art by Ron Sanders
by James S. Dorr
She was one of the many, les filles à les caissettes, named for the little sea chests they had been allowed for their voyage. Casquettes, as some on the river later mispronounced it, as if they had all worn little caps--although some of them did. Some of them were orphans and could afford no more, but many had come from better families, good, respectable Catholic girls. Often from convents. Just what would be needed to tame a frontier.
Or so, at least, King Louis XV thought, or was it the idea of his Polish wife? Or more likely the cardinal, André de Fleury, his minister of state. It didn't matter.
It was later to become a point of pride for New Orleanian families to claim their descent from the "casket girls." Which did not matter either.
Aimée had her own reasons for leaving France. As for the means, well let the king, or the cardinal, or both take credit for her transportation. Aimée was nothing if not always willing to credit others where credit was due. Her own reasons, however, had been more immediate; France had become too hot, family members of hers had been found out. Some of them slaughtered.
It was a hard thing, this, to be persecuted. She felt sorry for the girl she had left in the harbor behind her, no doubt a good girl who deserved better treatment. But one must be always looking ahead, yes?
Her home and her friends she had left behind too.