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White in an undertone, looking
anxious, and tapping one of the steps with her foot.

They sat a very long time talking over little family matters.

"What's that?" at last said Mrs. White.

"That's the nine-o'clock gun," said White, and they relapsed into a
long-sustained, drowsy silence.

"Patty, you'd better go in and go to bed," said he at last.

"I'm not sleepy."

"Well, you're very foolish," quietly remarked little White, and again
silence fell upon them.

"Patty, suppose I walk out to the old house and see if I can find out
any thing."

"Suppose," said she, "you don't do any such--listen!"

Down the street arose a great hubbub. Dogs and boys were howling and
barking; men were laughing, shouting, groaning, and blowing horns,
whooping, and clanking cow-bells, whinnying, and howling, and rattling
pots and pans.

"They are coming this way," said little White. "You had better go into
the house, Patty."

"So had you."

"No. I'm going to see if I can't stop them."

"Why, White!"

"I'll be back in a minute," said White, and went toward the noise.

In a few moments the little Secretary met the mob. The pen hesitates on
the word, for there is a respectable difference, measurable only on the
scale of the half century, between a mob and a _charivari_. Little White
lifted his ineffectual voice. He faced the head of the disorderly
column, and cast himself about as if he were made of wood and moved by
the jerk of a string. He rushed to one who seemed, from the size and
clatter of his tin pan, to be a leader. "_Stop these fellows, Bienvenu,
stop them just a minute, till I tell them something_." Bienvenu turned
and brandished his instruments of discord in an imploring way to the
crowd. They slackened their pace, two or three hushed their horns and
joined the prayer of little White and Bienvenu for silence. The throng
halted. The hush was delicious.

"Bienvenu," said little White, "don't shivaree old Poquelin to-night;
he's"--

"My fwang," said the swaying Bienvenu, "who tail you I goin' to
chahivahi somebody, eh? Yon sink bickause I make a little playfool wiz
zis tin pan zat I am _dhonk_?"

"Oh, no, Bienvenu, old fellow, you're all right. I was afraid you might
not know that old Poquelin was sick, you know, but you're not going
there, are you?"

"My fwang, I vay soy to tail you zat you ah dhonk as de dev'. I am
_shem_ of you. I ham ze servan' of ze _publique_. Zese _citoyens_ goin'
to wickwest Jean Poquelin to give to the Ursuline' two hondred fifty
dolla'"--

"_Hé quoi_!" cried a listener, "_Cinq cent piastres, oui_!"

"_Oui_!" said Bienvenu, "and if he wiffuse we make him some lit'
_musique_; ta-ra ta!" He hoisted a merry hand and foot, then frowning,
added: "Old Poquelin got no bizniz dhink s'much w'isky."

"But, gentlemen," said little White, around whom a circle had gathered,
"the old man is very sick."

"My faith!" cried a tiny Creole, "we did not make him to be sick. W'en
we have say we going make _le charivari_, do you want that we hall tell
a lie? My faith! 'sfools!"

"But you can shivaree somebody else," said desperate little White.

"_Oui_" cried Bienvenu, "_et chahivahi_ Jean-ah Poquelin tomo'w!"

"Let us go to Madame Schneider!" cried two or three, and amid huzzas and
confused cries, among which was heard a stentorian Celtic call for
drinks, the crowd again began to move.

"_Cent piastres pour l'hôpital de charité_!"

"Hurrah!"

"One hongred dolla' for Charity Hospital!"

"Hurrah!"

"Whang!" went a tin pan, the crowd yelled, and Pandemonium gaped again.
They were off at a right angle.

Nodding, Mrs. White looked at the mantle-clock.

"Well, if it isn't away after midnight."

The hideous noise down street was passing beyond earshot. She raised a
sash and listened. For a moment there was silence. Some one came to the
door.

"Is that you, White?"

"Yes." He entered. "I succeeded, Patty."

"Did you?" said Patty, joyfully.

"Yes. They've gone down to shivaree the old Dutchwoman who married her
step-daughter's sweetheart. They say she has got to pay a hundred
dollars to the hospital before they stop."

The couple retired, and Mrs. White slumbered. She was awakened by her
husband snapping the lid of his watch.

"What time?" she asked.

"Half-past three. Patty, I haven't slept a wink. Those fellows are out
yet. Don't you hear them?"

"Why, White, they're coming this way!"

"I know they are," said White, sliding out of bed and drawing on his
clothes, "and they're coming fast. You'd better go away from that
window, Patty. My! what a clatter!"

"Here they are," said Mrs. White, but her husband was gone. Two or three
hundred men and boys pass the place at a rapid walk straight down the
broad, new street, toward the hated house of ghosts. The din was
terrific. She saw little White at the head of the rabble brandishing his
arms and trying in vain to make himself heard; but they only shook their
heads laughing and hooting the louder, and so passed, bearing him on
before them.

Swiftly they pass out from among the houses, away from the dim oil lamps
of the street, out into the broad starlit commons, and enter the willowy
jungles of the haunted ground. Some hearts fail and their owners lag
behind and turn back, suddenly remembering how near morning it is. But
the most part push on, tearing the air with their clamor.

Down ahead of them in the long, thicket-darkened way there
is--singularly enough--a faint, dancing light. It must be very near the
old house; it is. It has stopped now. It is a lantern, and is under a
well-known sapling which has grown up on the wayside since the canal was
filled. Now it swings mysteriously to and fro. A goodly number of the
more ghost-fearing give up the sport; but a full hundred move forward at
a run, doubling their devilish howling and banging.

Yes; it is a lantern, and there are two persons under the tree. The
crowd draws near--drops into a walk; one of the two is the old African
mute; he lifts the lantern up so that it shines on the other; the crowd
recoils; there is a hush of all clangor, and all at once, with a cry of
mingled fright and horror from every throat, the whole throng rushes
back, dropping every thing, sweeping past little White and hurrying on,
never stopping until the jungle is left behind, and then to find that
not one in ten has seen the cause of the stampede, and not one of the
tenth is certain what it was.

There is one huge fellow among them who looks capable of any villany. He
finds something to mount on, and, in the Creole _patois_, calls a
general halt. Bienvenu sinks down, and, vainly trying to recline
gracefully, resigns the leadership. The herd gather round the speaker;
he assures them that they have been outraged. Their right peaceably to
traverse the public streets has been trampled upon. Shall such
encroachments be endured? It is now daybreak. Let them go now by the
open light of day and force a free passage of the public highway!

A scattering consent was the response, and the crowd, thinned now and
drowsy, straggled quietly down toward the old house. Some drifted ahead,
others sauntered behind, but every one, as he again neared the tree,
came to a stand-still. Little White sat upon a bank of turf on the
opposite side of the way looking very stern and sad. To each new-comer
he put the same question:

"Did you come here to go to old Poquelin's?"

"Yes."

"He's dead." And if the shocked hearer started away he would say: "Don't
go away."

"Why not?"

"I want you to go to the funeral presently."

If some Louisianian, too loyal to dear France or Spain to understand
English, looked bewildered, some one would interpret for him; and
presently they went. Little White led the van, the crowd trooping after
him down the middle of the way. The gate, that had never been seen
before unchained, was open. Stern little White stopped a short distance
from it; the rabble stopped behind him. Something was moving out from
under the veranda. The many whisperers stretched upward to see. The
African mute came very slowly toward the gate, leading by a cord in the
nose a small brown bull, which was harnessed to a rude cart. On the flat
body of the cart, under a black cloth, were seen the outlines of a long
box.

"Hats off, gentlemen," said little White, as the box came in view, and
the crowd silently uncovered.

"Gentlemen," said little White, "here come the last remains of Jean
Marie Poquelin, a better man, I'm afraid, with all his sins,--yes a
better--a kinder man to his blood--a man of more self-forgetful
goodness--than all of you put together will ever dare to be."

There was a profound hush as the vehicle came creaking through the gate;
but when it turned away from them toward the forest, those in front
started suddenly. There was a backward rush, then all stood still again
staring one way; for there, behind the bier, with eyes cast down and
labored step, walked the living remains--all that was left--of little
Jacques Poquelin, the long-hidden brother--a leper, as white as snow.

Dumb with horror, the cringing crowd gazed upon the walking death. They
watched, in silent awe, the slow _cortége_ creep down the long, straight
road and lessen on the view, until by and by it stopped where a wild,
unfrequented path branched off into the undergrowth toward the rear of
the ancient city.

"They are going to the _Terre aux Lépreux_," said one in the crowd. The
rest watched them in silence.

The little bull was set free; the mute, with the strength of an ape,
lifted the long box to his shoulder. For a moment more the mute and the
leper stood in sight, while the former adjusted his heavy burden; then,
without one backward glance upon the unkind human world, turning their
faces toward the ridge in the depths of the swamp known as the Leper's
Land, they stepped into the jungle, disappeared, and were never seen
again.





TITE POULETTE.


Kristian Koppig was a rosy-faced, beardless young Dutchman. He was one
of that army of gentlemen who, after the purchase of Louisiana, swarmed
from all parts of the commercial world, over the mountains of
Franco-Spanish exclusiveness, like the Goths over the Pyrenees, and
settled down in New Orleans to pick up their fortunes, with the
diligence of hungry pigeons.



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