The Grandissimes

The Grandissimes

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The Grandissimes

The Grandissimes

Read FREE!

Excerpt

It was in the Théatre St. Philippe (they had laid a temporary floor over the parquette seats) in the city we now call New Orleans, in the month of September, and in the year 1803. Under the twinkle of numberless candles, and in a perfumed air thrilled with the wailing ecstasy of violins, the little Creole capital’s proudest and best were offering up the first cool night of the languidly departing summer to the divine Terpsichore. For summer there, bear in mind, is a loitering gossip, that only begins to talk of leaving when September rises to go. It was like hustling her out, it is true, to give a select bal masqué at such a very early — such an amusingly early date ; but it was fitting that something should be done for the sick and the destitute ; and why not: this ? Everybody knows the Lord loveth a cheerful giver.

And so, to repeat, it was in the Théatre St. Philippe (the oldest, the first one), and, as may have been noticed, in the year in which the First Consul of France gave away Louisiana. Some might call it “sold.” Old Agricola Fusilier in the rumbling pomp of his natural voice — for he had an hour ago forgotten that he was in mask and domino — called it “gave away.” Not that he believed it had been done ; for, look you, how could it be ? The pretended treaty contained, for instance, no provision relative to the great family of Brahmin Mandarin Fusilier de Grandissime. It was evidently spurious.

Being bumped against, he moved a step or two aside, and was going on to denounce further the detestable rumor, when a masker — one of four who had just finished the contra-dance and were moving away in the column of promenaders — brought him smartly around with the salutation :

“Comment to yé, Citoyen Agricola !”

“H-you young kitten ! ” said the old man in a growling voice, and with the teased, half laugh of aged vanity as he bent a baffled scrutiny at the back-turned face of an ideal Indian Queen. It was not merely the tutoiement that struck him as saucy, but the further familiarity of using the slave dialect. His French was unprovincial.

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