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Old Creole Days   By: (1844-1925)

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OLD CREOLE DAYS

A STORY OF CREOLE LIFE

BY

GEORGE W. CABLE

1907

CONTENTS

MADAME DELPHINE CAFÉ DES EXILÉS BELLES DEMOISELLES PLANTATION "POSSON JONE'" JEAN AH POQUELIN 'TITE POULETTE 'SIEUR GEORGE MADAME DÉLICIEUSE

MADAME DELPHINE.

CHAPTER I.

AN OLD HOUSE.

A few steps from the St. Charles Hotel, in New Orleans, brings you to and across Canal Street, the central avenue of the city, and to that corner where the flower women sit at the inner and outer edges of the arcaded sidewalk, and make the air sweet with their fragrant merchandise. The crowd and if it is near the time of the carnival it will be great will follow Canal Street.

But you turn, instead, into the quiet, narrow way which a lover of Creole antiquity, in fondness for a romantic past, is still prone to call the Rue Royale. You will pass a few restaurants, a few auction rooms, a few furniture warehouses, and will hardly realize that you have left behind you the activity and clatter of a city of merchants before you find yourself in a region of architectural decrepitude, where an ancient and foreign seeming domestic life, in second stories, overhangs the ruins of a former commercial prosperity, and upon every thing has settled down a long sabbath of decay. The vehicles in the street are few in number, and are merely passing through; the stores are shrunken into shops; you see here and there, like a patch of bright mould, the stall of that significant fungus, the Chinaman. Many great doors are shut and clamped and grown gray with cobweb; many street windows are nailed up; half the balconies are begrimed and rust eaten, and many of the humid arches and alleys which characterize the older Franco Spanish piles of stuccoed brick betray a squalor almost oriental.

Yet beauty lingers here. To say nothing of the picturesque, sometimes you get sight of comfort, sometimes of opulence, through the unlatched wicket in some porte cochère red painted brick pavement, foliage of dark palm or pale banana, marble or granite masonry and blooming parterres; or through a chink between some pair of heavy batten window shutters, opened with an almost reptile wariness, your eye gets a glimpse of lace and brocade upholstery, silver and bronze, and much similar rich antiquity.

The faces of the inmates are in keeping; of the passengers in the street a sad proportion are dingy and shabby; but just when these are putting you off your guard, there will pass you a woman more likely two or three of patrician beauty.

Now, if you will go far enough down this old street, you will see, as you approach its intersection with . Names in that region elude one like ghosts.

However, as you begin to find the way a trifle more open, you will not fail to notice on the right hand side, about midway of the square, a small, low, brick house of a story and a half, set out upon the sidewalk, as weather beaten and mute as an aged beggar fallen asleep. Its corrugated roof of dull red tiles, sloping down toward you with an inward curve, is overgrown with weeds, and in the fall of the year is gay with the yellow plumes of the golden rod. You can almost touch with your cane the low edge of the broad, overhanging eaves. The batten shutters at door and window, with hinges like those of a postern, are shut with a grip that makes one's knuckles and nails feel lacerated. Save in the brick work itself there is not a cranny. You would say the house has the lockjaw. There are two doors, and to each a single chipped and battered marble step. Continuing on down the sidewalk, on a line with the house, is a garden masked from view by a high, close board fence. You may see the tops of its fruit trees pomegranate, peach, banana, fig, pear, and particularly one large orange, close by the fence, that must be very old.

The residents over the narrow way, who live in a three story house, originally of much pretension, but from whose front door hard times have removed almost all vestiges of paint, will tell you: "Yass, de 'ouse is in'abit; 'tis live in... Continue reading book >>




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