The flower of the chapdelaines

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ProjectGutenberg'sTheFloweroftheChapdelaines,byGeorgeW Cable ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.net Title:TheFloweroftheChapdelaines Author:GeorgeW Cable ReleaseDate:May23,2005[EBook#15881] Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEFLOWEROFTHECHAPDELAINES*** ProducedbyAlHaines Frontispiece [Frontispiece:Yesterday,forthefirsttime,atthatsamecorner, hehadencounteredthisfairstrangerandherurchinescort.] THEFLOWEROFTHE CHAPDELAINES BY GEORGEW CABLE WITHFRONTISPIECEBY F C YOHN NEWYORK CHARLESSCRIBNER'SSONS 1918 COPYRIGHT,1918,BY CHARLESSCRIBNER'SSONS PublishedMarch,1918 TABLEOFCONTENTS Chapter I II III IV TheClockintheSky V VI VII VIII IX X TheAngeloftheLord XI XII XIII XIV XV XVI XVII XVIII XIX XX TheChapdelaines XXI XXII XXIII XXIV T Chapdelaine&Son XXV Chapter XXVI XXVII TheHolyCross XXVIII (TheScene) XXIX (ThePlayers) XXX (TheRisingCurtain) XXXI (RevoltandRiot) XXXII (FreedomandConflagration) XXXIII (Authority,Order,Peace) XXXIV XXXV XXXVI XXXVII XXXVIII XXXIX XL XLI TheLostFortune XLII Mélanie XLIII XLIV XLV XLVI XLVII XLVIII XLIX L TheFloweroftheChapdelaines I Nextmorninghesawheragain Hehadlefthisverynewlawoffice,justaroundinBienvilleStreet,andhad come but a few steps down Royal, when, at the next corner below, she turned intoRoyal,towardhim,outofConti,comingfromBourbon Thesamenine-year-oldnegroboywasatherside,asspotlessinbroadwhite collarandbluejacketasonthemorningbefore,andcarryingthesamedrollair ofconsecration,awe,andresponsibility Theyoungmanenviedhim Yesterday,forthefirsttime,atthatsamecorner,hehadencounteredthisfair strangerandherurchinescort,abruptly,astheyweremakingthesameturnthey now repeated, and all in a flash had wondered who might be this lovely apparition Of such patrician beauty, such elegance of form and bearing, such witchery of simple attire, and such un-Italian yet Latin type, in this antique Creole, modernly Italianized quarter who and what, so early in the day, down hereamongtheshops,wheresomeagrearemnantoftheoldhighlifeclungon inthesebalconiedupperstories who,what,whence,whither,andwherefore? In that flash of time she had passed, and the very liveliness of his interest, combinedwiththeurchin'sconsecratedawe nottomentionhisownmortifying remembrance of one or two other-day lapses from the austerities of the old street restrainedhimfromabackwardglanceuntilhecouldcrossthewayasif to enter the great, white, lately completed court-house Then both she and her satellitehadvanished He turned again, but not to enter the building His watch read but half past eight,andhisfirsterrandoftheday,unlessseeingherhadbeenhisfirst,wasto goonesquarefartheron,foralookatthewreckerstearingdowntheoldHotel St Louis Asheturned,amanneatofdressandwellbeyondmiddleagemade himasuavegesture "Sir,ifyouplease Youare,Ithink,Mr Chester,notarypublicandattorneyat law?" "Thatismynameandtrade,sir."EvidentlyMr GeoffryChesterwasalsoan American,aSoutherner "Pardon,"said hisdetainer,"Ihaveonlymy businesscard." Hetenderedit: "MarcelCastanado,MasquesetCostumes,No 312,rueRoyale,entreBienville etConti." "Idiz-ireyouradvice,"hecontinued,"onaverysmallmatterneithernotarial, neitherofthelaw YetImustpayyouforthat,ifyoucanmakeyourchargeas-assmallasthematter." The young lawyer's own matters were at a juncture where a fee was a godsend,yethereplied: "IfyourmatterisnotofthelawIcanmakeyounocharge." The costumer shrugged: "Pardon, in that case I must seek elsewhere." He wouldhavemovedon,butChesterasked: "Whatkindofadvicedoyouwantifnotlegal?" "Literary." Theyoungmansmiled:"Why,I'mnotliterary." "I think yes You know Ovide Landry? Black man? Secon'-han' books, ChartresStreet,justyonder?" "Yes,verypleasantly,forIloveoldbooks." "Yes,andoldbuildings,andtheirhistories Iknow Youarenowgoingdown, asIhavejustbeen,toseeagaintheconstructionofthatolddometheyaredimolishing yonder, of the once state-house, previously Hotel St Louis I know Twiceadayyoupassmyshop Iamcompelledtosee,whatOvidealsohastold me, that, like me and my wife, you have a passion for the poétique and the pittoresque!" "Yes," Chester laughed, "but that's my limit I've never written a line for print " "Thiswritingisdone,sincefiftyyears." "I've never passed literary judgment on a written page and don't suppose I evershall." "Thejudgmentispassed Thevalueofthearticleispronouncedgreat byan expertamateur." "SHE?"theyouthsilentlyaskedhimself Hespoke:"Why,thenwhatadvice doyoustillwant howtofindapublisher?" "No,anypublisherwilljumpatthat Buthowtosonig-otiatethatheshallnot bethelionandwethelamb!" Chestersmiledagain:"Why,ifthat'sthepoint "hemused Thehopecame againthatthisunusualshopmanandhiswishhadsomethingtodowithher "Ifthat'stheadviceyouwant,"heresumed,"Ithinkwemightconstrueitas legal,thoughworthatthemostamerenotarialfee." "Andcontingenton ?"thecostumerprompted "Contingent,yes,ontheauthor'ssuccess." "Sir!Iamnottheauthorofamanuscriptfiftyyearsold!" "Well,then,ontheholder'ssuccess Youcanagreetothat,can'tyou?" "'Tisagreed Youaremycounsel Whenwillyouseethemanuscript?" "Wheneveryouchoosetoleaveitwithme." The costumer's smile was firm: "Sir, I cannot permit that to pass from my hand." "Oh!thenhaveacopytypedforme." TheCreolesoliloquized:"Thatwouldbeexpensive."ThentoChester:"Sir,I will tell you; to-night come at our parlor, over the shop I will read you that!" "Shallwebealone?"askedChester,hopinghisclientwouldsayno "Only excepting my" a tender brightness "my wife!" Then a shade of regret:"Wearewithoutchildren,meandmywife." His wife H'mm! She? That amazing one who had vanished within a few yardsofhisbazaarof"masquesetcostumes"?ThoughtoChesterNewOrleans was still new, and though fat law-books and a slim purse kept him much to himself, he was aware that, while some Creoles grew rich, many of them, women,oncerich,werebeingdriveneventostandbehindcounters Yetnosuch plight could he imagine of that bewildering young young luminary who, this second time, so out of time, had gleamed on him from mystery's cloud His earlier hope came a third time: "Excepting only your wife, you say? Why not alsoyouramateurexpert?" "Iamsorry,but" theLatinshrug "thatis thatisnotpossible." "HaveIeverseenyourwife?She'snotatallish,slenderyoung -?" "No,mywifeisneither She'sneverinthestreetorshop Shehasnolonger thecap-acity She'sbecomesoextraordinarilyun-slenderthattheonlywayshe cancomedown-stair'isbackward You'llsee Well," hewaved "tillthen ah,a word:myclosebargaining Imustexplainyouthat inconfidence 'Tisbecause mywifeandmeweareanxioustogeteverypicayunewecangetfortheowners-ofthatmanuscript." Chesterthoughttobeshrewd:"Oh!isshehardup?theowner?" "The owners are three," Castanado calmly said, "and two dip-end on the earningsofathird."Hebowedhimselfaway A few hours later Chester received from him a note begging indefinite postponement of the evening appointment Mme Castanado had fever and probablylagrippe "Whilesone,"thesisterspleaded,"tha'zallwerequire!" "Iknowthat,"saidAlinetothefour "'Twasofthatwewerespeakingatthe gate But" toMrs Chester "thatjudgmentoftheonepublisherisbecomeour judgmentalso Sothiseveninghewillbringyouthemanuscript,andintwoor threedays,whenwecometoseeyou,mytwoaunt'andme I,youcangiveit me." "MayIreadit?I'vebeentoOvide'sandread'TheClockintheSky.'" "Yes?Well,iflaterwehavethegood,chancetofind,inourvieuxcarré,we andourcotérie,andOvide,somemorestories, trueromances,we'llmaybetry again;buttillthen ah,no." Mrs Chester touched the girl caressingly "My dear, you will! Every house looks as if it could tell at least one, including that large house and garden just overtheway." "Ah,"chantedMlle Yvonne,"howmanytime'Corinneandme,wewant'to livethereandfurnizh,ourseff,thatromanz'!" The five rose Mrs Chester "would be delighted to have the three Chapdelaines call I'm leaving the hotel, you know; I've taken a room next Geoffry's Butthat'sneareryou,isitnot?" "Ali'l',yes,"thesistersreplied,butAline'ssmilingsilencesaid:"No,alittle fartheroff." The aunts thanked Mme De l'Isle for bringing Mrs Chester and kissed her cheeks Theywalkedbesidehertothegate,ledbyCupidwiththekey,andby Marie Madeleine crooking the end of her tail like a floor-walker's finger Mrs ChesterandAlinecamelast Thesistersventuredouttothesidewalktofinishan apologyforasignificantfaultinMarieMadeleine'sfigure,andMrs Chesterand Alinefoundthemselvesalone "Au revoir," they said, clasping hands Cupid, under a sudden inspiration, half-closedthegate,thepairstoodaneloquentmomentgazingeyetoeye,and then What happened the mother told her son that evening as they sat alone on a moonlitveranda "Mother!" "Yes,"shesaid,"andonthelips." XLIX Beginning at dawn, an all-day rain rested the travel-wearied lady But the night cleared and in the forenoon that followed she shopped for things, she wroteherhusband,nottobefoundelsewhereintheforty-eightStates The afternoon she gave to two or three callers, notably to Mrs ThorndykeSmith,whowasverypleasingeveryway,butinnothingmorethaninherpraises oftheRoyalStreetcoterie Nextmorning,inahiredcar,shehadCastanadoand Mme Dubroca, Beloiseau and Mme Alexandre, not merely show but, as the ironworkersaid,pinchingforefingerandthumbtogetherintheair,"elucidate"to her,forhours,thevieuxcarré Theday'slatterhalfbroughtMlles Corinneand Yvonne;butAline no "Shewascomingtillthelaz'moment,"thepairsaid,"andthenshe'ssobewzy she'avetosen'usword,by'Ector,'tisimpossib'tocome tillmaybelater Gohon,juz'wetwo." Theysatandtalked,androseandtalked,and sweetlyimportuned resumed seats and talked, of infant days and the old New Orleans they loved so well, unembarrassed by a maze of innocent anachronisms, and growingly sure that Alinewouldcome WhenatsunsettheytookleaveMrs Chester,totheirdelight,followedtothe sidewalk, drifted on by a corner or two, and even turned up Rampart Street, thoughwithoutsayingthatitwasbyRampartStreethersondailycame walked-from his office It had two paved ways for general traffic, with a broad space between,whereonce,thesistersexplained,hadbeentherampart'smoatbutnow rantheelectriccars!"Youknowwhatthatis,rampart?Tha'zinthe'Star-Spangle' Banner'ab-oudthat Andthishighwallwherewe'repassing,tha'ztheCarmelite convent,and ah!adthelast!Aline!Aline!"AlsotherewasCupid Thefourencounteredgayly "Ah,notthistime,"Alinesaid "Icameonlyto meetmyaunts;theyhadlockedthegate!ButIwillcall,verysoon." They walked up to the next corner, the sisters confusingly instructing Mrs Chesterhowtotakeareturningstreet-car Leavingthem,shehadjustgotsafely across from sidewalk to car-track when Cupid came pattering after, to bid her hailonlythecarmarked"EsplanadeBelt." Ashebackedoff "Takecare!"wasthecry,buthesprangthewrongwayand ahurryingjitneycasthimyardsdistant,wherehelayunconsciousandbleeding Thepackedstreet-caremptied "No,he'salive,"saidonewholiftedhim,tothetwojitneypassengers,who pushedintothethrong "Armbroke',yes,buthe'shurtworstinthehead." There was an apothecary's shop in sight They put him and the four ladies intothejitneyandsentthemthere,andtheworldmovedon Attheshophecameto,andpresently,inthejitneyagain,hewasblissfully awareofGeoffryChesterontheswiftrunning-board,questioninghismotherand Alinebyturns Helistenedwithallhismight Neitherthechildnorhismistress had seen or heard the questioner since the afternoon he was locked out of the garden Nearing that garden now, questions and answers suddenly ceased; the child hadspoken Limpandmotionless,withhisheadonAline'sbosomandhiseyes closed,"Don'tlet,"hebrokenlysaid,"don'tlethimgo'way." Tohimtheanswerseemedsolongcomingthathebegantorepeat;thenAline said -"No,dear,heshan'tleaveyou." The sisters had telephoned their own physician from the apothecary's shop, andsoon,withCupidonhiscot,pushedclosetoacoolwindowlookingintothe reargarden,andthegardenlightedbyanunseenmoon,Mrs Chester,atthecot's sideawaitedthedoctor'sarrival Therestlesssistersbroughtheratrayofrusks andbutterandtea,thoughtheywouldnot,couldnot,tasteanythingthemselves until they should know how gravely the small sufferer for now he began to suffer washurt "Sametimetha'zgoodtobeinduztriouz" thiswasallsaiddirectlyabovethe moaningchild "whiletha'zbad,forthesick,totalkadthebedside,andwecan't staywithyouandnottalk,andwecan'tgointhatfrontyard;thatgateisletopen sothedoctorheneedn'ringandthatwayexcidethepatient;andwecan'tgoin the back garden" they spread their hands and dropped them; the back garden washopelesslypre-empted Theywenttoaparlorwindowandsatlookingandlongingforthefrontgate to swing They had posted on it in Corinne's minute writing: "No admittance exceponbusiness Openonaccountsickness S V P Don'twringthebelle!!!" Cupidlayveryflatonhisback,hisfaceturnedtotheopenwindow Hehad ceasedtomoan WhenMrs Chesterstoletowhere,byleaningover,shecould seehiseyestheywereclosed She hoped heslept,butsatdowninuncertainty ratherthanriskwakinghim InthemoonlitgardenAlineandGeoffrypacedto andfro Toseethemhismotherwouldhavetostandandleanoverthecot,and neither good mothers nor good nurses that She kept her seat, anxiously hopingthatthemoonlightouttherewouldremainsoftenoughtoveiltheworn lookwhichdaylightbetrayedonherson'sfacewheneverhefellintosilence The talk of the pair was labored Once they went clear to the bower and turned,withoutaword ThenGeoffrysaid:"IknowastoryI'dliketotellyou, though how it would help us in our project if we now have a project at all I don'tsee." "'Tisofthevieuxcarré,thatstory?" "It'softhevieuxcarréoftheworld'sheart." "IthinkIknowit." "MayInottellit?" "Yes,youmaytellit although yes,tellit." "Well,therewasonceabeautifulgirl,asbeautifulinsoulasincountenance, andworshippedbyafewexcellentfriends,fewonlybecauseofconditionsinher lifethatalmostwhollyexiledherfromsociety Evenso,shehadsuitors good, gallant men; not of wealth, yet with good prospects and with gifts more essential Butotherconditionsseemed,toher,toforbidmarriage." "Yes,"Alineinterrupted "Mr Chester,haveyougoneinpartnershipwithMr Castanado 'Masques et Costumes'? Or would it not be maybe better honor to me andyourself tospeak " "Straightout?Yes,ofcourse Aline,I'vebeenrackingmybrain Istillam-andmyheart todivinewhatitisthatseparatesus I hadcometobelieveyou loved me I can't quite stifle the conviction yet I believe that in refusing me you'reconsciouslyrefusingthatwhichseemstoyouyourselfaworthysourceof supremehappinessifitdidnotthreatenthehappinessofothersdearerthanyour own." "Ofmyaunts,youthink?" "Yes,youraunts." "Mr Chester,evenifIhadnoaunts " "Yes,Isee That'smynewdiscovery:you'vealreadyhadmyassurancethat I'd study their happiness as I would yours, ours, mine; but you think I could nevermakeyourauntsandmyselfhappyinthesameatmosphere Youbelievein me YoubelieveIhaveafuturethatmustcarryme wouldcarryus intoaworld yourauntsdon'tknowandcouldneverlearn." "'Tistrue Andyetevenifmyaunts " "Had no existence yes, I know I know what you think would still remain You can't hint it, for you think I would promptly promise the impossible, as loverssoeasilydo Aline,Iwouldnot!'Twouldn'tbeimpossible Itshallnotbe Mymotherishelpingtoprovethateventoyou,isn'tshe withoutknowingit?I promiseyouasifitwereinthemarriagecontractandwewereheresigningit, that if you will be my wife I never will, and you never shall, let go, or in any wayrelax,yourhold ormine ontheintimatefriendshipofthecoterieinRoyal Street Theyareyourinheritancefromyourfatherandhisfather,andIloveyou themoreadoringlybecauseyouwouldsoonerbreakyourownheartthanforfeit thatlegacy."Hetookoneofherhands "Youaretheir'ClockintheSky';you're their'AngeloftheLord.'Andsoyoushallbetilldeathdoyoupart."Hetookthe otherhand,heldboth Cupidturnedhisfacefromthewindowandaudiblysobbed "Oh,child,whatisit?Doesitpainso?" Heshookhishead "Doesn'titpain?Isitnotpainatall?Why,then,whatisit?" "Joy,"hewhisperedasthedoctorcamein L Thechild'shurtswerenotsograve,afterall "Hemaysitupto-morrow,"thedoctorsaid Thefracturedarmwasputintoa splintandsling,andacollar-bonehadtobewrappedinplace;buttheabsorbent cottonbandagedonhisheadwasonlyforcontusions "Corinne!" Mlle Yvonne gasped, "contusion"! Ah, doctor, I 'ope tha'z somethingyoucan't'avebutonce!" "Youcan'tinfatalcases Mrs. eh thosescissors,please?Thankyou." "Well,Aline,praisebetoheaven,any'owhisskull,fromeartoear'tissolid! Ah,Imean,ofco'se,roun'theh-outside Inside'tishollow Butoutsideithasnot acrack!eh,doctor?" "Exceptthesutureshewasbornwith Now,mylittleman " "Ah,ah,Corinne!Bornwithshuture'!andweneversuzpeg'that!" "Ah,but,Yvonne,ifhe'shadthosesinz'thatlongtheycann'besoveryfatal, no!" Partlyforthelittleboy'ssakethreedayswereletpassbeforeAlinemadeher announcement There was but one place for it the Castanados' parlor All the coteriewerethere theDel'Isles,evenOvide butlerprotem "Youwillhaverefreshments,"hesaid,withhappiestequanimity;"Iwillserve them";andthewholeraceproblemvanished Mélanietoowaspresent,withan announcement of her own which won ecstatic kisses, many of them tearmoistened but all of them glad As for Mme Alexandre and Beloiseau, they announcednothing,buteveryoneknew,andsaidsointhesmilingfervencyof theirhand-grasps Allofwhichmadetheeveningtoohopelesslyold-fashionedtobedwelton, though one point cannot be overlooked It was the last proclamation of the joyous hour, and was Chester's He had bought on wonderfully easy terms-vieux carré terms the large house and grounds opposite the Chapdelaine cottage,andtheretheauntsweretodwellwiththeyoungpair "Permanently?" "Ah,onlywhileswelive!" Thecoterieadjourned Already the sisters had begun to move in Mrs Chester helped them "marvellouzly." Also Aline Also Cupid that was now his only name The cat reallycouldn't;shewastoopreoccupied ThesisterstouchedMrs Chester'sarm anddrewacurtain "Look! Eight!Ah,thouunfaithful,ifwehadeverthinkyouaregoingto soforgetyo'sefflikethat,wewoul'n'nevernameyouMarieMadeleine!Andstill ad the same time you know, Mrs Chezter, we are sure she's trying to tell us, rightnow,thatthisgoingtobethelaz'time!" "Andme,"Yvonneadded,"Ifeelsureany'owthat,asthepoetsay I'mprittie sure'tisthepoetsaythat she'smo'sin'ag-ainz'thansinning." At length one evening so many relics of the Chapdelaine infancy had been gatheredinthenewhomethatthesisterswentovertheretopassthenight,and took pussand her offspringalong Butnota winkdid eitherofthem sleepthe night through, and the first living creature they espied the next morning was MarieMadeleine,withakitteninherteeth,movingback "Aline," they sobbed as soon as they could find her, "we are sorry, sorry, sorry,tomakeyousuchunhappinezzlikethat,andsosoon;continue,youand Geoffry,toliveinthatnew'ouse;butwhilesweliveanyplazebutheavenwegot toliveinthathomeofourin-fancy." 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