The Praline Woman by Alice Dunbar
The praline woman sits by the side of the Archbishop's quaint little
old chapel on Royal Street, and slowly waves her latanier fan over the
pink and brown wares.
"Pralines, pralines. Ah, ma'amzelle, you buy? S'il vous plait,
ma'amzelle, ces pralines, dey be fine, ver' fresh.
"Mais non, maman, you are not sure?
"Sho', chile, ma bebe, ma petite, she put dese up hissef. He's hans'
so small, ma'amzelle, lak you's, mais brune. She put dese up dis
morn'. You tak' none? No husban' fo' you den!
"Ah, ma petite, you tak'? Cinq sous, bebe, may le bon Dieu keep you
"Mais oui, madame, I know you etranger. You don' look lak dese New
Orleans peop'. You lak' dose Yankee dat come down 'fo' de war."
Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong, chimes the Cathedral bell across
Jackson Square, and the praline woman crosses herself.
"Hail, Mary, full of grace—
"Pralines, madame? You buy lak' dat? Dix sous, madame, an' one lil'
piece fo' lagniappe fo' madame's lil' bebe. Ah, c'est bon!
"Pralines, pralines, so fresh, so fine! M'sieu would lak' some fo'
he's lil' gal' at home? Mais non, what's dat you say? She's daid!
Ah, m'sieu, 'tis my lil' gal what died long year ago. Misere, misere!
"Here come dat lazy Indien squaw. What she good fo', anyhow? She jes'
sit lak dat in de French Market an' sell her file, an' sleep, sleep,
sleep, lak' so in he's blanket. Hey, dere, you, Tonita, how goes you'
"Pralines, pralines! Holy Father, you give me dat blessin' sho'? Tak'
one, I know you lak dat w'ite one. It tas' good, I know, bien.
"Pralines, madame? I lak' you' face. What fo' you wear black? You'
lil' boy daid? You tak' one, jes' see how it tas'. I had one lil' boy
once, he jes' grow 'twell he's big lak' dis, den one day he tak' sick
an' die. Oh, madame, it mos' brek my po' heart. I burn candle in St.
Rocque, I say my beads, I sprinkle holy water roun' he's bed; he jes'
lay so, he's eyes turn up, he say 'Maman, maman,' den he die! Madame,
you tak' one. Non, non, no l'argent, you tak' one fo' my lil' boy's
"Pralines, pralines, m'sieu? Who mak' dese? My lil' gal, Didele, of
co'se. Non, non, I don't mak' no mo'. Po' Tante Marie get too ol'.
Didele? She's one lil' gal I 'dopt. I see her one day in de strit.
He walk so; hit col' she shiver, an' I say, 'Where you gone, lil' gal?'
and he can' tell. He jes' crip close to me, an' cry so! Den I tak'
her home wid me, and she say he's name Didele. You see dey wa'nt
nobody dere. My lil' gal, she's daid of de yellow fever; my lil' boy,
he's daid, po' Tante Marie all alone. Didele, she grow fine, she keep
house an' mek' pralines. Den, when night come, she sit wid he's guitar
"'Tu l'aime ces trois jours,
Tu l'aime ces trois jours,
Ma coeur a toi,
Ma coeur a toi,
Tu l'aime ces trois jours!'
"Ah, he's fine gal, is Didele!
"Pralines, pralines! Dat lil' cloud, h'it look lak' rain, I hope no.
"Here come dat lazy I'ishman down de strit. I don't lak' I'ishman, me,
non, dey so funny. One day one I'ishman, he say to me, 'Auntie, what
fo' you talk so?' and I jes' say back, 'What fo' you say "Faith an' be
jabers"?' Non, I don' lak I'ishman, me!
"Here come de rain! Now I got fo' to go. Didele, she be wait fo' me.
Down h'it come! H'it fall in de Meesseesip, an' fill up—up—so, clean
to de levee, den we have big crivasse, an' po' Tante Marie float away.
Bon jour, madame, you come again? Pralines! Pralines!"