The placement of the Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square is a bit of a mystery in itself. The fundamental reason was simply space: there was room to build it in that far, relatively unused corner of Frontierland. Original plans for a haunted attraction were for the end of one of Main Street's side boulevards, but that never came to fruition. In New Orleans Square, the Haunted Mansion feels both entirely appropriate but oddly groundless. Everyone well knows the historic connections of New Orleans with haunted, supernatural stories. The Crescent City is heralded as America's most haunted municipality, and there is a long tradition of voodoo, spooky bayous, and the dead unquiet amidst Lafayette's atmospheric tombs. Yet at the same time, one is vexed to come up with a single example of any specific tale of terror taking place there (at least predating Anne Rice).
As a public service, I dug deep to pull a few chilling stories from the American South. Uncle Remus, Mark Twain, and others have their brushes with the supernatural that are perfect to dwell on as Halloween draws near.
The following excerpt comes from chapter XXXI of Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings, titled "The Plantation Witch":
The next time the little boy got permission to call upon Uncle Remus, the old man was sitting in his door, with his elbows on his knees and his face buried in his hands, and he appeared to be in great trouble. “What’s the matter, Uncle Remus?” the youngster asked. “Nuff de matter, honey—mo’ dan dey’s enny kyo’ fer. Ef dey ain’t some quare gwines on ’roun’ dis place I ain’t name Remus.”
The serious tone of the old man caused the little boy to open his eyes. The moon, just at its full, cast long, vague, wavering shadows in front of the cabin. A colony of tree-frogs somewhere in the distance were treating their neighbors to a serenade, but to the little boy it sounded like a chorus of lost and long-forgotten whistlers. The sound was wherever the imagination chose to locate it—to the right, to the left, in the air, on the ground, far away or near at hand, but always dim and always indistinct. Something in Uncle Remus’s tone exactly fitted all these surroundings, and the child nestled closer to the old man.
“Yasser,” continued Uncle Remus, with an ominous sigh and mysterious shake of the head, “ef dey ain’t some quare gwines on in dish yer naberhood, den I’m de ball-headest creetur ’twix’ dis en nex’ Jinawerry wuz a year ’go, w’ich I knows I ain’t. Dat’s what.”
“What is it, Uncle Remus?”
“I know Mars John bin drivin’ Cholly sorter hard ter-day, en I say ter myse’f dat I’d drap ’round ’bout dus’ en fling nudder year er corn in de troff en kinder gin ’im a techin’ up wid de kurrier-koam; en bless grashus! I ain’t bin in de lot mo’n a minnit ’fo’ I seed sump’n wuz wrong wid de hoss, and sho’ nuff dar wuz his mane full er witch-stirrups.”
“Full of what, Uncle Remus?”
“Full er witch-stirrups, honey. Ain’t you seed no witch-stirrups? Well, w’en you see two stran’ er ha’r tied tergedder in a hoss’s mane, dar you see a witch-stirrup, en, mo’n dat, dat hoss done bin rid by um.”
“Do you reckon they have been riding Charley?” inquired the little boy.
“Co’se, honey. Tooby sho dey is. W’at else dey bin doin’?”
“Did you ever see a witch, Uncle Remus?”
“Dat ain’t needer yer ner dar. W’en I see coon track in de branch, I know de coon bin ’long dar.”
The argument seemed unanswerable, and the little boy asked, in a confidential tone:
“Uncle Remus, what are witches like?”
“Dey comes diffunt,” responded the cautious old darkey. “Dey comes en dey cunjus fokes. Squinch-owl holler eve’y time he see a witch, en w’en you hear de dog howlin’ in de middle er de night, one un um’s mighty ap’ ter be prowlin’ ’roun’. Cunjun fokes kin tell a witch de minnit dey lays der eyes on it, but dem w’at ain’t cunjun, hit’s mighty hard ter tell w’en dey see one, kaze dey might come in de ’pearunce un a cow en all kinder creeturs. I ain’t bin useter no cunjun myse’f, but I bin livin’ long nuff fer ter know w’en you meets up wid a big black cat in de middle er de road, wid yaller eyeballs, dar’s yo’ witch fresh fum de Ole Boy. En, fuddermo’, I know dat ’tain’t proned inter no dogs fer ter ketch de rabbit w’at use in a berryin’-groun’. Dey er de mos’ ongodlies’ creeturs w’at you ever laid eyes on,” continued Uncle Remus, with unction. “Down dar in Putmon County yo’ Unk Jeems, he make like he gwineter ketch wunner dem dar graveyard rabbits. Sho nuff, out he goes, en de dogs ain’t no mo’n got ter de place fo’ up jump de old rabbit right ’mong um, en atter runnin’ ’roun’ a time or two, she skip right up ter Mars Jeems, en Mars Jeems, he des put de gun-bar’l right on ’er en lammed aloose. Hit tored up de groun’ all ’roun’, en de dogs, dey rush up, but dey wa’n’t no rabbit dar; but bimeby Mars Jeems, he seed de dogs tuckin’ der tails ’tween der legs, en he look up, en dar wuz de rabbit caperin’ ’roun’ on a toom stone, en wid dat Mars Jeems say he sorter feel like de time done come w’en yo’ gran’ma was ’specktin’ un him home, en he call off de dogs en put out. But dem wuz ha’nts. Witches is deze yer kinder fokes w’at kin drap der body en change inter a cat en a wolf en all kinder creeturs.”
“Papa says there ain’t any witches,” the little boy interrupted.
“Mars John ain’t live long ez I is,” said Uncle Remus, by way of comment. “He ain’t bin broozin’ roun’ all hours er de night en day. I know’d a nigger w’ich his brer wuz a witch, kaze he up’n tole me how he tuck’n kyo’d ’im; en he kyo’d ’im good, mon.”
“How was that?” inquired the little boy.
“Hit seem like,” continued Uncle Remus, “dat witch fokes is got a slit in de back er de neck, en w’en dey wanter change derse’f, dey des pull de hide over der head same ez if ’twuz a shut, en dar dey is.”
“Do they get out of their skins?” asked the little boy, in an awed tone.
“Tooby sho, honey. You see yo’ pa pull his shut off? Well, dat des ’zackly de way dey duz. But dish yere nigger w’at I’m tellin’ you ’bout, he kyo’d his brer de ve’y fus pass he made at him. Hit got so dat fokes in de settlement didn’t have no peace. De chilluns ’ud wake up in de mawnins wid der ha’r tangle up, en wid scratches on um like dey bin thoo a brier-patch, twel bimeby one day de nigger he ’low dat he’d set up dat night en keep one eye on his brer; en sho’ nuff dat night, des ez de chickens wuz crowin’ fer twelve, up jump de brer and pull off his skin en sail out’n de house in de shape un a bat, en w’at duz de nigger do but grab up de hide, and turn it wrong-sudout’ards en sprinkle it wid salt. Den he lay down en watch fer ter see w’at de news wuz gwineter be. Des ’fo’ day yer come a big black cat in de do’, en de nigger git up, he did, en druv her away. Bimeby, yer come a big black dog snuffin’ roun’, en de nigger up wid a chunk en lammed ’im side er de head. Den a squinch-owl lit on de koam er de house, en de nigger jam de shovel in de fier en make ’im flew away. Las’, yer come a great big black wolf wid his eyes shinin’ like fier coals, en he grab de hide and rush out. ’Twa’n’t long ’fo’ de nigger year his brer holler’n en squallin’, en he tuck a light, he did, en went out, en dar wuz his brer des a waller’n on de groun’ en squirmin’ ’roun’, kaze de salt on de skin wuz stingin’ wuss’n ef he had his britches lineded wid yallerjackets. By nex’ mawnin’ he got so he could sorter shuffle long, but he gun up cunjun, en ef dere wuz enny mo’ witches in dat settlement dey kep’ mighty close, en dat nigger he ain’t skunt hisse’f no mo’ not endurin’ er my ’membunce.”
The result of this was that Uncle Remus had to take the little boy by the hand and go with him to the “big house,” which the old man was not loath to do; and, when the child went to bed, he lay awake a long time expecting an unseemly visitation from some mysterious source. It soothed him, however, to hear the strong, musical voice of his sable patron, not very far away, tenderly contending with a lusty tune; and to this accompaniment the little boy dropped asleep:
“Hit’s eighteen hunder’d, forty-en-eight,
Christ done made dat crooked way straight—
En I don’t wanter stay here no longer;
Hit’s eighteen hunder’d, forty-en-nine,
Christ done turn dat water inter wine—
En I don’t wanter stay here no longer.”
Riverboatmen had their own ghost stories as well, of steamboats that never find their dock and crews that never find respite. This excerpt comes from chapter 17, of Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi, amidst a discussion of river cut-offs and oxbow lake formation:
The old Raccourci cut-off reduced the river's length twenty-eight miles. There used to be a tradition connected with it. It was said that a boat came along there in the night and went around the enormous elbow the usual way, the pilots not knowing that the cut-off had been made. It was a grisly, hideous night, and all shapes were vague and distorted. The old bend had already begun to fill up, and the boat got to running away from mysterious reefs, and occasionally hitting one. The perplexed pilots fell to swearing, and finally uttered the entirely unnecessary wish that they might never get out of that place. As always happens in such cases, that particular prayer was answered, and the others neglected. So to this day that phantom steamer is still butting around in that deserted river, trying to find her way out. More than one grave watchman has sworn to me that on drizzly, dismal nights, he has glanced fearfully down that forgotten river as he passed the head of the island, and seen the faint glow of the specter steamer's lights drifting through the distant gloom, and heard the muffled cough of her 'scape-pipes and the plaintive cry of her leadsmen.
A 1922 article in the Sun Herald newspaper of Biloxi, Mississippi recounted the harrowing story of fishermen's encounter with a spirit on Deer Island:
The fishermen made a camp fire on the sand and were making coffee and getting other 'eats' ready, when suddenly the palmetto bushes began to create much noise despite the stillness of the night. Thinking it was wild hogs the fishermen paid no attention to the bushes, later they glared around and beheld a skeleton standing erect, but without the skull.
The fishermen, completely surprised, managed to move back some feet but the headless ghost began to follow, and the men stampeded to their boat. They reached their boat, shoved it off the island and made off to the sea leaving all their equipment on the island.
The next morning they returned to the island and secured their cooking utensils. It was also said that later money was found near the spot.And who was this apparition?
Years before the two fisherman saw the headless ghost, a pirate ship landed inside Bay of Biloxi near Deer Island to bury stolen loot and refit for another expedition. The pirate leader with his men landed on the shores of Deer Island to bury the treasure. After the treasure was hidden, the chief exclaimed:
'Who wants to guard this treasure?' An inexperienced pirate, not realizing the great mistake, said, 'Me guard the treasure.'
Just as the last word died away one of the chief lieutenants swung his cutlass and cut the man's head off. Throwing his headless body into the palmettos the pirate gang left the island for the ship. Thus did the headless skeleton appear in later years to protect the buried treasure whenever it seemed in danger.Our next excerpt is of a ruinous old plantation house near New Orleans, and comes by way of George Washington Cable's Old Creole Days:
In the first decade of the present century, when the newly established American Government was the most hateful thing in Louisiana—when the Creoles were still kicking at such vile innovations as the trial by jury, American dances, anti-smuggling laws, and the printing of the Governor's proclamation in English—when the Anglo-American flood that was presently to burst in a crevasse of immigration upon the delta had thus far been felt only as slippery seepage which made the Creole tremble for his footing—there stood, a short distance above what is now Canal Street, and considerably back from the line of villas which fringed the river-bank on Tchoupitoulas Road, an old colonial plantation-house half in ruin.
It stood aloof from civilization, the tracts that had once been its indigo fields given over to their first noxious wildness, and grown up into one of the horridest marshes within a circuit of fifty miles.
The house was of heavy cypress, lifted up on pillars, grim, solid, and spiritless, its massive build a strong reminder of days still earlier, when every man had been his own peace officer and the insurrection of the blacks a daily contingency. Its dark, weatherbeaten roof and sides were hoisted up above the jungly plain in a distracted way, like a gigantic ammunition-wagon stuck in the mud and abandoned by some retreating army. Around it was a dense growth of low water willows, with half a hundred sorts of thorny or fetid bushes, savage strangers alike to the "language of flowers" and to the botanist's Greek. They were hung with countless strands of discolored and prickly smilax, and the impassable mud below bristled with chevaux de frise of the dwarf palmetto. Two lone forest-trees, dead cypresses, stood in the centre of the marsh, dotted with roosting vultures. The shallow strips of water were hid by myriads of aquatic plants, under whose coarse and spiritless flowers, could one have seen it, was a harbor of reptiles, great and small, to make one shudder to the end of his days.
The house was on a slightly raised spot, the levee of a draining canal. The waters of this canal did not run; they crawled, and were full of big, ravening fish and alligators, that held it against all comers.
Such was the home of old Jean Marie Poquelin, once an opulent indigo planter, standing high in the esteem of his small, proud circle of exclusively male acquaintances in the old city; now a hermit, alike shunned by and shunning all who had ever known him. "The last of his line," said the gossips. His father lies under the floor of the St. Louis Cathedral, with the wife of his youth on one side, and the wife of his old age on the other. Old Jean visits the spot daily. His half-brother—alas! there was a mystery; no one knew what had become of the gentle, young half brother, more than thirty years his junior, whom once he seemed so fondly to love, but who, seven years ago, had disappeared suddenly, once for all, and left no clew of his fate.
They had seemed to live so happily in each other's love. No father, mother, wife to either, no kindred upon earth. The elder a bold, frank, impetuous, chivalric adventurer; the younger a gentle, studious, book-loving recluse; they lived upon the ancestral estate like mated birds, one always on the wing, the other always in the nest.
There was no trait in Jean Marie Poquelin, said the old gossips, for which he was so well known among his few friends as his apparent fondness for his "little brother." "Jacques said this," and "Jacques said that;" he "would leave this or that, or any thing to Jacques," for "Jacques was a scholar," and "Jacques was good," or "wise," or "just," or "far-sighted," as the nature of the case required; and "he should ask Jacques as soon as he got home," since Jacques was never elsewhere to be seen.
It was between the roving character of the one brother, and the bookishness of the other, that the estate fell into decay. Jean Marie, generous gentleman, gambled the slaves away one by one, until none was left, man or woman, but one old African mute.
The indigo-fields and vats of Louisiana had been generally abandoned as unremunerative. Certain enterprising men had substituted the culture of sugar; but while the recluse was too apathetic to take so active a course, the other saw larger, and, at time, equally respectable profits, first in smuggling, and later in the African slave-trade. What harm could he see in it? The whole people said it was vitally necessary, and to minister to a vital public necessity,—good enough, certainly, and so he laid up many a doubloon, that made him none the worse in the public regard.
One day old Jean Marie was about to start upon a voyage that was to be longer, much longer, than any that he had yet made. Jacques had begged him hard for many days not to go, but he laughed him off, and finally said, kissing him:
"Adieu, 'tit frère."
"No," said Jacques, "I shall go with you."
They left the old hulk of a house in the sole care of the African mute, and went away to the Guinea coast together.
Two years after, old Poquelin came home without his vessel. He must have arrived at his house by night. No one saw him come. No one saw "his little brother;" rumor whispered that he, too, had returned, but he had never been seen again.
A dark suspicion fell upon the old slave-trader. No matter that the few kept the many reminded of the tenderness that had ever marked his bearing to the missing man. The many shook their heads. "You know he has a quick and fearful temper;" and "why does he cover his loss with mystery?" "Grief would out with the truth."
"But," said the charitable few, "look in his face; see that expression of true humanity." The many did look in his face, and, as he looked in theirs, he read the silent question: "Where is thy brother Abel?" The few were silenced, his former friends died off, and the name of Jean Marie Poquelin became a symbol of witchery, devilish crime, and hideous nursery fictions.
The man and his house were alike shunned. The snipe and duck hunters forsook the marsh, and the wood-cutters abandoned the canal. Sometimes the hardier boys who ventured out there snake-shooting heard a slow thumping of oar-locks on the canal. They would look at each other for a moment half in consternation, half in glee, then rush from their sport in wanton haste to assail with their gibes the unoffending, withered old man who, in rusty attire, sat in the stern of a skiff, rowed homeward by his white-headed African mute.
"O Jean-ah Poquelin! O Jean-ah! Jean-ah Poquelin!"
It was not necessary to utter more than that. No hint of wickedness, deformity, or any physical or moral demerit; merely the name and tone of mockery: "Oh, Jean-ah Poquelin!" and while they tumbled one over another in their needless haste to fly, he would rise carefully from his seat, while the aged mute, with downcast face, went on rowing, and rolling up his brown fist and extending it toward the urchins, would pour forth such an unholy broadside of French imprecation and invective as would all but craze them with delight.
Among both blacks and whites the house was the object of a thousand superstitions. Every midnight they affirmed, the feu follet came out of the marsh and ran in and out of the rooms, flashing from window to window. The story of some lads, whose words in ordinary statements were worthless, was generally credited, that the night they camped in the woods, rather than pass the place after dark, they saw, about sunset, every window blood-red, and on each of the four chimneys an owl sitting, which turned his head three times round, and moaned and laughed with a human voice. There was a bottomless well, everybody professed to know, beneath the sill of the big front door under the rotten veranda; whoever set his foot upon that threshold disappeared forever in the depth below.
What wonder the marsh grew as wild as Africa! Take all the Faubourg Ste. Marie, and half the ancient city, you would not find one graceless dare-devil reckless enough to pass within a hundred yards of the house after nightfall...
To the Creoles—to the incoming lower class of superstitious Germans, Irish, Sicilians, and others—he became an omen and embodiment of public and private ill-fortune. Upon him all the vagaries of their superstitions gathered and grew. If a house caught fire, it was imputed to his machinations. Did a woman go off in a fit, he had bewitched her. Did a child stray off for an hour, the mother shivered with the apprehension that Jean Poquelin had offered him to strange gods. The house was the subject of every bad boy's invention who loved to contrive ghostly lies. "As long as that house stands we shall have bad luck. Do you not see our pease and beans dying, our cabbages and lettuce going to seed and our gardens turning to dust, while every day you can see it raining in the woods? The rain will never pass old Poquelin's house. He keeps a fetich. He has conjured the whole Faubourg St. Marie. And why, the old wretch? Simply because our playful and innocent children call after him as he passes."A civic improvement board desired to purchase Poquelin's property, but found an audience with the old man difficult to come by. The board secretary, named "Little White" decided to pay a call under cover of darkness:
The next day, a little after nightfall, one might have descried this little man slipping along the rear fence of the Poquelin place, preparatory to vaulting over into the rank, grass-grown yard, and bearing himself altogether more after the manner of a collector of rare chickens than according to the usage of secretaries.
The picture presented to his eye was not calculated to enliven his mind. The old mansion stood out against the western sky, black and silent. One long, lurid pencil-stroke along a sky of slate was all that was left of daylight. No sign of life was apparent; no light at any window, unless it might have been on the side of the house hidden from view. No owls were on the chimneys, no dogs were in the yard.
He entered the place, and ventured up behind a small cabin which stood apart from the house. Through one of its many crannies he easily detected the African mute crouched before a flickering pine-knot, his head on his knees, fast asleep.
He concluded to enter the mansion, and, with that view, stood and scanned it. The broad rear steps of the veranda would not serve him; he might meet some one midway. He was measuring, with his eye, the proportions of one of the pillars which supported it, and estimating the practicability of climbing it, when he heard a footstep. Some one dragged a chair out toward the railing, then seemed to change his mind and began to pace the veranda, his footfalls resounding on the dry boards with singular loudness. Little White drew a step backward, got the figure between himself and the sky, and at once recognized the short, broad-shouldered form of old Jean Poquelin.
He sat down upon a billet of wood, and, to escape the stings of a whining cloud of mosquitoes, shrouded his face and neck in his handkerchief, leaving his eyes uncovered.
He had sat there but a moment when he noticed a strange, sickening odor, faint, as if coming from a distance, but loathsome and horrid.
Whence could it come? Not from the cabin; not from the marsh, for it was as dry as powder. It was not in the air; it seemed to come from the ground.
Rising up, he noticed, for the first time, a few steps before him a narrow footpath leading toward the house. He glanced down it—ha! right there was some one coming—ghostly white!
Quick as thought, and as noiselessly, he lay down at full length against the cabin. It was bold strategy, and yet, there was no denying it, little White felt that he was frightened. "It is not a ghost," he said to himself. "I know it cannot be a ghost;" but the perspiration burst out at every pore, and the air seemed to thicken with heat. "It is a living man," he said in his thoughts. "I hear his footstep, and I hear old Poquelin's footsteps, too, separately, over on the veranda. I am not discovered; the thing has passed; there is that odor again; what a smell of death! Is it coming back? Yes. It stops at the door of the cabin. Is it peering in at the sleeping mute? It moves away. It is in the path again. Now it is gone." He shuddered. "Now, if I dare venture, the mystery is solved." He rose cautiously, close against the cabin, and peered along the path.
The figure of a man, a presence if not a body—but whether clad in some white stuff or naked the darkness would not allow him to determine—had turned, and now, with a seeming painful gait, moved slowly from him. "Great Heaven! can it be that the dead do walk?" He withdrew again the hands which had gone to his eyes. The dreadful object passed between two pillars and under the house. He listened. There was a faint sound as of feet upon a staircase; then all was still except the measured tread of Jean Poquelin walking on the veranda, and the heavy respirations of the mute slumbering in the cabin.
The little Secretary was about to retreat; but as he looked once more toward the haunted house a dim light appeared in the crack of a closed window, and presently old Jean Poquelin came, dragging his chair, and sat down close against the shining cranny. He spoke in a low, tender tone in the French tongue, making some inquiry. An answer came from within. Was it the voice of a human? So unnatural was it—so hollow, so discordant, so unearthly—that the stealthy listener shuddered again from head to foot, and when something stirred in some bushes near by—though it may have been nothing more than a rat—and came scuttling through the grass, the little Secretary actually turned and fled. As he left the enclosure he moved with bolder leisure through the bushes; yet now and then he spoke aloud: "Oh, oh! I see, I understand!" and shut his eyes in his hands.Eventualy a mob forms to dispense with old Poquelin, but are met with a ghastly and shameful surprise:
Swiftly they pass out from among the houses, away from the dim oil lamps of the street, out into the broad starlit commons, and enter the willowy jungles of the haunted ground. Some hearts fail and their owners lag behind and turn back, suddenly remembering how near morning it is. But the most part push on, tearing the air with their clamor.
Down ahead of them in the long, thicket-darkened way there is—singularly enough—a faint, dancing light. It must be very near the old house; it is. It has stopped now. It is a lantern, and is under a well-known sapling which has grown up on the wayside since the canal was filled. Now it swings mysteriously to and fro. A goodly number of the more ghost-fearing give up the sport; but a full hundred move forward at a run, doubling their devilish howling and banging.
Yes; it is a lantern, and there are two persons under the tree. The crowd draws near—drops into a walk; one of the two is the old African mute; he lifts the lantern up so that it shines on the other; the crowd recoils; there is a hush of all clangor, and all at once, with a cry of mingled fright and horror from every throat, the whole throng rushes back, dropping every thing, sweeping past little White and hurrying on, never stopping until the jungle is left behind, and then to find that not one in ten has seen the cause of the stampede, and not one of the tenth is certain what it was.
There is one huge fellow among them who looks capable of any villany. He finds something to mount on, and, in the Creole patois, calls a general halt. Bienvenu sinks down, and, vainly trying to recline gracefully, resigns the leadership. The herd gather round the speaker; he assures them that they have been outraged. Their right peaceably to traverse the public streets has been trampled upon. Shall such encroachments be endured? It is now daybreak. Let them go now by the open light of day and force a free passage of the public highway!
A scattering consent was the response, and the crowd, thinned now and drowsy, straggled quietly down toward the old house. Some drifted ahead, others sauntered behind, but every one, as he again neared the tree, came to a stand-still. Little White sat upon a bank of turf on the opposite side of the way looking very stern and sad. To each new-comer he put the same question:
"Did you come here to go to old Poquelin's?"
"He's dead." And if the shocked hearer started away he would say: "Don't go away."
"I want you to go to the funeral presently."
If some Louisianian, too loyal to dear France or Spain to understand English, looked bewildered, some one would interpret for him; and presently they went. Little White led the van, the crowd trooping after him down the middle of the way. The gate, that had never been seen before unchained, was open. Stern little White stopped a short distance from it; the rabble stopped behind him. Something was moving out from under the veranda. The many whisperers stretched upward to see. The African mute came very slowly toward the gate, leading by a cord in the nose a small brown bull, which was harnessed to a rude cart. On the flat body of the cart, under a black cloth, were seen the outlines of a long box.
"Hats off, gentlemen," said little White, as the box came in view, and the crowd silently uncovered.
"Gentlemen," said little White, "here come the last remains of Jean Marie Poquelin, a better man, I'm afraid, with all his sins,—yes a better—a kinder man to his blood—a man of more self-forgetful goodness—than all of you put together will ever dare to be."
There was a profound hush as the vehicle came creaking through the gate; but when it turned away from them toward the forest, those in front started suddenly. There was a backward rush, then all stood still again staring one way; for there, behind the bier, with eyes cast down and labored step, walked the living remains—all that was left—of little Jacques Poquelin, the long-hidden brother—a leper, as white as snow.
Dumb with horror, the cringing crowd gazed upon the walking death. They watched, in silent awe, the slow cortége creep down the long, straight road and lessen on the view, until by and by it stopped where a wild, unfrequented path branched off into the undergrowth toward the rear of the ancient city.
"They are going to the Terre aux Lépreux," said one in the crowd. The rest watched them in silence.
The little bull was set free; the mute, with the strength of an ape, lifted the long box to his shoulder. For a moment more the mute and the leper stood in sight, while the former adjusted his heavy burden; then, without one backward glance upon the unkind human world, turning their faces toward the ridge in the depths of the swamp known as the Leper's Land, they stepped into the jungle, disappeared, and were never seen again.