Azélie crossed the yard with slow, hesitating steps. She wore a pink sunbonnet and a faded calico★ dress that had been made the summer before, and was now too small for her in every way. She carried a large tin pail on her arm. When within a few yards of the house she stopped under a chinaberry-tree,★ quite still, except for the occasional slow turning of her head from side to side.
Mr. Mathurin, from his elevation upon the upper gallery, laughed when he saw her; for he knew she would stay there, motionless, till some one noticed and questioned her.
The planter was just home from the city, and was therefore in an excellent humor, as he always was, on getting back to what he called le grand air,★ the space and stillness of the country, and the scent of the fields. He was in shirt-sleeves, walking around the gallery that encircled the big square white house. Beneath was a brick-paved portico upon which the lower rooms opened. At wide intervals were large whitewashed pillars that supported the upper gallery.
In one corner of the lower house was the store, which was in no sense a store for the general public, but maintained only to supply the needs of Mr. Mathurin's "hands."★
"Eh bien! what do you want, Azélie?" the planter finally called out to the girl in French. She advanced a few paces, and, pushing back her sunbonnet, looked up at him with a gentle, inoffensive face -- "to which you would give the good God without confession," he once described it.
"Bon jou', M'si' Mathurin," she replied; and continued in English: "I come git a li'le piece o' meat. We plumb out o' meat home."
"Well, well, the meat is n' going to walk to you, my chile: it has n' got feet. Go fine Mr. ' Polyte. He's yonda mending his buggy unda the shed." She turned away with an alert little step, and went in search of Mr. ' Polyte.
"That's you again!" the young man exclaimed, with a pretended air of annoyance, when he saw her. He straightened himself, and looked down at her and her pail with a comprehending glance. The sweat was standing in shining beads on his brown, good-looking face. He was in his shirt-sleeves, and the legs of his trousers were thrust