My dad, in addition to being a machinist, worked as a guide for hunting parties. I do not remember the name of the boat he had at that time, although I do have a picture of it. Summer was the slack season for this occupation, so once in a while he took a party of fishermen out to White Lake or even the Gulf of Mexico. If they were going only to Bayou Chene (Oak Bayou), he brought me and my brother "Jay" along. Mom packed cheese and pimento sandwiches and fresh fruit for us, and Dad brought along a couple of watermelons for everyone to share in the afternoon.
There was a trapper and his family living in a small palmetto-roofed cabin on the bank of Bayou Chene, and one of the children was a pretty girl named Marie, who was about my age. She did not speak English and I understood very little French at that time. She was sitting with me once when I started to eat my lunch, and I offered her a "bite" of my sandwich. Well, the girl, perhaps not understanding that I was offering her only a "bite," snatched the whole sandwich and ran off with it! That day I had only a couple of bananas and an orange for lunch, and a big slice of watermelon in the middle of the afternoon.
But, to my amazement, just as we were about ready to cast off to begin our journey home, Marie came running up and handed me a huge Gulf crab, boiled to perfection. She patted her tummy and smiled, pointed to the crab she had placed in my hand and said, "Merci!" There was no mistaking what she meant. She was thanking me for the sandwich and giving me the boiled crab in exchange.
I wish I knew what happened to Marie.
Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA
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