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Alice of Old Vincennes   By: (1844-1901)

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Alice of Old Vincennes


Maurice Thompson



MY DEAR DR. VALCOUR: You gave me the Inspiration which made this story haunt me until I wrote it. Gaspard Roussillon's letter, a mildewed relic of the year 1788, which you so kindly permitted me to copy, as far as it remained legible, was the point from which my imagination, accompanied by my curiosity, set out upon a long and delightful quest. You laughed at me when I became enthusiastic regarding the possible historical importance at that ancient find, alas! fragmentary epistle; but the old saying about the beatitude of him whose cachinations are latest comes handy to me just now, and I must remind you that "I told you so." True enough, it was history pure and simple that I had in mind while enjoying the large hospitality of your gulf side home. Gaspard Roussillon's letter then appealed to my greed for materials which would help along the making of my little book "The Story of Louisiana." Later, however, as my frequent calls upon you for both documents and suggestions have informed you, I fell to strumming a different guitar. And now to you I dedicate this historical romance of old Vincennes, as a very appropriate, however slight, recognition of your scholarly attainments, your distinguished career in a noble profession, and your descent from one of the earliest French families (if not the very earliest) long resident at that strange little post on the Wabash, now one of the most beautiful cities between the greet river and the ocean.

Following, with ever tantalized expectancy, the broken and breezy hints in the Roussillon letter, I pursued a will o' the wisp, here, there, yonder, until by slowly arriving increments I gathered up a large amount of valuable facts, which when I came to compare them with the history of Clark's conquest of the Wabash Valley, fitted amazingly well into certain spaces heretofore left open in that important yet sadly imperfect record.

You will find that I was not so wrong in suspecting that Emile Jazon, mentioned in the Roussillon letter, was a brother of Jean Jazon and a famous scout in the time of Boone and Clark. He was, therefore, a kinsman of yours on the maternal side, and I congratulate you. Another thing may please you, the success which attended my long and patient research with a view to clearing up the connection between Alice Roussillon's romantic life, as brokenly sketched in M. Roussillon's letter, and the capture of Vincennes by Colonel George Rogers Clark.

Accept, then, this book, which to those who care only for history will seem but an idle romance, while to the lovers of romance it may look strangely like the mustiest history. In my mind, and in yours I hope, it will always be connected with a breezy summer house on a headland of the Louisiana gulf coast, the rustling of palmetto leaves, the fine flash of roses, a tumult of mocking bird voices, the soft lilt of Creole patois, and the endless dash and roar of a fragrant sea over which the gulls and pelicans never ceased their flight, and beside which you smoked while I dreamed.



I. Under the Cherry Tree II. A Letter from Afar III. The Rape of the Demijohn IV. The First Mayor of Vincennes V. Father Gibault VI. A Fencing Bout VII. The Mayor's Party VIII. The Dilemma of Captain Helm IX. The Honors of War X. M. Roussillon Entertains Colonel Hamilton XI. A Sword and a Horse Pistol XII. Manon Lescaut, and a Rapier Thrust XIII. A Meeting in the Wilderness XIV. A Prisoner of Love XV. Virtue in a Locket XVI. Father Beret's Old Battle XVII. A March through Cold Water XVIII. A Duel by Moonlight XIX. The Attack XX. Alice's Flag XXI. Some Transactions in Scalps XXII. Clark Advises Alice XXIII. And So It Ended

Alice of Old Vincennes



Up to the days of Indiana's early statehood, probably as late as 1825, there stood, in what is now the beautiful little city of Vincennes on the Wabash, the decaying remnant of an old and curiously gnarled cherry tree, known as the Roussillon tree, le cerisier de Monsieur Roussillon, as the French inhabitants called it, which as long as it lived bore fruit remarkable for richness of flavor and peculiar dark ruby depth of color... Continue reading book >>

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