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Belles Demoiselles Plantation
by [?]

Truly they were a family fine enough, and fancy-free enough to have fine wishes, yet happy enough where they were, to have had no wish but to live there always.

To those, who, by whatever fortune, wandered into the garden of Belles Demoiselles some summer afternoon as the sky was reddening towards evening, it was lovely to see the family gathered out upon the tiled pavement at the foot of the broad front steps, gayly chatting and jesting, with that ripple of laughter that comes so pleasingly from a bevy of girls. The father would be found seated in their midst, the centre of attention and compliment, witness, arbiter, umpire, critic, by his beautiful children’s unanimous appointment, but the single vassal, too, of seven absolute sovereigns.

Now they would draw their chairs near together in eager discussion of some new step in the dance, or the adjustment of some rich adornment. Now they would start about him with excited comments to see the eldest fix a bunch of violets in his button-hole. Now the twins would move down a walk after some unusual flower, and be greeted on their return with the high pitched notes of delighted feminine surprise.

As evening came on they would draw more quietly about their paternal centre. Often their chairs were forsaken, and they grouped themselves on the lower steps, one above another, and surrendered themselves to the tender influences of the approaching night. At such an hour the passer on the river, already attracted by the dark figures of the broad-roofed mansion, and its woody garden standing against the glowing sunset, would hear the voices of the hidden group rise from the spot in the soft harmonies of an evening song; swelling clearer and clearer as the thrill of music warmed them into feeling, and presently joined by the deeper tones of the father’s voice; then, as the daylight passed quite away, all would be still, and he would know that the beautiful home had gathered its nestlings under its wings.

And yet, for mere vagary, it pleased them not to be pleased.

"Arti!" called one sister to another in the broad hall, one morning,—mock amazement in her distended eyes,—"something is goin’ to took place!"

"Comm-e-n-t?"—long-drawn perplexity.

"Papa is goin’ to town!"

The news passed up stairs.

"Inno!"—one to another meeting in a doorway,—"something is goin’ to took place!"

"Qu’est-ce-que c’est!"—vain attempt at gruffness.

"Papa is goin’ to town!"

The unusual tidings were true. It was afternoon of the same day that the Colonel tossed his horse’s bridle to his groom, and stepped up to old Charlie, who was sitting on his bench under a China-tree, his head, as was his fashion, bound in a Madras handkerchief. The "old man" was plainly under the effect of spirits, and smiled a deferential salutation without trusting himself to his feet.

"Eh, well Charlie!"—the Colonel raised his voice to suit his kinsman’s deafness,—"how is those times with my friend Charlie?"

"Eh?" said Charlie, distractedly.

"Is that goin’ well with my friend Charlie?"

"In de house,—call her,"—making a pretence of rising.

"Non, non!I don’t want,"—the speaker paused to breathe—"ow is collection?"

"Oh!" said Charlie, "every day he make me more poorer!"

"What do you hask for it?" asked the planter indifferently, designating the house by a wave of his whip.

"Ask for w’at?" said Injin Charlie.

"De house! What you ask for it?"

"I don’t believe," said Charlie.

"What you would takefor it!" cried the planter.

"Wait for w’at?"

"What you would takefor the whole block?"

"I don’t want to sell him!"

"I’ll give you ten thousand dollahfor it. "

"Ten t’ousand dollah for dis house? Oh, no, dat is no price. He is blame good old house,—dat old house. " (Old Charlie and the Colonel never swore in presence of each other. ) "Forty years dat old house didn’t had to be paint! I easy can get fifty t’ousand dollah for dat old house. "

"Fifty thousand picayunes; yes," said the Colonel.

"She’s a good house. Can make plenty money," pursued the deaf man.

"That’s what make you so rich, eh, Charlie?"