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But wait! you shall see: I have
something. This evening the General"--

The houses of Rue Royale gave a start and rattled their windows. In the
long, irregular line of balconies the beauty of the city rose up. Then
the houses jumped again and the windows rattled; Madame steps inside the
window and gives a message which the housemaid smiles at in receiving.
As she turns the houses shake again, and now again; and now there comes
a distant strain of trumpets, and by and by the drums and bayonets and
clattering hoofs, and plumes and dancing banners; far down the long
street stretch out the shining ranks of gallant men, and the fluttering,
over-leaning swarms of ladies shower down their sweet favors and wave
their countless welcomes.

In the front, towering above his captains, rides General Villivicencio,
veteran of 1814-15, and, with the gracious pomp of the old-time
gentleman, lifts his cocked hat, and bows, and bows.

Madame Délicieuse's balcony was a perfect maze of waving kerchiefs. The
General looked up for the woman of all women; she was not there. But he
remembered the other balcony, the smaller one, and cast his glance
onward to it. There he saw Madame and one other person only. A small
blue-eyed, broad-browed, scholarly-looking man whom the arch lady had
lured from his pen by means of a mock professional summons, and who now
stood beside her, a smile of pleasure playing on his lips and about his
eyes.

"_Vite!_" said Madame, as the father's eyes met the son's. Dr. Mossy
lifted his arm and cast a bouquet of roses. A girl in the crowd bounded
forward, caught it in the air, and, blushing, handed it to the plumed
giant. He bowed low, first to the girl, then to the balcony above; and
then, with a responsive smile, tossed up two splendid kisses, one to
Madame, and one, it seemed--

"For what was that cheer?"

"Why, did you not see? General Villivicencio cast a kiss to his son."

The staff of General Villivicencio were a faithful few who had not bowed
the knee to any abomination of the Américains, nor sworn deceitfully to
any species of compromise; their beloved city was presently to pass into
the throes of an election, and this band, heroically unconscious of
their feebleness, putting their trust in "re-actions" and like
delusions, resolved to make one more stand for the traditions of their
fathers. It was concerning this that Madame Délicieuse was incidentally
about to speak when interrupted by the boom of cannon; they had promised
to meet at her house that evening.

They met. With very little discussion or delay (for their minds were
made up beforehand), it was decided to announce in the French-English
newspaper that, at a meeting of leading citizens, it had been thought
consonant with the public interest to place before the people the name
of General Hercule Mossy de Villivicencio. No explanation was considered
necessary. All had been done in strict accordance with time-honored
customs, and if any one did not know it it was his own fault. No
eulogium was to follow, no editorial indorsement. The two announcements
were destined to stand next morning, one on the English side and one on
the French, in severe simplicity, to be greeted with profound
gratification by a few old gentlemen in blue cottonade, and by roars of
laughter from a rampant majority.

As the junto were departing, sparkling Madame Délicieuse detained the
General at the head of the stairs that descended into the tiled
carriage-way, to wish she was a man, that she might vote for him.

"But, General," she said, "had I not a beautiful bouquet of ladies on my
balcony this morning?"

The General replied, with majestic gallantry, that "it was as
magnificent as could be expected with the central rose wanting." And so
Madame was disappointed, for she was trying to force the General to
mention his son. "I will bear this no longer; he shall not rest," she
had said to her little aunt, "until he has either kissed his son or
quarrelled with him."

To which the aunt had answered that, "_coûte que coûte_, she need not
cry about it;" nor did she. Though the General's compliment had foiled
her thrust, she answered gayly to the effect that enough was enough;
"but, ah! General," dropping her voice to an undertone, "if you had
heard what some of those rosebuds said of you!"

The old General pricked up like a country beau. Madame laughed to
herself, "Monsieur Peacock, I have thee;" but aloud she said gravely:

"Come into the drawing-room, if you please, and seat yourself. You must
be greatly fatigued."

The friends who waited below overheard the invitation.

"_Au revoir, Général_," said they.

"_Au revoir, Messieurs,_" he answered, and followed the lady.

"General," said she, as if her heart were overflowing, "you have been
spoken against. Please sit down."

"Is that true, Madame?"

"Yes, General."

She sank into a luxurious chair.

"A lady said to-day--but you will be angry with me, General."

"With you, Madame? That is not possible."

"I do not love to make revelations, General; but when a noble friend is
evil spoken of"--she leaned her brow upon her thumb and forefinger, and
looked pensively at her slipper's toe peeping out at the edge of her
skirt on the rich carpet--"one's heart gets very big."

"Madame, you are an angel! But what said she, Madame?"

"Well, General, I have to tell you the whole truth, if you will not be
angry. We were all speaking at once of handsome men. She said to me:
'Well, Madame Délicieuse, you may say what you will of General
Villivicencio, and I suppose it is true; but everybody knows'--pardon
me, General, but just so she said--'all the world knows he treats his
son very badly.'"

"It is not true," said the General.

"If I wasn't angry!" said Madame, making a pretty fist. 'How can that
be?' I said. 'Well,' she said, 'mamma says he has been angry with his
son for fifteen years.' 'But what did his son do?' I said. 'Nothing,'
said she. '_Ma foi_,' I said, 'me, I too would be angry if my son had
done nothing for fifteen years'--ho, ho, ho!"

"It is not true," said the General.

The old General cleared his throat, and smiled as by compulsion.

"You know, General," said Madame, looking distressed, "it was nothing to
joke about, but I had to say so, because I did not know what your son
had done, nor did I wish to hear any thing against one who has the honor
to call you his father."

She paused a moment to let the flattery take effect, and then proceeded:

"But then another lady said to me; she said, 'For shame, Clarisse, to
laugh at good Dr. Mossy; nobody--neither General Villivicencio, neither
any other, has a right to be angry against that noble, gentle, kind,
brave'"--

"Brave!" said the General, with a touch of irony. "So she said,"
answered Madame Délicieuse, "and I asked her, 'how brave?' 'Brave?' she
said, 'why, braver than _any soldier_, in tending the small-pox, the
cholera, the fevers, and all those horrible things. Me, I saw his father
once run from a snake; I think _he_ wouldn't fight the small-pox--my
faith!' she said, 'they say that Dr. Mossy does all that and never wears
a scapula!--and does it nine hundred and ninety-nine times in a thousand
for nothing! _Is_ that brave, Madame Délicieuse, or is it not?'--And,
General,--what could I say?"

Madame dropped her palms on either side of her spreading robes and
waited pleadingly for an answer. There was no sound but the drumming of
the General's fingers on his sword-hilt. Madame resumed:

"I said, 'I do not deny that Mossy is a noble gentleman;'--I had to say
that, had I not, General?"

"Certainly, Madame," said the General, "my son is a gentleman, yes."

"'But,' I said, 'he should not make Monsieur, his father, angry.'"

"True," said the General, eagerly.

"But that lady said: 'Monsieur, his father, makes himself angry,' she
said. 'Do you know, Madame, why his father is angry so long?' Another
lady says, 'I know!' 'For what?' said I. 'Because he refused to become a
soldier; mamma told me that.' 'It cannot be!' I said."

The General flushed. Madame saw it, but relentlessly continued:

"'_Mais oui_,' said that lady. 'What!' I said, 'think you General
Villivicencio will not rather be the very man most certain to respect a
son who has the courage to be his own master? Oh, what does he want with
a poor fool of a son who will do only as he says? You think he will love
him less for healing instead of killing? Mesdemoiselles, you do not know
that noble soldier!'"

The noble soldier glowed, and bowed his acknowledgments in a dubious,
half remonstrative way, as if Madame might be producing material for her
next confession, as, indeed, she diligently was doing; but she went
straight on once more, as a surgeon would.

"But that other lady said: 'No, Madame, no, ladies, but I am going to
tell you why Monsieur, the General, is angry with his son.' 'Very well,
why?'--'Why? It is just--because--he is--a little man!'"

General Villivicencio stood straight up.

"Ah! mon ami," cried the lady, rising excitedly, "I have wounded you and
made you angry, with my silly revelations. Pardon me, my friend. Those
were foolish girls, and, anyhow, they admired you. They said you looked
glorious--grand--at the head of the procession."

Now, all at once, the General felt the tremendous fatigues of the day;
there was a wild, swimming, whirling sensation in his head that forced
him to let his eyelids sink down; yet, just there, in the midst of his
painful bewilderment, he realized with ecstatic complacency that the
most martial-looking man in Louisiana was standing in his spurs with the
hand of Louisiana's queenliest woman laid tenderly on his arm.

"I am a wretched tattler!" said she.

"Ah! no, Madame, you are my dearest friend, yes.'

"Well, anyhow, I called them fools. 'Ah! innocent creatures,' I said,
'think you a man of his sense and goodness, giving his thousands to the
sick and afflicted, will cease to love his only son because he is not
big like a horse or quarrelsome like a dog? No, ladies, there is a great
reason which none of you know.' 'Well, well,' they cried, 'tell it; he
has need of a very good reason; tell it now.' 'My ladies,' I said, 'I
must not'--for, General, for all the world I knew not a reason why you
should be angry against your son; you know, General, you have never told
me."

The beauty again laid her hand on his arm and gazed, with round-eyed
simplicity, into his sombre countenance.



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