Lété finit sous les tilleuls (French Edition)
Boule de Suif dared not even raise her eyes. She felt at once indignant with her neighbors, and humiliated at having yielded to the Prussian into whose arms they had so hypocritically cast her. Exceptionally talented, and an artist to the finger tips. She sings marvellously and draws to perfection. The good sisters, taking up simultaneously the long rosaries hanging from their waists, made the sign of the cross, and began to mutter in unison interminable prayers, their lips moving ever more and more swiftly, as if they sought which should outdistance the other in the race of orisons; from time to time they kissed a medal, and crossed themselves anew, then resumed their rapid and unintelligible murmur.
His wife thereupon produced a parcel tied with string, from which she extracted a piece of cold veal. This she cut into neat, thin slices, and both began to eat. The rest agreed, and she unpacked the provisions which had been prepared for herself, the count, and the Carre-Lamadons.
In one of those oval dishes, the lids of which are decorated with an earthenware hare, by way of showing that a game pie lies within, was a succulent delicacy consisting of the brown flesh of the game larded with streaks of bacon and flavored with other meats chopped fine. The two good sisters brought to light a hunk of sausage smelling strongly of garlic; and Cornudet, plunging both hands at once into the capacious pockets of his loose overcoat, produced from one four hard-boiled eggs and from the other a crust of bread.
He removed the shells, threw them into the straw beneath his feet, and began to devour the eggs, letting morsels of the bright yellow yolk fall in his mighty beard, where they looked like stars. Boule de Suif, in the haste and confusion of her departure, had not thought of anything, and, stifling with rage, she watched all these people placidly eating. At first, ill-suppressed wrath shook her whole person, and she opened her lips to shriek the truth at them, to overwhelm them with a volley of insults; but she could not utter a word, so choked was she with indignation.
No one looked at her, no one thought of her. She felt herself swallowed up in the scorn of these virtuous creatures, who had first sacrificed, then rejected her as a thing useless and unclean. Then she remembered her big basket full of the good things they had so greedily devoured: the two chickens coated in jelly, the pies, the pears, the four bottles of claret; and her fury broke forth like a cord that is overstrained, and she was on the verge of tears.
She made terrible efforts at self-control, drew herself up, swallowed the sobs which choked her; but the tears rose nevertheless, shone at the brink of her eyelids, and soon two heavy drops coursed slowly down her cheeks.
Others followed more quickly, like water filtering from a rock, and fell, one after another, on her rounded bosom. She sat upright, with a fixed expression, her face pale and rigid, hoping desperately that no one saw her give way. The two nuns had betaken themselves once more to their prayers, first wrapping the remainder of their sausage in paper: Then Cornudet, who was digesting his eggs, stretched his long legs under the opposite seat, threw himself back, folded his arms, smiled like a man who had just thought of a good joke, and began to whistle the Marseillaise.
The faces of his neighbours clouded; the popular air evidently did not find favour with them; they grew nervous and irritable, and seemed ready to howl as a dog does at the sound of a barrel-organ. Cornudet saw the discomfort he was creating, and whistled the louder; sometimes he even hummed the words:. Amour sacre de la patrie, Conduis, soutiens, nos bras vengeurs, Liberte, liberte cherie, Combats avec tes defenseurs! The coach progressed more swiftly, the snow being harder now; and all the way to Dieppe, during the long, dreary hours of the journey, first in the gathering dusk, then in the thick darkness, raising his voice above the rumbling of the vehicle, Cornudet continued with fierce obstinacy his vengeful and monotonous whistling, forcing his weary and exasperated-hearers to follow the song from end to end, to recall every word of every line, as each was repeated over and over again with untiring persistency.
And Boule de Suif still wept, and sometimes a sob she could not restrain was heard in the darkness between two verses of the song.
The younger men would sometimes stay the night. Madame, who came of a respectable family of peasant proprietors in the department of the Eure, had taken up that profession, just as she would have become a milliner or dressmaker. The prejudice against prostitution, which is so violent and deeply rooted in large towns, does not exist in the country places in Normandy. She had inherited the house from an old uncle, to whom it had belonged.
Since she had been a widow, all the frequenters of the establishment had wanted her; but people said that personally she was quite virtuous, and even the girls in the house could not discover anything against her. She was tall, stout and affable, and her complexion, which had become pale in the dimness of her house, the shutters of which were scarcely ever opened, shone as if it had been varnished.
She had a fringe of curly, false hair, which gave her a juvenile look, that contrasted strongly with the ripeness of her figure. She was always smiling and cheerful, and was fond of a joke, but there was a shade of reserve about her, which her new occupation had not quite made her lose. Coarse words always shocked her, and when any young fellow who had been badly brought up, called her establishment by its right name, she was angry and disgusted.
L'Été finit sous les tilleuls
In a word, she had a refined mind, and although she treated her women as friends, yet she very frequently used to say that "she and they were not made of the same stuff. Sometimes during the week, she would hire a carriage and take some of her girls into the country, where they used to enjoy themselves on the grass by the side of the little river.
They were like a lot of girls let out from a school, and used to run races, and play childish games. The house had two entrances.
The three other girls there were only five of them , formed a kind of aristocracy, and were reserved for the company on the first floor, unless they were wanted downstairs, and there was nobody on the first floor. The saloon of Jupiter, where the tradesmen used to meet, was papered in blue, and embellished with a large drawing representing Leda stretched out under the swan. That room was reached by a winding staircase, which ended at a narrow door opening onto the street, and above it, all night long a little lamp burned, behind wire bars, such as one still sees in some towns, at the foot of some shrine of a saint.
The house, which was old and damp, rather smelled of mildew. At times there was an odor of Eau de Cologne in the passages, or a half open door downstairs admitted the noise of the common men sitting and drinking downstairs, to the first floor, much to the disgust of the gentlemen who were there. Madame, who was familiar with those of her customers with whom she was on friendly terms, did not leave the saloon, and took much interest in what was going on in the town, and they regularly told her all the news.
The Yale Anthology of Twentieth-Century French Poetry
Her serious conversation was a change from the ceaseless chatter of the three women; it was a rest from the obscene jokes of those stout individuals who every evening indulged in the common-place debauchery of drinking a glass of liquor in company with prostitutes. Fernande represented the handsome blonde; she was very tall, rather fat, and lazy; a country girl, who could not get rid of her freckles, and whose short, light, almost colorless, tow-like hair, which was like combed-out flax, barely covered her head.
Raphaele, who came from Marseilles, played the indispensable part of the handsome Jewess, and was thin, with high cheek bones, which were covered with rouge, and her black hair, which was always covered with pomatum, curled onto her forehead. Her eyes would have been handsome, if the right one had not had a speck in it. Her Roman nose came down over a square jaw, where two false upper teeth contrasted strangely with the bad color of the rest. They were like all other women of the lower orders, neither uglier nor better looking than they usually are.
They looked just like servants at an inn, and they were generally called the two pumps. One evening, towards the end of May, the first arrival, Monsieur Poulin, who was a timber merchant, and had been mayor, found the door shut. The little lantern behind the grating was not alight; there was not a sound in the house; everything seemed dead. He knocked, gently at first, but then more loudly, but nobody answered the door.
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Then he went slowly up the street, and when he got to the market place, he met Monsieur Duvert, the gun maker, who was going to the same place, so they went back together, but did not meet with any better success. That was his regular evening, and now he should be deprived of it for the whole week.
But the exasperated sailors were besieging the house, throwing stones at the shutters, and shouting, and the five first floor customers went away as quickly as possible, and walked aimlessly about the streets. Presently they met Monsieur Dupuis, the insurance agent, and then Monsieur Vasse, the Judge of the Tribunal of Commerce, and they took a long walk, going to the pier first of all, where they sat down in a row on the granite parapet, and watched the rising tide, and when the promenaders had sat there for some time, Monsieur Tournevau said:.
After going through the street on the top of the hill, they returned over the wooden bridge which crosses the Retenue, passed close to the railway, and came out again onto the market place, when suddenly a quarrel arose between Monsieur Pinipesse, the collector, and Monsieur Tournevau, about an edible fungus which one of them declared he had found in the neighbourhood. As they were out of temper already from annoyance, they would very probably have come to blows, if the others had not interfered.
Insulting remarks were freely passing between them, when a torrent of formidable cries were heard, and the body of sailors, who were tired of waiting so long outside a closed house, came into the square. They were walking arm-in-arm, two and two, and formed a long procession, and were shouting furiously. The landsmen went and hid themselves under a gateway, and the yelling crew disappeared in the direction of the abbey. For a long time they still heard the noise, which diminished like a storm in the distance, and then silence was restored, and Monsieur Poulin and Monsieur Dupuis, who were enraged with each other, went in different directions, without wishing each other good-bye.
The others were just going to retire, when the noisy band of sailors reappeared at the end of the street. There was a general lurching against the wall, and then the drunken brutes went on their way towards the quay, where a fight broke out between the two nations, in the course of which an Englishman had his arm broken, and a Frenchman his nose split.
The drunken man, who had stopped outside the door, was crying by that time, like drunken men and children cry, when they are vexed, and the others went away. By degrees, calm was restored in the noisy town; here and there, at moments, the distant sound of voices could be heard, and then died away in the distance. One man, only, was still wandering about, Monsieur Tournevau, the fish curer, who was vexed at having to wait until the next Saturday, and he hoped for something to turn up, he did not know what; but he was exasperated at the police for thus allowing an establishment of such public utility, which they had under their control, to be thus closed.
He went back to it, and examined the walls, and trying to find out the reason, and on the shutter he saw a notice stuck up, so he struck a wax vesta, and read the following in a large, uneven hand; "Closed on account of the Confirmation. The next day, all the regular customers, one after the other, found some reason for going through the street with a bundle of papers under their arm, to keep them in countenance, and with a furtive glance they all read that mysterious notice:.
Madame had a brother, who was a carpenter in their native place, Virville, in the department of Eure. The carpenter, who knew that his sister was in a good position, did not lose sight of her, although they did not meet often, for they were both kept at home by their occupations, and lived a long way from each other.
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But as the girl was twelve years old, and going to be confirmed, he seized that opportunity for writing to his sister, and asking her to come and be present at the ceremony. Their old parents were dead, and as she could not well refuse, she accepted the invitation. She had no under mistress, and did not at all care to leave her house, even for a day, for all the rivalries between the girls upstairs and those downstairs, would infallibly break out; no doubt Frederic would get drunk, and when he was in that state he would knock anybody down for a mere word.
At last, however, she made up her mind to take them all with her, with the exception of the man, to whom she gave a holiday, until the next day but one. As far as Beuzeille, they were alone, and chattered like magpies, but at that station a couple got in. The man, an old peasant, dressed in a blue blouse with a folding collar, wide sleeves, tight at the wrist, and ornamented with white embroidery, wore an old high hat with long nap, held an enormous green umbrella in one hand, and a large basket in the other, from which the heads of three frightened ducks protruded.
The woman, who sat stiffly in her rustic finery, had a face like a fowl, and with a nose that was as pointed as a bill.