Citation
Stories from Daudet

Material Information

Title:
Stories from Daudet
Series Title:
Children's library
Cover title:
Pope's mule and other stories
Creator:
Daudet, Alphonse, 1840-1897
Beavington-Atkinson, A. D ( Translator )
Havers, D ( Translator )
Martyn, Ethyl K ( Illustrator )
Cassell Publishing Co ( Publisher )
R. & R. Clark (Firm) ( Printer )
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Cassell Publishing Company
Manufacturer:
R. & R. Clark
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vi, 141, [1] p., [2] leaves of plates : ill. ; 18 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
War -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Death -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Children's stories ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- France ( lcsh )
Children's stories -- 1893 ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1893
Genre:
Children's stories
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- New York -- New York
Scotland -- Edinburgh
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Title and illustrated series title pages printed in red and black.
Funding:
Children's library (Cassell Publishing Co.)
Statement of Responsibility:
translated by A.D. Beavington-Atkinson and D. Havers ; illustrated by Ethel K. Martyn.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026665219 ( ALEPH )
ALG5475 ( NOTIS )
213481640 ( OCLC )

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LIBRARY

STORIES FROM DAUDET







THE LAST LESSON.



STORIES
FROM DAUDET

TRANSLATED BY

A. D. BEAVINGTON-ATKINSON

D. HAVERS

ILLUSTRATED BY ETHEL K. MARTYN

NEW YORK
CASSELL PUBLISHING COMPANY
104 & 106 FOURTH AVENUE

1893





ReE AGE

Tue 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 Lundi. 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



vi PREFACE

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
fighting.

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

heal.
A. D. B. A.





CONTENTS

THE Last LESSON

M. SEGuIN’s GoaT

THE GAME OF BILLIARDS .
DEATH OF THE DAUPHIN ,

THE TURCO OF THE COMMUNE.
THE Popr’s MULE . ,

THE STANDARD-BEARER

THE SUB-PREFECT IN THE FIELDS
EMOTIONS OF A RED PARTRIDGE
THE STARS

THE FALSE ZOUAVE .

THE MILLER’s SECRET

PAGE

13
24
35
41
50
72
84
oI
105
118

129





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-
B



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
school.’

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 3

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
there.’

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
without you.’

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
attentive.’

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
ruler.

Poor man!

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
from them.

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 7

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
blow.



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: Jrance, 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
German too?’

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 Ir

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
that class.

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
to us:

‘ All is over—you may go.’



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EON



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. JI 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 blackand 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
goat !

Behind M. Seguin’s house was an
enclosure hedged round with hawthorn.
There he put his newlodger. 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



MM, SEGUIN’S GOAT 15

will be happy with me.” M. Seguin
was mistaken, his goat soon grew dis-
contented.

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 P’

‘Tt 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 isit, then? What do you
wantP?

‘I want to go to the mountain, M.
Seguin.’

‘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 7

‘I would butt him with my horns,
M. Seguin.’

‘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.’

‘ Gracious goodness !’said M.Seguin,
‘what can be the matter with all my
goats? The wolf will have this one
too. .. . I will notallowit. 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

Cc



18 STORIES FROM DAUDET

turned his back when the little goat
jumped out.

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 tipsof 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



MM. 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 21

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.
‘Hoo! hoo!’

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



MM, SEGUIN’S GOAT 23

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
thought :

‘Oh, if I can only hold out till
dawn !’

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
soaked fields.

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
from headquarters.

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 thé 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
avenues.

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. ll 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-
yard,

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.

Billiards !

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 Compiégne 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 hé 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-
tion.

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
never come.



30 STORIES FROM DAUDET

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,
captain.’

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
here, then ?’

?



‘But, Marshal

‘Well, presently. Damnation! let
them wait for my orders.’ And the
window is shut down again with a
bang.

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. Justso! 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-
D



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 DAUDET

up and down the marble staircases at
arun. 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
recognises one and speaks to him.

‘Lorrain! Lorrain!’

The old soldier makes a step towards
the bed.

‘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
interrupts him.

‘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



4° STORIES FROM DAUDET

will not fail. to treat mé according to
my rank.’

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
COMMUNE

IE 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 sadir, that
Algerian patois made up of Provengal,
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 eyesmoistened
over some Mussulman réveil/é (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 DAUDET

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 dono
bezif, macacho 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 féted 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
Hotel 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
Santasia.

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 Vendéme, 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 acorner,
his ouss-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 Kadour 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 Hétel 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 “szacacho 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 Elysées. 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
Francese !’



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
teeth.

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
awall, and... *van/

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

seven years.’

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



~







Ee

E’s MUL

THE Pop



THE POPE’S MULE 5I

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, iz a
horizontal position, 1 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 DAUDET

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
keenly.

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! 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 Védéne and his wonderful
adventure.

This Tistet Védéne was originally an
impudent scamp, whom his father Guy
Védene, the goldsmith, was obliged
to turn out of his house, because



THE POPE’S MULE 57

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-
tion:

‘Oh, my goodness! Holy Father,
what a fine mule yours is! 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 Védéne 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 Védéne appeared
carrying the great bowl of French
wine with the utmost care. Then
the martyrdom of the poor animal
began.

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, Béluguet 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 Védéne.
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!
. .. And this is no idle tale that I
tell you. Two hundred thousand Pro-
vencals 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
windows rattled.

‘What is it? What are they doing
to her ?’ shouted the good Pope, rushing
out on the balcony.

Tistet Védéne was in the courtyard
by this time pretending to cry and
tearing his hair.



62 STORIES FROM DAUDET

‘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 heel »

‘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
Védene.



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 Védétne 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 Védéne 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
morrow !

‘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... . Pll
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 Béluguets 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 Védtne 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 Védéne
F



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 Védtne 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
whit abashed.

‘What, Holy Father, don’t you
know me? It is I, Tistet Védéne!’

‘Védene ?’

‘Certainly ; you remember I used to
carry French wine to your mule.’

‘Ah! yes, yes. I.remember. . .
A good little boy was Tistet Védéne.
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.
.. . Ifyou 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 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
Védtne 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 Védéne 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 Védtne 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 Védeéne appeared in the midst
of the assembly, his noble bearing and
his handsome looks created a hum of
admiration. He was a splendid Pro-
vencal— 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



jo 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 Védéne 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 Védtne 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 qi

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 Védéne.

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.





THE STANDARD-BEARER

I

HE regiment was drawn up

on a slope of the railway
Eso 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-
mendous storm.

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 DAUDET

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.

II

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 78

fire, the cantinitre 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
defeat.

Never was man so happy as Hornus
on fighting days, when he held his
standard pole with both hands, firmly
fixed in its leathern 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.

III

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 MHornus,
with blanched face. The flags were to
be given up with the rest, with the
arms, with what remained of the
artillery—all.

‘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
town.,

Iv

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
Faubourg :

‘Take away my flag indeed! We'll
see. Itcan’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
opened.

‘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, colone ?

‘Be—e quiet,’ and the window was
shut again.

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.

?





Vv

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
a funeral !

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
G



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
banner.
‘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 slipin 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,



Py

SP
PI

Nd

a

le
LK

RS



THE SUB-PREFECT IN THE
FIELDS

the Sub-Prefect is on circuit.
With his coachman in front,
gums! §~—and his footman behind, the
official carriage carries him majestically
to the Agricultural Show at Combe-
aux-Fées. 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-
Fées.

‘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-Fées 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
a prince.’

‘He is probably a prince,’ says the
bullfinch.

‘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
a Sub-Prefect.’

And all the little wood whispered,

‘It is a Sub-Prefect! It is a Sub-
Prefect !’

‘How bald he is,’ said a crested
lark.

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
his voice.

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, O 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.





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LIBRARY

STORIES FROM DAUDET




THE LAST LESSON.
STORIES
FROM DAUDET

TRANSLATED BY

A. D. BEAVINGTON-ATKINSON

D. HAVERS

ILLUSTRATED BY ETHEL K. MARTYN

NEW YORK
CASSELL PUBLISHING COMPANY
104 & 106 FOURTH AVENUE

1893


ReE AGE

Tue 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 Lundi. 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
vi PREFACE

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
fighting.

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

heal.
A. D. B. A.


CONTENTS

THE Last LESSON

M. SEGuIN’s GoaT

THE GAME OF BILLIARDS .
DEATH OF THE DAUPHIN ,

THE TURCO OF THE COMMUNE.
THE Popr’s MULE . ,

THE STANDARD-BEARER

THE SUB-PREFECT IN THE FIELDS
EMOTIONS OF A RED PARTRIDGE
THE STARS

THE FALSE ZOUAVE .

THE MILLER’s SECRET

PAGE

13
24
35
41
50
72
84
oI
105
118

129


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-
B
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
school.’

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 3

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
there.’

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
without you.’

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
attentive.’

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
ruler.

Poor man!

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
from them.

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 7

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
blow.
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: Jrance, 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
German too?’

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 Ir

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
that class.

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
to us:

‘ All is over—you may go.’
peru g se ee TT ee























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PA NG 3 Z has 4
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EON



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. JI 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 blackand 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
goat !

Behind M. Seguin’s house was an
enclosure hedged round with hawthorn.
There he put his newlodger. 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
MM, SEGUIN’S GOAT 15

will be happy with me.” M. Seguin
was mistaken, his goat soon grew dis-
contented.

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 P’

‘Tt 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 isit, then? What do you
wantP?

‘I want to go to the mountain, M.
Seguin.’

‘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 7

‘I would butt him with my horns,
M. Seguin.’

‘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.’

‘ Gracious goodness !’said M.Seguin,
‘what can be the matter with all my
goats? The wolf will have this one
too. .. . I will notallowit. 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

Cc
18 STORIES FROM DAUDET

turned his back when the little goat
jumped out.

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 tipsof 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
MM. 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 21

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.
‘Hoo! hoo!’

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
MM, SEGUIN’S GOAT 23

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
thought :

‘Oh, if I can only hold out till
dawn !’

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
soaked fields.

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
from headquarters.

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 thé 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
avenues.

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. ll 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-
yard,

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.

Billiards !

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 Compiégne 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 hé 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-
tion.

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
never come.
30 STORIES FROM DAUDET

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,
captain.’

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
here, then ?’

?



‘But, Marshal

‘Well, presently. Damnation! let
them wait for my orders.’ And the
window is shut down again with a
bang.

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. Justso! 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-
D
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 DAUDET

up and down the marble staircases at
arun. 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
recognises one and speaks to him.

‘Lorrain! Lorrain!’

The old soldier makes a step towards
the bed.

‘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
interrupts him.

‘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
4° STORIES FROM DAUDET

will not fail. to treat mé according to
my rank.’

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
COMMUNE

IE 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 sadir, that
Algerian patois made up of Provengal,
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 eyesmoistened
over some Mussulman réveil/é (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 DAUDET

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 dono
bezif, macacho 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 féted 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
Hotel 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
Santasia.

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 Vendéme, 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 acorner,
his ouss-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 Kadour 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 Hétel 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 “szacacho 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 Elysées. 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
Francese !’
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
teeth.

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
awall, and... *van/

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

seven years.’

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



~




Ee

E’s MUL

THE Pop
THE POPE’S MULE 5I

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, iz a
horizontal position, 1 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 DAUDET

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
keenly.

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! 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 Védéne and his wonderful
adventure.

This Tistet Védéne was originally an
impudent scamp, whom his father Guy
Védene, the goldsmith, was obliged
to turn out of his house, because
THE POPE’S MULE 57

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-
tion:

‘Oh, my goodness! Holy Father,
what a fine mule yours is! 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 Védéne 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 Védéne appeared
carrying the great bowl of French
wine with the utmost care. Then
the martyrdom of the poor animal
began.

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, Béluguet 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 Védéne.
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!
. .. And this is no idle tale that I
tell you. Two hundred thousand Pro-
vencals 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
windows rattled.

‘What is it? What are they doing
to her ?’ shouted the good Pope, rushing
out on the balcony.

Tistet Védéne was in the courtyard
by this time pretending to cry and
tearing his hair.
62 STORIES FROM DAUDET

‘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 heel »

‘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
Védene.
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 Védétne 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 Védéne 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
morrow !

‘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... . Pll
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 Béluguets 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 Védtne 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 Védéne
F
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 Védtne 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
whit abashed.

‘What, Holy Father, don’t you
know me? It is I, Tistet Védéne!’

‘Védene ?’

‘Certainly ; you remember I used to
carry French wine to your mule.’

‘Ah! yes, yes. I.remember. . .
A good little boy was Tistet Védéne.
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.
.. . Ifyou 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 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
Védtne 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 Védéne 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 Védtne 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 Védeéne appeared in the midst
of the assembly, his noble bearing and
his handsome looks created a hum of
admiration. He was a splendid Pro-
vencal— 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
jo 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 Védéne 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 Védtne 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 qi

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 Védéne.

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.


THE STANDARD-BEARER

I

HE regiment was drawn up

on a slope of the railway
Eso 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-
mendous storm.

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 DAUDET

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.

II

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 78

fire, the cantinitre 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
defeat.

Never was man so happy as Hornus
on fighting days, when he held his
standard pole with both hands, firmly
fixed in its leathern 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.

III

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 MHornus,
with blanched face. The flags were to
be given up with the rest, with the
arms, with what remained of the
artillery—all.

‘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
town.,

Iv

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
Faubourg :

‘Take away my flag indeed! We'll
see. Itcan’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
opened.

‘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, colone ?

‘Be—e quiet,’ and the window was
shut again.

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.

?





Vv

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
a funeral !

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
G
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
banner.
‘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 slipin 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,
Py

SP
PI

Nd

a

le
LK

RS



THE SUB-PREFECT IN THE
FIELDS

the Sub-Prefect is on circuit.
With his coachman in front,
gums! §~—and his footman behind, the
official carriage carries him majestically
to the Agricultural Show at Combe-
aux-Fées. 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-
Fées.

‘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-Fées 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
a prince.’

‘He is probably a prince,’ says the
bullfinch.

‘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
a Sub-Prefect.’

And all the little wood whispered,

‘It is a Sub-Prefect! It is a Sub-
Prefect !’

‘How bald he is,’ said a crested
lark.

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
his voice.

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, O 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.




EMOTIONS OF A RED

PARTRIDGE



IARTRIDGES, you know, go
about in bands, and nestle
together in the furrows, to
rise at the least alarm, scattering them-
selves on the wing like a handful of
grain when one is sowing. Our par-
ticular company, which was gay and
numerous, had settled on the verge of
a big wood, with spoil and capital
shelter on both sides. So ever since I
could run and had been full-fledged and
strong I was well pleased with the life.
At the same time there was one thing
which rather disquieted me,-and that
was the famous opening of the shoot-
92 STORIES FROM DAUDET

ing-season, about which our mothers
began to talk together in low voices.
An old bird in our covey used to say
to me about it:

‘Don’t be afraid, Rufus’—they
called me Rufus because of my red
beak and claws—‘don’t be afraid,
Rufus, I will take you with me on the
opening day, and Iam sure no harm
will happen to you.’

He was an old cock bird, very sly
and still lively, although he had already
the marks of the horse-shoe on his
breast and some snowy feathers here
and there. When he was quite young
a shot had been fired into his wing,
and as that made him rather heavy, he
looked twice before he flew, took his
time, and kept out of the way of scrapes. °
He would often take me with him to
the entry of the wood. Just there
stood a curious little house, nestled
under the chestnuts, silent as an empty
barn, and always closed.

‘Take a good look at that house,
EMOTIONS OF A RED PARTRIDGE 93

little one,’ said the old fellow to
me; ‘when you see smoke coming
out of the roof, and the door and
shutters opened, it will be a bad day
for us.’

And I believed him, knowing well
this was not his first experience.

In short, the other day at dawn, I
heard myself called very softly from
the furrows—‘ Rufus, Rufus !’

It was the old cock. His eyes
glittered in the strangest way.

‘Quick, quick,’ said he, ‘and do as
I do.’

I followed him, half asleep, twisting
myself between the clods of earth,
without flying, almost without hopping,
likea mouse. We went along the side
of the wood, and I saw, in passing,
that there was smoke coming out of
the chimney of the little house, the
windows were unshuttered, and in front
of the large door, which stood wide
open, were some sportsmen, fully
equipped, with dogs leaping about
94 STORIES FROM DAUDET

them. As we passed, one of the sports-
men exclaimed :

‘Let us shoot over the plain this
morning ; we will take the wood after
breakfast.’

Then I understood why my old
companion led at first under the
hedge. All the same my heart beat,
especially in thinking of our poor
friends.

Suddenly, at the moment we reached
the covert, the dogs took to galloping
on our side.

‘Lie down, lie down,’ said the old
fellow to me, himself crouching ; at the
same time, two paces from us, a
frightened quail opened its wings and
beak quite wide, and flew off with a
scream of terror. I heard a dreadful
noise, and we were surrounded by an
odd-smelling dust which was quite
white and quite hot, though the sun
had hardly risen. I was so frightened
I could hardly run. Fortunately we
were just entering the wood. My
EMOTIONS OF A RED PARTRIDGE 95

comrade hid himself behind a little
oak-tree, I placed myself close to him,
and we stayed there in concealment,
looking through the leaves.

In the fields a ‘terrible firing was
going on. At every volley I closed
my eyes, quite giddy; then when I
decided to open them again I saw the
great open field, the dogs running
about, ferreting in the grass and among
the sheaves, turning over and over as
if they were crazy. Behind them the
sportsmen were swearing and calling,
their guns shining in the sun. One
moment, in a little cloud of smoke, I
thought I saw—though there were no
trees about—something floating like —
scattered leaves. But the old cock
told me they were feathers; in fact, a
hundred paces in front of us, a splendid
gray partridge fell into the furrow,
twisting back his bloody head.

When the sun was high and burning,
the firing suddenly ceased. The
sportsmen returned towards the little
96 STORIES FROM DAUDET

house, whence one could hear the
crackling of a great fire of pine
branches. They chatted together, gun
on shoulder, discussing their shots,
whilst the dogs came behind, weary,
with their tongues hanging out.

‘They are going to breakfast,’ said
my companion to me, ‘let us do the
same.’

And we entered a field of buckwheat
which is quite close to the wood, a
great field white and black with the
flower and grain, smelling like almonds.
Beautiful pheasants with tawny plum-
age were pecking away there too, but
with their red crests down for fear of
being seen. Ah, they were not so
proud as usual. While eating they
asked us for news and wanted to know
if any of their own number had fallen
yet. In the meanwhile the breakfast
of the sportsmen, at first quiet enough,
had become more and more noisy; we
could hear the clinking of the glasses
and popping of the corks. The old
EMOTIONS OF A RED PARTRIDGE 97

fellow thought it was time for us to
take to our hiding-place again.

At that hour one would have said
the wood was asleep. The little pool
where the roebucks came to drink was
stirred by no lapping tongues. Not
the nose of a rabbit was to be seen .
among the thyme on the warren. Only
a mysterious shiver could be heard, as
if every leaf and every blade of grass
covered some frightened life. These
game coverts have so many hiding-
places, the burrows, the brakes, the
faggots, the brushwood, and then the
ditches—those little woodland ditches
which hold water such a long while
after rain has fallen. I confess that I
should have liked to stop in one of
those little holes, but my companion
preferred to remain in the open and to
have plenty of room to see into the
distance, to feel the air free in front
of him; and fortunately for us it was,
as the sportsmen came into the wood.

Oh that first gun-shot in the forest,
H
98 STORIES FROM DAUDET

that shot which tears the leaves like
April hail and singes the bark, never
shall I forget it! A rabbit scampered
across the path, pulling up the tufts of
grass with his outstretched claws. A
squirrel tumbled off a chestnut-tree,
letting fall the green chestnuts. There
were one or two heavy flights of big
pheasants, and a tumult amidst the
lower branches and the dead leaves,
from the wind of the shot, which
startled, awoke, and terrified everything
that lived in the wood. The field-
mice ran together at the bottom of
their holes. A stag-beetle, crawling
out of a crevice in the tree behind
which we hid, rolled his great stupid
eyes, transfixed with fright. And then
the dragon-flies, the bees, the butterflies,
were all so alarmed, down even to a little
cricket with scarlet wings, who came
and placed himself close to my beak ;
but I was too frightened myself to pro-
fit by his terror.

As for my old friend, he kept quite
EMOTIONS OF A RED PARTRIDGE 99

calm ; very attentive to the barking and
the firing. When they came nearer
he made a sign to me and we moved
a little farther away out of sight of the
dogs, and well hidden by the foliage.
Once I thought, though, it was all over
with us. The glade that we had to
cross was guarded at each end by a
sportsman in ambush. On one side
was a big fellow with black moustaches,
who at every movement set a whole
armoury rattling, hunting-knife, car-
tridge-box, powder-flask, without count-
ing the long gaiters buckled up to his
knees, which made him look bigger
than ever. At the other end a little
old man leant against a tree, quietly
smoking his pipe and winking his eyes
as if he wanted to go to sleep. This
one did not frighten me at all, ‘but as
for that great fellow yonder !
‘You know nothing about it, Rufus,’
said my comrade, laughing; and in
the most fearless way, with his wings
spread wide, he flew almost against


100 STORIES FROM DAUDET

the legs of the sportsman with the
moustaches,

The fact was the poor man was so
hampered with all his hunting equip-
ment, and so taken up with admiring
himself from top to toe, that by the
time he got his gun to his shoulder we
were already out of range. Ah, if
sportsmen only knew, when they fancy
they are quite alone in some corner of
the woods, how many little strained
eyes are watching them from the thicket,
and how many little pointed beaks are
keeping back a laugh at their stupidity!

Still we went on, farther, farther.
Having nothing better to do than to
follow my old companion, my wings
beat with the wind of his, to fall
motionless again when he stopped. I
still recall all the places we passed, the
moor rosy with heather, full of burrows
at the foot of the yellow trees, that
great curtain of chestnuts, which seemed
to me everywhere to conceal some
dying thing, the little green alley where
EMOTIONS OF A RED PARTRIDGE 101

mamma partridge had so often led her
brood in the sunshine, where we used
to jump about pecking at the little red
worms that climbed up our claws, and
where we met conceited little pheasants
who would not play with us.

I see as in a dream my little alley at
a moment when a roe crossed it, poised
on its delicate feet, its great eyes wide
open, in attitude to leap. Then the
pool where we would go, a party of
fifteen to thirty, all in one flight, rising
from the plain at the same moment, to
drink water at the spring and splash
ourselves with the drops that rolled off
our shining feathers. There was in
the middle of that pool a cluster of
very thick alders, and it was in this
island we now took refuge. The dogs
must have sharp noses indeed that
could find us out there. We had been
there but a moment when a roebuck
arrived, dragging himself on three feet,
and leaving a red stain on the moss
behind him. It was so sad to watch
102 STORIES FROM DAUDET

that I hid my head in the leaves, but I
heard the wounded creature drink the
water, gasping, as if burnt with fever.

The day closed in. The firing re-
ceded and became less frequent. Then
all was still. It was over. So we
returned softly to the field to gather
news of our company. In passing
before the little house in the wood I
saw something horrible.

On the edge of a ditch, hares with
red coats and little gray rabbits with
white tails, lay side by side. The little
paws crossed by death seemed to ask
for mercy, the dimmed eyes seemed
to weep; then there were red par-
tridges, gray partridges which had the
horseshoe mark like my comrade, and
the young birds of the year, which had
down under their wings like me. Do
you know anything sadder than a dead
bird? The wings are so full of life!
To see them folded and cold makes
one shiver. A great roebuck, proud
and dignified, looked as though sleep-
EMOTIONS OF A RED PARTRIDGE 103

ing, his little rose-coloured tongue hung
out of his mouth as if to lick some-
thing.

And the sportsmen were there lean-
ing over this butchery, counting and
drawing towards the heap the bleeding
paws and torn wings without any care
for the fresh wounds. The dogs,
leashed for the road, still wrinkled their
chops, pointing, as though making
ready for a fresh plunge into the
copse.

Oh, while the great sun sank down,
and they all trudged off wearily, casting
their long shadows over the hillocks of
earth and the paths wet with evening
dew, how I cursed them, how I hated
them, men and brutes, all the lot of
them! Neither I nor my companion
had the courage to sound as usual a
little note of adieu when the day
closed.

On our way we met unhappy little
animals knocked over by some stray
shot and left there abandoned to the
104 STORIES FROM DAUDET

ants ; field-mice with their nostrils full
of dust, magpies and swallows shot in
mid flight, lying “on their backs and
holding their little stiff claws towards
the night, which fell, as it does in
autumn, rapidly, clear and cold and
moist. But the most piteous thing of
all-was to hear, on the edge of the
wood, from the border of the meadow,
and down in the osier-beds of the
river, the calling, anxious, mournful,
broken, to which came no reply.




THE STARS

A PROVENCAL SHEPHERD’S STORY

N the days when I kept sheep
on the Luberon I was
sometimes alone for weeks

together, not seeing a soul; alone on

the hill with my dog Labie and my
flock. From time to time the hermit
of Mont de l’Ure came by, looking for
herbs, or I saw the black face of some
charcoal-burner from Piedmont; but
these were simple folk, made silent by
their solitary life, who had lost their
love of talking, and knew nothing of
the gossip below in the towns and
villages. So, once a fortnight, when I


106 STORIES FROM DAUDET

heard on the upward road the bells of
our farm-mule, laden with my fourteen
days’ provisions, and when I saw by
degrees above the slope, the lively face
of our little mdarro (farm-boy), or the
red cap of old Aunt Norade appearing,
I was truly very glad. I made them
tell me all the news of the country
below, the weddings, the christenings ;
but what interested me most was to
know what Stephanette was doing, the
daughter of my master, our young lady,
the prettiest girl for thirty miles round.
Without seeming to care too much
about it, I found out if she went to
many fairs and dances, if she had any
new suitors ; and to those who want to
know what these things mattered to
me, a poor shepherd of the hills, I
answer that I was only just twenty, and
Stephanette seemed to me the fairest
thing that I had seen in all my life.
Now, one, Sunday that I was expect-
ing the fortnight’s victuals, they did not
come until very late. In the morning
THE STARS 107

I said, ‘It is on account of high mass,’
then towards noon a great storm came
on, and I thought that the mule had
not been able to set out because of the
bad state of the road. At last, about
three o’clock, the sky was washed clear,
the mountain shining moist in the sun-
light, and I heard, through the dripping
of the raindrops from the leaves and
the overflow of the swollen brooks, the
mule bells as joyous and brisk as a peal
of bells on Easter Day. But it was
not the little #zavro nor old Norade
who was riding. It was, guess who?
Our young lady, my children, our
young lady herself, seated erect among
the willow-baskets, all flushed with the
mountain air and the freshness after
the storm.

The boy was ill. Aunt Norade was
gone for a holiday with her children.
The beautiful Stephanette told me all
this as she got off her mule, and also
that she was late because she had lost
her way; but she was in her Sunday
108 STORIES FROM DAUDET

finery, with a flowered ribbon, bright
petticoat, and laces, and looked more
as if she had stopped to a dance than
been making her way through bush
and briar. Oh, the graceful darling!
My eyes could not be tired of gazing
at her. It is true that I had never
seen her so close before. Sometimes
in the winter, when the flocks had come
down to the valley, and I came into
the farmhouse in the evening to supper,
she would go quickly through the room,
without speaking to the servants, always
well dressed and a little scornful... .
And now I saw her before me and
had her to myself; it was enough to
turn my head.

When she had taken the food out
of the basket, Stephanette began to
look about her with wonder. Picking
up her fine Sunday petticoat a little,
which might have been hurt by the
mud, she went into the hut. Would
see the corner where I slept, the crib full
of straw with a sheepskin for coverlet,
THE STARS 109

my big cloak hanging on the wall, my
crook, my flint-lock gun. All this
amused her.

‘And this is where you live, poor
shepherd. How tired you must be of
living all alone. What do you do,
what do you think about ?’

I had a great mind to answer, ‘Of
you, lady,’ and I should not have spoken
falsely ; but I was so nervous that I
could not say a single word. I think
she knew it, and that she took a
pleasure in maliciously increasing my
confusion.

‘And your sweetheart, shepherd,
does she ever come up here to see
you? Doubtless she is the golden kid
or the fairy Esterel who runs along the
peaks of the mountains.’

And she herself, whilst speaking,
looked to me like the fairy Esterel,
with her pretty head thrown back to
laugh, and her hurry to depart, which
made her short visit like a vision.

‘Good-bye, shepherd.’
IIo STORIES FROM DAUDET

‘ All hail, lady.’

And off she went, taking with her
the empty baskets.

When she vanished down the steep
path, it seemed to me that the pebbles
spurned by the hoofs of her mule fell
one by one on my heart. I heard
them for a long, long while, and until
close of day I stood there, half dazed,
not daring to move lest I should awaken
from my dream. Towards evening,
when the depths of the valleys began to
grow blue and the sheep drew together
bleating, one against the other, wanting
to enter the fold, I heard some one
calling me from below, and I saw our
young lady appear again, not smiling
as before, but trembling with cold and
wet and fright. It seems that at the
foot of the hill she had found the
Sorgue swollen by the rain, and that
she had been nearly drowned trying to
ford the stream. The trouble was that
at this time of the evening it was use-
less to think of returning to the farm,
THE STARS III

for our young lady could never have
found the ford by herself, and I could
not leave the sheep. The thought of
passing the night on the mountain
troubled her greatly, particularly on
account of the anxiety of her people at
home. I consoled her as well as I
could.

‘In July the nights are short, lady.
It will soon be over.’

And I lighted a big fire quickly to
dry her feet and her garments all soaked
by the river. Then I brought her
milk and little cheeses, but the poor
girl had no heart to eat or to warm
herself, and when I saw the great tears
in her eyes I had hard work not to cry
myself.

In the meanwhile the night had
come in earnest. There was just a
glimmer on the edge of the mountain,
a slight mist of light in the west. I
wanted our young lady to rest in the
hut. Having spread clean straw and
a new sheepskin I wished her good-
uz STORIES FROM DAUDET

night and seated myself outside at the
door of the hut. Heaven knows, that
dearly as I loved her, my only thought
was pride to think that there, in a
corner of my hut, close to the curious
sheep who watched her slumbers, my
master’s daughter, like a lamb, whiter
and more precious than the rest of the
flock, slept safe in my charge. Never
had the sky seemed deeper to me or
the stars more bright. Suddenly the
door of the hut opened and the fair
Stephanette appeared. She could not
sleep. The sheep rustled the straw in
moving or bleated in their sleep. She
would rather sit by the fire. Seeing
this, I put my goatskin over her
shoulders, I stirred up the fire, and we
sat there together without speaking.
If you have ever passed a night in the
open air, you know that when we are
all asleep, a mysterious world wakes up
in the solitude and silence. Then the
brooks babble more shrilly and little
flames dance over the pools. The
THE STARS 113

mountain elves come and go freely,
and there are rustlings and impercep-
tible noises in the air as though one
could hear the branches and the grass
growing. Day is the time for living
beings, but night is the time for the
life of inanimate things. When you
are not accustomed to it, this frightens
you. So our young lady was all shiver-
ing, and came closer to me at the least
sound. Once a long, melancholy cry,
which came from the pool glittering
lower down, ‘rose up towards us,
wavering on the air. At that
instant a beautiful falling star glided
over our heads in the same direc-
tion, as if this cry that we had just
heard had called the light down to
it.

‘What was that?’ said Stephanette
to me in a low voice.

‘A soul going into Paradise, lady,’
and I crossed myself.

She made the sign of the cross

too, and remained looking up for a
I
II4 STORIES FROM DAUDET

moment very thoughtfully. Then she
said :

‘It is true, then, that you shepherds
are all given to witchcraft ?’

‘Not at all, lady ; but we live nearer
to the stars, and we know what goes on
there better than the folks of the
plain.’

She still looked up at the sky, her
head supported on her hand, wrapped
in her sheepskin, looking like a little
angelic shepherd.

‘How many there are! Oh, how
beautiful! I never saw so many
before. Do you know their names,
shepherd ?’

‘Certainly, lady. See there, just
above us, is St. James’s Way (the
Milky Way). It goes straight from
France to Spain. St. James of Galicia
drew it to show the way to the valiant
Charlemagne when he made war on
the Saracens. Farther is the Wain of
Souls (the Great Bear), with its four
shining axle-trees. The three stars in
THE STARS IIs

.front are the three oxen, and that
small one close to the foremost is the
waggoner. Do you see that: shower
of falling stars? Those are the souls
that God rejects. A little lower see
the Rake or the Three Kings (Orion). .
That we use as a clock in our country
manner. By only just glancing at it I
know that midnight is now passed. A
little lower, but still towards the south,
shines John of Milan, the torch-bearer
to the stars (Sirius). Listen to what
the shepherds say about him. One
night John of Milan, with the Three
Kings and the Chickens (the Pleiads),
was invited to the wedding of a star
of their acquaintance. Look up there,
deep in the heavens, The Chickens
set off first, being in a hurry, and took
the upper way. See them there high
in the sky. The Three Kings took a
short cut and caught them up; but
that lazy John of Milan, who had over-
slept himself, was left in the lurch, and
getting angry, threw his stick after them
116 STORIES FROM DAUDET

to try and stop them, That is why
the Three Kings are sometimes called
John of Milan’s Stick. .. . But the most
beautiful of all the stars, lady, is our
star, the shepherd’s star, which lights
us at dawn when we.unfold the flocks,
and again in the evening when we
drive them home. We call it Maguel-
onne—fair Maguelonne, who always
pursues Peter of Provence (Saturn)
and finds him once in seven years, and
then they are married.’

‘Oh, shepherd, do the stars marry?’

‘Of course they do, lady.’

And as I tried to explain these star
marriages to her, I felt something cool
and light gently resting on my shoulder.
It was her little sleepy head which
rested against me with a pretty rustling
of ribbons, laces, and wavy hair. She
leaned thus without moving until the
stars paled their fires, blotted out by
the splendour of the dawn. I watched
her slumber, and round us the stars
pursued their silent course like an
THE STARS 117

obedient flock of sheep ; and I thought
that one of those stars, the most beauti-
ful, the most brilliant, having lost its
way, had come to rest itself on my
shoulder.


THE FALSE ZOUAVE

HE big blacksmith, Lory of
Sainte Marie aux Mines,
was not easy that evening.
Usually, as soon as the forge was

cold and the sun set, he would seat

himself on a bench outside his door
to enjoy that delightful lassitude which
follows after hard work on a hot day ;
and before dismissing his men he
would drink with them one or two
draughts of fresh beer, while watching
the hands turn out of the factory.

But this evening, the good man stayed

in the forge up to the moment of

sitting down to table; and even then
came as though unwilling.


THE FALSE ZOUAVE rg

Lory’s old wife thought to herself
as she looked at him:

‘Whatever has happened to him?

. Perhaps he has some bad news
from the regiment, which he doesn’t
want to tell me?... perhaps the
eldest boy is ill... .’

But she dared not ask, and only
busied herself trying to silence the
three little creatures with fair hair like
ripe corn, who laughed around the
cloth, devouring a capital salad of
black radishes and cream.

At last the blacksmith pushed his
plate away in a rage:

‘ Ah, the rascals! The scoundrels !’

‘Who’s angered you then, Lory?’

He broke out:

‘Who’s angered me !’ he said; ‘ why,
five or six rogues who have been rolling
about the town since the morning,
dressed like French soldiers and arm-
in-arm with Bavarians. . . . Some of
these fellows who have .. . what's
their jargon? ... chosen for the
120 STORIES FROM DAUDET

nationality of Prussia... . And to
think that every day we must be
having these false Alsatians back! . . .
Why, what have they been drugged
with?’

The mother tried to defend them.

‘What would you have, my poor
husband ; it isn’t their fault, these lads,

. it is so far off, that Algeria in
Africa they’re sent to! . .. They get
home-sickness over there; and the
temptation to come home and give
up soldiering is too strong for them.’

Lory thumped his fist down on the
table :

‘Be quiet, mother! . . . you women
you know nothing about it. By dint
of living always with the children and
only for them, you all shrink to the
measure of your babies, ... I tell
you, I, that these fellows are rascals,
renegades, mean cowards, and that if
by ill-luck our Christian was capable
of such villainy, as sure as my name’s
George Lory, and I have served seven
THE FALSE ZOUAVE 121

years among the French dragoons,
I would cut him down with my
sabre.’

And furious, half rising from his
seat, the blacksmith pointed to his
long-bladed sabre, hung on the wall
below a portrait of his son, a portrait
of a Zouave taken over there in
Africa; but looking at the honest,
brown, sunburnt Alsatian face bleached
and shadowless under the brilliant
light of the east, he grew suddenly
calm and began to laugh :

‘A fine fellow I am to lose my head.
. .. As ifour Christian would dream
of turning himself into a Prussian, he
who has pulled down many a one
during the war !’

Restored to good humour by this
thought, the worthy man finished his
dinner gaily, and went off immediately
after to toss down a couple of mugs
at the City of Strasbourg.

In the meanwhile the old woman
was alone. After having put to bed
122 STORIES FROM DAUDET

three little yellow heads who could be
heard chirping together in the next
room, like a nestful of drowsy fledge-
lings, she took her work and began to
sew outside on the garden seat. From
time to time she sighed thinking to
herself :

‘Yes, I know. They are cowards,
and renegades. . . . But all the same
their mothers are glad enough to see
them again.’

She recalls the time when her own
boy, before he went off to the army,
just about this end of the day too,
was working there in the garden. She
looks at the well where he filled his
water-pots, dressed in his blouse, with
his long hair, his beautiful long hair
which they cut off when he joined the
Zouaves. ...

Suddenly she trembles. The little
gate at the bottom, which opens on to
the meadows, has opened. The dogs
have not barked; yet the incomer
slouches against the walls like a thief,
THE FALSE ZOUAVE 123

and slips past the beehives. ‘Good
evening, mother !’

Her Christian is before her, all dis-
hevelled in his uniform, shamefaced,
troubled, thick of speech. The poor
fellow had come back to his country
with the others, and had been hanging
round the house, waiting for the de-
parture of his father before he ventured
to enter. She tried to scold him, but
her courage failed her. It was so long
since she had seen or embraced him.
Then he gave such good reasons: he
was weary of the strange country, of
the force, of the life so far away from
them; besides, the discipline had grown
so harsh, and his comrades called him
‘Prussian’ because of his Alsatian
accent. All that he said she believed.
She had only to look at him to
believe him. Still talking they entered
the basement room, The little ones
awakened, came running on their bare
feet to embrace their big brother.
They tried to make him eat, but he
124 STORIES FROM DAUDET

was not hungry. Only he was thirsty
—always thirsty, and he drank off glass
after glass of water on the top of all
the beer and wine he had been paying
for at the public-house since the morn-
ing.

But a step sounds in the courtyard.
It is the blacksmith coming back.

‘Christian, it is your father! Quick,
hide, till I have time to speak to him,
to explain’. . . and she pushed him
behind the great ware stove, then took
her sewing in her trembling hands.
Unluckily the fez of the Zouave was
on the table, and it was the first thing
that Lory saw as he entered. The
pallor of the mother, her embarrass-
ment . . . he understood every-
thing.

‘Christian is here!’ he said in a
terrible voice, and, unhooking his sabre,
with a wild gesture he dashed towards
the stove where the Zouave was hidden,
pale, giddy, propped up against the
wall for fear of falling.
THE FALSE ZOUAVE 125

The mother threw herself between
them.

‘Lory, Lory, don’t kill him... it
is I who wrote and told him to come
back, and that you had need of him
at the forge.’

She clung to his arm, dragging her-
self along, sobbing. In the darkness of
their room the children shrieked to hear
voices so full of anger and tears that
they could not be recognised... .
The blacksmith stopped and looked at
his wife :

‘Ah, it is you who made him come
back, is it? . . .. Very well—good, let
him go to bed. I will see to-morrow
what I have to do.’

Next morning Christian, awakening
from heavy slumber full of nightmare
’ and causeless terrors, finds himself in
his old nursery. Through the little
leaded casements, crossed by honey-
suckle flowers, the sun shines already
high and hot. Below stairsthe hammers
resound on the anvil. . . . His mother
126 STORIES FROM DAUDET

is at his pillow: she has not left it all
night, so fearful is she of the anger of
her husband. The old man has not
slept either. Up to the morning he
has walked about the house, weeping,
sighing, opening and shutting cup-
boards, and now, here he is, entering
his son’s room, solemnly, dressed as
for a journey, with high gaiters, his
big hat, and solid alpenstock tipped
with iron. He went straight to the
bed. ‘Come, up with you, get up.’

The lad in confusion begins’ to
gather his Zouave regimentals to-
gether.

‘No, not those . . .’ says the father
severely.

And the mother, timidly : ‘But, my
dear, he has no others,’

‘Give him mine, then. I have no
more use for them.’

While the boy dresses himself, Lory
carefully folds up the uniform, the
little vest, the big red breeches; then
the bundle made, he slips round his
THE FALSE ZOUAVE 127

own neck the leaden case containing
the travelling pass.

‘Now then, let us go down,’ he
says, and all three go down into the
forge without uttering a word . . . the
bellows blow; every one is at work.
On seeing once more the great open
shed, which he has thought of so often
far away, the Zouave remembers his
childhood, and how he used to play
between the hot roadway and the
sparks of the forge shining on the
black dust. A fit of tenderness seizes
him, and a great desire to ask his
father’s pardon; but on raising his
eyes he meets always the same inexor-
able look.

At last the blacksmith speaks :

‘Boy,’ says he, ‘here are the anvil
and the tools .. . all is yours .
and allthat too, . . .’ headds, pointing
to the little garden which spreads
below, full of sun and bees, framed in
by the smoky doorway... . ‘The
hives, the vineyard, the house, all are
128 STORIES FROM DAUDET

thine . . . since thou hast sacrificed
thy honour for these things, it is the
least thou canst do to take care of them.
. .. Thou’rt master here now ..
as for me, I am leaving. Thou owest
five years to France, I go to pay them
for thee.’

‘Lory, Lory, where are you going?’
cried the old woman. ‘Father! .. .’
implored the lad. . . . But the black-
smith had gone, walking with long
strides, without looking behind. . . .

At Sidi-bel-Abbés, at the depdt of
the Third Zouaves, there has been for
the last few days a volunteer enlisted
who is fifty-five years old.




THE MILLER’S SECRET

ANCET MAMAI, an old
fife-player who comes from
sa time to time to spend the

evening with me and drink mulled wine,
told mea little village drama the other

night which took place in my mill
some twenty years ago. The good
man’s story touched me, and I am

going to try to tell it you, as I heard it.

Fancy for a moment, my dear

readers, that you are seated round a

fragrant jug of wine, and that it is an
old fifer who speaks to you.

Our part of the country, my good
sir, was not always the dead -alive,

unimportant place that it is now. In
K


130 STORIES FROM DAUDET

former days there were many millers
here who drove a roaring trade, and
the people of the farms for thirty miles
round brought their corn here for
grinding. . . . On each side of the
village the hills were covered with
windmills. From right to left you
could see nothing but mill-sails turning
in the mistral wind, above the pine-
trees, and long strings of little donkeys
loaded with sacks, climbing and going
down the road to the hills; and all
through the week it was pleasant to
hear the crack of the whip on the
heights, the rattling of the sails, and
the dia hue/ the cry of the miller’s
men. On Sundays we went up to the
mills in troops. Up there the millers
treated us to Muscat wine. The
millers’ wives were as fine as queens
with their lace kerchiefs and gold
crosses. J brought my fife, and they
danced the Farandol till midnight.
These mills were the joy and wealth of
our village, you see.
THE MILLER’S SECRET 131

Unfortunately some Parisians were
struck with the‘idea of building steam
flour mills on the Tarascon road, all
fine and new. Folks grew accustomed
to send their corn to these exporters,
and the poor windmills were stopped
for lack of work. For some time they
tried to make a good fight, but the
steam-mills were the stronger, and one
by one, worse luck ! they had to stand
idle. There were no more strings of
donkeys coming up the roads. The
millers’ pretty wives sold their golden
crosses. . . . No more Muscat wine,
no more gay dances. . . . The mistral
might blow but the mill-sails were un-
moved. At last, one fine day the parish
had them all pulled down and vines and
olive-trees planted: in their place.

Still, in the midst of this destruction,
one mill held out and went on bravely
turning, on its knoll, in the teeth of
the steam-mills, That was Gaffer
Cornille’s mill, the very one that we are
sitting in this evening.
132 STORIES FROM DAUDET

Gaffer Cornille was an old miller
who had lived in the flour for sixty
years and taken a pride in his trade.
The erection of the steam-mills nearly
drove him mad. For a whole week
he was seen running about the village
stirring up the villagers, and shouting
with all his might that the steam flour
mills would poison Provence.

‘Don’t go down there,’ he screamed.
‘Those thieves down there use steam
to make bread, which is an invention
_of the devil; whilst I work with the
north and north-west winds, which are
the breath of God.’

And he found a crowd of fine
phrases in praise of windmills, but not
a soul regarded him.

Then, with concentrated rage, the
old man shut himself up in his mill
and lived all alone like a wild animal.
He would not even suffer his grand-
daughter Vivette, a child of fifteen,
who, since the death of her parents,
had no one but her grandfather in the
THE MILLER’S SECRET 133

world, to be with him. The poor
child was obliged to earn her own
living, and took service here and
there for the harvest, the olive-picking,
or the silkworm season. And yet
her grandfather seemed to love her
dearly. He would often walk twelve
miles in the burning sun to see her at
the farm where she was working, and
when he was with her he would sit for
hours gazing at her with tears in his
eyes.

In the parish, we thought that the old
miller was actuated by greed in send-
ing Vivette away, and it was no credit
to him to let his grand-daughter tramp
about from one farm to another, exposed
to the insults of the overseers and all
the hardships of a servant’s life. We
disapproved, too, of a respectable man
like Gaffer Cornille, and one who had
taken a pride in himself until these
days, going about the roads now like a
very gipsy, barefoot, with a hole in his
cap and a ragged coat. The truth is,
134 STORIES FROM DAUDET

that on Sunday, when we saw him come
into church, we old people all felt
ashamed of him, and he knew it so
thoroughly that he did not venture to
come and sit in the workmen’s seat
any longer. He always sat at the
bottom of the church, near the holy
water stoup, with the poor people.

There was something mysterious,
too, in Gaffer Cornille’s way of living.
For a long time no one in the village
had taken any corn to him to grind,
and yet his mill-sails were as busy as
ever. ... In the evening we met the
miller on the road driving his donkey
before him laden with big flour sacks.
‘Good evening, Gaffer Cornille,’ the
villagers called to him. ‘Your mill is
prospering then ?’

‘Going on capitally, my friends,’ the
old man would answer gaily. ‘We are
in no want of work, thank God.’ Then
if you asked him where in the name of
wonder all this work came from, he
put his finger to his lip and answered
THE MILLER’S SECRET 135

solemnly, ‘Hush! I work for the ex-
port trade.” You could get no more
out of him,

As for putting one’s foot inside his
mill it was vain to think of it even.
Little Vivette herself was never allowed
to enter.

When you passed by, the door was
always shut, the big sails in motion,
the old donkey grazing on the turf just
outside, and a big gaunt cat sunning
herself on the window-ledge and watch-
ing you with a spiteful look.

There was mystery in all this, and it
caused a deal of talk. Every one
explained Gaffer Cornille’s secret in his
own way, but the general gossip said
that there were more sacks of money
than flour in that mill.

All was found out at last, however,
and this was the way of it.

Whilst the young people were
dancing to my fife, I noticed one fine
day that my eldest boy and little
Vivette had fallen in love with each
136 STORIES FROM DAUDET

other. I was not otherwise than
pleased, for, after all, the name of
Cornille was respected amongst us, and
then it would give me pleasure to see
that pretty little bird Vivette fluttering
about my house. Only I thought it
better to have matters settled, as the
young people saw each other so
frequently, and I went up to the mill
to have a few words with the grand-
father. . . . Ah, the old villain; you
should have seen the way he treated
me! He would not open the door,
I had to tell him my mind as well as
I could through the keyhole; and all
the time I was talking, that beast of a
cat was swearing over my head.

The old man would not let me
finish, but bawled out rudely to me to
go back to my fife, and if I wanted a
wife for my son, I might go and look
for one of the girls at the steam-mills.
You may suppose my blood boiled at
hearing this language, but I had the
sense to hold my tongue, and leaving
THE MILLER’S SECRET 137

the old fool with his grindstone, I
went back to tell the children of
my disappointment. . . . These poor
lambs could not believe it; they en-
treated me as a favour to let them both
go together to the mill to speak to the
grandfather. . . . I had not the heart
to refuse, and off they went.

Just as they got up there Gaffer
Cornille had gone out. He had
double-locked the door; but the old
fellow had left his ladder outside, and
the children had a sudden thought
that they would get in by the window,
and see what was to be seen in this
wonderful mill. Strange to say, the
grinding place was empty! Not a
single sack, not a grain of corn, no
flour on the walls or on the cobwebs
that festooned them. ... You did
not smell even the warm sweet odour
of crushed wheat which scents most
mills. The mill-shaft was covered
with dust, and the big half-starved cat
was asleep on the top of it.
138 STORIES FROM DAUDET

The lower room had the same look
of poverty and neglect—a wretched
bed, a few rags, a piece of dry bread
on the stairs, and some torn sacks in a ~
corner from which some rubbish and
white sand had trickled.

This was Gaffer Cornille’s secret.
It was this rubbish that he had carried
about in the evening, to save the credit
of his mill and make believe that he
had work to do. . . . Poor mill, poor
Cornille! It was long since the steam-
mills had robbed them of their last
customer. But the sails went on
turning and the mill-stones ground
away at nothing.

The young people came back in
tears to tell me what they had seen.
My heart ached when I heard them.
. . . Without losing a minute I ran to
my neighbours. I told them all ina
few words, and we agreed that we
must instantly take to Cornille’s mill
all the wheat that we had in our
houses. ... No sooner said than
THE MILLER'’S SECRET 139

done. All the village set out, and we
got up there with a procession of
donkeys loaded with corn—real corn
this time. The mill was wide open.
... In front of the door, Gaffer
Cornille, seated on a sack of lime, was
crying with his face hidden in his
hands. He had just found out when
he came back that during his absence
some one had got in and discovered
his miserable secret. ‘Woe is me!’
he said. ‘Now there is nought for me
to do but die... . The mill is dis-
graced.’

And he sobbed in a heartrending
way, calling his mill by all sorts of pet
names, speaking to it as if it was a
living thing.

Just then the donkeys reached the
summit, and we all began to cry out
loudly as in the good old times of the
millers :

‘Mill ahoy! .. . Gaffer Cornille,
ahoy!’ And there were the sacks piled
up at the door, and the fine red-brown
140 STORIES FROM DAUDET

grain pouring out on the ground on
every side... .

Gaffer Cornille stared with round
eyes. He took some corn in the
hollow of his old hand, and he said,
laughing and weeping at the same
time:

‘Why, it iscorn! GreatGod!...
good corn. Let me alone, let me look
at it.’

Then turning to us, ‘Ah, I was sure
you would come back to me, All the
exporters are thieves.’

We wanted to chair him through
the village.

‘No, no, my children. First I must

go and feed my mill. . . . Just think
she has gone hungry for a mouthful so
long,’

And we all had tears in our eyes
as we saw the poor old man flinging
himself from right to left, emptying the
sacks, filling the hopper; whilst the corn
was being ground and the fine wheat-
flour dust was rising towards the rafters.
THE MILLER’S SECRET I41

Let me do justice to our people.
From this day forth we never let the
old miller want for work. At last one
morning Gaffer Cornille died, and the
sails of our last mill ceased turning
for good and all, this time. When
Cornille was dead, no one took his
business. What would you have, sir?
. . . Everything comes to an end in
this world, and it is to be supposed
that the time for windmills is over,
as the time is over for state-barges on
the Rhone, parliaments, and brocaded
coats.

THE END
Printed by R. & R. CLark, Edinburgh.
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