amused but affable smile lighted up Mrs. Hunt's 
sweet countenance as she answered: "It is rather late for 
you to resume your journey, Mr. Davis. Allow me to second 
my daughter's invitation by offering you a night's hospitality, 
if indeed, you are willing to put up with the inconviences of 
pioneer life. " 

The gracious invitation, as may be supposed, was grate- 
fully accepted. 

"Bring out the chairs, Lucile, " said Mrs. Hunt. "It is 
so much pleasanter out here, sir, than in the house; we gen- 
erally sit here in the evening to enjoy the breeze and the rust- 
ling of the mulberry leaves overhead. " 

Lucile, after a moment's absence, returned, carrying on a 
waiter, glasses of raspberry syrup. She handed one to her 
guest, saying: "It is cool and nice; I've just pumped the 
water out of the well. " 

"What a very kind little girl you are, miss," replied Mr, 
Davis. He drank with avidity the contents of the glass. 



72 ZULMA, A STORT OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"I was very thirsty and found your syrup delicious, 
Lucile." 

Both Lucile and her mother thought it a treat to have a 
stranger to talk to, and to listen to what he had to say of 
other parts of the country. But after a while Mrs. Hunt arose 
and excused herself, leaving Lucile in charge of her guest until 
she ordered supper. 

"I was 'frade of you w'en I fust seed you," said Zulma, 
approaceing with a broad grin. 

"And you took me for a robber," answered Mr. Davis 
good humoredly. 

"I did so." 

"I noticed how careful you were of your own safety; you 
surely wouldn't have got hurt if I had happened to be one. ' 

"Who, me? I was playin' possum; if you hed raised yo 
finger on Miss Lucile, I was gwine to club de life out'er you!" 

"You must excuse Zulma," said Lucile. somewhat ashamed 
at her maid's conduct. "She does not mean to be saucy; 
that's her way of talking to people. Won't you walk with me 
to the stile?" she continued, as if to conciliate her new friend. 
"I'll show you a place where an old owl has built her nest. She 
must be setting now, for every night her neighbors come to see 
her and they have a terrible time of it hoo-ooing and haw-haw- 
ing." 

"You have lugubrious neighbors, Lucile." 

"Do you mean Mr. Narsis across the bayou?" Lucile 
asked with a puzzled expression. 

"Yes, are you as sociable as the owls?" 

"About the same," replied Lucile, with a merry laugh. 
"We often talk to each other, but we never make the fuss the 
owls make." 



lucile's guest. 73 

Zulma had followed the couple to the road; the idea oc- 
curred to her that this was a splendid opportunity to display 
her talents — musical as well as terpsichorean, and she whis- 
pered her design into Lucile's ear. 

"Mr. Davis," Lucile began in a timid voice. '-Zulma 
wants to dance for you. " 

"Not a war-dance, I hope," replied Mr. Davis, turning to 
Zulma with an amused smile. "You may go ahead, Zulma, I 
shall be delighted to see you dance." 

Zulma did not wait for a second bidding; she walked to a 
level space across the road and stood for an instant erect, one 
foot planted before the other like a circus girl waiting for the 
music. On a sudden, she began singing, and a succession of 
brilliant airs rippled from her lips, as clear and sweet as the 
notes of a nightingale. She fell into the measures of one 
dance after another with no perceptible interruption. Her coal 
black eyes sparkled; her countenance lighted up with increas- 
ing delight. She flung her arms now upwards, now downwards, 
and twirled them above her head in graceful motions. She 
was like one intoxicated with the sound of her own voluptuous 
singing. At last; she paused and stood for a moment listen- 
ing to the expiring echoes of her voice in the gloomy woods 
across the bayou. Twilight had vanished, and the moon's 
broad disc emerged from a dark outline of trees, bathing the 
landscape in a silvery sheen. 

Mr. Davis, who had indifferently consented to look upon 
the dance, sat upon the stile in bewilderment. It was hard for 
him to realize that the brilliant and beautiful notes which still 
lingered on his ear, emanated from a slave living in the back- 
woods — a creature who, a few moments since, appeared to him 
the personification of stupidity. 



74 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Lucile, after a brief silence, looked up inquiringly into 
his face ; she feared that her friend had failed to appreciate the 
performance. 

"She sings very well, don't you think?" 

"She has an extraordinary voice," was his reply. "Zulma, 
here is a quarter, you dance as well as any circus girl." 

Mr. Davis could not have paid her a greater compliment, 
and she exclaimed with pi.'ide: 

"You juss hit it marster, its frum dem I learn." 

At this moment, Mr. Hunt joined the group, and extended 
a cordial greeting to the stranger who was to be his guest. 

Within the limited space of the planter's dining-room, the 
family sat down to a sumptuous repast that evening, 

First they tasted of the succulent trout, fresh from the 
cold bosom ot Grosse Tete. Fowls roasted with culinary art, 
were serred with delicious home-ma(te jellies; then a pate, and 
rolls as light as sea foam appeared with a pyramid of golden 
butter. There was a pot of fragrant tea and a dessert of ex- 
quisitely preserved fruit, and for those who wished, a glass of 
cold milk, rich as cream. The guest, within the rude walls of 
that cabin- home, could hardly conceal his surprise at the in- 
congruities which everywhere startled his mind. The home, 
he perceived, contained but three apartments. Receptions 
were made in the bedroom, and the meals were taken in one 
with barely space for the chairs and table. Another as small, 
furnished with a single bed, was allotted to him for the night. 
Notwithstanding these inconveniences, hospitality was dis- 
pensed with ease and grace, and there prevailed in the house- 
hold, an atmosphere of refinement seldom found even in the 
homes of the wealthy. 

In the morning, the traveler took his departure, carrving 
with him, the remembrance of a tear glittering in the eyes of 



lucile's guest. 75 

a lovely child; of a woman's sweet face, framed in the 
threshold of an humble cabin, and of the warm pressure of a 
friendly hand, given him at the stile. 

» The family of Creoles who had moved into the log cabin 
on the bank opposite Mr. Hunt's place, consisted of an old 
planter, wife and several grown sons. Old Mr. Narsis was a 
great hunter; he often came over with a haunch of venison or 
a brace of partridge for his little friend, ' 'Meez Lucie. " 

To him she was a being infinitely supeiior to any he had 
ever met, and he rendered her homage by presenting her from 
time to time such tokens as fell within the range of his limited 
circumstances. 

^^La v'la la p'tite!'' he once exclaimed, as he caught a 
glimpse of her white garments fluttering among the thickets. 

' ' 'Ello Meez Lucie ! to-morror me bring you sum schnipes. " 

"Oh! never mind about killing the poor snipes, Mr. 
Narsis," answered the tender-hearted Lucile, bring me, instead, 
those turtle shells you promised me. " 

"Wat you wants dem shells fur. Ma p'titeV 

"To sow flower seeds in, Mr. Narsis." 

'■'■Quelle idief You no trade, me no figit you, Meez 
Lucie!" 

For a number of years, the Narsis family was the only 
one within sight of the Hunt place. Often, on warm summer 
evenings, Lucile and her parents sought the cool shade on the 
bank; here, they exchanged greetings and held friendly con- 
verse with their neighbors across the water. 

It was a comfort to have them there, notwithstanding the 
uncongeniality of their minds; their presence was the one social 
link in that interminable solitude. 



76 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE DAWSEYS — DEATH IN THE MIDST OF LIFE. 

Mr. Dawsey was a West Feliciana farmer. He came to 
Grosse Tete about five years after Mr. Hunt, and as they were 
near neighbors, tlie two were often thrown together. 

They differed widely in agricultural theories as well as in 
disposition. 

The bluntness of Mr. Dawsey's expressions and the eccen- 
tricity of his eharacter, made heavy demands on his neighbor's 
forbearance. He was in the habit of making his calls on 
Sunday evenings, when the weather permitted; he preferred a 
seat under the mulberry trees where he ensconced himself in a 
comfortable arm chair and smoked his pipe at leisure. He 
had a keen relish for a sip of peach brandy or a glass of old 
claret which Mr. Hunt occasionally set before him. The con- 
versation between the two, was at times, diverting. One eA^en- 
ing, Mr. Dawsey arrived in a mood, even more irascible than 
usual. 

"Mr. Hunt," he began, "I've come to see you about those 
impudent niggers of yours; if you don't get them to mend their 
ways, I mean to hurt some of 'em." 

"What is wrong now?" asked Mr. Hunt in a tone which 
plainly indicated that this was not the first complaint laid be- 
fore him by the gruff' old planter. "Have my hands been tress- 
passing on your place again?" 

"Not to my knowledge, though I'm sure they come sneak- 
ing in at night, whenever they have a chance; but I have come 
to warn you that your drivers have got into the habit of insult- 
ing me each time they pass my place." 



THE DAWSEYS — DEATH IN THE MIDST OF LIFE. 77 

•'Is it possible!" exclaimed Mr. Hunt. "Aud in what 
manner have they insulted you, Mr. Dawsey?" 

' 'Why, by yellin'j; and singing and raising a h — 1 of a noise 
coming back from the river; one wuuld believe the whole cre- 
ation belonged to them. I'm not going to stand this any 
longer. I'm not going to have m}' night's rest broke up by 
any such infernal racket; and I mean to put a stop to it even 
if I have to do it with my shotgun." 

"Your slumbers will not be disturbed again, sir, I prom- 
ise 3'ou. I shall order my teamsters to curb their animal 
spirits when passing over your premises, though, I am sure, 
they have'nt the remotest idea of anno3'ing you. " 

"Tut, tut, they know very well that I don't allow my 
niggers to turn my plantation into a Methodist camp. I'll 
bet my head they do it to vex me." 

"But I have never objected to their singing, Mr. Dawsey, 
and they are in the habit of doing it, particularly when at 
work. "To tell the truth," continued Mr. -Hunt smiling, "I 
rather lik^ to hear them sing; it shows that the}' are in a good 
humor, and that they work with cheerful hearts." 

Mr. Dawsey groaned. "If every planter was to follow 
your way of managing niggers, the country would soon go to 
the dogs." 

Mr. Hunt laughed. "I am considered a very successful 
planter, Mr. Dawsey," my property increases in value every 
year, and if nothing happens, I mean to make a fortune right 
here, without deviating from my adopted methods of cultiva- 
tion and management." 

"I reckon j'ou will, with a streak of good luck following 
right behind you. You're got the best land in the State; you 
haven't lost a nigger since you commenced planting; never had 
sickness among them to stop work, and I'll be hanged if you 
haven't got the weather to back you, besides!" 



78 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH, 

"I am obliged to the weather, I'm sure," replied Mr. 
Hunt, highly amused. "I was not aware of its partiality be- 
fore; on the contrary, I have been wasting my energies calcu- 
lating and mana^uvring in order to take every advantage of it. 
The absence of sickness among m}- negroes is due, in part, 
to the care I take of them." 

The difference of opinion on the part of the planters did 
not interfere with the friendly intercourse which existed be- 
tween their families. 

Kate and Annie Dawsey. eight and ten years of age, were 
pleasant associates of Lucile's, and many were the rambles 
they had together searching along the bayous for spider lilies 
and other wild flowers in springtime, and for persimmons, may- 
pops and the scarlet berries of the sumach, in the fall. They 
returned from their jaunts with a stock of adventures which 
they related to Mrs. Hunt while partaking of the tempting 
lunch she always prepared for them — slices of ham and biscuits 
or buttered rolls; sometimes a pie with a pitcher of rich milk, 
or a plate of dainty lady fingers. 

Little Katie was a sweet, blue-eyed child with rioting 
golden hair. Her heart was so loving and tender, she would 
mourn for days, over the loss of a pet rabbit, or weep at the 
death of a cow or any other domestic animal. She was devot- 
edly attached to Lucile, and her pale, delicate face was often 
laid in loving contact with the rosy cheeks of her friend. 

Nannie was less lovely than her sister, and of a more in- 
dependent nature. The little girls had never been sent to 
school and their home education had been so deficient, 
especially when compared to Lucile's, that she obtained per- 
mission from her parents to teach them as far as her capacity 
extended. On the first morning she was to assume her duties, 
Lucile awaited with impatience the arrival of her pupils. In 



THE DAWSEYS — DEATH IN THE MIDST OF LIEE. 79 

due time, thev made their appearance, staggering beneath the 
weight of their school bags, which had been well filled with a 
miscellaneous assortment of books and pamphlets culled from 
a decrepid library. Happily, tbeir young teacher was able to 
supply them with books and other articles necessary for the 
pursuit of their studies. 

Though an enthusiastic teacher, Lucile was not a disci- 
plinarian. It was not an unusual custom with her to suspend 
her classes for an hour's romp, or for the purpose of ascertaining 
the cause of a disturbance in the poultry yard. But, alas! a 
sadder and more lasting interruption was to break up her little 
school. 

On a warm, sunny day in October, her pupils arrived in a 
high state of excitement. 

"Oh! Lucile," exclaimed Nannie, "papa's commenced gin- 
ning, and he says we must all come to the gin after we get 
through with our lessons." 

"You too, Lucile!" exclaimed little Katie throwing her 
arms around her teacher's neck. 

"We are going to have lots of fun playing lost in the 
snow," said Nannie, fanning her cheek with her sunbonnet. 
"Kate'll be the lost child and will lay down in the lint-room 
until she is covered up with lint; then you and me will hunt 
her up, Lucile." 

"But who'll be the dog?" asked Katie, the blood mount- 
ing to her cheeks with pleasurable anticipations. 

"I'll be the dog," replied Nannie; "and the way I shake 
you out of that cotton will make you wish you had never been 
lost." 

Kate opened wide her appealing eyes. "Oh! Nannie," 
she cried. "Let's ride on the lever instead; it's such fun." 



80 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

I 

"Nannie shall not tease you, dear," said Lucile, drawing 
the child towards her; "and we are going in now to study our 
lessons, or else I shall be awfully cross and mean." 

The young teacher assumed an air of dignity and opened 
her athis; the little girls followed iier example, and for a tin e 
bent over their books in earnest study. Lucile had never tried 
to wheedle her pupils into knowledge; but had, by some happy 
device of her own, awakened their interest in their books, and 
they seldom missed their lessons. Little Katie, especially, 
was as docile and as sensitive as a fawn; but to-day, her 
thouglits wandered off, and her laughing eyes looked into 
Lucile's with unutterable expressions. 

"Well, Katie, tell it," said her teacher smiling. "I see 
you are dying to say something." 

"[t's about the gin, Lucile. Won't it be nice riding on 
the lever? I can see the big wheel turning and me sitting on 
it going around?" 

"You had better jump down and study your lesson," 
suggested Nannie. 

"Yes, Katie, I advise you to put off the ride until after 
class" remarked Lucile; "or else I shall keep you in penance." 

Lucile had never had occasion to threaten before, and 
the r(0)uke was too much for the little fluttering heart. Katie 
burst into tears. 

"Why you are the sweetest, the cutest and dearest child 
in the world," cried Lucile straining Katie to her heart; "and 
I don't know what made me say what I did. You need not 
study if you don't want to. Katie; that's the way I feel some- 
times, and mamma sends me for a walk. Here's your bonnet. 
Let us go; you will feel ever so much better after a little 
ramble. 



THE DAWSEYS DEATH IN THE MIDST OF LIFE. 81 

It was a beautiful evening and the sky was of the deepest 
azure. Luoile and the Dawsey children, on their way to the 
ginhouse, came near dislocating their necks trying to count 
the crows and other birds soaring across the cloudless vault. 
Katie followed with eager eyes one of the birds, which, in a few 
seconds, seemed to have been swallowed up in the upper deep. 
"Oh! Lucile!" she cried in great excitement, "one of them 
has gone to heaven! Don't you wish you could go too?" 

"Yea indeed, Katie, I should like to go that way; but 
people must die before the}' can go to heaven, you know." 

"Is it hard to die Lucile? Tell me about it." 

"Don't ask me, dear. I have never seen anyone die, nor 
never wish to." 

Katie's lovely eyes once more sought the blue dome, and 
her sweet, childish face grew sober trying to concentrate her 
thoughts on a subject that had never before presented itself to 
her mind. 

The effort extinguished, as it were, the exuberance of her 
feelings and hushed her accustomed prattle. Lucile observed 
the change that had come over her little pupil. 

"What is Katie thinking about now, I wonder?" 

"Something dreadful hard, Lucile; about how people get 
to heaven." 

"Well, you need not rack your little brain doing that, 
child; you are too young; to think about death." 

"What is death, Lucile?" asked she, fixing her expres- 
sive eyes on her young teacher. 

"0 Katie, wlio can tell! one must die first to know. It 
is a mystery one cannot solve in this life." 

"Well then, what is life? I want to know." 

"What strange questions you do ask," cried Lucile im- 
patiently; "I am not smart enough to know such things. " 



82 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

Ah! little Katie, bad Luc.ile the gift of prophecy, she 
would have applied to 3011 this answer: "It is even as a vapor 
that appeareth for a little time and then vanishetii away." 

The children, on reaching the gate, tumbled through the 
bars and scampered across the lot to the cotton gin. Then, 
there was a general rush for a seat on the lever. Lucile and 
her companions were joined by little Jimuiie Dawsev, who sat 
astride one of the long bfvnus and shouted with delight. They 
amused themselves tumbling each other off aud then racing 
and struggling to secure their seats again. 

A couple of mules tugged at ea'^h end of the lever by 
which the baud- wheel was propelled and the gin put in opera- 
tion. 

With a swaggering gait, Dick, the young darkie, followed 
the mules, cracking his rawhide whip and making himself 
hoarse abusing them. He threatened and shouted and discharged 
upon them a continuous volley of pent-up wrath. 

"Wat de matter will you now, Dolly? 'Stid ov pullin', 
you gwine to sleep, hey? I'll let you know, disye^e no time 
fur to shirk, sur; and I got sumfin' fur to wake ycui up, I is. 
You Peet! move up dere, will ye? Wen I lay dis yere hide 
on yo' back you'll step roun' little more lively." 

Poor Dick was but a child himself with human frailties, 
and he cast longing looks at the merry band disporting around 
the wheel. Once, he stepped aside to watch them at leisure. 
His steely black e3-es glinted beneath their dust-powdered 
lashes, and from time to time, he stifled his hilarity in his old 
coon-skin cap. But he was soon recalled to his post by the 
angry voice of his master ordering him to "drive up the 
rnules." Dick cracked his whip and fell once more into his 
vociferous monologues. "De minite I takes my eye ofl!" dese 
yere mules, dey shirks. Move up dere Nancy! Didyouebber 



THE DAWSEYS DEATEI IN THE MIDST OF LIFE. 83 

see such a lot befo'? I ain't gwine to stand (lis much longer, 
min' ye. I's gettin' mad, I is. You Peet! I sees you. Wen 
I gi' you a tace of dis 3'ere rawhide, you'll mine yo" bizness, I 
bet you. Git up dere! git up dere, mules!" 

With a whirring sound and accelerating speed, the great 
wheel plunged into space, and the low humming of the busy 
gin, mingled with the children's prattle and laughter. The 
slanting rays of the setting sun darted across the circle where 
they were at play, and tipped with gold a cloud of whirling 
dust; in the midst of it, the quivering form of a child dropped 
under the ponderous wheel. 

"0 Lord!" cried Lucile. "Katie has passed under the 
wheel!"' Running up to her, she lifted the limp body from the 
ground. With frantic efforts, Dick contrived to check his 
mules; Mr. Dawsey and the hands employed at the gin rushed 
to the spot. All was confusion; the air was filled with 
the children's cries and lamentations. Lucile trembled like an 
aspen leaf beneath her precious burden, which lay like a bruised 
flower in her arms. No tear escaped her eyelids; no cry gave 
utterance to her anguish. The wretched father, with a groan, 
fell upon his knees beside her, and taking up the tiny hand 
which lay quivering in the dust, felt the failing pulse. "Don't 
move her — for God's sake- she's d^ing!" came from his rigidly 
compressed lips. 

Lucile raised her colorless face and glanced at his horror- 
stricken countenance; her own courage faltered, and it was 
only by a supreme effort that she overcame the strange sensa- 
tions which crept through her frame and threatened to over- 
power h^r The head of the sw et child rested upon Luciie's 
arm; a stream of blood trickled slowly from- the pale lips. She 
made several attempts to open her eyes, but her lids, heavy 
with the dew ot Death, instantly dropped over the blue orbs; 



84 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

spamodie fits frequently shook her delicate body. These in- 
dications of the child's suffering and approaching dissolution, 
pierced with anguish the hearts of those who witnessed her 
agony. In her intense grief, Lucile bent over her and tried to 
frame a prayer, a supplication to God to spare the life of her 
little friend. But her lips were parched, and she found it im- 
possible to divert her thoughts from the palid and gasping 
figure cradled in her arms. In ihe midst of her vain endeavors, 
she became sensible of a sudden relaxation in the form she 
clasped. The golden head-fell peacefully upon her breast; the 
pure spirit had winged its flight, and Lucile, for the first time, 
looked upon Death. 

Frantic with grief and terror, Mrs. Dawsey lifted from 
Lucile's lap, the body of her beloved child. 

"Oh! my darling, is this you?" she cried, wiping with the 
corner of her apron the dust an^ blood which disfigured the 
once beautiful face. "You cannot be dead my precious!" she 
cried, clasping the child's yet warm fingers within her own icy 
hand. "God could never be so oruel to me!" She then felt 
for the pulseless heart; its tearful stillness convinced her of 
the awful truth. With a piercing scream, she clasped to her 
bosom the pale clay, and gave vent to her feelings in sharp and 
agonizing shrieks. Her husband stood for a moment, leaning 
heavily against tiie murderous wheel. Great drops of perspi- 
ration oozed from his temples; every faculty of his being 
seemed paralyzed. His eyes wandered around to where his 
children and some of the hands were huddled together, wailing 
and sobbing; then — they rested on the white, stony face of the 
brave girl who still sat in the dust, bathed in the gore of his 
child. lie staggered to her side and extending his hand fo 
her, said in a husky tone: "Come." The sound of his voice 
broke the spell which had hitherto kept her senses in thrall ; 



THE DAWSEYS — DEATH IN THE MIDST OF LIFE. 85 

she started to her feet like one awakened from a dream. Mr. 
Dawsey silently led her from the scene of death into the open 
air. 

In the rear of Mr, Dawsey's garden, and beyond the pal- 
ings, a stately ash washed its roots in the sluggish water of a 
small bayou. A portion of its branches overshadowed a weedy 
corner of the garden ; it was here, they dug poor Katie's grave. 

When they laid ier little coffin down upon the dried grass, 
the evening winds rustled among the silvery leaves of the tree, 
and scattered them into her open grave. Mr. Hunt who was 
to read the burial service, laid a handful of pure white roses 
upon the casket; they were a tribute from his wife to the child's 
sweet memory. Mrs. Hunt had remained with Lucile, who 
was delirious with fever and from the shock her nervous sys- 
tem had sustained the day before. 

No voice intoned a hymn, no bell tolled its sorrow, when 
Katie was laid in her lonely grave. The negroes on the place 
came up softly to gaze for the last time, upon her angelic 
face, and their sturdy frames shook with sobs of gen nine grief, 
as they turned away from the little form stretched like a mar- 
ble figure on the parlor table. The anguish of her parents, 
the tears of the children and her friends, were the testimonials 
which proclaimed how dear to all was the lovely one thus 
snatched from earth in the morning of her life. 

"A lovelier flower, on earth, was never sown." 

"Such was her end, a calm release, 

No clinging to this mortal clod; 
She closed her eyes and stood iu peace 

Before a smiling God." 



86 ZULMA, A STORT OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



CHAPTEK VIII. 

THE DAWN OP A NEW LIFE. 

T^HE moss-draped forests whicb, for some ages, had cum- 
■■• bered the earth, and overshadowed the banks of Grosse 
Tete, rapidly disappeared beneath the leveling axe of the set- 
tler, and the waters of the bayou, went dancing in the sunlight, 
past luxuriant fields and substantial bridges. The heavens 
were no longer obscured by the smoke of burning canebrakes. 
The creack and rumble of ox teams, instead of the echoing 
thud of the axe, now greeted the traveler's ear. Prosperity 
followed in the wake of the^plow- share. Every arpent of 
land, from the Hunt place to Fodorce, was now under cultiva- 
tion. Mr. Davis, the stranger whom Lucile had befriended, 
returned to Grosse Tete, and purchased a large tract of land 
in her father's neighborhood. His wife and children were cor- 
dially welcomed by his former hosts, and a warm friendship" 
was soon established between the two families. Thus Lucile 
and her mother were once more thrown in contact with people 
of their own statiou and of congenial minds, and a new phase 
of existence dawned upon them. Strange to say, thej' accepted 
the transition with feelings of joy, mingled with regret. The old 
life had been one of tranquil and uninterrupted happiness to the 
social exiles. The circle of Lucile's acquaintances was now so 
much enlarged that she selected among the number a friend ac- 
cording to her own heart. Her choice fell upon Rosanna Davis, 
She was older than Lucile, but possessed a gentle, yielding 
disposition which exactly suited Lucile's ardent and impulsive 
nature. Herbert Davis, Rosanna's eldest brother, was a hand- 



THE DAWN OF A NEW LIFE. 87 

some, promising lad a year older than Lucile. His father was 
preparing to send him to the University of Mississippi, then a 
flourishing institution, greatly patronized by Southern planters. 
As Lucile herself was to leave home for school, there sprung 
up between them sympathies which soon ripened into friend- 
ship. From her earliest childhood, Lucile had been constantly 
reminded that she was to be sent to the Convent to complete 
her education. But when the time came for this project to be 
put in execution, she gave way to her grief and manifested a 
strong disposition to resist her father's wishes. Her mother, 
in sympathizing with her, added desolation to the scene. Mr. 
Hunt was inflexible. He explained to Lucile the necessity of 
attending school, in order to educate herself in music and 
drawing, both of which she was anxious to learn. He reminded 
her of their projected visit to Virginia, where she would have 
the opportunity of immortalizing on canvass, the mountain 
scenery in the vicinity of his home. He represented besides, 
the many advantages she would derive from other studies 
which neither of her parents were prepared to teach her. His 
arguments, combined with the pain she felt in disappointing 
her parents at last prevailed, and she submitted to their decision 
without further remonstrance. 

"Do not mind me, papa," she said with pitiful resignation, 
"I have anticipated this ordeal a hundred times betore; but it 
is all over now, and I am ready to go whenever you wish to 
send me!" 

Lucile received from her grandmother her '■^covvert,'' an 
elegant silver cup with her name engraved upon it in a wreath 
of pansies. Grandpere sent her two golden eagles for her pin 
money, and a rose wood work-box, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. 
Old Mr. Narsis came over with a bag of peanuts ' 'fur Meez 
Lucie." He expatiated on the fine qualities of his gift. They 



88 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

were '■'■w'ite an' clean,'' be had washed them himself in the 
bayou and dried them on the roof of his corn house. She 
would find many of them in quartette in the pods, and they 
were as sweet as almonds. 

"Dey keep you mighty long time, I frade, Meez Lucie," 
he said, shaking his grey locks. "May be, w'en you come 
back, you fin' ole Narsis dun dead." 

"Oh! you must not say that," exclaimed Lucile, in an 
anxious tone. "■Nobody must die, while I am away." 

'■'■Dieu est le maitre ma jftite," answered the old man with 
a smile full of sadness; "an' ole Narsis, he dun make 'is time. 
He was dare w'en de chevreuil an' de Choctaw Injuns fill de 
woods, an' w'en de peeps on Fausse Keiver eat duck an' sar- 
celle all de winta, an' salt'im up in barrel." 

"That must have been a good time for the hunters, Mr. 
Narsis," observed Lucile. «- 

"Good time fer all de peeps, p'tite, " he answered, rising 
and extending his rough, horny hand towards her. "Adieu, 
pauvre p'tite; ban voyage, an' don't furgit yo' ole fren'." 

He passed the sleeve of his old blanket coat across his 
eyes, and abruptly left the room. A few moments later the 
thud of his oars smote the ears of his friends. 

"Poor old Mr. Narsis, " sighed Lucile, "I hope he's "not 
going to die, mamma." 

"Don't borrow trouble, darling," answered her mother. 
"Try always to look upon the bright side of life." 

"But — mamma," answered Lucile, bursting into tears; 
"there is — no bright side for me to look upon — now — that I 
am going away from home!'' 

"Let us go over there, to the new house," said Lucile to 
Rosanna, on the eve of her departure for the Convent. "My 
heart is breaking, and I must have a cry somewhere out of 
mamma's sight." 



■ THE DAWN OF A NEW LIFE. 89 

The two friends- 'silentl}' wended their] way towards the 
spot indicated. The building in course of construction stood 
on a high point of land formed by the bend of the bayou, 
which I once said, ran back of the house. Mr. Hunt had 
named it "Back Creek,'' in remembrance of a creek which 
traversed his father's estate, in the Shenandoah Valley. The 
girls stopped on their way to examine the structure. The 
carpenters were busy at work, and the wind came whistling 
viciously through the open spaces and scaffolding. They 
hastened away to a group of pecan trees at the edge of the 
bayou, and in order to shield themselves from the cold blasts 
which assailed them, they took refuge behind a pile of lumber 
where they ensconced themselves for a confidential chat. It 
was a cold, gloomy day in November, and the two friends 
watched for a moment the sear leaves as they whirled mourn- 
fully among the shavings, covering the ground then, finally, 
heaped themselves together ^'n a common grave. 

"They remind me of children," sighed Lucile, "who are 
torn from their homes to be tossed about in the world," 

"Don't think of those ligly, dead leaves," answered 
Rosanna, "look rather, at that stately building over there. 
When you return in August, it will be ready to receive you; 
how pleasant it will be to live in so lovely a home! " 

"T shall not love it half as much as that dear, old cabin 
over yonder," replied she, and the tears welled from her eyes. 

"You may think so now; but I am sure, the proudest aud 
happiest days of your life will be spent on this very spot." 

"My happy days are over!" wailed the girl, bursting into 
tears. 

Rosanna drew her within her arms. 

"You said you had come for a cry, aud you are keeping 
3'our word with a vengeance. You will Lave me crying next," 



90 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

She spoke in a choking voice and furtively wiped the tears 
which fell from her own eyes. "You must not take on so, 
dearie, it does you no good and grieves your parents. It is 
hard enough for them to give you up, without addmg to their 
sorrow by acting as you do. You must have some considera- 
tion for their own feelings, dear Lucile. ' ' 

"You are a wise, good girl, Rosanna, " said she, passing 
her arms around her friend's waist, and laying her head against 
her shoulder. "I am going to be reasonable and unselfish, 
even if I die in the attempt; but dear Rosanna, " here Lucile 
broke into sobs, "I came here to have a cry." 

After Lucile had indulged in a comfortable fit of weeping, 
she once more reverted to the subject nearest to her heart. 
They talked until Zulma came to remind them of the inclem- 
ency of the weather, until then ignored by both, in the fervor 
of their last tete a tete. 

It was Lucile's last evening at home. 

The fire on the hearth, cracked merrily, as if to cheer and 
distract the little group sitting within the radius of its ruddy 
light. Mr. Hunt held a paper before him under pretense of 
reading. Lucile sat in her rocker diligently employed in stitch- 
ing the ribbons on a couple of alpaca aprons required in her 
Convent outfit. She made superhuman efforts to check the 
tears, which from time to time, rolled down unbidden upon her 
work. Even in her extreme sadness, she noticed the brilliancy 
of light and color scintiliating from the limpid drops which she 
repeatedly shook from the cloth. Woman-like, Mrs. Hunt 
had found solace in completing her preparations for the mor- 
row's journey. Zulma sat on a low stool at Lucile's feet. Since 
the accident at the bayou, Mr. Hunt had yielded to his daughter 
all authority over the slave. Her 103'alty to her 3'oung mistress 
was proof of the lenity of her rule. Poor Zulma was about to 



THE DAWN OF A NEW LIFE, 91 

undergo her first trial. In the generosity of her heart, she 
struggled to suppress her own grief, in order to divert Lucile's 
mind from the morrow's ordeal. When occasion required, she 
handed to her mistress the scissors, or her thread, turning on 
the sly to wipe away the tears which blurred her vision. In 
spite of her own distress, she occasionally contmued to make 
cheerful remarks, which dissipated for a time the signs of sor- 
row lingering about the sweet countenance of her dear little 
mistress. 

"I 'clare, you is gwins to ride in one ov dem fine boats, 
Miss Lucile. " 

"What if your prediction comes true, and it explodes 
whilst we are on board?'" 

"You need'nt 'spect dat, chile; dey tell me dem boats 
quit bustin' sense I lef !'" 

"And how does it happen, I wonder?" asked Lucile, look- 
ing archly into Zulma's anxious face. 

"Well — I yere— de captin's got de upper 'and of 'em. 
Boats amt haf as obstropus as dey useter be; dey aint haf as 
wile." 

"I am glad to know they have been tamed." 
"I's mighty glad too, but dey's plenty ov 'em niver 'arm 
nobody, little mistis; dere's de 'Southeriu Belle' an' de 'Capi- 
til' and de 'Quitman.' " 

"We are going on a boat called the 'Natchez.' " 
"You is? I dun seed de Natchez; she's a mighty fine 
boat, I kin tell you; an' I never yeard no one speak agin de 
Natchez, I'm sho' she's gwine to take you straight to de 
Convint. " 

"You once told me that boats were very treacherous and 
exploded without giving any warning." 



92 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

«'0h, dat useter be dere way ov doing long time ago!" re- 
plied Zulma, gazing abstractedly in a mass of glowing coals; 
' 'but I yeard dey got de upper 'and ov dem now. " 

' 'I wonder if Aunt Polly will ever get the upper hand of 
you, Zulma?" 

''Go way, little mistis; I's a proud nigger you see me 
derp; an, I aint gwine to let anybody rule me 'cept it be you," 
she whispered, casting a side glance in the direction where sat 
her master. 

"Zulma, I want you to be good while I am gone; promise 
me." 

"I can't tell you no, little-mistis; befo' de Lawd, I prom- 
is' you to hole my sass in till you come back." 

"Very well, I shall depend on your word." 



NEW SCENES. 93 



CHAPTER IX. 

NEW SCENES. 

f~\^ reaching the suburbs of Waterloo, Lucile contemplated 
^-^ the scene around her with eyes expanding with curiosity. 
She saw in the hazy distance, an outline of dark blue forests, 
which her papa informed her marked the opposite shore of the 
great ' 'Father of Waters, " Everything about the place, seemed 
full of interest to her; she had so often heard Zulma boast of 
the magnificence of the town and its superior advantages over 
Grosse Tete. Sure enough, there were the houses — two stories 
high, though sadly lacking in the splendor ascribed to them ; 
many were in need of a coat of paint, and others were on the 
high road to decadence. On their way through the village, 
Lucile recognized a nuqiber of ox teams from Grosse Tete. 
She had often seen them before, passing along the bayou with 
their immense loads of cotton and sugar. Waterloo was, at 
that time, the most important landing-place in the parish. All 
the crops from the back country, were hauled there for ship- 
ping, and at seasons of the year, the boats delivered at its 
landing, the freight destined for the flourishing planters of 
Grosse Tete. 

' 'And is this the Mississippi river?" exclaimed Lucile, 
standing upon the levee and looking intently up and down the 
mighty stream, which tumbled its waters at her feet — the 
river discovered by DeSoto? "How well I remember the picture 
in which his men are represented plunging his body into the 
water! I don't like its appearance, mamma; there's nothing 
attractive about it." 



94 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH, 

"I think it is a noble looking stream," replied her mother. 
"See how majestically it runs. Those immense trees drifting 
on its current are on their way to the sea." 

"Oh! mamma it maltes me afraid to watch them; they 
look like living things the current is dragging away." 

'•Do not waste your sympathy upon them, darling," replied 
her father, "they will be caught before they reach the mouth 
of the river, and turned into firewood. " 

The horizon in bo*^b North and South was flecked with 
smoke rising from the stacks of boats. There was a steamer 
in sight, but so far away, its movement was imperceptible. 
As Lucile gazed upon the boat, she recalled an event of her 
childhood, her fall into the bayou and her rescue. She 
imagined that her mother, likewise, was retrospecting; she 
glanced furtively into her face, A deep crimson overspread 
her cheeks, and she turned abruptly aside to hide her per- 
turbation. The boat was now approaching; it was a stern- 
wheel, and continued to hug the opposite shore. Lucile could 
form l)ut a faint idea of its details. The sun was then dip- 
ping behind a bank of grey clouds, and the north wind blew 
cold in their faces. Mr. Hunt persuaded his wife and daughter 
to return to the housf>, as the boat in which they were to travel 
was not due until nine o'clock that night. They walked back 
to the large brick building, the lower story of which served as 
a store and warehouse. The proprietor invited them upstairs 
into a comfortable parlor, where a cheerful fire burned in the 
grate. One of the clerks brought them a plate of apples. As 
they had taken nothing since dinner, the fruit was eaten with 
considerable relish. Lucile, with her h<»ad reclining on her 
mother's knee, had just dozed off into a confortable nap, when 
she was suddenly aroused by the loud blowing of a boat. She 
started to her feet, her mind filled with vague apprehensions. 



NEW SCENES. 95 

At the same moment, her father's voice was heard from the 
staircase. "Hurry up Elise, put ou your wraps, the boat is 
coming." 

A general stir was perceptible about the place. Boys of 
both colors were running towards the levee, carrying bundles 
and lanterns; negro men trundled wheelbarrows before them; 
and others drove carts and drays through the breach in the 
levee. There was hurry, confusion, loud talking and indis- 
criminate remarks among the crowd. 

"Dat boat ahead of time, ain't she?" asked one of the 
darkies perched upon a pile of cotton bales. 

"She is dat," answered another; "but she know she got a 
load to take offer dis yere landin'." 

"She gwine to take mos' an hour to load up." 

"Law! jis look at dat pile of lasses barls. " 

"I wish one of dem barls would take a notion to buss!" 
remarked one of the boys, kicking at the innocent object of his 
spite. 

"I rudder see de hoat blow up." 

"Not me, I'd be skeered." 

"Yere she come! look atter jes' a skimmin'! She mind 
me of 'eaven." 

"You nebber been dere, Jim." 

"But I'se a gwine sum dese days." 

"Git out! dat's all de 'eaven you gwine to see; white folks 
ain't gwine to let you in." 

"Ain't she a blaizer!" 

On reaching the levee , Lucile beheld before her, in mid- 
stream, a "real — live — boat." The spectacle struck her dumb 
with wonder and admiration. She gazed in rapture upon the 
magnificent thing moving onward in a blaze of light and beauty. 
How inadequate had been Zulma's description of a steamboat! 



96 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

From bow to stern the craft was simply superb — a floating 
palace radiant in the light which streamed from a long array 
of chandeliers. With spontaneous grace, she turned her prow 
shoreward, swaying from side to side as she glided on the 
waters with swift and majestic motions. 

"0 how beautiful!" cried Lucile; ''she is like an enchanted 
palace, floating on the water." 

Suddenly, there was a clanging of bells; the boat, with 
tremendous heavings, straightened herself and began to dis- 
charge her steam with deafening uproar. The tall chimneys 
belched forth clouds of black smoke, and in the glare of the 
furnace fires, the swarthy crew appeared in sight. The flames 
from the torch baskets flared up wildly, flinging out a shower 
of sparks which fell in the foaming waves below. Above the 
noise, the clatter and rumblings, the voice of the mat^e arose, 
harsh and predominent. 

"Hurry up, hurry up there — you black scoundrels! — pitch 
in with that plank will you? What are 3'ou waiting for? In- 
stead of standing there losing time, why don't you load up and 
be ready the minute the boat lands, you lazj' rascals?" "Dou't 
you see that pile of freight there tor Waterloo? Straighten 
that stage there so the ladies can pass." And the poor devils 
actually plunged into the cold mud, dragging after them the 
heavy gang-plank. Their outlandish outcries added to the 
terror of the scene. Lucile clung to her father's arm, in genu- 
ine fright. To her, the once beautiful boat, had been trans- 
formed into a monster, breathing forth fire and destruction, 
ready to overwhelm them in a direful catastrophe. She glanced 
up at tlie crowded guards. Oh! heavens; there were hundreds 
of human beings, unconscious of the disaster which awaited 
them. These were the reflections which transfixed the girl to 
the spot; and it was with some diflflculty that her father 



NEW SCENES. 97 

persuaded her to descend the levee. Mr. Hunt led his daugh- 
ter onto the forecastle, past the heaving engine, up the reeking 
stairs and midway into the ladies' cabin, before she raised her 
eves or comprehended the situation. On glancing up, she be- 
held for the first time, all the splendor of the converging vista 
which opened before her — the receding cabin, its carvings, 
scrolls and golden devices; its filigree work and rich paintings; 
the handsome furniture and the carpets upon which she feared 
to tread. At the upper end of the magnificent tunnel, an ele- 
gant mirror reflected the lights of a long row of chandeliers, 
which hung resplendent in glittering showers of glass drops. 
From her tenderest years, Lucile was in the habit of elevating 
her heart to God in every emergency. In the splendor of her 
surroundings, her thoughts sped like arrows to the mercy seat 
with a half muttered petition for the preservation of the boat. 
Then, a feeling of peace and security succeeded the anxieties 
which had assailed her on coming aboard, and she gazed with 
unsuppressed delight at the passengers and the novel scene 
around her. An hour later, the Hunt family sat at a table 
spread with a tempting repast. Lucile, with apparent cheer- 
fulness, commented on her late experiences. 

"Have I been a disgrace to you, dear papa?" she asked,- 
looking up apprehensively into her father's face. 

"No, darling," he replied. I made allowances for a little 
girl brought up in the woods, you know; I dare say you will, 
in a short time, adapt yourself to the ways of civilized life." 

Lucile was here thrown with the elite of Southern society, 
and she witnessed much which pleased and interested her. She 
was charmed with the listless grace and fascinating manners of 
elegantly gowned women, who lounged on cushioned seats, dis- 
coursing on topics beyond the comprehension of her unworldly 
and untutored mind. In their midst, a bevy of lovely, chil- 



98 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

dren gamboled over the gorgeous carpet. Pert waiting maids 
stood at the stateroom doors, ready to obey orders. Black 
nurses carried about precious bits of humanity half smo hered 
in laces and flannels. A set of young people hovered around 
the piano and enlivened the scene with music and song. It 
was with reluctance that Lucile withdrew from the brilliant 
salon tor the I'etirement of her stateroom. The novelty of her 
situation had, in a measure, soothed the pain which gnawed at 
her heart. But in darkness and solitude, her mind once more 
feverted to the morrow's trial, and she lay for hours pondering 
and listening to the uproar of waters under the wheel; to the 
clanging of chains and the throbbing of the great engine be- 
low. A few hours before dawn, fatigue overpowered her be- 
wildered senses, and her tearful lashes fell heavily and perma- 
nently upon her pale cheeks. When Lucile and her parents 
took their seats at the breakfast table on the following morn- 
ing, she surveyed with childish curiosity the bright array of 
glass and silverware, the snowy napery and exquisite service 
which decorated the board. She cast a quick, significant 
glance at her mother, who comprehended instantly the purport 
of the message, and responded by the same telegraphy. 

"It is indeed, beautiful!" 

She then ventured to examine the strange faces around 
her, without once suspecting that slit herself, was an object of 
interest to a number of persons at the table. Her sweet face, 
her frank and iniellectual countenance, and above all, her bird 
like shyness, were subjects of comments among the passengers. 
At some distance opposite, two elderly ladies from St. Louis, 
sat at their morning's repast; they had already partaken of a 
hearty breakfast when the Hunt family made their appearance, 
and the attention of the staid couple was at once arrested. The 
younger of the two leveled her glasses and stared at the group. 



NEW SCENES. 99 

she remarked to her com- 
panion. 

"I 5hould think so," responded she, scrutinizing the party 
referred to; "those two must be her parents; the child resem- 
bles her mother, only she has her father's fine ej^es. " 

"She would have been just as fortunate bad she inherited 
those of her mother — they are as^uminous as stars." 

"Upon the whole, they are the most genteel looking peo- 
ple I ever met. I wonder who they are? Ask Mr. Thompson. ' 

The lady with the eyeglasses turned to the gentleman on 
the left: "Pray excuse me for interrupting j'ou sir, but 
Margarite and I are really curious to know who that gentleman 
is over there — the one talking to the little girl dressed in Blue?" 

"His name is Hunt," replied the person addressed. 

' 'But who is he — a congressman?" 

"What puts such a notion into your head?" asked Mr. 
Thompson, laughing. 

"Why, because he has such a distinguished appearance — 
so striking and ^comme il font,' as they say m French." 

"Mr. Hunt is a planter from Pointe Coupee; those two 
are his wife and daughter," explained Mr. Thompson. 

"A planter!" ejaculated the lady: "who would have 
thought so!" 

"My dear Madam, one would think you underate that 
class of people; why the name of '■'■planter," especially in 
Pointe Coupee, is, I may sa}', a cognomen — -a name synonomus 
with wealth, culture and the highest social standing. Many of 
these planters have magnificent estates, keep a retinue of sev- 
vants and entertain in a princely style. The education they 
give to their children is never complete without a tour through 
Europe. Indeed, they are personages of so much importance 
that the captains of steamboats will sometimes delay half an 



100 ZULMA. A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

hour at a landing for one of these potentates to get through 
with his dinner. No wonder; some of them ship a thousand 
bales of cotton or an equal number of hogsheads of sugar." 

The ladies e3'ed with increasing interest the subjects of 
their discussion. 

"I should like to know,' said one of them, "whether this 
one lives in a mansion and dispenses hospitality in the style 
you mentioned. '■ 

'I am under the impression, ' replied her neighbor, "that 
Mr. Hunt is a man of wealth and position; he receives a great 
deal of attention from the officers of the boat. " 

'It is certainly the most distinguished looking family I 
have ever met," reiterated the lady, rising from her seat and 
casting a lingering glance at the unsuspecting objects of her 
admiration. 

Lucile and her mother formed many pleasant acquaintances 
during the rest of their journey They were spending their 
time so agreeal)ly, that the}' beheld with regret, the termina- 
tion of their voyage. The boat's loud signal for the Convent 
landing, awakened new and contiicting emotions in the bosom 
ot the sensitive girl. She sto^d with her mother on the rear 
guards, watching with heightened color for the first glimpse of 
the Convent. As the boat swung around for the landing, a 
distant view of the white pile emerged in graceful and har- 
monious outlines. There it was at last — that Convent so long 
and strongly associated with the hopes and fears of her child, 
hood. It loomed grandly before them — a seat of learning, a 
sanctuary of virtue, and the asylum of pure souls. How pleas- 
ant it would have been, had they come only for a visit to this 
lovely place! She was so well acquainted with Convent rules, 
she had heard so much of the good nuns and the peaceful lives 
the inmates led within those white walls. But the sight of it 



t 



NEW SCENES. 101 

reminded her of the separation in store for her, and her bosom 
heaved so distressingly that she clasped her hands over it to 
still the pulsations of her heart. A forest of trees, stripped 
of their foliage, formed a sumbre background and brought in 
relief the details of the palatial structure. The long galleries 
and clustered columns of the main building, formed a charm- 
ing combination with the two wings, and added to the beauty 
and majesty of that peculiar style of architecture. The mellow 
autumn sun gided the cross which surmounted one of the 
wings and indicated the house of prayer. A magnificent gar- 
den extended from the marble steps to the white fence. Grace- 
ful walks and allej's fnnged with privet and roses, intersected 
the parterre. A variety of tropical plants mingled their ver- 
dure with the cedar and oleander, and suggested rambles and 
pleasant gatherings beneath their classic shades. Two shrines, 
like miniature gothic temples, lent an air of elegance to the 
grounds. But the lovliness of this statel}' abode contributed 
nothing towards cheering the heart of Lucile. She followed 
sadly and reluctantl}' the Convent porter who conducted visi- 
tors from the levee to the stone paved entrance leading to the 
Convent parlors. 



102 ZUL^rA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



CHAPTER X. 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS. 

A PORTIERE, tall, dark and cadaverous, answered Mr. 
■'*■ Hunt's summons at the bell. Her sombre habit and 
melancholly aspect awed Lucile, and she involuntarily shrunk 
from her as from an unearthly apparition. The nun gravely 
nodded to the visitors as she held open the door which led into 
the vestibule. After cautiously turning the key in the lock, 
she invited them to enter the spacious parlor. 

"Will you have the goodness to send to me Mother Alche- 
nar ?" asked Mrs. Hunt of the sad-faced portress. 

"Give me your name, please," she asked in an almost in- 
audible voice. 

"Pardon me, I was once a pupil here, and I wish to sur- 
prise Mother Alchenar. " 

The mournful eyes gazed with awakened curiosity into 
the speaker's countenance; for an instance they glowed in 
their sockets like stars receding into space. "I do not re- 
member you,'' she remarked in French. "You must have 
been here before I entered;" and the phantom-like form 
softly vanished from the apartment. 

"What a ghostly figure!"' exclaimed Mr. Hunt, seating 
himself upon one of the stiff sofas lining the glossy walls. 
"Do all the nuns assume such melancholy airs?'' 

"Indeed, no," replied his wife, "they are, on the contrary, 
the happiest and most cheerful looking people in the world." 

"Oh! Mamma, " cried Lucile, "I do hope she will never 
be my teacher." 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS. '' I(l3 

"You need have no fears, dear, she is the portiere, you 
see, and has nothing else to do but to attend the bell and saj' 
her prayers. ' 

"She is a sort of St. Peter, then," suggested the child, 
looking brightly into her mothers face. 

"Yes. truly: for I believe all pupils of the Sacred Heart 
are candidates for heaven." 

In the course of the session, someone related to Lucile 
the history of the sad-faced religious. . Manj' of the nuns still 
remembered Marie Daquin, a young girl, tall anil lithesome, 
whose black e^es sparkled with mischief and merriment. 
Even during the study hours, her teachers found it difticult to 
subdue her exuberant spirits, or suppress her untimely laugh- 
ter. Her frolicsome habits and lively disposition were the 
causes of her losing many a coveted prize, and of being de- 
spoiled of the honors repeatedly conferred upon her more 
tractable companions. Notwithstandmg her waywardness, 
the girl was intuitively pious. Kach time she entered the con- 
fessional, her handkerchief was bedewed with tears of repent- 
ance, shed over venial faults, and each recreation found her 
bending over her slate, expiating trangressions over which 
she had abundantly wept. The girls were shocked and scan- 
alized when, several times, she announced her predilection for 
the religious life. 

"Why, Marie!" they would exclaim, "how dare you? 
You are not even a 'Ribbon!'" alluding to a class of girls 
who wore this badge of honor. Thus reprimanded, the poor 
child would suppress for a time, the aspirations of her soul. 
She left the convent with the secret hope of returning shortly 
to embrace her chosen vocation. But on her arrival home, 
she found her father suffering from some insiduous disease, 
which, for a number of year, had been undermining his con- 



104 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUT?[. 

stitution. His physicians were unable to relieve him, and he 
was reduced to a condition which demanded the constant at- 
tention of his wife and daughter. The health of the former 
yielded to the harrassing fatigue entailed upon her, and in 
time, tended to develop consumption, a hereditary disease in 
the family. Mr. Daquins death occurred seven years after 
his daughter had left the convent. During his long and dis- 
tressing illness, she had nursed him with tender devotion, and 
had denied herself all the pleasures congenial to persons of 
her age. Immediately after her father's death, a burden still 
heavier fell upon her shoulders. She saw her mother perish- 
ing by degrees in the grip of another hopeless malady, and 
during fifteen years she watched her mother's sufferings and 
administered to her wants. At the end of that time her youth 
had vanished; and with it, her gracf^ of form and the lustre of 
her beauty. She was now left free to follow her inclinations 
for the religious life; but she had watched so long by the bed- 
side ot the sick and dying, and had become so accustomed to 
her cross, that she seemed to linger in its shadow. Her 
former desire predominated, however, and after a time she re- 
traced her steps to the home of her happy girlhood, and laid 
at the foot of the altar, her broken heart and withered youth. 
And thus it was, that time had failed to remove the traces 
which years of unbroked gloom and sorrow had imparted to 
her physiognomy. 

The portress had not been tardy in delivering her message; 
the ' ' Mistress General " soon appeared at the threshold. 
Though somewhat advanced in years, her deportment was still 
strikingly graceful and lady-like. Her sweet, intellectual 
features lighted up with a benevolent smile, as she advanced 
to meet the strangers. Mrs. Hunt hastened to her and warmly 
grasped her hand. 

"Mother Alchenar, do you not know me?"' 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS. 105 

The gentle nun gazed intently into the upturned face be- 
fore her; her mind reverted to memory's gallery, thickly 
crowded with girlish faces, and a passing frown ruffled her 
serene brow, in her effort to single out a particular one among 
them. Inadvertently she glanced to where Lucile stood watch- 
ing the result of the interview. Something m the girl's ex- 
pression awakened the dormant faculties of her mind, for a 
sudden flash of light illuminated her countenance, and she 
exclaimed with joyful readiness: 

"Why, this is Elise Lafitte! " 

Clasping warmly to her bosom, the hands of her former 
pupil, she imprinted on either cheek a fervent, religious 
caress. 

Too full of emotion for utterance, Mrs. Hunt gazec", 
through her tears, into those clear, lustrous eyes which Time 
had so kindly ignored. 

" I am glad you recognized me, Mother, even though it 
required such an effort on your part." 

' ' I was- not prepared for the personal change in you, my 
child; Nevertheless, 1 can read your character, and can vouch 
for its integrity ; although you have been in conflict with the 
world, it has not spoiled the qualities of your heart." 

"You have judged me rightly. Mother," answered Mrs. 
Hunt; "now that I find m3'self in convent walls once more, 
and behold your familiar face, I almost imagine myself a 
pupil again under the sweet influence of your authority. But 
see," continued she, turning to Lucile and beckoning to her, 
"I have brought you another Elise to perpetuate my memory." 

Lucile was touched by the warm reception tendered her 
by her mother's old friend, and notwithstanding her timidity, 
she found herself in a few moments on the best of terms with 
the good nun. Mr. Hunt was equally pleased with her; he 



106 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

was lost in admiration of her candor, her good sense and other 
noble traits of character. He now understood how the natural 
qualifications of his wife had been so admirably developed and 
perfected, and he sincerely trusted that the same benign influ- 
ence would be exercised over the mind and heart of his darling 
child. 

The party sat for an hour, conversing pleasantly, on 
topics both worldly and conventual. Mother Alchenar had 
much to relate of the changes which had taken place, and tlie 
events which had transpired at the convent since Mrs. Hunts 
pupilage. The superioress, she knew, had ended her career 
of usefulness and piety, and a nun of Irish descent, by the 
name of Shannon had replaced her. 

"If you will excuse me for a moment," said the amiable 
religion?, rising from her seat, ' ' 1 shall make you acquainted 
with our Eev. Mother. ' 

Our friends were struck with the air of stateliness which 
distinguished this illustrious personage. Her brow, full of 
thought and purpose, indicated the leading spirit of that com- 
munity. But, notwithstanding her innate consciousness of 
superiority, her steel blue eyes sparkled with animation, and a 
genial smile lighted up her rubicund face. There was m her 
tenaperament a childish faculty for mirth, and a spontaneity 
of humor which rendered her a very entertaining companion. 
Lucile listened with interest to her wise and salient conversa- 
tion; the recluse's familiarity with subjects of worldly and 
political import, astonished her and increased her admiration 
and respect. Mother Shannon had taken her by the hand and 
kindly questioned her about her studies and home life; yet, 
Lucile stood in awe of one in whom were combined authority 
and such brilliant qualities of the mind; she preferred the gen- 
tle and sweet-tempered Mistress-General. Her refined man- 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS. 107 

ners, her cordiality and motherly ways had, from the first, 
won her heart. She longed to throw her impulsive arms 
around her neck and implore her for the love and interest she 
once bestowed upon her mother. But she dared not trust to 
the feelings of her own heart, which threatened at every mo- 
ment to overcome her. Lucile was greatly surprised when 
the grave and portly Mother Shannon offered to accompany 
them on a tour of inspection through the building; this seemed 
to her a condescension. In a hall of interminable length, they 
met the portress, who passed them without the faintest sign 
of recognition. She walked rapidly by, her mournful visage 
almost hugging the walls. Her black veil fluttered in the 
breezy passage, like the shroud of a phantom ship, gliding 
silently in a gale. 

One class-room after another revealed its ranks of rosy- 
cheeked girls who, upon the entrance of the visitors, arose 
from their seats and displayed their smiling countenances. 
Then visits were made to the neat and airy dormitories, each 
of which is dedicated to some particular saint, represented in 
painting or statuary. Wherever they passed, the floors shone 
like alabaster, and the most scrupulous order prevailed. The 
tables in the vast refectory had been set for supper; an array 
of two hundred silver goblets enumerated the pupils enrolled. 
This was a familiar scene to Mrs. Hunt; but it was a vexed 
question to Lucile, by ichat means a repast could be prepared 
for such a number, and from what source such an abundance 
could be derived. It did not require much time for her to in- 
vestigate the matter. Many were her surreptitious visits to 
the convent kitchen, where she stood before a monster range 
and watched in wonder, the greatness of its capacities. A 
dozen lay sisters assisted the chief cool- — a merry-hearted fel- 
low, who made the place ring with anthems. The slave pos- 



108 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

sessed a voice of extraordinary compass and melody, and sang 
with enthusiasm, ail the masses and chants he had heard in 
the convent chapel. Whether at the glowing fui-nace, or out 
in the open air preparing fruits and vegetables for dinner, 
his features shone wilh cheer, and the joy fulness of his heart 
found vent in ceaseless song. On hearing his vocal manojuvres 
one would be tempted to think that a priest and full choir were 
holding solemn service in the culinary department. Strange 
to say the sisters never interfered with this peculiar flow of 
spirits nor protested against it, but moved about in silent oc- 
cupation, unmindful of the mimic singer. 

Lucile would often take a peep into the marble-floored 
dairy, where an inexhaustible supply of rich milk, cream, 
cheese and butter, filled the air with lacteal fragrance. 

And there was the cool, sweet-scented pantry, with its 
clean cypress shelves, freighted with well-replenished crocks, 
jars and glasses. Red-cheeked apples and odorous oranges 
lay in tempting rows for ready and wholesome desserts. With 
a knowledge of the resources on hand, Lucile ceased to wonder 
at the abundance daily provided at the meals. The visitors 
found but one patient in the infirmary — a pretty and delicate 
looking child of eight. She sat in a tiny rocking chair, turn- 
ing with listless grace the leaves of a picture-book. On a 
gaudily painted waiter near her, was a plate containing a lunch 
of amber-colored preserves and crackers; from all appearance, 
the dainty sweet had failed to tempt the invalid's appetite. 
On the entrance of the strangers, she arose to make her little 
courtesy; a few stray curls fell caressingly upon her brow; she 
looked so sweet, so sad and interesting; she seemed so young 
to be sent away from home, that Mrs. Hunt's maternal sym- 
pathies were touched. She could not resist the impulse of 
going to the child and kissing her. Lucile followed her moth- 
er's example. 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS. 109 

"What is your name? " asked Mrs. Hunt, carressing the 
delicate hand which lay passively in one of hers. 

"Ada St. Armand,'" responded she. in a sweet creoIe 
accent. 

"Ada is such a pretty name! My little girl here, is called 
Lucile. I hope you two will become great friends." 

Ada looked up with a frank smile into Lucile's face, and 
placing her hand on her arm, asked in an earnest tone: " Will 
you stay with me, Lucile?" 

"She is an orphan," explained Mother Shannon, on leav- 
ing the inflrmary. ' ' Both of her parents died of the heart 
disease. Immediately after her mother's death she was sent 
to us by an uncle, who himself packed up her trunk, in which, 
by the way, were man}- of her poor mother's clothes. The 
child has undoubtedly inherited the fatal malady of her par- 
ents. She is in wretched health and must be treated like an 
exotic." 

The knowledge of Ada's sad history augmented Mrs. 
Hunt's interest and sympathy in her behalf. 

On her visit to the beautiful convent chapel, Mrs. Hunt 
knelt at the altar railing, where oft, in her girlhood, she had 
said her prayers and watched the glimmer of the sanctuary 
lamp. She now asked for strength to overcome the loneliness 
of heart, wliich she knew awaited heron her return home with- 
out that dear companion, who for twelve j^ears had been her 
joy and solace. From the chapel they descended into the ex- 
tensive jmrterre and grounds, where shrubs of every variety, 
and the lovliest of autumnal flowers filled the air with their 
spicy odors. They came to a corner in a southern exposure 
of tlie garden, where one of the sisters was at work among 
cold frames, sheltered by a group of orange ttees, then loaded 



110 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

with fruit. -'Sister Josephine," said the Mother Superior, 
"give our friends some of your oranges." 

The owner of the tropical orchard prided herself on the 
size, sweetness and excellence of its productions. 

"£"« rVa de hcUes,'" she made answer, opening a large 
basket which lay on the turf beside her. " ./e les avais con- 
seroees pour F injirnwrip. 

Mrs. Hunt protested against accepting what had been 
destined for the sick. Sister Josephine assured her with much 
earnestness, that she had ouly gathered the over-ripe, and 
that the season was so far advanced, she would be compelled 
in a few days to despoil the trees of the rest of their treasures. 
At this moment, the stroke of a great bell floated in the air 
and announced the vesper hour. The last glow of the evening 
light wa3 expiring over the arched roofs of the garden sanctu- 
aries. All the unoccupied nuns were to retire to the chapel, 
where they read, in sad monotones, certain Psalms arranged 
for vespers. When the last, solemn tones vibrated in the still 
atmosphere, Mrs. Hunt turned to Lucile. "Good-night, dar- 
ling," she said in a voice which shook with suppressed emotion. 

For the first time in her life, Lucile was to be separated 
from her mother. She burst into an uncontrolable fit of 
weeping. 

"We shall see you again to-morrow, my pet; we are only 
going over there to the boarding house, " said Mr. Hunt, re- 
, moving her hands from her face that he might kiss her. 

"0, papa! do let me go with you," pleaded she, wiping 
with desperation the tears, which flowed in streams, from her 
flushed cheeks. 

"No," answered her father with firmness; "it is best that 
you remain here to-night. It will not be so painful, my love, 
knowing you will see ub again in the morning " 



FIRST IMPRESSIOXS. Ill 

"Foolish child! " said Mother Alchenar," taking Lucile 
by the hand. "Come with me; by morning you will be so 
pleased with us, nothing will persuade you to leave the convent 
again." 

The assertion brought an incredulous smile to the girl's 
lips. However, she permitted herself to be led as far as the 
chapel entrance. On reaching the top of the marble steps, 
she turned suddenly in the direction taken by her parents. 
"O, papa!'" she cried, in a despairing tone, "you mean to 
deceive me; I will not see 5'ou again in the morning." Her 
pretty summer hat had fallen back upon her shoulders, throw- 
ing in relief her sweet, pathetic face. 

Mr. Hunt paused and glanced at her — his only child — who 
from ber babyhood had been his constant companion on the 
lone plantation in the woods of Grosse Tete. The thought 
smote him keenly; for a moment he wavered in his purpose; 
then, steeling his heart against emotion, and assuming an air 
of gayety, he gallantly waved his hand to her, saying, " I give 
you my word, darling! " 

This was sufficient; Lucile bowed in acknowledgment of 
ber father's promise and re-entered the chapel. 



112 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



CHAPTER XI. 

INITIATION. 

l\/\ OTHER ALCHENAR conducted Lucile through the long, 
» ' * gloomv corridors to one of those spacious class-rooms, 
numerically divided into "cones." 

"Wait here, for a few minutes, my child," she said, on 
leaving her charge. < 'I am sure, you will not feel lost among 
so many girls." 

In fact, Lucile found herself surrounded by an astonish- 
ing number of young ladies, all seated at their desks, busily 
writing their French exercises. The appearance of the "new 
comer" was a most welcome distraction to most of the girls, 
for, notwithstanding the vigilance of an aged nun who walked 
the floor, they augmented her discomfort by whispering to each 
other and then staring her out of countenance. The poor 
child, who had never met with such rudeness before, felt her- 
self in a most uncomfortable predicament, and a feeling of 
loneliness seemed about overpowering her soul when the door 
opened and there entered the sweetest-faced creature she had 
overlooked upon. Hers was not the beauty of grace and form 
onl}', but of a loveliness of expression which radiated from a 
pure and sympathetic heart. Even beneath her homely garb, 
the faultless outlines of her figure were conspicuous, and her 
movements, though vivacious, were lull of charm and grace. 
The caineo-like beauty of her face was lit up with a smile 
which seemed to harmonize with her exquisitely chiseled lips 
and the brightness of her eyes. This fascinating nun walked 
softly and daintily across the apartment, and seated herself on 
the bench beside Lucile. 



INITIATION. 113 

"Would you not like to come and stay with me at the 
'Little Pensionnat?' " she asked, taking Lucile by the hand. 

"I should like it ever so much," replied the child, 
promptly, though she had not the remotest idea of the location 
of that Utopian Pensionnat. 

"Mother Alchenar tells me that you are twelve years of 
age; you will be the eldest of my little girls; but I shall expect 
you to give them good example. May I depend on your good 
conduct, Lucile?" 

The consciousness of her imperfections, struck the sensi- 
tive girl with palpable force, and she asked: 

"Are your little girls extraordinarily good?" 

"Well, as good as might be expected of well-bred 
children." 

•'Then give me a trial. I shall make no promises, 
though — because — I think I have been" — here there was a 
little break down in Lucile's voice — " Papa and Mamma have 
always allowed me to have my own way." 

" Indeed!" ejaculated the pretty nun, arching her pen- 
ciled eye-brows, " but you do not expect to be that much in- 
dulged here? You will have to submit to the convent rules." 

"O, I intend to do that!" answered Lucile, with warmth, 
"only I cannot promise you to be perfect. You may try me." 

Lucile passed an exceptional examination and, much to 
the annoyance of a set of older girls, she was promoted to the 
senior clas,ses, in both English and French. Her childish ap- 
pearance belied her age, and the progress she had attained in 
her studies was a rebuke to her class-mates, and, for a time, 
was the cause of envious and unfriendly feelings towards her. 
But the sweet and amiable disposition of their innocent rival, 
her artless ways and the unconsciousness of her own merits, 
soon divested them of their foolish pride and all-unworthy sen- 
timBnts. 



114 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Lucile possessed a natural talent for drawing; at home 
she had a portfolio full of crude but meritorious sketches; 
most of these were tame and insignificant bits of scenery, 
which her facile brush had clothed in artistic beauty. One of 
her drawings represented a log-cabin, with its accessories, the 
wood-pile, the rail fence and rustic stile. The smoke curling 
from the mud chimney and dissipating itself among the etched 
branches of leafless trees, was delineated with art and del - 
icacy worthy of an adept. Another, still more characteristic, 
was the trunk of a lofty cypress, clasped in the deadly embrace 
of the poison oak. The white form of a solitary crane, 
perched upon its apex, contrasted wierdl}' with a mass of 
billowy clouds piled as a back-ground. 

Lucile did not confine her talent to landscapes alone, she 
displayed much skill in drnwing figures, especially dramatic 
scenes from ancient history. Though lacking in necessary 
traits, Zulma posed for her models — even for celebrities like 
Cleopatra and the Queen of Sheba. On such occasions her 
young mistress fell upon her (nvu resources to supply de- 
ficiences, so sadly wanting in her patient but unlovely model. 

A week after Luciles arrival, Madam Doremus, the gen- 
tle mistress of the little Pensionnat, brought her to the studio 
that she miglit begin drawing lessons. A sco''e of large girls 
occupied seats around a broad table; they seemed pleasantl}' 
employed in congenial tasks. Drawing lessons were given at 
the noon recreation, consequently a rigid discipline was not 
enforced in this department. Whilst at work, the teacher 
permitted her pupils to exchange ideas relative to their studies, 
and even allowed their conversation to drift into harmless 
convent gossip. Therefore, when Lucile entered the class- 
room, she was confronted by a battery of beaming counten- 
ances and greeted by the following harassing exclamations: 



INITIATION. 115 

"Why, theres Lucile!" 

" Not to begin drawing lessons, surely?" 

" Be off child, you are already too precoctious for one of 
your age." 

" The idea of such a little thing taking drawing lessons!" 

(To their teacher) — "Madam, we young ladies prote'st 
against such an imposition." 

"Madame Doremus, can't you provide dolls for the 
amusement of your babies during recess?" 

Poor Lucile was at loss how to take this reception. Were 
the girls taunting her, or merely jesting? Her changing color 
betrayed her annoyance, but she controlled her feelings and 
kept in good humor. She was reassured by the sight of the 
teacher who stood at the end of the long table sharpening a 
crayon for one of her scholars. To her joy, she proved to be 
her own kind teacher of the second English class. 

Madame Toury was one of those sterling characters that 
undesignedly inspire confidence. Her clear, blue eyes, f uU qf 
cheer and animation, reflected the goodness of her heart; and 
her magnificent forehead, white and smooth as parian marble, 
denoted firmness and extraordinary intelligence. She was of 
a medium size, but carried her head with an air of imperious- 
ness, strangely at variance with her general appearance, or the 
benevolence of her disposition. 

"Oh! is this my little ' Pussy Cat?' " she exclaimed, lay- 
ing down her pen-kuife and coming up to Lucile, "you did 
not tell me you were to learn drawing; have you taken lessons 
before?" 

"No, ma'am, but T have tried to sketch, and have made 
a great many pictures, already." 

" On your slate," stlggGBted one of the girls. 



116 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"Indeed, no, " replied Lucile, "Papa gave me the best 
of drawing paper and a box of paints, besides." 

There was a perceptible titter. 

" You think yourself .so smart! " replied one of the girls, 
leaning back on her chair and fixing her eyes on Lucile. 
"'Tis a pity you did not bring your chef d'oetivre for exhibi- 
tion! " 

Here Lucile's powers of endurance threatened to forsake 
her; she turned aside to hide the tears which suflfused her 
eyes. 

Madame Toury cast on the class a glance which none of 
them failed to interpret, and they silently fell to work. She 
then prepared a seat for Lucile, and kindly endeavored to dis- 
tract her mind from unpleasant thoughts. 

"What shall I give you for a model?" she said, taking 
up a large portfolio. " Come and look over these sketches. 
Here is a cute one — the head of a pussy cat. How cunning! 
Should you not like to try your hand on this? it is not hard to 
draw." 

"Anything you choose will suit me," replied Lucile, tak- 
ing up the model, "I think this very pretty and easy." 

After Lucile had been installed and had received instruc- 
tions how to proceed in tlie work allotted to her, Madame 
Toury walked across the room to attend to the wants of the 
rest of her class. The child applied herself with such dili- 
gence and expedition, that the masterful strokes of her crayon 
on the rough paper attracted the attention of her teacher, who, 
more than once, turned in wondering surprise in the direction 
whence they proceeded. B'ut she forbore disturbing her inter- 
esting pupil, though it cost her an effort to curb her curiosity 
and impatience to examine the result of progress made under 



INITIATION. 117 

such headway. At hist Lucile heaved a little sigh and laid 

down her pencil. 

"Madame, I have finished," she said. "Will you come 
and see whether it is well done, or shall I bring it to you? " 

Her teacher walked to the desk; she stood for a moment 
like one struck dumb with surprise. 

"Dear child!" she exclaimed, "you are a born artist! 
Why, your sketch is as good as the model! you have even im- 
proved upon it! " 

"May we come and see? do, Madame Toury," pleaded 

several voices in a chorus. 

The sketch was handed around for inspection. To the 
teacher's surprise and pleasure, there was no trace either of 
envy, or of ill-feeling in the eulogies bestowed by the girls; all 
expressed their admiration and agreed that Lucile deserved a 
premium for her cleverness. 

"Now, Lucile," said Madame Toury, "you will not have 
time to begin work on another sketch, but you may choose a 
model for your next lesson. Here is a landscape, the picture 
of an old mill with the water tumbling merrily over the wheel. 
I am afraid it is too difficult; this oae is prettier." 

She placed before Lucile a small landscape — that of a 
rustic bridge spanning a stream of water. Tall trees on opposite 
banks, leaned across and overshadowed the bridge; a wild vine 
clambered to the topmost boughs and returned earthward in 
graceful and airy tendrils. Lucile scrutinized the drawing in 
silence ; presently her red lips began to quiver and two opal- 
escent tears rolled from her cheeks upon the paper before her. 
At the sight of her emotion. Madame Toury hastily removed 
the offending sketch from the desk. 

"Now, now, child, you are not compelled to work on 
this; I should have known it was too hard for such a little 
pussy as yourself." 



118 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

Lucile tried valiantly to overcome her weakness, but the 
bridge and its rural surroundings, had carried her back to 
dear, old Grosse Tete and to that sylvan spot, the summer re- 
sort of herself and parents, in the happy days of yore. It 
was here, too, that she and Zulma sought for the ripest May- 
pops and muscadines, and in spring-time, they tramped through 
its dewy paths, searching for the wild violets which lurked 
around in pleasant nooks. At tne sound of the bell, she arose 
and mechanically placed her drawing materials in their recept- 
acle. Neither her teacher or her class-mates ever discovered 
the cause of her sudden emotion, or the sadness of expression 
which seemed to have settled on her usually cheerful counten- 
ance. 



LETTERS FROM THE CONVENT. 119 



CHAPTER XII. 

letters from the convent. 

Convent Sacred Heart, Nov. 28, 1860. 

Dear Papa and Mamma — Mother Alchenar has given 
me permission to write a little every day at the noon recess, so 
that I may have a long letter to send you on Fridays. 

I am getting over my home- sickness very nicely, I think. 
The ladies are so kind to me, I shouldn't wonder if I learned 
to love my new home. I give all my attention to my studies, be- 
cause I know the sooner I finish my education, the sooner I 
shall return home for good. I get very lonely at night, and 
love to stand by the dormatory windows to watch the boats. 
They are passing at all hours of the night — such magnificent 
things, Mamma, with the red light of the cinders trailing be- 
hind them. When they make a landing at the Convent, I 
make myself believe that you, Papa, are coming to see me. I 
wrote you a short letter last week; I hadn't the heart to write 
more. Dear Grosse Tete seems so much out of the way of 
boats, I'm afraid my letter will take a great, great while to 
reach you. Mamma, do you remember what a time you had 
trying to get me to write letters for exercises? I thought it 
mean of you to force me to write to people who had died long 
ago. I did not mind writing to that good Mr, Addison, who 
helped to make the Spectator so interesting; or to Mr. Davies, 
to tell him how hard I found his arithmetic; but I did hate to 
write to Mrs. Trollope, who made fun of us Americans. I see 
now, you were only preparing me for this separation, and I 
am thankful to you for all the pains you took to teach me. 



120 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

In my first letter, I wrote that I was staying at the little 
Pensionnat, this is the home of the youngest girls at the 
Sacred Heart. We live in the rear of the long music house 
back of the Chapel. We are forty little girls in all, and one 
grown girl — a "Child of Mary" — who helps Madame Doremus 
keep us straight. We have a better time than the large Pen- 
sionnat. In cold weather we are allowed to stay in bed until 
breakfast time. Little Ada Saint Armand has left the infirm- 
ary. We love each other dearly. Madam Doiemus told us 
that her life was in constant danger from heart disease. She 
is not allowed to run about and romp, like the rest of us 
girls. 

Dearest ones, I am trying to be uood, so as to get a rib- 
bon at the next distribution of prizes. I do not find the Con- 
vent rules so hard to observe, except silence. When I first 
came, I was in the habit of speaking out loud at any time, 
just as we do at home. This used to set the girls to giggling. 
Once, I spoke out in the refectory. Madam Miller, who stays 
with us at meal times, turned upon me with a look of aston- 
ishment and rolled her eyes at me in a manner which fright 
ened me very much. The convent fare is so nice; it is a won- 
der to me how the Sisters continue to furnish us with so many 
good tilings. We have dessert every day, always of two 
kinds, fruit and pie or cake. 

On Fridays they give us pudding, which reminds me so 
much of Aunt Polly's "pig," only this is filled with dried 
prunes instead of peaches and apples like we have at home. 

Yesterday was promenade day, and we had a delightful 
walk to the woods. Before starting, they gave each of us a 
large piece of ginger-cake and a handful of pecans. These we 
ate on the way. The way to the woods is through an avenue 
of magnificent oaks and Lombardy poplars. It seemed over a 



LETTERS FROM THE CONVENT. 121 

mile long, and it is as grand as it can be. The girls told me 
that they are sometimes allowed to take a ramble through the 
woods, but last evening we were not permitted to pass the big 
gate because we got there too late. But I put m}- head through 
the bars and sniffed the sweet odors of the dim, solemn wood. 
The familiar scene filled my heart with longings for home, and 
it seemed to me that I was nearer you at that moment than I 
had ever been since I came. While I was gazing at the grand 
old trees and grape-vines, I heard a kildee singing; the sound 
of its voice rang through the woods, and it sang as sweetly and 
as mournfully as the kildees of Grosse Tete. This was too 
much for my poor heart to bear, and I laid my head on 
the bars and cried most disgracefully. 

I am improving very fast in music. My teacher says it 
IS a pity I had not begun at an earlier age. But I do not re- 
gret the years I spent with yon^ instead of being here, only to 
learn music. The guitar is not as difficult to learn as the 
piano, and I have plenty time before me. 

I have been writing this letter, during recess, for nearly a 
week. You will find it long, my sweet ones; you will have 
the patience, I hope, to read it through. Poor Zulma will 
enjoy hearing you read it. 

Give my love to all my friends, and tell the servants I 
often think of them with kindness and love. Remember me 
to Uncle Dave and all the darkies. 

I wrote to grandpere last week. 

Let me know whether you fancy this sort of a journal. 
How I envy its lot! It shall fall into your hands, dear 
mamma, and come in contact with your sweet breath. I cover 
this page with kisses for you and papa. 

With much love, I remain your oion affectionate, 

LuciLE. 



122 zulma, a story of the old south. 

Letter ii. 

Christmas Week, Dec. 29, 1860. 

Thank you, thank you, darling papa and mamma, for the 
box you sent me! Madame Doremus says you have sent me 
enough things to last six months. I cut the cake at dinner on 
Christmas day, and distributed it among the little girls. Our 
table looked like a wedding feast. I have never been to one, 
but just imagined it did Kiss grandpere for the oranges; 
they are the more appreciated because they were raised on the 
©Id plantation. 

Tell grandmerp that I have not yet opened the jar of pre- 
serves, liut it is an object of attraction; they look so tempting 
through the glass; they are so transparent, we can see through 
and through the peaches. 

Sister Josephine and I are great friends. It was she who 
opened my box. I offered her some of the nice things, but 
she shook her head, and told me to "send them to the infir- 
mary instead." Her mind is bent on providing dainties for 
the sick girls. She hung the bunch of bananas in the kitchen 
pantry to ripen. You ought to see the refectory pantry! It 
is so crowded with boxes and hampers, there is no standing 
room left. Each boat that lands puts off a lot of boxes; with 
few exceptions, all the girls have received one for Christmas. 
I make it a duty to divide the contents of my box with those 
less fortunate than myself. Whenever I ofler them things, I try 
to make them believe that they do me a favor by accepting ; it 
is humiliation enough for them to know that they have been 
neglected. 

Poor little Ada was not remembered by any ot her friends, 
I filled a cornucopia with my finest and prettiest French can- 
dies and presented it to her. She was so delighted with the 
gift, that she began dancing all over the room; but the excite- 



LETTERS FROM THE CONVENT. 123 

ment soon broke her down; she stopped verj' suddenly and 
pressed one of her hands over her little heart, saying: "It is 
jumping hard, Lucile." Her sweet lips had turned quite blue, 
and I was awfully afraid she was going to have one of her 
spells of heart disease. 

T thought the religious ceremonies during Christmas week 
so grand and touching. I became very pious, that is, I loved 
to go to the chapel to say my prayers. The altars are all 
magnificently decorated; at the foot of that of the Blessed 
Virgin is a waxen figure of the Infant Jesus Iving in a man- 
ger.' It stretches out its little hands as though begging to be 
taken out of its cold bed of straw. It looks so sweet and 
natural, it is hard for me to keep from doing it. 

Every evening since Christmas we have had some sort of 
entertainment. On Christmas night we had tableaux. I wish 
you had seen how lovely they were. The costumes were so 
strange and magnificent, it was hard to recognize the girls who 
took part in them; it was like seeing people in a dream. 
When they represented the different scenes in ' 'The Feast of 
Balthasar" I was struck dumb with admiration. I cannot tell 
you how grand and beautiful was that of the "Nativity." 

Then they showed us the "magic lantern." The Little 
Pensionnat and all the large girls were assembled in the first 
"cones." Mother Shannon and many of the ladies were pres- 
ent. At one end of the room was the apparatus; it reminded 
me of cannons I had seen in pictures. Mother Murphy was 
standing behind it, and I imagined she was going to shoot at 
us; this made me feel very uncomfortable. But, after a while, 
they brought in a large screen which they placed before the 
lantern, then, a brilliant light fell upon the white screen, followed 
by a beautiful picture of Adam and Eve in the garden of 
Eden. It was a pleasant surprise to me, for 1 had no idea of 



124 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH, 

the effects produced by the magnifying glasses. Some of the 
representations were funny and made us laugh; others were 
very pretty, especiall}' those of the active volcanoes and "ships 
on fire." They showed us many historical pictures, about 
which Mother Shannon questioned us; I could have answered 
every time, but was too timid to do so. 

On other nights, we had plays and charades which were 
also very amusing. The one called "Behind Time, " was so 
funny, that we laughed during the whole performance. It was 
written by one of the nuns who is the glummest looking crea- 
ture you ever saw. It is a wonder to me how she managed to 
think of so many laughable things. She never laughs herself, 
and I reckon, never did, even when she was composing the piece. 

We had most fun on Saata Claus' night. We were once 
more seated in one of the large class-rooms in the middle of 
which were half a dozen long poles laying across the backs of 
chairs. Hundreds of stockings, tied in pairs and bulging out 
from top to toe, hung across these poles. When all was ready, 
one of the ladies began calling out the numbers; each girl 
went for her own stocking, but was forbidden to open it before 
permission was given. After the last number was called out, 
a signal was given for us to open and inspect the contents of 
the stockings. You should have heard the shouts and laugh- 
ter which followed. The stockings were filled with all sorts of 
things, fruit, candies, ashes, stones, hard boiled eggs, potatoes, 
dolls and pencils. Each article was wrapped up in a separate 
piece of paper. You may know with what impatience we tore 
open the parcels. Some of the girls had less than others, this 
was the cause of much dissatisfaction. I had nothing to com- 
plain of; besides a small volume of Lamartine's poems, I 
found a beautifully dressed doll. Ada, too, had a doll and 
many dtber pretty things, which she offered to divide with 



LETTERS FROM THE CONVENT. 125 

those who had not been so well served. The child has strange 
notions; it so happened that both of her neighbors found a 
corn cob in their stockings; this attracted her attention. After 
opening all her parcels she looked around with an air of disap- 
pointment and said : 

"But — Santa Glaus forgot to give n?e a cob!' 

All the girls laughed and bee an throwing corn cobs in her 
lap, until she cried out: 

"Don't — I want just one." 

Everybody here loves her and allows her to have her own 
way. 

Our holidays are nearly ended, and I shall never forget 
my first Christmas at the Sacred Heart. Everything was so new ; 
the impressions made are deep and will never be effaced from 
my memory. I have seen so much since 1 left home, that my 
whole life seems like a year, compared with these last weeks. 
I am learning to love my new home and the kind ladies. It is 
much better that I should, since it is necessary for me to stay 
here until I finish my education; otherwise, I would be too 
miserable to learn much. But do not imagine I am forgetting 
you my darling ones. I have you in my mind, constantly; 
only, the thought of you does not cause me as much unhappi- 
ness, as when I first came. 

I think of you with the fond hope, that in a few years, I 
shall return to 3'ou, never more to leave you. 

Your affectionate daughter, 

LUCILE. 



126 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Letter III — Sad Tidings. 

Jan. 3, 1861. 

mamma, little Ada is dead! This will be sad news to 
you; goodness knows it is hard enough for me to write about. 
Although we all knew she had heart disease, and was, at any 
time, in danger of death, we lived in hopes that she would 
have been spared us many years to come. The suddenness 
of her death was a great shock to me, almost as much so as 
was poor little Katie Dawsey's ending. This is the second 
time I have lost the ones 1 loved. 

We had passed such a pleasant Christmas week. Ever)' 
evening the ladies got up some kind of entertainment for our 
benefit. Poor little Ada seemed to enjoy them more than any 
one else. She went wild over the tableaux, and would stand 
upon the benches and clap her hands, each time the bell rang 
for the curtain to rise. She seemed to be making the most of 
the life so nearly ended. On the morning of the 31st she had 
an attack of the palpitation during recess. Madame Doremus 
had her taken to the infirmary. As soon as she felt better, 
she begged to be allowed to return to the little Pensionnat,but 
the doctor would not hear of it. There were half a dozen 
patients beside Ada, in the infirmary. As it was New Year's 
eve, and they were only sick from cold. Sister Bondreau gave 
them permission to play games during the night recreation. 
They amused themselves playing one called "mad-dog," which 
is very noisy and exciting. Ada was forbidden to join them, 
but she sat up in bed and watched them chasing each other 
around the room. • Whenever they came near her bed, she 
would scream and jump next to the wall. This made her so 
nervous, that she was taken with another attack of the palpi- 
tation. It was some time before her companions noticed her 
condition; as soon as they did, they ran out to inform the 



LETTERS FROM THE CONVENT. 127 

sister-infirmarian, who immediately sent for Madame Doremus. 
We were all at play and were having a gay time, when one of 
the sisters came in and beckoned to her. Madame Doremus 
left us in charge of Celeste, as she always does on leaving. 
We thought nothing of her absence, and continued our chatting 
and romping. In a short while, Madame Doremus returned, 
when she opened the door, I looked around, as a person will 
naturally do on anyone's entrance. But, mamma! I saw 
something in her looks which made my heart stop beating. She 
stood in the half open door and the light fell directly in her 
face; it was as white as a sheet! I think I was the first to 
notice this, or to suspect that something dreadful had happened. 
I stood up and waved my hand to silence the children; it took 
them some time to understand what I wanted. By degrees, 
they stopped talking and turned in the direction where Madame 
Doremus was standing with her hand still resting upon the 
door-knob. When she spoke, her voice was so unnatural that 
I would not have recognized it. 

"Children," she said, "I have come to announce to you 
that one of your companions — has just left you — and is now 
an angel in Paradise." 

When she said this, I cried out: "Is it Ada!" 

"Yes, " answered Madame Doremus; "the dear child has 
done with life's sufferings; her little heart is, at length, at 
rest, and her pure spirit has found its true home." 

The children stared at each other as though they had not 
understood the meaning of her words. One of the little girls 
looked up in mj face and asked: "What is the matter with 
Ada, Lucile?" I burst into tears. We all cried for Ada, for 
she was the most loveable child I had ever known. After a 
while, Madame Doremus returned to her desk and called us 
around her. The first thing we noticed was little Ada's chair, 



128 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

in which she used to sit and peep at ns from behind her book. 
Those dear, laus;hing eyes, we shall never see again! After 
we were all seated, Madame Doreraus began telling lis about 
Ada. She was still alive and conscious of her teacher's pres- 
ence, for she begged with gasping breath to be carried to her 
own little bed. She expired repeating after Madame Doremus 
these dying words: "Little Jesus, receive my soul." 

We sat there for a long time crying and listening to the 
beautiful things Madame Doremus told us about heaven, and 
the love of Jesus for little children. Her words consoled us 
for the loss of Ada; for, after all, God knew what was best for 
her. She was a lovely orphan, and He removed her from 
earth while her soul was without blemish. 

Ours was a sad New Year's day! The world outside 
was cold and dreary, and within it was still more gloomy. 
The next mornmg after Ada's death, I was permitted to accom- 
pany some of the older girls who went to look upon her for 
the last time. They had laid her out on one of the little cots 
in one of the rooms adjoining the infirmary. She was beauti- 
fully dressed, and a wreath of white roses lay oo her dark 
curls. There was a sweet smile on her lips; she looked as 
though she was only sleeping and having a pleasant dream. I 
thought her even prettier than when alive, and more childish 
in appearance. .Sister B — told us, it is supposed that the 
soul, on leaving the body, assumes its likeness; only, it is di- 
vested of all traces of age and human imfirmities, and is clothed 
with eternal youth. This is a very sweet and consoling belief, 
mamma; if it be true, we shall recognize each other in heaven. 
They had crossed little Ada's hands very naturally over the 
heart which had been the cause of so much annoyance and suf- 
fering to her. I had often seen them in that position, but 
never %o pencefully and permanently at rest. Ada's body was 



LETTERS VROM THE CONVENT. 129 

to be placed in the large tomb in the convent cemetery. None 
of the girls were allowed to attend the burial, as the weather 
was very cold, and they started in a drizzling rain. The fun- 
eral took place late in the evening. Tt was awfully sad to see 
them passing with poor little Ada. The priest and the nuns 
formed a dreary procession which filled my heart with grief and 
fear. I thought of the precious child being laid into that 
lonely tomb and left there alone — she who was so full of life 
and so fond of sunshine! O mamma! it is tefrible to die away 
from home! 

Come and see me, my dear papa; I am so lonely. 

Your loving, L. 



I 



130 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE NEW SOUTH. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

HOME AGAIN. 

/~\N a glorious afternoon, near the close of August, a hand- 
^-^ some family carriage rumbled merrily along the cool, 
shady banks of Grosse Tete. Lucile Hunt, on her way home, 
watched with beaming eyes, every feature of the familiar scene 

The emerald waters of the bayou, flashing from behind 
the dark green foliage of trees, seemed to her far more inter- 
esting than even the great Mississippi, sweeping pompously 
down to meet the ocean. The air was heavy with the fragrance 
of maturing vegetation. The twitter of birds, mingled with 
the harsh caw-caw of exultant crows, winging their flight 
across the corn-fields; and somewhere beneath the azure sky, 
the plaintive call of the partridge, fell to earth in undulating 
strains. 

At a certain turn of the route, the spirited greys, with 
tossing heads and quickened speed plunged beneath the 
ancient oaks and locusts lining the roadside on the Hunt plan- 
tation. Lucile now beheld at a distance a well known figure 
speeding with outstretched arms to welcome her. 

"Hole on dere, Unc' Dave!" cried the breathless Zulma. 
"Stop dat carriage tell 1 hitch on." 

But the surly Jehu shook the reins and snapped his whip 
in her face. 

"You knowed de way clean tur yere, did you? Well, you 
kin trot back," was his ungallant reply. 

"Check your horses, Dave," interposed his master, "and 
ofive her time to climb on behind." 



HOME AGAIN. 131 

"How you come on, little mistis?" exclaimed Zulma, in- 
troducing herself through the opening and bending over to 
scrutinize the lovely face within. 

"I am well, thank you, Zulma, and so glad to see you 
again." 

"T'ank de Lawd, you come back! I was on t'orns and 
cockle-burrs 'bout you ever sense day befo' yisterday. " 

•'Indeed!" cried Lucile, pressing warmly the slave's coarse, 
black fingers; "and what made you feel so uncomfortable 
about me, I wonder?" 

"Didn't I go an' dream de Quitman blowded up wid you 
an' yo' pa?" 

"Oh my!" exclaimed Lucile laughing merrily; "you see for 
yourself how groundless were your fears. Oh dear!" continued 
she, her eyes sparkling with animation, "there's the old bridge 
and the "Wisteria vines still clinging to the cotton-woods." 

"An' deres de Injins!" added Zulma. "I spect dey bin 
dancin' juba, little mistis." 

"How's that?" 

"Nobody been prayin' 'm out ovpergitory, sense you lef." 

"Why Zulma," replied Lucile with seeming concern, "you 
should have prayed for them while I was away!" 

"Who, me? I let 'm frizzle, yes." 

The distance from this picturesque bridge to the next, 
was a little over a quarter of a mile; it spanned "Back Creek," 
a bayou which ran into Grosse Tete at the high point upon 
which the new residence bad been erected. The prospect be- 
tween the two bridges was entirely intercepted by the trees 
which lined the roadside. The public road, cut within the bed 
of this bayou, formed a considerable slope towards the bridge, 
and a perpendicular embankment flanked it all the way up the 
declivity. Hence, the ascent of the carriage was gradual. 



132 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH, 

Lucile, in her anxiety to catch a glimpse of her mother, had 
directed her undivided attention towards the old home which 
came in view just as the horses reached the level road. But 
alas! time had despoiled it of its homel}' charms, and hung 
about it an air of forlornness which struck her senses with dis- 
may. The old cabin, shrunken in size, seemed to have re- 
treated in conscious humility behind the trees and shrubbery 
which now rioted in front of it, Lucile was disturbed by pain- 
ful and conflicting emotions. Was it possible that her heart 
had grown callous, or that the elegance of her late residence 
and its refining atmosphere, had created a distaste for this 
humble domicile, or diminished her former attachment to a spot 
teeming with memories of her happy childhood? Her better 
nature instantly revolted against the bare idea, and her throb- 
bing heart was overwhelmed by feelings of tenderness and re- 
morse. 

''You's on de wrong trac', little mistis," exclaimed Zulraa, 
who had been observing with keen relish the natural mistake 
made by Lucile. Look over yonder !"«> 

The girl was totally unprepared for the sight which met 
her e3^es as she turned in the direction indicated. Several 
times, during her absence from home, she had asked concern- 
ing the progress of the new house, but her parents had ignored 
her questions, and she took it for granted that for some good 
cause, the work upon it had been suspended. Her surprise 
and pleasure were therefore unbounded, when she beheld the 
elegantly finished mansion standing in the place of the nonde- 
script building she had left only eight months before. The 
carriage turned from the public road into a wide avenue of 
young chinatrees. The handsome edifice, with its graceful 
white columns, now peered from between the trees like an airy 
palace created by the wand of enchantment. So thought 



HOME AGAIN. 133 

Lucile as she gazed upon it with unfeigned admiration and 
surprise; she seemed bewildered and unable to realize that 
this magnificent home was destined to replace their former 
puny habitation. These pleasant thoughts were suddenly in- 
terrupted by the appearance of her mother, who, with a num- 
ber of her friends, hastened to welcome her. Was ever human 
heart overpowered by emotions as sweetly blended as that of 
Lucile, as she viewed through her tears, such love and beauty! 

"How could you have finished it so exquisitely?" she 
questioned ; ' 'how could you coax the plants to grow so tall 
and luxuriantly, during so short a time?" 

"Love and a desire to surprise you, my darling, emulrted 
our ambition and inspired the flowers to grow;" replied her 
father, gazing tenderly into her sweet, expressive countenance. 

"It will take me a lifetime to repay you," she whispered, 
passing her hand caressingly through his arm. 

As the happy party sauntered up the gravel walk, Lucile 
broke into increasing exclamations of delight at every fresh 
object falling unexpectedlv beneath her notice. 

"Yon brought the ferns from the woods. I know, mamma;'' 
she exclaimed, fingering the graceful fronds. "I wonder how 
they like it here, among these fine fiowers. I declare, here 
are real century plants like the ones in the convent pasture; and 
these are hydiangeas, tiger lilies and dahlias. You see mamma, 
I've been studying botany. What elegant steps!" she con- 
tinued, running up the newly painted flight. "Oh the magnifi- 
cent hall and pretty furniture! why this is perfectly beautiful, 
papa, and is a paradise. " She turned to her mother, her cheeks 
glowing with excitement; "we shall be as happy here, mamma, 
as we were in our old cabin over there." But the sentiment 
sounded like treason to the sensitive and impulsive girl. She 
threw herself in her mother's armSj exclaiming : ' 'That would 



134 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

be impossible, we can never forget the liappy time we had 
there, never, never!" 

"And yon are ready to cry over the crazy old cabin, in- 
stead of thanking your stars that you're out of it;" replied 
Nannie Dawsey, unclasping her arms and leading her across 
the hall into a cozy bedroom which the girl announced to her 
was her "very own." 

As they entered, a soft breeze, freighted with the odor of 
the Chinese jasmine crept beneath the rustling curtains and 
wafted her a silent welcome. Besides a dainty set of cottage 
bedroom furniture, there were rockers, easy-chairs and a luxu- 
rious lounge; there were books, pictures and flowers. 

Once again Lucile was seized with rapturous delight, and 
under necessity of throwing herself mto her mother's arms to 
smother her with kisses. 

There was so much to say, to see and admire, it took 
Lucile an hour to divest herself of her dusty garments and don 
the prett}' lawn her mother had prepared for her. 

After every apartment had been visited, Mrs. Hunt in- 
vited Lucile's guests into the spacious dining-room, where an 
elaborate lunch was served, and where they lingered until the 
time had come to sav "ff rccolr.'' 

The sweet recollection of this happy ev^ening clung to 
Lucile as the fragrance of a rose clings to the leaves of a book 
in which it has been pressed. 

"I am going to Livonia to attend a meeting of Vestry- 
men," said Mr. Hunt, one evening to his wife; "if you and 
Lucile feel disposed to make a call, I shall order the carriage 
instead of the buggy." 

"That will be nice!" exclaimed Lucile, inserting a book- 
mark between the leaves of one of Longfellow's poems. "Hia- 



HOME AGAIN. 135 

watha can well atford to tarry with Minnehaha on 'their 
pleasant journey homeward,' until our return. Shall we go 
mamma?" 

"Yes, since you have already settled the question," an- 
swered her mother smiling. 

"Where do you intend stopping, mamma?" 

"At the Gresham's, I think.'" 

"0, I am so* glad, it is a delightful place to visit. I must 
wear my best, mustn't I?"' asked Lucile rising and looking m- 
quiringly at her mother. They are such stylish people." 

"You have nothing finer than your white swiss; you may 
give a finishing touch by tucking a rose in your belt." And a 
lovely picture she made a half an hour later, as she walked to 
the gate where the carriage stood waiting. The sott folds of 
her snowy gown, undisguised by either puff or flounce, fell 
gracefully to the top of her tiny boots. Her cheeks, shaded 
by a wide-brimmed leghorn, rivaled in delicacy of coloring the 
velvety cabbage-rose, she repeatedly raised to her lips, 

"Dese yere hawses gittin' so stuck up," remarked Dave, 
pulling and twitching at the reins; "'fore long, dey won't 
want ter titch de ground." 

"No wonder TTncle, they are such beauties," exclaimed 
Lucile, walking around them and gazing with eyes full of ad- 
miration. "I like to see them paw the earth like that, and 
put on their airs!" 

' 'Sense yo' paw went an' bought 'em dese yere shimn' 
harnesses, dey swell up fit to buss!" continued he, eyeing his 
team with feigned vindicativeness. 

"Do they indeed!" ejaculated Lucile, with a half incredu- 
lous air, ' 'You give them too much oats and corn. Uncle. " 



136 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

The negro burst into a hearty fit of laughter; "go 'long 
chile, its de debbil in 'em, yes; dey ready dis minute to break 
into a reg'ler stampede, jes' outter debbilment. " 

"I shouldn't care if they did, under papa's management; 
they would have to tow the mark, eh Uncle Dave? " 

The okl darkie groaned in response; his young mistress 
had inadvertently pricked at some tender spot in the regions 
of his heart. 

After the family had been seated, Mr. Hunt collected the 
reins and signified his desire to drive. Conscious of the mas- 
terly hand which was to guide and control them, the high 
stepping pair arched their glossy necks and nodded with sup- 
pressed eagerness. At the word of command, they started 
with a bound, and skimmed along with a fleetness and uni- 
formity of motion which elicited the admiration of all who be- 
held them. 

Away, and awa}^, they sped; past corn-fields, where the 
harvesters bobbing in and out of the golden ripple, resembled 
a flock of crows pilfering the planters' grain. Past loof-houses 
enclosed by primitive fences, upon which a crowd of little 
darkies perched, bare-legged and hatless, enjoying, like Salo- 
manders, the streaming sunlight. Past neat cottages and 
dwellings where thrift and taste were manifested. The air 
around was redolent with the fragrance of flowers and new 
mown hay. In every cotton-field, the slaves, like a band of 
children in a garden of roses, plucked with flyiug fingers the 
flaky staple. Dave surveyed in silence, the snowy fields and 
busy laborers; he was in a ruminating mood and gave vent 
to his reflections in the following observation: 

"YoM kin sho' tell we'n day's a hard marstar on a place 
wen you see niggars goin' on at dat dead rate nebber noticin' 



HOME AGAIN. 137 

nuffin' 'roim' em, you know day got dare two 'unded poun' ter 
pick or day 'unded lashes to git." 

"lam glad that's not the rule on our place," remarked 
Lucile. 

"We doz de bes' we know how," continued Dave; "an' 
yo' paw see fur hissef he's takin' de shine offer dem's dat's 
runnin' day niggars tur death squizzin' work out ter em." 

At Livonia, Mr. Hunt resigned the reins. "You will find 
them easy to manage now," he said to the driver. "Let them 
trot comfortably the rest of the way." 

"Brier Hose" plantation extended nearly a mile along the 
banks of Grosse Tete. It was a lovelj' place ; in every corner 
of the picturesque rail-fence, a rosebush clambered and surged 
over, strewing the grassy roadside with their creamy petals. A 
grand and elegant mansion, with deep galleries and long, white 
colonnade, glittered like a modern chateau, at the extremity of 
a magnificent grove. The immense ya,Td and parterre which 
surrounded the building, presented an assemblage of trees, 
mingling in harmonious outlines, their rich and varied foliage. 
There were hospitable cedars, the nursery of the mockingbirds; 
and live-oaks, with the parasitic moss drooping in grey festoons 
from their ancient boughs. Magnificent weeping-willows trailed 
their emerald skirts upon the sward. Great Lombardy pop- 
lars, as if in disdain, gathered their limbs about them and 
proudly towered above the rest. In and out, between the 
patches of shade and sunshine, were flower-beds, rustic seats 
and summer houses. A bevy of pretty children ran with their 
hoops and shuttle-cocks, to meet the visitors in the central 
alley and offered, with winsome grace, their rosy lips to be 
kissed. 



138 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

Corine Gresliam, a girl with intellectual countenance and 
a perfect specimen of blonde beauty, greeted Lucile and her 
mother with cordiality and that self-possession which belong to 
children of distinguished Southern families. 

Mrs. Gresham herself was a beautiful woman, full of wit 
and vivacity; a charming hostess and a great favorite in 
society. The contrast between the two women was evident; 
but the dash and brilliancy which suited so well the style of 
the woman of the world, only served to accentuate the refined 
and unobstrusive beauty of the gentle Creole, Nor did the in- 
compatibility of their disposition interfere with their friendly 
intercourse; the two drifted into pleasant converse, touching 
upon a v.ariety of subjects, social and domestic, then upon the 
literature of the day, and lastly, the momentous war question. 
Here they stood upon common grounds and discussed it with 
all the warmth and enthusiasm of Southern patriots. In the 
meantime, Corine had invited Lucile for a ramble over the 
premises. As they stepped into the pasture, a superb peacock 
flew from a neighboring shrub to a marble statue of Flora, 
upon whose head it perched and flaunted its starry train as if 
inviting the admiration of the two girls. 

"How many peafowls have you now?" asked Lucile gazing 
upon it with childish delight and interest. 

"Only three; you see, I can hardly indulge in the luxury 
of serving up to my friends a dish of peacocks' tongues. " 

"But you miglit do the next thing to that, Corine, bake 
them a pie made of the tongues of mocking birds; the place is 
alive with them." 

"Oh you cannibal!" laughed Corine, "would you really 
partake of such a feast. " 

"I think I would enjoy their warblings better," answered 

Lucile, somewhat confused. 



HOME AGAIN. 139 

"And we are to be treated to a rausicale without the ask- 
ing," answered Corine, peeping into the branches of a laburnum 
whence proceeded the preluding notes of a mocker. "Listen! 
'Tis a wonder to me, how their little heads can hold such a re. 
pertoire. The airy singer began, first, by mimmicking the 
garrulous tree martin, then, the twitter of a gossiping swallow. 
Suddenly, its little throat collapsed, bringing forth the low, 
faint cry of a distressed chick. So pitiful and natural is the 
imitation, it is said, it often arouses the maternal alarm of the 
mother hen, especially when it is followed by the equally per- 
fect and threatening cry of the hawk. Next, it burst into the 
triumphant song of a lark, cleaving its way through a summer 
sky. It finished off with a gush of glee; then, a warble, dwind- 
ling down into a rippling murmur, learned from a woodland 
orchestra. Gently, softly, the quivering notes expired — mourn- 
ful as the last chords Love sweeps across the strings of a 
broken heart. 

"My!" exclaimed Lucile, "wasn't that beautiful?" 
"That must have been a Jennie Lind among the birds," 
replied Corme. "We Louisianans ought to be proud of the 
tribe — by the way, how are you getting along with your music?" 
"Finely; I know all my scales and can play the '■Maiden's 
Prayer,' " answered Lucile laughing; "that's one of our stand- 
ards at the convent." 

' 'It is ? And which is next in order in your musical 
progress?" asked the girl passing her arms around her friend's 
waist, and leading her among the blooming geraniums and 
heliotropes. 

"The 'Monastery Bells,' I think." 
"Has your father bought you a piano yet?" 
"No, for there was no occasion for it; on my last birth- 
day, my grandfather made me a present of a fine Knabe." 



140 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"How old are you, Lucile? Please don't think me over- 
curious." 

"I was thirteen last June." 

"You seem wise beyond your years; I wonder why?" 

"I do not think I am, Corine, though I imagine I am not 
as childish in my ways as I ought to be ; that's because I have 
been so much with grown people. But I am not as wise as 
you are, I am sure;" smiled Lucile looking up archly into the 
lovely countenance before her. 

"But I am in my fifteenth year; I am almost grown, you 
see. You will not have a sweetheart to send to the war will 
you?" 

"0 goodness, no! I am nothing but a child, and never 
think of such things." 

"But you are so sweet and pretty, Lucile; the boys can- 
not help falling in love with 3'ou." 

The roses flattered prettily on the che«ks of the coy, art- 
less girl. "Let us talk about the war;" she answered in des- 
peration. "Is your father a LTnion man or a Secessionist?" 

"A Secessionist, by all means; you don't expect him to 
side with the Yankees, I hop^? Why, isn't i/oin- father a Se- 
cessionist?" she asked with an air of astonishment. 

"My father's sympathies are with the Southern people, 
but he — ^is a — Union man. " 

"My gracious! you astound me\ what can be his reasons 
for advocating such unpatriotic sentiments?" 

"Papa's are not 'unpatriotic sentiments,' Corine; from 
the first, he opposed Secession and the war. He had good and 
just reasons for doing so." 

"I am surprised," answered Corine, with a toss of her 
beautiful blonde head, "that a man of Mr. Hunt's sense and 
education should labor under such false impressions." 



HOME AGAIN. 141 

"I have faith in my father's judgment," answered Lucile, 
with heightened color; "he understood why it was best for the 
South to keep from breaking the Union, and from fighting 
against the old flag. " 

"Indeed! and I can't see how a Southern man could enter- 
tain respect for the striped old thing which has been for so 
many years the symbol of his oppression. Have we not in ex- 
change, that Bonnie Blue Flag, for which we are all willing to 
lay down oar lives? But Lucile, I cannot believe that you and 
your mother think and feel as your father does. " 

"Mamma and I are great Rebels." 

"Thank God the heart of every Southern woman beats for 
Dixie!" cried Corine with warmth. "Here comes Grace with a 
glass of lemonade, let us drink to the success of our Cause, 
Lucile." 

Corine tilted the glass over her shapely nose. "I have 
drained the bumper to the triumph of our Confederacy. I be- 
lieve we are in the right, and that we will gain our Cause." 
"Suppose we are defeated" she resumed, after waiting until the 
servant girl was out of hearing; "do you know what will be 
the consequences, Lucile?" 

"I am afraid," replied Lucile reflectiugly, "we will find 
ourselves in an awful condition This I judge from what I 
know of history. Nations who lose their Cause, find very little 
mercy in their conquerors. " 

"If we are beaten, the Yankees are going to set our 
slaves free — a greater misfortune could not belall us;" sighed 
Corine, spreading on her knees, her shell-tintedfingers. 

"The poor negroes, I am sure, wouldn't tliankXho, Yankees 
for taking them away from their masters and comfortable 
quarters!" exclaimed Lucile, in a voice full of indignation and 
contempt. 



142 ZULMA, A STORY_OP THE NEW SOUTH. 

"There, you are mistaken, my dear; it is said that if the 
negroes had so much as an Inkling of what Lincoln intends 
doing for them, they would all rise against their masters and 
help the Yankees exterminate them.'' 

"Why, Corine, they would do no such thing! they think 
too much of their masters to do them such dreadful harm." 

"Then, you little know the true state of things in your 
own country. I have often heard papa and his friends talk of 
secret plans for general insurrection among the slaves, and 
how they have been discovered in time to save us from fearful 
massacres!" 

"Please don't tell me about them," cried Lucile with a 
look of horror. "It is too dreadful to think of, and I cannot 
believe that the negroes would do it." 

"Well, I hardly believe yours or ours would attempt to 
cut our throats, because we are kind to our slaves. But they 
wouldn't hesitate to do it on plantations where they are cruelly 
treated. " 

"And I wouldn't blame them for doing it," said Lucile, 
rising from her seat. "Let's not talk about this any more. It 
makes me feel bad." 

Corine laughed merrily. "I am not as susceptible as you; 
I have so often heard the subject discussed. But come, I shall 
sing you a war song to chase away all unpleasant impressions." 

The girls found their mothers in the parterre gathering a 
bouquet of asters and carnations. They were chatting quite 
merrily. 

"Mamma is having a better time than I," thought Lucile, 
as she contemplated the smiling countenj^nces of the elder 
friends. 



ECHOES PROM THE WAR. 143 



CHAPTER XIV. 

ECHOES PROM THE WAR. 

THE opening of the year '62 was one sadly unpropitious to 
the young Confederacy; its ensuing months brought forth 
a number of unforeseen calamities. The abandonment of 
Columbus and New Madrid, the capture of Fort Donelson and 
Island Number Ten, were among the disasters preceding the 
fall of New Orleans. They threatened to annihilate the hopes 
engendered on the plains of Manassas, and to destroy the pres- 
tige which had hitherto sustained the Southern armies in the 
unequal conflict in defense of their firesides and political 
rights. But the South was not to be daunted, even by such 
overwhelming reverses; her wise and intelligent leaders and 
staunch defenders stood their ground, until fortune once again 
turned towards them her smiling countenance. 

When the tocsin of war first sounded, summoning all 
loyal Southerners to the muster roll, a number of Pointe Cou- 
pee's patriots, too impatient to wait for home companies, left 
the parish to join organized regiments marching to the front. 
They were eager to meet the enemy at the threshold, and to 
share the brunt of the battle with those who, in a few months, 
were to secure political freedom for the South. Girding on 
their swords, they went forward, marching under the folds of 
the new-born banner, to the rescue of Tennessee and Kentucky. 
The people's confidence and assumption lasted until sub- 
sequent events warned them of the gravity of the responsibili- 
ties they had shouldered. They were rudely awakened from 
their dream of "sixty-day campaign." The elated armies that 
inarched on to Richmond to compel the Government to redress 



144 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

their wrongs, and force a recognition of the sovereignty of the 
Confederate States, had met with a rebuff which gave a severe 
shock to their enthusiasm, and convinced them of the magni- 
tude of their undertaking. That brief and brilliant campaign 
they had foreseen in the strength of their heroic faith, had de- 
veloped into a stubborn war, in which success was to be 
wrested only from desperate ventures and unflagging persever- 
ance. The South had no foreign resources to fall upon, from 
which to recruit her armies. When the enemy's withering 
guns thinned out the serried ranks, no plundering hirelings 
were pressed forward to fill them. In, answer to the country's 
call, men of illustrious birth and of the best bone and sinew, 
promptly closed the broken columns of her armies. 

Lucile had left the convent a few weeks previous to the 
capture of New Orleans. On her return home, she was greatly 
surprised at the condition of aflfairs, and the wonderful devel- 
opment of events during the time of her absence. Whilst at 
the convent, rumors from the seat of war had reached her at 
long intervals and in faint echoes. She knew that at Sumter 
had occurred the denouement ot that long-pending sectional 
issue which precipitated the country into a bloody conflict. 
The announcement of one great victory, at Bull Run, rejoiced 
her heart, and the knowledge that the Confederate troops were 
marching on to Washington, was one which kept her in a com- 
fortable frame of mind, until she heard that Faragut had 
threatened the batteries below New Orleans, She found the 
people at home wholly absorbed m the subject which had be- 
come of such vital importance to the country. A new com- 
pany was being organized, and preparations for defraying the 
expenses of its equipment were undertaken by the ladies of 
Grosse Tete. 



ECHOES PROM THE WAR. 145 

Mrs. Gresham, one of the most patriotic and influential 
personages of that vicinit}', had generously assumed responsi- 
bilities, by placing herself at the head of the enterprise. She 
called upon Mrs. Hunt one evening to solicit her aid. To her 
chagrin, the amiable mistress of " Highland" was absent on a 
visit to her venerable parents of False River. But she was 
pleasantl}' entertained by the sweet and intelligent Lucile, to 
whom she explained her mission, and the plan she had so judi- 
ciously prepared. She found in her young friend an enthusi- 
astic ally. 

"Now, Lucile," said the lady, after the subject had been 
thoroughl}^ discussed, "get your guitar and let me hear some 
of 5'our best songs, that I may be able to decide what part 
of this programme I shall assign to you." 

Lucile arose with cheerful alacrity and brought her in- 
strument out on the gallery, where they had just taken their 
seats. A soft breeze, ladened with the odor of summer flow- 
ers, fanned their cheeks and dallied with the tendrils of a 
clematis vine running over the balustrade. In the parterre 
below, a pair of humming birds glanced like minature rain- 
bows among the lilies and petunias. 

" Do you like Scotch songs?" asked Lucile, passing her 
delicate fingers across the strings of her guitar, and casting a 
timid glance at the aristocratic personage sitting in judgment 
over her. 

"I admire them above all others; sing ' Mary of Argyle, ' 
'tis my favorite." 

Never was prelude sweeter or more pathetic, than that 
elicited by the light, magnetic touch of the unconsciously 
gifted performer. Sweeter words were never sung by a 
more melodious voice. 



146 ZULMA, A STORY OF ,THE OLD SOUTH. 

"I have heard the mavis singing 
Her love song to the morn; 
I have seen the dewdrop clinging 
To the rose just newly born." 

Mrs. Gresham sat motionless, listening with rapt atten- 
tion. 

" Dear child! it is a treat to hear you sing !" she exclaimed, 
as soon as Lucile had struck the last chord of the beautiful 
aria. " You sing like the mavis mentioned in the song, or as 
if your soul had been tuned to the sentiments therein ex- 
pressed.." 

"Do I? It is because [I love music so dearly, Mrs. 
Gresham; it' inspires me. " 

' ' You sing so charmingly, ma chere, I shall call upon you 
to sing the solo in the ' Bonnie Blue Flag, ' at the presenta- 
tion of our banner." 

Lucile passed her hands nervously across the strings of 
the guitar, and she dropped her graceful head very low, to 
hide the rushing tide she felt mouniing to her cheeks. 

" There is nothing I would not do for our dear Confeder- 
acy," she said. " Put me to any test but this, Mrs. Gresham; 
I could never sing, alone, before a public audience ; I shall 
break down and spoil the whole performance." 

The lady bit her lips with ill-repressed vexation. "I 
know half a dozen girls aspiring to the roll I have offered you, 
Lucile." 

" Then, why not give it to one of those?" asked she, with 
unwonted eagerness. 

" Because none of them have suitable voices," answered 
the visitor, rather coolly. 



ECHOES PROM THE WAR. 147 

"Dear Mrs. Gresham," said Lucile, -with a pained ex- 
pression in her eyes, "please do not think unkindly of me for 
refusing to sing; but I am thinking — I could easily get some- 
one to sing that solo; a person with a very good voice, clear 
and melodeous — one exactly suited for the occasion. " 

"Indeed!" ejaculated Mrs. Gresham, in an incredulous 
tone; " who can that be?" 

"An acquaintance — a music pupil of mine. She is to be 
here this evening to take a lesson. If you wait until she 
comes, I shall ask her to smg for you." 

The music pupil arrived in due time and Lucile presented 
her to Mrs. Gresham — Nannie Dawsey. 

There was something uncommonly attractive about the 
young girl. The thick, brown ringlets clustering around her 
pretty face, gave her a pert, boyish appearance, very much in 
keeping with her bright eyes, open countenance, and the 
admirable applomh of her general deportment. As soon as 
she was seated she turned to Lucile and said: "I got a letter 
from Tom last night, Lucile, I have it in my pocket now," she 
explained, tapping on the spot where the precious epistle lay 
concealed; "I brought it for you to read; it is as rich »s a 
pound-cake." 

" What does he write about, Nannie?" asked Lucile, 
smiling; "something very interesting, I judge, by your 
looks. " 

" He tells all about the Confederates evacuating Corinth. 
You haven't heard about that, I'm sure." 
"Of course I have." 

" But you haven't read the particulars. Tom writes all 
about the dreadful times they've had since leaving Montery, " 
answered Nannie, drawing out the letter. "The water 'round 
that country is so scarce, and our poor boys suffered so much 



148 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

from thirst, that they got to dreaming of the nice, cool water 
they used to have at home. They had ever so much sickness 
besides; and the Yankees at their heels, clear to Corinth. 
That terrible old Halleck followed them up, never giving them 
time to breathe, until he actually cornered them, and posted 
his guns within a thousand yards of our batteries. Gracious 
me! how our boys would have been peppered, if our Beaure- 
gard hadn't had the sense to slip out of that trap! Here's 
what Tom says about it." 

Forthwith, and without an}' encouragement, Nannie pro- 
ceeded to read her brother's description of Beauregard's noted 
feat. "Wasn't that a dandy move, though?" asked she, re- 
folding her letter, and looking straight at Mrs. Gresham. ' 'No 
other general but our Beauregard could have done it!" 

"Even our enemies admit," remarked Mrs. Gresham, 
that this bold and admirably conducted retreat was a crushing 
disappointment to the Federals. The escape of that army, 
without bloodshed, was equal to a victory." 

"Are you an admirer of Beauregard, ma'am?" abruptly 
asked Nannie, fixing her bright eyes on the lady's astonished 
visage. 

' 'General Beauregard has been singularly devoted to" our 
Cause," replied Mrs. Gresham, with a smile; " he commanded 
the troops that won our first victory. I thmk all Southerners 
should love and admire him for his brave and chivalric con- 
duct, as well as for the genius he has displayed in managing 
our armies." 

"lam glad you think so well of him ma'am; and I'm 
sorry my brother is no longer under his command. Poor Tom 
18 in Vicksburg, now. He says he's in for good, and expects 
to dine off of many a rat and mule, before the war comes to 
an end." 



ECHOES FROM THE WAR. 149 

The night of the entertainment was heralded by a full 
moon. At the hour of rising, dense and forboding clouds had 
banked themselves against the horizon, but the queen of night 
soon extricated herself from these vapory folds and pro- 
ceeded with majestic serenity on her journey towards the 
zenith. On that particular night, she symbolized that sublime 
faith which had hitherto sustained the Southern people in their 
perilous careei-. The clouds, which a few months previous 
had darkened their political horizon, had since rolled by, and 
the star of Fortune had arisen to guide them in their struggles 
for Independence. 

On Grosse Tete, the interminable fields of corn and cotton 
were flooded with soft, mellow light. The venerable trees 
leaning along the banks of the bayou, were made resplendent 
with the moon beams, and they quivered like gems, here and 
there, on the surface of the shadowy water. 

The little village of Livonia presen ted a scene of bustle 
and activity never witnessed before. The roadside m the 
vicinity of the hall, was lined with vehicles of all sizes and 
descriptions, from the old-time superanuated barouches, to 
the stylish and elegant carriages of Grosse Tete's magnates. 
The sable drivers of princely equipages stood grumbling at 
the heads of their master's thousand-dollar teams, which 
chaffed and fretted at their bits, and shook with , impatience 
their silver mounted harness. On the moon-lit grounds, were 
booths fabricated with the tropical palmetto, and decorated 
with the snowy blossoms of the cape-jasmine. These were 
presided over by dark-eyed beauties, who dispensed with grace 
and brilliant repartee. Confederate wares and dainties. Herfi 
were served it>. porcelain and cut glass, corn and potato 
coffee, home-made sj'rups and wines. Great pyramids of Con- 
federate cake fell in tempting morsels under the carver's knife. 



150 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Heaped in crj^stal stands and magnificent punch-bowls, were 
delicious peaches floating in cream. The tempting fragrance 
of gumho-file drifting from huge pots, filled the air with gas- 
tronomic invitations. Beauty and youth had met in the bril- 
liantly lighted hall, and the hot breath of patriotism had 
swept asunder every social barrier. The elite of society had 
clasped hands with their humbler sisterhood, and combined 
their zeal and talent in the furtherance of the Cause, so dear 
to every heart in the Southland. 

The performance was opened with the patriotic song 
of "Dixie," which was, at that time, all the rage in the 
Southern States. Ttie stanzas were sung by one of the 
company. He was joined in the chorus by a goodly number 
of his "comrades in grey," a circumstance which tended to en- 
hance the rendition of it, and which aroused the audience to 
an outburst of prolonged and enthusiastic cheers. It is use- 
less to go into details in describing the performance that night. 
Each roll in the programme, from the overture to the last 
tableau, was carried out with exquisite taste and perfection. 
Then, came the intermission of thirty minutes, after which 
the curtain was to rise for the grand finale. 

In due time the vast audience had repacked the hall, and 
the tinkling bell was sending every heart to its owner's lips. 

The curtain rolled slowly upwards, revealing by degrees 
the gorgeous scene behind, through the medium of an ethereal 
ros}' cloud. A murmur of admiration rippled through the 
hall as the audience grasped the significance of the magnificent 
couj) iVoeul. The stage, resplendent with flowers and shim- 
mering draperies, dawned upon the sight like a fairy scene. 
In the midst of it stood a group of young girls, each bear- 
ing the coat-of-arms of one of the Confederate States. The 
flagbearer, beautiful as a houri, stood prominently in front of 



ECHOES FROM THE WAR. 151 

her companions. The silkenfolds of her handsoemly wrought 
banner, caressed her elegant figure, as perfect in grace of pose 
as that of a statue. In the rear ot the stage, a young girl 
sat at a grand piano. At the rising of the curtain, her skill- 
ful fingers ran swiftly over the keys, and the air of the "Bon- 
nie Blue Flag" dropped pearl-like, on the perfumed atmos- 
phere 

Suddenly, a voice caught the first note of the accompani- 
ment, and rippled forth as clear, as pure and as free as that of 
a prima-donna. Stanza after stanza went up on the wings of 
that sweet voice, interrupted only by those who joined in the 
grand chorus. The heart of the audience stood still until the 
last echo of the song had faded into silence. Then, as by 
common impulse, the people rose to their feet, applauding, 
cheering, weeping. A storm of flowers fell upon the stage. 
A young girl, with the face ot a wild rose, stood before them, 
bowing, smiling, and gathering up their oflierings so thickly 
strewn at her feet. Lucile looked into her pupil's radiant 
countenance and whispered: "I am proud of you Nannie." 

After the noise and excitement had somewhat subsided, 
Corine Gresham walked towards the foot-lights; upon her 
had fallen the honor of presenting the flag to the departing 
company. All hearts throbbed with emotion at the sight of 
the beautiful girl, clasping the staff which bore aloft the en- 
sign of their love and predilection. Her delicately chiseled 
features and lilj'-like complexion, were crowned by the aureole 
of her pale-gold hair, catching the light at every movement of 
her graceful form — aside from her striking personality, 
which excited general admiration. The office devolved upon 
her seemed to have consecrated her to the Cause the people 
had so warmly advocated. They listened in silent awe to the 
touching address d,elivered to the " boys in grey ^ " and their 



152 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

gallant leader. Whether through coquetr}', or under the in- 
fluence of her patriotic feeling, Corine, before parting with 
the flag, pressed to her scarlet lips, the tassels which decorated 
the extremities of the cords. This simple act once more 
thrilled the spectators into prolonged cheers, until drowned by 
the music and rousing song which was to close the perform- 
ance. 

"Sons of freedom, on to glory! 
Go where brave men do or die. 
Let your name, in future story. 
Gladden every patriot's eye. 

"'Tis your country calls you; hasten! 
Backward hurl the invading foe; 
Freemen never think of danger, 
To the glorious battle, go!" 



AT CORNE A CHEVREUIL. 153 



CHAPTER XV. 



AT CORNE A CHEVREUIL. 



One morning, in the latter part of October, Lucile sat at 
her piano practicing "Acher's Contemplations." She had 
drawn the curtains aside, that she might lose nothing of ttfe 
ideal da}', or of the unclouded sky which revealed itselt in 
cerulean patches between the branches of an oak near by. But 
she was in no humor for study; her fingers wandered passively 
over the keys as she gazed at the royal dahlias nodding in the 
stiff breeze, or listened to the shrill notes of a locust concealed 
in the lichened bark. A mocking-bird, in an olive bush, began 
pouring out its little soul in mimic lays. " It would never do 
to compete with you; little fellow," thought Lucile; with- 
drawing her hands from the board. She had just placed be- 
fore her, the beautiful song, "All Quiet Along the Potomac 
To-night." 

" I wonder if you sang as well when you first started to 
practice, birdie?" was her mental query. " You were not like 
us stupid people, who have to work all our lives improving the 
gifts nature bestows upon us." 

Her reverie came to an abrupt termination and the charm- 
ing coup d'oeid was instantaneously intercepted by a pair of 
soft hands laid firmly across her eyes. 

"'Tisyou, Rosanna; I know by your tapering fingers!" 
exclaimed Lucile, seizing her friend's hands. "I'm glad you 
carte," she continued, turning on the revolving stool and pass- 
ing her arms affectionately around her waist, "I thought of 



154 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

riding out to your place this evening and delivering a message 
I had for you, and as I know you will never guess from whom, 
I shall tell j'ou; it is from Grandpere." 

" From Mr. Lafitte?" cried Rosanna, with a glow of pleas- 
ure flitting across her lovely countenance, "how kind of him 
to remember me, at all." 

"He has taken quite a fancy to you, and wants me to 
bring you out next Wednesday, to spend a whole week at Corns 
a ChevrenH. They started the mill yesterday; everything will 
6e in full blast by the time we get there." 

"T shall be but too happy to accept the kind invitation. 
I think the old place is the dearest one on earth to visit, and 
your grandparents, the sweetest and most picturesque old peo- 
ple I ever met." 

"We must be up with the lark Wednesday morning," 
said Lucile, with a beaming smile; "an early drive through 
those woods in fall, is worth the sacrifice of one's nap after 
morning coffee." 

"And False River is such an enchanting region," replied 
Rosanna; "so full of quaint scenery, of flower gardens and 
prett)^ sugar plantations. I do love to see the waving cane 
fields and smell the odor of boiling cane juice." 

"Then you shall soon, I hope, have the satisfaction of 

inhaling a whole ' seasonful' of the tempting odors, for papa 
intends turning into a suuar planter as soon as the war is over; 
and I now extend you an unlimited invitation to spend with 
me the pleasures of our first grinding." 

"That time may be a long way off, Lucile; still, I shall 
pin to ray heart your gracious invitation. But I must not for- 
get to show you this," continued the girl, drawing from her 
belt a slip of paper. "Oh, Mrs. Hunt! come in, I want you 



AT CORNE A CHEVREUIL. 155 

to guess the name of the author of this beautiful war-song. 
It was written by some one living out on False River. " 

Mrs. Hunt was on the gallery, pruning her pot- plants; 
she entered the room with her shears and a handful of with- 
ered leaves and flowers. "I was not aware, " she remarked, 
seating herself at the edge of the sofa, "that False River 
counted poets among her other attractions; read the verses — 
one of you — that I may form an opinion." 

"Well, mamma, "said Lucile, who held the paper, "listen, 
the title of the song is, ' My Mar3iand, ' — it should have 
been, My Louisiana — and I am prejudiced against the writer 
for overlooking his own state. " 

"The despot's heel is on thy shore, 

Maryland! 
His torch is at thy temple door, 

Maryland, 
Avenge the patriotic gore, 
That flecked the streets of Baltimore, 
Maryland, my Maryland. 

" Dear Mother, burst the tyrant's chain, 

Maryland, 
Virginia should not call in vain, 

Maryland, 
She meets her sisters on the plain — 
' Sic sanpe?'' — 'tis the proud refrain - 
That baifles minions back amain, 

Maryland, my Maryland! 
" I hear the distant thunder hum, 

Maryland, 
The old line bugle, fife and drum, 

Maryland. 
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb. 
Huzzah: she spr.rns tl.e northern skum; 
She bi'eathes — she burns — she'll come! 
She'll come' 
Maryland, my Maryland." 



156 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

"The author is certainly a patriot, and his song is full of 
sMrriag sentiment," said Mrs. Hunt, with warmth. "It 
would make a glorious song, if some one would only set it to 
music." 

" But it has already been set to music, Mrs. Hunt, and I 
have sent for the song. They say that the air is quite in keep- 
ing with these noble thoughts." 

"Tell me who wrote this?"' asked Lucile. 

" Professor Randall, and he wrote it while he was teach- 
ing at the Poydras college. He is a Marylander. " 

"I humbly beg hi«! pardon then," cried Lucile, "and I 
now honor him for his genius, and for the devotion which in- 
spired him in the writing of this beautiful song." 



Dave drove the girls out Wednesday morning, bright and 
early. It was a perfect day, and the drive through the woods 
and over the hard, smooth roads, was most enjoyable. The 
crisp, bracing air was fragrant with woodland odors, and the 
ditches on the roadside were radiant with lupins and the scar- 
let flowers of the wild sage. As they bowled along, the girls 
expatiatecl on the variety of hues assumed by the different 
kinds of trees, from the diminutive sassafras, in crimson 
robes, to the towering cypress, silhoutteing its purple tufts 
against the sky. On leaving the woods, they came across 
immense cane fields, swaying in undulating waves in the mel- 
low sunlight. The metallic cling-clang, of the cutter's knives 
mingled harmoniousl}' with the rumbling of wagons. From 
the escape valves, the steam butfetted the air in regular and 
almost voluptuous sounds; and the white vapors, rising from 
the kettles, floated off to sweeten and purify the earth. 

Lucde and llosaniia found Mrs. LaStte in the dining- 
room, superintending the breakfast in preparation for the 



AT CORNE A CHEVREUIL. 157 

white men emplo3'ed at the sugar-house. The former, with 
mischievous playfulness, inspected with pretended longing the 
well provisioned tray, which Plaisance, the housekeeper, was 
about lifting to her turbaned head. 

" Dear me!" she exclaimed, "you have mustered a break- 
fast fit for a king; a roasted chicken, fried ribs, fricasseed 
liver, and an omelette soufftee; all this is enough to make the 
mouth of an epicure water. 1 declare! here's a pot of cafe au 
lait — most people have forgotten the taste of Java. Why, 
Grandmere, have you and Plaisance been in underhand traffic 
with the Yankees?" 

"Dat good Confed'rite cafe, yes;" answered the domestic, 
shaking with good-humored laughter; "yo" nose no smell good 
mamzelle, dat not'in' but suga' parch coffee."' 

' ' Do you mean to tell me, that this stuff is made of p — 
par — burnt sugar?" 

•'I does so, dat heap better den corn an' 'tater; w'en I 
cum back I learn you;'" answered the bustling slave, tripping 
off with her load with as much cheerfulness and agility as 
though she had merely donned her straw hat and was off for a 
jaunt. By the wa}-, Plaisance was quite an important person- 
age in the household ; she was seamstress and general manager, 
and was of invaluable worth to her aged mistress, who, of 
late, had grown so feeble as to be unable to attend to her do- 
mestic duties. 

The girls had been promised a breakfast equal to that 
prepared for the workmen, with the addition of English dairy 
cheese, and a plate of "baignees" fritters, served with new 
syrup. In the meantime, they had been invited to sit awhile 
in grandmere's bed-room, a cool and spacious apartment, filled 
with old-fashioned furniture. The most conspicuous of the 
lot were two imposing bedsteads, piled to a great height with 



158 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

moss and feather mattresses. Their seemingly unattainable 
altitude had long been a matter of wonder and anxious specu- 
lation to Lucile. There was a time when she believed that 
her grandparents never went to bed but sat in their fauteuUs 
night after night, from sheer inability to climb their too luxu- 
rious couches. But '■'■la piece de resistance''' was a magnificent 
mahogany armoir, ornamented with brass nobs and hinges. 
Lucile, and sometimes the little household darkies, would 
stand before it and gaze in wonderment at their tiny figures 
grotesquely reflected on its polished surface. The latter, in 
order to increase the effect, would stretch their mouths into 
hideous contortions, and protrude their eyeballs to a most 
alarming extent. 

After installing her grandmother in the comfortable 
fauteuil^ Lucile perched herself on one of its arms and pro- 
ceeded to lavish upon lier the most endearing marks of affect- 
ion. She laid her graceful head upon the old lady's shoulder 
and gently stroked her cheek. "Dearest Gramf mere," she 
said, "you look so tired, let me manage things while I stay; 
you know I'm a first-rate housekeeper." 

She had been struck with the change time had wrought 
on that sweet, placid face; there were signs of weariness and 
sadness lurking in those dark eyes. But grandmere was still 
very lovely, notwithstanding the weight of years resting on 
her silvery head. Her soft, wavy hair was still coquettishly 
tucked with the cutest of combs, and the white kerchief which 
adorned her shoulders, was of the daintiest fabric. Grand- 
mere could not speak a word of English, and Lucile was ap- 
pointed interpreter for the time being. '■'■Ton amie me fait 
Videe d'une violette," she remarked to Lucile, "«//«> est «/ cliar- 
mante, Je Vaime heaucouj).'' 



AT CORNE A CHEVREUIL. 159 

', '• Grandmere thinks j'ou as sweet as a violet, Eosanna, 
and she says she loves you dearly," echoed Lucile, glancing 
up with a pleased look. 

"It would never do for me to tell her how good and 
beautiful I think her;" answered Rosanna, looking at her 
friend with a puzzled expression; "she will believe I am only 
flattering her." 

"Oh, no, she won't," replied Lucile; "she's a sort of 
physiognomist, and can see at a glance that you are not a 
fraud." 

"Then, she knows I love her," exclaimed the girl, rising 
from her seat. It was pretty to see her fluttering hesitation 
before stooping over to kiss grandmere s soft cheek. Like a ray 
of sunshine streaming over a wintry landscape, a rosy tinge of 
pleasure flitted across the aged countenance. She laid her 
hand affectionately upon that of Eosanna, and smilingly drew 
her to a seat beside her. 

Lucile had much to tell her grandmother. First, she 
gave her all the war news, then told what pleasure she took in 
making garments for the dear Confederate soldiers. She in- 
quired affectionately about her precious grandpere, who had 
been ill from a recent attack of vertigo. This indisposition 
had been aggravated by moral as well as physical causes. Dis- 
couraging reports from the seat of war had contributed to 
harass and dishearten the aged planter, and to fill his life with 
continual worry and apprehension. Lincoln's preliminary procla- 
mation, issued a few months previous, had produced great excite- 
ment throughout the Southern States. The threat in the emanci- 
pation document was received with conflicting emotions. Some 
considered it unconstitutional and protested bitterly against it; 
others waited in silent and anxious forebodings for the ap- 
proaching hour, when Lincoln, with a fell sweep of his pen, 



160 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

would despoil them of their hard-earned and legitimate pro- 
perty. These undisputed facts and gloomy outlooks produced 
terrible effects on the old people of the parish. Many offered 
but feeble resistance to the tide of coming events, and the 
credulous and simple-minded old planters of False River were 
among the first to succumb to the cruel fortunes of war. 

After partakmg of a hearty breakfast, Lucile and her 
companion started off' for the sugar house. They chatted as 
gayly as two magpies, as they tripped over the rustling cane 
foliage, scattered along the wagon-road. How pleasant was 
the prospect before them! The emerald cane field, the sugar 
mill with the bustling scene around it, and the l)lue, primitive 
woods beyond. The songs of the negroes at work, came in 
broken refrains on the bracing air. The}' were blissfully free 
from the cares and anxieties, and ignorant of the causes which 
worried and harrassed their old master's mind. They would 
stop work to tell a joke or watch the noisy crows, wheeling 
among the pecan trees. On reaching their destination, the 
girls ran up the narrow steps of the engine room in search of 
M. Lafitte. He was not to be found, nor was he at the equipage, 
where the vin de canne (cane juice) and culte boiled furiously 
in the two last kettles. They waited to see the hands draw a 
strike, then adjourned to the cooling room, or pnrgerle. A 
couple of bo3's were making the rounds, dabbling wooden 
paddles into the coolers for a taste of the culte (cooked syrup), 
which was seen in different conditions, from the boiling point 
to the granulated. This is always a very attractive compart- 
ment to the lovers of the toothsome article; especially to 
children, who are never debarred from the privilege of dipping 
their tiny paddles into the contents of any of the coolers 
ranged on trestles above the concave cisterns. J.(Ucile and 
Rosauua leaned over the bridge, and gazed with childish in- 



AT CORNE A CHEVHEUIL. l(jl 

terest at their reflections in the glassj' surface of the lake of 
rich syrup. 

' 'An awful sensation creeps over me each time I see my 
reflection down there," remarked Lucile, with a little shudder. 
' ' It looks as though some wicked gnome had transported me 
to a dismal bottomless region and turned me into black 
marble." 

"What an extravagant idea!" cried Rosanna, laughing. 
' ' But really, we do make strange and uncanny figures down 
there; wouldnt we be in a predicament if we were to fall in? 
"What is that over yonder, Lucile? some living thing swimming 
towards us — let us get out of here, child! " 

" It is only a rat crossing the Acheron," observed Lucile; 
"I must call some one to his rescue. " They stepped under 
the shed, where a dozen young negroes were industriously 
piling cane on the carrier. The fascinating revolution of the 
pondrous vehicle, gliding upwards with the sinuous motion of 
a serpent, so absorbed the attention of the girls, that for a 
time, the pressing necessities of the unfortunate rodent had 
entirely escaped their memory. 

"Oh!" exclaimed Lucile, with a jerk, " that drowning 
rat!" Then turning to one of the lads who was shucking cane, 
she said; "Julien, get a hoe or something, and haul out a 
poor rat that is drowning in the cistern." 

Julien stared at Lucile with perplexity stamped on his 
grinning visage. "We nebber bodder de rats, little mistis; 
wen dey takes a notion to drown deyse'f, we nebber hin- 
ders 'em." 

"How vexing! Where is your master?" 

The boy cast his eyes across the broad expanse before 
him. " Dere he," he cried, pointing to one of the headlands. 



162 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

M. Lafitte had just emerged from a cut of tall cane, 
which had completely hidden him from view. He had thrown 
his bridle rein across the pommel of the saddle, and rode with 
his head bent low, as if in deep meditation. 

Lucile noticed with affectionate alarm, the stoop in his 
shoulders, and the air of weariness with which he held himself 
in the saddle. "Poor darling!" she exclaimed, wiping the 
tears from her long lashes; " he is growing old, and is losing 
that beautiful and erect bearing of which I was so proud." 

"Is your grandfather so very old, Lucile?" asked 
Rosanna, with concern; "To me he seems the personification 
of strength and health." 

" Grandpere is eighty. It is too sad to think of his great 
age. Before the war broke out, he looked like a man of 
seventy. He has changed sadly since then." 

With a face glowing witn animation, Lucile bounded for- 
ward to meet her venerable relative. '■'■GTondjiere! Old 
Precious!" she cried. 

"M. Lafitte alighted from his horse with joyful alacrity. 
^'Tiens! Hens! voila ma ptite!" He extended his arms, and 
Lucile nestled her pretty head on his broad bosom. 

'■'■Com.hien f avals envie de te voir!'' he exclaimed, aft'.ect- 
ionately kissing her rosy cheeks. 

M. Lafitte greeted Rosanna with cordiality. "Me 
mighty glad you come see de ole peoples," he said, taking her 
by the hand. "Me keep you an' Lucile all de grin'in' time, 
hey? Big 'ouse, big yiard fur to play. Plenty cane an' 
oringe fur to suck; cuite, vin de canne, all dat. You got fur to 
stay — w'at you tell, hey?" — 

Here Lucile uttered a little scream, which she had tried 
in vain to throttle with her handkerchief. "Don't get mad, 
darling; I couldn't help laughing; you talk to Rosanna as 



AT CORNE A CHEVREUIL. 163 

though she was a little girl ; .why, she is a grown up young 
lady, grandpere! Don't you see how you have shocked 
her vanity." 

''You must not mind Lucile, Mr. Lafitte, " said Rosanna, 
laying her hand respectfully on his arm, " I'm but too glad to 
be taken for a child. I am one in disposition, if not in years, 
and I want you to treat me just as you do Lucile." 

"She my leetle Injin gyrl," he replied, gathering Lucile 
in his arms ; ' ' her papa raise her in de woods ; me want her to 
stay yere fur to see de big warl." 

The week at Come a Chevreuil glided by like a dream. 
The girls, each day, made a trip to the mill, when it was in 
operation. They dearly loved to be with grnadpere; to sit with 
him on the platform, in full view of the heaving engine and 
the revolving rollers, which munched with insatiable avidity, 
the purple stalks falling incessantly into their iron maws. 
M. Lafitte would each day peel for them, the white, tender 
cane he selected from the great heaps under the shed. Some- 
times he brought them a glass of vin de canne, pefumed with 
fine old brandy, or a plate of caramel he detached from the 
sugar-wagon with his pocket-knife. Once, Herbert and Mrs. 
Hunt came to spend the day. The surprise added much to 
their enjoyment. They never had a better time. Why, even 
grandmere, grown young again, had condescended to climb into 
the cane wagon, which, by the way, Lucile denominated the 
"New Confederate Wagon,' and all the way home the young 
folks sang with glee, the new version: — 

•'Come, all ye sons of P'reedom, 
And join our Southern band; 
We're going to tight the Yankees, 
And drive them from our land. 
. Justice is our motto, 



164 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

And Providence our guide, 
So jump into the wagon, 
And we'll all take a ride." 

(Then the Chorus) :— 

" So wait for the wagon, the new Confederate wagon. 
The dear Secession wagon, and we'll all take a ride." 

Grandmere's garden was a paradise, a mass of entangled 
lovliness. If ever there was a tree, a shrub, or an herb, that 
refused to grow in that favored spot, Lucile could not find it 
in her botanical vocabulary. For the past ten years, grand- 
mere and Plaisance had been planting flowers for la p'tite; and 
a mania had seized them, to thrust into the ground every root 
or cutting legitimately falling into their hands. These had all 
taken kindly to the soil; they grew, flourished, and fratern- 
ized; distilling their odors, and conveying delightful thoughts 
and revelations to the old people, who, for so long had re- 
mained unsusceptible to the mysterious beauties of nature. 
This miscellaneous assemblage had been planted without regu- 
larity or picturesque arrangement, and had thrived in all sorts 
of localities. The cabbage bed was bordered with violets and 
thyme. Roses, poppies and balsams disputed territory with 
the beans and squashes; fruit trees of every variety, protested 
against the aggressive honej^suckle and climbing roses. There 
was always some delightful attraction in this garden of Eden. 
In early spring, yellow bunches of Japan plums glittered like 
gold among the dark green foliage of the trees; then came 
mulberries and plums and peaches; later on, the figs and ap- 
ples and oranges. Each morning the girls came here to pluck 
oranges and gather the creamy flowers of the sweet olive, to 
strew on grandmere's bed. But this life of pleasantness was 
fast coming to a close. Two days more were left of the mem- 
orable week; the morrow was All-Saints' day, and M. Lafilte 



AT CORNE A CHEVREUIL. 165 

was going to take the girls to St. Francis' Church, that they 
might witness the touching- and beautiful ceremony of the 
decoration of the graves. Lucile and Rosanna were anxious 
to visit the ancient and historic church, and the cemeter}' 
where reposed the ashes of the oldest inhabitants of the 
parish. 

A capacious bedroom, adjoining that of the aged couple, 
had been allotted the girls. The white walls and immaculately 
clean floor, received each morning a brief visit from the sun, 
which straggled in from between the leaves of a magnificent 
catalpa, shading the front gallery. Lucile was too fond a lover of 
the cheerful sunlight to confine herself to this dingy apart- 
ment. With her grandmother's permission, she occupied dur- 
ing the day Ja chambre a ronet, as it was styled, because an 
ancient spinning-wheel, had tor years held undisputed posses- 
sion of one of the corners. As this room was at the gable end, 
with its windows facing the south, the sunbeams came dancing 
in at their own sweet will, at all hours of the day. Sometimes 
they made a leap for the mantle-piece, where stood an old French 
clock, with its hands forever pointing to half-past two; then 
again they crept under the treadle of the wheel, as if to steal its 
mouldering memories. This family relic possessed a strange 
fascination to Lucile. From the time of her earliest child- 
hood, she remembered how her grandmother used to set it a 
humming for her special delectation. When she grew older, 
and could work the treadle herself, it became her chief source 
of amusement during her visits to her grandparents. But she 
had been told since, of a wierd superstition connected with it, 
and she ceased to tamper with the thing. The tradition was, 
that the wheel, without human intervention, whirled for a min- 
ute or two, some weeks previous to the occurence of a death 
in the family. Its premonitory gyrations were heard a fort- 



166 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

night prior to Eugene Lafltte's untimel}' end; and it faithfully 
predicted the approachino; death of each member who so closeh'^ 
followed him to the bourne of shadows. 

It was All-Hallowe'en; both girls were sitting in this 
chamber; Rosanna had been stitching lace on one of Mrs. 
Lafitte's neckkerchief s ; she arose, laid it on the bed, and 
t-moothly folded it. Fearing to disturb Lucile, who was dili- 
gently writing a letter, she stepped softly around the apart- 
ment, examining the quaint and nearly obliterated pictures on 
the wall, and other curious objects about her. When she 
came to the spinning-wheel, she placed her hand upon it and 
gave it a turn; it began to whirl with a dismal, creakmg 
sound. 

"0, my goodness, don't!" Lucile cried, with unwonted 
agitation in her manner. 

"What's the matter, Lucile? you look as though I had 
awakened to life one of your ancestors." 

' ' I cannot bear to see that wheel turning; please do not 
touch it again, Rosanna!" 

"Certainly not, since it makes you so nervous." 

Lucile had not told her friend of the superstition associ- 
ated with the wheel. 

"Goon with your writing," said Rosanna, " while I sit 
here and peel these oranges; we shall eat them when you get 
through.'' 

But Lucile laid down her pen and silently watched the 
autumn leaves pirouetting in the air. " We may as well give 
up the idea of going to Pointe Coupee to-morrow," she re- 
marked, after a moment's abstraction; "we are going to have 
dreadful weather to-night; listen to the wind howling around 
the corner I " 



AT CORNE A CHEVBEUIL. 167 

"Then don't finish your letter this evening," replied 
Rosanna, displaying the tempting slices of the oranges on the 
back of Tennyson's poems. " Let us finish the Princess be- 
fore supper; we have only three pages more to read." 

After supper the girls, as was their wont, spent the even- 
ing in grandmere's room. They were unusually merry and 
played '■'■ Retrouvons nos Moittons'' with the old folks. Grand- 
pere could not compete in agilitj' with his frisk}', frolicsome 
guests; and the way they got him in the brambles, was a thing 
to laugh at, and they did laugh, until the tears streamed down 
their rosy cheeks. Then grandmere got them to sing. Lucile, 
in a sweet, pathetic voice, sang her favorite, '■'■C'est Toi," 

Ce qu'il me faut a moi. 
Pour que men triste coeur 
Renaisse a Tesperance 
Et reprenne courage. 
C'est le bois fremissant 
Et son paisible ombrage 
On Ton reve au bonheur, 
Ce qu'il me faut a moi — 
C'est toi. C'est toi." 

When these two came to bid the venerable couple good- 
night, M. Lafitte said to them, with a voice full of emotion, 
"If only I could keep j'ou here, always, I should never grow 
older or brood over coming troubles. Mo7i Dieu, how sad it 
will be after you are gone! " 

That night Lucile was awakened from her slumbers by the 
noise of the wind whistling viciously around the house. As 
she listened, it increased in violence, and began dashing itself 
with impotent rage against the front doors. This brought on 
a disinclination to sleep and made her restless. "I shall get 
up and read a while," she thought, rising softly, for f6ar of 



168 ZULMA. A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

waking her friend. She struck a match, lighted the tallow 
candle on the mantle-piece, and tip-toed into the next room, 
where she had left her books. She placed the light on the 
table near the window, and stood for a moment watching the 
murky clouds and the trees swaying in the wmd. The rain 
splashed in fitful gusts against the glass, and a few rain drops 
sjinttered m her face. The sight of her writing materials re- 
minded her of the unfinished letter. '■'■Cest vraiT' she ex- 
claimed, "lean finish ray letter; tomorrow morning ^ra»(/- 
pere will send it to the postoffice. " She seated herself, dipped 
the pen in the ink, and wrote: — 

' ' I left ort' here, dear Madge, to eat an orange and chat 
with a friend, who is spending a week here at Come a Chevreuil. 
I have already spoken to you of my venerable relatives, but 1 
never could give you a correct idea of their peaceful life here 
in this old homestead, full of relics and interesting souvenirs. 
Our visit is nearly ended and it saddens me to think how lonely 
the old people will be after we are gone. They are both quite 
old and feeble, and in sore need of someone to cheer them up, 
especially in those war times, when fear and excitement alone, 
would have a tendency to shorten their lives. The thought 
is a source of much un happiness to me. I began this letter 
before supper; after spending a few hours with my grand 
parents, I went to bed and was soon lulled to sleep by the 
leaves rustling over the gallery floor. I love to hear them at 
night, when I am half asleep. I make believe they are spirits 
madly tumbling about in the darkness. It is a delicious kind 
of fear which overcomes me and makes me drowsy. I was 
awakened by the noise the wind made among the catalpa trees. 
As sleep had fled from my eyes, I got up with the intention of 
watching the storm, Ijut the sight of this letter reminded me 
of my promise to you." 



AT CORXE A CHEVBEUIL. 169 

Suddenh' a familiar sound fell upon Lucile's ear. '•Click- 
clack," as though the old wheel was making a supreme effort to 
start. Her pen was arrested, and her heart stood still. A deathly 
silence succeeded. "There is a mouse fumbling in that cor- 
ner, " Lucile half whispered to herself; "T wish he would go 
about his business." 

The intruder, however, had scattered her ideas. She 
dipped her pen in the ink and prepared to resume her writing. 
But it was no easy task to divert her mind from the ominous 
sound, which had filled her with vague misgivings. 

"Click-clack-click;'' the wheel to her horroi", now broke 
into a furious whirl. A cold blast, generated b^' its swift rev- 
olutions, struck her bloodless cheeks, and a black pall fell be- 
tween her and the light. Lucile fell in a faint across the 
table. 



A^ this period of the war, coffee was a scarce article in 
most families, but Mrs. Lafitte hoarded, as misers hoard gold, 
a certain quantit,y of fine coffee left from an old and plentiful 
supply, a portion of which was periodically roasted and carefully 
pulverized in a wooden mortar made for that special purpose. 
A decoction of this priceless article was served as a tonic to each 
member of ihe household at an early hour of each morning. 
On All Saints' day, Plaisauce, as usual, walked into the girls' 
room carrying the plateau upon which she had placed the two 
antique coffee cups. The beverage instantaneously filled the 
apartment with its delicious aroma. 

"Yere yo' cafe, inamzeUrs.''' she called, pulling at the 
quilt and giving a vigorous shake at the foremost occupant of 
the bed. 



170 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Lucile opened her eyes and stared at Plaisance with a 
bewildered expression. ' ' Was it you who brought me back to 
bed?" she asked in a tremulous tone of voice. 

"Me bring you back ware, ^tite mamzelleV 

" Brought me back from that room after I fainted." 

"What are you talking about, Lucile?" demanded Ros- 
anna, sitting up in bed and looking at her companion with 
eyes expanded with astonishment. "Who said you had 
fainted?" 

" I know I did, for I don't remember coming back to 
bed." 

" You have been lying here, sound asleep all night, Lu- 
cile; you must lave dreamed of having fainted." 

Lucile gave no answer, but rolled out of bed and rushed 
into the adjoining room. There were the writing materials, 
just as she had left them before going to supper. She snatched 
from the table the unfinished letter, expecting to find the lines 
she had written at that terrible moment in the night, but not 
a word could she find of the subject which had made such a 
profound impression on her mind. A leaden weight seemed 
lifted from her soul, she laid down the epistle with a fervent 
" Thank God! it was only a dream!" But her eye fell upon 
the wheel; its outlines, half shrouded in shadows, seemed in- 
vested with supernatural powers. She was seized with an 
indefinable dread lest she would once again become the un- 
willing spectator of its sinister proceedings. Stifling a 
little nervous cry, she sprang back into her own room, ex- 
claiming, "It was only a dream, Rosanna, only a dream!" 



JOURNEYING TO SAINT FRANCIs' CHURCH. 171 



CHAPTER XVI. 

JOURNEYING TO SAINT FRANCIs" CHURCH. 

/^N a oold dreary day in January, a funeral cortege slowly 
^-^ wended its way along the bank of False River. The 
waters no longer reflected the lajji's lazuli of the sk}-, or the 
rose and purple tints of luminous clouds, but flung themselves 
in tumultuous waves against the shore, sobbing with moan 
and low-voiced misereres. 

"Draw your hood closer over your face, daughter; do 
you not feel the wind?" asked Mr. Hunt of Lucile, who sat be- 
side him in the carriage next to the hearse. 

"I feel nothing, papa," she answered, opening for a mo- 
ment, her large, sad eyes; "nothing but a cruel pain at my 
heart;" and her dark lashes dropped heavily on her wan cheeks, 
closing the prospect on those orbs, once so alert and eager to 
grasp and speculate on every passing object. Mr. Hunt gazed 
with concern upon the sweet, tear-stained face of his child, 
hut made no effort to comfort her. He knew that grief had 
laid a crushing hand upon her young, faithful heart, and it 
was best to leave her to the luxury of her sorrow. 

He sat silently watching the dull, monotonous scenery 
through which they passed — a strip of woods stretching 
between the town of New Roads and the cultivated lands on 
the bank of the Mississippi river. In some places the road 
was so narrow that the branches of trees met half way across, 
forming an arch overhead. The trailing moss, under the im- 
pulsion of the fierce, north wind, now lashed and tormented 



172 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

the naked trees, theu tell resignerlly in the air, like melan- 
choly banner's weeping over the dead. The long line of car- 
nages plodding through the soft black mud, had reached the 
open country; a locality abounding in flourishirg sugar plan- 
tations. As they approached their destination, Mr. Hunt 
caught a glimpse of the steeple of old Saint Francis" Church, 
peering from among an assemblage of evergreen pines, cedars 
and dark-hued cypresses. They over-shadowed the graves and 
monuments, crowding each other, and keeping vigil over the 
sleepers, murmuring, sighing, and intoning dirges or soothing 
psalmodies. The first stroke of the tolling bell aroused Lucile 
from her apparent apathy ; she started in her seat and cast a 
look full of anguish upon the black liearse in front ot her. 
'■'■GrandjjereV' she exclaimed in a low, suppressed tone of 
voice; "0, my precious grnvdpere!" 

"Lucile, darling!" said her father, passing his arm 
around her shivering form, "control your feelings; you must 
not grieve thus; you will make yourself ill." 

"0, papa! T cannot help grieving for him— my own — 
own — dearest gravdperer she answered, turning upon him a 
look of piteous entreaty ; he loved us so, papa, and we shall 
never see him again — never — never!"' 

Mr. Hunt felt the justice of her reproach and remorse 
smote his heart like a dagger. ' ' I know but too well how 
legitimate is your sorrow, Ijucile, for he was worthy of our 
deepest love and deserves our lasting regret. But it is wrong 
to deplore his death as an eternal separation; shall we not 
follow hlra sooner or later, and be reunited to him in another 
life?" 

"Grod grant it!" she answered with great earnestness; 
then, after a brief silence, she remarked: " He had promised to 
bfing us here next Easter, and I was looking forward tO that 



JOURNEYING TO SAINT FRANCIs' CHURCH. 173 

daj' with such pleasant anticipations; little did T dream of 
coming with him thus — with his poor hands crossed over his 
breast, and his dear face forever hidden from my sight — so 
soon, too — so soon. " M.y precious! '' here she burst into an 
uncontrolable fit of sobbing. Her father allowed her to give 
full vent to her emotions; knowing that nothing else could 
relieve her overburdened heart. 

Mr. Lafitte's remains were carried to the rear of the cera- 
tery, and placed in a large tomb, with those of his father and 
brothers. After the funeral solemnities, the assistants dis- 
persed about the place and strolled along the well kept paths 
and alleys. Some lingered in prayer near the resting places 
of friends or relatives; others, rambling OA'^er the grounds, 
examining inscriptions on the tombs or on some half crumb- 
ling monument — "A relic left like a wreck upon the distant 
shores of time. " Wreaths of immortelles and other decor- 
ative mementoes, though faded and wind-tossed, still hung to 
some of the monuments. As Mr. Hunt walked through these 
silently crowded aisles thickh' strewn with " memory's offer- 
ings," he pondered on the salutary influence, such touching 
devotion might produce on the living, and regretted that the 
custom was confined to Catholic congregations. 

On their return from Pointe Coupee, Lucile found her 
grandmother in a very critical condition. She had just recov- 
ered from a swoon and la}- with her languid eyes fixed on the 
clock on the mantle-piece. One of the neighbors, who had 
been standing by Mr. Lafittes deathbed, had arrested the 
pendulum at the moment of his demise. It was a strange co- 
incidence, the hands pointed precisely to " half -past two," the 
hour denoted by the old clock in " la chambre a rouet.'' Mrs. 
Hunt and Lucile made generous and heroic efforts to subdue 
their own grief, for the sake of the dear one whose loss was 



174 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

irreparable, and for whose wounded heart tlie earth held no 
balm. 

The night after the funeral, Mrs. Hunt sat at her mother's 
bedside, listening sadly to her spasmodic breathing and to the 
low, pitiful moans, which occasionally escaped her pale, thin 
lips. Lucile kept watch with her mother, but from time to 
time, she crept into ber own room to give vent to her overflow- 
ing heart. There were so many things around her to remind 
her of the dear, departed one; tliey haunted her and prayed 
upon her mind, with sharp and cruel persistence. Once, her 
eyes fell upon her grandfather's old hat, hanging upon the 
familiar wooden peg; her heart gave a great throb, and a 
smothered cry escaped her lips. Iler mother, with an inquir- 
ing glance, turned her colorless face towards her. But the 
poor child had already buried her head into her lap, trying to 
stifle the convulsive sobs which shook her delicate frame. Her 
prolonged vigils and exhausting fatigues, at length overpow- 
ered her, and she lost in profound sleep, all consciousness of 
her sad surroundings, Mrs. Hunt and Plaisance watched with 
anxious solicitude, the beloved patient, until she, too, to their 
great relief, fell into trancpiil slumber. Thus, that dreary, 
desolate, and interminable night, with its leaden-footed hours, 
passed through the echoless portals of eternity. 

Mrs. Hunt walked softl}^ to the window and lifted the 
curtain to take a peep at the outer world, hoping against hope, 
to find some shred with which to bind her bleeding, disconso- 
late heart. Far away, across the river and high above the 
misty woods, dawn was approaching. The curtains of myste- 
rious night had been torn asunder, and a solitary star flashed 
in the crimson of a crystal sky. Mrs. Hunt fixed her earnest 
gaze on the brilliant spectacle, and her thoughts wondered in 
solemn conjectures, beyond earthly cares and tribulations. This 



JOURNEYING TO SAINT FRANCIS' CHURCH. I'i5 

earth, she knew, was but an atom, compared with other systems 
in the universe; but now it seemed to her only "a vale of 
tears, "through which mortals journeyed on their way to a happier 
sphere of life. "Perhaps," she mused, "God has planted his 
throne in the center of this glorious universe, and these shining 
stars are in reality, the many mansions alluded to by our Divine 
Saviour. And it might be that my dearest father has already 
reached one of these beautiful abodes. Wherever he be, God 
grant that we may some day rejoin him. His guileless, up- 
right and toilsome career on earth, certainly obtained for him 
a blissful eternity ; and none of his loved ones need fear to 
meet him in the realm of his new existence. ' Here she was 
overcome bj' the tenderness of her emotions; her bosom heaved 
and sorrowful tears streamed abundantly down her cheeks. 
She dropped the curtain and returned to her mother's bedside, 
where she knelt with her rosary in her hand. She was still 
engaged in prayer, when Mrs. Lafitte awoke. On looking up, 
Mrs. Hunt was struck with the change that had taken place in 
her mother's appearance during the short interval consecrated 
to her devotions. The dull, hopeless expression had vanished, 
and one of pathetic sweetness and resignation bad taken its 
place. 

"Can I do anything for you, dearest mother?" asked 
Mrs. Hunt, bending with loving solicitude over the gentle 
sufferer. 

Mrs. Lafitte gazed at her with a confused and perplexed 
expression in her eyes. "Why did you awake me, Elise? I 
was happier in my sleep; I am sorry you brought me back to 
the sad realities of this wretched life." 

' ' Dearest, do not speak so ; your words distress me. Do 
you not love us enough to make an effort to regain your 



176 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

strength and health that you might live for our sake — Lueile's 
and mine?" 

' ' Dear child, if you knew what has just passed between 
us, you would not urge me to stay." 

"You have been dreaming, mother." 

"You are mistaken. I never was more conscious of my 
sorrowful existence than at the moment your father appeared 
to me. He stood here, at my bedside, gazing on me with a 
look full of tenderness — then he laid his hand upon mme, say- 
ing: 'Dear wife, it is not for long; death shall not separate 
us!' The touch of his hand was as palpable to me as that of a 
living being, Elise; and I felt it for a considerable time after 
he had spoken." 

It was Mrs. Hunt who, in kneeling, had laid a lingering 
hand upon her mother's. She knew that this external impres- 
sion had contributed to intensify the conviction of the imagi- 
nary presence; she opened her lips to undeceive her mother, 
but the serene and heavenly expression of her countenance dis- 
concerted her. She could not make up her mind to dispel the 
sweet delusion which had served to assuage her grief and had 
buoyed up her spirits by the hope of a speedy reunion. 

"It may be, dear one," she answered, stroking the soft 
white hair of the aged widow, "that God does permit the 
spirits of those we love to hover around us during the first 
period of our bereavement, to soothe our souls and comfort us 
by the intuitive knowledge of their presence. Great and good 
men have believed this, and written most touchingly on the 
subject." She remembered Longfellow's beautiful lines: 

"Then the forms of the departed 

Enter the open door; 
The beloved, the true hearted 

Come to visit me once more." 



JOURNEYING TO SAINT FRANCIS CHURCH. 1 ( i 

"But dearest mother," she continued, "our imagination 
has a great deal to do with such things ; our dreams are very 
vivid, and lead us to believe as real experiences, what are only 
the creations of a morbid brain, or the effects of nervous debil- 
ity." 

"Elise, my child," answered her mother, after a moment's 
reflection, "the visit I received from your father, was not a 
mental delusion, but a warning of my approaching death, a call 
to which I shall gladly respond. I know that I shall never 
more rise from this bed." 

"0 mother, do not leave us! what shall we do without 
you?" cried Mrs. Hunt, bursting into tears. "Have we not 
enough to suffer from the blow that has just fallen upon us?" 

"You will have your husband and child to comfort you, 
my daughter, but I am alone, and I cannot live without him. 
This house will seem like a tomb, and I shall feel like a ghost 
haunting its emptiness. How can you ask me to lead such a 
dreary, hopeless existence?"' 

"But mother, my dearest mother, you will not remain 
here and lead this lonely life. As soon as you are restored to 
health, you shall go with us to Grosse Tete, where your chil- 
dren shall comfort and cherish you, and help you to bear the 
cross God has seen fit to lay upon your shoulder. " 

"O Elise, I pray you!" cried the aged woman clasping her 
hands in pitiable supplication; ' 'do not take me away from my 
old home. It is so dear- to me! A thousand associations bind 
it to my poor, bruised heart. Let me stay until I die — it will 
not be for long. " 

There was a look of distress in her sunken eyes, and a 
peculiar contraction around her mouth which filled Mrs. Hunt 
with apprehension. She hastened to awake Plaisance, who 
had fallen asleep on a pallet in an adjoining room. The opiate 



178 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

they administered, and their soothing and reassuring words, 
soon produced their desired effects; and the exhausted patient 
h\y for some time in comparative tranquility. After a pro- 
longed stillness, Mrs. Lafitteonce more spoke to her daughter. 
"You are a Christian, Elise; you must make up your mind to 
submit yourself to the will of God and help me to prepare my- 
self for this last, long voyage. Do not weep, do not grieve 
for me, my dear daughter. Shall we not meet again in a bet- 
ter world? I wish to receive the Sacraments, that I may be 
strengthened in my passage through the dark valley — that our 
Saviour himself may lead me, and restore me to my beloved. " 

A week passed. To Lucile and her mother it was one 
clogged with tears and loneliness of heart. The precious life 
they strove to retain, flickered away like a fire left without 
fuel. Day by day, they saw her strength declining and her 
life ebbing away slowly and painlessly. There was in her eyes 
a look of longing and eager expectancy, like that of one watch- 
ing for the hour of her deliverance. One evening Mrs. Hunt 
and Lucile stood near her with anxious and affectionate solici- 
tude depicted in their weeping eyes. The pallid countenance 
of the dying one was lit up with a supernatural light which 
filled them with awe. Suddenly, she stretched her feeble 
hands towards them: "Ehse — Lucile — my children— help 
me!" she faintly cried; "help me to cross the cold water — stay 
with me until I pass over — I see him beckoning on the shore 
beyond!" 

Mrs. Hunt lifted her dying parent from her pillow, and 
laid her head upon her own throbbing bosom. "Do not fear, 
mother; i shall not leave you; my loving arms are around you; 
I shall hold 3'ou until you reach the shore." 

It was a calm, beautiful afternoon in February. A blue, 
subtle haze hung over the earth like a veil, and the rays of the 



JOURNEYING TO SAINT FRANCIS' CHURCH. 179 

setting sun filtered through the opalescent air, darting down- 
wards their golden shafts as if pointing to bewildered souls, 
the shining way to the throne of God. The pure spirit 
of grajidmere, perchance, had fallen into one of these stream- 
ing paths, for the casket of her white soul lay cold and still in 
her deserted home. 

Once again the black hearse with its trappings of woe, 
passed through the wide gates between the antled horns. At the 
sight of the lugubrious vehicle destined to carry away the re- 
mains of their beloved old mistress, the negroes congregated 
about the yard and gallery, raised their voices in despairing 
cries and lamentations. In those da3^s, when a kind master 
died, his slaves were filled with consternation; for the very in- 
dulgence which lightened their burdens and mitigated the trials 
of their condition, served to accentuate their sufferings in a 
more distressful and hopeless servitude. The estate, m pass- 
ing into other hands, generally necessitated the sale of this 
living chattel, and consequently, was followed by heart-render- 
ing scenes, and by separations more cruel than death. Although 
the Lafitte negroes knew that their young mistress, Mrs. Hunt, 
was the sole heir to the estate, and that her husband was con- 
sidered one of the most lenient masters of the parish, yet the 
fear of being sold or put under the management of a harsh 
overseer, filled them with dismay. Thus they wept and moaned 
and bewailed their wretched lot, until Mr. Hunt appeased their 
fears by kind assurance, and the promise of protection against 
cruel drivers. 

This touching scene was enacted after the 1st of January, 
1863. The day which proclaimed their freedom, had already 
dawned upon them, and the shackles of thralldom had fallen 
from their feet. They, and thousands of their race in bondage, 
though ignorant of the blessed fact, owned no master save 



180 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

One, by whose inscrutable means their deliverance had been 
accomplished. Still, these loving, faithful creatures followed 
in humble distress, the remains of the last human being that 
was destined to exercise authority over their lives and fortunes. 

Departing winter, sprinkled once with snow the brown 
fields and unsightly stubbles, leaving its thrice melancholy 
record to the sad hearts at Highland. When May burst upon 
the world, with all the luxuriance of its sweet gifts of birds 
and flowers, and the soft blades of bermuda, once more waved 
over forgotten graves at St. Francis, the work of loving handa 
expanded into beauty within the railings of the Lafitte lot. 
Blue-eyed violets sprawled beneath their verdant canopies, and 
slyly peeped at their new and peaceful surroundings. 

The lilac, once sacred to the dead, offered to every pass- 
ing bee its dripping chalices, and an old cabbage rose-bush, 
once the pride of gr<inclmere's garden, here unfolded its rose- 
tinted petals, and distilled its fragrance over her lowly grave. 
On the booming river near by, the ominous throb of engines on 
the enemy's war-boats, awakened dull echoes along the shores; 
but the low cooing of sorrowing pigeons and plaintive murmur- 
ings of the pines, were the only sounds heeded in the silent 
city, where grandpere and grandmere awaited together the 
Angel's summons to arise from imprisoned dust for the glorious 
reunion of immortal soul and bod3\ 



BENEATH THE LIGHT OF THE STARS. 181 



CHAPTER XVir. 

BENEATH THE LIGHT OF THE STARS. 

A T this period of the war, Dr. Gilbert, an Episcopalian min- 
^*^ ister, with the assistance of his efficient wife, opened a 
school at the mouth of Bayou Fordoche, eight miles from the 
Hunt place. As it was the only school in that part of the 
country, it was opened to both sexes, and was liberally patron- 
ized by people of every class and denomination. Lucile, Her- 
bert Davis and Nannie Dawsey entered as boarders, returning 
home on Fridays, after the dismissal of their classes. One 
evening in June, Nannie accompanied Lucile home to spend 
the night. The family lingered until a late hour out on the 
galler}^ where the odor of flowers blended with the breeze, and 
where they had a glimpse of a young moon gilding the tree 
tops. Lucile retired to her room with the intention of working on 
a sum in algebra she was trying to solve without the assistance 
of her teacher. Notwithstanding her tireless energy, she at 
length discovered her inability to grasp the problem, and she 
reluctantly laid her book aside and seated herself at the open 
window. Fixing her earnest gaze on the heavens, she contem- 
plated the soft radiance of the summer constellations silently 
reeling through trackless space. Memory reverted to those 
pleasant school days so abruptly terminated b}' the war. She 
recalled the happy evenings at the convent, when her teacher led 
her delighted pupils out into the balm}- night air to "star-gaze." 
How vivid were the recollections of the circumstances under 
which each brilliant cortege had been traced out and studied! 
Her eyiBS ran along the starry vault until arrested by the strik- 



182 ZULMA, A STORV OB' TUB OLD SOUTH. 

ing brilliuncy of Avcturus, surpassing in splendor the other 
stars scattered iu its neighborhood. She gazed with increasing 
awe on that luminary, the Almighty once singled out by name 
among the imperial hosts of heaven. When Bootes, the 
constellation which contains this remarkable star, was first 
mapped out by her class, it was she who had been called 
upon to recite Young's i)araphrase on that beautiful passage in 
Job, alluding to it, and she now repeated it to herself, slowly and 
solemnly as she would a prayer, meditatingr on each line as if 
endeavoring to impress upon her soul the depth and beauty of 
the conception. 

"Well! there you are at it again!" exclaimed Nannie Daw- 
sey, walking up to the window. "You found it easier to count 
the stars than to cipher, didnt you?" 

"I've never had the ambition to count them, Nan, but I 
have of^^en tried to form an idea of their distance, from us; 
the effort is simply stunning!" 

"That's sheer nonsense, Lucilc. God never intended for 
us to meddle with his heavenly bodies. T think it's sinful." 

"In all ages, good and wise men have been studying and 
investigating the heavens God never condemned them for 
trying to learn all they could." 

"Much they know about it!" replied Nannie, with a con- 
temptuous toss of her head, "and I'm sure He thanks no one 
for rumaging the skies the way they are doing nowadays." 

"God does not object to it, Nannie, for ancient historians 
say, that at the beginning of the world, people naturally fell 
into the habit of studying the heavens, because the knowledge 
was of great importance to mankind, and He prolonged their 
lives that they might have time to make advancements in the 
study of astronomy. " 



BENEATH THE LIGHT OF THE STARS. 183 

"Much they know of God's ideas on the subject!" sug- 
gested Nannie, rapping her fingers on the window sill. 

"But they were sure that he had no objections to their 
studying astronom}^, for there's a book in the Bible in which 
He mentions the names of the stars when He speaks to Job: 
"Canst thou," He asks, "bind the sweet influences of the 
Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth 
Mazzaroth in his season, or guide Arcturus with his sons?" 

"Well!" put in Nannie, "there's neither head or tail in 
that rigmarol to prove that I'm wrong. " 

"I quoted that passage to show you that God did not dis- 
dain to make use of the names men gave to the stars." "He 
would not have done so, had He disapproved of the study of 
astronomy. On the contrary, I think He sanctions it; for 
it elevates the soul, and teaches us the greatness of God." 

"That's all very well for notional people, Lucile; I, for 
one, have not the least inclination for 'soul-elevating' studies — 
unless they be of the matter-of-fact kind, like the trade I have 
just been learning from Plaisance, for instance. " 

"What was that, pray?" asked Lucile. 

"Whilst you were sitting here star-gazing, I was in the 
dining-room learning how to sole shoes;" said Nannie, laugh- 
ing merrily. ' 'Don't you think that was a more sensible occu- 
pation than yours?" 

"In some respects — yes; most people have to sole their 
own gaiters nowadays. I have Plaisance to do that work for 
me; consequently, I am at liberty to indulge in more congenial 
occupations, you see;" 

"I'm not such an ignoramus as you think," retorted Nan- 
nie, glancing at the glowing skies, "I'm a sort of astromomer 
myself ; for I can make out several kinds of figures among the 
stars. I know where the North star is (when I'm at home), 



184 ZULMA, A STORY OF T[IE OLD SOUTH. 

and the seven sisters, and the flat-iron. I can't see it now," 
continued she, craning her neck out of the window, "but there 
is a certain time in the year that i can trace out a number one 
kite, tail and all. I generally find it somewhere near the North 
star. I wish you could see it, Lucile; its a perfect kite, sort 
of a square diamond shape, its tail flying out this way;" she 
explained, with a wave of her hand. 

"O I know what you mean now, Nannie; you are describ- 
ing the chair of Cassiopea. Tt will not be visible before Au- 
gust, I mean, at this time of the night, but if you look for it 
after midnight, you will surely see it above those trees." 

' 'Thank you ; after I go to bed, no amount of stars will 
coax me out before morning. But what do you think of my 
observations?" 

"The flfgure of a chair does bear some resemblance to a 
kite, Nannie. Your idea is original; astronomers call it our 
inverted chair. " 

"I should like to know which of the gods kicked it over. 
Tell me al)out it Lucile." 

"If 5'^ou care to learn something about Cassiopea and her 
chair, j'ou are welcome to my astronomy. 1 shall show you the 
chapter and you can find out for yourself. But whilst we" are 
on the subject, let me tell you of a wonderful phenomenon 
which occurred in this constellation many centuries ago. In a 
certain spot within it, there appeared a beautiful star never 
seen before, and surpassing in size and brilliancy any of the 
planets. During a period of sixteen months, this unknown 
visitant underwent the most extraordinary chrfnges, similar in 
effect to tremendous conflagrations. Its color at first was of a 
dazzling white; but it eventually changed to a reddish yellow, 
the color of fire After that it grew paler and paler, until it 
was entirely blotted out from the heatfens. Astronomers were 



BENEATH THE LIGHT OP THE STARS. 185 

watching this interesting occurrence, and forming all kinds of 
conjectures about it. They imagined that after a certain num- 
ber of years, it would return; but it never did. Then, they 
concluded that it was a world that had been burnt up. Think 
of that, Nannie, a world perhaps bigger than ours, being des- 
troyed by fire! Could you imagine a grander and more appall- 
ing sight?" 

"I reckon I could; the burnmg up of a pile of cotton 
bales!" answered the girl, with a mien so serious and self -con- 
vincing, that Lucile appeared for a second confounded by the 
unexpected and ridiculous comparison. Before she could re- 
cover from her surprise, Nannie, with the utmost nonchalence, 
asked: 

"Did your Pa attend the meetmg of the Cotton-Burners 
at Livonia, Lucile?" 

"He did." 

"And was it decided to destroy cotton?" 

''No; papa convinced them of the folly of the unnecessary 
sacrifice." 

< 'When the Yankees get hold of our cotton, we will be 
wonderfully benefitted by it;" remarked Nannie, with a sneer 
on her red lips. 

"Its the planters' business to keep their cotton out of the 
enemy's way," said Lucile, calmly. "Papa intends to have 
his hauled to Chalpa Swamp." 

"What good? the niggers will tell on him!" 

"I think not; they seem as anxious as papa, to get it out 
of danger." 

' 'You are all mighty trustful ! Those niggers are going to 
turn tables on you, first chance they get. See if they don't." 

"The negroes on this place, T'm certain, will have no de- 
sire to perform that teat, Nan." 



18U ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH, 

Here, the conversation was interrupted by a detonation so 
loud and a concussion so A^olent, that the sashes rattled in 
their frames. 

"Goodness, gracious me!" exclaimed Nannie, "wasn't that 
a stunner? Those Yankee gunboats are trying again to slip 
by Port Hudson. General Gardner is sending them unusually 
big compliments, don't you think?" 

Both girls turned in the direction where a slender arc 
flashed athwart the dusky void. Then, meteor after meteor, 
like rockets on a festive night, leaped across the distant hori- 
zon. The noise of cannons, like muffled thunder, incessantly 
struck the recoiling atmosphere, These were familiar sounds 
and sights to the two girls, and they sat for some time silently 
watching this terribly fascinating pageantry of war, displayed 
beneath the holy light of the stars. 

"Wouldn't T enjoy the fun they are having over there?" 
exclaimed Nannie; "/ do wish I was a man. You wouldn't 
catch me shirking as some do, who ought to be fighting this 
very minute." 

"Whom do you mean, Nannie?" 

"Well, I won't mention names." 

"Do you allude to Papa?" asked Lucile in a somewhat 
shaky voice. 

' 'I never said toltn f " replied her friend, her eyes still fixed 
on the curving lights in the direction of Port Hudson. 

"If you do," said Lucile with rising color, "you are 
laboring under a grevious mistake. Papa has not joined the 
Confederate army, because he is a Union man. He voted 
against the war; he opposed it all he could, and he has never 
changed his views, nor will he act contrary to his principles." 

"I must say that he has fine ideas for a Southern man!" 

' <Thi8 is a free country, " replied Lucile, in a sort of des- 



BENEATH THE LIGHT OF THE STARS. 187 

perate way. ''Every man has a right to his own opinion; but 
it happens it is not every one who dares to express them as- 
openly as papa does. You must, at least, give him credit for 
his frankness. He has no ill feelings towards the Secessionists, 
because he knows the}' are honest at heart; and he gives them 
as much assistance as though his sympathies were with them." 

"That's true," answered Nannie, reflectively; "he is noted 
for his generosity to our soldiers. I heard Captain Cuttler say 
that your Pa was the most open- handed planter on Grosse Tete. 
Whenever he was in need of supplies, he knew exactly where to 
go, and he got them without hearing complaints And the boys 
say when they are hard up for a meal they ride up to the High- 
land where they are served to the best ot everything. But 
Lucile, you are too quick to jump at conclusions. I wasn't 
thinking about your Pa when I referred to certain men who 
were shirking and loafiing around, instead of going off to fight 
for their country. I meant Jim Iliggins and Mr. Logan, who 
pretended to be such red-hot Confederates when the war broke 
out; and there's your dear friend and sweetheart, Herbert 
Davis, idling his time at school instead of going off to the 
army." 

Once again Lucile's cheeks were flooded with crimson. 

"Nannie Dawsey! How dare you insinuate such things? 
Herbert is not my sweetheart, we are both to young to think 
of love. He is trying to get an education whilst he has a 
chance, and has never tried to evade his duty. He begged his 
father for permission to join Captain K's company; Mr. Davis 
positively refused his consent, and will not give it until Herbert 
is seventeen. He is waiting impatiently for the time to enlist. 
And as to his loafing around! You are the first one to underate 
nis character, Nannie. Everybody knows that he ia a steady, 
industriouB boy, and the hardest student at our school," 



188 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"That will do Lucile, you needn't say another word in 
Herbert's defense; according to your idear, he's just perfect. 
But I know a thing or two; among others is this: If I was a 
man and wanted to fight, no Pa of mine could keep me out of 
the army. The ones who contrive to keep out of it are afraid 
of Yankee bullets; that's the long and short of it." 

Lucile made no response to her friend's emphatic expres- 
sion of her views, but continued to watch the magnificent dis- 
plays in the heavens. 

Nannie began drumming on the casement in accompani- 
ment to her song which floated out in the night air, in clear, 
melodious notes. 

"Then let the big guns roar as they will, 
We will be gay and happy still. 
Gay and happy, free and easy, 
Louisiana is our home!" 

Early the next morning the girls took a walk in the flower 
garden; the weather was warm and sultry, and the grass 
sparkled with dew. But the two threaded their way among 
the dripping shrubbery, clipping floral beauties which Lucile 
carried in a basket hung on her arm. One could not imagine 
a more lovely picture than these two girls, gliding in and 
out of shadow and sunshine like a pair of butterflies in search 
of the sweetest flowers. The color of Nannie's cheeks 
was that of a damask rose, and her pretty brown hair rippled 
all over her neck and shoulders. Lucile, at fifteen, still had 
the appearance of a child, but she was as graceful as a fawn 
in her movements. She had an exquisite complexion, and the 
frnged lashes of her dark blue eyes contributed to heighten 
the beauty of her expressive countenance. She wore a broad- 
brimmed palmetto hat her mother had made for her. The 
trimming consisted of an elaborately braided palmetto band, 



BENEATH THE LIGHT OF THE STARS. 189 

into which JNannie had just inserted a cluster of white roses. 
The girls had now found a bed of blooming mignonnette, and 
the}' both began clipping the cymes of the odoriferous plants. 
"Rosanna is a fond lover of mignonnette," remarked 
Lucile; "I must lay aside the loveliest for her." 

"You're mighty sweet on your future sister-in-law, Lucile;" 
observed her mischievous friend. 

"Nannie, what's gotten into you?" cried Lucile, dropping 
her shears. "Its very unkind of you to make such remarks!" 
"I'm not the only one to make them, my dear, the whole 
school knows that Herbert is dead in love with you, and don't 
find it so dreadfully wicked either. You're a very sweet and 
interesting couple, I think. " 

' 'Herbert is not in love with me" answered Lucile, reck- 
lessly mowing down the mignonnette; this is merely an inven- 
tion of yours!" 

"Upon my word 'tis not, Lucile; why it's fun for us to 
watch Herbert's eyes when the senior class is called in for reci- 
tation. First thing he does on reaching the door is to hunt 
you up; and when he does catch a glimpse of you, his face 
lights up like sunshine after rain. " 

"That's Herbert's natural expression, Nannie, he always 
looks cheerful." 

"Hold on, 'till I tell you something else. Last Thursday, 
Dr. Gilbert called in the class before you came from practicing, 
Herbert walked in with a face like a bran new dollar. As 
usual, his eyes ran around the room in search of some one 
whom he did not find, of course-^ and his countenance fell as 
flat as a pan-cake — I declare it did!" 

uWell — I don't deny Herbert's friendship for me — we 
have always liked each other; his tastes are very similar to 
mine, and this makes us cougenial. He loves to talk to me 



190 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

about his studies and brings me books to read, but he has 
never told me that he cared for me." 

"Good morning, young ladies!" 

''Bless me!" exclaimed Nannie, rising from her knees, 
"talk about angels and they walk right in." 

Herbert had ridden to the gate, evidently with the inten- 
tion of calling, but the sight of Nannie disconcerted him. 
They were not the best of friends ; whenever they met they 
were continually sparring at each other. Herbert did not feel 
inclined to renew the strife which characterized their usual in- 
tercourse at school. 

"Here's a houtonnlere for you, pra}' dismount, captain;" 
cried Nannie, holding up a tiny bouquet. 

But the lad made no response; he sat in his saddle, grace- 
fully erect, a look of disappointment plainly depicted in his 
handsome, open countenance. 

"Speak to him Lucile, " said Nannie, in a jesting tone; 
"don't you see he is mad because it wasn't you who offered 
him the flowers." 

"Won't you come in Herbert?" asked Lucile, in a timid, 
hesitating voice. 

He courteously lifted his hat. "Thank you. I have an 
engagement down the road." Suddenly, a bright idea flashed 
across his mind. "Are you going home this morning, Nannie?" 

"That's a polite question," answered she, smiling sarcas- 
tically. "Why do you want to know?" 

"Because if you are, I shall ofl'er to escort you. I heard 
that the Yankees were raiding out on False River, and may, at 
any moment, venture out here, and I don't think it's prudent 
for you to walk home alone." 

"You are very considerate; wait a minute; I shall go with 
you, Herbert." 



BENEATH THE LIGHT OF THE STARS. lOl 

As the two girls stepped upon the galle^3^ Nannie whis- 
pered: "Why Lucile, you are already green with jealousy!" 

Lucile gave Nannie an appealing look and followed her 
into her bed -room. 

The latter placed herself before the glass and coquettishly 
tucked a red rose in her rippling hair. ' 'Am I not too sweet 
for anything?" she asked, casting glances of admiration at her 
own bright image. "My dear Lucile, I mean to make a dead 
set for Herbert's heart, that is, if 5^ou have no serious objec- 
tions?" 

"The very idea!" and Lucile turned aside to hide the 
blush which overspread her face. "If your ambition prompts 
you to make a conquest of Herbert's affections, I'm the last 
person in the world to interfere with you." 

"My ambition!" retorted Nannie, curling her crimson lips. 
"Gracious me! then you consider him better than other people?" 

"Better than most boys," responded Lucile, somewhat 
defiantly. "He is sincere and noble and good, and " 

"Hold on!" interrupted her companion, snatching up her 
satchel. "I'm not love-blinded. I know all about his perfec- 
tions and imperfections too, as far as his character is concerned; 
good bye!" 

Planting a kiss on Lucile's quivering lips, she continued: 
"Don't forget to bring your share of the Confederate cake, 
and a jar of pickles. You know we had short rations last 
week!" 



192 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

AN UNEXPECTED CALL AND REVELATION. 

HERBERT'S engagement down the road did not detain him 
long. On his way back he once more turned his horse's 
head in the direction of the elegant home among the oaks. 
A dozen horses were tethered to the front fence; he knew that 
they belonged to a squad of Confederate soldiers he had seen 
galloping by. He had just passed their picket guard a quarter 
of a mile off. He led his own steed around to the stable j-ard 
and returned co the house. Zulma answered his impatient 
knock at the hall door. 

"Oh, dat's you, Mars 'Erbert!" she exclaimed, with a 
dubious grin. '• I was dun skeered! " 

' 'Are you afraid of people in broad day-light now, 
Zulma?" 

" Dese is skeeful times, mind you," she answered, wiping 
with her apron her greasy lips, ' 'an' I went an' tuck vou for a 
Yankee." 

"That's a compliment! Do I look like one?" 

" Dat was befo' I seed you," she answered, opening the 
parlor door. " We yere dey's a prowlin' 'round False River; 
no tellin w'en dey'll bounce right in. When dey does, 1 'spec 
we'se gwine to have a fight in dis yere very house. Dinin' room 
full uv rebs, eatin' breakfuss." 

" Don't let that trouble you, Zolma; they'll have it out- 
side. Where's your mistress?" 



AN UNEXPECTED CALL AND REVELATION. 193 

"In de dinin' room, porin' out coffee — if dey does have it 
outside," proceeded the girl, her mind reverting to the threat- 
ened danger, '■'■some one gwine to git hurt, sho'." 

"That one wont be you — I can vouch for it," replied 
Herbert, somewhat impatiently, ' ' Call in your little mistress. 
I have something important to tell her, and I am in a great 
hurry." 

"Can't see'er neider, Mars 'Erbert; she's in de kitchen 
'elpin' Aunt Polly fry batter-cakes fur de sojers " 

"Confound it! can't you replace her for a few minutes, 
Zulma?" 

" I's busy myself, chippin' dry beef fur de rebs; dey's in 
a bigger hurry den you is, " answered the slave, tripping off 
with a mischievious twinkle in her black eyes. 

"Hold on, Zulma," cried Herbert in desperation, "I 
must see Lucile; tell her that I am here waiting to see her." 

" Fate seems to be against me, I can never have a chance 
to speak to her," he murmured to himself, pacing the parlor 
floor with apparent agitation. His dark hazel eyes, usually 
bright with boyish animation, now revealed the disturbances 
of his soul. He was evidently laboring under some mental 
strain, and anticipated the doubtful results of an approaching 
ordeal. 

At length he seated himself near the centre table and be- 
gan turning the leaves of a book of poems. Some passage 
in the volume seemed to arrest his attention, for he read 
with apparent interest for a few seconds; then taking from his 
pocket a note book, he wrote within it a few hurried lines On 
the table was a vase filled svith fresh flowers; he broke off from 
among them a rosebud and folded it in a leaf torn from the 
blank book. At this moment Lucile stepped into the room. 
Her cheeks were unusually flushed, and her eyes met his with 



i94- ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

unwonted timidity, but she greeted him with a pleasant smile. 
" You will excuse me, Herbert, for havmg kept you waiting," 
she said; "I was helping mamma serve breakfast to some of 
our soldiers, who are going out to the river on urgent bus- 
iness. '" 

" You are excusable, Lucile," answered Herbert, with a 
grave smile; you were not aware that my business was as ur- 
gent as theirs." 

Lucile looked up into his face with an incredulous stare. 
" No, I was not; what is it, Herbert?" 

"If you sit here, I shall explain." 

He took a seat on the sofa, she on the piano stool. 

"Don't perch up there, so far from me, Lucile," he 
pleaded ; "I have a secret to tell you, and don't particularly 
care to publish it on the house-top." 

A laugh, nervous but musical, broke from the girl's beauti- 
fully curved lips. ' ' Oh, it's to be a secret then, " she exclaimed, 
walking across the room to the seat beside him. His fine, 
magnetic eyes, looked into hers with a world of meaning in 
their clear, searching depths; Lucile's dropped with girlish 
modesty. Nannie's observations, touching his devotions to 
her had disquieted her soul; she could no longer meet his 
glance with the frankness of former days. 

"I see so little of j^ou now, dear Lucile," he said, "that 
you must really pardon me for gazing at you when the oppor- 
tunity offers itself." 

" Do you not see me every day at school?" 
" Yes, in the recitation room, where a lot of mischievous 
girls are ever on the alert, read}- to talk and criticise. Of 
late, I have kept aloof from you, lest they should estrange 
you from me with some of their foolish tattle. " 



AN UNEXPECTED CALL AND REVELATION. 195 

A lovely blush overspread Lucile's cheeks ; she arose from 
her seat and walked to a stand in the corner of the room, 
bringing back a small basket filled with balls of spun cotton. 
' ' Herbert, you will not mind if I plat these candle wicks, 
will you?" 

"Are the candles in a particular hurry for their wicks?" 
asked Herbert, with a look of annoyance overshadowmg his 
handsome face. 

" I can't answer for the candles," responded his compan- 
ion, laughing, "but I know that Plaisance is anxious to dip 
these this evening; we have only two confederate candles left, 
and these, you know, are only fit for the kitchen." 

Lucile unwound a portion of the twist and began cutting 
it into requisite lengths. 

Herbert watched her in silence. 

" You promised to tell me a secret," she ventured to say. 

"Little you care to know it,' he replied, in an aggrieved 
tone of voice. ' ' There was a time you were always ready and 
willing to sympathize with me in my troubles. What has 
changed you, Lucile?" 

' ' If the matter in any way concerns you, tell it to me. I 
am all attention." 

"Well, in the first place, I must inform you that I am 
not going back to school." 

"And why not?" — Lucile remembered Nannie's silly talk 
— " has some one said things to vex you?" 

"As though I would allow such trifles to interfere with 
my studies! I once told you how anxious I was to go into the 
army, and how strenuously father opposed my wishes. He is 
still firm in his decision about keeping me at school until my 
seventeenth year. The idea is preposterous. I will have to 
wait six months longer; and I don't intend to do it. Our 



196 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

president is asking for fresh troops and I think it is the duty 
of every Southern man to respond to the call. I, for one, 
will not withhold my services. I am old enough to perform 
the duties of a soldier; m} pride is at stake, and I see no 
reason why I should be debarred from the honors and privi- 
leges others enjo}'. All the young men of my age, if of any 
account, are in the army fighting for Southern Eights; and 1 
mean to cast my lot with them. Now, Lucile, tell me truly, 
if you do not think my decision just and patriotic." 

"I'm the last person in the world to advise, Herbert; 
why do you put me to such a task?" 

" Because I would be perfectly miserable if I were to take 
a step which you condemned." 

"Act according to the dictates of your conscience, Her- 
bert; it will never reproach you. But, if you do care for my 
opinion, I shall give it honestly; do not leave home without 
your father's consent, if you can possibly help it. I don't 
think he will refuse it if you ask him in the right way. If 
you do this, you will be better satisfied with yourself, and 
better able to endure the hardships of war. And, besides, 
you will have God's blessing to sustain you, in case you meet 
with any misfortune." 

" You are a wise and dear little counsellor," he said, 
looking down into the beautiful eyes raised to his with touch- 
ing entreaty. 

"Where do you intend going?" she asked, catching her 
breath, her heart was beating so rapidly. 

"I am going with Captain R. , to Milliken's bend, where 
Taylor has been ordered to co-operate with Pemberton, Un- 
less immediate assistaace be rendered, Vicksburg will surely 
fall. There will be hot fighting there I suppose. 



AN UNEXPECTED CALL AND REVELATION. 197 

Lucile's graceful form and head bent lower over her work; 
the soft, white twine fairly flew in and out of her agile fingers. 

"I am not going away, Lucile, without sharing with you 
a secret I have kept locked up in my bosom for I know not 
how long — since I first met you, I do believe. You were such 
a dear lovely child!" 

"0, nonsense, Herbert!" 

""Well, from the time of our first acquaintance, there was 
a certain feeling that crept into my heart. It was one which 
strengthened with my growth, and took possession of my 
whole being as though it were part of myself. You never 
knew how deeply and tenderly I loved you, Lucile?" 

"Herbert, you shock me!" cried the girl, burying her 
face in her hands. " You have no right to tell me this; what 
will papa think of you?" 

"Your father cannot very well censure me for doing ex- 
actly what he did some twenty years ago. Did he not have 
to let your mother know of his love, in order to win hers?" 

" But you must not tell it to me now, Herbert; I'm too 
young; you must stop it!" 

"Indeed, I wont," replied the youth, with almost sullen 
persistency. " T did not mean to tell you all this so soon, Lucile; 
but circumstances force me to speak, and you mnsf listen to 
me. I am going away ; I may not see you again for years. In 
the meantime you will have reached an age when women re- 
ceive the homage of men. You will be beautiful; someone 
will try and rob me of my treasure. The thought makes me 
wretched. I have been trying during all these years, to make 
myself worthy of you, hoping some day to win your love. 
You are the idol of my heart; I care for none on earth as I do 
for you. Oh, Lucile! do not let me go without a word of love 



198 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

or of encouragement! Promise that you will not permit any 
of the boys to make love to you during my absence." 

" Lucile half turned her rosy face; " That's not a very 
hard promise to give, Herbert," she said, with a smile rippling 
all over her countenance. 

"But, Lucile, you will not allow it because of your love 
for me; not from a lack of coquetry; tell me that, dearest." 

" You have no right to put such a question to me, and I 
will not answer you." 

"But I /iofe," exclaimed the lad with vehemence, "unless 
you deny it, I shall take the affirmative for an answer. I 
know you are too truthful to deceive me." 

There was a moment's silence. 

"Then I shall consider this a sacred compact between 
us,"' pursued Herbert, lowering his handsome face over uer 
bowed head. "You must understand that I have given you 
my heart's affection, without reserve. Some day I shall claim 
yours in return." 

He took from his pocket a tiny parcel. "Here's a little 
token I wish to leave with you ; only a rosebud and a few sig- 
nificant lines; they will remind you of me, dear little sweet- 
heart, if you are ever tempted to forget." 

"I shall not forget you, Herbert." 

" I hardly thmk you could," he said, pressing into her 
hand the little souvenir. "Now, T want a favor in return; 
give me the rose you are wearing, please.'" 

She raised her graceful head from the basket and, with 
fluttering fingers, began detaching the desired object from the 
pin which held it. 

"You really do not care for this, " she said, holding it 
before her with a sweet, pathetic, smile. "It is withered and 
worthless, Herbert." 



AN UNEXPECTED CALL AND REVELATION. 199 

" But It will be most precious to me, nevertheless," he 
answered, taking from her the drooping flower which had 
been crushed beneath her white throat. But, alas! at his 
touch, the fragile petals fell in a shower at his feet. A look 
of chagrin, like a cloud, swept across his countenance. "I 
am unfortunate!" he exclaimed, casting a deprecating glance 
at Lucile. 

"0, that's nothing, Herbert," she said m a reassuring 
manner. '' There are plenty more in the parterre." 

" But this is the only one I care to have," answered Her- 
bert, placing the depleted coralla and stem between the leaves 
of his pocket-book. '' I am going now, Lucile; to-morrow I 
shall come to bid you good-bye." 

Every vistage of color fled from the girl's cheeks. She 
stood before him clasping and unclasping her hands, her lips 
all in a quiver. " Herbert, I shall have to tell mamma all 
that has passed between us." 

"I have not the least objection," replied the young lover. 
"I think it is right that you should. It is not my intention 
to forfeit your parent's esteem by hiding from them my feel- 
ings towards you. Au revoir, then, my dear Lucile." 

For some time after Herbert's departure, Lucile stood like 
one in a dream. A strange, new feeling pervaded her whole 
being. It was love's awakening influences, but she knew it 
not. A sweet desolation filled her heart; she threw herself 
upon the sofa, in a childish outburst of grief. 



200 ZULMA, A STORV OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



CHAPTEli XIX. 



EPISODES ON ALL SAINTS DAY. 



T^HE festival fell on a Sunday, and Lucile felt a melancholy 
* pleasure in spending it at home, tor she knew how sadly 
her mother would have missed her had she been at school. 
One 3''ear ago, Lucile liad passed a memorable week with the 
loved ones, now forever removed from life's endearing associa- 
tions. It was Mrs. Hunt's intention to fulfil on this day the 
mournful duties she owed to her departed parents; to weep 
over their graves and to deck them with the tokens of her un- 
dying remembrance. But the Federals, who, since the fall of 
Port Hudson, had made this part of the parish their head- 
quarters, were now bivouaced in the vicinity of Saint Francis' 
church. Naturally, their presence debarred the people from 
the performance of their accustomed ceremonies at the grave- 
yard, and deprived them of the consolations which religion 
alone offered to the bereaved. The dead of the ancient cem- 
etery, received no tribute from loving hands that year; there 
was a lack of garlands, of tears and prayers. But nature, as 
if in compensation, silently assumed the duties denied to the 
faithful. The fiowers formerly brought here to decorate the 
tombs, had scattered the seeds which were now transformed 
into a gorgeous array of cock's combs and amaranths. Like 
freinds in adversity, they stood about the neglected graves 
where the wild asters clustered, and the adventurous golden- 
rod waved its flaming torches. Lucile and her mother had 



EPISODES ON ALL SAINTS" DAY. 201 

devoted much of their time during the preceding summer to 
the cultivation of the flowers destined to decorate their ceme- 
ter}^ lot. But the handsome chrysanthemums and dahlias 
which had expanded into beauty at the desired time, were 
left on the stalks to breast the dreary rains of autumn. In 
the bitterness of her disappointment, Mrs. Hunt decided upon 
a plan which would, in a manner, bring her in touch with the 
dear departed; and that was to visit her ancestral home. 

After Mrs. Lafitte's death, the plantation had been put 
under the control of an overseer, who, according to Mr. Hunt's 
orders, was not to deviate from the old regime in his manage- 
ment. With childlike docilit}', the slaves resumed their accus- 
tomed work, apparent Iv wgll contented with their lot. This 
state of alTairs lasted until Bank's memorable invasion. The 
alluring promises made by the Union soldiers demoralized all 
the negroes in the country, and thousands of them fled from 
their homes to follow his army on its way to Port Hudson. 
Here, like dazzled moths, tbey settled around the glare of its 
camp fires, perishing by the score, and undergoing untold 
sufferings, brought on by famine and exposure. The Lafitte 
negroes were not proof against the allurements held forth by 
the Federals. One night they took unceremonious possession 
of their young master's mules and wagons, and stole away as 
noislessly as Bedouins. This was no uncommon occurrence. 
At this period of tlie war, owners of slaves knew not the day, 
when on rising they should find deserted quarters and aband- 
oned cro})s; and the ladies of the household were often called 
upon to renounce the hour's lounging in luxurious chambers, 
for the disagreeable duties of their absconded cooks. A few 
decrepid negroes, with feet too near the brink of the grave to 
care for' e.arthly promises and pilgrimages, still remained at 
Gome a Chevreuil Nothing had bten removed from the hou^e, 



202 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

save the valuable propert}'; The i-est had been left in charge 
of a venerable couple, whose faithful services had long ex- 
empted them from all servile labors. Aunt Patsy had come 
from '-Ole Virginy, " a circumstance which greatly enhanced 
her qualities in the eyes of her new master, and procured her 
numberless favors and privileges. She and her husband occu- 
pied one of the end rooms of the dreary old house. They 
were liberally compensated for airing the apartments and at- 
tending to the immediate surroundings. These two, and the 
few others who had refused to "fly into the face of Freedom " 
as Aunt Patsy expressed it, were the remnants of that stalwart 
force, representing fifty thousand dollars of the estate. 

It is left to the reader's mind to form some conception of 
the emotions which stirred in the bosom of both mother and 
daughter, on reaching the forsaken place. Dave, as of old, 
stood at the carriage door, hat in hand, humbly awaiting to 
assist them to alight. But his mistress, oblivious of his pres- 
ence, gazed with tearful eyes on the familiar objects about her. 
The sight was depressing and overpowered her with a sense of 
its utter desolation and forlorness. 

"Life and thought had gone away side by side." 

Lucile too, missed the accustomed smile which had ever 
before greeted her coming, and it was with effort that she sup- 
pressed the cry of "^grandmere!" which rose unbidden to her 
lips. 

They found Aunt Patsy in the garden weeding a bed of 
cabbage; when she recognized the visitors, she dropped her 
hoe and hobbled across the beds to meet them. But the weight 
of four score years, bore heavily down upon the weary limbs, 
and she made but slow progress, even in her eagerness to wel- 
come her gentle mistress. 

"I 'clar. Miss 'Lise," she cried, losing and catching her 
breath in her eagerness to reach her, "I 'clar, you did 'sprise 



EPISODES ON ALL SAIXTS' DAY, 203 

me drea'ful, but I'se awful glad ter see you, any'ow. I kep 
on sen'ing you word fur to cum an' look arter yo' things, an' 
you niver 'ow cum?" 

"I received your message, Aunt Patsy," replied her mis- 
tress, "and I appreciated your efforts in trying to save our 
property, but really, my presence here would have done no 
good, and j'ou know how painful 'tis tor me to come; every 
thing is so different from what it used to be." 

Here, emotion choked her utterance and the tears rushed 
to her eyes. 

"Dey's no use in frettin', honey," said the faithful old 
creature, stroking the white hand which lay passively in hers. 
"You'd better be tankful ter de Lawd dat He tuck 'em ter 
glory befo' dey laid eyes on dese yere times of tribilations and 
distructiou. Dey was tuck in de right time, chile, and de 
good Lawd dun put 'em whar no Yankees can't nebber trouble 
'em. Gracious knows dey's doing dey bes' to 'stroy dis yere 
place! Cum eiiong and see fur yo'self ;" pursued Aunt Patsy, 
leading her mistress into the garden. "Look! dars my mustard 
bed all tromp under by dem Yankee sojers; an' dar's my ole 
man's inyun plants all spiled. Ef yo' look over yonder, Miss 
'Lise, you won't find a single oringe on ole missis" trees; dem 
rogues knock off' de very las' one of 'em, green as dey was. I 
jawed at 'em an' 'lowed I was gwine to 'port 'em to Lincom, 
an' you wanter b'leeve, one of dem fellers p'inted his pistol at 
me and tole me he had a great notion of sen'ing me ter h — 11? 
But I skeered 'em off, artar a while, an' dey ain't cum back 
sense. In my born days, I nt'l'ber seed sicher time! Dar's all 
de cane stan'in' in de feel, an' de 'taters in degroun'! Stidder 
dem niggers stayin' yere ter take off de crop, dey's all clared 
out 'cept dem's dat staid; an dey ain't a bit account. As I 
was tellin' you, Miss 'Lise, dem Federals,, dey tuck artar de 



201 



ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



ducks and chickens, racin' roun' de yard, jiss awful. I was 
lookin' on tliinkin' ter myself, 'spose ole marsfcar see dat, now; 
he'd turn obber in his grave! An' w'en dem sojers cum in 
yere, prancin' ober dese yere flowers an' vilets, I say to myself, 
says I, T hope to gracious ole missis aint got an eye on dem 
fellers! " 

At this juncture, Liicile, who had been silently plucking 
the flowers from a sweet-olive tree, broke into a fit of. ungov- 
ernable laughter. The combination of pathetic and ludicrous 
ideas which Aunt Patsy so impetuously rolled oflf her voluble 
tongue, conflicted and clashed v/ith each other, in some under- 
current of the girl's mind, and the result was the painful and 
untimely outburst of hilarity. Poor Lncile, filled with dismay, 
looked towards her mother for the expected rebuke, but none 
came. Frightened and disconsolate, she then fell in the oppo- 
site extreme; she threw herself at the foot of the tree and gave 
vent to her feelings in a flood of tears. 

Mrs. Hunt readily appreciated her daughter's predicament, 
and with a heart full of loving sympathy, laid her hand on her 
arm, saying: "Come darling, it is not good for either of us 
to remain here; our visits only tend to reopen the old wounds 
and make us unhappy." 

Aunt Patsy, whose loquacity had been temporarily sub- 
dued by Lucile's unexpected behavior, stood by, with a long 
visage, ejaculating: "Chillun is chillun, dey's nujfin' under 
de sun, solum 'nougU fur 'em!" 

Lucile glanced at her mother, with that knowing and in- 
describable expression in her eyes, which perfectly conveyed 
her meaning. Humor on the verge of her lips, threatened to 
betray the conceits of her naturall}' speculative mind, and her 
mother once more came to her relief. "Get me the shears, 
Aunt Ptttsy, " she e^id, "1 want to take booie some of these 



EPISODES ON ALL SATNTS' DAT. 205 

flowers." During the servant's absence, Lncile recovered the 
serenity of her mind. When they were about to leave, Mrs. 
Hunt dropped a silver coin into the hands which clung so lov- 
ingly to hers. ^'Dear Aunt Patsy," she said, "don't worry 
about the place; the war will come to an end, some day, you 
know, and every thing will be all right again." 

"Dey better stop dis yere fightin'. Miss 'Lise, fur de place's 
gwine down fas' as it kin, notfurstanding all me an' my ole 
man does ter keep it a goin'!" 

According to Aunt Patsey's opinion, the United States 
was waging war for the sole purpose and intent of breaking up 
the old plantation, and she resented the affront with all the 
vindictiveness born of her undying devotion to her young mas- 
ter and mistress. 

After Lucile and her mother had given a parting glance 
to the bright blue waters of False River, thej' settled them- 
selves for a silent and contemplative ride. At first there was 
little to interest them; the season had been unusually dry, 
and vegetation along the roadside, had been checked by the 
drought and dust. On some of the deserted sugar planta- 
tions, the ripe cane stood in thick ranks, drearily rustling its 
leaves in the rising wind. But the travelers loved the woods; 
the vine tressed trees and weeping mosses, never lost their at- 
tractions. As they passed, scarlet and golden leaves drifted 
gently downwards, tapping mournful farewells on their jour- 
ney to the grave. The sunlight pouring into woodland vis- 
tas, contrasted weirdly with the purple shadows beyond, where 
the crows were holding noisy discourse with the obsinate jays. 
A white crane plumed itself on the summit of an old cy- 
press tree. It reminded Lucile of a picture she had drawn 
when she was quite a child. They left the pleasant woods 
for the open country. They passed rich 'cotton-fields where 



206 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

the staple hung snowy-white from its bronze-colored calyxes. 
This was a dollar a pound cotton, and yet it was left there at 
the mercy of the elements. 

It was high noon and the carriage was about merging on 
the banks of Grosse Tete, when a squad of Confederate soldiers 
dashed into the lane, a few yards ahead of it. They were led 
by Lieutenant W. , an intimate friend of the Hunts. 

The little party drew rein, and the officer lifted his hat in 
salutation. 

"Excuse my inquisitiveness, Mrs. Hunt," he said; "but 
really, I am curious to know how far out you have ridden." 

"We are just from False River, Lieutenant." 

"Indeed! and had an encounter with the Federals, I sup- 
pose?" 

"I am glad to say, we were spared that honor," answered 
Mrs. Hunt, smiling. "Why do you ask?" 

"Because it is reported that the Essex landed several reg- 
iments somewhere in the vicinity of the church, and they are 
to be sent out here on a foraging raid. We are now on our 
way to ascertain the truth of this rumor." 

"Do you mean to oppose them with that handful of 
men?" asked Mrs. Hunt with evident concern. 

"Hardly; we are only going to reconnoitre. We may 
have a little skirmish by way of diversion. But it is strange 
you heard nothing of the enemy's movement out there, Mrs. 
Hunt." 

"I saw no one who could give information. Lieutenant; 
the housekeeper at the plantation certainly knew nothing of it, 
or else she would have put us on our guard." 

While Lieutenant W. and Mrs. Hunt were thus talking, 
four of the steeds strayed off with their riders and began crop- 
ping the grass in the corners of the rail -fences. In the mean- 



EPISODES ON ALL SAINTS' DAY. 207 

time, one of their number had ridden up to the carriage win- 
dow where Lucile sat. 

"This is an unexpected pleasure, Lucile;" he said, lifting 
his cap from his brown curls. A lovely flush overspread the 
girl's soft cheeks, and she glanced shyly at Herbert, from un- 
der the curtain of her dark lashes. His eyes bent on her with 
a look full of devotional homage. 

"Lucile," he said, in a low voice, "I have a message for 
you." 

"From whom, Herbert?" 

"From Miss Gresham; she commissioned me to deliver it 
before Tuesday, if possible." 

"Well;" answered Lucile, with evident interest. 

"She wishes you and your mother to attend her birthday 
celebration on the fifth." 

"Impossible, Herbert; we are in mourning." 

"But," interposed Herbert, in a disappointed tone of 
voice, "she begged me to explain that this is to be a private 
affair; only a supper giA^en to a few friends — and — and a little 
singing, of course." 

"Who are invited?" asked Lucile. 

"Why, the Westons, the Tracys, Captain R.'s boys, my- 
self included." There was a moment's silence. '■'^Do come 
Lucile!" he asked in a pleading voice. "I request this as a 
favor." 

The roses disappeared beneath the lilies of her faultless 
face; she raised her expressive eyes to his: "For mamma's 
sake, I ask you not to insist, Herbert!" 

Here, the commanding officer doffed his hat to the fair 
occupants of the carriage ; in an instant, he and his gallant fol- 
lowers had disappeared, wrapt in a whirl of dust 



208 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

That evening the snn sank into a chaotic mass of black 
clouds, which rapidl}' overspread the heavens and entirely 
blotted out the twilight. A Cimrairean darkness was accom- 
panied by a cold, dreary rain which began to beat upon the 
house roof and foliage like a Protean flock, scampering across 
the sands. The day had been an eventful one at the High- 
lands. The hands on the place had worked zealously till night- 
fall, removing from two-fold danger, a lot of cotton to the 
sawmill in Chalpa Swamp. From time to time, squads of Con- 
federate soldiers rode by, apparently in an excited state of 
mind. No wonder, for about four o'clock that evening, a 
strong Federal force had began raiding around, driving otf 
cattle, and committing all sorts of depredations. The few 
undiciplined Confederates scavtered about the country, were 
in no condition to cope with these well organized veterans act- 
ing under command of experienced officers. Nevertheless, 
pride or a spirit of patriotism prompted our soldiers to 
make repeated attacks on the enemy. These bloodless as- 
saults harrassed, but did not check the invaders, who contin- 
ued to advance into the interior until they reached the mouth 
of the lane, where the}' began pitching their tents and light- 
ing their camp-fires. 

That night, Mr. Hunt sat up and read until the clear, 
musical strokes of the parlor clock, chimed the eleventh hour. 
The rain was still pelting the window shutters and the air had 
suddenly grown chilly. He arose with the intention of retiring 
and was about taking up his candle, when his attention was ar- 
rested by a peculiar sound, liKe that of footsteps dragging 
heavily across the gallery floor. He immediatel}- extinguished 
his light and sprang to the door to secure its fastenings. Be- 
sides the Yankee troops which were camped in the neighbor- 
hood, the country was, at that time, full of "jayhawkers" auct 



EPISODES ON ALL SAINT' DAY. 209 

desperadoes; precautions against midnight intrusions were 
necessaril}' prudent. The unwelcome caller approached the 
parlor door, placed his lips in contact with the keyhole and 
spoke, but in a voice so muffled as not to be understood. 

"Who are you, and what is your business?" demanded 
Mr. Hunt. 

The answer came: "I am a Confederate soldier. I am 
wounded and almost frozen to death. For God's sake, Mr. 
Hunt, do not refuse me a night's lodging!" 

"1 will not admit 3'ou unless you prove that statement,'' 
replied Mr. Hunt, with firmness. '-If you cannot do it, I ad- 
vise j'ou to leave the premises; for I am not going to be im- 
posed upon. " 

"I took breakfast here this morning; the lady of the 
house spoke to me and ordered my horse to be fed. Ask her; 
surely, she remembers that. "' 

' 'We are feeding the soldiers and their horses here, at all 
hours of the day, 'jayhawkers' included;"' responded Mr. 
Hunt, in a calm, unyielding tone of voice. 

The unknown leaned heavily against door, and groaned 
most pitiously. 

At this moment, Mrs. Hunt laid a gentle hand upon her 
husband's arm. "O Arthur!" she softly whispered, "he is not 
deceiving us. He suffers; hear how pitifully he moans. Let 
him in!" 

"It is not difflcult for the scamp to feign suffering. Go 
to your room, Elise, I can manage him very well without j'ou." 

"He says he stopped here this morning; ask him what he 
had for breakfast and the subject of our conversation; his 
answers will surely remove your doubts. For the love of 
Heaven, give him a chance!"' 



210 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

The man gave ready and satisfactory answers to the ques- 
tions put to him. and he was admitted without further deliber- 
ation. Mrs. Hunt recognized him at once, though she found 
it difficult to realize that the ragged, hatless, bloody and alto- 
gether forlorn creature who staggered into her presence, was in 
truth, the handsome and dashing young Texan, who had so 
favorably impressed her the day before. 



THE PATHOS AND THE COMEDY OF WAR. 211 



CHAPTER XX. 

THE PATHOS AND THE COMEDY OF WAR. 

T M MEDIATELY after breakfast the next morniag, Mrs. 
'■ Hunt sought her chamber, where she knew Zulma was 
busy at her customary house-work. She found her standing 
at one of the open windows humming a war song. After care- 
fully closing the door behind her, Mrs. Hunt walked up to the 
girl and asked, tentatively : ' 'Were any of the soldiers out last 
night, Zulma?" 

"Not dat I knows of," she replied, vigorously shaking the 
sheets; "I wuz jis' lookin' out dare fur ter see if dem Yankees 
ain't started rummagin'. I yeard daj^'s a sight of 'em out in de 
lane." 

"There is no telling what mischief they will do when they 
once begin," observed Mrs. Hunt, with a grave, preoccupied 
expression on her sweet face. There was a pause, during 
which her heart throbbed most violently. "I have something 
very important to tell you, Zulma," she resumed, in a confi- 
dential tone; "something which you must promise me never to 
divulge until I give you leave to." Zulma turned around with 
a look of amazement depicted on her open countenance. "Law, 
missis!" she exclaimed, "you dun clean upset me!" 

"I didn't mean to," answered her mistress, smiling at the 
girl's conceit. "The secret I will tell you will not inconveni- 
ence you in the least. We've got into some trouble, and your 



212 ZULMA, A STORY'OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

master and I have made up our minds to ask you to help us 
out of it. It is a very serious matter to us — one upon which 
depends the safety of our home and property. " 

''I'll run froo fire an' watter if you say so missis;" cried 
Zulma, with great warmth. 

"Oh we won't ask such desperate proofs of your devotion! 
only your assistance and fidelity. " 

"You kin truss me," said the girl, tossing a sheet on the 
bed and leaning against one of the posts in a listening attitude. 

' 'I shall have to explain everything from the very begin- 
ning, that you may clearly understand our position;" began 
Mrs. Hunt, with an expression which plainl}^ revealed the 
workings ol her anxious mind, and the struggles it cost her to 
pursue the course she was about to adopt. ' 'Do you remember 
the soldier who breakfasted here yesterday morning?" 

"I doz; he was a pert looking feller!" 

"Well, he had come from a long distance — from the other 
side of Atchafalaya river. He was a courier carrying papers 
which he had to deliver at the risk of his life. He passed 
through the woods and fields on his return home, and did not 
know that the Yankees had overrun the country. Just before 
sundown yesterday evening, he got out on the road about three 
miles from here. He was riding on very slowly, in a kind of 
doze, for he was very tired and sleep}'. Suddenly, he was 
startled by the report of rifles and the whizzing sound of bul- 
lets close to his esr. " 

"Great goodness! He run plum inter de Yankee pickets!" 
exclaimed Zulma. 

"It must have been a scout, for a half a dozen men 
sprang from the thick bushes on the side of the road, and called 
on him to halt. He threw himself from his horse and plunged 
into the cane-brake, where he knew they would not attempt to 



THE PATHOS AND THE COMEDY OF WAR. 218 

follow him. His enemies pursued him as far as they dared, 
shooting at him until he got out of their range. Though badly 
wounded, he managed to get out of the woods. He got here 
at about midnight, and begged us to let him in. When we did, 
we saw that he was in a terrible condition. He was drenched 
to the skin, and was so weak from loss of blood he could hard- 
ly drag himself along. "We brought him upstairs and did all 
we could to make him comfortable. But his arm was so much 
inflamed that it gave him fever. He is now too ill to continue 
his journey, and we will have to keep him until he is able to 
travel again." 

"I nebber seed you turn out a sick dog, missis," Zulma 
remarked, with an approving jesture; "sho' you ain't gwine 
ter treat di& yere poor Rebel wurser!" 

"If the Yankees find out that we are harboring a Confed- 
erate soldier, " continued Mrs. Hunt, "they will immediately 
surround the house and take him piisoner, and perhaps, will 
make us pay dearly for thus befriending him." 

''If dey does, dey ain't got a bit of feeling lef, an' I'll tell 
em so ter dey faces;" cried Zulma, with rising indignation. 

"Now Zulma," pursued her mistress, "I want you to help 
us nurse him, and keep the negroes on the place from finding 
out that he is in the house. Some of them may be tempted to 
betray us, and we have the best reason in the world for trying 
to save him and keep him from falling into the hands of the 
Yankees — he is my own dear cousin." 

Zulma threw up her hands in astonishment. "Gracious 
goodness! You tole me you hadn't any kmfolks in de wurl 
'cept marstar and li'l' mistis. " 

"I really thought so until last night; when I found out, to 
my surprise, that the wounded soldier is the son of one of my 
uncles who had left the parish years ago. We thought he had 



214 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLI> SOUTH. 

died but he had gone to Texas, where he married and left 
a large family of children." 

' 'Ain't you mighty proud of dese yere hran neio relations^ 
missis?" asked Zulma with a beaming smile. 

"Indeed I am, Zulma, but the dangers which now sur- 
round him and threaten his life, malie me very unhappy and 
spoil the pleasure of having him with us." 

"You're skeerin' yo'self fur nuffin' missis; nobody gwine 
ter tell on you, an' no Yankee gwine ter lay hole of dis yere 
cousin of yourn. Ain't I yere ter stan' by 3'ou?" 

True to her promise, Zulma became guardian spirit of the 
household for the time being. As long as the enemy hovered 
in the neighborhood, she kept watch and ward, while the fam- 
ily strove to quiet and soothe the patient, who, for many days, 
tossed with fever and racking pains, upon a delirious bed. It 
was she, who made surreptitious visits to the hen-house at 
night and throttled the chickens for his broth. It was she, 
who outwitted the Federals on her way to the drug-shop and 
smuggled in the doctor. These and numerous other services 
she rendered, proved liow utterly impotent would have been 
the family's devotion to their new found relative, without 
the concurrence of the faithful Zulma. 

A few hours after this interview, half a dozen Confederate 
scouts passed the Hunt place, just as one of the hands was 
about driving his wagon out of the stable-3'ard. They noticed 
that it was loaded witli corn, on top of which lay the carcas- 
ses of three freshly slaughtered hogs. 

"Where are you going with that load?" demanded one of 
the party, checking up his horse. 

"Hanlin' it ter de camp out dare, cap'an;" responded 
Andre, humbly pulling off his tattered hat. 



THE PATHOS AXD THE COMEDY OF WAR. 215 

"You'll do no such thing, j-ou infernal rascal!" cried the 
officer angrily. ' 'Go right back !" 

Mr. Hunt, who was standing at the crib door, started in 
the direction of the gate, and called out: "What's keeping 

you, Andre. Go on!" 

"Not while I am here to prevent him, Mr. Hunt;" replied 
the Confederate, stationing himself in front of the team. 

Mr. Hunt bit his lip with vexation. "One of the Federal 
officers came here this morning and ordered these provisions to 
be sent to their camp. You will only put me in trouble by de- 
laying the driver. Move out of the way, please." 

"I advise you to act with more prudence, Mr. Hunt," sug- 
gested the corporal, for such he was. "If you mean to take 
advantage of your political opinions to presume — " 

"There is no presumption m the case," interrupted Mr. 
Hunt with impatience; "I must either forward these supplies 
as demanded or suffer the consequences of a refusal. Y^our 
regiment is indebted to me for past courtesies and favors 
which you know I have never withheld from you, notwith- 
standing our differences of opinion; and I think your intefer- 
ence untimely, as well as unreasonable." 

"But it is our duty to prevent the enemy from getting 
these provisions," answered the corporal, with an air of au- 
thority. 

"Under different circumstances it would have been your 
duty, I acknowledge ; but this is an exceptional case. Com- 
plications which I cannot now explain, compel me to avoid 
an unpleasant encounter with the Federals. I hope you will 
accept my reasons without further argument, corporal." 

"But you are too easily intimidated," persisted the subor- 
dinate. "I assure you, the Y^ankees will not hold you account- 
able for our proceedings. They will readily understand that 



216 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

you had to submit — much against your inclination — to a supe- 
rior authority.'" 

"Your reasoning, though logical, will not serve the pur- 
pose;" answered Mr. Hunt, leisurely taking out his watch. 
"It is not supposed that the Federals will brook a delay. In 
a quarter of an hour, periiaps before, they will send out another 
scout to ascertain the cause of it. And you, gentlemen, will 
have the satisfaction of contesting through the agency of bul- 
lets, the contents of the wagon. " He politely touched his hat, 
and turning on his heels, left them to their own devices. 

A look of consternation swept over Andre's countenance. 
He stepped within the enclosure and bawled out: 

"Marslar, mus' me an' de mules stand 'mongst dem bul- 
lits?" 

"Close up!" answered one of the soldiers, pointing his re- 
volver at the friglitened negro. 

Confounded by Mr. Hunts cool an<l abrupt decision, the 
patriots stood for a moment like equestrian statues, stupidly 
gazing after him. 

At length, the corporal glanced down the road, then at 
the trembling driver, who was now rolling up his eyes in silent 
appeal. 

"D — m you!" he cried, with an impatient gesture; "Drive 
on!" 

"Does ye mean down the road, marstar? ' timorously, in- 
quired the freed man. 

"Yes — and to the devil!" answered the officer, putting 
spurs to his horse and turning in the opposite direction. 

"T'anks ter de Lawd! ' enjaculated the teamster, starting 
off with alacrity towards the Federal camping grounds. "No 
governmint paid dis yei-e nigger fur ter git hisself kilt!" 

Late m tli^ afternoon of the next day, Zulma was cleaning 
3, lot of moHS under one of the sheds in the poultry-yard. Her 



THE PATHOS AND THE COMEDY OF WAR. 217 

fingers flew in and out of the glossy fibre, keeping time with 
the merry songs which flowed in a continuous strain from her 
melodious throat. Some local poet had composed the lines 
which had been adapted to the delectable aria of "Root Pig or 
Die." The words were not unsuited to the air, but were cer- 
tainly at variance with the voice which conveyed them. 

'•ril tell you what it is, 

I'll tell you what I'm thinking, 

I have no fears of old Abe Lincoln; 
For when he sends his boys down, 

We always make them cry: 
We never can subdue the South, 

So run Yank or die." 

Zulma had scarcely ended the first stanza when the noise 
of scudding hoofs arrested lier attention. The riders came 
tearing up the road, crossed the bridge and strode up the ac- 
clivity with clash of steel and jingle of spurs. When they 
reached the level road, they halted and carefully surveyed their 
surroundings. 

"Dem fellers hatching some mischief!" thought Zulma to 
herself. "I's gwiue ter see w'at dey up to." 

She squated behind the pile of. moss, and watched their 
manoeuvres. Though she deemed it prudent to make no vio- 
lent demonstrations, her heart beat violently in her bosom, and 
she found it hard to control her resentment. The blue-coated 
scamps rode to tbe gate and unceremoniously flung it open. 
As they met with no opposition, they began chasing the fowls 
around, slashino; at them with their long, glittermg svv^ords. 
Zulma endured this ordenl for a time, but her indignation soon 
got the better of her, and she suddenly emerged from her hid- 
ing place and boldly confronted the marauders. 

"Hello Yankees!" she cried. "Stop whacking off de 
heads of dem chickens. Was it fur dat Lincun sen' you down 
yere?" 



218 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"No," one of them answered turnins; around with a good 
humored laugh, "he sent'us to free all you niggers." 

"Lincua better ten' ter his own business. ^Ye niggers is 
doin' very well yere!" 

"Let me look at your back, Betsy; and I'll let you know 
whether you stand in need of freedom or not." 

"If dey's marks dare, Mr. Hunt never put 'em on; an' I. 
let you know my name ain't Betsy, neider — you sassy Yankee, 
you." 

"All right!" said the man, scurrying around the lot, "I'm 
too busy to attend to you just now." He had started after a 
flock of hens which scampered on outstretched wings and scat- 
tered in every direction. Among them was a stately Shanghai, 
the monarch of the flock. Though too nnwieldly to fly over 
the fence, he contrived by brisk and sudden detours, to elude 
the gleaming weapon whicn plied most valiantl}' about his 
head Somewhat disconcerted, the pursuer drew his bridle 
rein, and turning to Zulma, said: 

"Head that rooster, will you?" 

"You bet I won't!" she replied, shaking her apron to 
frighten off her favorite. "Shoo, Sultin! shoo! ain't you got 
sense 'nough to know dis yere man's after your blood?*' 

"Doggone you!" cried the disappointed Yankee, "when 
I go back to \Yashington, I mean to get the government to 
scratch your name off the list of freed niggers." 

"You fix me jist right!" answered .Zulma, with a defiant 
toss of her head. "T aint got de fust idea of leaving dis yere 
place." 

"Lookee here, girl," said his companion, pointing to some 
fowls which lay fluttering on the grass; "hand me those, 
double-quick, or I'll put a bullet through that ugly, black heart 
of yours." 



THE PATHOS AND THE COMEDY OF WAR. 219 

"You mean it dem Rebs over dere give you a chance," 
she responded, pointing with a malicious chuckle down the 
road. The chicken thieves followed the glance of her dancing 
eye, and to their dismay, discovered a dozen Confederates rid- 
ing towards them at full gallop. With a smothered cr)% the 
unprincipled rascals bounded off like a flash of light. Zulma 
clapped her hands and screamed with delight. She then ran 
to the brow of the hill to have a better view of the chase. 
"Run, Yankee, run!" she cried, "Run Yank or die!" 

The clatter of their horses' hoofs had almost died in the 
distance, when the Confederates rode furiously by. "Go it, 
Reb! Gro it!" shouted Zulma, as they passed. She then gave 
vent to the exuberance of her mirth in peals of laughter, which 
the woods across the bayou, flung back in fantastic echoes. 
L "I 'clare," she remarked to Aunt Polly, the cook, who had 
crept up after all danger was passed. "T 'clare, I nebber 
laugh so much in my born days as I did after dem Yankees 
runnin' off from dem two chickens. War is heap funnier den 
a eurkis!" 

"I reckin it is, ter a fool nigger like 3'ou, Zulma," an- 
swered Aunt Polly, looking straight before her. "You aint 
got sense 'nough ter know w'at dev's fightin' 'bout." 

"An' I ain't gw'ne to crack my head open tryin' ter fin' 
out," responded Zalma, with a knowing look. "All I knows 
'bout it is, dem Coufederites' mighty handy, w'en de Yanks is 
cleanin' out yo' ehickin yard," 



230 ZFLMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH, 



CHAPTER XXT. 

THE COUSINS. 

nPHE eventful week vanished at last, and with it, departed 
*■ the authors of its manifold terrors and disturbances. 
The invaders had sustained a variety of assaults from Captain 
R. 's gallant boys, who glorified in giving them a specimen of 
their skill and valor whenever the occasion presented itself. 
These skirmishes and sallies took place, each time foraging 
scouts were sent out, or whenever camp epicureans undertook 
to explore the planters' poultry yards. Without these whole- 
some and, timely restraints on the enemy's rapacity, their depre- 
dations would have been unlimited and irreparable. When 
the last Federal straggler had scudded out of sight, and a 
sense of security had once more settled in their midst, the 
people of G-ross Tete, figuratively, drew a long breath and men- 
tally congratuhited themselves on their happy delivery from 
their hostile visitors. As the school on Fordorche had been 
suspended during the invasion, Lucile shared with her parents 
the anxieties and fatigues entailed upon them by the illness of 
the stranger who had so inauspiciously thrust himself under 
their roof. For nearly a week, the wounded man lay stricken 
with fever; he was too weak and helpless to be cognizant of 
the perils which surrounded him. His strongest mental ex- 

ertion, seemed directed towards Mrs. Hunt, his gentle nurse, 
who constantly applied cooling lotions to the throbbing wound 
on his arm, and soothed his sufferings by the touch of her 



THE COUSINS. ' 221 

soft bands upon his fevered brow. Sometimes he followed 
with listless eyes — sometimes with a puzzled expression, 
her movements as she silently administered to his wants. On 
the third day of his illness, he awoke with a clearer conscious- 
ness of his actual condition, and he met his cousm's eyes 
with a smile saying; "I remember the circumstance of my en- 
counter with the Yankees and your kindness in giving me 
shelter for the night; — but — I must have dreamed of having 
accidentally discovered that we were related to each other. 
IThis IS undoubtedly a vagarj^ of my wandering mind." - 

Mrs. Hunt, who was at that moment standing at his bedside, 
ireturned his eager, questioning gaze with a look full of com- 
passionate interest, "it is no dream, no idle fancy," she an- 
swered, affectionately, placing her hand upon his forehead. 
''Our fathers were brothers, and you are my own dear thrice 
welcome kinsman. 

"You are more than kin to me," he said drawing to his 
lips, the white hand that lay caressingly on his head. "You 
are my angel guardian, you saved my life!" 

Mrs. Hunt hastilj' withdrew her hand from his warm clasp. 

' 'I have acted towards you ; dear cousin, as I would have 
idone towards any of our soldiers under similar circumstances; 
I only, my solitude in your behalf was augmented and my 
I affection, naturally, awakened by reason of the family ties 
'which unite us." 

"How can I ever repay you for all you've done for me?" 
I he said, closing his dark-grey eyes to hide the tears which suf- 
i fused them. 

I ' 'By holding me in your loving remembrance, dear cousin ;" 

(answered Mrs. Hunt, struggling to hide her emotions; "and 
iby making this your home until your health permits j'ou to 
irejoin your regiment." 



222 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"How long have I been here?" the young man asked; sud- 
denly opening his eyes. 

"Three days, exactly." 

"Then I must have been very ill," he observed, with a 
slight contraction of his eyebrows. "I recollect nothing that 
transpired during that interval, except seeing people moving 
about my bed — others, beside you, were there not, cousin?" 

"You saw my husband and one of our faithful servants." 

"Your face seems very familiar to me." 

"No wonder," said Mrs. Hunt smiling. 

"I have forgotten your name;" he remarked, laying his 
hand upon her arm. 

"Indeed you have not, for I never mentioned it to you. 
Elise is my name." 

"Have you no children?" 

"Yes; one daughter. Now, Cousin Eugene, I mean to 
assume the character of an obdurate nurse, and I shall begin 
by imposing strict silence until after you have taken some 
nourishment. Shall I bring you some broth? We have hitherto 
been givmg it to you without your leave;" she added, giving 
him a bright, cheerful look. 

"Yes, I will take anything you bring me." But his 
momentary interest seemed wavering, and his eyelids involun- 
tarily fell upon his cheeks as in restful slumber. Mrs. Hunt 
drew the curtain across the window and noiselessly stepped out 
of the apartment. 

In the third week of November, the interesting patieut had 
sufficiently recovered his health to join the famil}^ circle, and 
even to accompriuy Mr. Hunt in his long walks through the 
fields. His convalescence had boen sipant most pleasantly and 
profitably in the bosom of his new-found friends and kinsmen. 
The atmosphere of ease, love and refinement which surrounded 



THE COUSINS. 223 

him, was an agreeable contrast to his recent life of turmoil and 
hardship, and he accepted the transition with that quiescence 
and self-complacency, which doubtless hastened his recovery. 
The weather in the latter part of this month, was deliciously 
warm, and Mr. Hunt drove his wife's cousin out to False River 
to satisfy his longing to look upon tUe scene of his father's 
youth; he wished to ramble among the deserted apartments of 
the quaint old home, to saunter beneath the aged trees and 
over the grounds, once so familiar to his parent. He returned 
to Grosse Tete with his mind full of retrospective ideas. This 
was the first long ride Eugene had taken since his illness, and 
he complained of fatigue. Lucile brought him a glass of wine ; 
it was homemade, but clear as crystal, and as fragrant as am- 
brosia; the effects were immediately beneficial. 

The Hunts were particularly fond of the open air, and 
they took their seats on the gallery to enjoy the perfectly 
lovely weather. The rayless disk of the sun, long past the 
meridian, hung like a red ball in the grey atmosphere. Nature 
had donned her most gorgeous attire. The double row of 
young china trees which shaded the roadside, dazzled the eyes 
with the splendor of their golden foliage. The languishing 
breeze wafted the sweet odor of the olive flowers. Close to 
the steps, a rose-bush, invigorated by the late rains, had thrust 
out half a dozen stalks which bent over with the weight of 
superb buds, just bursting into beauty and fragrance. They 
were the last gifts of autumn. Conversation was reminiscent, 
^'■Corne a ChevreuiV being the chief and most interesting topic. 
At length, Mr. Hunt was called away, and his wife returned to 
her domestic occupations. The burden of conversation 
then fell on the young people. Lucile was industriously stitch- 
ing the cloth destined to shape the cap which was to replace 
the one her cousin had lost in his hasty retreat from the Fed- 



224 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

eral scouts. Her occupation served as a vent to lier girlish 
timidity, for she plied her flngeis with unwonted energy when- 
ever she was at loss for a suitahl3 answer to any of her cousin's 
questions, or was in anyway abashed by his careless and can- 
did remarks. There was a certain congeniality between the 
young cousins, and they had grown quite fond of each other's 
society. The novelty of possessing a relative outside of her 
own family was a fact so delightful to Lucile, that she inad- 
vertantly disclosed to him the many admirable traits of her 
mind and fascinated him with her frank, winning ways; con- 
sequently, he was falling desperately in love with her. She 
was so young and affectionate, he imagined it would be a 
sweet and easy task to win her gentle and untutored heart, for 
he had every reason to believe that it had never awakened to 
tenderer emotions than those she cherished for her parents. 
Had Lucile been a coquette, she would have embraced a splen- 
did opportunity of carrying on a flirtation with her handsome 
relative, but she was too scrupulousl}' honest to give encour- 
agement of that sort, when her affections had been tacidly 
pledged to another. Several times during the course of the 
evening, Lucile's violet eyes dropped beneath her cousin's 
earnest gaze of admiration. Her embarrassment only led him 
to believe that she was not altogether indifferent to his grow- 
ing attachment, and it filled his heart with pride to know that 
he might one day, win the heart and hand of the lovely girl, 
upon whom nature seemed to have lavished her choicest gifts. 
These pleasant reflections on the part of the sanguine lover 
were somewhat unexpectedly interrupted by a caller. There 
tripped up the alley, a young girl, resplendent in pink calico. 
By the way, a calico gown was not to be despised at this 
particular period of the war. On the contrary, the article 
was prized above silks, velvets, or any of those costly fab- 



THE COUSINS. 225 

rics which savored of ante-bellum fineries and made-over gar- 
ments. In those days, the height ot feminine ambition, was 
the possession of a bran-new calico gown. No wonder Nan- 
nie Dawsey hurried off to make a display of hers; very few 
of the Grosse Tete girls could boast of such an acquisition. 
She had heard of the distinguished 3'oung officer tarrying 
at Highland, and came with the intentions of making an 
impression. "This twenty dollar gown will surely settle him;" 
she said, gayly wending her way; "if it don't, I should like to 
know what will?" 

"What young lady is that, Cousin Lucile?" asked young 
Lafitte. catching a glimpse of the lissome figure glancing 
through the shrubbery. 

"The daughter of one of our neighbors, and a schoolmate 
of mine." 

"Isn't she pretty?" he whispered, bringing his lips to a 
close proximity to his cousin's dainty ear. ' 'She's like a picture 
cut out of a frame. ' 

Nannie smilingly planted her foot on the lower rank of the 
front steps, and stood there, for a few seconds, silently con- 
templating the couple. Her attitude was in keeping with the 
mischievous expression on her fresh, young face. 

"Come up, Nannie," said Lucile, with a pleasant smile. 

"Thank you; it's not my intention to pose, Lucile;" 
answered she, running up the steps. 

Lucile introduced her to her cousin. 

"Oh! let us shake hands," cried Nannie. "I am so glad 
you came — that is so glad on Lucile's account. She has always 
been wishing for uncles and aunts and cousins. I know she's 
perfectly happy now that you have turned up." 



226 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

"I cannot answer for my cousin's sentiments, Miss Daw- 
sey;" answered Eugene, casting a side glance at Lucile. "I 
can only vouch for mine. " 

"You wouldn't ask for a nicer set of relations, would you? 
I'm sure Lucile can't object to youV 

"It would grieve me to l^now that she did;" answered the 
young man, laughing. 

Nannie settled herself in Mr. Hunt's armchair, and criti- 
cally surveyed the stranger. "And so you're a Texan?" she 
ventured to ask. 

"I'm proud to acknowledge the fact, miss;" he answered 
with an inclination of the head. 

"You don't look a bit like those Texans I once saw. They 
were ferocious, rough looking fellows, dressed in yellow home- 
spun clothes. They were far more ambitious of getting into 
people's watermelon patches than fights with the Yankees; 
and they struck me as being the dirtiest and greediest set of 
men I ever laid eyes on; they didn't seem to have a spark of 
patriotism about them." 

"Why Nannie!" exclaimed Lucile. "How can you make 
fun of those brave men, who fought so gallantly in the defense 
of our State?" 

A wave of color surged over the officer's pale cheeks, 

"Those very Texans you ridicule and disparage, belonged 
to General Green's army. I am one of his couriers and know 
from personal observations that a braver and more valiant set 
of men never took up arms in defense of the Confederacy." 

Nannie opened her eyes in astonishment at the young 
man's resentment. "My goodness!" she cried. "I didn't 
mean to insult you!" 

Lucile cast a swift, uneasy glance at her cousin, and said 
in a pacifying tone of voice: "Nannie was trying to tease you, 



THE COUSINS. 227 

Cousin Eugene. If you were to bear her sing Colonel Hamilton 
Washington's song of defiance, you would think she was a real 
Texas girl. Now, Nannie, you must sing it to atone for your 
careless and unkind remarks." 

"I never go back on my word, Lucile, " answered Nannie, 
rising. "I'm going to Rosanna's, have you a message to send." 
This with a significant elevation of her eyebrows. 

''Give her my love." 

"B}' the by, when do 3'ou intend coming back to school?" 
demanded Nannie. "Mr. Gilbert hasn't given you your di- 
ploma, I hope?" 

"Will the fact excite your envy? I am surprised at your 
solicitude regarding my education." 

"Oh, I'm not a bit bothered about you. I only want 
you to come back to help me with my sums. I can't bluff 
the professor much longer, you know. He's losing faith in 
my everlasting headaches." 

"I think you ought to be more self-reliant, Nannie, and 
not depend on others to do your work. How can 3'ou ever 
finish your education, unless you apply yourself to your stud- 
ies?" 

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Nannie, twirling on her forefinger, 
her pretty palmetto hat. "Everybody hasn't the same tastes. 
All the professors in the world couldn't turn me into a book- 
worm, much less into a mathematician. I wasn't cut out to 
be a 'blue stocking' like you, Lucile." 

"Why Nannie, I haven't the remotest idea of becoming a 
literary woman!" 

"I reckon not, as long as Herbert Davis dances attend- 
ance on you." 

The color leaped into Lucile's face, but she refrained from 
making an unkind retort. Her cousin noticed, with surprise 



228 ZITLMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

and concern, her painful embarrassment. Nannie broke into a 
rippling laugh. 

"My, Lucile!" she exclaimed. People needn't hunt for 
roses when you are about. They have only to say: ^^ Sesame," 
and out they blow! But really I must be going. Bud is out 
there holding my pony, and I must not keep him waiting. I 
only came in to know whether you're ever coming back to 
8chool, Lucile?" 

' 'I think of returning next Monday. " 
"Then, I advise you to overlook 'Organic Chemistry.' 
We are to pass examination at the close of the month, you 
know." 

"I'm ready for the ordeal, thauk you, Nannie.'' 
"Now, I'm going," reiterated the girl, with unusual trepi- 
dition in her manners. I hope you're not mad with me;" she 
said at last, thrusting out her hand to Mr. Lafitte. 

"Certainly not, " he answered. "I am sorry I allowed your 
remarks to iritate me. " 

"Oh never mind that! Myself I have a temper. May I 
have one of these roses, Lucile?" Nannie asked, stooping over 
the bush near the steps. T want one for Herbert in case I find 
him at home. "' 

"Is Herbert her sweetheart?"' asked Eugene. 

Lucile's heart gave a great throb. 

"No;" she answered, with a quiver in her voice. Herbert 
and Nannie are so unlike in disposition, I imagine they are not 
very congenial." 

"Oh, that does not signify! Cousin Lucile. I have known 
people of opposite characters, and tastes, to fall desperately 
in love with each other." 

"Indeed!" and Lucile stared at him with a look of aston- 
ishment. "I thought that there could be no love between 



THE COUSINS. 229 

people without a certain amount of affinity to attract them. 
Now, papa and mamma are devoted to each other, but they 
are congenial. Nannie is what j'ou would call a frivolous girl; 
Herbert is of a serious, studious turn of mind; how can there 
be any sympathy between them?" 

"The very fact of this difference in their character, maj' 
be the magnet between them. Poles containing different kinds 
of fluids, naturally attract each other. It is very possible, that 
the mind is controlled by similar natural laws, as these external 
objects.'" 

•'Then I must be different from everybody else;" pursued 
Lucile, 'for I love best those friends who most resemble me 
in disposition.'' 

"How many friends have you. Cousin Lucile?" 

"Hosts of them; but I love only a few very dearly." 

The young man's sombre eyes looked into hers with keen 
scrunity: "Tell me their names, please." 

•'Rosanna, Herbert and Corine!" 

"And who is this Herbert, anyway?" he asked with an 
impatient gesture. 

"Herbert Davis is the son of one of our neighbors, and a 
whilom schoolmate of mine. You must not ask me who any- 
body else is, for you will find my answers somewhat monoto- 
nous." 

"T \vant you to add another name to your list, cousin 
mine." 

"Yours?" suggested Lucile, with a co}- look. 

"Yes; it is to be carved first and foremost on the tablet 
of your memory, and it must be underscored so as to be prom- 
inent and distinct from the others inscribed upon it." 

Lucile turned upon him, her sweet, ingenuous counte- 
nance, saying: "You are really ?oo exigent. Cousin Eugene, 
You must be satisfied where I put you." 



230 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"I will, provided you put me where I wish to be. And 
remember I cannot brook a rival." 

"Don't be afraid," replied Lucile looking up with a bright 
smile. "I shall never permit any one to usurp your place." 

A feeling akin to disappointment crept into the young 
man's heart. A moment ago, it was his ardent desire to win 
his cousin's aflfections. Now, he almost wished that Lucile 
were less susceptible, and would give him a chance to struggle 
for her love. He disliked the idea of her unconditional sur- 
render, and was at loss how to accept it. While these uncourte- 
ous reflections filled his mind, his eyes wondered over her fault- 
less face and he suddenly caught the frank, innocent expres- 
sion in hers. He was stricken with remorse, and a longing to 
win her pure, undivided love, once again flooded his heart. 

"Do you really intend going back to school next Monday?" 
he asked, drawing his chair nearer to hers. 

"Did you not hear me tell Nannie that such was my inten- 
tion. I have already lost three weeks. " She fluttered like a 
bird entangled in a net. 

"Dear Lucile, do you regret the time you lost?" 

He leaned over and laid his fingers tenderly upon her hair, 
which hung in a lustrous braid across her shoulder. Lucile 
shrank from his touch with unconcealed displeasure and began 
putting up her work. 

"Of course not;" she faltered, "I should not have made 
your acquaintance had I gone." 

"I too, will take my departure sometime next week. Will 
you miss me, Lucile?" 

"I'm sure, we shall aZ/ miss you; but you v/ill visit us 
again, will you not, causin?" 

''My return will depend on circumstances." 



THE COUSINS. . 231 

''That's true; a soldier is not at liberty to go where he 
pleases;" rejoined Lucile, fixing upon him ej'es overbrimming 
with candor. 

"My destiny is in your hands, my precious cousin; and 
j'our heart shall decide whether I shall ever see you again." 

There was something in her cousin's voice which ruffled 
the serenitv of Lucile's mind, and she rose from her seat with 
such precipitation, that a ball of cotton thread rolled out of 
her basket. He scrambled across the floor in pursuit, and 
thumped his head against the balustrade, just as the ball rolled 
from the gallery into the parterre. 

"Oh, my dear cousin! Did you break your head?'' asked 
Lucile, suppressing a laugh. 

"I am generally more expert with my right hand;" replied 
Eugene, glancing at his bandaged arm. "But I'm curious to 
know," added he, turning his dark-grey eyes upon Lucile, 
"whether I would be more successful if I were to make an at- 
tempt to capture somebody's heart?" 

"If you do, " suggested Lucile with a mischievous look, 
"I advise you to begin before j'our arm is out of the sling." 

"And why should I?" he asked, in a constrained, uneasy 
tone of voice. 

"Because you look so interesting that way. You could 
work on one's feelings, with so much facility, it seems to me." 

' 'If I knew my chances were going to be diminished, I 
would try the experiment on you, fair cousin. " 

"Spare yourself the trouble;" answered Lucile, with 
heightened color. ' 'My heart is not to be disposed of. And — 
and I must inform you that you have no right to speak to me 
in that waj'. " 

An undefinible expression lighted up Eugene Lafitte's 
handsome face as he muttered: "Forgive me, I did not mean 



232 ZULMv^., A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

to offend you, Lucile. I was over- hasty and inconsiderate." 
'< You are excusable, " answered Lucile somewhat coldly. 
"But — some day, dear cousin," he continued, "after the 
war is over and I have won laurels to lay at your feet, will you 
not grant me the privilege of sueing for your love?" 

The girl threw out her little hand in a frightened, depre- 
cating manner. "1 love you already, as much as T ever shall 
— as much as mamma does!" she explained. "You must not 
speak to me on that subject again. I have the best reasons in 
the world to forbid it. Cousin Eugene." 

This sudden revolution in Lucile's feelings and behavior, 
seemed so uncalled for, that her cousin stood for some mo- 
ments stock-still, watching in silent amazement, the slight, 
erect form so beautifully silhouetted against the dark, cluster- 
ing vines. Her apparent dismay was attributed to her 
childish timidity; he loved her more for it, and stretched out 
his hands towards her, saying: 

"Let us be friends, Lucile!" 

"Have we quarreled?" she asked, giving him one of hers, 
with evident reluctance. 

"Not so dreadfully as to exclude a reconciliation;" he re- 
sponded with great warmth. "You must remember, that in 
less than three days we must part, dear Lucile." 

"Please call me Cousin Lucile." 

"Oh don't ask me that!" he answered in a tone of sub- 
dued tenderness. '■'■LvciJe is very much sweeter without that 
incumbrance." 

"Zulma has forgotten to bring in the lights," Lucile re- 
marked, taking up her basket. She went in, lit the caudles 
and placed them on the piano; then, timidly invited her cousin 
to come in. 



THE COUSINS. 233 

"Not now, thank you, Cousin Lucile;"' he answered, in a 
somewhat pathetic tone of voice. "I shall sit here in the twi- 
light; it is very congenial to my present state of mind." 

Lucile feared she had wounded his feelings, and addressed 
him in a kinder tone: 

"Come out of the night air, Cousin Eugene, and help me 
sing." 

She lingered in the doorway, waiting for him. 

' 'You treat me like the Sea Islanders do their song birds, 
Cousin Lucile; they put out their eyes that they may smg the 
sweeter m utter darkness and distress." 

"I see no analogy between your case and theirs ;" answered 
Lucile, wonderingly. 

"Why you stab me through the heart, and then deliber- 
ately call me up to sing." 

"My dear cousin!" cried Lucile with genuine compunction 
in her voice. "How unkind ot you to compare me with those 
barbarians! Why, I would not hurt a fly — much less yoxi^ 
whom I dearly love." 

She returned to the piano, opened it, and began playing 
"■Reveil des Uiseaux." The brilliant music filled the room and 
floated out in the open air. Eugene Lafitte listened, while he 
watched a star which hovered on the verge of the southern 
horizon. It vanished, at last, like a great diamond dropped 
into a velvet casket. The showering music caught up a sigh 
which fell from his tremulous lips, and tenderly laid it in the 
bosom of Night. 



234 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

JUST FOR FUN. 

A FTER many a detour through a variety of soil and scenery, 
^•^ bayou Fordorche terminates its wanderings and joins 
Grosse Tete at a short distance above Livonia. At this period 
of the war, the banks at the junction were considerably higher 
than the surrounding country, and commanded an admirable 
view of bayou Grosse Tete, and the public road winding along 
its shores. The school house, once the residence of a wealthy 
planter, occupied the site on the left bank of the Fordorche, 
It was one of the old creole houses freshened up with paint, 
modernized, and supplemented by Venetian blinds. The deep 
galleries which encompassed it, gave it an airy, home-like ap- 
pearance, and efficiently warded off the summer heat. It was 
surrounded by extensive grounds, beautified by flower-beds 
and groves of stately trees. In early spring, the richly varia- 
gated flowers of the catalpa carpeted the sward, and their 
broad, velvety leaves over-shadowed the galleries and made 
moari throughout the summer time. On warm evenings the 
boarders brought out their books and charts and prepared their 
lessons in the shaded avenues, or played quiet games until the 
tea bell summoned them to the most delightful repast of 
the day. 

There was no lixed curriculum of studies in the school; 
and the advanced pupils were allowed to pursue the branches 



JUST FOR PUN. 235 

:most suited to their abilities or natural inclinations. The dis- 
^cipline was mild, permitting the freedom of social intercourse 
I between the pupils and their friends. After the dismissal of 
(the evening classes, the young ladies often received calls, 
[paid visits, and on rare occasions attended the little receptions 
I held in the neighborhood. 

On the Wednesday following her last visit to Lucile, 
JNannie sat at one of the windows of her room, tustling with 
;the promiscous examples in Proportion. After figuring and 
itoiling over her sums with very doubtful results, she threw 
saside her book and slate, heaved a deep sigh, and flung her 
sarms wearily across the back of the chair. Her eyes wandered 
I listlessly across the wa}^ to a point where a sweeping view of 
tthe waters of Grosse Tete reflected the last ruddy glow of the 
^^setting sun. The trees, the tawny banks and rail fences, were 
dall vividly mirrored on its tranquil surface. The scene was as 
[beautiful and placid as a picture on canvas. But Nannie was 
tno artist, and the charming landscape gave her no pleasure; 
Iher thoughts were busy with matters of personal interest. 
JShe was thinking of Herbert's loyalty to Lucile and his pro- 
woking indifference towards other girls. 

"Lucile ought to be teased for monopolizing the finest 
llooking fellow around," she soliloquized; "and Herbert, he 
(deserves to be punished for his conceit. Thinks nobody but 
I Lucile worthy of his thoughts. Dear me! it wouldn't take me 
tfive minutes to smash up this little love aft'air of theirs; and 
ll've a notion of doing it, just for fun! It won't hurt Lucile 
imuch; slie'll fall bacs on cha' cousin of hers. She's half way 

in love with him now, for shes given up her school on his ac- 
< count, and that means a good deal for a girl like Lucile. Of 

course, I'll do it, if only I hrve a chance; lovers' quarrels are 
• so interesting! " Nannie's monologue came to a sudden term- 



236 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

ination; she bolted from a chair and riveted her eyes on a dis- 
tant curve in the bayou. She had caught a glimpse of the 
reflection of a rider galloping in lithe bounds in the direction 
of the school-house. Several times the graceful image was 
intercepted by clumps of trees, but it again reappeared, glid- 
ing on the smooth saphirine surface ot the water. At length 
the horseman emerged into full view on the public road. 
Nannie bounded down the steps. She got to the gate just as 
Herbert Davis reached it. 

"Hold on! Herbert," she cried, waving her hand. "I've 
got a commission for ,you." 

"From the department?" he asked, lifting his hat to 
her. 

"You presumptions boy, you! I should like to know 
what you did to deserve one of that sort? " 

"How IS everybody?" Herbert asked, searching with 
eager eyes the grounds and galleries. 

" If by '"^'prytorfy' you mean Luoile," answered Nannie, 
"you'll have to stop at her house to ascertain; she's not 
here." 

" Not here? " echoed Herbert with surprise. " What has 
happened? Is she sick?" 

" I reckon not," said Nannie, trying to pulverize with her 
heel, a minature heap of dried leaves. " She's at home, enter- 
taining that handsome cousin of hers." 

" None of your nonsense, Nannie! Tell me what is the 
matter witli Lucile. Its late and I'm in a hurry to get home." 

" Why, Herbert! you don't tell me you haven't heard 
about this Texan staying at Highland?" 

•'Of course not," answered Herbert, in a strained, uneasy 
tone of voice. " I haven't seen anyone from home for nearly 
a month, What about him?" 



JUST FOR I'UN. 237 

"Well," began Nannie, inclining ber head to one side in 
ihe most fascinating manner. "All I know about him is this: 
<ie's the son of one of Mrs. Hunt's uncles, who lives in Texas 
—got wounded; came to be nursed; made a big impression on 
wery member of the family, especially on Lucile, who is per- 
fectly infatuated with him. She and Mr. Lafitte are having a 
ovely time of it, you bet." 

' ' The deuce they are ! And what do you call a lovely 
ime, Nannie?" 

"Why, flirting and carrying on generally," answered 
Nannie, with a* fluttering heart. That's what young people 
generally do when they get together. When I was there, one 
afternoon, they were sitting out on the gallery, enjoying 
themselves. They reminded me of two pigeons, they were so 
sweet and afl'ectionate towards each other! " 

"Confound it! " exclaimed Herbert, with cheeks aflame. 
I don't believe a word of all this, Nannie. I know you're 
mean enough to make up that tale just to tease me! " 

' ' I declare ! you are very easily teased then. Where's 
the harm?" But fearing that she had gone too far, she step- 
.ped in front of Herbert's horse, which she clutched by the 
iforelock, saying, " Looky here, Herbert, you're not going to 
I begrudge poor Lucile the little innocent fun she's having, 
are you?" 

He gave her a look which sent the blood bounding to her 
[heart. "Was this the commission you had for me?" he 
asked, almost transfixing her with an angry glance of his 
dark eyes. 

"No, I promised one of my friends to lend her my 
<Bulah,' and I want you to fetch it; it's at your house." 

Poor Herbert was too proud to allow Nannie to see to 
1 what extent her frivolous words had affected him. He could 



238 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

not trust himself another moment, nor master the emotions 
which swept like fiery waves across his heart. Silently and 
resolutely he extricated the girls fingers from his horse's 
mane and started off; his only refuge was in flight. 

Nannie stood in the middle of the road watching him until 
he disappeared from view. "Gracious! " she exclaimed, "I'm 
real sorry I've done the thing. He's going to pitch into Lucile 
and give her fits; and she mightn't have been flirting after all! 
I wonder how it will all end? " 

Herbert rode several miles at a furious rate, then sud- 
denly stopped and brought his steed to a slow walk. The 
purple twilight gathered around him, and the night wind 
sprang up and tossed a bevy of seared leaves across the road. 
They whirled about his horse's hoofs with sounds which grated 
upon his ears and unnerved him. He determined to see Lucile 
immediately, in order to take leave of her. She had permit- 
ted the stranger to make love to her — she, who had given him 
her promise to keep her heart's affections inviolate until he 
claimed them as a reward for his unalterable devotion and 
loyalty. She was now unworthy of such love as he had given 
her; he would tear her image from his heart, and steel himself 
against her alluring voice and winning ways. His outraged 
affections, his wounded pride, and his disappointment, filled 
his soul with bitter strife and anger. It was a relief for him 
to know that he would soon leave the parish for the heat and 
burden of actual warfare. He now longed to lay down his 
life for the dear Southern (^ause. Once his ambition was to 
win honors to lay at Lucile's feet. Heaven! what changes 
will overtake a man in an hour's time! Such were the reflect- 
ions which crossed and recrossed Herbert's mind as he jour- 
neyed onward in the waning light. He got to Highland at 
dusk. As he approached the house, he noticed that the can- 



JUST FORLFUN. 239 

dies were burning m the parlor. No one seemed to hear his 
footfalls upon the gravel. The parlor doors stood wide open, 
I the light from within streamed across the gallery to where the 
house plants seemed crystalized in its unnatural glare. Even 
in his anger and wretchedness, Herbert remembered his man- 
ners; he stood discreetly aside and rapped. "Come in," an- 
swered a voice which sent a thrill through his soul. 

With head proudly erect, and flushed cheeks, Herbert 
stepped into the apartment. Lucile sat at a table writing; at 
the sight of her visitor; she quickly arose to greet him. 

"Oh! is it you, Herbert?" she cried, almost joyfully. 
"I took you for the messenger we had sent out to False 
River." She looked so exquisitely fair and dainty ; there was 
such a glad, innocent expression in her beautiful eyes, that for 
a second, Herbert stood mute and spell-bound in the presence 
of the girl he had come to upbraid. 

When he spoke his voice was hoarse and unnatural. 
' ' There was a time when you never mistook my footsteps for 
another's;" he answered almost fiercely. 

Lucile, who had started across the room to meet her 
friend, involuntarily staggered back towards the table. There 
was something in Herbert's voice and manners, which fright- 
ened and repulsed her. 

" What has happened, Herbert?" she cried with dismay. 
"Tell me quickly." 

Herbert's face was now white and drawn; his fine eyes 
flashed ominously. Wild and reckless thoughts drifted across 
his heated brain. Had Lucile been less beautiful, his loss would 
have been more endurable. It was terribly hard to pronounce 
his own sentence, and by his own act to alienate himself for- 
ever from the lovely being upon whom rested his life's happi- 
ness. He had observed, that whenever she addressed him, it 



240 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

was in a low, cautious toue, as though she feared to be over- 
heard. Undoubtedly she was trying to prevent her lover from 
discovering that he had a rival in the house. The thought 
maddened him. He made a few steps toward Lucile, his 
heart bursting with rage and jealousy. "I have come for the 
express purpose of giving you back 3'oar troth, Lucile, " lie be- 
gan. "You are sufficiently acquainted with my character to 
know, that I would scoru to keep it an hour longer than I 
could help, after what has happened between you and that 
soit dis(nit cousin of yours." 

"I do not understand your meaning, Herbert,'' said 
Lucile, in a dazed helpless way. Give me an explanation of 
this extraordinary behavior of yours — and — and — please do 
not speak so loud, Herbert" she begged in a subdued, pathetic 
tone of voice. 

The blood of indignation once more usurped the deathly 
pallor of his cheeks; he folded his arms composedly across his 
breast and looked defiantly into Lucile's misty eyes. 

"There was a time," he went on, "when, in my blind 
worship of you, I invested you with virtues and qualities sel- 
dom found on earth. To me, you were as guileless as a child; 
deceit in any form was as foreign to your nature as to an angel 
in Heaven. Oh, God! how I have been punished for having 
thus made you my idol, my divinity! " 

"It was wrong of you, Herbert," cried Lucile, sinking 
into a chair near by. " I am but human, and have my faults 
like other people! " And she buried in her hands her white, 
suffering face. 

"To my sorrow, I have found this out, Lucile! " contin- 
ued Herbert, in a bitter, sarcastic tone. " You are no better 
than other girls ; the instinct of coquetry is as natural to you 
as to the rest; and you succumbed as readily to temptation, 



JUST FOR FUN. 241 

when the opportunity presented itself. My love for you once 
filled my heart to the exclusion of all others, it has all turned 
to ashes; you are at this moment less to me than any other 
human being, and I no longer care for your love or esteem. 
In a few days I shall leave the parish to join another com- - 
mand. Would to Grod I could lay down my life on some dis- 
tant battle field. You have so ruined, so imbittered my ex- 
istence, that I no longer care for earthly ties. I only wish I 
could obliterate the past from my memory, and that my heart 
could be turned to stone ! I wish I were dead ! " 

As he uttered the last words, the unhappy youth clasped 
his hand across his burning eyes and leaned against the wall 
for support; Lucile watched him with cheeks that .paled and 
flushed alternately. Had Herbert plunged his sword into her 
heart, he could not have wounded her as deeply and cruelly as 
he had done by his passionate, unjust and humiliating re- 
proaches. At first she was at loss to understand the cause of 
his angry tirade. It dawned upon her by degrees, that Her- 
bert was accusing her of some grave and unpardonable misde- 
meanor, the nature of which she was entirely ignorant. He 
ended by informing her that she had lost his love and esteem. 
Could he have said anything more crushingly mortifying? 
Her pride and self-respect promptly asserted themselves, and 
she immediately recovered her presence of mind. Her grace- 
ful head went up, almost haughtily, and the latent fire in her 
violet eyes flashed out across the room, to where Herbert stood 
in an attitude of pitiable dejection. " I have listened, very 
patiently, " she remarked, in a calm, dispassionate tone, "to 
your unjust and shocking insinuations; but I shall not attempt 
to exculpate myself, Herbert; I haven't the least desire to 
reinstate myself in your good opinion." 



I 



242 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"The- attempt would be useless and vain, unhappily for 
us both;" he answered, lifting up his head and gazing sorrow- 
fully into Lucile's eyes, ' ' There is no palliation for the harm 
done." 

Her lips contracted with ill-repressed pain. "T pity 3"ou 
from the bottom of my heart," Lucile said, in a low, intense 
voice. ' ' Some day you will weep tears of blood for the in- 
justice you have done me."' 

' ' If the Lucile I once knew and loved could be restored 
to me, I should be willing to weep those tears!" he responded 
in despairing accents! Then casting upon Lucile an appeal- 
ing look, he asked: " Have j^ou nothing more to say to me?" 

" Nothing more. " 

' ' Then, farewell ! I shall never again cross your path in 
life, Lucile. Farewell!" 



love's warfare. 243 



CHAPTER XXIII. 
love's warfare. 

T UCILE made a superhuman effort to stifle the sob which 
^ rose to her throat and threatened to suffocate her. She 
overcame her weakness, however, and gave no further sign of 
the awful struggle within her. She sat silent and motionless 
until Herbert had passed out ot her sight. Then her head 
fell inertly against the back of her chair, and a smothered 
moan escaped her quivering mouth. All the woes of life 
seemed crowding into her bursting heart. Surely, God had 
overrated her strength, for the -cross was heavier than she 
could bear. She remembered now, that in one of her daily 
oraisons she had asked for crosses. In her childish faith 
and simplicity, shehad invariably stipulated that they might 
be of any nature, save the death of her dear parents. God 
had taken her at her word and He had not spared her, for the 
burden he had laid upon her shoulder had prostrated her 
to the earth, and she made no effort to fortify herself against 
the unexpected trial. 

The silvery tones of the supper bell broke upon Lucile's 
melancholy reflections, but she made no attempt to answer its 
summons. She felt like one stunned, incapable of resuming 
her duties, however urgent. 

"Ain't you comin' in to supper?" Zulma asked, walking 
up to where Lucile sat. "Master done troo weighin" cotton 



244 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

and is waitin' for you in de dinin' room. Lawd a mercy!" 
the girl ejaculated, on observing the change in Lucile's face. 
"I do believe you've been stealin' a nap, Miss Lucile, yo' eyes 
done swell up like as if you'd been sleepin' for a whole year. 
It's time yo' maw gets over dat spell ot hern; stayin' up of 
nights don't agree wid you — it certainly don't." 

"Ask Papa to excuse me, Zulma; I'm not at all well, and 
don't care for supper, " Lucile said, with tears in her voice. 
"I must attend to Mamma; I have already been away too 
long." 

She gathered up her writing materials as she spoke, and 
placed them in her secretary; then passed her hand over her 
face as if to compose and efface from her features such traces 
of emotion as might betray her sufl'ering to her mother. 

"Is my sweet Mamma awake?" asked Lucile, bending 
over and imprinting a fervent kiss upon her mother's lips. 

"I have been for sometime, darling; I did not call you, 
because I heard you entertaining a caller. Who was it dear? " 

"Herbert stopped here a little while. Mamma." 

Mrs. Hunt did not notice the little hands pressing tight 
against the throbbing heart; nor could she, in the uncertain 
light, perceive the pallor which suddenly overspread the 
countenance of her daughter. 

"That must have been an agreeable surprise to you;" 
remarked Mrs. Hunt, carressing the head which had fallen 
upon the pillow close to hers. 

"Yes, Mamma, I was not expecting to see Herbert 
to-day." 

Lucile felt her strength slowly ebbing away. God! 
must she have recourse to prevarication, in order to hide Her- 
bert's outrageous behavior towards her, and to avoid confess- 
ing their painful and humiliating estrangement. 



love's warfare. 245 

"Mamma," sbe began, with a sob in her voice, " Herbert 
told me, that — he is going away — very soon — to join another 
command. We shall never meet again. Oh, Mamma! ' And 
her pent up feelings broke from her, like a mountam torrent 
just loosened from the icy grip of a northern winter. 

"What a foolish, unpatriotic little sweetheart Herbert 
has!" exclaimed Mrs. Hunt, drawing Lucile to her bosom. 
' ' Why, Lucile you are not at all like those Spartan women 
you used to admire so much. Could you not pluck up cour- 
age, dry your tears, and bid yOur lover 'God speed?' Herbert 
is so young, so full of chivalric notions and so ambitious of 
winning fame; you should be the last person in the world to 
put a damper on his ardor and enthusiasm. And Lucile, my 
darling, I hope you will never let him see that you are fretting 
and that bis departure is so afflicting to you. " 

"Oh, Mamma!" cried Lucile, drying up her tears. "Have 
you no better opinion of me? These are the first tears I have 
shed on Herbert's account, and he shall never know that I miss 
him, or even regret him! " 

"You are running in the opposite extreme," said her 
mother, smiling. "Of course, you will miss Herbert; it will 
be but natural, if j'ou have any love for him. Now, my pre- 
cious daughter, jump down, bathe 3^our eyes and hand me the 
powders." 

This was the third day of Mrs, Hunt's illness. She had 
fallen sick very suddenly, on Monday morning, just as Lucile 
was about starting for school. The anxieties of her devoted 
husband and daughter knew no bounds; and they never, even 
for an hour, abandoned her bedside, until after the doctor had 
pronounced her out of danger. Half an hour before Herbert's 
unpropitious call, Mrs. Hunt had fallen into a refreshing 
sleep. In his jealousy and rage, he had attributed to other 
motives, Lucile's anxiety to suppress loud talking. 



246 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH, , 

Just about this period, preparations were being made in 
northwest Louisiana to resist a formidable invasion projected 
by Federal authorities. General Green, after his brilliant ex- 
ploits on the Teche and on Red River, was now making ready 
to second General Taylor in the approaching campaign. When 
these tidings reached Eugene Latitte, he immediately made up 
his mind to rejoin his command, notwithstanding his disabled 
condition. No entreaty on the part of his relatives, could 
prevail upon him to remain another week. He took his de- 
parture on Sunda3^ the daj' before Mrs. Hunt's dangerous 
attack. Thus, poor Lucile had been misjudged by the very 
ones who should have sympathized with her in her trials. 

But to return to Herbert. He was, in reality, a thousand 
times more miserable after his interview with Lucile, than he 
had been whilst he still held his resentment locked up in his 
bosom. He had not gained anything by his impetuous con- 
duct. To his infinite sorrow and shame, he had acted rudely 
and unkindly to the most refined and sensitive being on earth. 
He understood, but too late, that he had taken the words of a 
frivolous creature, and condemned Lucile without a hearing. 
And what right had he to reprimand her for violating a pledge 
he had almost extorted from her? These and other painful 
reflections, harrassed and perplexed his mind. He was most 
wretched and despicable in his own estimation. He repeat- 
edly passed his hand across his throbbing temples and groaned 
aloud. He rode along, at a slow pace, in order to give time 
to his feelings to subside before reaching his home. Several 
times he lifted his aching eyes to the glowing heavens. Many 
of the constellations he had studied with Luciles assistance, 
now paved the sky with pulsing splendor. There was Taurus, 
with its jeweled clusters; the gleaming sword of Orion, his 
starry belt and epaulets, marked the field where the noted 



LOVES WARFARE. 247 

hunter forever defied his untiring adversary; the red planet, 
Mars, like a carbuncle, blazed between the horns of the bull. 
The creamy light of Capella, and Kigel's white lustre com- 
pleted the magnificent cortege just risen above the horizon. 
Herbert never looked at the stars without thinking of the sweet 
face he had so often seen lifted towards them in admiration 
or in earnest study. How often, when in loving contempla- 
tion of that face he had lost the drift of her delightful con- 
ceits, and got his heartstrings hopelessly entangled in the 
geometrical figures she traced out in order to facilitate his 
progress in the study of astronomy. Those dear, golden days 
had vanished, never to return! What would this world be to 
him without Lucile? — a desert waste. And yet, he must plod 
through it without hope or ambition of any kind. Only this 
morning, his mind was overcrowded with glorious plans for 
the future; his heart ached to impart them to Lucile. He 
had been overtaken by an overwhelming misfortune; he was 
left without a vestige ot hope to cheer him in the hazard- 
ous career he had chosen. Herbert's manliness seemed to 
have suddenly, forsaken him. His head drooped upon his 
breast; and the burning tears chased each other down his col- 
orless cheeks. As fast as they fell, he dashed jthem off 
quickly and impatiently, like one ashamed of his own weak- 
ness. 

Herbert found his family assembled at the supper table. 
He was greeted with acclatnatious of joy and surprise. His 
mother and the younger members of the household, crowded 
around him and covered his face with heart-felt kisses, and his 
father welcomed him with warmth. In the boisterous excite- 
ment which prevailed, the family had overlooked the change 
which had been wrought in his customary cheerful and happy 
disposition. It was only after Herbert had declined to join 



248 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

them at their meal, that they noticed the unnatural pallor of 
his face and the dark rings which encircled his eyes. 

"My dear boy," exclaimed Mrs. Davis, with natural 
alarm. "You look awful; have you been sick? " 

"No, mother, but I have a very bad headache;" answered 
Herbert, steadying his voice. 

"0 brother! " chimed in Rosanna, laying down the plate 
she had brought for Herbert. "You have been ill and have 
hidden the fact from us. Well, I'm glad we have you here; 
we'll nurse j'ou so well, and give you such a good time, you'll 
be your old self again in less than a week." 

"I'm obliged to you for your kind intentions, sister, but 
I cannot stay longer than to-morrow." 

"To-morrow!'" echoed Mrs. Davis. "My dear, darling 
boy, you must not think of going back so soon; you're not in 
a condition to expose yourself to the hardships of camp life." 

"No, Herbert," rejoined his father with concern, "you 
had better stay until you feel better.'' 

"But, Father," answered Herbert, "I am on furlough, 
and am in honor bound to report to-morrow by sunset. I only 
came to announce to you my departure for the Teche country." 

"Dear son!" once more exclaimed Mrs. Davis. "What 
in the name of common sense, must they send 3'ou to that mis- 
erable out-of-the-way place for? '' 

"Our company has been ordered to join a brigade under 
Taylor's command. You should not wish to see me shirk my 
duties, would you, mother?" asked Herbert, with a tremor in 
his voice. 

Mrs. Davis had now broken into a passionate fit of weep- 
ing. "No, Herbert," she managed to articulate between her 
sobs. " I want you to act like a man, and a true Southerner. 
Do all you can to help our dear country ; but do take care of 



love's warfare. 249 

your precious life. If 50U get killed, I shall die, I know I 
shall!"' 

"Please do not distress yourself so, dear mother, " Her- 
bert said; "I promise you, without compromising my reputa- 
tion as a soldier, to take the best care of myself." 

"I wish you would," replied his mother, somewhat recon- 
ciled. Do your duty, Herbert, but please don't rush into the 
mouths of the cannons, like our Col. Allen did at Shiloh." 

" Even then, he didn't get killed, mother." 

"No, because he was under God's special protection! " 
answered Mrs. Davis, with solemn fervency. " Think of his 
noble conduct at the battle of Baton Rouge; and now, that he 
has been elected governor, tiiere's no telling what he will do 
for our state. 

At half past ten, most of the household had retired for 
the night. 

Mrs. Davis had done everything that a mother's devotion 
could suggest for the comfort of a beloved son. The little 
talk she had had with him, proved very unsatisfactory. Her- 
bert had always been candi 1 and communicative; she was 
grieved to find him so reserved and unsympathetic. She 
feared that military life had spoiled his amiable character. 

"Herbert, are you asleep? " Rosanna's sweet voice asked 
at his bed-room door, half an hour after her mother's visit, 

"No; come in, sister." 

Ro=?nna found her broker lying at the foot of the bed, 
r,'ith bo hands crossed undc his Lead. He had been watch- 
ing th re gh the open winder, the swaying branches ot an 
apple tr-i 3 which grew in th t corner of the house. Some of 
I the smaller twigs bad reachec Jie panes, and were now chaff- 
ing and tapping against them with weird, shivering sounds, 



250 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOFTPI. 

very much in keeping with the boy's melancholy state of 
mind. 

"I have brought you an infallible cure for a sick head- 
ache," explained Rosanna, placing on the table a small china 
bowl. "Will you try some of it, Herbert? " 

"How kind of you, dear sister! of course I will, after 
you have put 3'ourself to the trouble of preparing it." 

Rosanna poured some of the contents of the bowl 
into a wine-glass and handed it to her patient. After replac- 
ing the glass on the taljle, she returned to her brother's bed- 
side and began passing her fingers carressinglv through his 
wavy brown hair. For a moment l)otii were silent. Herbert's 
eyes once more wandered back to where the bare limbs strug- 
gled with the north wind and tlirew themselves disconsolately 
against the weatherboarding. 

At length Rosanna asked: " Herbert, my dear brother, 
what is the matter with you? Surely, it is not a mere head- 
ache that makes you so sad and low-spirited! " 

' ' One is not apt to be gay, with a racking pain in the 
head, sister," observed Herbert, with a forced smile, 

"I imagine that you suffer mentalhj more than yon do 
physically, dear Herbert. It takes the eyes of a loving sister 
to detect the change in you. Could you not trust me, brother, 
with the secret of your trouble? " 

Herbert made no answer to this anxious appeal. 

Rosanna proceeded : "Imagine how unhappy I shall be 
during your long absence, if you leave me in this anxious 
state of mind." 

"Do you ever feel cheerful when you are ill?" 

"You are trying to put me off," answered Rosanna, 
drawing a chair to the bed. ' ' If you were to confide in me, 
I might be of some assistance to you." She sat beside him 



love's warfare. 251 

with a determination of finding out the cause of his despond- 
ency. After some minutes' roflection, an idea struck her and 
she asked: " Have you seen Lucile lately? " 

The question startled H^nbert, but he answered calmly: 
"Saw her this evening." 

"And how is Mrs. Hunt.' queried Rosanna. 
" I did not see her." 

"I -should think not, slie is still too ill to leave her 
room." 

Herbert raised himself oa his elbow and stared at his 
sister. " Has she been sick?'' 

"Why, Herbert! ■■ exclaimed Rosanna, with a surprised 
look. "I cannot believe that Lucile did not mention to you 
her mother's illness." 

Herbert passed his hand across his eyes, like one sud- 
denly overcome by some unexpected calamity. He dearly 
loved Lucile's mother. He answered evasively: "I was 
there a very short while; what is the matter with Mrs. Hunt, 
Rosanna?" 

"She was taken with something like a congestive chill 
and fever; for a time she was alarmingly ill. Lucile sent for 
me and I helped nurse her mother until she became convales- 
cent. I returned only this morning." 

"Then you saw that— that — relative of theirs? " Her- 
bert stammered, at the same time turning his head to hide his 
confusion. 

« ' Mr. Lafitte left the morning before Mrs. Hunt fell 
sick, but I had met him before. He is a very nice man, so 
handsome and agreeable, and every inch a soldier. Its a 
wonder to me that Lucile did not fall in love with him, in 
spite of your fine eyes and boyish devotion, brother mine! " 



252 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH. 

Herbert heaved a deep sigh. " Perhaps she did," he in- 
timated; casting on Rosanna an appeahng look. 

" The very idea! If Mr. Lafitte ever attempted to make 
love to Lucile, I know how emphatically she would put a stop 
to it. She's too whole-souled and conscientious to indulge in 
even a mild flirtation." 

Joy, like a streak of sunlight, flashed across Herbert's 
soul; but it was instantly dispelled by the recollection of 
Nannie's remark: "I saw Lucile and her cousin sitting out 
on the gallery; they reminded me of two pigeons, they were 
80 sweet and and affectionate towards each other." 

A sharp twinge of jealousy cut him like a knife through 
the heart, and he spoke almost crossly; " I have no faith in 
girls; they are all alike; none of them have the strength of 
mind to resist the pleasure of carrying on flirtations when they 
have a chance." 

"Thanks for the compliment;" answered Rosanna, some- 
what nettled; But she obtained a clue to Herbert's ill humor; 
he was jealous of Lucile's cousin, she felt relieved of very 
serious apprehensions. 

Rising from her seat, she smilingly remarked: "To- 
morrow I hope to find jou better, and more charitably dis- 
posed toward your friends and our sex in general. ' Then she 
kissed him "good night," saying: "Dream sweetly of the 
one you love, dear." 

Lucile was nurse and home-keeper during the rest of the 
week. On the Monday follov/ing, her father took her back to 
school, where she was joyfully' welcomed by her teachers and 
class-mates, for she was a favorite among them all. She and 
Nannie Dawsey roomed together, and occupied one of the 
largest apartments on the front. On the first evening after 
ber return, Lucile retired to her room to write an essay which 



LOVE'S -WARFARE. 253 

had been given out for the morrow's exercise. She had hardly 
settled herself at the table to beoin her work, when Nannie 
walked in and threw herself upon the lounge. Unfortunately 
for Lucile, the girl had come to talk, for, without the least 
encouragement, she opened her batteries. Lucde listened 
very patiently, writing between fires; but it was with the 
greatest difficulty ihat she collected her ideas, and scribbled 
them off at favorable intervals. 

"Did Herbert stop at your home, last Wednesday, 
Lucile? " asked Nannie rather abruptly. 

"Yes, '' was her companions laconic response, fler face 
grew pale, and the pen she held wavered across the lines. 

" I just knew he would!" exclaimed Nannie, sitting up 
with renewed interest. " Wasn't he piping mad? ' 

" He was not in a very amiable frame of miad, " affirmed 
Lucile, with increasing embarrassment. " Why do you ask?" 

"Out of curiosity. When he passed here, on his way 
home, I stopped him to ask for a book, and just for fun, I 
told him that you and your cousin were head-over-heels in love 
with each other and that you were just having a jolly time 
of it." 

Lucile leaped from her chair; the light from her eyes 
blazed like two diamond points. " Nannie! " she cried, in a 
voice trembling with indignation: "You wicked, meddlesome 
little wretch you! How dare you fabricate such an infam- 
ous lie? " 

Her girlish figure, graceful even in her extreme wrath, 
quivered with pain and excitement. 

" My goodness! " replied Nannie, somewhat taken by sur- 
prise. "Who would have thought you had such an awful 
temper, Lucile! One would think I had murdered some- 
body! " 



254 ZULMA, A STORY OV THE OLD SOUTH, 

"You have done worse than murder,"' cried Lucile, mak- 
ing a few steps toward Nannie; " 3'ou have robbed me of 
Herbert's friendship and esteem ; and 3'ou have rendered his 
life miserable, in consequence, because — because — there is 
nothing in the world, so sad as loss of confidence and blighted 
faith!" 

"Hold on," interrupted Nannie, with a wave of her hand, 
"if that's all the harm done I can easil}' settle the matter 
again. I'll write to Herbert to-morrow and explain the 
joke." 

"'The joke!' God! " cried Lucile, falling l)ack into 
her chair and clasping her hands over her face. ' ' The harm 
you have done can never be repaired, I will never forgive 
Herbert for giving you credit for the tales you told him; never! 
never/''' Lucile bowed her head over the table and wept most 
bitterly. 

"There's no use in carryiag on so, Lucile;" Nannie re- 
marked, after coolly contemplating her friend's grief for sev- 
eral minutes. "I'll fix it up with Herbert. The first thing 
you'll know, he'll be on his knees, begging your pardon. I 
had no idea you'd kick up such a rumpus about such a little 
thing! " 

At Lucile's earnest request, Nannie finally relinquished 

the oflBce of pacificator. 

Three months later, Lucile leceived from Herbert the fol- 
lowing letter: 

Dear Lucile — I have met your cousin. Lieutenant La- 
fitte. I cannot at present explaia to you the preliminaries of 
our first interview. Suffice it to Sixy, that I am row fully 
aware, how utterly unworthy 1 lirvVe rendered myseh of your 
thoughts. I am so overwhelnu d with the knowled ,c of the 
wrong I have done you, that, notwithstanding your Christian 



loye"s warefare. 255 

charity, and your angelic nature, I have despaired of ever 
obtaining your forgiveness. Need I say, that my outrageous 
and unpardonable conduct towards you, was the outcome of 
some malicious remarks made by one whom we had both be- 
friended? But I am not trying to vindicate myself, Lucile. 
I have sinned too deeply to ever recover your friendship^ 
Heaven alone knows how I have suffered, and yet suffer. My 
miserable condition makes me reckless. I court death — that 
alone can deliver me from my wretched lot. Lucile, I have 
not even the consolation of asking your forgiveness! I dare 
not. I am weeping those "tears of blood" you predicted I 
should; but they are profitless tears, they cannot purchase 
your love, nor, perhaps, even your forgiA-euess. And j^et, 
how I crave for both, how I pra}' for them ! Is there nothing 
I could do to wash out this grievous offense of mine, Lucile? 
For Heaven's sake, answer me. I cannot much longer endure 
this terrible suspense. 

Let me know the worst, at once! Herbert. 

Lucile received this letter one evening just before supper. 
She read it at her bed-room window, straining her eyes in the 
faint light of departing day. 

Happily for her, Nannie was absent. She closed her 
doors and indulged in a blissful fit of weeping. At last, with- 
out any concessions on her part, Herbert had discovered his 
error, and she was once more restored to his good opinion. 
That he still loved her, was evident from the tenor of his let- 
ter. Love like this could never die. She pressed the letter 
to her lips, and laid it next to her heart, in the place of the 
heavj' weight it had removed. 

When Lucile made her appearance at the tea table that 
evening, her teacher stared at her, saying: "Why, Lucile, 



256 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

how bright and happy you look! You remind me of your 
old self." 

"The roses deepened on lie girls cheeks. "That's ex- 
actly what I am, dear Mrs. Gilbert," she answered with a 
beaming smile. 

After the lapse of a week, Lucile wrote an answer to 
Herbert's letter. 

Geosse Tete, June, 1864. 

Is it Herbert, my school-mate, the companion of my 
childhood; the fond, noble, tru; ting friend of my girlhood, 
who seeks my forgiveness? or that other, whom I can never 
recall without a cruel pain at t'le heart. Alas! the Herbert 
that has erred and suffered, is the one who now ciaims my 
commiseration, and to him I uaist extend my forgiveness. 
"Well, it is given, freely; unreservedly given! I only ask in 
return, that this same miiiguidcd Herbert will, in some man- 
ner, io completely identify hir.';self with the other whom I 
loved and trusted, that I shall v ne day bless him, for wiping 
out this one dark record from i:ae tablet of my memory. If 
the restoration of my friendship can lighten your heart, or the 
hardships of your life, 1 shall deem myself hj-ppy. Now that 
we are friends again, I shall love to hear from you, whenever 
you shall have an opportunity to write. Lucile. 



Alexandria, June 22^ 1864. 
Lucile, My Dearest Lucile — How could you have had 
the heart to write me that letter? You forgave me as a sov- 
ereign pardons a criminal! But I forget myself m my new- 
born joy. I crave for more than I am entitled to, your pardon 
— nothing more! O, my dearest one. Will you never forget 
that wild, irresponsible act of mine? Can you never again 
respo:id to my heart's deathless lovie? I have never ceased to 



lote's warfare. 257 

care for you, Lucile, never! Even when my soul was torn 
■with jealousy and disappointment. 1 could not tear from it 
my despairing love for 3'ou. 

You said to me once in that terrible hour, that you had 
no desire to be restored to my good opinion. Can it be possi- 
ble that yon still adhere to that resolution? Darling, had I 
loved YOU less, had I not enshrined you in my heart as the 
hest^ sweetest, pwj-es^, and most perfect of God's creations, I 
should not have taken it so hard. You know not what I have 
suffered, Lucile. You know not how dark and desolate the 
world had suddenly grown to me, after I thought I had lost 
you. Death would have been the sweetest boon Heaven could 
have sent me then. 

Our regiment will return to Pointe Coupee in a few weeks. 
I hope you will allow me the privilege of calling upon you, 
Lucile; I have something to impart to you, which I know will 
give you pleasure, and which will prove to you, how thorough- 
ly I am cured of that mad, unfounded jealousy which came 
so near parting us. Au revoir. 

Yours, ever truly and lovingly. 

Herbert. 



258 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OLD SOUTH, 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



ON PROBATION. 



UNPRECEDENTED struggles had convulsed Louisiana since 
the opening of tlie year 1864. The Northwestern portion 
of the State had become the scene of sanguinary battles, and 
events of vital interest to the South, had been enacted upon 
her soil. Death, famine and devastation had followed the 
wake of the hostile armies which had swept, like an avalanche, 
across the richest and fairest portion of the country. It was 
General Halleck who conceived the design of invading Louis- 
iana by the line of the Red river. In the early part of January 
1864, he proposed to General Banks, a plan of operation, by 
which he was to cut off important supplies from Texas, and 
capture Shreveport, then the capital of the Confederate govern- 
ment in Louisiana. 

Accordingly, in the month of March, a strong land 
force, under Banks, advanced from the valley of the Teche 
towards Red river, where he was to be supported by a fleet of 
gunboats under the command of Admiral Porter. General 
Steele marching from Little Rock was to co-operate with these 
united forces at Shreveport. Taylor, who had the immediate di- 
rection of the troops in Louisiana, contrived, with his little 
army of ten thousand men, to keep this formidable host in 
check until reinforcements reached him. The first important 
engagement took place near Mansfield. Taylor and his gallant 



ON PROBATION. ' 2S9 

Louisianans, assisted by several regiments of fearless Texans, 
won the day and covered themselves with deathless glory. 
The nest encounter was at Plaisant Hill, where General Green 
and his dauntless Texas cavalry, distinguished themselves for 
their brilliant exploits. The day after the battle, he was sent 
with a detachment in pursuit of the fugitives, and was killed 
by a blow from a fragment of a shell. Lieutenant Lafitte had 
followed his bold leader, and was severely wounded whilst 
valiantly rallying his squad near Blair's landing. Herbert 
Davis, who had joined the pursuit, received several painful 
flesh wounds. After the fray, he and Eugene Lafitte found 
themselves under the same roof of an improvised field hospital. 
While waiting for the arrival of the surgeon, Herbert caught 
sight of his quondam rival lying on a pile of hay, bleeding 
popiously from a wound in his thigh. Though this man had 
been the indirect cause of his outbreak with Lucile, Herbert 
was too sympathetic and noble-minded to encourage unkind 
feelings towards his suffering comrade in the hour of peril. 
Walking up to where the officer was, he stooped over his pros- 
trate form and asked: "Can I do anything for you, Lieuten- 
tenant Lafitte?" 

The soldier's bronzed face flushed with surprise and emo- 
tion. 

"I do not think it possible lor you to render me anj' as- 
sistance," he answered, "unless you can find some way of 
staunching this blood. It looks as though I shall bleed to 
death before I can be attended to." 

Herbert made a tour of inspection through the deserted 
building, and found to his relief, the remnant of a table cloth 
in an old cypress armoir. This he quickly made into a com- 
press. He then expertly bandaged the leg, unmindful of the 
pain he himself suffered from a gaping wound on his arm. 



260 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

An hour later, the surgeon complimented Herbert on his dex- 
terity and timely succor. From that day, a close friendship 
united the worthy 5'ouths. They remained together several 
"Weeks after the dispersion of the troops that had done such 
valiant service in behalf of the Pelican State. The men whom 
General Taylor had so thoroughly inspired with his own fiery 
zeal, now refused to follow Kirby Smith across the Texan lines. 
After Taylor's return to Natchitoches, they became demoralized 
and were disbanded. Many of the regiments rejomed their 
former commands. As the wound in his thigh incapacitated 
young Lafitte from further service, Herbert Davis prevailed 
on him to return with him to Poiute Coupee, to remain as his 
father's guest until he was once more qualified for military du- 
ties. 

On a bright morning in the flowery month of June, Mrs, 
Gilbert, the minister's wife, sat in the parlor of the Fordorche 
home, giving a music lesson. The sound of jingling spurs ar- 
rested her attention, then some one walked rapidly up the 
steps. She went to the door to ascertain who the caller was, 
and came face to face with Herbert Davis. He had always 
been a favorite of hers. His uniform courtesy, gentlemanly 
deportment and assidious application to his studies, had won 
her interest and esteem; his gallant conduct in the late cam- 
paign, had served to increase her admiration. The meeting 
between the two was, therefore, cordial and afl'ectionate. Af- 
ter a brief and earnest conversation and mutual inquiries of 
personal interest, Herbert respectfully drew the lady out of 
the hearing of the pupil, who, according to orders, was run- 
ning her scales from the majors to the minors, but with such 
reckless velocity that her teacher turned several times to repri- 
mand her. -'Dear Mrs. Gilbert' he said, "I have a favor to 
ask of you." 



ON PROBATION. 261 

"Granted;"' thoughtlessly answered his old teacher. 
"Who could deny you anything, Herbert — and at such a time?" 

Herbert gave her a look full of gratitude. ' 'Have you any 
objections to my seeing Lucile for a few minutes?" 

"None whatever. You have not outgrown the old attach- 
ment, I perceive;" the lady smilingly observed. 

"Indeed no; and you are the last person in the world to 
discountenance my allegiance, I am sure." 

Mrs. Gilbert gave Herbert an approving glance, and drew 
out her watch. "Will you have the patience to wait ten 
minutes?" she asked. 

"After a separation of six months, I should be equal to 
the ordeal;" answered Herbert, with cheerful alacrity. 

"Very well. I shall send 3-ou Lucile as soon as I get 
through with this lesson. Here's a seat; you will enjoy the 
balmy air, and the merry warble of that mocking-bird in the 
catalpa. " 

"Thanks. What a lovely view you have here! There is 
no finer country in the world, than Grosse Tete, Mrs. Gilbert;" 
exclaimed Herbert, with a glad light in his eyes. 

The lady laughed: "I can well appreciate your feelings, 
dear Herbert. The most attractive place on earth to any one 
in love, is where the heart finds its magnet."' 

As the minutes sped, Herbert's heart began to beat so vio- 
lently, that his lips vibrated with the force of its pulsations. 
Lucile, to his sorrow and disappointment, received him with 
less warmth than he anticipated; indeed, she was mclined to 
treat him with dignified reserve. "Dear Lucile," Herbert 
cried, impulsively seizing her hands. "I see you are still 
angry with me. I never thought you could be so henvtless. 
0! my dearest one, will you never forgive me — will you never 
love me again?" he asked, with a note of entreaty in his voice. 



262 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Lucile silently struggled to free her hands from his cling- 
ing clasp. 

"Herbert, you hurt me!" she exclaimed, in a voice tremu- 
lous with emotion. ' 'Release my hands, you know full well, 
you have not the right to treat me thus, it is ungenerous on 
your part." 

Herbert instantly released the little hands: "Very well. 
I shall not again run the risk of incurring your displeasure, 
Lucile." 

He had grown ver}^ pale with suppressed pain and mortili- 
cation. TInconsciously, he threw himself in the same attitude 
he had assumed a half a year ago, whilst upbraiding her. Then, 
the intellectual beauty of his face was marred by passion and 
his soul writhed in despair. But now, the developed faculties 
of his heart and mind, asserted themselves, and he was taller, 
manlier, handsomer than before. The Confederate uniform 
he wore, displayed to advantage his graceful, well-propor- 
tioned figure, and lent him a distinguished appearance. For a 
moment he held her eyes enthralled by a magnetic glance of 
his own; they pierced her soul with the truth and smcerity of 
his abiding love. 

"Lucile," he asked, "is this to be the end of our friend- 
ship, and of the engagement which existed before that one 
o-rievous act of mine alienated us? I have the privilege of as- 
certaining 3^our intentions and views in regard to onr former re- 
lation to each other. You must now let me know, positively, 
whether you still consider me your betrothed lover. Be not 
over-hasty; remember, dearest one, that your love is more 
precious to me than life." 

A gleam of rosy light broke upon Lucile's perfect face; 
almost involuntarily she raised her eyes to his, but she could 



ON PROBATION, 263 

not hide the truth from her lover, he read it in their liquid 
depths. 

"You do care for me, Lucile, " he cried, once more grasp- 
ing her hands and covering them with kisses. "What pleas- 
ure can you derive in thus torturing my poor heart?" 

"Had I ever said an unkind word to you before you mis- 
trusted me, Herbert?" Lucile asked, gently disengagmg her 
hands; "3-ou must now suffer the consequences of yo\xv loss of 
confidence in me."' 

"I shall prove to you, my unshaken faith in j-ou, Lucile. 
I have persuaded Lieutenant Lafitte to remain with me as my 
guest until he is able to return to his regiment." 

"Does he still suffer from the wound in his arm?" asked 
Lucile, looking frankly and unperturbably into Herbert's face. 

"No, he was severely hurt in a fight at Blair's Landing. 
Now, Lucile, it will be but natural for him to spend much of 
his time at your house; he will be constantly thrown with you. 
I shall not be jealous of him, if you give me one more trial ; 
renew the promise 3'ou gave me, just before I started for the 
arm}'." 

Lucile broke out in a prettj', rippling laugh. 

"I shall do no such a thing, Herbert; you have shouldered 
the responsibility, you must now take the risks."' 

Herbert bit his lips with vexation, a misgiving, subtile as 
air, clouded for a memenft his anxious countenance. 

"Then, I have made a fool of myself!" 

"Not quite, Herbert;" said Lucile, with a charming smile. 
"You have only prolonged your probation." 



264 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

lawler's invasion. 

T^HE Federals had recently established a military post at 
* Morganza, and General Lawler, with a considerable 
army, had taken up his headquarters in that vicinity. Conse- 
quently, Grosse Tete and the adjacent country became the 
scene of frequent conflicts between the Yankee troops and the 
Confederate soldiers occupying that part of the parish. Oft 
times our boys ventured out to a close proximity to the Federal 
encampment, "just for the fun of popping at the cen tries." 

Then again, they met m sharp skirmishes, resulting in 
serious losses on both sides. The dash and daring of 
these reiterated attacks on the p.art of the Rebels, became 
monotonous and wearisome to the good-natured, pusil- 
lanimous commander at Morganza, his Irish blood was 
up and he would no longer brook their insolence and 
perverseness. He had several times threatened to put a stop 
to the reckless audacity of these free lances, by making a 
sortie and scourging Ihem entirely out of the country. About 
a week after the return of our troops from Red River, some 
one started the report that Lawler had definitely decided en a 
little expedition down Fordorche. Had the genera) notified our 
boys that he had granted them an amnesty, and was coming 
to give them a picnic, the tidings would havie been less elating. 



lawler's invasion. 265 

They immediately besjan preparing for his reception. Officers 

mustered into service all the scattered companies hovering 

around, and as many recruits as were willing to join the 
ranks. 

On a sunny morning in June, the dauntless little band 
gathered at the mouth of Fordoche, impatiently awaiting for 
the signal to start. Four of the pupils of the neighboring 
school exchanged their school-bags for muskets; they were 
mere lads, between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. Willie 
Gresham, Conne's brother, was the oldest of the absconding 
quartette. He was noted for being the handsomest youth in 
the countr}-. His fair and delicate complexion, his coral lips 
and soft, dark eyes, had already wrought sad havoc in the 
hearts of the grown girls. 

Willie was a born aristocrat ; was always arrayed in broad- 
cloth and immaculate linen, and sported a two hundred-dollar 
jeweled watch. These worldly advantages, however, never 
detracted from his popularity. His facile, attractive nature 
won him many friends. It was a wonder to everyone that 
adulation had not spoilt his character; he was uniformly kind 
and amiable towards all his school-mates and they all loved 
him dearly for his artless, careless patronage . Notwithstanding 
the effeminacy of his manners and delicate constitution, Willie 
Gresham was the moving spirit of a little war council held on 
this eventful morning, in the extreme corner of the school- 
house yard. He was the chief speaker, and the one who ex- 
pounded certain views regarding the duties and responsibili- 
ties of every Southern man or boy capable of bearing arms. 
The result of this patriotic effusion was the surreptitious dis- 
appearance of the school's most promising lads. They were 
heartily welcomed in the ranks, and concealed until the troops 
were ready to depart. This little transaction tooJi place about 



266 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

half an hour before the bell rang for morning classes. The 
pupils were then assembled about the yard, watching the 
soldiers as they passed and repassed in their hurried prepara- 
tions for an early start. Every one was on the alct; a spirit 
of restlessness had seized aud demoralized the whole school. 
The younger boys stood. on the road and greeted with vocifer- 
ous cheers, each Confederate squad riding by. Whenever a 
civilian came in sight, his ears were instantly assailed by a 
loud chorus of voices singing a paraphrase on "I Leave My 
Home and Thee, Dear." 

'•Why don't yuu go to the war, dear? 
Why don't you tight for me? 
Why don't you drive the Yankees 
From out of Pointe Coupee? 

The girls sat under the spreading trees, or promenaded ou 
the gallery, waiting for the departure of the valiant little band 
rapidly gathering under the folds of their " Bonnie Blue Flag," 
fluttering in the cheerful morning light. When the last rider 
had disappeared from view, and the inspiring strains of " Dix- 
ie" had floated off across the neighboring fields, Mr. Gilbert 
summoned his reluctant pupils to the school house. But he 
found it almost impossible to control them; they were restless 
and averse to study. The morning exercises were so often in- 
terrupted, and proved so unsatisfactory, that the teachers con- 
cluded to dismiss the school at an earlier hour than usual, in 
order to give time to the day scholars to reach their homes be- 
fore the culmination of that day's event. 

As the laggard hours dragged apace, a prescience of com- 
ing evil overshadowed the minds of the inmates of the school, 
aad filled them with vague apprehensions for those who had so 
unnecessaril}' exposed their lives on that hazardous adventure. 
Pay was declining and the sun was moving rapidly towards 
a couch of dijjphauous clouds prepared for him on the verge 



I 



lawler's invasion. 267 

of the western horizon. His golden beams showered down 

upon tree tops, grassy banks and flowery fields. The twitter- 
ing of young swallows among the shrubbery and the diowsy 
hum of belated bees alone broke the silence — a silence which 
hung like a tangible weight upon the senses, and oppressed the 
heart with painful forebodings. 

The boarders had spent an idle evening. Several of them 
had taken their seats upon the side gallery, where the}' had 
an uninterrupted view of the Fordoche road. With straining 
eyes and deep solicitude, they watched for the returning braves. 
After many hours of anxious waiting the cries of; "Here they 
are! They are coming! They are coming!" broke simultaneously 
from their lips. 

In fact the road along Bayou Fordoche, was flecked with ri- 
ders in grey. Helter skelter they came, clattering by in a pro- 
miscous stampede. 

"What's got into them?'" asked one of the girls. 

"The Yankees are after them;" seutentiously answered 
Nannie Dawsey. 

A vehicle was now plain!}' discernable in the melee; then 
another emerged in view; both slowly wended their way 
amongst the galloping horses. 

"They are bringing home their disabled men," observed 
Mrs. Gilbert. 

"Look!'" cried one of the boarders. "That fellow over 
there has his head bandaged, I can see the red stains on the 
cloth, and there's another all splashed with blood." 

Some of the men continued down the road, others halted 
at the mouth of the bayou. 

"I've a great notion to run out and ask them the news;" 
said Nannie, starting off. One of her companions caught her 



2*^8 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

by the arm. "For shame, Naanie. Don't you see Mr. Gil- 
bert out there? he'll give us the necessary information." 

"They've got Herbert in there I'm sure;" exclaimed Nan- 
nie, when one of the vehicles slowly passed the house; "for 
I saw him pass liere this morning in one of the squads." 

All eyes turned toward Liicile. Though the color had 
fled from her cheeks, she gave no utterance to the dreadful 
suspicion clutching at her heart. 

"Oh, goodness! cried one of the girls. Mr. Gilbert is 
bringing us bad news. Look at his face, it is almost livid." 
As soon as the minister set foot on the gallery, the group 
closed around him with eager questions. The tidings he 
brought, were truly disheartening. As w-as expected, our 
over-confident soldiers had had an encnuiter with a greatly 
superior force, and after a gallant, though unavailing resist- 
ance, had been totally defeated. 

"Our poor Willie Greshain was shot through the lung and 
was brought home in a dying condition," said Mr. Gilbert. 
Here he paused and glanced at Lucile, who was staring at 
him with a wild haunted look in her eyes. "We have been 
very unfortunate," he continued, turning to his wife. "Her- 
bert Davis also, received a dangerous wound in his chest."- 

"In the chest?" exclaimed Nannie. "Then he's gone up!" 

Many of the girls drew out their handkerchiefs and began 
crying. A breathless sob rose to Lucile's white lips, and she 
stretched out her hand towards a chair like one suddenly 
stricken with blindness. At the sight of her distress, Mrs. 
Gilbert passed an arm around the shuddering form and drew it 
affectionately to her bosom. 

"One of the officers," continued Mr. Gilbert, >'ju8t now 
told me that a large body of Federals is on the way to Grosse 
Teto. It is probable they will reach this point before nightfall. 



lawler's invasion. 269 

A flutter of excitement disturbed the little group congre- 
gated around their teachers. 

"There is no cause for alarm, young ladies," pursued Mr. 
Gilbert, in a reassuring voice. "The Yankees will not disturb 
us, for they have made up their minds to chase our soldiers 
out of the parish, and will not stop to fi;ive us a moment's 
thought; besides we shall put our trust in God. 'Whosoever 
dwelleth under the defense of the Most- High shall abide under 
the shadow of the Almighty, ' " concluded the reverend gentle- 
man with much fervor. 

"Suppose they stop here, what are we to do?" asked one 
of the pupils in a tearful voice. 

' 'Lock yourselves up in your rooms and make the best of 
your situation. Mrs. Gilbert will give us supper as soon as 
convenient so that you may not go to bed hungry. After sup- 
per, we shall have prayers. I perceive you are in no condition 
for mental exertion, we shall, therefore, dispense with our 
usual preparations for the morrow's lessons." 

Half an hour later, whilst the household were hastily par- 
taking of the evening meal, their attention was arrested by the 
beat of hoofs on the front alley ; then the silence was broken 
by the call. 

"Hello there! Hello!" Mr. Gilbert went to the door; 
he caught a glimpse of a rider plainly outlined against the 
twilight; the man reeled in his seat like one either badly 
wounded or intoxicated. He drew reins at the corner of the 
steps. 

"What is your business?" demanded Mr. Gilbert, in a 
rather uncompromising tone of voice. "Come up close, I 
want to speak to you on very important business," answered 
the intruder. With evident reluctance, Mr. Gilbert walked to 
the edge of the gallery saying, "Well what do you want of 



270 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

me?" A click, a flash, and the Yankee's revolver was leveled 
at the clergyman's breast. 

"Your life, sir; or your money!" came the answer in a 
low, tense voice. 

Naturally, Mr. Gilbert was staggered by the unexpected 
assault. He grew ghastly pale and held his breath, like one 
in fearful suspense. 

"1 have no mone}', sir;" he said in a trembling voice. 
"I am only a poor clergyman, teaching for living." 

"None of that nonsense," replied the robber, with a fear- 
ful oath. "It's one or the other, and I'll not give you anoth- 
er minute for reflection; choose!" 

He enunciated the last word with an ominous contrac- 
tion of his shaggy eye-brows and brought his formidable look- 
ing weapon in closer contact with the heavnig breast. At 
this juncture, Mrs. Gdbert rushed to her husband's rescue. 
"For God's sake spare my husband; " she cried. "I will give 
you all you ask." "All right; " answered the man, with a 
sardonic grin. "Hand over all your cash, or — here another 
terible oath burst from his lips, "I'll bore him through. Now, 
hustle. I give you three minutes, and no more. 

It took the frightened woman less than that to run to the 
amoir and back again with a roll of greenbacks which she 
tremblingly thrust into the highwayman's hands. He seized 
the booty without examination, and wheeled his horse around 
with nervous expedition. In the twinkling of an eye, he had 
passed the gate, and was on his way up the road, followed by 
several others who were, no doubt, his accomplices in crime. 
The scurry of their horses' hoofs, had scarcely died awa}', 
when the billowy noise of tramping cavalry smote the ear. 

"Good heavens!" ejaculated Mrs. Gilbert. "The Feder- 
als are upon us! Retire to your rooms young ladies, and lock 
your doors." 



lawler's invasion. 271 

Though trembling with terror and excitement, the girls 
still lingered on the gallery, peering through the obscurity, at 
the dark, cumbrous mass moving along on the opposite shore. 
The clatter of horses' feet, the clinking and gingle of sabres 
and rumbling of wagons, produced an appalling sound. Then, 
regiment after regiment of cavalry thundered across the little 
bridge, at the mouth of Fordoche. It required considerable 
time for a arm}' of four thousand men to get across. By 
eight o'clock that night, the premises were alive with hungry, 
restless men, running from place to place, tearing down fences 
and wood-piles to light their camp-fires. There was not a 
nook in the j-ard and garden that was not in possession of the 
enemy. The banks of the bayous, the roads and surrounding 
fields, were all illuminated with their direful beacons. The 
crash of falling fences, the death-squawk of fowls, surprised 
in peaceful slumber, the neighing and tramping of horses, and 
the sound of a thousand muftled voices, filled the air with a 
dull roar and a din that couflicted strangely with each other. 

General Lawler and his staff came up to the house, and 
signified his intention of making it his headquarters for the 
night. As he could not be accommodated with necessary apart- 
ments, he and his officers made up their minds to sleep on 
their blankets out on the gallery. The General then ordered 
Mrs. Grilbert to prepare supper for himself and staff, after 
which he lighted his cigar, and settled down in pleasant antic- 
ipations of a sumptuous meal and uninterrupted repose. 

The girls had taken refuge in Lucile's room; the doors 
and blinds had been securely fastened, but they stood behind 
them, and peeped through the turned shutters, at the busy 
scene outside. Some of the timid boarders began crying and 
lamenting, others giggled and pretended to be highly enter- 
tained. Poor Lucile had thrown herself upon the bed and 



272 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

buried her face in a pillow. The noise, confusion and excite- 
ment prevailing around her, produced no effect on her senses. 
They were as completely closed against her surroundings, as 
though she belonged to another sphere. Without effort on 
her part, her mind called up and realized the heart-rending 
scene transpiring at Herbert's home. In imagination, she wit- 
nessed the despair and voiceless anguish of the stricken family, 
on the arrival of that beloved son and brother, so sadly smit- 
ten in the dawn of his promising career. But what was their 
anguish to hers? 

None of them had ever wounded his sensitive feelings, 
or caused him to shed a tear, whilst she, in her stubborn pride, 
had humiliated him beyond measure, and had filled his poor 
heart with grief and discouragement. She would now gladly 
forfeit ten years of her life for a sight of his dear face, and 
the assurance of his forgiveness. She accused herself of being 
the most heartless creature on the face of the earth, and prom- 
ised Grod that if He spared Herbert's life, she would, never 
again, in word or deed, inflict suffering upon an}^ one. "Dear, 
dear Herbert;" she muttered to herself. "If you knew how I 
love you, if 3'ou knew how deeply I repent of mj' harshness to- 
wards you, you would not die, I am sure you would not! 
My poor heart is tortured with remorse, but I cannot go to you, 
Herbert; something stronger than this army around me, holds 
me back. Call me, dear One! call me, that I may go to you 
before you die. My noble, generous, beautiful Herbert, do 
not leave me thus; have pity on my suffering! ' 

Such were the grievous and silent prayers and appeals 
which rose from Lucile's bleeding heart and died upon her 
lips. Her condition rendered her oblivious of even the pres- 
ence of her companions, who had gotten over their fright, and 
were now laughing and struggling for the best post of obser- 



lawler's invasion. 273 

vation. Thinking that Lucile had cried herself to sleep, they 
ceased to worry her with their officious, though well-meant at- 
tentions, and confined themselves to the novel proceedings 
viewed through the slats of the doors and windows. At a 
bout ten o'clock that evening, Lucile was aroused from her sad 
meditations by Nannie's shrill voice calling: Lucile! Lucile! 
wake up quick! here's your Pa, big as life, walking straight 
for the steps! " 

*In a thrice, Lucile bounded off the bed, and rushed to 
the door which she wrenched open. She ran through the par- 
lor and reached the gallery, just as her father stepped upon it. 
With a smothered cry, she flung her arms, protectingly around 
her father's neck. 

"Halt! halt! — treachery! " The words rang from the lips 
of half a dozen men, who sprang from their seats and covered 
Mr. Hunt with drawn swords and revolvers. 

"What does this signify?" demanded General Lawler, 
staring about him with a look of surprise and consternation. 
"Speak sir." 

For answer Mr. Hunt glanced down on the white-robed 
figure clinging convulsively to his bosom. Lucile withdrew 
her eyes from her father's pale face, and cast a hasty, terrified 
look at the glittering muzzles leveled at his heart. She 
tightened her arms around him, and wailed: "Papa! Papa!" 
There was an undescribable pathos in the low, sweet voice, 
which thrilled the hearts of her hearers and disarmed them of 
suspicion. As the actual condition of things dawned upon 
their bewildered minds, the panic-stricken officers lowered their 
weapons, and the color slowly flowed back to their blanched 
cheeks. 

* A true incident. 



274 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"How did you manage to pass our pickets?' sternly asked 
the general. 

"I had no encounter with your pickets, sir.'" 

"Ah! Where do you hve?" 

"About eight miles from here.' 

The general scowled. "Do you mean to tell me that you 
passed our lines and marched up to my headquarters without 
interference?" asked he with an incredulous look. 

Mr. Hunt appreciated the officer's dismay, and answered 
with a smile: "I travelled on the other side of the bayou and 
crossed it in a skiff, opposite the house. Your guards must 
have been asleep; none of them attempted to stop me, as you 
perceive. " 

"We shall postpone the examination of this case till to- 
morrow," said Lawler after a moments reflection. "In the 
meantime, sir, consider yourself our prisoner. " 

Mr, Hunt bowed in acquiescence, then led Lucile into the 
house without the least opposition, on the part of his detainer. 
Mrs. Gilbert who had witnessed the whole performance from 
the dining-room, declared that she had never seen as tragic 
and beautiful a tableau as the one presented on this occasion. 
The space on the gallery in front of the door, was sufficiently 
lighted up by the parlor lamps, to bring in relief, the ex- 
pression, dress, accouterments of each individual figuring in the 
scene. No performance on the stage, coukl have produced 
the dramatic effect that this unconscious and spontaneous 
acting did, upon the few astonished spectators. 

As soon as the general and his staff had adjourned to the 
dining-room for supper, Mr. Hunt prevailed upon Mr. Gilbert 
to allow the girls to go out on the galleries to look at the camp; 
a spectacle they might never witness again. 



lawler's invasion. 275 

The flickering camp-fires, still illuminating the grounds, 
presented the grandest and most wonderful sight they had 
CA^er looked upon. Some of the restless torches leaped up- 
wards, as if to meet the kindred light of the stars, and then, 
like disappointed ambition, suddenly dropped among the smol- 
dering embers. Others burned with a steadier light, throwing 
a rosy glow upon the forms moving within the radiance. The 
bustling noise and confusion which deafened the air in the 
earlier portion of the evening, had nearly subdued, and a sol- 
emn hush was gradually falling upon that breathing human 
mass, slumbering beneath the starry canopy of heaven. As 
the little group on the gallery contemplated the spectacle, one 
of their number remarked: 'Just think of it, girls, one among 
these, fired the bullet which killed poor Willie Glresham." 

Lucile started, and shielded her face with her hands. 
Her father silently drew her back into the parlor. 

The boarders were then sent to bed. They had been so 
exhausted by that day's fatigue and excitement, that they 
slept profoundly until sunrise, when the bugle for receille, 
pierced the air with its clear ringing notes, and aroused them 
from their slumbers. Once again the fires were kindled, and 
the noise and bustle and tumult, agitated the camp. Mr. 
Hunt was not permitted to leave the premises until after the 
departure of the troops, which took place immediately after 
breakfast. The girls were given the privilege of standing on 
the galleries to watch the regiments, as one by one, they un- 
furled their spangled banners and marched off, accompanied 
by the swell of martial music. Then, Lucile, with a cry of an- 
guish, threw herself into her father's arms. "Take me home, 
papa,'" she begged, I cannot bear it another minute! Some, 
thing dreadful has happened; I know it! I feel it! 

Mr. Hunt borrowed the minister's horse and buggy, and 
started off without further delay. 



276 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 



E 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 
"When sorrows come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions." 

UGENE LAFITTE bad been staying with Herbert since 
his return to Pointe Coupee. Two days previous to that 
unfortunate Fordoche expedition, he had come on a special 
visit to his cousins at "Highland." The news of the Confed- 
erates' defeat and its results, reached the family about a hah' 
an hour before Herbert and his escort passed the house. Mr. 
Lafitte and Mr. Hunt accompanied the party home, in order to 
lend assistance in this deplorable emergency. Before starting, 
however, Mr. Hunt took the initiative in dispatching several 
messengers for medical aid. When the doctor arrived, he 
found Herbert in a critical condition. The ball had penetrated 
the right lung just above the abdomen; he had already lost a 
considerable amount of blood and suffered acutely during the 
paroxysms of coughing. The physician deemed it prudent to 
await the arrival of the surgeon before attempting to extricate 
the ball. The latter had been called for Willie Gresham, but 
his services were no longer needed, as the youth had died from 
hemorrhage soon after his removal from the conveyance. 

In the meantime, Mr. Hunt's anxieties for Lucile became 
unendurable, and he represented to his friends the necessity of 
going for her before the arrival of the invading troops. He 
took the precaution of crossing the bayou in order to avoid the 
Yankee pickets, in case the}' had already been stationed along 



FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 277 

the road. We have already seen the result of his rash under- 
taking. Mr. Hunt had left his wife in charge of two trusty 
servants — Zulma and Plaisance. He took his departure with- 
out the least misgiving, for he had not the remotest idea that 
the Federals would venture as far as his neighborhood that 
night. But he was sadly mistaken in his calculations, for he 
had not been absent an hour, when the tramp of horses' hoofs 
was heard clamorously crossing the bridge at the foot of the 
hill. 

Zulma, who was out in the parterre watching for the 
return of the messenger that had been sent to Mr. Davis', ran 
to her mistress with unusual trepidation in her manners. 

"Mistis, " she cried, "sho' as you born, dem's Yankees 
gallopin' up de road!" 

"Oh no, Zulma,'" answered Mrs. Hunt in a reassuring 
tone of voice. "Those are some of our men. returning from 
Fordoche." 

"Listen!" once more cried the girl, with a frightened ex- 
pression in her black eyes. "Dey dun turn de road; no Con- 
federites would come tearing so at dis time of de night. 
Come in, please, mistis, come in!" 

As the riders drew near, Zulma's agitation augmented, and 
she once more appealed to Mrs. Hunt: "Mistis, go to your 
room and lock yo'self up. I kin manage dem fellers better 
den you. You know I ain't skeered of nobody. " Seeing that 
her mistress was not disposed to obey her, Zulina became des- 
perate: "Fur God sake, mistis," she pleaded, "do as I tell 
you. You ain't got no men folks tur hinder dem tellers frum 
'busin' and cusiu' you. Marster dun lef you in my hands an' 
you got ter do as I tell you; fur dis once, please, mistis. I 
ain't a bit skeered of dem men. I'll straighten 'em up. mighty 
quick, if you leave 'em ter me. Now, do, mistis I" 



278 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Whilst thus pleading and expostulating, Zulma impelled 
.her reluctant mistress towards her own room, and firml}" push 
ed her in, saj'ing: "Aunt Plaise, you stay in dere wid her. 
Lock de door inside, and don't let her open it 'till I tell you." 

Zulma then rushed to the frontdoors and began fastening 
them. She had scarcely closed the last, when several Yankees 
rode up and began shouting. The girl kept quiet for several 
minutes, but the men grew so boisterous and violent that she 
thought it prudent to conciliate them by civil treatment. She 
ran to Mrs. Hunt's room, and said in cautious tones: "I'se 
gwine ter let 'em in, mistis. Dey'll bust open de door and cum 
in any way, if I don't. Don't you be skeered. t'se gwine ter 
treat 'em as perlite as I kin, cause dis ain't no time ter fool 
wid 'em; you understand, mistis?" 

"Yes, Zulma," answered Mrs. Hunt in a trembling voice. 
"Let them in; but 'tis best fer me to go out there and receive 
them; they will respect me and abstain from violence. Plais- 
ance, give me that key. " 

"0 my goodness!" cried Zulma. "Please dont give it to 
her Aunt Plaisance — t'row it out of de window! Dey's try- 
in' to break open dat door — I'se gwine." 

<'You little hussy!" exclaimed one of the soldiers, flouish- 
ing his sword over Zulma's head. "What did you keep us 
waiting so long for?" 

Zulma looked unflinchingly into his ferocious eyes. "You 
was in a mighty big hurry, sur; I was opening as fas' as I 
could. " 

"That's a d — lie. You were hiding the folks or some- 
thing — you little traitor! Say, where's the boss of this she- 
bang?" 

"He's gone off a little piece," answered Zulma hesitating- 
ly. "He'll be back after awhile." 



FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 279 

She hoper] to intimidate the ruffians by the sh' insinuation 
that her master had gone for re- inforcements, but she was dis- 
appointed; the man broke into an incredulous hxugh. 

"The coward! He's taken to the swamps and won't be 
back here before broad daylight, you bet.'' 

He said this to his companions, but turning to Zulma, 
once more, asked: "And where's the women folks? Have 
they put out too?'' 

"Yes, sur, dey've gone too, ' answered Zulma, with a 
sinking heart. 

"B}^ jove! then we'll just take possession " cried the des- 
perado, throwing himself in one of the hall chairs. ' 'See here 
girl, we're the masters here and you^ve got to wait on us. 
Bring us all the whiskey 3'ou've got in the house, first thing. '' 

"My marstar don't make use of sich stuff," answered 
Zulma, with rising anger. "He drink nuffin but wine, an' he 
ain't got none lef." 

"Thunder and lightning! he hasn't? Then haul out the 
money; he has lots of that, I know, for he's been squeezing it 
out of you niggers for the last fifty years, I reckon. We've 
heard that these d — Southerners keep gold by the barrelful. 
Where is it?" 

"My goodness!" exclaimed Zulma. "You take money 
fur dirt! If my marstar got sich lots of it, I niver laid eyes 
on it." 

"Then, we'll hunt it up — nothing easier. Come on boj's!" 
cried the leader, starting frum his chair. His followers needed 
no second invitation, and began the search by rushing into the 
parlor. 

"I'm sure it is not here;" remarked one of them, lifting 
the candle, and taking a critical survey of the elegant furni- 
ture in the reception room. Lucile's was the next apartment 



280 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH, 

desecrated by their presence. Here, they fell to work — pull- 
ing out drawers and scattering their contents over the floor. 
Then," they broke open her armoir. When Zulma saw them 
tossing out Lucile's gowns and shawls and laces, she ran to 
them in a tremor of excitement and indignation. 

"Stop dat, now!" she exclaimed, in a choking voice. 
"Dat's my little mistis' things, an' j'ou aint gwine ter pitch 
'em out as if dey was no 'count rags. You shan't!" And she 
began picking up the garments and other articles, muttering 
her displeasure, and wiping away the tears which sprang to her 
eyes, notwithstanding the effort she made to keep them back. 
While thus busily occupied, one of the Yankees gave a tremen- 
dous blow to the door opposite Lucile's room. Zulma screamed 
and started towards it with a bound. 

"Git out! You aint got no business in yere!" 
"D — you," cried the Yankee. "Open the door!" 
"Dey's nobody in dere but a sick lady, an' I ain't gwine 
ter let you in;" answered Zulma, standing with her back 
against the door and fixing her shining e3'es, with a look of 
savage determination, on the brute. "I ain't gwine ter move 
frum yere, if you kill me!" 

"We'll see about that — you ugly imp, you,'' said the man 
seizing her by the shoulders and flinging her aside. Zulma 
was back to her post in a second. Then followed a desperate 
and prolonged scuffle between the strong and agile girl 
and her drunken antagonist. Zulma's quick ear had detected 
a commotion within and heard some one tampering with the 
lock, the circumstance increased her terror and anxiety to 
keep the villanous wretch from entering the apartment. 
"Please, sur, " she said, in a tearful voice, "my poor mistis 
is very bad off; if you keep on skeeria' her, you'll kill her; 
indeed, you will!" 



FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 281 

"I don't care a d — if I do," he answered, looking around. 
Say one of you boys come here, and hold this nigger 'till I 
burst open this infernal lock.'' 

As he drew out his revolver, Zulma screamed out: "Git 
out de way, mistis, he's gwine ter shoot!" 

The warning was scarcely out of her mouth when a loud 
report accoropanied by a heart-rending shriek, shivered the air. 

The door flew open, and Zulina, enveloped in a cloud of 
smoke, fell back in the arms of her mistress. 

The Yankee stared for a minute at the spectacle — his eyes 
riveted on his victim with an expression of fear and horror. 

"I didn't mean to do it;" he said; "the fool thing threw 
herself between me and the lock, just as I fired. I'm sure I'm 
not to blame." Then, turning to his companions, he said: 
'•Let's hustle out of here, boys; this little game settles our 
business. Come on. ' 

Neither Plaisance nor Mrs. Hunt noticed the remark, or 
the sudden disappearance of the men; their thoughts were ct)n- 
centrated on the palpitating form which lay between them. 

"0 heavens!" cried Mrs. Hunt; "they have killed her 
outright! Zulma, dear child, speak to me; tell me w^hat f can 
do for you." 

The dying girl lifted her eyes and fixed them with a plead- 
ing, piteous look upon her mistress. 

"Help me up, please, mistis;" she said in a faltering- 
voice. "Don't let me die." 

The effort she made brought on a hemorrhage, which 
flowed in a crimson tide through the fingers of the white hand 
pressing irapotently ngainst tlie gaping wound. Zulma coughed 
and gasped for breath. "0 Lord! I'm dyin' sho' 'nough, mis- 
tis; k^op me frum it — till — till — I see — MisB — Lucile," 



282 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Fix your thoughts on God, dear Zulma;'" cried Mi's. Hunt, 
with a look of anguish. "Ask Him to accept your life m ex- 
piation of your sins, and to receive you in Heaven." 

"Youd better — speak to Him — 3-o'self, 'bout dat — mistis; 
I — can't — wid all dis blood — spoutin' out 'er me!" 

Mrs. Hunt groaned aloud, and bent once more over the 
sutl'erer's face. "Yes, Zulma, I will help 3^ou: but you must 
pra}^ yourself, and repeat after me the prayers I shall say with 
you. Do you understand me? Can you follow me, dear 
Zulma?" 

"Yes, my mistis," answered Zulma, with a sob. I knows 
— you'll — take me— straight to Jesus. " She then repeated in 
broken accents, several touching aspirations after her mistress; 
during the time, she kept her eyes fixed helplessly to the lips 
which tremblingly formed them. Her heart heaved painfully, 
and several large tears rolled down her cheeks as she said: "I 
— want — to — see — Miss Lucile — aint — she — comin' ?" 

"Yes, lie quietly; she will come directly — your master 
has gone for her — but dear Zulma, while you're waiting, keep 
your thoughts on God, and on our Saviour who died to save us, 
you remember, Zulma?" 

'•Yes — Miss Lucile — dun tole me — all — bout Jesus." 

She uttered the last words with painful difficulty drawing 
her respiration in short, spasmodic gasps. Tt was evident 
that her life was rapidly ebbing away with the torrents of 
blood that flowed from the fearful wound in her side. Her 
head rested against Mrs. Hunt's bosom. Plaisance, who help- 
ed to support her, kneeled on the floor and watched with di- 
latmg eyes, the painful convulsions of the dying girl. 

"Mistress," she whispered in French, can't you hold her 
by yourself **till T go out thei'^ and ring the plantation bell? 



FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 283 

"We are here bj' ourselves and must have somebody to help us, 
you know." 

Mrs. Hunt shuddered, and answered in a plaintive voice: 
"Oh! no, no; not now, Plaisance. Do not disturb her in her 
last moments; let her spirit depart in peace. Pray, rather, 
that God, in His mercy, may accept the life she has so gener- 
ously given away. Though Zulma's respiration was hardly 
perceptible, she made another attempt to speak. Mrs. Hunt 
brought ber ear in close contact with the twitching mouth, in 
order to catch the sense of the words, it vainly strove to con- 
vey. Only a moan fretted the stiffening lips; the chill of 
death was upon her. The eyelids quivered; the long lashes 
fell heavil}^ upon the ashen cheeks. The spirit that had never 
been released from earthly bondage, now accepted from its 
Maker immortal Life and Freedom. 

"You may go and ring the bell;"' said Mrs. Hunt, in a 
calm, unfaltering voice; "no earthly sound will ever again dis- 
turb her slumber!' And then, as if suddenly and forcibly re- 
minded or her irreparable loss, and the desolate void left 
by Zulma's death, she drew the insensible body to her breast 
and broke into convulsive sobs. "0 Zulma!" she cried, gazing 
on the still, unconscious face. "Good and faithful friend! 
what shall we do without you? Your presence has for so long 
cheered our home; your devotion has so ofteji sustained us in 
hours of trial; your poor little hands were always so ready to 
smooth OUT; the rough places in our path, and to remove from 
it the sharp stones, and when we were ill or suffering, you 
knew it even in j'our sleep — Zulma — dear dead, lost, 
Zulma! And to think that death should be the price of this 
life -long, unheard-of devotion! The thought is unbearable! 
Plaisance, how are we to break the news to Lucile? she who is 
already afflicted on Herbert's account. It will kill her; her 
p'oor sensitive heart will nevBr stand the shook. 



284 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

Ob, don't lay her down like a dead dog, Plaisance, get a 
pillow off the bed. Now, help me to remove these clothes, I am 
weltering in blood. The sight is enough to make one crazy. 
Look at that pool near the door! The stain can never be wash- 
ed awa3^ It will remain there as a pledge of Zulma's undying 
devotion to our family. ''Poor, dear young martyr! May 
God grant you a blissful eternal Life for the one you have so 
. generously sacrificed for me!" 

Zulma was laid out in her own room at the end of the 
back gallery — one which had been allotted to her, when the 
family first moved to the house, Lucile had undertaken to 
furnish and decorate it. The neat bed, the table, the wash- 
stand with its bowl and pitcher; the looking-glass and chairs, 
were all gifts from the different members of the family. The 
walls were covered with crayon sketches of Lucile's; with bits 
of scenery from her brush, and gaud}' fashion plates, tasteful- 
ly framed by her deft, artistic hands 

Athough exhausted from the effects of the terrible ordeal 
she had undergone within the last twelve hours, Mrs. Hunt super- 
intended all the preparations for Zulma's burial. No expense 
was spared, and nothing withheld that was needed for the oc- 
casion. The brightest and sweetest of flowers had been strewn 
on her snow}^ garment and laid against her face, now settled in 
eternal slumber. 

That serene expression and inscrutable smile so often 
seen hovering about dead lips, rendered her face as beautiful as 
sculptured ebony. The poor hands, once so eager and help- 
ful, now clasped to her peaceful breast, a cluster of "Cloth of 
Gold." The creamy petals of the roses, and the subtile sweet- 
ness of their odor, seemed like her own soul, purified, and es- 
caping from it8 prison of clay. 



PAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 285 

The next morning after the terrible tragedy, Dave start- 
ed on his journey to meet his master, in order to apprise him 
of the night's occurrences. He had not ridden many miles, 
when some one informed him that the Federals had ex- 
tended their pickets a mile above Fordoche and none were per- 
mitted to cross the lines. 

Thus frustrated in his design, the faithful old darkie 
turned his horse's head, and slowly retraced his steps home- 
ward. When he reached the boundary line of his master's 
place, he dismounted, sat by the road-side, and waited for his 
return. As soon as Mr. Hunt drove within hearing distance, 
old Dave arose and stepped into the middle of the road. 
Here he waved his hand and called: "Hole on marster, please 
sir!" 

There was something in his actions and expression, which 
struck Lucile and her father with disma^^ 

"What is ihe matter, Dave?" asked Mr. Hunt, reining up 
his horse and turning deathly pale. 

"Awful news, marster, awful!" answered the old man, 
coughing to clear his throat. 

Lucile was seized with a sinking fear which froze the 
blood in her veins. 

"Is Herbert Davis any worse?'' asked Mr. Hunt; his 
thoughts naturally reverting to the youth whom he had left in 
a critical condition the evening before, 

"I reckon not, marster, I lef home early dis morning 
an' hadn't heard. But we've had dreadful times up home 
sence you lef. Dem Yankee gaw -hawkers cum thar las' night 
and kill poor Zulma! " 

"What?" And Mr. Hunt, with a look of horror, glanced 
at Lucile. 



286 ZULMA, A STORY OP HIE OLD SOFTII, 

A shriek, almost unearthly, broke from lier lips; then fol- 
lowed a succession of cries, so piercing and heart-rending, that 
her father feared she was going into spasms. He caught her 
in his arms, and tried to soothe her by endearing words and 
by reminding her of Herbert, who was now, so sadly in need of 
her love and sympathy. But it was impossible for her to check 
the violence of her feelings. The shock of this unexpected 
misfortune, counterbalanced the fears and griefs which had so 
unmercifully lacerated her soul since the evening before. In 
the painful certainty of Zulma's tragic and untimely death, 
she lost sight of that other contingency so much dreaded and 
so hopelessly repelled. When the first outburst of grief had ex- 
hausted itself, lAicile suddenly subsided into stony silence. 
The cruel shock she had received, seemed to have crushed or 
annihilated every emotion. Sbe remained in this passive con- 
dition until, leaning on her father's arm, she entered her home. 
Here, her feelings once more asserted themselves, and she 
started towards her mother's room, calling her in the most pit- 
eous tone. Plaisance who happened to be near, caught Lucile 
in her arms, just as she reached the fatal spot where Zulma 
had yielded up her life the night before. 

"Oh dont go in dere, ^tite maitresne! " she cried, in- a 
thrilling voice. ^'J>on I) ieu! never go in dat room again, as 
long as you live. Come wid me— you mus' — me'll take you 
to yo' mamma! ' 

It is needless to describe the scene which followed. Mrs. 
Hunt, who had heroically borne her part in the excitement at- 
tending Zulma's death, completely collasped at the sight of 
her husband and daughter. She had never fully realized the 
dangers she had been exposed to, until slie felt their protect- 
ing arms around her, and listened to their vain regrets for 
having abandoned hei' during a time so fraught with danger. 



FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 287 

Mr. Himt and his wife tried to dissuade Lucile from see- 
ing Zulma. "If you take our advice, darling," said her fath- 
er, "you will always remember her, as you once knew her — 
full of life and gayety; but if you look on her dead face now, 
the impression that will be made upon 3'our mind will cling 
there for years. Dearest child, be guided by those who, love 
you and desire your happiness. We can appreciate your feel- 
ings; we understand how hard it is for you to bear it — but 'tis 
best to submit to our wishes. The sight of her, will unnerve 
you and make you ill. Spare us the pain and anxiety of such 
a misfortune, dear Lucile! " 

"O Papa! " answered Lucile. "If T were to go to her 
now and call her, she would answer me, I am sure. She al- 
ways did Papa — so promptly; and she will now because I 
know she is not dead — not quite! mamma; let go my 
hands let me go to Zulma! I cannot allow them to bury her 
alive. She does not deserve such a fate. I must see her — 
and I will! " 

With these words, Lucile, with strength born of despera- 
tion, broke from her parents' restraining arms, and rushed out 
in the direction of Zulma's room. Happily, her mother had 
ordered Plaisance to keep the door locked, at least, until after 
Lucile had recovered from her first outburst of grief. On 
reaching the apartment, Lucile threw herself against the door 
crying: "Zulma! 0, Zulma! It is I — Lucile, your little mis- 
tress. Wake up — I have come to you to nurse you — to be good 
to you, dear Zulma. Oh, why don't you answer me? Can't 
you hear me, Zulma? " 

Here she ceased calling, and waited with a look of in- 
tense expectation in her wan face, as thou'gh listening for some 
sign within which would revive her sinking, despairing' hope. 
The awful silence which succeeded her passionate pleading, 



288 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

convinced her how nnavailuig were her efforts to recall to life 
that good and faithful creature, who had until now, so wil- 
lingly responded to her bidding. She clasped her hands OA'er 
her face, and leaned disconsolately against the unyielding 
door, giving vent to her feelings in wild heart-breaking sobs. 
Mrs. . Hunt, who had followed her daughter to the back 
gallery, sank into one of the settees and waited till the over 
burdened heart had found relief. While sitting here, Eugene 
Lafitte came up, and spoke to her in an undertone. After a 
brief and whispered conversation between the two, Mrs Hunt 
said: "Lucile here is your cousin waiting to speak to you." 

Eugene went to Lucile, put his arm around her drooping 
form and tenderly kissed her. This was the first time ttiey 
had met since his return. He had never before kissed her or 
treated her with such familiarity; but she, in her deplorable 
state of mind did not seem cognizant of his actions. She rais- 
ed her streaming eyes to his, and with extraordinary compos- 
ure asked; "Have you come to tell me that Herbert is dead?'" 

"No darling;" quickly responded her mother; "Herbert is 
better and has sent your cousin for you. ' Lucile disengaged 
herself from his encircling arms. 

"It is useless to try lo deceive me, I know Herbert is" 
worse — perhaps dying. You will let me go to him. Mamma? 
You will not refuse me the consolation of seeing him before he 
dies.'' 

"Dear Child! we are not deceiving you,'' said Mrs. Hunt, 
"Herbert is really better, and I want you to go to him and to 
stay with Rosanna until — until — " 

"Oh; do not say it. Mamma!" cried Lucile, with a depre- 
cating gesture, and a frightened expression in her eyes. "But 
— it will make no difference — when I return home I shall 
miss her the more, alter you have taken her entirely away.'" 



FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 289 

Then, followed a scene of pathetic farewells. It was with 
difficulty that Mrs. Hunt tore her daughter away from the door 
which hid from her sight the remains of one who, though 
widely separated from her by social laws, had contrived by her 
unexampled fidelity and disinterestedness to weave around her 
heart such bonds as seldom unite friends of the same color or 
social standing. 

"Herbert," said Kosanna, entering her brother's room to 
prepare him for the much desired visit. "Lucile has come. 
Remember, you promised me not to exert yourself by attempt- 
ing to hold a conversation with her." 

"0, sister!" answered the sufl'erer, heaving a sigh of re- 
lief, "I imagine that her pres'^nce alone, will cheer me up and 
hasten my convalescence. I was so afraid she would refuse to 
come. Lucile has particular notions, you know." 

"Lucile has suffered a good deal since yesterday, both on 
your account and that of her mother's, who was left alone last 
night while her father had gone after her. You will find her 
very much changed, Herbert." 

"Poor, dear Lucile!" exclaimed Herbert, in a compassion- 
ate voice. "I have been the cause of so much unhappiness to 
her! — /, who should have shielded her from every sorrow! 
Send her in, sister; I am impatient to see her." 

AVhen Lucile entered Herbert's room, she walked towards 
his bed, and seizing one of his hands, which happened to lay 
outside of the counterpane, knelt down and bowed her head 
over it. 

"My darling!'' cried Herbert, "Stand up; let me look 
once more into those dear e3'es! Come to me Lucile, I can no 
longer go to you!" 

Lucile arose from her knees and stood beside Herbert's 
pillow, gazing intently on the beloved countenance, now pale 
and pinched with suffering. 



290 ZTJLMA, A STORV OF THE OLD SOUTH, 

"My own Lucile, " Herbert said; pressing her liand to iiis 
lips. "You can love and forgive me now, I am such a pitiable 
object in your eyes." 

"Oh! do not say that, Herbert," answered Lucile, wiping 
the tears which rained down her cheeks. "You are dearer to 
me now than ever before, I have nothng to forgive; 'tis I who 
have come to ask your pardon for my seeming heartlessness, 
for I had forgiven you everything when I received your first 
letter. I can't account for my conduct towards you dear Herbert. 
I know 1 treated you as if I was still angry with you when I 
was not. It was my false pride which prompted me to do it, 
but I have suffered enough since yesterday to expiate all my 
unkindness towards you; believe me, dear Herbert." 

"Then you still love me, Lucile?" 

"I have never ceased to care for you;" replied Lucile co\> 
cring her face wath her hands to hide her blushes. 

"Oh! yes — once darling, when I treated 3'ou so outrage- 
ously bad. Your love did certamly turn to hatred then; and I 
deserved that it should." 

"I knew that you were laboring under a painful misun- 
derstandmg, Herbert, and I was sure you still loved me even 
in your anger." 

' 'That is true, Lucile, 1 don't think I could have loA^ed 
you more than I did at the time I told you that unpardonable 
falsehood. But — nothing will ever part us again, dearest; 

nothing but death!" Here the tears dimmed his eyes, and a 
painful expression overshadowed his face. "And it is possi- 
ble, that it will, very soon; a person in my predicament; is not 
very hopeful of his recovery." 

A spasm of fear clutched at Lucile's heart, and she turned 
deadly pale. 

Herbert on seeing her emotion, immediately rallied, and 
said in a more cheerful voice; "Darling, I am too happy to die; 



FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 291 

I wish God would spare me for a time, at least, until 1 prove 
to you how deeply" — Here- he suddenly ceased speaking, an 
unnatural flush overspread his cheeks, and he put his hand to 
his side with a suppressed moan. 

''Herbert, " cried Lucile, in a frightened, agitated voice, 
"you are exciting 3'ourself. I must really leave you."' 

"Don't go please, Lucile, I want you to pray for my re- 
covery, I'm sure Grod will grant j'ou anything you ask. Kneel 
down here, close to me."' 

"I will pra}' for you, with all my heart, Herbert; but you 
must join your prayers with mine, that they may be more ef- 
ficacious. '" 

Herbert said he would, but when he turned his eyes in the 
direction of the bowed head, he forgot his promise, and fol- 
lowed in thought the angelic spirit, he knew had detached it- 
self from earthl}' surroundings and winged its flight toward 
the White Throne. When Lucile had ended her prayer she 
stood for some moments silently contemplating the beloved 
and altered features of her young friend. She felt her throat 
tighten and her heart began to heave with conflicting emotions. 

"Something is the matter with you, dear heart," said 
Herbert, anxiously watching the dejected expression on her 
sweet, pale face. "Tell me what grieves you." 

"Well I declare! Herbert,"' answered Lucile with a pitiful 
attempt at a smile. "You don't expect me to look cheerful 
when you are lying here a helpless sufferer, do you?" 

"Hardly, if you love me, darling. But you must really 
cheer up now, I expect to get over this with God's assistance 
and your fervent prayers. I am feeling so much more light- 
hearted since you prayed for me." 

Herbert once more took possession of Lucile's hands, he 
pressed them tenderly and reverently to his lips, saying; 



292 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

<■ '1 believe God created us for each other, Lucile. I can- 
not think of the time when my soul lived apart from yours, or 
when my heart throbbed without love for you. Can you realize 
that time dearest!" 

"You foolish bo}'!" said Lucile smiling; "what have we 
to do with the past?"' 

"I love you so much my precious darling, that I can- 
not bear to think of the time when }^our heart was not mine," 

"Herbert I am going;' said Lucile with a frown, you 
have broken your word to Rosanna," 

"I told her you would cure me,'" he answered, with a hap- 
P3' look in his eyes. 

Though Mr. and Mrs. Hunt paid daily visits to Herbert, 
for a week after his misfortune, they positively refused to 
allow Lucile to return home with them. One of their motives 
was, because her presence in the house was a potent element 
towards Herbert's recovery. He became restless and uncon- 
trolable whenever he suspected Lucile's absence. A mere 
glimpse of her form at tlie threshold of bis door was sufficient to 
restore his serenity of mind and brighten up his countenance 
with deep pleasure. Her parents also wit hed to see her become 
somewhat reconciled to the loss of Zulma before permitting 
her to see the scene of her tragic death. Lucile. on her part, 
made superhuman efforts to conceal her feelings from Herbert, 
but she soon discovered that she was despondent and ill at 
ease, like one nursing some secret sorrow, and forthwith he 
began racking his brains to ascertain the cause. 

One evening, when Mrs. Hunt happened to be sittimg 
alone with him, he turned towards her with a quick, anxious 
look. "Dear Mrs. Hunt." he said, "I wish to ask you a few 
(questions; I hope you will answer them frankly, I do not say 



FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH. 293 

tnithfulhj, because I know you are incapable of perverting 
truth."' 

"Thanks for your oood opinion, Herbert, ' said Mrs. Hunt, 
with Slight hesitancy in her voice; "I will answer any rea- 
sonable question you ask me; but I warn you, I will not com- 
promise any one, nor will I tell the truth if it should harm 
you." 

"It is evident that you suspect the nature of my queries," 
remarked Herbert, turning his face towards the wall with an 
air of forlorn resignation. 

' I give you my woi'd, Herbert, that no special suspicions 
have crossed my mind." 

"You may, after all, relieve my mine ot a very painful sus- 
spense;" he answered, turning abruptlv towards his friend. 
"Tell me, am I ever to rise from this bed, Mrs. Hunt? I am 
sure 3'ou know, and will tell me the truth. My own familj^ 
will, naturally, conceal it from me." 

"The doctors have pi-onounced you entirely out of dan- 
ger, dear Herbert;" answered Mrs. Hunt, with joyful 
alacrity. 

"Then a greater misfortune than death confronts me!" ex- 
claimed Herbert, clasping his hands across his breast. "Lu- 
cile has ceased to love me — she regrets that she ever plighted 
metier troth." 

Mrs. Hunt stared at the youth with unconcealed amaze- 
ment. "Are you losing your mind, Herbert? What has put 
such a notion into your head?' 

"Love is not blind." he answered rather impatiently. "I 
see but too plainly, that Lucile has changed towards me. 
She is reticent — avoids me even though she knows that her 
presence is more beneficial to me than all the physic in the 
world. I know this Mrs^ Hunt, because she cannot hide her 



294 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

feelings from anyone, her nature is as transparent as 
glass." 

"How you misjudge the poor child!" cried Mrs. Hunt, in a 
faltering voice. "She has had much to contend against all 
the week. Besides her anxiety for 3'ou, she has been laboring 
under a sad bereavement — the loss of a faithful and devoted 
friend." 

"Oh, Mrs. Hunt, dont tell me that!" cried Herbert, with 
a terrified expression in his eyes. He fell back upon his pil- 
low, and lay silent and motionless as if stunned by the unex- 
pected announcement. The sound of suppressed weeping 
aroused him from his momentary surprise. He once more 
raised himself from his pillow and looked anxiously down upon 
the bowed head at his bedside. 

"Dear Mrs. Hunt," he asked, "tell me for whom you and 
Lueile are grieving." 

Emotion prevented Mrs. Hunt from answering. 

"In mercy, relieve me from this painful suspense," pur- 
sued Herbert, in great agitation of spirit. I can endure it no 
longer. "What dear friend have you lost. Tell me!" 

"Our goodand faithful Zulma," sobbed Mrs. Hunt. 

"Zulma! Zulma!" gapped Herbert, "how can it be? I 
heard her merrily singing, when I passed your house on my 
way to Fordoche, only a few days ago." 

"Her death was very sudden, Herbert," explained Mrs. 
Hunt, drying her tears; "but you must not expect me to go 
into the particulars of it to-day. I made up my mind to tell 
this in order to undeceive you in regard to Lucile's feelings 
towards you." 

"I am one of the most unfortunate beings in Gods 
world!" cried Herbert, clasping his hands to his face; "The 
most ungrateful, suspicious; and 1 am utterly unworthy of 
Luoile's priceless love!" 



OVERFLOW AND DISPERSION. 295 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

OVERFLOW AND DISPERSION. 

I SHALL pass in silence over a space of eight months and 
* bring my readers on to an epoch when the resources of the 
Confederacy were at length exhausted, and it stood, bleeding, 
tottering; its quivering heart laid bare to the final blow that 
was to end its agon}'. Unavailing now, was the valor and 
brilliant deeds of the heroes, who had sealed their principles 
with their life's blood! Unavailing, the sublime faith and no- 
ble perseverance of the patriots, who still wrestled for Freedom 
on Texan soil ! The confident hosts, who had so proudly be- 
gun their career at Bethel, were now drifting to their doom 
towards Appomattox, the Waterloo of Southern Independence! 
In Pointe Coupee, a threatened calamity tended to aggra- 
vate the deplorable condition of things; a calamity which would 
be the climax of all the misfortunes brought on by the war, viz: 
a destructive overflow. Since the emancipation of the slaves, 
the planters had made no attempt to keep up the levees, and 
the Federal troops bivouaced behind Morganza, did not seem 
to realize the danger that menanced them from that quarter. 
The rise in the waters of the Mississippi was unprecedently 
early in 1865, and the people living in the interior of the 
country subject to overflows, were for many weeks, harassed 
by the dreatiful feat of being orvertaken by the ravaging flood. 



29rt ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

The stoutest hearts quaked at the contemplation of the ruin 
and desolation that would necessarily follow such an occurrence. 
As spring advanced, the water from tributary streams 
continued to raise the already booming river and to increase 
the pressure against the weak and defective levees. Morganza, 
the largest and most important of these, was the first to suc- 
cumb to the overwhelming weight of waters. Simultaneous- 
ly with the break, messengers were dispatched all over the 
country, carrying the distressful tidings to those who had so 
long apprehended the catastrophe. There was no time for re- 
pining; the people were up and in arms, as it were, against 
the advancing foe. Their first care was to save their live- 
stock, the only property they could now lay claim to. Their 
lands could no longer be of any practicable value to them; the 
impoverished and unsettled state of the countr}', bereft them 
of all hopes of rebudding the levees, and they made up their 
minds to abandon their plantations to the annual rampage of 
the Mississippi river. 

The news of the crevasse reached Mr. Hunt's neighbor- 
hood at a late hour of the night. By dawn the next day, the 
hands on the place were riding in hot haste over fields and wood- 
land pastures in pui'suit of the bewildered cattle which they were 
to drive out to False River before the bayous became impass- 
able. The poor dumb things vvent panting and stampeding, 
filhng the air with their mournful bellowings, as though la- 
menting over the loss of the gre^n meadows and luxuriant 
cane-brakes, soon to be convertedia to a waste of waters. Mr. 
Hunt found ample space and pasturage on his False River 
plantation to accommodate not only his own stock, but that of 
his friend's, Mr. Davis. Thirty-six hours after the break, 
the waters of the Mississippi were rushing from the overflow- 
ing blanks of bayous across tho load and flolds, and in less 



OVERFLOAV AND DISPERSION. 297 

than a week, the}- Lad spread like a pall over the land, confin- 
ing the families to the narrow limits of their honses. Mr. 
Hunt was well prepared for the emergency; he had had several 
skiffs built and a flat boat twenty feet in length. These timely- 
precautions on his part, saved his improvident neighbors from 
distressing predicaments. Many of the l^milies were caught 
in a S8a of waters, without means of navigation and were en- 
tirely dependent on others for the crafts which enabled them 
to escape from their submerged dwellings. The Hunt resi- 
dence, as I have before stated, was built on an elevation 
several feet above the surrounding country; consequently, the 
water did not reach this point until four days after the break- 
ing of the levee. But, it came eventually, slowly creeping up 
like some insiduons foe, gliding among the beds of blooming 
flowers, percolating among the roots of the trees and shrubbery. 
Higher, still higher, rose the invading element: until it swept 
unchecked, across the lovel}^ grounds, and mingled with the 
turbulent currents beyond. The roaring of the waters and the 
incessant thumping of the drift-wood against the flooring and 
pillars of the house, kept the inmates restless and awake for 
many a long night. The air was filled with distressing soands; 
such as the squealing of hogs on the floating rafts, the bel- 
lowing of cattle caught in the flood, and the clatter of the 
poultry confined in the lofts of out houses. 

Such noises added desolation to the dreariness of the pre- 
vailing aspect, and contributed, not a little, to dishearten the 
overflowed populacion. 

Highland, the home that bad seemed so cheerless and 
empty since poor Zulma's death, was now filled to its ut- 
most capacity with those families who had not had the time or 
opportunity of escaping before the bridges had been washed 
away. 



298 ZULMA, A STORV OF TIIK ()1,1) SOUTIf. 

The Davis" were cordially welcomed by their hospitable 
hosts ; the prospective alliances between the two families had ten- 
ded to increase their intimacy, and strengthen the bonds which 
already united them in close friendship. The mind, instinc- 
tively recoils at the approach of adversity ; but it has, when 
once overtaken by it, the happy faculty of overmastering and 
lifting itself above misfortunes, even when the last vestige of 
hope has vanished. TIius the people quietly submitted to 
their lot, as soon as they had r(;covere(] from the shock caused 
by the sudden calamity, and had accustomed themselves to the 
wide-spread desolation around them. It may have been, that 
the fathers of large families bewailed, in secret, the loss of 
their property, and their final banishment from their homes 
and plantations; l)ut they seldom alluded to their misfortunes 
or depressed the spirits ol the younger members by open man- 
ifestations of their feelings. Life, during the time of the high 
water, was not as wearisome and monotonous as may be sup- 
posed. The young folks, especially, were seldom at loss for 
divertisements, and turned every opportunity to the best ad- 
vantage. The skiff and boat rides over the trackless fields, and 
visits to their neighbors, was an enjoyable pastime. The 
fishing parties on the gallery steps, were equal to picnics, and 
the results were sumptuous meals, when noted dishes were 
served at little expense. Bisque, Court-houillon, and the de- 
licious perch and carp, were daily prepared by adepts in the 
culinary art. 

Herbert, Lucile and Kosanna, now inseparable companions, 
would 'paddle off " on pleasant evenings, to watch the varied 
effects of the sunsets on the watery expanse. Herbert, who 
usually assumed control of the rudder, steered the skiff hither 
and thither, over the rippling waves, his eyes oftener fixed on 
the gwB"etj dainty face of the girl he loved, than on the Sunlit 



OVERFLOAV ANP DISPERSIC.V. 290 

waters over which he was expected to rhapsodize when Lucile's 
beauty, alone, appealed to his artistic sense. There were mo- 
ments, when Herbert feared, that his love for his betrothed, 
was idolatrous, and he trembled at the remembrance of the 
time, he believed himself punished for this same absorbmg 
devotion. He thought to make amends by leading a life more 
in keeping with the blessings he enjoj^ed. True, Herbert's 
piety was not of that spontaneous sort which renders the ser- 
vice of God easy and persuasive ; but there was a natural con- 
gruity between the uprightness of his soul, and the sentiments 
which gratitude and sense of his dependency on the Diety, 
awakened in his bosom. He had as yet, never lost sight of 
the good resolutions he had taken during that spell of illness 
which came so near terminating his youthful career. 

It w^as now two weeks since the breaking of Morganza. 
Mr. Hunt's intention was to move his family to False River, as 
soon as the velocity of the current had sufficiently abated 
to render navigation safe and easy. This was the decision of 
all the planters in his section of the country. They were 
compelled to abandon their places; they had no other alterna- 
tive, as there was no longer any security from overflows. 
Mr. Dawsej' had already moved to one of the parishes on the 
east side of the Mississippi ; and Mr. Davis was making prep- 
arations to return to his native hills. Such changes necessi- 
tated the separation of the young lovers, who seemed to have 
become more fondly attached to each other, since the last 
fortnight of close and blissful companionship. Lucile was not 
of a character to make an exhibition of her feelings. She suf- 
ered, but none detected her grief, except those who intuitively 
felt it and responded, to it. Herbert and her mother watched 
and recognized the signs of her struggle. There was a sug- 
gestiou of repressed tears in her dark Violet eyes, and When 



3(10 ZUL.MA, A STORY OF THE (»LI) SOITIT, 

ever she smiled, her pretty lips turned in woeful little curves 
at the corners. Thesfe affecting marks of Lucile's sorrow and 
and love for him, filled Herbert with conflicting emotions, 
rendering him, by turns, the happiest and the most misera- 
ble of mortals. He had fallen into the habit of spending 
long sleepless hours at night, pondering on his bard destiny. 
The war was fast coming to an end, and with its close came 
the final pecuniary perplexities of the Southern planters. 
What prospects had he now of acquiring a profession. His 
father had promised to send him back to the University of 
Mississippi, in order to pass through a course of civil engineer- 
ing, but the exercises of that institution had been suspended, 
and there was little hope of him resuming his studies else- 
where. The money his father had paid for his Grosse Tete 
land, and spent in the purchase of the slaves, was irretrievably 
lost; moreover, he was under the necessity of procuring 
another home for his family. Mindful of these facts, Herbert 
had in the early part of the year devised a plan which would 
enable him to procure the funds necessary to pa}' for the com- 
pletion of his education. Half of his father's place had been 
abandoned for the want of laborers. With the assistance of a 
couple of hired hands, Herbert undertook to plant a cotton 
crop on this land. The hope of selling the staple at the pre- 
vailmg prices, stimulated his courage and filled his bosom with 
enthusiasm. His energy was in proportion to the prospect 
which opened before him. His ambition was, not only to real- 
ize a sum sufficient to defray his school expenses, but also, a 
yurpJus which would enable him to make a start in life, it 
was not customo.ry at that time, for the sons of planters to 
lower themselves by manual labor. Herbert had to contend 
against popular opinion, as well as the hardships incident to 
llis daring and laudjjiblc ent'orpriso. Happily, he was o"f that 



OVERFLOW AND DISPERSION. IjOl 

high-toned, independent character which feared no reproach 
save that ot his conscience, and he persevered in his work until 
his designs, as we have seen, were frustrated by the untimel}'' 
overflow. But he quickly rallied after his disappointment, and 
began building up new plaus by which he might aspire to a 
still higher calling than the one his father had previously 
chosen for him. As yet, his prospects were still edged in by 
unsurmountable obstacles, and there was nothing for him to 
do but make the best of the time which intervened between 
his recent enjoyment and the painful separation from his be- 
loved Lucile. 

One day, Herbert and Lucile had undertaken to pack in 
large wooden boxes, a lot of books which were to be sent out 
with part of the furniture to the old plantation. The family 
were to follow on the next trip of the flat-boat. The task was 
a sad one to the young people. They were breaking, as it 
were, one by one, the tendrils which bound their hearts to 
these objects of their mutual aflfections. Many of the familiar 
volumes passing through their hands, were associated either 
with their happy childhood, or with that sweeter time when 
each felt drawn towards the other b}' tlie .subtle, uncontrolable 
attraction which the heart has no power to resist. Here were 
Scott's works, the first novels they were allowed to read. 
Macauley, Goldsmith, D'.ckin's Hawthorne; the sight of each 
awoke some tender, responsive chord of memory's lyre. Some 
times, they turned over the leaves of the books, searching for 
favorite passages, or for such as once appeared too profound 
for their comprehension, in order to test the actual develop- 
ment of their minds. Herbert opened at random, Popes 
Essay on "Man.' "Lucile," he asked, "do you remember 
what a time we had trying to analyze this passage: 'Know thy- 
self, presume not on God to scan? '" 



302 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"ludeed, I clo, "' answered Lncile, raising to liiiu her 
thoughtful eyes; '-and I remembered how you dared to assist 
me out of m}- embarrassment. You were alwaj'S kind and con- 
siderate towards me, Herbert; always my champion ever since 
I was a child. "' 

Herbert's face flushed most painfully. 

"I wish~I had always been good to you, Lucile;" lie said, 
turning aside to hide his confusion. "The thought of my out- 
rageous foil}' and injustice towards you, will forever burn in 
my memory and keep my heart in a state of wholesome contri- 
tion." 

"0, Herbert!' cried Lucile, with a deprecating gesture; 
"hush! but I am thinking," continued she, glancing up at 
Herbert, who now earnestly met her gaze from his perch on the 
step ladder; "that our little misunderstanding has, after all, 
been productive of much happiness to two people whom we 
both dearly love. Has it not been the direct cause of bringing 
together Rosanna and Cousin Eugene? He never would have 
returned to the parish, had you not insisted on his coming 
home with yon. " 

' 'And I never would have invited him had we not had a 
failing out," exclaimed Herbert, with a glad light in his fine 
eyes. "We have not sutfered in vain, dearest. Our own love 
for each other has been strengthened by the ordeal, and the 
life-long happiness of our friend and relative has occurred 
from an incident, we once thought had forever ruined our own 
prospects. Your reflection has removed a great weight from 
my mind, and has made me so happy, I've a notion to step 
down and kneel at your feet in humble acknowledgement of 
the benefit you have conferred upon me." 

"Don't make yourself ridiculous, Herbert;" Lucile pro- 
tested, with a pathetic attempt at gayety. 'Hand me the 
books, quick! this is no time for jesting." 



OVERFLOW AND DISPERSION. 303 

"Pray, do not huny me!" pleaded Herbert, quietly lean- 
ing against the shelves of the book-case. "I'm trying to pro- 
long this job 'till evening. Yon seem to forget what will be 
the result of the final packmg up of these household treasures. 
Have you thought of the meaning of it all, my darling?' 

"Oh, yes I have!'" wailed Lucile in broken accents. "It 
means everything sad and discourging, Herbert; the severing 
of ties between old friends, the breaking up of our dear, beau- 
tiful home, and an eternal farewell to Grosse Tete. We must 
give up the old life and all its pleasant associations; the 
flowers, our little ^Vale of Tempe,' and the dear old cabin home 
where we spe.it so many happy days together. " Lucile here 
buried her face in her hands like one overcome by the pres- 
sure of emotion. In a thrice, Herbert was by her side, strug- 
gling to unclasp the little hands which eclipsed the light of 
her beautiful eyes. "Lucile, darling!" he cried, "look up! 
things are not as bad as you imagine. The changes which 
overtake us here cannot long or materially efl'ect our prospects 
in life. Very soon, we shall create a little world of our own; 
and if you care for me as much as I do for you, my own 
Lucile, we shall find happiness in whatever situation we are 
thrown. What is there to fear? Am I not strong and 
hopeful? I only wish I had greater obstacles to surmount, 
that I might prove to 5^ou how dearly I love 30U and how 
much I would dare for your sake.'" The captured hands had 
ceased to flutter and lay confidingly in his. 

"Herbert,"' asked Lucile. turning to him her flower-like 
face, "have I ever mistrusted you?" 

"0, Lucile! I hope not. Why do you ask?"' 

"Because you persist in saying things which imply your 
lack of confidence in regard to my sentiments towards you." 



H04 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

"Then, I shall correct myself of the foolish habit;" re- 
joined Herbert, a glad expression flitting across his handsome 
countenance. "My actions alone shall hereafter prove my 
deathless love for you ; and some of these days, 1 mean to 
make you feel proud of the name I am going to give you; it 
will not be difficult to win fame, if you be my Cynosure, 
dearest Lucile." 



CONCLUSION. 305 



CONCLUSION. 

The rest of this story is soon told. 

Immediately after the close of the war, a friend of Mr 
Davis' secured for Herbert a fine situation in New Orleans. 
Here, he was thrown in daily intercourse with a set of ener- 
getic and intelligent youths, who, like himself, were struggling 
to make their mark in the world. Closing his heart against 
the allurements of the city life, he devoted every hour of his 
leisure time to storing his mind with useful knowledge and in 
accumulating the funds which would materially aid him in the 
acquirement of an honorable profession. With very little as- 
sistance, he pursued a course in higher mathematics, and 
methodicallj' read such standard works as he knew would 
tend to invigorate his mind and prepare him to take a literary 
course in. some Southern university. 

In the Summer of 1866, Mr. Hunt received a letter from 
his mother announcing the death of his aged father, and giv- 
ing sad details of the havoc wrought during the war in his 
native vallej' and in the immediate neighborhood of his old 
home. His mother's bereavement, her losses and tender solic- 
itude on his own account, strongl}'^ appealed to his compassion 
and filled his heart with a longing to look on her face once 
more, and to revisit the familiar scenes of his happy boyhood. 
He never expected to return to Grosse Tete. The delapidated 
condition of the old homestead on False River, its dreary as- 
pect and melancholy memories, rendered it an undesirable 
place of residence. He, therefore, made up his mind to leave 



306 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH. 

his propert)' in the hands of an agent and to take his family to 
Virginia to live. JSo people in the world are as fondly at- 
tached to their homes as the Creoles are; Mr. Hunt was aware 
that his wife was no exception to the rule. The fear of 
broaching the subject to her, cost him many anxious hours. 
He managed, however, to bring it about in a manner the least 
shocking to her sensitive heart. Though the tears rushed to 
her sorrowful eyes, and her bosom heaved with convulsive 
emotions, she uttered no word of protest, and submitted to her 
husband's wishes with that sweetness of disposition which 
showed her full confidence in his superior judgment, and her 
appreciation of the motives which prompted him to return to 
his native state. 

In the Spring of the following year jMr. Hunt completed 
his arrangements to leave the parish, and to bid adieu to the 
scenes which had been so pleasantly associated with his early 
enterprises and happy married life. 

The family's last visit was to the ancient cemetery at 
Saint Francis' Church, where the dear unforgotton dead slept 
beneath the murmuring pines. Lucile and her mother brought 
the loveliest fioweis from the old garden, and tearfully 
strewed them upon the Lafitte tomb. Lucile then sought a 
grave at some distance off in the rear of the church yard, and 
laid a chaplet of pansies upon a marble slab bearing this sim- 
ple inscription: 

SAORED TO THE MEMORY OF 

" ZULMA. '• 

1864. 

She gazed long and sorrowfully on the familiar name, en- 
wreathed in gold and purple flowers. She seemed to look 



CONCLUSION. 307 

down, into a vista of years, when Life was but a J03'ful 
ramble among trailing vines and lily-fringed bayous. She al- 
most fancied she heard the far off monotonous songs of the 
field-hands — and then Zulma's clear, melodious voice drifting 
towards her in farewell echoes. Her eyes had looked their last 
on the vanished scenes of her childhood ; a sigh, deep as a sob, 
broke from her sweet tremulous mouth. 

The touch of her father's atfectionate arm about her waist, 
ended her sad reverie. 

"Come darling," he said, "we must reach the landing in 
time for the 'Lee;' she will not wait for us; he added with a 
meaning smile, "nor will Herbert brook a disappointment." 

One of Nannie Dawsey's epistles to a Grosse Tete friend, 
will give further tidings of the characters familiar to our 
reader. 

Magnolia Retreat, June 28, 1868. 
My Dear Laura: 

Much obliged for the kind invitation to your wedding; if 
I had half a chance, I'd run over — but you see I'm yoked to a 
widower with four children, and have my hands full. I never 
would have married him if he hadn't fought during the 
entire war and lost an arm in the good cause. But his mis- 
fortune doesn't, in the least interfere with my peace of mind. 
I'm as happy as a lark, and am trying to do m3' duty towards 
his motherless boys. Well, I must say that the matrimonial 
fever is raging among us young folks. Onl}^ last week I got 
a Winchester paper giving an account of the mari'iage of 
Lucile and Herbert. It must have been a dandy affair. The 
happy couple are spending their honeymoon "visiting historic 
battle fields;'" I say — following up the war trails, I should 
not wonder if Lucile puts out her beautiful eyes weeping over 
fallen braves. 



308 ZULMA, A STORY OP THE OI.T) SOUTH. 

Besides the Winchester paper, I received their wedding 
card and a letter from Mrs. Hunt. She writes that Herbert 
has adopted the law as a profession. After he left New 
Orleans, he took a course in the law department of some uni- 
versity; (forget wnich,) any wa}', he learned enough to start on 
his own hook. He is of a serious turn of mind, and chuck full 
of ambition. He means to take a straight cut for Washing- 
ton. I predict he'll get there some ot these fine mornings. 

Mrs. Hunt inquires very kindly about all her old neigh- 
bors, and sends regards to all whom 1 may meet. She is a 
sweet, friendly creature, not half as stuck up as that precious 
daughter of hers. I don't think Lucile ever forgave me for a 
little joke 1 once played on her. Mrs. Hunt writes, that they 
sold tbeir False River plantation the year after they moved to 
Virginia, and that the curious old ramshackle house on it has 
been torn down to make room for less imposing buildings. 
What a pity! 'twas such a jolly old place for ghosts! 

No; I haven't heard from Rosanna since her marriage. 
All I know about her is, that Mr. Lafitte took her to his home 
at Dangerfield. Titus county, Texas. My gracious! what a 
scatteration we've luul since the overflows. A bombshell ex- 
ploding in our midst couldn't have dispersed us as neat. I 
don't suppose we'll ever get together again, nor have such good 
times as we had on dear, rougli and tumble old Grosse Tete. 

By the way, I was real sorry to learn that the lovely Hunt 
residence at Highland had been burnt to the ground. I think 
there should be a law passed, prol]ibiting hunters to camp in 
peoples vacant houses. Pa says Mv. limit's agent ought to 
stand responsible for the damage done. He has his own pri- 
vate reasons for saying so, our own lovely shanty out there, 
isn't fire-proof you know. 



CONCLUSION. o09 

Pa is still bankering after the flesh-pots of Egypt; and 
watching the papers to see if somebodj- hasn"t started to re- 
build the levees. His normal condition is that of a crab apple, 
and he swears awfully at times. He says he would rather live 
six months on a raft on Grrosse Tete and take the chances of 
making a crop after the water than to stay here coaxing cot- 
ton out of sand. If it wasn't for Ma and me he'd be back 
there now, but m}' goodness! what pleasure will there be floun- 
dering in the Avater all spring like ever so many Irogs and 
crocodiles. As long as Pa had the darkies to growl at, there 
was room for comfort, but for want of better he pours his vials 
of wrath upon his nearest and dearest, and that's poor mother. 

Now Laura, I've written you quite a respectable letter, 
and I hope 3'oull return the compliment. 

I remain as ever your devoted friend. 

Nannie. 

For thirty years the population in the alluvial parishes 
built and patched their levees, but with practically no benefit, 
their means being inac equate to so vast and undertaking. In 
the meantime the River Commission and distinguished engi- 
neers discussed their respective theories on a problem which 
took them a quarter of a century to solve. The levee system has 
been subsequently adopted as our only safeguard against 
floods, and the the work of construction aided b}- the govern- 
ment's liberal appropriations, has been prosecuted to comple- 
tion. These superb embankments crowning the shores from 
one end oi the State to the other, seem to bid eternal defiance 
to the Father of Waters. The people in the valley have every 
reason to hope that they have seen the last of those terrible 
overflows which have been harnssiiig and impoverishing them 
since the War. That particular section of the country de- 
scribed in the foregoiug chaptei's, had until recent ytears been 



310 ZULMA, A STORY OF THE OLD SOUTH, 

abandoned to almost annual inuniatlons. The once flourish- 
ing plantation known as "Highland," has been 3^ear after year 
revolving into its primitive state. The silent phenomena of 
Nature are steadily rebuilding a forest as wild and dense, as 
that leveled by the axes of slaves some forty 3'ears ago. 
Thickets and briars riot over the grounds where fairest of flow- 
ers, once perfumed the air. Trees which stood in S3'mmetrical ar- 
ray about the stately home, now wearily clasp their mossy limbs 
above its ashes. The sediment carried by the water, has par- 
tially filled some of the important bayous, and the action of 
the currents has washed away and depressed the surface of 
that point of land which once suggested the name of the place. 
The buildings have all been demolished — not a rnin remains 
whereon a Marius may sit and ponder on the vicissitudes of 
Time and Fortune. 

Once again the tide of immigration turns to Giosse Tete, 
and settlements are crowding up, close to Highland, the finest 
tract of land on "the Bayou," but it remains intacf,(ionse- 
crated by its owner to the olden memories still clustering 
around it. 

THE END. 



/