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THE ADVENTURES OF MONSIEUR BONNARD. By ANATOLE FRANCE. Edited by CHARLES Gibbon, author of “The Golden Shaft,” “Robin Gray,” etc.



when a white and prickly beard would bristle on

îth May, 1851. my chin. I played at soldiers, and, in order to I HAVE passed the winter as wise men like to do, feed my rocking-horse, I laid waste the flowers in angello cum libello, and the swallows here on which my mother used to cultivate on the window the Quai Malaquais find me on their return very ledge. These were manly games, I should think. much the same as when they left me. He who And yet I longed for a doll ! Even a Hercules lives little, changes little, and it can scarcely be has his weaknesses. At least the object of my called living to wear out one's days over old texts. love was beautiful ? No. I see her still: she

Nevertheless, I feel myself more imbued than had a vermilion spot on each cheek, short soft ever, to-day, with that vague sadness which life arms, horrible wooden hands, and long legs far distils. My mental balance (I hardly like to own apart. Fler flowered skirt was fastened to the it to myself) has been upset since the memorable waist with two pins; I can still see the black heads hour in which the existence of clerk Alexander's of those two pins.

It was

a low, provincial manuscript was revealed to me.

style of doll.

I remember well that, young It is strange that, for the sake of a few leaves as I was, and not yet in breeches, I felt in of old parchment, I should have lost my peace of my own fashion, and felt very deeply, that this mind, but nothing can be more true. The poor

doll lacked grace and dignity of bearing; that she man, without desires, possesses the greatest of was vulgar, that she was coarse ; but I loved her treasures; he is master of himself. The rich man in spite of that, I loved her because of that, I who covets anything is only a miserable slave. I loved her alone; I would have her. My soldiers am that slave. The sweetest pleasures—the con and drums lost their interest for me. I no longer versation of a man of subtle and impartial mind, stuffed sprays of heliotrope and veronica into the or dining with a friend—do not make me forget mouth of my rocking-horse ; that doll was everythe manuscript, the longing for which has haunted thing to me. With the cunning of a savage I me ever since I became aware of its existence. devised schemes for obliging my nurse, Virginie, It haunts me by day, it haunts me by night; it to take me past the little shop in the Rue de Seine. haunts me in joy and in sadness; it haunts me I used to flatten my nose against the window, and working and resting

my nurse had to pull me away by the arm. I recall to mind the desires of my childhood. “ Master Sylvestre, it is late, and your mamma How well I understand now the all-powerful will scold.” Master Sylvestre cared little then longings of my earliest years!

for scoldings and whippings.

But his nurse At this moment I see quite distinctly a doll carried him off like a feather, and Master Sylvestro which was displayed in a wretched shop in the yielded to force. Since then, with years, he has Rue de Seine when I was eight years old. How been spoilt, and yields to fear. He was afraid of this doll happened to take my fancy, I do not

nothing then. know. I was very proud of being a boy; I I was unhappy. Shame, unconscious yet irredespised little girls, and it was with impatience sistible, prevented me from telling my mother that I awaited the time (which, alas! has come) about the object of my love; hence my sufferings.

For some days the doll was constantly present numerous cases in which he had been the victim to my mind, danced before my eyes, gazed at of injustice. He complained, especially, of the me, opened its arms to me, assumed in my imagi- Bourbons, and as he neglected to tell me who nation a kind of life, which made it mysterious the Bourbons were, I imagined, I do not know and terrible to me, and all the more dear and why, that the Bourbons were horse-dealers settled desirable.

at Waterloo. The captain, who only stopped to At last one day, a day which I shall never fill our glasses, denounced, besides, a host of forget, my nurse took me to the house of my scurvy fellows, rogues, and good-for-nothings, uncle, Captain Victor, who had invited me to whom I did not know at all, and whom I hated lunch. I had a great admiration for my uncle, with my whole heart. At dessert I thought I the captain, as much because he had fired the last heard the captain say that my father was a man shot on the French side at Waterloo, as because whom people led by the nose; but I am not quite with his own hands at my mother's table he sure that I heard aright. There were buzzing rubbed the garlic over the pieces of bread which noises in my ears, and it seemed to me that the he afterwards

little table was put in the endive

dancing. salad. I thought

My uncle put that very grand.

on his military My uncle Victor

frock-coat, took also produced a

his hat, and we great impression

descended into upon me by his

the street, which braided frock

appeared to me coats, and, above

wonderfully all, by a certain

changed. It way he had of

seemed to me turning the house

that it was a long upside down

time since I had directly he

arrived at my entered it. Even

uncle's house. now, I do not

However, when know very well

we were in the how he managed

Rue de Seine, it, but I declare

the thought of that when my

my doll came into Uncle Victor was

my head again, in a company of

and caused me twenty people,

extraordinary one saw and

excitement. My heard only him.

head was on fire. My excellent

I resolved to father did not, I

attempt a great believe, share my

stroke. We admiration for

passed the shop; Uncle Victor,

she was there in who poisoned

the window, with him with his pipe,

her red cheeks, gave him great

her flowered slaps on the back

petticoat, and her by way of friendship, and accused him of lacking great legs. “Uncle," said I, with an effort, energy. My mother, while treating the captain " will you buy me that doll?” with sisterly indulgence, advised him sometimes to show less fondness for the brandy-bottle.

“ Buy a doll for a boy!” exclaimed my But I had no sympathy with these dislikes uncle, in a voice like thunder. “Do you wish and reproaches, and was an enthusiastic ad- to disgrace yourself? And it is that fright there, mirer of my uncle. It was therefore with a too, which has taken your fancy. I congratulate feeling of pride that I entered the little dwelling you, my friend. If you keep to such tastes, you which he occupied in Rue Guénégaud. The will not have much pleasure in life, and your lunch was laid out on a little table at the corner comrades will call you a confounded ninny. If of the fire, and consisted entirely of pork and you asked me for a sword, a musket, I should sweetmeats.

pay for them, my boy, with the last silver crown The captain gorged me with cakes and wine, of my pension. But, pay for a doll for you-a unmixed with water. He spoke to me about the thousand thunders! disgrace you—never! If I were to see you playing with a pack-thread crea But that, captain, was not the inscription inture like that, sir nephew, I should disown you!” tended by you for your old bones, which had.


As I listened to these words my heart was carried you over so many battlefields and into so so sore that pride, diabolical pride, alone kept me many haunts of pleasure. Amongst your papers from crying.

was found this proud and bitter epitaph which, My uncle, calming down suddenly, returned notwithstanding your last wish, they dared not: to his opinions of the Bourbons; but as for me, put upon your tombstone: overwhelmed by his indignation, I felt an un

Here lies speakable shame. My mind was soon made up. I determined not to disgrace myself; firmly and

A BRIGAND OF THE LOIRE. for ever I renounced the doll with red cheeks.

Thérèse, we will take a wreath of everlastings On that day I experienced the austere luxury to-morrow, and put them on the grave of the of sacrifice.

Brigand of the Loire. Captain, it is true that in your lifetime you But Thérèse is not here. And how should she swore like a

be near me in pagan, smoked

the circus of the like a Swiss, and

Champs Elysées? drank like a bell

Down there, at ringer, neverthe

the end of the less all honour

avenue, the Arc to your memory,

de Triomphe, not only because

bearing on its you were a brave

arches the names soldier, but also

of my Uncle Vicbecause you re

tor's comradesvealed to your

in-arms, opens its nephew in petti

giant gateway to coats the firstidea

the sky. The of heroism!

trees of the Pride and indo,

avenue unfold in lence had made

the spring sunyou almost un

shine their first bearable, Uncle

leaves, still pale Victor; but a

and chilly. The great heart beat

carriages roll under your

past me to the braided frock

Bois de Boucoat. I remem

logne. Without ber you used to

being aware of wear a rose in

it, I have exyour button

tended my walk hole. That

to this worldly flower, which I

avenue, and have now believe you

stopped stupidly allowed the

in front of a stall shop-girls to

in the open air, pluck, that great

on which are full-blown

displayed cakes flower, which

of ginger-bread scattered its leaves in all directions, was the and decanters full of cocoa, with lemons for emblem of your glorious youth. You despised corks. A poor little fellow, with his chapped neither absinthe nor tobacco, but you despised life. skin showing through his covering of rags, is Good sense and delicacy were not to be learned gazing eagerly at these sumptuous luxuries from you, captain, but, at an age when my nurse which are not for him. He shows his longing had still to blow my nose for me, you gave me a with the openness of innocence. His round lesson in honour and self-denial which I shall eyes are steadily contemplating a ginger-bread never forget.

man of tall stature. He is a general, and has You have long been at rest in the cemetery some resemblance to my Uncle Victor. I take of Mont-Parnasse, under a humble slab, which him, pay for him, and hold him out to the bears this epitaph :

poor little boy, who dares not put out his hand to Here lies

take him, for, by precocious experience, he has ARISTIDE-VICTOR MALDENT,

learnt not to believe in good luck; he looks at Captain of Infantry, Knight of the Legion of Honour. me with that expression which is seen in big


dogs, and which means "It is cruel of you to make fun of me."

“Come, you little fool,” said I to him in my usual peevish tone, “take, take and eat, since, more fortunate than I was at your age, you can satisfy your tastes without disgracing yourself. And you, Uncle Victor, you of whose manly face this ginger-bread general reminded me, come, glorious shade, and make me forget my new doll. We are always children, and we are always running after new playthings.”

“It is he; it is Alexander :” I exclaimed, and from the summit of the vaulted roof, that name resounded in my ears with a crash, as if broken.

The grave and stolid face of the verger, whom I saw advancing towards me, made me ashamed of my enthusiasm, and I escaped.

Nevertheless it was, indeed, my Alexander ; there was no doubt about it; the translator of the “Golden Legendary," the author of the “Lives of Saints Germain, Vincent, Ferréol, Ferrution, and Droctovée,” was, as I had thought, a monk of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. And what a good monk, moreover; how pious and generous! He caused a silver chin, a silver head, and a silver foot to be made, so that the precious remains might be enveloped in an incorruptible covering! But shall I ever be able to become acquainted with his work, or must this new discovery only increase my regret?

The Same Day. It is most strange how the Coccoz family is associated in my mind with clerk Alexander.

“ Thérèse," said I, throwing myself into my arm-chair, “ tell me if young Coccoz is well, and has got his first teeth, and give me my slippers.”

"He must have got them, sir," answered Thérèse, “but I have not seen them. On the first fine spring day, the mother disappeared with the child, leaving behind furniture and clothes. Thirtyeight empty pomade pots were found in her garret. The porter's niece says that she met her on the boulevards in a carriage. I told you she would come to a bad end."

“Thérèse,” answered I, “ this young woman has neither come to a bad end nor a good one Wait till the close of her life before you judge her. And take care not to gossip too much with the porter's wife. Madame Coccoz, whom I only caught sight of once on the staircase, seemed to me to love her child well. That love ought to be reckoned in her favour."

“ For that matter, sir, the little one wanted for nothing. You could not have found a single child in the whole neighbourhood better fed, curled, and dressed up, than he was. She puts a clean bib on him every blessed day, and sings songs to him that make him laugh from morning till night.”

“ Thérèse, a poet has said : The child whose mother has not smiled upon him is neither worthy of the table of kings nor of the smiles of queens."

20th August, 1859. “I, that please some, try all—both joy and terror of good and bad—that make and unfold error—now take ufon me to use my wings. Impute it not a crime to me, or my swift passage, that I slide o'er the years."

Who speaks thus ? An old man, whom I know too well ; his name is Time.

Shakespeare, having ended the third act of "A Winter's Tale," pauses in order to allow the little Perdita time to grow in wisdom and beauty, and when he raises the curtain again, he evokes the ancient scythe-bearer to account for the long days which have weighed upon the head of jealous Leontes.

I have left in this journal, like Shakespeare in his comedy, a long interval in oblivion, and, following the poet's example, I make Time intervene to explain the lapse of seven years. Seven years have indeed passed away without my having written a line in this book, and resuming my pen now I have not, alas! to describe a Perdita “ grown in grace." Youth and beauty are the faithful companions of the poets; but these charming phantoms bestow but a passing visit on us ordinary people. We cannot make them settle with us. If the shade of some Perdita were to be seized with the unbecoming fancy to traverse my brains, she would bruise herself horribly against piles of shrivelled parchment. Happy poets! their white hairs do not terrify the shades of Helens, Francescas, Juliets, Julias, and Dorotheas. And the nose alone of Sylvestre Bonnard would put to flight the whole swarm of enamoured ladies of story.

Nevertheless I, too, have felt the influence of beauty ; I, too, have experienced the mysterious charm which incomprehensible nature has imparted to animate forms; a piece of living clay has produced in me the thrill which makes lovers and poets. But I have been unable to love or to sing. In my heart, buried under a jumbled heap of old texts and formulæ, I find, as it were, a

Sth July, 1852. Having learnt that the pavement of the Virgin's chapel at Germain-des-Prés was being repaired, I went to the church in the hope of finding that some inscriptions had been laid bare by the workmen. I was not disappointed. The architect kindly showed me a stone which he had placed sideways against the wall. I knelt down to see the inscription engraved upon the stone, and in a low voice I read, in the dim light of the old apse, these words, which made my heart beat :

Here lies Alexander, monk of this church, who had the chins of Saint Vincent and Saint Amant and the foot of the Innocents done in silver; in his lifetime he was brave and valiant. Pray for his soul.

With my handkerchief I gently wiped off the dust which soiled this memorial slab; I would willingly have kissed it.

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