The Kidnapped Bride

YES, the marshes were then in a chain along the foot of the bluffs : Grand Marais, Marais de Bois Coupé, Marais de l’Ourse, Marais Perdu ; with a rigolé here and there, straight as a canal, to carry the water into the Mississippi. You do not see Cahokia beautiful as it was when Monsieur St. Ange de Bellerive was acting as governor of the Illinois Territory, and waiting at Fort Chartres for the British to take possession after the conquest. Some people had indeed gone off to Ste. Genevieve, and to Pain Court that you now call Sail Loui’, where Pontiac was afterwards buried under sweetbrier, and is to-day trampled under pavements. An Indian killed Pontiac, between Cahokia and Prairie du Pont. When he rose from his body, and saw it was not a British knife, but a red man’s tomahawk, he was not a chief who would lie still and bear it in silence. Yes, I have heard that he has been seen walking through the grapevine tangle, all bleached, as if the bad redness was burned out of him. But the priest will tell you better, my son. Do not believe such tales.

Besides, no two stories are alike. Pontiac was killed in his French officer’s uniform, which Monsieur de Montcalm gave him ; and half the people who saw him walking declared he wore that, while the rest swore he was in buckskins and a blanket. You see how it is. A veritable ghost would always appear the same, and not keep changing its clothes like a vain girl. Paul Le Page had a fit one night from seeing the dead chief, with feathers in his hair, standing like stone in the white French uniform. But do not credit such things

It was half a dozen years before Pontiac’s death that Celeste Barbeau was kidnapped on her wedding day. She lived at Prairie du Pont; and though Prairie du Pont is but a mile and a half south of Cahokia, the road was not as safe then as it now is. My mother was one of the bridesmaids ; she has told it over to me a score of times. The wedding was to be in the church, — the same church that now stands on the east side of the square. And on the south side of the square was the old auberge. Claudis Beauvois said you could get as good wines at that tavern as you could in New Orleans. But the court-house was not built until 1795. The people did not need a court-house. They had no quarrels among themselves which the priest could not settle, and after the British conquest their only enemies were those Puants, the Pottawattamie Indians, who took the English side, and paid no regard when peace was declared, but still tormented the French because there was no military power to check them. You see the common fields across the rigolé. The Puants stole stock from the common fields; they trampled down crops, and kidnapped children, and even women, to be ransomed for so many horses each. The French tried to be friendly, and with presents and good words to induce the Puants to leave. But those Puants — oh, they were British Indians: nothing hut, whipping would take the impudence out of them.

Celeste Barbeau’s father and mother lived at Prairie du Pont, and Alexis Barbeau was the richest man in this part of the American Bottom. When Alexis Barbeau was down on his knees at mass, people used to say he counted his money instead of his beads ; it was at least as dear to him as religion. And when he came au Cabo’,1 lie had n’t a word for a poor man. At Prairie du Pont he had built himself a fine brick house ; the bricks were brought from Philadelphia by way of New Orleans. You have yourself seen it many a time, and the crack down the side made by the great earthquake of 1811. There he lived like an estated gentleman, for Prairie du Pont was then nothing but a cluster of tenants around his feet. It was after his death, that the village grew. Celeste did not stay at Prairie du Pont ; she was always au Caho’, with her grandmother and grandfather, the old Barbeaus.

Along the south bank of this rigolé which bounds the north end of Caho’ were all the pleasantest houses then: rez - de - chaussée, of course, but large; with dormer windows in the roofs; and high of foundation, having flights of steps going up to the galleries. For though the Mississippi was a mile away in those days, and had not yet eaten in to our very sides, it often came visiting. I have seen this grassy-bottomed rigolé many a time swimming with fifteen feet of water, and sending ripples to the gallery steps. Between the marais and the Mississippi, the spring rains were a perpetual danger. There are men who want the marshes all filled up. They say it will add to us on one side what the great river is taking from us on the other ; but myself — I would never throw in a shovelful. God made this world ; it is good enough ; and when the water rises we can take to boats.

The Le Compts lived in this very house, and the old Barbeaus lived next, on the corner, where this rigolé road crosses the street, running north and south. Every house along the rigole was set in spacious grounds, with shade trees and gardens, and the sloping lawns blazed with flowers. My mother said it was much prettier than Kaskaskia; not crowded with traffic, not overrun with foreigners. Everybody seemed to be making a fête, to be visiting or receiving visits. At sunset the fiddle and the banjo began their melody. The young girls would gather at Barbeau’s, or Le Compt’s, or Pensonneau’s,—at any one of a dozen places, — and the young men would follow. It was no trouble to have a dance every evening, and on feast days and great days there were balls, of course. The violin ran in my family. Celeste Barbeau would call across the hedge to my mother, —

“ Manette, will Monsieur Le Compt play for us again to-night ?

And Monsieur Le Compt, or anybody who could handle a bow, would play for her. Celeste was the life of the place : she sang like a lark, she was like thistledown in the dance, she talked well, and was so handsome that a stranger from New Orleans stopped in the street to gaze after her. At the auberge he said he was going au Pay,2 but after he saw Celeste Barbeau he stayed in Caho’. I have heard my mother tell — who often saw it combed out — that Celeste’s long black hair hung below her knees, though it was so curly that half its length was taken up by the natural crêping of the locks.

The old Frenchwomen, especially about Pain Court and Caho’, loved to go into their children’s bedrooms and sit on the side of the bed, telling stories half the night. It was part of the general good time. And thus they often found out what the girls were thinking about; for women of experience need only a hint. It is true old Madame Barbeau had never been even au Kaw ; 3 but one may live and grow wise without crossing the rigolés north and south, or the bluffs and river east and west.

“ Gra’mère, Manette is sleepy,” Celeste would say, when my mother was with her.

Well, I will go to my bed,” the grandmother would promise. But still she sat and joined in the chatter. Sometimes the girls would doze, and wake in the middle of a long tale.

But Madame Barbeau heard more than she told, for she said to her husband, —

“ It may come to pass that the widow Chartrant’s Gabriel will be making proposals to Alexis for little Celeste.”

“ Poor lad,” said the grandfather, “ he has nothing to back his proposals with. It will do him no good.”

And so it proved. Gabriel Chartrant was the leader of the young men as Celeste was of the girls. But he only inherited the cedar house his mother lived in. Those cedar houses were built in Caho’ without an ounce of iron; each cedar shingle was held to its place with cedar pegs, and the boards of the floors were fastened down in the same manner. They had their galleries, too, all tightly pegged to place. Gabriel was obliged to work, but he was so big he did not mind that. He was made very straight, with a high-lifted head and a full chest. He could throw any man in a wrestling match. And he was always first with a kindness, and would nurse the sick, and he was not afraid of contagious diseases or of anything. Gabriel could match Celeste as a dancer, but it was not likely Alexis Barbeau would find him a match in any other particular. And it grew more unlikely every day that the man from New Orleans spent in Caho’.

The stranger said his name was Claudis Beauvois, and he was interested in great mercantile houses both in Philadelphia and New Orleans, and had come up the river to see the country. He was about fifty, a handsome, easy man, with plenty of fine clothes and money; and before he had been at the tavern a fortnight the hospitable people were inviting him everywhere, and he danced with the youngest of them all There was about him what the city alone gives a man, and the mothers, when they saw his jewels, considered that there was only one drawback to marrying their daughters to Claudis Beauvois : his bride must travel far from Caho’.

But it was plain whose daughter he had fixed his mind upon, and Alexis Barbeau would not make any difficulty about parting with Celeste. She had lived away from him so much since her childhood that he would scarcely miss her; and it was better to have a daughter well settled in New Orleans than hampered by a poor match in her native village. And this was what Gabriel Chartrant was told when he made haste to propose for Celeste about the same time.

I have already accepted for my daughter much more gratifying offers than any you can make. The banns will be put up next Sunday, and in three weeks she will be Madame Beauvois.”

When Celeste heard this she was beside herself. She used to tell my mother that Monsieur Beauvois walked as if his natural gait was on all fours, and he still took to it when he was not watched. His shoulders were bent forward, his hands were in his pockets, and he studied the ground. She could not endure him. But the customs were very strict in the matter of marriage. No French girl in those days could be so bold as to reject the husband her father picked, and own that she preferred some one else. Celeste was taken home to get ready for her wedding. She hung on my mother’s neck when choos ing her for a bridesmaid, and neither of the girls could comfort the other. Madame Barbeau was a fat woman, who loved ease and never interfered with Alexis. She would be disturbed enough by settling her daughter, without meddling about bridegrooms. The grandfather and grandmother were sorry for Gabriel Chartrant, and tearful over Celeste ; still, when you are forming an alliance for your child, it is very imprudent to disregard great wealth, and by preference give her to poverty. Their son Alexis convinced them of this ; and he had always prospered.

So the banns were put up in church for three weeks, and all Cahokia was invited to the grand wedding. Alexis Barbeau regretted there was not time to send to New Orleans for much that he wanted to fit his daughter out and provide for his guests.

If he had sent there a month ago for some certainties about the bridegroom, it might be better,” said Paul Le Page. I have a cousin in New Orleans who could have told us if he really is the great man he pretends to be.”

But the women said it was plain Paul Le Page was one of those who had wanted Celeste himself. The suspicious nature is a poison.

Gabriel Chartrant did not say anything for a week, but went along the streets haggard, though with his head up, and worked as if he meant to kill himself. The second week he spent his nights forming desperate plans. The young men followed him as they always did, and they held their meeting down the rigolé, clustered together on the bank. They could hear the frogs croak in the marais; it was dry, and the water was getting low. Gabriel used to say he never heard a frog croak afterwards without a sinking of the heart. It was the voice of misery. But Gabriel had strong partisans in this council. Le Maudit Pensonneau offered with his own hand to kill that interloping stranger, whom he called the old devil, and argued the matter vehemently when his offer was declined. Le Maudit was a wild lad, so nervous that he stopped at nothing in his riding or his frolics, and so got the name of the bewitched.4

But the third week Gabriel said he had decided on a plan which might break off this detestable marriage, if the others would help him. They all declared they would do anything for him ; and he then told them he had privately sent word about it by Manette to Celeste, and Celeste was willing to have it or any plan attempted which would prevent the wedding.

“ We will dress ourselves as Puants,” said Gabriel, “ and make a rush on the wedding party on the way to church, and carry off the bride.”

Le Maudit Pensonneau sprang up and danced with joy when he heard that. Nothing would please him better than to dress as a Puant and carry off a bride. The Cahokians were so used to being raided by the Puants that they would readily believe such an attack had been made. That very week the Puants had galloped at midnight, whooping, through the town, and swept off from the common fields a flock of Le Page’s goats and two of Larue’s cattle. One might expect they would hear of such a wedding as Celeste Barbeau’s. Indeed, the people were so tired of the Puants that they had sent urgently to St. Ange de Bellerive, asking that soldiers be marched from Fort Chartres to give them military protection.

It would be easy enough for the young men to make themselves look like Indians. What one lacked another could supply.

“ But two of us cannot take any part in the raid,” said Gabriel. “Two must be ready at the river with a boat. And they must take Celeste, as fast as they can row up the river, to Pain Court, to my aunt Choutou. My aunt Choutou will keep her safely until I can make some terms with Alexis Barbeau. Maybe he will give me his daughter if I rescue her from the Puants. And if worst comes to worst, there is the missionary priest at Pain Court; he may be persuaded to marry us. But who is willing to be at the river ? ”

Paul and Jacques Le Page said they would undertake the boat. They were steady and trusty fellows and good river men ; not so keen at riding and hunting as the others, but in better favor with the priest on account of their behavior.

So the scheme was very well laid out, and the wedding day came, clear and bright, as promising as any bride’s day that ever was seen. Claudia Beauvois and a few of his friends galloped off to Prairie du Pont to bring the bride to church. The road from Caho’ to Prairie du Pont was packed on both sides with dense thickets of black oak, honey locust, and red haws. Here and there a habitant had cut out a patch and built his cabin, or a path broken by hunters trailed towards the Mississippi. You ride the same track to-day, my child, only it is not as shaggy and savage as the course then lay.

And as soon as Claudis Beauvois was out of sight Gabriel Chartrant followed with his dozen French Puants, in feathers and buckskin, all smeared with red and yellow ochre, well mounted and well armed. They rode along until they reached the last path which turns off to the river. At the end of that path, a mile away through the underbrush, Paul and Jacques Le Page were stationed with a boat. The young men with Gabriel dismounted, and led their horses into the thicket to wait for his signal.

The birds had begun to sing just after three o’clock that, clear morning, for Celeste, lying awake, heard them, and they were keeping it up in the bushes. Gabriel leaned his feathered head over the road, listening for hoof-falls, and watching for the first puff of dust in the direction of Prairie du Pont. The road was not as well trodden as it is now, and a little ridge of weeds grew along the centre, high enough to rake the stirrup of a horseman.

But in the distance, instead of the pat-a-pat of iron hoofs, began a sudden uproar of cries and wild whoops. Then a cloud of dust came in earnest. Claudis Beauvois alone, without any hat, wild with fright, was galloping towards Cahokia. Gabriel understood that something had happened which ruined his own plan. He and his men sprang on their horses and headed off the fugitive. The bridegroom who had passed that way so lately with smiles yelled, and tried to wheel his horse into the brush, but Gabriel caught his bridle and demanded to know what was the matter. As soon as he heard the French tongue spoken he begged for his life, and to know what more they required of him, since the rest of their band had already taken his bride. They made him tell them the facts. The real Puants had attacked the wedding procession before it was out of sight of Prairie du Pont, and had scattered it and carried off Celeste. He did not know what had become of anybody except himself, after she was taken.

Gabriel gave his horse a cut which was like a kick to its rider. Beauvois shot ahead, glad to pass what he had taken for a second body of Indians, and Le Maudit Pensonneau hooted after him:

The miserable coward! I wish I had taken his scalp. He makes me feel a very good Puant indeed.”

“ Who cares what becomes of him ? ” said Gabriel. “ It is Celeste that we want. The real Puants have got ahead of us and kidnapped the bride. Will any of you go with me ? ”

The poor fellow was white as ashes. Not a man needed to ask him where he was going, but they all answered in a breath and dashed after him. They broke directly through the thicket on the opposite side of the road, and came out into the tall prairie grass. They knew every path, marais, and rigolé for miles around, and took their course eastward, correctly judging that the Indians would follow the line of the bluffs and go north. Splash went their horses among the reeds of sloughs and across sluggish creeks, and by this short cut they soon came on the fresh trail.

At Falling Spring they made a halt to rest the horses a few minutes, and wash the red and yellow paint off their hands and faces ; then galloped on along the rocky bluffs up the Bottom lands. But after a few miles they saw they had lost the trail. Closely scouting in every direction, they had to go back to Falling Spring, and there at last they found that the Indians had left the Bottom, and by a winding path among rocks ascended to the uplands. Much time was lost. They had heard, while they galloped, the church bell tolling alarm in Cahokia, and they knew how the excitable inhabitants were running together at Beauvois’s story ; the women weeping, and the men arming themselves, calling a council, and loading with contempt a runaway bridegroom.

Gabriel and his men, with their faces set north, hardly glanced aside to see the river shining along its distant bed. But one of them thought of saying, —

Paul and Jacques will have a long wait with the boat.”

The sun passed over their heads, and sunk hour by hour, and set. The western sky was red, and night began to close in, and still they urged their tired horses on. There would be a moon a little past its full, and they counted on its light when it should rise.

The trail of the Puants descended to the Bottom again at the head of the Grand Marais. There was heavy timber here. The night shadow of trees and rocks covered them, and they began to move more cautiously, for all signs pointed to a camp. And sure enough, when they had passed an abutment of the ridge, far off through the woods they saw a fire.

My son (mon oncle Mathieu would say at this point of the story), will you do me the favor to bring me a coal for my pipe ?

(The coal being brought in haste, he put it into the bowl with his finger and thumb, and seemed to doze while he drew at the stem. The smoke puffed deliberately from his lips, while all the time that mysterious fire was burning in the woods for my impatience to dance upon with hot feet, above the Grand Marais !)

Oh yes, Gabriel and his men were getting very close to the Puants. They dismounted, and tied their horses in a crab-apple thicket and crept forward on foot. He halted them, and crawled alone toward the light to reconnoitre, careful not to crack a twig or make the least noise. The nearer he crawled, the more his throat seemed to choke up and his ears to fill with buzzing sounds. The camp fire showed him Celeste tied to a tree. She looked pale and dejected, and her head rested against the tree stem, hut her eyes kept roving the darkness in every direction, as if she expected rescue. Her bridal finery had been torn by the bushes and her hair was loose, but Gabriel had never seen Celeste when she looked so beautiful.

Thirteen big Puants were sitting around the camp fire eating their supper of halfraw meat. Their horses were hobbled a little beyond, munching such picking as could be found among the fern. Gabriel went back as still as a snake and whispered his orders to his men.

Every Frenchman must pick the Puant directly in front of him, and be sure to hit that Puant. If the attack was halfhearted and the Indians gained time to rally, Celeste would suffer the consequences ; they could kill her or escape with her. If you wish to gain an Indian’s respect, you must make a neat job of shooting him down. He never forgives a bungler.

“ And then,” said Gabriel, “ we will rush in with our knives and hatchets. It must be all done in a moment.”

The men reprimed their flintlocks, and crawled forward abreast. Gabriel was at the extreme right. When they were near enough he gave his signal, the nasal singing of the rattlesnake. The guns cracked all together, and every Cahokian sprang up to finish the work with knife and hatchet. Nine of the Puants fell dead, and the rest were gone before the smoke cleared. They left their meat, their horses and arms. They were off like deer, straight through the woods to any place of safety. Every marksman had taken the Indian directly in front of him ; but as they were abreast, and the Puants in a circle, the four on the opposite side of the fire had been sheltered. Le Maudit Pensonneau scalped the red heads by the fire, and hung the scalps in his belt. Our French people took up too easily, indeed, with savage ways ; but Le Maudit Pensonneau was always full of his pranks.

Oh yes, Gabriel himself untied Celeste. She was wild with joy, and cried on Gabriel’s shoulder ; and all the young men who had taken their first communion with Gabriel, and had played with this dear girl when she was a child, felt the tears come into their own eyes. All but Le Maudit Pensonneau. He was busy rounding up the horses.

“ Here’s my uncle Larue’s filly that was taken two weeks ago,” said Le Maudit, calling from the hobbling - place.

And here are the blacks that Ferland lost, and Pierre’s pony — half these horses are Caho’ horses.”

He tied them together so that they could be driven two or three abreast ahead of the party, and then he gathered up all the guns left by the Indians.

Gabriel now called a council, for it had to be decided directly what they should do next. Pain Court was seven miles in a straight line from the spot where they stood, while Cahokia was ten miles to the southwest.

“ Would it not be best, to go at once to Pain Court ? ” said Gabriel. “ Celeste, after this frightful day, needs food and sleep as soon as she can get them, and my aunt Choutou is ready for her. And boats can always be found opposite Pain Court.”

All the young men were ready to go to Pain Court. They really thought, even after all that had happened, that it would be wisest to deal with Alexis Barbeau at a distance. But Celeste herself decided the matter. Gabriel had not let go of her. He kept his hand on her as if afraid the might be kidnapped again.

We will go home to my grandfather and grandmother au Cabo’,” said Celeste. “I will not go anywhere else.”

“ But you forget that Beauvois is au Cabo’ ? ” said one of the young men.

“ Oh, I never can forget anything connected with this day,” said Celeste, and the tears fan down her face. “ I never can forget how willingly I let those Puants take me, and I laughed as one of them flung me on the horse behind him. We were nearly to the bluffs before I spoke. He did not say anything, and the others all had eyes which made me shudder. I pressed my hands on his buckskin sides and said to him, ’Gabriel.’ And he turned and looked at me. I never had seen a feature of his frightful face before. And then I understood that the real Puants had me. Do you think I will ever marry anybody but the man who took me away from them ? No. If worst comes to worst, I will go before the high altar and the image of the Holy Virgin, and make a public vow never to marry anybody else.”

The young men flung up their arms in the air and raised a hurrah. Hats they had none to swing. Their cheeks were burnt by the afternoon sun. They were hungry and thirsty, and so tired that any one of them could have flung himself on the old leaves and slept as soon as he stretched himself. But it put new heart in them to see how determined she was.

So the horses were brought up, and the captured guns were packed upon some of the recovered ponies. There were some new blankets strapped on the backs of these horses, and Gabriel took one of the blankets and secured it as a pillion behind his own saddle for Celeste to ride upon. As they rode out of the forest shadow, they could see the moon just coming up over the hills beyond the great Cahokian mound.

It was midnight when the party crossed the rigolé bridge and rode into Cahokia streets. The people were sleeping with one eye open. All day stragglers from the wedding procession had been coming in, and a company was organized for defense and pursuit. They had heard that the whole Pottawattamie nation had risen. And since Celeste Barbeau was kidnapped, anything might be expected. Gabriel and his men were missed early, but the excitement was so great that their unexplained absence was added without question to the general calamity. Candles showed at once, and men with gun barrels shining in the moonlight gathered quickly from all directions.

“Friends! friends!” Celeste called out; for the young men in buckskin, with their booty of driven horses, were enough like Puants to be in danger of a volley. “ It is Celeste. Gabriel Chartrant and his men have killed the Indians and brought me back.”

“ It is Celeste Barbeau ! Gabriel Chartrant and his men have killed the Indians and brought her back ! “ the word was passed on.

Her grandfather hung to her hand on one side of the horse, and her grandmother embraced her knees on the other. The old father was in his red nightcap, and the old mother had pulled slippers on her bare feet. But without a thought of their appearance they wept aloud and fell on the neighbors’ necks, and the neighbors fell upon each other’s necks. Some kneeled down in the dust and returned thanks to the saints they had invoked. The auberge keeper and three old men who smoked their pipes steadily on his gallery every day took hold of hands and danced in a circle. Children who had waked to shriek with fear galloped the streets to proclaim at every window, “ Celeste Barbeau is brought back ! ” The whole town was in a delirium of joy. Manette Be Compt, who had been brought home with the terrified bridesmaids, and laughed in her sleeve all day because she thought Gabriel and his men were the Puants, leaned against a wall and turned sick. I have heard her say she never was so confused in her life as when she saw the driven horses, and the firearms, and those coarse-haired scalps hanging to Le Maudit Pensonneau’s belt. The moon showed them all distinctly. Manette had thought it laughable when she heard that Alexis Barbeau was shut up in his brick house at Prairie du Pont, with all the men and guns he could muster to protect his property; but now she wept indignantly about it.

The priest had been the first man in the street, having lain down in all his clothes except his cassock, and he heartily gave Celeste and the young men his blessing, and counseled everybody to go to bed again. But Celeste reminded them that she was hungry; and as for the rescuers, they had ridden hard all day, without a mouthful to eat. So the whole town made a feast, everybody bringing the best he had to Barbeau’s house. They spread the table and crowded around, leaning over each other’s shoulders to take up bits in their hands, and eat with and talk to the young people. Gabriel’s mother sat beside him with her arm around him, and opposite was Celeste with her grandfather and grandmother, and all the party were ranged around. The feathers had been blown out of their hair by that long chase, but their buckskins were soiled, and the hastily washed colors yet smeared their ears and necks. Yet this supper was quite like a bridal feast. Ah, my child, we never know it when we are standing in the end of the rainbow. Gabriel and Celeste might live a hundred years, but they could never be quite as happy again.

Paul and Jacques Le Page sat down with the other young men, and the noise of tongues in Barbeau’s house could be heard out by the rigolé. It was like the swarming of wild bees. Paul and Jacques had waited with the boat until nightfall. They heard the firing when the Puants took Celeste, and watched hour after hour for some one to appear from the path ; but at last concluding that Gabriel had been obliged to change his plan, they rowed back to Caho’.

Claudis Beauvois was the only person who did not sit up talking until dawn. And nobody thought about him until noon the next day, when Captain Jean Saucier, with a company of fusileers, rode into the village from Fort Chartres.

That was the first time my mother ever saw Captain Saucier. Your uncle François in Kaskaskia, he was also afterward Captain Saucier. I was not born until they had been married fifteen years. I was the last of their children. So Celeste Barbeau was kidnapped the day before my mother met my father.

Glad as the Cahokians were to see them, the troops were no longer needed, for the Puants had gone. They were frightened out of the country. Oh yes, all those Indians wanted was a good whipping, and they got it. Alexis Barbeau had come along with the soldiers from Prairie du Pont, and he was not the only man who had made use of military escort. Basil Le Page had come up from New Orleans in the last fleet of pirogues to Kaskaskia. There he heard so much about the Puants that he bought a swift horse and armed himself for the ride northward, and was glad, when he reached Fort Chartres, to ride into Cahokia with Captain Saucier.

You might say Basil Le Page came in at one end of Cahokia, and Claudis Beauvois went out at the other ; for they knew one another directly, and it was noised in a minute that Basil said to his cousins Paul and Jacques : —

“ What is that notorious swindler and gambler doing here ? He left New Orleans suddenly, or he would be in prison now; and you will see if he stops here long after recognizing me.”

Claudis Beauvois did not turn around in the street to look at any woman, rich or poor, when he left Cahokia, though how he left was not certainly known. Alexis Barbeau and his other associates knew better how their pockets were left.

Oh yes, Alexis Barbeau was very willing for Celeste to marry Gabriel after that. He provided for them handsomely, and gave presents to each of the young men who had helped to take his daughter from the Puants ; and he was so ashamed of the son-in-law he had wanted that he never could endure to hear the man’s name mentioned afterward. Alexis and the tavern keeper used — when they were taking a social cup together — to hug each other without a word. The fine guest who had lived so long at the auberge and drank so much good wine, which was as fine as any in New Orleans, without expense, was as sore a memory to the poor landlord as to the rich landovmer. But Celeste and Gabriel, — my mother said that when they were married the dancing and fiddling and feasting were kept up an entire week in Caho’.

Mary Hartwell Catherwood.

  1. To Cahokia.
  2. To Peoria.
  3. To Kaskaskia.
  4. Cahokian softening of “ cursed.”