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Jacqueline's mother, his pursuers close at his heels. The sight
had stunned her childish reason.
She dwelt alone in her solitary cabin, for the rest of the
quarters had long since been removed beyond her sight and
knowledge. She had more physical strength than most men, and made
her patch of cotton and corn and tobacco like the best of them.
But of the world beyond the bayou she had long known nothing,
save what her morbid fancy conceived.
People at Bellissime had grown used to her and her way, and
they thought nothing of it. Even when "Old Mis'" died, they did
not wonder that La Folle had not crossed the bayou, but had stood
upon her side of it, wailing and lamenting.
P'tit Maitre was now the owner of Bellissime. He was a
middle-aged man, with a family of beautiful daughters about him,
and a little son whom La Folle loved as if he had been her own.
She called him Cheri, and so did every one else because she did.
None of the girls had ever been to her what Cheri was. They
had each and all loved to be with her, and to listen to her
wondrous stories of things that always happened "yonda, beyon' de
But none of them had stroked her black hand quite as Cheri
did, nor rested their heads against her knee so confidingly, nor
fallen asleep in her arms as he used to do. For Cheri hardly did
such things now, since he had become the proud possessor of a gun,
and had had his black curls cut off.
That summer--the summer Cheri gave La Folle two black curls
tied with a knot of red ribbon--the water ran so low in the bayou
that even the little children at Bellissime were able to cross it
on foot, and the cattle were sent to pasture down by the river. La
Folle was sorry when they were gone, for she loved these dumb
companions well, and liked to feel that they were there, and to
hear them browsing by night up to her own enclosure.
It was Saturday afternoon, when the fields were deserted. The
men had flocked to a neighboring village to do their week's
trading, and the women were occupied with household affairs,--La
Folle as well as the others. It was then she mended and washed her
handful of clothes, scoured her house, and did her baking.