CHAPTER I. LOUISIANA.
OLIVIA FERROL LEANED BACK IN her chair, her hands folded upon her lap. People passed and repassed her as they promenaded the long "gallery," as it was called; they passed in couples, in trios; they talked with unnecessary loudness, they laughed at their own and each other's jokes; they flirted, they sentimentalized, they criticised each other, but none of them showed any special interest in Olivia Ferrol, nor did Miss Ferrol, on her part, show much interest in them.
She had been at Oakvale Springs for two weeks. She was alone, out of her element, and knew nobody. The fact that she was a New Yorker, and had never before been so far South, was rather against her. On her arrival she had been glanced over and commented upon with candor.
"She is a Yankee," said the pretty and remarkably youthful-looking mother of an apparently grown-up family from New Orleans. "You can see it."
And though the remark was not meant to be exactly severe, Olivia felt that it was very severe, indeed, under existing circumstances. She heard it as she was giving her orders for breakfast to her own particular jet-black and highly excitable waiter, and she felt guilty at once and blushed, hastily taking a sip of ice-water to conceal her confusion. When she went upstairs afterward she wrote a very interesting letter to her brother in New York, and tried to make an analysis of her sentiments for his edification.
"You advised me to come here because it would be novel as well as beneficial," she wrote. "And it certainly is novel. I think I feel like a Pariah-a little. I am aware that even the best bred and most intelligent of them, hearing that I have always lived in New York, will privately regret it if they like me and remember it if they dislike me. Good-natured and warm-hearted as they seem among themselves, I am sure it will be I who will have to make the advances-if advances are made-and I must be very amiable, indeed, if I intend that they shall like me."
But she had not been well enough at first to be in the humor to make the advances, and consequently had not found her position an exciting one. She had looked on until she had been able to rouse herself to some pretty active likes and dislikes, but she knew no one.
She felt this afternoon as if this mild recreation of looking on had begun rather to pall upon her, and she drew out her watch, glancing at it with a little yawn.
"It is five o'clock," she said. "Very soon the band will make its appearance, and it will bray until the stages come in. Yes, there it is!"
The musical combination to which she referred was composed of six or seven gentlemen of color who played upon brazen instruments, each in different keys and different time. Three times a day they collected on a rustic kiosk upon the lawn and played divers popular airs with an intensity, fervor, and muscular power worthy of a better cause. They straggled up as she spoke, took their places and began, and before they had played many minutes the most exciting event of the day occurred, as it always did somewhere about this hour. In the midst of the gem of their collection was heard the rattle of wheels and the crack of whips, and through the rapturous shouts of the juvenile guests, the two venerable, rickety stages dashed up with a lumbering flourish, and a spasmodic pretense of excitement, calculated to deceive only the feeblest mind.
At the end of the gallery they checked themselves in their mad career, the drivers making strenuous efforts to restrain the impetuosity of the four steeds whose harness rattled against their ribs with an unpleasant bony sound. Half a dozen waiters rushed forward, the doors were flung open, the steps let down with a bang, the band brayed insanely, and the passengers alighted.-"One, two, three, four," counted Olivia Ferrol, mechanically, as the first vehicle unburdened its