Fangs and Fascination
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The family of Pointe du Lac had not long been settled in Louisiana, having emigrated from France some five years previously. Their house was elegant and well-appointed, built with the revenues of their indigo plantations beside the Mississippi River. The father, until his death, encouraged his wife and daughter in all the fashionable pursuits: visiting, and dancing, and playing on the harpsichord. After his passing, they continued much as they had during his life. The elder of the two sons, Louis, succeeded his sire in the management of the estate, which, though of a value to support the family in comfort, required a certain amount attention. Nevertheless, he too found time for the respectable pursuits of a country gentleman.
The fourth member of the reduced household, Louis's younger brother Paul, was of a more serious bent. Despite his mother's and sister's insistence, he preferred to remain in his rooms rather than join them on visits or expeditions of pleasure. His elder brother encouraged him in his pursuits, providing him with an oratory for his use and protecting him from the worst of their demands.
It was therefore a great scandal, and excited much comment in the community, when Paul fell to his death shortly after an argument with his brother. Pointe du Lac refused to give any account of the accident, but his conduct in the days leading up to the funeral was of such a nature as to arouse suspicion in even the most trusting of his neighbors. He was said to have stayed by his brother's remains for some time, and emerged distraught and troubled. His stiff demeanor during the ceremony was much observed and commented on, but few could agree whether he was paralyzed by an excess of emotion or entirely lacking in it.
Shortly after the tragedy, Pointe du Lac employed a firm of agents to manage the estate and removed with his mother and sister to New Orleans. However, the notoriety surrounding his brother's death was not so easily dispensed with. The entire family encountered a falling-off of invitations, particularly to the more select gatherings, and those they did attend were filled with the vulgarly curious and the coldly rude. Miss Pointe du Lac, with portion and beauty alike to recommend her, found herself bereft of suitors, while her mother sat alone more mornings than she hosted visitors.
Pointe du Lac, widely seen as the author of his family's troubles, ceased to pursue the life of a gentleman. He did not attend even those few parties to which he was invited, instead spending his time in the more disreputable establishments of the city. His remaining friends reported finding him in an unfortunate condition with increasing frequency. It was rumored that his debts were soon to outstrip the income from his estates. He was said to have provoked duels and refused to fight them.
It was to no one's surprise, then, and few people's disappointment, when his unconscious body was found outside of his door one morning. He was ill in a fashion that the family doctor was unable to diagnose, and was indeed held to be on the verge of death. Mme Pointe du Lac sent for a priest, and she and her daughter prepared to be bereaved for a third time. Their incipient grief was interrupted when Pointe du Lac, with an hysteric's strength, drove the priest violently from his bedchamber. Whether they preferred the embarrassment of the assault to the dread of his death is not clear, but Mme Pointe du Lac took to her bed after seeing the unfortunate cleric out.
Pointe du Lac heard of his mother's indisposition, along with his sister's less disabling—but no less painful—sufferings, when Miss Pointe du Lac attended him in his bedchamber that evening. "How could you treat Father Pierre in that fashion?" she cried. "You know that he will tell all of the neighbors that you meant to kill him, tho' he but tripped on our stairs."
"I did mean to kill him," replied her brother. "He was talking about Paul."
"Of course he was talking about Paul!" Miss Pointe du Lac wrung her cloth in the bowl of lavender water on the bedside table and bathed her brother's forehead with it. "There is no one in New Orleans who does not talk of Paul, and you, and what might have happened between the two of you! I vow, I hear nothing but Paul, Paul, Paul, all the day long! But need you make things worse with such behavior?"
"I confess, dear sister, I was not thinking of your social trials when I did it." She cried out at this, but Pointe du Lac refused to discuss the matter further. In time, as tired by worry as by irritation, she laid her head on the table and dozed beside the bed.
Shortly after she fell asleep, a gentlemen entered the room through the patio doors. He was tall and slightly built, with pale skin and blond hair falling to his shoulders. He saw that Pointe du Lac was awake, and approached the bed.
"I see that there is no one here in a position to introduce me to your acquaintance, so I will have to perform the office myself. I am Lestat de Lioncourt, and we have, after a fashion, already met."
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Originally posted on Making Light