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STORIES FROM DAUDET
THE LAST LESSON.
A. D. BEAVINGTON-ATKINSON
ILLUSTRATED BY ETHEL K. MARTIN
CASSELL PUBLISHING COMPANY
104 & Io6 FOURTH AVENUE
THE following stories and sketches by
Alphonse Daudet have been selected
for translation from the volume en-
titled Lettres de mon Moulin and
from the Contes du Zundi. To the
latter belong all the incidents relating
to the Franco-German War, 1870-71,
which illustrate the sacrifice of the
brave French army in that disastrous
campaign, through the vacillations and
vainglorious incompetence of their
commanders, under the misrule of the
tottering Napoleonic dynasty.
When in the last stage of the war,
valiant Paris refused the humiliating
peace forced on the despairing Em-
peror and his exhausted army, and,
going mad in its agonised resistance,
brought upon itself the horror of
French bayonets pointed at the breasts
of Frenchmen, to enforce obedience to
the arrogant terms of the Prussian
and the dictates of the Assembly,
probably the little Arab drummer
whom Daudet immortalises was not
the only brave soul in those days of
bewilderment who died an unwitting
rebel, ignorant on what side he was
The pathos of "The Last Lesson"
and "The False Zouave" remind the
reader that the German annexation of
Alsace-Lorraine left a wound in the
pride of France that more than twenty
years of endurance have yet failed to
A. D. B. A.
THE LAST LESSON I
M. SEGUIN'S GOAT 13
THE GAME OF BILLIARDS 24
DEATH OF THE DAUPHIN 35
THE TURCO OF THE COMMUNE. 41
THE POPE'S MULE .50
THE STANDARD-BEARER 72
THE SUB-PREFECT IN THE FIELDS 84
EMOTIONS OF A RED PARTRIDGE 91
THE STARS 105
THE FALSE ZOUAVE 18
THE MILLER'S SECRET 29
THE LAST LESSON
TOLD BY A LITTLE ALSATIAN
HAT morning I was very late
for school, and was terribly
afraid of being scolded, for
M. Hamel had said he intended
to examine us on the participles,
and I knew not a word about them.
The thought came into my head that
I would miss the class altogether, and
so off I went across the fields.
The weather was so hot and clear!
One could hear the blackbirds
whistling on the edge of the wood;
in Ripperts's meadow, behind the saw-
yard, the Prussian soldiers were exer-
2 STORIES FROM DAUDET
cising. All this attracted me much
more than the rules about participles;
but I had the strength to resist and
ran quickly towards the school.
In passing before the mayoralty I
saw that a number of people were
stopping before the little grating where
notices are posted up. For two
years past it was there we learnt all the
bad news, the battles lost, the requisi-
tions, the orders of the commandant;
so I thought to myself without stop-
ping: What can it be now ?' Then,
as I was running across the square, the
blacksmith Wachter, who was there
with his apprentice, just going to read
the notice, cried out to me:
Don't be in such a hurry, little one,
you will be quite early enough for your
I thought he was making fun of me,
and I was quite out of breath when I
entered M. Hamel's little courtyard.
Generally, at the beginning of the
class, there was a great uproar which one
THE LAST LESSON
could hear in the street; desks opened
and shut, lessons conned aloud all
together, with hands over ears to learn
better, and the big ruler of the master
tapping on the table: More silence
I had counted on all this commo-
tion to gain my desk unobserved; but
precisely that day all was quiet as a
Sunday morning. Through the open
window I could see my comrades
already in their places, and M. Hamel,
who was walking up and down with
the terrible ruler under his arm. I
had to open the door and enter in the
midst of this complete silence. You
can fancy how red I turned and how
frightened I was.
But, no, M. Hamel looked at me with-
out any anger, and said very gently:
'Take your place quickly, my little
Franz, we were just going to begin
I climbed up on the bench and sat
down at once at my desk. Only then,
4 STORIES FROM DAUDET
a little recovered from my fright, I
noticed that our master had on his
new green overcoat, his fine plaited
frill, and the embroidered black silk
skull-cap which he put on for the
inspection days or the prize distribu-
tions. Besides, all the class wore a
curious solemn look. But what sur-
prised me most of all was to see at the
end of the room, on the seats which
were usually empty, a number of the
village elders seated and silent like the
rest of us; old Hansor with his cocked
hat, the former mayor, the old post-
man, and a lot of other people.
Everybody looked melancholy; and
Hansor had brought an old spelling-
book, ragged at the edges, which he
held wide open on his knees, with his
big spectacles laid across the pages.
While I was wondering over all
this, M. Hamel had placed himself in
his chair, and with the same grave, soft
voice in which he had spoken to me,
he addressed us:
THE LAST LESSON 5
'My children, it is the last time
that I shall hold the class for you.
The order is come from Berlin that
only German is to be taught in the
schools of Alsace and Lorraine hence-
forward. The new master arrives to-
morrow. To-day is your last lesson
in French. I ask you to be very
These words quite upset me. Ah,
the wretches this then was what they
had posted up at the mayoralty.
My last lesson in French !
And I who hardly knew how to
write. I should never learn then I
must stop where I was! How I
longed now for the wasted time, for
the classes when I played truant to go
birds'-nesting, or to slide on the Saar !
The books which I was used to find
so wearisome, so heavy to carry-my
grammar, my sacred history now
seemed to me old friends whom I
was very sorry to part with. The
same with M. Hamel. The idea that
6 STORIES FROM DAUDET
he was going away, that I.should never
see him again, made me forget the
punishments and the raps with the
It was in honour of this last class
that he had put on his Sunday clothes,
and now I understood why the elders
of the village had come and seated
themselves in the schoolroom. That
meant that they were grieved not to
have come oftener to the school. It
was a sort of way of thanking our
master for his forty years of good
service, and of showing their respect
for their country that was being taken
I had come as far as this in my
reflections when I heard my name
called. It was my turn to repeat.
What would I not have given to have
been able to say right through that
famous rule of the participles, quite
loud and very clear, without a stumble;
but I bungled at the first word, and
THE LAST LESSON ?
stopped short, balancing myself on my
bench, with bursting heart, not daring
to raise my head. I heard M. Hamel
speak to me:
'I shall not scold thee, my little
Franz, thou must be punished enough
-see how it is. Every day one says,
"Bah There is time enough. I
shall learn to-morrow." And then see
what happens. Ah! that has been
the great mistake of our Alsace,
always to defer its lesson until to-
morrow. Now those folk have a right
to say to us, "What! you pretend to
be French and you cannot even speak
or write your language!" In all that,
my poor Franz, it is not only thou
that art guilty. We must all bear
our full share in the blame. Your
parents have not cared enough to
have you taught. They liked
better to send you to work on the
land or at the factory to gain a few
more pence. And I too, have I
nothing to reproach myself with?
8 STORIES FROM DAUDET
Have I not often made you water my
garden instead of learning your lessons.
And when I wanted to fish for trout,
did I ever hesitate to dismiss you ?'
Then from one thing to another
M. Hamel began to talk to us about
the French language, saying that it
was the most beautiful language in the
world, the clearest, the most solid;
that we must guard it among us and
never forget it, because when a people
falls into slavery, as long as it holds
firmly to its own tongue, it holds the
key of its prison. Then he took a
grammar and gave us our lesson. I
was astonished to find how well I
understood. All he said seemed to
me so easy, so easy. I think, too, that
I never had listened so hard, and that
he had never taken such pains to ex-
plain. One would have said that
before going away the poor man
wished to give us all his knowledge,
to ram it all into our heads at one
THE LAST LESSON 9
That lesson finished, we passed to
writing. For that day M. Hamel
had prepared for us some quite fresh
copies, on which was written in beau-
tiful round hand: France, Alsace,
France, Alsace. They looked like
little banners floating round the class-
room on the rail of our desks. To
see how hard every one tried, and
what a silence there was One could
hear nothing but the scraping of the
pens on the paper. Once some cock-
chafers flew in; but nobody took any
heed, not even the little ones, who
worked away at their pothooks with such
enthusiasm and conscientiousness as if
feeling there was something French
about them. On the roof of the
school the pigeons cooed softly, and I
thought to myself, hearing them:
'Are they to be forced to sing in
From time to time, when I raised
my eyes from the page, I saw M.
Hamel motionless in his chair, looking
Io STORIES FROM DAUDET
fixedly at everything round him, as if
he would like to carry away in his
eyes all his little schoolhouse. Think
of it! For forty years he had been
in the same place, in his court out-
side or with his class before him. Only
the benches and the desks had grown
polished by the constant rubbing; the
walnut trees in the courtyard had
grown up, and the honeysuckle, which
he had planted himself, now garlanded
the windows up to the roof. What a
heart-break it must be for this poor
man to leave all these things, and to
hear his sister coming and going in the
room above, packing up their boxes,
for they were to go the next day-to
leave the country for ever.
All the same, what courage he had
to carry out the class to the end!
After the writing, we had our history
lesson; then the little ones sang all
together their Ba, Be, Bi, Bo, Bu.
There at the end of the room, old
Hansor put on his spectacles, and
THE LAST LESSON
holding his spelling-book with both
hands, he spelt the letters with them.
One could see that he too did his
best; his voice trembled with emotion,
and it was so funny to hear him that
we all wanted to laugh and cry at
once. Ah! I shall always remember
Suddenly the clock of the church
rang for noon, then for the Angelus.
At the same moment, the trumpets of
the Prussians returning from exercise
pealed out under our windows. M.
Hamel rose from his chair, turning
very pale. Never had he looked to
me so tall.
'My friends,' he said, 'my friends,
I-I-' But something choked him.
He could not finish the sentence.
Then he turned to the blackboard,
took a piece of chalk, and pressing
with all his might, he wrote as large
as he could:
LONG LIVE FRANCE.
12 STORIES FROM DAUDET
Then he remained there, leaning his
head against the wall, and, without
speaking, made the sign with his hand
All is over-you may go.'
M. SEGUIN'S GOAT
SEGUIN was never lucky
with his goats.
He lost them all in the
same way: one fine day they broke
their cord and went off to the mountain,
and there the wolves ate them up.
Nothing could stop them, neither their
master's kindness nor the fear of the
wolves. They seemed to be radical
goats determined to give any price for
fresh air and freedom. Honest M.
Seguin, who could not understand them
at all, was dumbfounded. He said:
'It is no use; my goats get tired of
me. I shall give up keeping them.'
But he did not lose heart, and having
14 STORIES FROM DAUDET
lost six goats all in the same way he
bought a seventh; but this time he
took care to buy a young kid, so that
she might grow accustomed to his
house. How pretty she was, this little
kid of M. Seguin's, with her soft eyes,
her little beard about the size of a
lieutenant's, her black and shining hoofs,
and her long white hair that clothed
her like a greatcoat, and then gentle,
affectionate, allowing herself to be
milked without starting or kicking
over the pail. The dearest little
Behind M. Seguin's house was an
enclosure hedged round with hawthorn.
There he put his new lodger. He tied
her to a stake in the prettiest part of
the meadow, taking care to give her
plenty of rope, and he came often to
see how she was getting on. The little
goat was very happy, and browsed
with such appetite that M. Seguin
was delighted. 'At last,' thought
the poor man, I have found one who
M. SEGUIN'S GOAT 15
will be happy with me.' M. Seguin
was mistaken, his goat soon grew dis-
One day she thought as she looked
at the mountain:
'How delightful it must be up there !
How charming to skip about on the
heather without this abominable tether-
ing rope which chafes my neck! ..
It is all very well for a horse or donkey
to be shut up in a paddock. But
goats want liberty.'
From that moment the grass in the
paddock seemed insipid. Weariness
possessed her. She grew thin, her
milk failed. It was sad to see her
straining at her tether all day, her eyes
yearning for the mountain, her nostrils
distended, and bleating piteously.
M. Seguin saw that something was
the matter with his goat, but he could
not tell what. One morning, just
as he had finished milking her, the goat
turned round and said in our country
speech: 'See here, M. Seguin, I am
16 STORIES FROM DAUDET
tired to death of being here. Let me
go to the mountain.'
Ah, lack-a-day! She too!' ex-
claimed M. Seguin in horror, and he
let the pail fall: then, sitting down on
the grass by the side of his goat, he
reasoned with her.
How is this, Blanquette, you wish to
leave me ?'
And Blanquette answered:
'Yes, M. Seguin.'
'Have you not grass enough ?'
'It is not that, M. Seguin.'
'Are you tied up too short; shall I
lengthen your cord ?'
'It is not worth while to take the
trouble, M. Seguin.'
But what is it, then ? What do you
'I want to go to the mountain, M.
'But, my poor child, don't you
know that there are wolves in the
mountain ? What would you do if you
met one ?'
M. SEGUIN'S GOAT 17
'I would butt him with my horns,
'Much the wolf would care for that!
He has eaten goats with bigger horns
than yours. You remember poor old
Renaude who was with me last year?
Such a fine nanny-goat, as big and as
spiteful as a billy-goat. She fought
with a wolf all night but he ate
her up in the morning.'
'What a pity! Poor Renaude ....
Never mind, M. Seguin. Do let me go
to the mountain.'
'Graciousgoodness I'said M. Seguin,
'what can be the matter with all my
goats ? The wolf will have this one
too. .'. I will not allowit. I will save
you in spite of yourself, you naughty
child, and for fear you should break
your cord, I will shut you in the stable,
and there you shall stay.'
So said, so done. M. Seguin took
the goat to a dark stable and shut her
up there. Unfortunately he forgot to
shut the window, and he had scarcely
i8 STORIES FROM DAUDET
turned his back when the little goat
When the white goat got up to the
mountain everybody there was delighted.
The old fir-trees had never seen any-
thing so pretty. The chestnut-trees
stooped their boughs to the ground to
touch herwith the tips of their branches.
The golden broom-flowers opened as
she passed by and perfumed the air
with their blossoms. All the mountain
rejoiced at her coming.
How happy she was! No more
bonds or cords, nothing to prevent her
skipping, jumping, browsing as she
chose. What heaps of grass there were,
deep enough to cover her, horns and
all And what grass! Sweet, deli-
cate, like lace-work, made up of a
thousand different herbs. Very
different from the turf in the paddock.
And such flowers! Great blue
Canterbury bells, and purple foxgloves
with their long cups. A perfect forest
of wild flowers all full of intoxicating
M. SEGUIN'S GOAT 19
juices. The white goat, half tipsy,
revelled in this with her four feet in the
air, and rolled down the slopes helter-
skelter with the fallen leaves and chest-
nuts. Then suddenly she rose to her
feet with a bound. Off she went head-
long, over bush and briar, now on a
peak, now at the bottom of a ravine.
Here, there,and everywhere; you might
have supposed that ten goats had run
away from M. Seguin to the mountain.
Blanquette was afraid of nothing.
She cleared with one flying leap fierce
torrents which splashed her with foam
and drops of water as she jumped over
them. Then all dripping she laid
herself on some smooth stone and
dried her coat in the sun. Once
going to the edge of a piece of table-
land with a branch of cytisus in her
mouth, she saw far below on the
plain M. Seguin's house and the
paddock behind it. She laughed till
she cried. 'How small it is,' she
said; 'how could I ever get into it!'
20 STORIES FROM DAUDET
Poor little thing, perched up so high
she thought herself gigantic.
Take it altogether, it was a happy
day for M. Seguin's goat. Towards
noon, running hither and thither, she
met a troop of chamois. Our little
adventurer in her white dress was
much admired. They gave her a
good place and were all very kind to
her. She made friends with a young
black chamois, and they wandered off
together through the woods, and if you
want to know what they said to each
other, ask the little babbling brooks
that glide unseen amongst the mosses.
Suddenly the wind blew cold. The
mountain grew purple; it was night.
'Already,' said the little goat; and
she stopped still, wondering.
Below, the fields were wrapped in
mist, M. Seguin's meadow was hidden
by the fog, and only the roof of the
house could be seen, with a little
smoke coming from it. She heard
M. SEGUIN'S GOAT
the sheep bell of some homeward-
bound flock, and her heart grew sad.
A hawk wheeling round touched her
with his wing as he flew by. She
shivered then she heard a howl-
ing on the mountain.
She thought of the wolf. All day
long the little fool had forgotten him.
. At the same instant a horn was
heard far off in the valley. Good M.
Seguin was making his last attempt.
'Hoo, hoo,' said the wolf.
'Come back, come back,' cried the
horn. Blanquette had a great mind
to go back, but when she remembered
the post, the cord, the hedged-in
paddock, she felt that she could never
bear that life again, and that it was
better to stop where she was.
The horn was heard no more.
The goat heard a rustling in the
leaves behind her. She turned and saw
in the shadow two short pointed ears,
two burning eyes .. It was the wolf.
22 STORIES FROM DAUDET
Enormous, motionless, he sat there
gazing at the little white goat and
fancying how she would taste. As he
had made up his mind to eat her, he
was in no hurry, only when she turned
he grinned savagely.
Ha! ha M. Seguin's little goat,'
and he licked his lank jaws with his
great red tongue.
Blanquette felt that she was lost.
. For a moment as she remembered
the story of old Renaude, who fought
all night only to be eaten after all in
the morning, she thought it was better
to be devoured at once; but then,
thinking better of it, she stood on her
guard with her head down and her
horns forward like the brave little goat
that she was. Not that she had
any hope of killing the wolf-goats do
not kill wolves-but only to see if she
could make as good a fight as Renaude.
Then the monster made his attack
and the little horns came into play.
Ah! the brave little goat, how hard
M. SEGUIN'S GOAT
she fought. Ten times at least she
made the wolf pause to take breath.
During these intervals of peace, the
greedy little thing snatched a mouthful
of grass; then she returned to the
fight. This went on all night. Some-
times M. Seguin's goat looked up at
the stars dancing in the sky and she
'Oh, if I can only hold out till
One by one the stars went out, and
Blanquette fought harder with her
horns, and the wolf with his teeth. .
A pale gleam appeared in the east.
. The hoarse crow of a cock was
heard rising from the farmyard.
'At last!' said the poor little
creature, who was only waiting for the
time to die; and she stretched herself
out on the ground with her pretty
white coat all dabbled in blood.
Then the wolf seized the poor little
goat and ate her up.
THE GAME OF BILLIARDS
S they had been fighting for
two days and had passed
the night, knapsack on back,
under pouring rain, the soldiers were
worn out. Nevertheless for three
mortal hours they had been left to
wait, standing at arms, in the puddles
of the high road, in the mud of the
Weighed down by fatigue and nights
passed thus, their uniforms dripping,
they huddle together for warmth and
to keep themselves upright. Some
there are who sleep standing, propped
against the knapsacks of their comrades,
and weariness and privation can be
THE GAME OF BILLIARDS 25
marked most plainly on these, relaxed
in the abandonment of slumber. Rain,
mud, no fire, no soup, a sky black and
lowering, the enemy known to be all
around them. It is dismal !
What are they about there? What
is going on?
The cannon, with mouths directed
at the wood, seem to watch something.
The masked mitrailleuses stare fixedly
at the horizon. All seems ready for
an attack. Why do they not attack ?
What are they waiting for ?
They wait for orders, and none come
Yet headquarters are close by, in that
splendid castle of Louis XIII.'s time,
the red bricks of which, washed by the
rain, shine between the hedges. A
princely dwelling well worthy to sustain
the banner of a Marshal of France.
Behind the great moat and stone balus-
trade that separate them from the
road, the turfy slopes rise steeply up
to the steps, close-cropped and green,
26 STORIES FROM DAUDET
bordered by vases of flowers. On the
other side, the private side of the house,
the lime-trees open into bright glades;
the piece of water where swans are
swimming spreads out like a mirror,
and under the pagoda roof of an
immense aviary, uttering sharp cries
among the foliage, peacocks and golden
pheasants flap their wings and spread
their tails. Though the masters of
this house are departed, there is no
neglect, no sign of the abandonment
and utter disorder of war time. Under
the oriflamme of the head of the army
all has been preserved, even to the
least blossom on the slopes, and it is
singularly striking to see, so close to
the field of battle, the opulent calm
that comes of perfect order, of
straight-clipped hedges and deep silent
The rain, which down ,below heaps
such horrid mud on the roads and
makes such deep ruts, is here only a
gracious and aristocratic shower, which
THE GAME OF BILLIARDS 27
revives the ruddy glow of the brickwork
and the verdure of the turf, burnishing
the leaves of the orange-trees and the
snowy plumage of the swans. All is
bright and peaceful. Indeed, but for
the flag which floats from the finial of
the roof, but for the two soldiers
standing sentry at the gate, it could
never be believed one was at military
headquarters. The horses rest in the
stables. Here and there may be seen
a groom or two, orderlies in undress
lounging about the kitchen department,
or a gardener in red breeches quietly
raking the gravel in the wide court-
In the dining-hall, the windows of
which overlook the entrance steps, is a
half-cleared dinner-table, with uncorked
bottles, soiled and empty glasses, stains
on the rumpled cloth: all the signs of
a finished meal just left by the guests.
In the next room can be heard the
sound of voices, peals of laughter, the
rolling of balls and clinking of glasses.
28 STORIES FROM DAUDET
The Marshal is engaged on a game;
this is why the army waits for orders.
When the Marshal has begun his game
the heavens might crumble and fall,
nothing in the world could prevent
him from finishing it.
It is his weakness, this great soldier's.
There he stands, serious as on the
battlefield, in full uniform, his breast
covered by medals, his eyes flashing,
his cheeks flushed by the excitement
of the dinner, the game, the punch.
His aides-de-camp surround him,
assiduous, respectful, languishing with
admiration at each stroke. When the
Marshal makes a point, everybody
dashes to the marker; when the
Marshal is thirsty, everybody is eager
to mix his punch. There is a rustling
of epaulettes, a jingling of crosses and
tassels; to see all the sweet smiling,
the grand courtly bows, and all the
fresh embroideries and new uniforms,
recalls the autumn at Compiegne and
THE GAME OF BILLIARDS 29
quite refreshes one's eyes after those
dirty coats down below there, huddled
together along the roads, making such
dismal groups under the rain.
The opponent of the Marshal is a
little captain of the staff, braced up,
frizzed, gloved in white, a first-rate cue,
and capable of knocking out all the
marshals in the world; but he knows
how to keep at a respectful distance
from his chief, and takes good care not
to win and not to lose too easily. He
is what you call an officer on promo-
Attention, young man, let us be
careful. The Marshal has fifteen, you
ten. The point is to keep the game
just at that level and you will have
done more for your advancement than
if you were outside with those fellows
down there under the torrents of water
that darken the horizon, soiling your
fine uniform and tarnishing your
golden tassels, waiting for orders that
30 STORIES FROM DA UDET
It is really an exciting scene. The
balls fly along, touch, cross colours.
The cushions are firm, the cloth grows
warm. Suddenly the flash of a cannon-
shot whizzes through the air; all start
and look at one another uneasily.
Only the Marshal has seen nothing,
heard nothing; bending over the
billiard-table he is about to combine
a magnificent recoil-he is very great
in recoil strokes.
But there comes a fresh flash, then
another. The cannon-balls follow one
another in quick and quicker succes-
sion. The aides-de-camp run to the
windows. 'What is it? Have the
Prussians begun the attack ?'
'Well, let them attack!' says the
Marshal, chalking his cue; 'your turn,
The staff captain thrills with ad-
miration. Turenne asleep on a gun-
carriage was nothing to this marshal
so calm over his billiards at the
moment of action. All this time
THE GAME OF BILLIARDS 31
the hubbub increases. To the shocks
of the cannon are joined the tearing
rattle of the mitrailleuses, the rolling
fire of the platoons. A red smoke,
black at the edges, rises up to the
slopes. All the park below is on fire.
The terrified peacocks and pheasants
scream in the aviary, the Arab horses,
smelling powder, stamp in the stables.
The headquarters begin to be in
commotion. Despatch after despatch,
the express couriers arrive at full tear.
They ask for the Marshal. The
Marshal is inaccessible. As I have
said, nothing can possibly hinder him
from finishing his game.
Your turn to play, captain.'
But the captain (what it is to be
young) has his moments of forgetful-
ness. Why, he has lost his head,
forgotten his tactics, and stroke after
stroke, twice over, almost wins the
game. This time the Marshal is
furious. Surprise and indignation
flame on his manly face. Just at that
32 STORIES FROM DAUDET
moment a horse, urged at full gallop,
dashes into the courtyard. An aide-
de-camp covered with mud forces his
way through the officers, and leaps the
chateau steps at a bound: 'Marshal!
Marshal!' His reception should
have been seen. .All puffing with
rage and red as a turkey-cock, the
Marshal appears at the window, his
billiard-cue in his hand.
'What has happened? What's
the matter? Are there no sentries
'Well, presently. Damnation let
them wait for my orders.' And the
window is shut down again with a
Let them wait for his orders! Why,
it is what they are doing, poor fellows.
The wind drives the rain and the grape-
shot full in their faces. Whole
battalions are destroyed, while others
stand useless, weapons in their hands,
without knowing any reason for their
THE GAME OF BILLIARDS 33
inaction. There is nothing to be done.
They await orders. Just so! But orders
are not needed for dying, and the men
fall by hundreds behind the bushes, in
the ditches, in front of the great voice-
less castle. Even as they lie fallen, the
grape-shot tears them, and through
their open wounds flows noiselessly the
generous blood of France. Up
there, in the billiard-room, matters are
very hot too; the Marshal has recovered
his advance, but the little captain
defends himself like a lion.
Seventeen eighteen nineteen !
There is hardly time to mark' the
points. The noise of the battle grows
nearer. The Marshal has only one
more turn. Already the shells have
reached the park; one has just burst
above the lake. The pure mirror is
stained, and a swan swims, terrified,
amid a whirl of bloody feathers. It is
the last move.
Now, complete silence. Nothing
but the rain which falls on the lime-
34 STORIES FROM DAUDET
walks, a confused rolling at the foot of
the hills, and in the soaking roads
something like the pattering of a flock
which scurries quickly along,-the
army is in full flight. The Marshal
has won his game.
DEATH OF THE DAUPHIN
| HE little Dauphin is ill. The
little Dauphin is going
to die. In all the
churches of the kingdom the Sacred
Host is exposed night and day, and the
great wax tapers are burning for the
recovery of the royal child. The streets
of the court suburb are silent and sad;
no bells ring, the carriages go at a foot-
pace. In the neighbourhood of the
palace the curious citizens gaze through
the railings at the portly beadles covered
with gold lace who talk together in
the quadrangles with an air of import-
ance. All the palace is in tumult. The
chamberlains, the major-domos, go
36 STORIES FROM DA UDET
up and down the marble staircases at
a run. The galleries are full of pages
and courtiers in silken clothes, who go
from one group to another asking for
news in low voices. On the great
stone terraces the ladies-in-waiting make
deep curtsies, and wipe their eyes with
delicate embroidered handkerchiefs.
In the Orangery there is a great
assembly of doctors in their robes.
They may be seen through the windows
shaking their long black sleeves and
gravely nodding their stiffly curled
periwigs. The governor and the squire
of the little Dauphin walk up and
down outside the door waiting for the
medical verdict. The cooks pass by
without bowing. The squire swears
like a heathen. The governor quotes
Horace. And all the time a plaintive
whinny is heard from the stables. It
is the Dauphin's sorrel horse, which the
grooms have forgotten to feed, neighing
sorrowfully before his empty manger.
And the king: Where is our Sovereign
DEATH OF THE DAUPHIN 37
Lord the King ? The king has shut
himself up alone in a room at the
farther end of the palace. Majesty is
not pleased to be seen weeping. For
the queen it is different. Seated by
the side of the little Dauphin's pillow
her fair face is bathed in tears, and she
sobs aloud before every one just as a
linen-draper's wife might do.
The little Dauphin lies on his lace
couch with closed eyes, whiter than
the pillows on which he is stretched.
He seems asleep, but is not so. The
little Dauphin slumbers not. He turns
to his mother and seeing her tears he
says, Why does your Majesty weep?
Do you really think that I am going to
die?' The queen tries to answer.
Her sobs prevent her. Your Majesty
should not weep. You forget that I
am the Dauphin, and that Dauphins
cannot die like this .
The queen sobs louder, and the
little Dauphin begins to be afraid.
'Hold,' he says; 'I do not choose
38 STORIES FROM DAUDET
that Death should come and take me,
and I shall know how to prevent his
getting in here. Send for a company
of foot-soldiers, strong ones, to mount
guard round my bed. Let a
hundred great cannon, with their
matches lighted night and day, be
planted under our windows. And woe
to Death if he dares approach me.'
To please the royal child, the'queen
gives a sign that he is to be obeyed.
Then the great cannon are heard
rumbling into the courtyard, and forty
tall guards, with halberds in their hands,
enter and range themselves round the
room. They are veterans, with gray
moustaches. The little Dauphin claps
his hands when he sees them. He
recognizes one and speaks to him.
'Lorrain Lorrain! '
The old soldier makes a step towards
'I love you, dear old Lorrain. Let
me see your big sword. If Death comes
here you will kill him, won't you ?'
DEATH OF THE DAUPHIN 39
Lorrain answers :
'Yes, your Royal Highness.'
And two great tears roll down his
sunburnt cheeks. At this moment
the Grand Almoner approaches the
little Dauphin, holding up the crucifix,
and speaks to him at some length in a
low voice. The little Dauphin listens
with an astonished air, and suddenly
'I understand what you tell me, my
lord, but cannot my little friend Beppo
die instead of me ? He would be well
paid, of course.'
The Almoner goes on speaking in a
low voice, and the little Dauphin seems
more and more astonished. When the
Almoner has finished, the little Dauphin
replies with a deep sigh:
'All that your Reverence tells me
is very sad; but I have one consola-
tion, and that is, that up above in
the starry paradise I shall still be
the Dauphin. I know that God
Almighty is my cousin, and that He
40 STORIES FROM DAUDET
will not fail to treat me according to
Then he adds, turning to his mother:
'Let them bring my finest clothes,
my ermine doublet and my velvet
shoes. I will dress myself in honour
of the angels, and enter paradise as
becomes a Dauphin.'
For the third time the Almoner
stoops over the little Dauphin and
makes him a long speech in a low voice.
In the midst of his discourse the royal
child interrupts him passionately.
But then,' he cries, 'it is no good
at all to be a Dauphin.'
And without choosing to hear any
more, the little Dauphin turns his face
to the wall and weeps bitterly.
THE TURCO OF THE
E was a little drummer of the
native musketeers. He was
called Kadour, of the tribe
of Djendal, and formed one of that
handful of Arabs who threw themselves
into Paris at the heels of Vinoy's army.
From Wissembourg up to Champigny
he had followed all the campaign,
flitting through the battlefields like a
petrel on the wing, with his iron
castanets and his derbouka (Arab
drum); always on the move, and so
swift that the balls had no chance to
hit him. But when the winter was
come, this little bronzed African, burnt
42 STORIES FROM DAUDET
in the fire of the cannon, could not
bear the nights of the long watch, im-
movable in the snow; and one morn-
ing in January they found him on the
bank of the Marne, with frozen feet,
cramped by the cold. He was a long
time in the ambulance. It was there
I saw him first. Piteous and patient
as a sick dog, the Turco looked around
him with his large, soft gaze. When
you spoke to him he smiled and showed
his teeth. It was all he could do; for
our language was unknown to him, and
he could barely talk the sabir, that
Algerian patois made up of Provencal,
Italian, and Arabic, a medley of words
gathered like shells along the coasts of
the southern seas.
To amuse himself Kadour had only
his derbouka. Now and then, when he
was very weary, they put it on the bed
for him and let him play, but not very
loud, because of the other sick folk.
Then his poor dark face, so dulled and
quenched in the yellow light and melan-
THE TURCO OF THE COMMUNE 43
choly winter outlook on the street,
kindled and twitched, following all the
movements of the rhythm. Some-
times he beat for the attack, and the
twinkle of his white teeth broke into a
fierce laugh; or again his eyes moistened
over some Mussulman r&veilli (dawn
music), his nostril inflated, and through
the sickly odours of the ambulance,
amid the phials and compresses, he saw
again the groves of Blidah, laden with
oranges, and the little Moorish women
leaving the bath, muffled in white and
perfumed with verbena.
Two months passed away thus.
Paris, in those two months, had done
many things; but Kadour knew nothing
about them. He had heard beneath
the windows the return of the worn-
out and disarmed troops; later on the
cannon went by, rolling from morn-
ing to night; then the alarm, and the
cannonade. Of all this he understood
nothing, except that war was going on
still, and that soon he would be able
44 STORIES FROM DA UDET
to fight too, for his legs were healed.
Behold him gone, his drum on his back,
off to look for his company. He did
not seek long. Some Federals who were
passing brought him into the Square.
After a long interrogation, as nothing
could be extracted from him but bono
bezif, macacko bono, the general for the
day ended by giving him ten francs
and an omnibus horse, and attaching
him to his staff.
There was a little of everything in
those staffs of the Commune, red shirts,
Polish dolmans, Hungarian doublets,
sailors' pea-jackets, and there was
bravery of gold, velvet, spangles, and
gold lace. With his blue vest broidered
with yellow, his turban, his derbouka,
the little Turco came to complete the
masquerade. Full of delight to find
himself in such fine company, giddy
with the sunlight, the cannonading, the
bustle in the streets, the medley of
arms and uniforms, persuaded, besides,
that it was still the war with Prussia
THE TURCO OF THE COMMUNE 45
that was going on, only with some
wonderful fresh life and freedom about
it, this deserter, in spite of himself,
mingled innocently in the great Parisian
orgy, and became a celebrity of the
moment. Everywhere the Federals
hailed him and f&ted him. The Com-
mune were so proud of getting him that
they showed him off, advertised him,
wore him, as it were, like a cockade.
Twenty times a day the Square sent him
to the war office, the war office to the
H6tel de Ville. For, you see, it had
been whispered that their marines were
make-believe marines, their artillery
make-believe artillery! At any rate,
here was a genuine Turco. To con-
vince oneself of that, one had but to
look at the frizzled crop of the young
monkey, and to note the savage lissom-
ness of his little body swaying about on
the big horse in the caracoles of the
Yet was there something wanting to
the happiness of Kadour. He would
46 STORIES FROM DAUDET
have liked to fight to smell powder.
Unfortunately, under the Commune, as
under the Empire, the staff was not
often under fire. Except for messages
and parades, the poor little Turco passed
his time on the Place Vend6me, or in
the courtyard of the Ministry of War,
in the midst of the disorganised camp,
full of brandy casks for ever running,
of barrels of lard staved in, of stuffing
and swilling, where yet the starvation
of the siege was plain enough to see.
Too good a Mussulman to take part in
these orgies, Kadour kept apart, sober
and calm, made his ablutions in corner,
his kouss-kouss with a handful of semo-
lina; then after a little tune on the
derbouka he would roll himself in his
burnoose and go to sleep on a step by
the bivouac fire.
One morning in May the Turco was
awakened by a terrible firing. All the
headquarters was in commotion; every-
body took to his heels and fled.
Mechanically he did like the rest, leapt
THE TURCO OF THE COMMUNE 47
on his horse, and followed the staff.
The streets were full of mad, wild
trumpet-calls, of disordered battalions.
Evidently something extraordinary was
going on the nearer to the quay,
the more distinct was the firing, the
greater the tumult. On the bridge De
la Concorde Kadotrr lost the staff. A
little farther on they took away his
horse; it was for a hussar with eight
stripes, in a desperate hurry to see what
was going on at the Hotel de Ville.
Furious, the Turco began to run in the
direction of the fight. Still running
he loaded his chassepot, muttering be-
tween his teeth "maacacho bono, Brissein"
. for as far as he knew it must be
the Prussians who were entering the
city. Already the balls whistled round
the obelisk among the trees of the
Tuileries. On the barricade of the
Rue de Rivoli the avengers of Flourens
called out to him: 'Hi, Turco, Turco !'
There were only a dozen of them, but
Kadour alone was worth an army.
48 STORIES FROM DAUDET
Erect on the barricade, proud, con-
spicuous as an ensign, he fought with
leaps and cries under a hail of cannon-
shot. One moment the curtain of
smoke that rose from the ground
divided a little between two cannon-
ades and let him see the red trousers
massed in the Champs Elysdes. Then
all was confusion again. He thought
he must have been mistaken, and
peppered away harder than ever.
Suddenly there was silence on the
barricade. The last artilleryman had
fired his last charge and fled. As for
the little Turco, he never budged;
lurking in ambush ready to spring, he
fixed his bayonet firmly and waited
for the pointed helmets. It was the
French line that came on! Through
the dull thud of the advancing feet the
officers shouted, Surrender !'
The Turco stood stupefied for a
second, then darted forward, flourish-
ing his musket aloft: 'Bono, bono
THE TURCO OF THE COMMUNE 49
Vaguely, with the savage instinct, he
supposed this must be the army of
deliverance, under Faidherbeor Chanzy,
which the Parisians had been expecting
so long. How happy then was he, how
he laughed at them with all his white
In a twinkling the barricade was
surmounted. They surround him,
they hustle him.
Show your musket !'
His musket was still hot.
'Show your hands !'
His hands were still black with the
powder, and the little Turco showed
them proudly, with the same jolly
laugh. Then they pushed him against
a wall, and rran !
He was dead, and never knew why.
THE POPE'S MULE
F all the pretty sayings, pro-
verbs, or adages with which
our Provengal peasants
embroider their conversation, I know
none more picturesque or peculiar
than the following. For forty miles
around my mill when they speak of
a spiteful, vindictive man, they say,
'Don't trust that man! He is like
the Pope's mule who kept her kick for
I tried for a long time to discover
the origin of this proverb, the story of
this papal mule and the kick that
waited for seven years. Nobody here
could tell me anything about it, not
TIIE POPE'S MULE.
THE POPE'S MULE 51
even Francet Mamai, my fifer, who
has all the legends of Provence in his
head. Francet thinks with me that
there is some ancient tale of Avignon
connected with it; but he has never
heard any more of it than the proverb.
'You will never find it unless you go
to the Grasshopper's Library,' said the
old fifer laughing.
It seemed a good notion, and as
the Grasshopper's Library is within a
stone's throw, I went and shut myself
up there for a week.
It is a wonderful library, perfectly
furnished, open to all poets both day
and night, and served by little librarians
with cymbals, who make music all the
time. I spent some delicious days
there, and after a week of study, in a
horizontal position, I ended by finding
what I wanted, that is to say, the story
of the Pope's mule and the kick that
she kept for seven years. The tale is
pretty, though simple, and I am going
to try to tell it to you as I read it
52 STORIES FROM DA UDET
yesterday in a sky-blue manuscript
which smelt of dried lavender and had
threads of gossamer for book-marks.
If you never saw Avignon in the
days of the Popes, you never saw any-
thing worth seeing. For gaiety, for
life, for fun, for feasting, there never
was a city like it. From morn to eve
there were processions, pilgrimages,
streets heaped with flowers, hung with
tapestry, cardinals disembarking from
the Rhone, banners waving, galleys
covered with awnings, the Pope's
soldiers chanting Latin in the open
spaces, the patter of the begging
friars; then all the houses crowded
together and buzzing round the papal
palace like bees round a hive, the
clicking of the bobbins on the lace
cushions, the tapping of the shuttles
going backwards and forwards weaving
the gold cloth of the copes, the small
hammers of the goldsmiths who beat
out the church plate, the tuning at
THE POPE'S MULE 53
the musical instrument makers, the
songs of the embroiderers. Above all
this the chiming of the bells, and ever,
too, the rolling of the drums which
you could hear growling down below
near the bridge. For with us when
the people are happy they dance, they
will dance, and as, in those days, the
city streets were too narrow for danc-
ing the Farandol, the fifes and tabors
were posted on the bridge of Avignon
in the cool wind that blew off the
Rhone, and night and day there they
danced; they kept on dancing. .
Oh, happy times! oh, happy city!
Halberds that hurt no one; dungeons
where the wine casks only were im-
prisoned; no famine, no war. .
This was how the Popes of Avignon
ruled their people; this was why their
people mourned their departure so
There was one Pope in particular, a
good old fellow called Boniface. ..
54 STORIES FROM DAUDET
Oh, what tears were shed in Avignon
when he died He was such a charm-
ing, amiable prince; he smiled so
sweetly on you as he rode by on his
mule and if you passed close to him,
whether you were a poor madder-
gatherer or the richest wine-grower in
the city-he gave you his blessing so
courteously! A real Pope of Yvetot.
A Provencal Yvetot, with something
subtle in his smile, a branch of
marjoram in his cap, and positively no
foibles. This good priest's only weak-
ness was his vineyard, a little vineyard
that he had planted himself, amongst
the myrtles at Chateau Neuf.
Every Sunday after vespers the
worthy man went to look at it, and
when he got up there, seated in the sun
with his mule hitched close by, and
his cardinals all round reclining under
the vine-stalks, then he would order a
flask of the new wine to be opened
-that famous ruby-tinted wine which
was afterwards called the Pope's Chat-
THE POPE'S MULE 55
eau Neuf-and he would sip it little by
little, gazing affectionately at his vines.
Then, when the bottle was empty and
the daylight fading, he returned joy-
ously to the city, followed by his whole
conclave, and as he rode over the
bridge amidst the drums and dancing,
his mule, excited by the music, ambled
with little leaps and bounds, whilst he
beat time to the music with his hand,
which greatly shocked the cardinals,
but only made the people cry, 'What
a good prince 1 What a jolly Pope !'
Next to his vineyard at ChAteau
Neuf what the Pope loved best in the
world was his mule. The good man
was deeply attached to her. Every
night before going to bed he went to
see that her stable was properly shut
and that her rack and manger were
full. He never left the dinner-table
without having a large bowl filled
before his own eyes with French wine
and spices and lots of sugar, which he
56 STORIES FROM DAUDET
took to her with his own hands, in spite
of his cardinals' remarks. It must be
granted that the animal well deserved
it. She was a beautiful black mule,
dappled with red, sure-footed, with a
satin coat, with large hind-quarters, and
a little delicate head, which she carried
proudly, adorned with tassels, ribbons,
silver bells, and bows; with all this as
mild as an angel, with soft eyes, and
two long ears which she kept shaking
in a good-tempered manner. All
Avignon honoured her, and when she
passed through the street there was no
end to the attentions they showed her;
for every one knew that this was the
way to get on at court. The Pope's
mule had made more than one man's
fortune, and to prove it there was
Tistet Vd'ene and his wonderful
This Tistet V6dbne was originally an
impudent scamp, whom his father Guy
Vedene, the goldsmith, was obliged
to turn out of his house, because
THE POPE'S MULE
he would do no work and made the
apprentices idle too. For six months
he loafed about in all the slums of
Avignon, but mostly in the neighbour-
hood of the papal palace; for the
rascal had long had his designs on
the Pope's mule, and you will see what
a cunning idea his was. One day
when His Holiness was riding along
the ramparts all alone with his mule,
up came Tistet to him and exclaimed,
holding up his hands in admira-
'Oh, my goodness Holy Father,
what a fine mule yours is I May I
take the liberty of looking at her. ...
Ah, my Lord Pope, what a beautiful
creature. The Emperor of Germany
has none to equal her.'
And he stroked her, speaking gently
to her as if she was a lady :
'Come then, my jewel, my treasure,
my pearl of price.'
And the good Pope, quite touched,
said to himself:
58 STORIES FROM DAUDET
What a good little lad. How
prettily he speaks to my mule.'
And what do you think happened
next day ? Tistet V6ddne exchanged
his old yellow jacket for a fine lace alb
and a violet silk cassock and buckled
shoes, and he became one of the Pope's
household, where none but the sons of
nobles and the cardinals' nephews had
been received before him. See
the reward of cunning. But Tistet did
not stop at this.
Once established in the Pope's
service, the young rascal continued the
game that he had found so successful.
Insolent to all, he only showed
courtesy and attention to the mule;
and he was perpetually to be seen in
the courts of the palace with a handful
of oats or a small truss of clover, whose
purple heads he gently waved towards
the Holy Father's balcony, as though
he would say, 'Ah, guess who this is
for. ... .And so, and so, at last the
good Pope, who felt himself growing
THE POPE'S MULE 59
infirm, allowed Tistet to take charge
of the stable, and to carry the mule
her bowl of French wine; which put
the cardinals in a pretty rage.
It did not please the mule either.
Now, when the time for her wine came
she always saw five or six little acolytes
come first, who quickly hid themselves
in the straw in their albs and cassocks,
then in a few minutes the warm good
scent of burnt sugar and spices filled
the stable, and Tistet V6dene appeared
carrying the great bowl of French
wine with the utmost care. Then
the martyrdom of the poor animal
This perfumed wine of which she
was so fond, which warmed her heart,
which made her feel as if she had
wings-this wine they had the cruelty
to place in her very manger, to let her
smell it, and then when her nostrils
were close to it-hey, presto! The
sweet drink that seemed made of rose-
60 STORIES FROM DAUDET
coloured flame all disappeared down
the throats of these young imps.
And it was not enough for them to
steal her wine, they were perfect fiends
all these little clerks when they had
been drinking. They pulled her
ears, they pulled her tail, Quiquet got
on her back, B6luguet rammed his
cap over her eyes, and not one of
these little rascals stopped to think
that the good mule could send any of
them to the polar star or even farther
with one plunge or kick. No,
indeed; she was not the Pope's mule
for nothing, the mule of blessings and
indulgences. Whatever the children
did she would not harm them; she
only bore malice against Tistet V6&dne.
When she felt that he was behind her,
her hoofs longed to be at him, and she
was fully justified. This wicked Tistet
played her such horrid tricks He was
so cruel after his wine.
One day he took it into his head to
make her go up with him to the belfry
THE POPE'S MULE 61
tower, the highest point of the palace !
S. .And this is no idle tale that I
tell you. Two hundred thousand Pro-
vengals saw it take place. You may
fancy the poor mule's agony of fright
when, after climbing a winding stair-
case for an hour in the dark, she
suddenly found herself on an open
platform, in blinding sunshine, and saw
a thousand feet below all Avignon like
a puppet-show. The market stalls no
bigger than hazel-nuts, the Pope's
soldiers in front of their barracks look-
ing like red ants, and farther off over
a thread of silver a tiny bridge where
people were dancing. Ah, poor
creature, what a state she was in She
neighed so shrilly that all the palace
What is it ? What are they doing
to her ?' shouted the good Pope, rushing
out on the balcony.
Tistet V6dene was in the courtyard
by this time pretending to cry and
tearing his hair.
62 STORIES FROM DA UDET
'Ah, Most Holy Father, what is
the matter indeed The matter is that
your mule-Good heavens, what will
become of us ?-your mule has climbed
up the belfry. .
'All by herself?'
Yes, Holy Father, all by herself. ..
You can see her, look, look up there.
Do you see her two great ears. They
look like a couple of swallows.'
Mercy on us !' said the poor Pope,
turning up his eyes. 'My mule
has gone mad. She will kill herself.
Come down at once, unhappy creature.'
Pecaire, she asked no better than to
come down, but how was she to do it ?
It was useless to think of the staircase:
you may get up that sort of thing, but
a mule would break her legs a hundred
times over if she tried to walk down-
stairs. The poor mule was in
despair, and as she snuffed about the
platform, with her great eyes rolling
with giddiness, she thought of Tistet
THE POPE'S MULE 63
'Ah, villain, if I escape .how
I will kick you to-morrow morning!'
The thought of this kicking revived
her sinking spirits; if it had not been
for that she would have fainted.
At last they succeeded in getting
her out of the difficulty; but it was a
business. She had to be got down in
a basket by a crane and pulley. What
a disgrace for the Pope's mule to be
hung up so high, flopping her feet
about in the air like a cockchafer at
the end of a string. And this before
the eyes of the whole of Avignon.
The unhappy animal could not get
a wink of sleep that night. She
seemed to be dangling from that de-
testable platform, with the laughter
of the city underneath her; and then
she thought of Tistet Vedbne and the
stupendous kick that she would give
him on the morrow. Now, whilst
this reception was preparing for him in
the stable, what do you suppose that
Tistet Vedene was doing? He was
64 STORIES FROM DAUDET
going down the Rhone in a papal
barge, singing on the way. He was
going to the Neapolitan court with a
band of young nobles whom the city
sent every year to Queen Joan to learn
diplomacy and fine manners. Tistet
was not nobly born; but the Pope was
determined to reward him for the care
he had taken of the mule, and par-
ticularly for the activity he had shown
on the day of her rescue. How
disappointed the mule was on the
'Ah, the wretch! he suspected
something,' she thought, shaking her
bells furiously; 'but never mind, go
where you will, villain, you will find
that kick when you return I'll
keep it for you.'
And she kept her word.
After Tistet's departure, the Pope's
mule pursued the even tenor of her
way and resumed her old habits. No
more Quiquets or B6luguets in her
stable. The good old days of the French
THE POPE'S MULE 65
wine came back, and with them her
good temper, her long slumbers, and
her little dancing steps on the bridge
of Avignon. Still, since her adventure,
some coldness was shown towards her
in the city. There were whispers as
she passed by; old folks shook their
heads, and the children laughed and
pointed their fingers at the belfry.
The good Pope himself did not trust
her as he used to do, and if he was
tempted to indulge in a little doze on
her back, on a Sunday when he was
coming back from his vineyard, he
could not help thinking: 'What if I
were to wake up to find myself at the
top of the belfry?' The mule saw all
this, and her feelings were hurt, though
she said nothing; but if the name of
Tistet Vedene was mentioned in her
presence, her long ears quivered, and
she scraped her iron shoes on the
pavement with a little laugh.
Seven years passed away. Then at
the end of seven years Tistet Vedene
66 STORIES FROM DAUDET
came back from the court of Naples.
His term of absence was not finished,
but he had heard that the Chief
Mustard-bearer to the Pope had just
died suddenly in Avignon, and as he
thought the place would suit him, he
hurried back to put in his claim.
When this artful V6dbne came into the
audience-chamber, the Pope hardly
knew him, he had grown so tall and
stout. It is true the good Pope had
grown older too, and that he saw badly
without his spectacles. Tistet was no
'What, Holy Father, don't you
know me ? It is I, Tistet V6dene!'
Certainly; you remember I used to
carry French wine to your mule.'
'Ah! yes, yes. I remember. .
A good little boy was Tistet Vedbne.
And what do you want now ?'
Oh not much, Holy Father. I
came to ask you by the bye, is
your mule still alive? Ah! so
THE POPE'S MULE 67
much the better. I came to ask you
for the office of the Chief Mustard-
bearer who is just dead.'
'You the Chief Mustard-bearer...
you are much too young. How old
are you ?'
'Twenty years and two months,
Illustrious Pontiff; just five years
younger than your mule. Ah by
the holy Palm-branch, a noble animal.
. If you only knew how I loved her
-how dreadfully I missed her .when I
was in Italy. You will let me see her
again, won't you ?'
'Yes, my child, you shall see her,'
said the good Pope, much moved.
'And since you love her so well, the
dear creature I I will not have you
separated from her. From this day I
appoint you to attend on me in the
office of Chief Mustard-bearer. .
My cardinals will protest, but never
mind, I am used to that. Come to
our presence to-morrow after vespers,
and we will invest you with the in-
68 STORIES FROM DAUDET
signia of your office before the Chapter,
and then I will take you to see her,
and you shall come to the vineyard
with us. .'
Hey, hey that's all settled.'
I need not tell you that Tistet
Vedbne was happy as he left the
great hall, or with what impatience he
awaited the ceremony of the morrow.
But in the palace there was some one
happier and more impatient than he;
and that was the mule. From the
return of Vedene until vespers on the
following day, the infuriated animal
stuffed herself incessantly with hay, and
kept lunging out with her heels at the
wall behind her. She was preparing
herself for the ceremony also.
And next day, after vespers had been
sung, Tistet Vddene made his entry
into the court of the Papal palace.
All the dignified clergy were there, the
cardinals in red robes, the devil's
advocate in black velvet, the abbots
with their low mitres, the beadles from
THE POPE'S MULE 69
St. Agrico, the violet capes of the
members of the household, the inferior
clergy, also the Pope's soldiers in full
uniform, the three confraternities of
penitents, the hermits of Mont Ven-
toux with their savage looks, and the
little acolyte that walks after with the
bell, the flagellants stripped to the
waist, the rosy- sacristans dressed like
judges, all, all even to the holy water-
bearers, and those who light and those
who put out the candles. Not one
was wanting. Ah it was a grand
function. Bells, cannon shots, sun-
shine, music, and the maddening drums
still leading on the dance down below
on the bridge of Avignon.
When VWdene appeared in the midst
of the assembly, his noble bearing and
his handsome looks created a hum of
admiration. He was a splendid Pro-
vengal one of the fair sort, with
profuse locks, curling at the ends, and
a little downy beard that seemed made
of the shavings of gold that fell from
70 STORIES FROM. DAUDET
the graving-tool of his father the gold-
smith. The story ran that Queen Joan
herself had stroked that golden beard,
and the lord of VWd&ne had that air, at
once arrogant and absent, of those
beloved by queens. On this day, to
do honour to his country, he had ex-
changed his Neapolitan garments for
a doublet bordered with rose-colour
in the Provencal fashion, and a great
plume of the Camargue ibis nodded
in his cap.
As soon as he entered, the Grand
Mustard-bearer bent gracefully to the
assembly, and went towards the flight
of steps where the Pope was going to
invest him with the insignia of his rank
-the yellow boxwood spoon and the
saffron robe. The mule was at the
bottom of the steps, ready saddled for
the excursion to the vineyard. As
he passed her Tistet V6dbne smiled
sweetly and stopped to stroke her
gently on the hind-quarters, looking
sideways at the Pope as he did so.
THE POPE'S MULE 71
It was an excellent opportunity ...
The mule measured her distance.
'There, take that, you rascal! I have
waited seven years for this chance.'
And she gave him one tremendous
kick, so tremendous, that the dust of
it was seen as far as Pamperigouste.
A cloud of golden dust with an ibis
plume floating in it,-all that was left
of the unhappy Tistet VWdbne.
A mule's kick is not often so
annihilating! but this was the Pope's
mule; and remember she had waited
seven years. There is no finer speci-
men of clerical spite than this recorded.
HE regiment was drawn up
on a slope of the railway
cutting and served as mark
for all the Prussian army massed
opposite under cover of the woods.
They were firing at eighty yards. The
officers shouted, 'Lie down!' but
nobody obeyed, and the gallant regi-
ment remained standing, grouped be-
neath its flag. Under the setting sun,
on this wide horizon of ripe cornfields
and pasture meadows, the mass of
men, harassed, wrapped in bewildering
smoke, looked like a flock caught in
THE STANDARD-BEARER 73
the open by the first gusts of a tre-
How it rained iron hail on that
slope! Nothing could be heard but
the crackling of the musketry, the dull
thud of the shot rolling in the ditches,
and the balls which shivered slowly
from one end of the battlefield to the
other like the stretched cords of some
harsh resonant instrument. From time
to time the flag which floated overhead,
shaken by the wind of the cannon-shot,
would fall down into the smoke; then
a voice, steady and defiant, rose over
the noise of the firing, over the groans
and oaths of the wounded: 'To the
flag, boys, to the flag!' and instantly
an officer would dart forward, indistinct
as a shadow in the lurid mist, and the
heroic banner, like a live thing, would
float out again above the battle.
Two-and-twenty times it fell! Two-
and-twenty times the shaft, still warm
from the clasp of a dying hand, was
seized and raised aloft; and when at
74 STORIES FROM DA UDET
sunset all that remained of the regiment
-a mere handful of men-slowly beat
retreat, the. flag was but a rag in the
hands of old Hornus, the twenty-third
standard-bearer of that day.
This Sergeant Hornus was an old
fool, who could hardly sign his name,
and had taken three years to win his
stripes as under officer. All the
wretchedness of neglected childhood,
all the degradation of the barrack-
room could be read in the low protrud-
ing forehead, the back bent beneath
the knapsack, the mechanical attitude
of one tramping in the ranks. Besides
this he stammered slightly. But to
be standard-bearer one needs no
eloquence. On the very evening of
the battle his colonel said to him:
'You hold the flag now, my man
good; keep it.' And on his poor
coat, already threadbare with rain and
THE STANDARD-BEARER 75
fire, the cantinibre sewed at once the
gold braid of sub-lieutenant.
It was the only proud moment in
that life of humility. At once the
figure of the old trooper straightened
itself. The poor fellow, accustomed
to walk with bowed back and eyes on
the ground, took on henceforward a
proud bearing, with glance constantly
lifted to see that rag of stuff floating
overhead, and to keep it so, erect, high
up there, above death, treason, and
Never was man so happy as Hornus
on fighting days, when he held his
standard pole with both hands, firmly
fixed in its leather sheath. He
neither spoke nor moved. Solemn as
a priest, one would have thought he
held something sacred. All his life,
all his strength, was in his fingers,
clutched about this glorious golden
rag against which the balls dashed
themselves, and in his defiant glance
that looked the Prussians well in the
76 STORIES FROM DAUDET
face, as much as to say, 'Try and take
it, then!' Nobody did take it, not
even Death. After Borny, after Grave-
lotte, the most bloody of battlefields,
the flag went, split, torn, transparent
with wounds; but it was always old
Hornus who bore it.
Then September came, and the army
beneath Metz, the blockade, and that
long halt in the mire, where the
cannons rusted, and the first troops in
the world, demoralised by inaction,
want of food, want of news, died of
fever and weariness beside their piled
arms. All trust was gone in chiefs and
soldiers alike. Neither officers nor
soldiers hoped any more; only Hornus,
he still felt confident. His tricoloured
rag was all and everything to him, and
while he knew that was safe, it seemed
to him that nothing was lost. Un-
happily, as there was to be no more
fighting, the colonel kept the flags at
THE STANDARD-BEARER 77
his quarters in one of the suburbs of
Metz; honest Hornus was almost like
a mother with her child out at nurse,
he thought of it unceasingly. Then,
when quite discouraged, he would go
off to Metz at a stretch, and only to
have seen it still in the same place,
quiet against the wall, sent him back
full of courage and patience, bringing
with him into his soaking tent dreams
of battle, of forward marches, with the
tricolour widely outspread, floating high
above the Prussian trenches.
An order of the day from Marshal
Bazaine dashed all these illusions to
the ground. One morning, Hornus,
on awaking, saw the camp in commo-
tion, the soldiers in groups, excited,
gesticulating with cries of rage and fists
all shaken towards one side of the
town, as if their anger was directed at
some culprit. There was shouting:
'Let us seize him! Let us shoot
him!' And the officers took no
notice, they walked apart with their
78 STORIES FROM DAUDET
heads down, as though they were dis-
graced before their men. And dis-
grace it was truly. To a hundred and
fifty thousand soldiers, well armed,
still sound, had been read the order of
the Marshal, which gave them up to
the enemy without a blow struck.
'And the flags?' asked Hornus,
with blanched face. The flags were to
be given up with the rest, with the
arms, with what remained of the
'Con-con-confound it!' stam-
mered the poor fellow. 'But they
shall not have mine though.' And he
began to run at full speed towards the
There, too, all was in commotion,
national guards, townsfolk, gardes
mobiles, shouting, gesticulating. De-
putations passed shuddering on their
way to the Marshal As for Hornus,
he saw nothing, heard nothing. He
THE STANDARD-BEARER 79
talked to himself going up the Rue de
Take away my flag indeed! We'll
see. It can't be. Who's got the right
to do it. Let him give the Prussians
his own things, his golden carriages,
and his grand plates and dishes from
Mexico. But this, it is mine it
belongs to my honour. I dare them
to touch it.'
The fragmentary phrases came out
broken by his haste and his stammer-
ing tongue; but at the bottom of all he
had his own idea, the old fellow, a plan
quite clear and ordered, to seize the
flag and take it back into the midst of
his regiment, and then pass right into
the middle of the Prussians with all
who would follow him.
When he reached the quarters they
would not even let him enter. The
colonel, furious as himself, would not
see anybody; but Hornus was not to
be put off thus. He swore, he shouted,
he shook the palings. 'My flag, I
80 STORIES FROM DAUDET
want my flag.' At last a window
'It is you, Hornus !'
'Yes, my colonel, I- '
'All the flags are at the arsenal, you
have only to go there, and they will
give you a receipt.'
'A receipt! What for ?'
'Those are the Marshal's orders.'
'But, colonel- '
'Be-e quiet,' and the window was
Old Hornus reeled like a drunken
man. 'A receipt, a receipt,' he kept
repeating mechanically. At last he
began to walk away, only understand-
ing one thing, that the flag was at the
arsenal, and that he must see it again
at any price.
The gates of the arsenal were wide
open to let out the Prussian waggons
which were arranged in readiness round
the courtyard. Hornus on entering
THE STANDARD-BEARER 81
felt a shudder run through him. All
the other standard-bearers were there,
fifty or sixty officers, downcast, silent;
and then those gloomy carts under the
rain, and those men behind with their
heads uncovered; why, it looked like
In one corner all the flags of the
army of Bazaine lay in a heap, tumbled
together on the miry pavement. No
sadder sight than these rags of bright
silk, these fragments of golden fringes
and carved poles, all this glorious array
thrown on the ground, soiled with rain
and mud. An officer in command
took them up one by one, and at the
name of his regiment each ensign-
bearer came forward to take a receipt.
Stiff and emotionless two Prussian
officers superintended the discharge.
And thus, thus, ye passed, ye holy
and glorious rags, displaying your
wounds, sweeping the pavement sadly
like the broken wings of a bird. Ye
passed, with the shame of fair things
82 STORIES FROM DAUDET
despoiled, and with each one went
some part of France. The sun of the
long marches lay in your faded folds;
in those marks of the balls ye kept
remembrance of the unknown dead
fallen unnoted beneath the fated
Hornus, it is .your turn, they are
calling you, go and get your receipt.'
So there must be a receipt, after all.
The flag was before him. Yes, his
very own, the best, the most tattered
of all, and in seeing it once more, he
fancied himself up there on the railway
slope again. He heard the balls sing,
and the shells break, and the voice of
the colonel, To the flag, boys !' Then
his twenty-two comrades on the ground,
and he, the twenty-third, rushing in his
turn to lift and raise the poor flag,
fallen for want of a bearer. Ah that
day, did he not swear to defend it, to
guard it till death? And now! .
Thinking thus, all the blood in his
heart seemed to rush to his head.
THE STANDARD-BEARER 83
Dizzy, distracted, he rushed upon the
Prussian officer, wrenched away the
beloved flag, and, seizing the staff
with both hands, tried to lift it once
more, high up, firm and straight,
shouting 'To the fla-' but his
voice broke in his throat, he felt the
pole tremble and slip in his hands. In
this thick air, this deadly air, which
lies so heavily on surrendered towns,
no thing of pride could live and
old Hornus fell to the ground senseless.
THE SUB-PREFECT IN THE
the Sub-Prefect is on circuit.
With his coachman in front,
and his footman behind, the
official carriage carries him majestically
to the Agricultural Show at Combe-
aux-Fees. For this important occasion
the Sub-Prefect has put on his fine
laced coat, his opera hat, his tight
knee-breeches, striped with silver, and
his court sword with the mother-of-
pearl handle. On his knees rests a
big portfolio of figured shagreen, at
which he gazes mournfully.
The Sub-Prefect looks mournfully
at this flowered shagreen writing-case.
THE SUB-PREFECT 85
He thinks of the grand speech which
he will have to make in a short time
before the inhabitants of Combe-aux-
Gentlemen and competitors.'
But in vain he twists his silky fair
moustache, and repeats twenty times,
'Gentlemen and competitors. .'
the rest of the speech does not follow.
The rest of the speech will not follow.
It is so hot in the chariot. Far
as the eye can reach, the dusty road to
Combe-aux-Fees stretches out under
the southern sun. The air is like a
furnace, and on the young elms by the
side of the way, all covered with
white dust, thousands of grasshoppers
call to each other from tree to tree.
Suddenly the Sub-Prefect starts. Down
there, at the foot of a small hill, he
catches sight of a little wood of holm-
oaks that seem to beckon to him.
The little wood of holm-oaks seem
to beckon to him.
'Pray come here, Monsieur the
86 STORIES FROM DAUDET
Sub-Prefect; you will be much more
comfortable under my trees whilst you
compose your speech.'
The Sub Prefect is tempted, he
jumps down from his chariot, and
tells his people to wait for him, that
he is going to prepare his speech in
the little wood of holm-oaks.
In the little wood of holm-oaks there
are birds, and violets and springs in
the soft grass. When they see the
Sub-Prefect with his fine knee-breeches
and his flowered shagreen case, the
birds are frightened, and cease singing,
the springs dare not make any noise,
and the violets hide their heads in the
turf. All this little world has
never seen a Sub-Prefect before, and
they ask in whispers who this fine
gentleman who walks about in silver
breeches may be.
In a low voice under the bowering
trees they ask who is this fine gentle-
man in silver breeches. Meanwhile the
Sub-Prefect, enchanted with the silence
THE SUB-PREFECT 87
and coolness of the woodland, lifts the
tails of his coat and seats himself on
the moss at the foot of a young oak,
laying his opera hat on the grass; then
he opens his big writing-case of flowered
shagreen on his knee and takes out a
large sheet of official paper.
'He is an artist,' says the tom-tit.
'No,' says the bullfinch, 'he is
not an artist, because he wears silver
breeches. It is more likely that he is
'He is probably a prince,' says the
'Neither an artist nor a prince,' says
an old nightingale, who sang all one
season in the garden of the sous-pre-
fecture. .. 'I know what it is; it is
And all the little wood whispered,
'It is a Sub-Prefect! It is a Sub-
'How bald he is,' said a crested
The violets asked,
88 STORIES FROM DAUDET
'Will he bite?'
'Will he bite?' said the violets.
The old nightingale answered,
'No, he is quite tame.'
And thus satisfied, the birds began
to sing, the streams to flow, the violets
to perfume the air as if the gentleman
was not there. Unmoved amidst this
pretty clatter, the Sub-Prefect in-
voked in his heart the Muse of Agri-
cultural Meetings, and pencil in hand
began to speak in his official voice.
'Gentlemen and competitors.'
'Gentlemen and competitors,' said
the Sub-Prefect in his official voice.
A peal of laughter interrupted him.
He turned round and saw nobody but
a big woodpecker, who was looking at
him and laughing. It was perched
on his opera hat. The Sub-Prefect
shrugged his shoulders and tried to go
on with his speech, but the woodpecker
interrupted him again and called out,
What is the use of it ?'
'What do you say? What is the
THE SUB-PREFECT 89
use of it?' said the Sub-Prefect, turn-
ing quite red; and driving away this
impudent creature with his hand, he
went on louder than ever.
'Gentlemen and competitors.'
'Gentlemen and competitors,' re-
peated the Sub-Prefect at the top of
But then the little violets stood on
tip-toe, craning up to him at the full
length of their stalks, and said gently,
'Monsieur the Sub-Prefect, do you
know how sweet we smell?'
And the springs babbled enchanting
music under the moss, and in branches
overhead a crowd of tom-tits came to
sing him their sweetest songs, and all
the little wood was in the plot to prevent
him preparing his speech. The Sub-
Prefect, bewildered with perfume, drunk
with music, vainly attempted to resist
the new spell thrown over him. He
leaned his elbow on the turf, un-
buttoned his fine coat, and stammered
once or twice,
go STORIES FROM DAUDET
'Gentlemen and competitors -
Gentlemen and competi Gentle-
men and comp- Then he let
the devil take the competitors, and the
Muse of Agricultural Meetings had no
resource but to veil her face.
Hide your face, 0 Agricultural Muse.
When at the end of an hour the people
of the Sub-Prefect, uneasy about their
master, entered the little wood, they
saw a sight that made them start back
in horror. The Sub-Prefect was lying
flat on the grass with his shirt open
like a gipsy. He had taken off his
coat, and, munching violets all the time,
the Sub-Prefect was making verses.