Ruby wakes up in her super-awesome new Garden District bedroom (the lucky brat), and is, naturally all awestruck and overwhelmed by how extremely fancy everything is. She looks out her window at one point and notes that the house has a swimming pool and a tennis court, so man these people have a lot of land. Even though it’s hella early, our Ruby is a little go-getter, and not used to the layabout ways of the rich, so she gets dressed and goes downstairs. On the way, she sees Gisselle just coming in from the ball. Ruby is naturally shocked that such things can be, and Gisselle, after an initial “Oh, you’re still here?”, laughs at her and says that Mardi Gras goes all night, which normal people who are not from the SWAMPS know. She mentions that Beau’s coming over later to gossip about the party, and if Ruby’s still around she can listen in. Ruby points out that she lives here now, and Gisselle’s having none of that, since she needs her sleep to replenish herself. She judges Ruby for not putting on any lipstick before she meets people and when Ruby says that she doesn’t own any lipstick, Gisselle has had enough. She leaves her mask on a side table and stumbles upstairs. Hell yeah—-she’s in at dawn and she’s still drunk. I love you, Gisselle. Work that “Bad Twin” stereotype.
On that subject, my brothers are twins, and I’ve never been able to tell which one of them is really the “Bad Twin”. Maybe they switch?
Ruby goes on to find some breakfast, and finds her father in the dining room. He’s happy, if surprised, to see her since it’s so early and he explains that he’s used to eating breakfast alone since Daphne needs time to face the morning and Gisselle, is…Gisselle. Edgar (the butler from before) comes in and asks what Ruby wants for breakfast, and she’s of course just so flustered and grateful that she’s getting served and Pierre is charmed. He’s taking the morning off to spend with Ruby and then he’ll be going to the office in the afternoon and Daphne will take Ruby shopping. After breakfast they set out, and Ruby makes sure to mention that she’s hardly ever been in a car before, since in the BAYOU they walk or pole pirogues. I’m so glad that the Ghostwriter at least tried to mask the whole “CAJUNS are backwards!” idea by setting the story in the ’60s, when it wasn’t entirely unreasonable that a small rural community wouldn’t be flooded with cars. Even though my dad is from rural PA, and people had cars. ANYWAY.
The Ghostwriter really got out his Fodor’s for this next section. The Garden District is old and fancy! The French Quarter is older! Look, there’s Jackson Square! Let’s get cafe au lait and beignets! (Okay!) More importantly, during their morning out we learn a little more about Pierre’s family. See, Pierre had an younger brother, Jean, who was the handsomer, brighter brother, and he was the one expected to take up the family business and carry on the family name. Like James Wakefield before him, however, something awful happened to prevent that. Jean was in a boating accident that put him in a coma, their mother had a heart attack and became an invalid, and Grandpapa Dumas turned all of the pressure onto Pierre. Pierre married Daphne sooner than they had planned in order to try and have a child to make his parents happy, but Daphne was unable to get pregnant, and, doctors discovered, she couldn’t. Pierre’s mother died shortly thereafter and his father became obsessed with having a grandchild. Pierre then describes meeting Gabrielle, and it gets a little too weird for my tastes, considering that he’s talking to their daughter. There’s a lot of “She was so beautiful and carefree and I was smitten and I starting cheating on my wife, like, immediately, and watching her wake up was so special, and I think my father was totally into me getting her pregnant too, and by the way sweetie, you really look like her.”, and he mentions that it wasn’t his father who convinced Gabrielle to go along with the baby sale: it was Daphne, but he doesn’t know the details.
Ruby asks Pierre if he knows of Dominique’s, and when he says that he does, she tells him about her paintings. Naturally, they rush right over and he buys one. They do some more sightseeing and have lunch, then head home. Daphne is up, and is sitting in the back garden, eating a late breakfast and reading Vogue. Pierre shows her Ruby’s painting, all excited, and she’s very polite about it, but clearly isn’t super-impressed. She notes that she hasn’t seen him this excited in years, and reminds Pierre that he still has to tell Gisselle about Ruby. This brings him down. That’s mean, Daphne. Pierre goes up to talk to his other daughter. After he leaves, Daphne tells Ruby that Pierre often suffers from periods of melancholia, and that she shouldn’t let him tell her depressing things like about his younger brother, and that she most definitely should not bring any drama into the House of Dumas. Daphne goes on to tell Ruby that she knows that CAJUNS have a very different morals from what Daphne expects, and though Ruby denies this, Daphne says it’ll all be clearer once Ruby is trained up as a lady. Daphne goes to get ready for their shopping trip and says that she hopes one day Ruby will be able to call her “Mother”. Ruby wanders around a little after Daphne leaves, and Pierre and Gisselle find her so that Gisselle can give a canned speech about welcoming Ruby to the family. She can’t come shopping with Daphne and Ruby since Beau is coming over and she just can’t cancel, but she tells Ruby not to let Daphne buy her any old-fashioned long skirts, and that Ruby should come to Gisselle’s room later on so that they can get to know each other. Daphne sweeps down and takes Ruby shopping.
Daphne tells Ruby to let the salespeople think that she’s Gisselle, since the riffraff don’t need to know the truth. She has to spill a little when they get to the makeup counter, since the real Gisselle knows how to put makeup on and the ladies there know it, but it just makes the service more attentive and Daphne is pleased. She gets off a few digs at CAJUN women and their supposed lack of femininity, but when Ruby snaps back she tells her that she can’t defend them if she wants to be part of the CREOLE world. After all, those are the people who “stole” her. Daphne mentions at the makeup counter that Gisselle sneaks eyeliner on, though she herself doesn’t find it necessary. Again I say, in 1963? Okay. Daphne gives Ruby some advice about using one’s feminine wiles to get stuff from men, and finds it hilarious that it could have been Gisselle that was raised in the SWAMPS. Hoo yeah, real funny there, Daphne.
They get back to the house and Ruby goes around to the pool where Beau and Gisselle are hanging out. Beau wants to know all about Ruby’s life in the SWAMPS, asking her if she was treated badly or like a slave or anything. Ruby assures him that wasn’t the case, though she did have her chores, and he laughs at the idea of a Dumas woman cooking, since Gisselle can’t even boil water. Beau then brings up Ruby’s artwork, and when Gisselle cracks a joke about Pierre having been the only buyer, Ruby informs them that no, in fact, Pierre was not the only buyer, as it was money from one of her other pieces that brought her to New Orleans. Gisselle doesn’t like that. Beau mentions that he’s been out to the SWAMPS to fish and enthuses about how beautiful they are, and finally Gisselle can’t take any more of his crap and calls him on exaggerating to impress Ruby. Beau and Ruby are embarrassed and Gisselle spends the rest of the conversation making fun of Ruby for having harvested oysters and swept floors and stuff. When Ruby won’t badmouth the Landrys, Gisselle pokes at the fact that they “bought a stolen baby”. How ironic!
Gisselle wants Beau to bring one of his friends around that night to meet Ruby, and though he doesn’t think that it’s a great idea, she insists and he gives in. Beau goes home. Gisselle asks Ruby if she’s had any boyfriends, and Ruby tells her a little about Paul, leaving out the “And he’s our brother!” parts. Gisselle wants to know if Ruby slept with him, and when Ruby says no, she’s dubious, since she’d always heard that CAJUN girls were very promiscuous. Ruby gets mad at this, but backs down. Gisselle doesn’t really give a hoot, but warns Ruby that the New Orleans boys are going to expect a lot of her, since that’s what they think of CAJUNS. They go upstairs to look at Ruby’s new clothes. Gisselle is immediately pissed off by how much Daphne bought for Ruby, and gets angrier as she realizes that Daphne bought Ruby shorter skirts and sexier underwear than she lets Gisselle have.
Again I say: 1963.
Gisselle gets over it and tells Ruby that she’s borrowing some of her new clothes to wear that night. She also decides that they’re going to dress alike and try to fool their parents. And hell, while they’re at it, they’re going to do the same later on when Beau and his friend come over. Ruby is nervous, but likes the idea of being Beau’s girlfriend, even if it’s just pretend. They go down to dinner, but Pierre sees through their trick (Daphne does not). During dinner, Gisselle wants to know why Daphne bought all of those short skirts for Ruby when she wouldn’t get them for Gisselle, and Daphne claims that they’re what Ruby wanted, which isn’t true. Gisselle whines that she wants new clothes too, and Daphne gives in. Pierre asks Ruby to describe some of the food that she ate in the BAYOU, but when Gisselle says that it doesn’t sound so bad, Daphne insults gumbo. Daphne. You are dead to me.
Pierre tells them that he’s started looking for an art instructor for Ruby. Gisselle whines that she never got a singing instructor liked she’d wanted in the past, but when Pierre offers to set it up again, she refuses. Brat. After dinner, the family goes up to see the art studio that Pierre set up. It’s pretty awesome and Ruby is overjoyed. Daphne and Gisselle, not so much. Ruby moons around in her art studio for a while, then goes up to Gisselle’s room so that her sister can give her some pointers for the evening. Ruby says that she doesn’t think that she can pretend to be Gisselle, and when her twin gets offended, Ruby hastily explains that it’s because she “doesn’t know enough”. This pleases Gisselle, who assures her that she’ll be fine, as long as she sits up straight and doesn’t talk too much. Gisselle then does her best Ruby impression, which is basically “Dis here is de best an’ biggest house I evah slept in, and I kin’t believe I’m sleepin’ here, dis is all too fancy for me!” Ruby is appalled, but hides it, because I’m pretty sure she’s scared of Gisselle. Rightly so. Gisselle packs up a basket with a bottle of rum in it, and the twins head downstairs.
Coming up: Drunkenness, inappropriate comments about family, and more GD voodoo.