Despite great wealth and prominence, nothing could save Andre Deloitte’s wife Claudine.

The year was 1910. Andre, Claudine and their ten-year-old son Henri lived on Breakneck Lane in the exclusive Garden Heights section of New Orleans, Louisiana. Their majestic manor, “Mon Rêve”, was Claudine’s dream home but she detested the foreboding name of the street. Andre reassured Claudine she was just being silly and superstitious and the family happily settled into their home. The popular couple hosted extravagant parties and entertained the rich and famous from all parts of the world.

Andre owned the illustrious Deloitte Jewelers. His clientele was elite – oil tycoons, judges, entertainers, governors and successful entrepreneurs such as Miss Lulu White, “Queen of the Demi Monde” and madam of the elegant bordello Mahogany Hall in Storyville, the infamous red-light district of New Orleans.

It was during one of their lavish soirees when the Deloitte’s dreamworld turned into a nightmare. Claudine was making her usual grand entrance down the marble staircase when the heel of her shoe became entangled in the hem of her gown. She fell, landing at the foot of the stairs like a mangled doll, her lovely neck snapping like a twig; she died instantly. Claudine’s apprehension towards Breakneck Lane wasn’t so silly after all.

Andre was devastated by Claudine’s death and threw himself into his work. Henri was left in the care of the household staff and a kindly au pair named Josephine. The boy missed his mother very much but thrived under the tutelage of his caregivers. As he grew into his teen years it became obvious to Josephine that Henri needed his father’s guidance more than ever. Andre decided the best course of action was to bring Henri into the family business.

Henri enjoyed being in the shop with his father and soon became quite knowledgeable about gems and precious metals, even demonstrating a flair for designing jewelry. Andre told Henri he had a highly regarded client located across town who was interested in buying several one-of-a-kind pieces. Andre urged his son to accompany him to his patron’s residence where they would display Henri’s unique creations. The client was Madam Lulu White.

Mahogany Hall was home to “women of the night”. Girls lounged on sofas, their unfastened robes revealing supple naked bodies. Others wore filmy shawls with intriguing thigh-high striped stockings and high heels. Henri blushed when he realized a few of the girls were eyeing the bulge in his pants – something that bewildered yet excited the inexperienced teen.

Henri spoke to his father about the allure of Mahogany Hall and his desire to return. Andre realized there was no stopping Henri and smiled knowingly as he drank his cup of Bowdoin Chicory Coffee. “Just don’t fall in love, son” was Andre’s advice.

Fascinated by everything about Mahogany Hall, Henri returned the next day. As he walked around the estate he became aware of soft music and followed the sound to a small parlor. There, at a spindle leg table in the middle of the room sat the most alluring creature imaginable. She sipped a glass of Raleigh Rye, her lacy manteau barely covering her breasts. There was a hint of a smile on her face and her eyes fluttered in a dream-like state. Sensing Henri’s presence, she looked up and smiled. Placing her glass on the table, she slowly removed the pins from her hair. Her eyes danced seductively as waves of chestnut hair cascaded around her shoulders. Mesmerized, Henri could not control his burgeoning erection. He smiled back.

Enchanté. I am Henri Deloitte.”

The girl replied “I know who you are. I hoped you would ask for me. I am Isabelle Broussard.”

Despite his father’s warning, sixteen-year-old Henri fell hopelessly in love.

For the next year Henri was a frequent visitor at Mahogany Hall. He made his wishes clear to Madam Lulu that Isabelle was to see no other men; he was happy to pay dearly for the luxury of having her exclusively to himself.

In November of 1917 the government abruptly shut down Storyville and Mahogany Hall was forced to close its doors. Henri searched frantically for Isabelle but Madam Lulu and all the girls were gone. Despondent, Henri joined the army, fighting overseas in World War I. The young lovers never saw each other again. The birth of Evan Deloitte the following May was Isabelle’s most treasured memory of her blissful love affair with Henri.

NB: This story is fiction; however, Madam Lulu White and Mahogany Hall were very real as was the government shut down of Storyville in 1917.

NAR © 2023

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36 thoughts on “MAHOGANY HALL”

  1. The story has great merit and could be true, but you lost me early on when you mentioned the “Garden Heights section of New Orleans, Louisiana”. New Orleans has no “Garden Heights”. Most of the city lays below sea level and its “heights” consist of levees and an artificial “hill” at the Audubon Zoo. New Orleans, though, does have its famous “Garden District” where Henri and his family would have lived.

    It is the little things that count.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for pointing that out to us, A! As a storyteller, I take liberties here and there; after all, I am not a historian … just a teller of tales. I hope that “little thing” didn’t take away from your enjoyment of reading “Mahogany Hall”.


  2. I have learned my lesson by now, cara mia, as it is close to 10pm while I am reading your story😉

    I was so immersed in your ink, Nancy.
    The sound of my immersion? A mix between Baby I’m a fool by Melody Gardot and Because you love me by Kaz Hawkins…

    An excellently researched, filled with delicately weaved details, ink by the Sicilian Storyteller.🌹🥂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love your comments, Nick!

      A friend of mine commented on another of my stories “I usually read at breakneck speed. I took my time with this one.” Your comment remind me of what he said.

      A little bit of research and a lot of imagination went into this one. I’m glad you enjoyed it, caro! 🌹

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Storyville was shut down in 1917; this was WWI time. When I was researching Storyville, I read that it was closed because the then secretary of war didn’t want US troops ‘distracted’ while being deployed. The Navy had troops located in New Orleans so the city was pressed to close Storyville. Prohibition, as you know, came a bit later.

      What a bunch of kill-joys! Nothing like taking away everyone’s fun, eh?

      Liked by 2 people

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