The Adventures Of Francoise And Suzanne by George Washington Cable

Story type: Literature

1795.

Years passed by. Our war of the Revolution was over. The Indians of Louisiana and Florida were all greedy, smiling gift-takers of his Catholic Majesty. So were some others not Indians; and the Spanish governors of Louisiana, scheming with them for the acquisition of Kentucky and the regions intervening, had allowed an interprovincial commerce to spring up. Flatboats and barges came floating down the Mississippi past the plantation home where little Suzanne and Francoise were growing up to womanhood. Many of the immigrants who now came to Louisiana were the royalist noblesse flying from the horrors of the French Revolution. Governor Carondelet was strengthening his fortifications around New Orleans; for Creole revolutionists had slipped away to Kentucky and were there plotting an armed descent in flatboats upon his little capital, where the rabble were singing the terrible songs of bloody Paris. Agents of the Revolution had come from France and so “contaminated,” as he says, “the greater part of the province” that he kept order only “at the cost of sleepless nights, by frightening some, punishing others, and driving several out of the colony.” It looks as though Suzanne had caught a touch of dis-relish for les aristocrates, whose necks the songs of the day were promising to the lampposts. To add to all these commotions, a hideous revolution had swept over San Domingo; the slaves in Louisiana had heard of it, insurrection was feared, and at length, in 1794, when Susanne was seventeen and Francoise fifteen, it broke out on the Mississippi no great matter over a day’s ride from their own home, and twenty-three blacks were gibbeted singly at intervals all the way down by their father’s plantation and on to New Orleans, and were left swinging in the weather to insure the peace and felicity of the land. Two other matters are all we need notice for the ready comprehension of Francoise’s story. Immigration was knocking at every gate of the province, and citizen Etienne de Bore had just made himself forever famous in the history of Louisiana by producing merchantable sugar; land was going to be valuable, even back on the wild prairies of Opelousas and Attakapas, where, twenty years before, the Acadians,–the cousins of Evangeline,–wandering from far Nova Scotia, had settled. Such was the region and such were the times when it began to be the year 1795.

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By good fortune one of the undestroyed fragments of Francoise’s own manuscript is its first page. She was already a grandmother forty-three years old when in 1822 she wrote the tale she had so often told. Part of the dedication to her only daughter and namesake–one line, possibly two–has been torn off, leaving only the words, “ma fille unique a la grasse [meaning ‘grace’] de dieu [sic],” over her signature and the date, “14 Julet [sic], 1822.”

I.

THE TWO SISTERS.

It is to give pleasure to my dear daughter Fannie and to her children that I write this journey. I shall be well satisfied if I can succeed in giving them this pleasure: by the grace of God, Amen.

Papa, Mr. Pierre Bossier, planter of St. James parish, had been fifteen days gone to the city (New Orleans) in his skiff with two rowers, Louis and Baptiste, when, returning, he embraced us all, gave us some caramels which he had in his pockets, and announced that he counted on leaving us again in four or five days to go to Attakapas. He had long been speaking of going there. Papa and mamma were German, and papa loved to travel. When he first came to Louisiana it was with no expectation of staying. But here he saw mamma; he loved her, married her, and bought a very fine plantation, where he cultivated indigo. You know they blue clothes with that drug, and dye cottonade and other things. There we, their eight children, were born….

At an early hour my father had our trunks, baskets, and mats sent aboard the Sirene; and after many tears, and promises to write and to return, we took our leave. We had quitted St. James the 20th of May. We landed there once more on the 26th of September. Need I recount the joy of my mother and sisters? You understand all that.

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And now, my daughter, the tale is told. Read it to your children and assure them that all is true; that there is here no exaggeration; that they can put faith in their old grandmother’s story and take their part in her pleasures, her friendships, and her emotions.

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