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Tite Poulette
by [?]

Kristian Koppig noticed from his dormer window one day a man standing at the big archway opposite, and clanking the brass knocker on the wicket that was in one of the doors. He was a smooth man, with his hair parted in the middle, and his cigarette poised on a tiny gold holder. He waited a moment, politely cursed the dust, knocked again, threw his slender sword-cane under his arm, and wiped the inside of his hat with his handkerchief.

Madame John held a parley with him at the wicket. ‘Tite Poulette was nowhere seen. He stood at the gate while Madame John went up-stairs. Kristian Koppig knew him. He knew him as one knows a snake. He was the manager of the Salle de Conde. Presently Madame John returned with a little bundle, and they hurried off together.

And now what did this mean? Why, by any one of ordinary acuteness the matter was easily understood, but, to tell the truth, Kristian Koppig was a trifle dull, and got the idea at once that some damage was being planned against ‘Tite Poulette. It made the gentle Dutchman miserable not to be minding his own business, and yet–

“But the woman certainly will not attempt”–said he to himself–“no, no! she cannot.” Not being able to guess what he meant, I cannot say whether she could or not. I know that next day Kristian Koppig, glancing eagerly over the “Ami des Lois,” read an advertisement which he had always before skipped with a frown. It was headed, “Salle de Conde,” and, being interpreted, signified that a new dance was to be introduced, the Danse de Chinois, and that a young lady would follow it with the famous “Danse du Shawl.”

It was the Sabbath. The young man watched the opposite window steadily and painfully from early in the afternoon until the moon shone bright; and from the time the moon shone bright until Madame John!–joy!–Madame John! and not ‘Tite Poulette, stepped through the wicket, much dressed and well muffled, and hurried off toward the Rue Conde. Madame John was the “young lady;” and the young man’s mind, glad to return to its own unimpassioned affairs, relapsed into quietude.

Madame John danced beautifully. It had to be done. It brought some pay, and pay was bread; and every Sunday evening, with a touch here and there of paint and powder, the mother danced the dance of the shawl, the daughter remaining at home alone.

Kristian Koppig, simple, slow-thinking young Dutchman, never noticing that he staid at home with his window darkened for the very purpose, would see her come to her window and look out with a little wild, alarmed look in her magnificent eyes, and go and come again, and again, until the mother, like a storm-driven bird, came panting home.

Two or three months went by.

One night, on the mother’s return, Kristian Koppig coming to his room nearly at the same moment, there was much earnest conversation, which he could see, but not hear.

“‘Tite Poulette,” said Madame John, “you are seventeen.”

“True, Maman.”

“Ah! my child, I see not how you are to meet the future.” The voice trembled plaintively.

“But how, Maman?”

“Ah! you are not like others; no fortune, no pleasure, no friend.”


“No, no;–I thank God for it; I am glad you are not; but you will be lonely, lonely, all your poor life long. There is no place in this world for us poor women. I wish that we were either white or black!”–and the tears, two “shining ones,” stood in the poor quadroon’s eyes.

Tha daughter stood up, her eyes flashing.

“God made us, Maman,” she said with a gentle, but stately smile.

“Ha!” said the mother, her keen glance darting through her tears, “Sin made me, yes.”

“No,” said ‘Tite Poulette, “God made us. He made us Just as we are; not more white, not more black.”

“He made you, truly!” said Zalli. “You are so beautiful; I believe it well.” She reached and drew the fair form to a kneeling posture. “My sweet, white daughter!”