Part 4 out of 4
dear compatriots, his dear Parisians, redouble their boasting after each
defeat and take their levity for heroism. If he admired the resignation
of the poor women standing in line before the door of a butcher's shop,
he was every day more sadly tormented by the bragging of his comrades,
who thought themselves heroes when playing a game of corks. The official
placards, the trash in the journals, inspired him with immense disgust,
for they had never lied so boldly or flattered the people with so much
low meanness. It was with a despairing heart and the certitude of final
disaster that Amedee, needing a little sleep after the fatigue, wandered
through Paris's obscure streets, barely lighted here and there by
petroleum lamps, under the dark, opaque winter sky, where the echoes of
the distant cannonading unceasingly growled like the barking of monstrous
What solitude! The poet had not one friend, not one comrade to whom he
could confide his patriotic sorrows. Paul Sillery was serving in the
army of the Loire. Arthur Papillon, who had shown such boisterous
enthusiasm on the fourth of September, had been nominated prefet in a
Pyrenean department, and having looked over his previous studies, the
former laureate of the university examinations spent much of his time
therein, far from the firing, in making great speeches and haranguing
from the top of the balconies, in which speeches the three hundred heroes
of antiquity in a certain mountain-pass were a great deal too often
mentioned. Amedee sometimes went to see Jocquelet in the theatres, where
they gave benefit performances for the field hospitals or to contribute
to the molding of a new cannon. The actor, wearing a short uniform and
booted to the thighs, would recite with enormous success poems of the
times in which enthusiasm and fine sentiments took the place of art and
common sense. What can one say to a triumphant actor who takes himself
for a second Tyrtee, and who after a second recall is convinced that he
is going to save the country, and that Bismarck and old William had
better look after their laurels.
As to Maurice Roger, at the beginning of the campaign he sent his mother,
wife, and child into the country, and, wearing the double golden stripe
of a lieutenant upon his militia jacket, he was now at the outposts near
his father's old friend, Colonel Lantz.
Owing to a scarcity of officers, they had fished up the old Colonel from
the depths of his engineer's office, and had torn him away from his
squares and compasses. Poor old fellow! His souvenirs of activity went
as far back as the Crimea and Sebastopol. Since that time he had not
even seen a pickaxe glisten in the sun, and, behold, they asked this
worthy man to return to the trench, and to powder his despatches with
earth ploughed up by bombs, like Junot at Toulon in the fearless battery.
Well, he did not say "No," and after kissing his three portionless
daughters on the forehead, he took his old uniform, half-eaten up by
moths, from a drawer, shook the grains of pepper and camphor from it,
and, with his slow, red-tapist step, went to make his excavators work as
far as possible from the walls and close by the Prussians. I can tell
you, the men of the auxiliary engineers and the gentlemen with the
American-caps had not joked for some time over his African cape or his
superannuated cap, which seemed to date from Pere Bugeaud. One day, when
a German bomb burst among them, and they all fell to the ground excepting
Colonel Lantz, who had not flinched. He tranquilly settled his glasses
upon his nose and wiped off his splashed beard as coolly as he had, not
long since, cleaned his India-ink brushes. Bless me! it gave you a
lesson, gentlemen snobs, to sustain the honor of the special army, and
taught you to respect the black velvet plastron and double red bands on
the trousers. In spite of his appearance of absence of mind and
deafness, the Colonel had just before heard murmured around him the words
"old Lantz," and "old dolphin." Very well, gentlemen officers, you know
now that the old army was composed of good material!
Maurice Roger was ordered from his battalion to Colonel Lantz, and did
his duty like a true soldier's son, following his chief into the most
perilous positions, and he no longer lowered his head or bent his
shoulders at the whistling of a bomb. It was genuine military blood that
flowed in his veins, and he did not fear death; but life in the open air,
absence from his wife, the state of excitement produced by the war, and
this eagerness for pleasure common to all those who risk their lives, had
suddenly awakened his licentious temperament. When his service allowed
him to do so, he would go into Paris and spend twenty-four hours there,
profiting by it to have a champagne dinner at Brebant's or Voisin's, in
company with some beautiful girl, and to eat the luxurious dishes of that
time, such as beans, Gruyere cheese, and the great rarity which had been
secretly raised for three months on the fifth floor, a leg of mutton.
One evening Amedee Violette was belated upon the boulevards, and saw
coming out of a restaurant Maurice in full uniform, with one of the
pretty comedienes from the Varietes leaning upon his arm. This meeting
gave Amedee one heart-ache the more. It was for such a husband as this,
then, that Maria, buried in some country place, was probably at this very
time overwhelmed with fears about his safety. It was for this
incorrigible rake that she had disdained her friend from childhood,
and scorned the most delicate, faithful, and tender of lovers.
Finally, to kill time and to flee from solitude, Amedee went to the Cafe
de Seville, but he only found a small group of his former acquaintances
there. No more literary men, or almost none. The "long-haired" ones had
to-day the "regulation cut," and wore divers head-gears, for the most of
the scattered poets carried cartridge-boxes and guns; but some of the
political "beards" had not renounced their old customs; the war and the
fall of the Empire had been a triumph for them, and the fourth of
September had opened every career for them. Twenty of these "beards" had
been provided with prefectures; at least all, or nearly all, of them
occupied public positions. There was one in the Government of National
Defence, and three or four others, chosen from among the most rabid ones,
were members of the Committee on Barricades; for, improbable as the thing
may seem today, this commission existed and performed its duties, a
commission according to all rules, with an organized office, a large
china inkstand, stamped paper, verbal reports read and voted upon at the
beginning of each meeting; and, around a table covered with green cloth,
these professional instigators of the Cafe de Seville, these teachers of
insurrection, generously gave the country the benefit of the practical
experience that they had acquired in practising with the game of
The "beards" remaining in Paris were busied with employments more or less
considerable in the government, but did not do very much, the offices in
which they worked for France's salvation usually closed at four o'clock,
and they went as usual to take their appetizers at the Cafe de Seville.
It was there that Amedee met them again, and mixed anew in their
conversations, which now dwelt exclusively upon patriotic and military
subjects. These "beards" who would none of them have been able to
command "by the right flank" a platoon of artillery, had all at once been
endowed by some magical power with the genius of strategy. Every
evening, from five to seven, they fought a decisive battle upon each
marble table, sustained by the artillery of the iced decanter which
represented Mount Valerien, a glass of bitters, that is to say, Vinoy's
brigade, feigned to attack a saucer representing the Montretout
batteries; while the regular army and National Guard, symbolized by a
glass of vermouth and absinthe, were coming in solid masses from the
south, and marching straight into the heart of the enemy, the match-box.
There were scheming men among these "beards," and particularly terrible
inventors, who all had an infallible way of destroying at a blow the
Prussian army, and who accused General Trochu of treason, and of refusing
their offers, giving as a reason the old prejudices of military laws
among nations. One of these visionary people had formerly been physician
to a somnambulist, and took from his pocket--with his tobacco and
cigarette papers--a series of bottles labelled: cholera, yellow fever,
typhus fever, smallpox, etc., and proposed as a very simple thing to go
and spread these epidemics in all the German camps, by the aid of a
navigable balloon, which he had just invented the night before upon going
to bed. Amedee soon became tired of these braggarts and lunatics, and no
longer went to the Cafe de Seville. He lived alone and shut himself up
in his discouragement, and he had never perhaps had it weigh more heavily
upon his shoulders than this morning of the second of December, the last
day of the battle of Champigny, while he was sadly promenading before the
stacked guns of his battalion.
The dark clouds, heavy with snow, were hurrying by, the tormenting rumble
of the cannons, the muddy country, the crumbling buildings, and these
vanquished soldiers shivering under their rags, all threw the poet into
the most gloomy of reveries. Then humanity so many ages, centuries,
perhaps, old, had only reached this point: Hatred, absurd war,
fratricidal murder! Progress? Civilization? Mere words! No rest, no
peaceful repose, either in fraternity or love! The primitive brute
always reappears, the right of the stronger to hold in its clutches the
pale cadaver of justice! What is the use of so many religions,
philosophies, all the noble dreams, all the grand impulses of the thought
toward the ideal and good? This horrible doctrine of the pessimists was
true then! We are, then, like animals, eternally condemned to kill each
other in order to live? If that is so, one might as well renounce life,
and give up the ghost!
Meanwhile the cannonading now redoubled, and with its tragic grumbling
was mingled the dry crackling sound of the musketry; beyond a wooded
hillock, which restricted the view toward the southeast, a very thick
white smoke spread over the horizon, mounting up into the gray sky. The
fight had just been resumed there, and it was getting hot, for soon the
ambulances and army-wagons drawn by artillery men began to pass. They
were full of the wounded, whose plaintive moans were heard as they
passed. They had crowded the least seriously wounded ones into the
omnibus, which went at a foot pace, but the road had been broken up by
the bad weather, and it was pitiful to behold these heads shaken as they
passed over each rut. The sight of the dying extended upon bloody
mattresses was still more lugubrious to see. The frightful procession of
the slaughtered went slowly toward the city to the hospitals, but the
carriages sometimes stopped, only a hundred steps from the position
occupied by the National Guards, before a house where a provisionary
hospital had been established, and left their least transportable ones
there. The morbid but powerful attraction that horrible sights exert
over a man urged Amedee Violette to this spot. This house had been
spared from bombardment and protected from pillage and fire by the Geneva
flag; it was a small cottage which realized the dream of every shopkeeper
after he has made his fortune. Nothing was lacking, not even the earthen
lions at the steps, or the little garden with its glittering weather-
vane, or the rock-work basin for goldfish. On warm days the past summer
passers-by might have seen very often, under the green arbor, bourgeoisie
in their shirt-sleeves and women in light dresses eating melons together.
The poet's imagination fancied at once this picture of a Parisian's
Sunday, when suddenly a young assistant appeared at an open window on the
first floor, wiping his hands upon his blood-stained apron. He leaned
out and called to a hospital attendant, that Amedee had not noticed
before, who was cutting linen upon a table in the garden:
"Well, Vidal, you confounded dawdler," exclaimed he, impatiently, "are
those bandages ready? Good God! are we to have them to-day or
"Make room, if you please!" said at this moment a voice at Amedee's
elbow, who stepped aside for two stretchers borne by four brothers of the
Christian doctrine to pass. The poet gave a start and a cry of terror.
He recognized in the two wounded men Maurice Roger and Colonel Lantz.
Wounded, both of them, yes! and mortally. Only one hour ago.
Affairs had turned out badly for us down there, then, on the borders of
the Marne. They did a foolish thing to rest one day and give the enemy
time to concentrate his forces; when they wished to renew the attack they
dashed against vast numbers and formidable artillery. Two generals
killed! So many brave men sacrificed! Now they beat a retreat once more
and lose the ground. One of the chief generals, with lowered head and
drooping shoulders, more from discouragement than fatigue, stood glass in
hand, observing from a distance our lines, which were breaking.
"If we could fortify ourselves there at least," said he, pointing to an
eminence which overlooked the river, "and establish a redoubt--in one
night with a hundred picks it could be done. I do not believe that the
enemy's fire could reach this position--it is a good one."
"We could go there and see, General," said some one, very quietly.
It was Pere Lantz, the "old dolphin," who was standing there with Maurice
beside him and three or four of the auxiliary engineers; and, upon my
word, in spite of his cap, which seemed to date from the time of Horace
Vernet's "Smala," the poor man, with his glasses upon his nose, long
cloak, and pepper colored beard, had no more prestige than a policeman in
a public square, one of those old fellows who chase children off the
grass, threatening them with their canes.
"When I say that the German artillery will not reach there," murmured the
head general, "I am not sure of it. But you are right, Colonel. We must
see. Send two of your men."
"With your permission, General," said Pere Lantz, "I will go myself."
Maurice bravely added at once:
"Not without me, Colonel!"
"As you please," said the General, who had already pointed his glass upon
another point of the battlefield.
Followed by the only son of his companion in arms in Africa and the
Crimea, this office clerk and dauber in watercolors walked to the front
as tranquilly as he would have gone to the minister's office with his
umbrella under his arm. At the very moment when the two officers reached
the plateau, a projectile from the Prussian batteries fell upon a chest
and blew it up with a frightful uproar. The dead and wounded were heaped
upon the ground. Pere Lantz saw the foot-soldiers fleeing, and the
artillery men harnessing their wagons.
"What!" exclaimed he, rising up to his full height, "do they abandon the
The Colonel's face was transfigured; opening wide his long cloak and
showing his black velvet plastron upon which shone his commander's cross,
he drew his sword, and, putting his cap upon the tip of it, bareheaded,
with his gray hair floating in the wind, with open arms he threw himself
before the runaways.
"Halt!" he commanded, in a thundering tone. "Turn about, wretches, turn
about! You are here at a post of honor. Form again, my men! Gunners,
to your places! Long life to France!"
Just then a new shell burst at the feet of the Colonel and of Maurice,
and they both fell to the ground.
Amedee, staggering with emotion and a heart bursting with grief and fear,
entered the hospital behind the two litters.
"Put them in the dining-room," said one of the brothers. "There is
nobody there. The doctor will come immediately."
The young man with the bloody apron came in at once, and after a look at
the wounded man he gave a despairing shake of the head, and, shrugging
his shoulders, said:
"There is nothing to be done they will not last long."
In fact, the Colonel was dying. They had thrown an old woollen covering
over him through which the hemorrhage showed itself by large stains of
blood which were constantly increasing and penetrating the cloth. The
wounded man seemed to be coming out of his faint; he half opened his
eyes, and his lips moved.
The doctor, who had just come in, came up to the litter upon which the
old officer was lying and leaned over him.
"Did you wish to say anything?" he asked.
The old Colonel, without moving his head, turned his sad gaze upon the
surgeon, oh! so sad, and in. a voice scarcely to be heard he murmured:
"Three daughters--to marry--without a dowry! Three--three--!"
Then he heaved a deep sigh, his blue eyes paled and became glassy.
Colonel Lantz was dead.
Do not despair, old military France! You will always have these simple-
hearted soldiers who are ready to sacrifice themselves for your flag,
ready to serve you for a morsel of bread, and to die for you, bequeathing
their widows and orphans to you! Do not despair, old France of the one
hundred years' war and of '92!
The brothers, who wore upon their black robes the red Geneva cross, were
kneeling around the body and praying in a low tone. The assistant
surgeon noticed Amedee Violette for the first time, standing motionless
in a corner of the room.
"What are you doing here?" he asked him, brusquely.
"I am this poor officer's friend," Amedee replied, pointing to Maurice.
"So be it! stay with him--if he asks for a drink you have the tea there
upon the stove. You, gentlemen," added he, addressing the brothers, who
arose after making the sign of the cross, "you will return to the battle-
field, I suppose?"
They silently bowed their heads, the eldest of them closed the dead man's
eyes. As they were all going out together, the assistant surgeon said to
them, in a petulant tone of voice:
"Try to bring me some not quite so much used up."
Maurice Roger was about to die, too. His shirt was stained with blood,
and a stream ran down from his forehead upon his blond moustache, but he
was still beautiful in his marble-like pallor. Amedee carefully raised
up one of the wounded man's arms and placed it upon the stretcher,
keeping his friend's hand in his own. Maurice moved slightly at the
touch, and ended by opening his eyes.
"Ah, how thirsty I am!" he groaned.
Amedee went to the stove and got the pot of tea, and leaned over to help
the unfortunate man drink it. Maurice looked at him with surprise. He
"You, Amedee!--where am I, then?"
He attempted in vain to rise. His head dropped slightly to the left, and
he saw, not two steps from him, the lifeless body of his old colonel,
with eyes closed and features already calmed by the first moments of
"My Colonel!" said he. "Ah! I understand--I remember-! How they ran
away--miserable cowards! But you, Amedee? Why are you here--?"
His friend could not restrain his tears, and Maurice murmured:
"Done for, am I not?"
"No, no!" exclaimed Amedee, with animation. "They are going to dress
your wounds at once--They will come soon! Courage, my good Maurice!
Suddenly the wounded man had a terrible chill; his teeth chattered, and
he said again:
"I am thirsty!--something to drink, my friend!--give me something to
A few swallows of tea calmed him a little. He closed his eyes as if to
rest, but a moment after he opened them, and, fixing them upon his
friend's face, he said to him in a faint voice:
"You know--Maria, my wife--marry her--I confide them to you--she and my
Then, doubtless tired out by the fatigue of having spoken these words, he
seemed to collapse and sink down into the litter, which was saturated now
with his blood. A moment later he began to pant for breath. Amedee
knelt by his side, and tears fell upon his hands, while between the dying
man's gasps he could hear in the distance, upon the battlefield, the
uninterrupted rumbling of the cannon as it mowed down others.
"WHEN YOUTH, THE DREAM, DEPARTS"
The leaves are falling!
This October afternoon is deliciously serene, there is not a cloud in the
grayish-blue sky, where the sun, which has shed a pure and steady light
since morning, has begun majestically to decline, like a good king who
has grown old after a long and prosperous reign. How soft the air is!
How calm and fresh! This is certainly one of the most beautiful of
autumn days. Below, in the valley, the river sparkles like liquid
silver, and the trees which crown the hill-tops are of a lurid gold and
copper color. The distant panorama of Paris is grand and charming, with
all its noted edifices and the dome of the Invalides shining like gold
outlined upon the horizon. As a loving and coquettish woman, who wishes
to be regretted, gives at the moment of departure her most intoxicating
smile to a friend, so the close of autumn had put on for one of her last
days all her splendid charms.
But the leaves are falling!
Amedee Violette is walking alone in his garden at Meudon. It is his
country home, where he has lived for eight years. A short time after the
close of the war he married Maurice's widow. He is walking upon the
terrace planted with lindens that are now more than half-despoiled of
their leaves, admiring the beautiful picture and thinking.
He is celebrated, he has worked hard and has built up a reputation by
good, sincere books, as a poet. Doubtless, some persons are still
jealous of him, and he is often treated with injustice, but he is
estimated by the dignity of his life, which his love of art fills
entirely, and he occupies a superior position in literature. Although
his resources are modest, they are sufficient to exempt him from
anxieties of a trivial nature. Living far from society, in the close
intimacy of those that he loves, he does not know the miseries of
ambition and vanity. Amedee Violette should be happy.
His old friend, Paul Sillery, who breakfasted with him that morning in
Meudon, is condemned to daily labor and the exhausting life of a
journalist; and when he was seated in the carriage which took him back
to Paris that morning, to forced labor, to the article to be knocked off
for tomorrow, in the midst of the racket and chattering of an editor's
office, beside an interrupted cigar laid upon the edge of a table, he
heaved a deep sigh as he thought of Amedee.
Ah, this Violette was to be envied! With money, home, and a family, he
was not obliged to disseminate his ideas right and left. He had leisure,
and could stop when he was not in the spirit of writing; he could think
before he wrote and do some good work. It was not astonishing, to be
sure, that he produced veritable works of art when he is cheered by the
atmosphere of affection. First, he adores his wife, that is easily seen,
and he looks upon Maurice's little son as his own, the little fellow is
so pretty and attractive with his long, light curls. Certainly, one can
see that Madame Violette has a never-to-be-forgotten grief, but what a
kind and grateful glance she gives her husband! Could anything be more
touching than Louise Gerard, that excellent old maid, the life of the
house, who has the knack of making pleasing order and elegant comfort
reign in the house, while she surrounds her mother, the paralytic
Grandmother Gerard, with every care? Truly, Amedee has arranged his life
well. He loves and is loved: he has procured for mind and body valuable
and certain customs. He is a wise and fortunate man.
While Paul Sillery, buried in the corner of a carriage, allowed himself
to be almost carried away by jealousy of his friend, Amedee, detained by
the charm of this beautiful day which is drawing to a close, walks with
slow, lingering steps under the lindens on the terrace.
The leaves are falling around him!
A very slight breeze is rising, the blue sky is fading a little below; in
the nearest Paris suburb the windows are shining in the oblique rays of
the setting sun. It will soon be night, and upon this carpet of dead
leaves, which crackle under the poet's tread, other leaves will fall.
They fall rarely, slowly, but continually. The frost of the night before
has blighted them all. Dried up and rusty, they barely hang to the
trees, so that the slightest wind that passes over them gathers them one
after another, detaching them from their branches; whirling an instant in
the golden light, they at last rejoin, with a sad little sound, their
withered sisters, who sprinkle the gravel walks. The leaves fall, the
Amedee Violette is filled with melancholy.
He ought to be happy. What can he reproach destiny with? Has he not the
one he always desired for his wife? Is she not the sweetest and best of
companions for him? Yes! but he knows very well that she consented to
marry him in order to obey Maurice's last wish, he knows very well that
Maria's heart is buried in the soldier's grave at Champigny. She has set
apart a sanctuary within herself where burns, as a perpetual light, the
remembrance of the adored dead, of the man to whom she gave herself
without reserve, the father of her son, the hero who tore himself from
her arms to shed his blood for his country.
Amedee may be certain of the gratitude and devotion of his wife, but he
never will have her love, for Maurice, a posthumous rival, rises between
them. Ah, this Maurice! He had loved Maria very little or not very
faithfully! She should remember that he had first betrayed her, that but
for Amedee he would have abandoned her and she never would have been his
wife. If she knew that in Paris when she was far away he had deceived
her! But she never would know anything of it, for Amedee has too much
delicacy to hurt the memory of the dead, and he respects and even admires
this fidelity of illusion and love in Maria. He suffers from it.
The one to whom he has given his name, his heart, and his life, is
inconsolable, and he must be resigned to it. Although remarried, she is
a widow at the bottom of her heart, and it is in vain that she puts on
bright attire, her eyes and her smile are in mourning forever.
How could she forget her Maurice when he is before her every day in her
son, who is also named Maurice and whose bright, handsome face strikingly
resembles his father's? Amedee feels a presentiment that in a few years
this child will be another Maurice, with the same attractions and vices.
The poet does not forget that his dying friend confided the orphan to
him, and he endeavors to be kind and good to him and to bring him up
well. He sometimes has a feeling of sorrow when he discovers the same
instincts and traits in the child as in the man whom he had so dearly
loved and who had made him such trouble; in spite of all, he can not feel
the sentiments of a father for another's son. His own union has been
Poor Amedee! Yet he is envied! The little joy that he has is mingled
with grief and sorrow, and he dares not confide it to the excellent
Louise--who suspects it, however--whose old and secret attachment for him
he surmises now, and who is the good genius of his household. Had he
only realized it before! It might have been happiness, genuine happiness
The leaves fall! the leaves fall!
After breakfast, while they were smoking their cigars and walking along
beside the masses of dahlias, upon which the large golden spider had spun
its silvery web, Amedee Violette and Paul Sillery had talked of times
past and the comrades of their youth. It was not a very gay
conversation, for since then there had been the war, the Commune. How
many were dead! How many had disappeared! And, then, this retrospective
review proves to one that one can be entirely deceived as to certain
people, and that chance is master.
Such an one, whom they had once considered as a great prose writer, as
the leader of a sect, and whose doctrines of art five or six faithful
disciples spread while copying his waistcoats and even imitating his
manner of speaking with closed teeth, is reduced to writing stories for
obscene journals. "Chose," the fiery revolutionist, had obtained a good
place; and the modest "Machin," a man hardly noticed in the clubs, had
published two exquisite books, genuine works of art.
All of the "beards" and "long-haired" men had taken unexpected paths.
But the politicians, above all, were astonishing in the variety of their
destinies. Among the cafe's frequenters at the hour for absinthe one
could count eight deputies, three ministers, two ambassadors, one
treasurer, and thirty exiles at Noumea awaiting the long-expected
amnesty. The most interesting, everything considered, is that imbecile,
that old fanatic of a Dubief, the man that never drank anything but
sweetened water; for he, at least, was shot on the barricades by the
One person of whom the very thought disgusted the two friends was that
jumping-jack of an Arthur Papillon. Universal suffrage, with its
accustomed intelligence, had not failed to elect this nonentity and
bombastic fool, and to-day he flounders about like a fish out of water in
the midst of this political cesspool. Having been enriched by a large
dowry, he has been by turns deputy, secretary, vice-president, president,
head of committees, under secretary of State, in one word, everything
that it was possible to be. For the time being he rants against the
clergy, and his wife, who is ugly, rich, and pious, has just put their
little girl into the Oiseaux school. He has not yet become minister,
but rest assured he will reach that in time. He is very vain, full of
confidence in himself, not more honest than necessary, and very
obtrusive. Unless in the meantime they decide to establish a rotation
providing that all the deputies be ministers by turns, Arthur Papillon is
the inevitable, necessary man mentioned. In such a case, this would be
terrible, for his eloquence would flow in torrents, and he would be one
of the most agitating of microbes in the parliamentary culture.
And Jocquelet? Ah! the two friends only need to speak his name to burst
into peals of laughter, for the illustrious actor now fills the universe
with his glory and ridiculousness. Jocquelet severed the chain some time
ago which bound him to the Parisian theatres. Like the tricolored flag,
he has made the tour of Europe several times; like the English standard,
he has crossed every ocean. He is the modern Wandering Actor, and the
capitals of the Old World and both Americas watch breathless with desire
for him to deign to shower over them the manna of his monologues. At
Chicago, they detached his locomotive, and he intended, at the sight of
this homage proportioned to his merits, to become a naturalized American
citizen. But they proposed a new tour for him in old Europe, and out of
filial remembrance he consented to return once more among us. As usual,
he gathered a cartload of gold and laurels. He was painfully surprised
upon reaching Stockholm by water not to be greeted by the squadrons with
volleys of artillery, as was once done in honor of a famous cantatrice.
Let Diplomacy look sharp! Jocquelet is indifferent to the court of
After Paul Sillery's departure Amedee turned over in his mind various
other recollections of former days. He has been a trifle estranged from
Madame Roger since his marriage to Maria, but he sometimes takes little
Maurice to see her. She has sheltered and given each of Colonel Lantz's
daughters a dowry. Pretty Rosine Combarieu's face rises up before him,
his childhood's companion, whom he met at Bullier's and never has seen
since. What has become of the poor little creature? Amedee almost hopes
that she is dead. Ah, how sad these old memories are in the autumn, when
the leaves are falling and the sun is setting!
It has set, it has plunged beneath the horizon, and suddenly all is dark.
Over the darkened landscape in the vast pearl-colored sky spreads the
melancholy chill which follows the farewell of day. The white smoke from
the city has turned gray, the river is like a dulled mirror. A moment
ago, in the sun's last rays, the dead leaves, as they fell, looked like a
golden rain, now they seem a dark snow.
Where are all your illusions and hopes of other days, Amedee Violette?
You think this evening of the rapid flight of years, of the snowy flakes
of winter which are beginning to fall on your temples. You have the
proof to-day of the impossibility of absolutely requited love in this
world. You know that happiness, or what is called so, exists only by
snatches and lasts only a moment, and how commonplace it often is and how
sad the next day! You depend upon your art for consolation. Oppressed
by the monotonous ennui of living, you ask for the forgetfulness that
only the intoxication of poetry and dreams can give you. Alas! Poor
sentimentalist, your youth is ended!
And still the leaves fall!
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Egotists and cowards always have a reason for everything
Eternally condemned to kill each other in order to live
God forgive the timid and the prattler!
Happiness exists only by snatches and lasts only a moment
He almost regretted her
He does not know the miseries of ambition and vanity
How sad these old memorics are in the autumn
Never travel when the heart is troubled!
Not more honest than necessary
Poor France of Jeanne d'Arc and of Napoleon
Redouble their boasting after each defeat
Take their levity for heroism
The leaves fall! the leaves fall!
Universal suffrage, with its accustomed intelligence
Were certain against all reason