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   Chapter 25 FOUR YEARS LATER

Monsieur, Madame, and Bebe -- C By Gustave Droz Characters: 3956

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02

Yes, my dear, he is a man and a man for good and all. He has come back from the country half as big again and as bold as a lion. He climbs on to the chairs, stops the clocks and sticks his hands in his pockets like a grown-up person.

When I see in the morning in the anteroom my baby's little shoes standing proudly beside the paternal boots, I experience, despite myself, a return toward that past which is yet so near. Yesterday swaddling clothes, today boots, tomorrow spurs. Ah! how the happy days fly by. Already four years old. I can scarcely carry him, even supposing he allowed me to, for his manly dignity is ticklish. He passes half his life armed for war, his pistols, his guns, his whips and his swords are all over the place. There is a healthy frankness about all his doings that charms me.

Do you imagine from this that my demon no longer has any good in him? At times he is an angel and freely returns the caresses I bestow upon him. In the evening after dinner he gets down into my armchair, takes my head in his hands and arranges my hair in his own way. His fresh little mouth travels all over my face. He imprints big sounding kisses on the back of my neck, which makes me shudder all over. We have endless talks together. "Why's" come in showers, and all these "why's" require real answers; for the intelligence of children is above all things logical. I will only give one of his sayings as a proof.

His grandmother is rather unwell, and every night he tacks on to his prayer these simple words, "Please God make Granny well, because I love her so." But for greater certainty he has added on his own account, "You know, God, Granny who lives in the Rue Saint-Louis, on the first floor." He says all this with an expression of simple confidence and such comic seriousness, the little love. You understand, it is to spare God the trouble of looking for the address.

I leave you; I hear him cough. I do not know whether he has caught cold, but I t

hink he has been looking rather depressed since the morning. Do not laugh at me, I am not otherwise uneasy.

Yours most affectionately.

Yesterday there was a consultation. On leaving the house my old doctor's eyes were moist; he strove to hide it, but I saw a tear. My child must be very ill then? The thought is dreadful, dear. They seek to reassure me, but I tremble.

The night has not brought any improvement. Still this fever. If you could see the state of the pretty little body we used to admire so. I will not think of what God may have in store for me. Ice has been ordered to be put to his head. His hair had to be cut off. Poor fair little curls that used to float in the wind as he ran after his hoop. It is terrible. I have dreadful forebodings.

My child, my poor child! He is so weak that not a word comes now from his pale parched lips. His large eyes that still shine in the depths of their sockets, smile at me from time to time, but this smile is so gentle, so faint, that it resembles a farewell. A farewell! But what would become of me?

This morning, thinking he was asleep, I could not restrain a sob. His lips opened, and he said, but in a whisper so low that I had to put my ear close down to catch it: "You do love me then, mamma?"

Do I love him? I should die.


They have brought me here and I feel no better for it. Every day my weakness increases. I still spit blood. Besides, what do they seek to cure me of? Yours as ever.

If I should never return to Paris, you will find in my wardrobe his last toys; the traces of his little fingers are still visible on them. To the left is the branch of the blessed box that used to hang at his bedside. Let your hands alone touch all this. Burn these dear relics, this poor evidence of shattered happiness. I can still see... Sobs are choking me.

Farewell, dear friend. What would you? I built too high on too unstable a soil. I loved one object too well.

Yours from my heart.

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