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She spoke no more to Cheri, but muttered constantly, "Bon
Dieu, ayez pitie La Folle! Bon Dieu, ayez pitie moi!"
Instinct seemed to guide her. When the pathway spread clear
and smooth enough before her, she again closed her eyes tightly
against the sight of that unknown and terrifying world.
A child, playing in some weeds, caught sight of her as she
neared the quarters. The little one uttered a cry of dismay.
"La Folle!" she screamed, in her piercing treble. "La Folle
done cross de bayer!"
Quickly the cry passed down the line of cabins.
"Yonda, La Folle done cross de bayou!"
Children, old men, old women, young ones with infants in their
arms, flocked to doors and windows to see this awe-inspiring
spectacle. Most of them shuddered with superstitious dread of what
it might portend. "She totin' Cheri!" some of them shouted.
Some of the more daring gathered about her, and followed at
her heels, only to fall back with new terror when she turned her
distorted face upon them. Her eyes were bloodshot and the saliva
had gathered in a white foam on her black lips.
Some one had run ahead of her to where P'tit Maitre sat with
his family and guests upon the gallery.
"P'tit Maitre! La Folle done cross de bayou! Look her! Look
her yonda totin' Cheri!" This startling intimation was the first
which they had of the woman's approach.
She was now near at hand. She walked with long strides. Her
eyes were fixed desperately before her, and she breathed heavily,
as a tired ox.
At the foot of the stairway, which she could not have mounted,
she laid the boy in his father's arms. Then the world that had
looked red to La Folle suddenly turned black,--like that day she
had seen powder and blood.
She reeled for an instant. Before a sustaining arm could