Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

18 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



THE STING. (Translated jrom the French.) In autumn, when thePyrcnneeseomimnccfo envelop* themselves in snow, the shepherds leave lie mountain with their troops of shivering sheep, their indoieii asses, and their faithful, shaggy old dogs. After sav- ing good-bye to their wives and kissing iheir little ones, they go singing toward the plain?,"where there is always plenty of grass, and the sun shines foi weeli., at a time. Toward Saint Michael's Bay, the countrymen s^e eomincr down the white roads shaded with yellow plantains the shepherds, in their tawnv capes, driving then- sheep before them. Then ihtse shepherds coin- men rv to gossip with the planters, who lodge and feed them for a portion of the milk during the time they are there. They often prove valuable acquisitions, for they generally fashion a pair of wooden shoes for the master of the and something else for the mistress, perhaps a pair of woollen mittens, knit during odd periods. They remain until the first days of ^i;iy. he time for sowing. Then the sheep begin to bleat in an extraordinary way, the asses bray with impatience, and the dogs look longingly to the distant. mountains, and on some sunny morning the flocks start instinctively hy the white roads, where the budding plantains show their first leaves, toward the blue peaks. T/¡;]:i each autumn the shepherds come and go. always stopping at the same farmhouse if possible; I one sees them arrive a little more bent and a little greyer each year. The farmers who wait for old i men often see the same flock returning guided bv a i strange young boy, who will tell them bet ween the verses of his song that his father, the fonner, shepherd, died over there in the mountains, near Saint Louis' or Saint John's Day. On one of the first days in October, a pretty young girl was gathering chestnuts before a white house, when looking up she saw almost in front of her a long troop of sheep conducted by a vigorous donkey. Vt ill you be so kind as to tell me where I shall find the farmhouse of Jacques Duval?" asked a young shepherd, appearing with trouble behind the ears of the active donkey. "This is it," responded the girl. "I should have guessed it: my ticck haveall gone in the direction of your Held. I am Pierron, the son of i your old shepherd, Matthew, who has been dead now since Saint Lawrence's Day." '"Very well, I'ierron. Come, and I will take you to my fatller." Pierron was welcomed in the farmhouse as warmly as his father had been before him, and the sheep! nibbled in the familiar fields the barbs they had loved so much. j He was a good-look ing young fellow, this Pierron very small and very dark, with such a fresh voice that when he sang it seemed as if he gave pleasure to the echoes." He was not more than twenty-two, and knew the most amusing stories, which he told during the long evenings to the old women of the house and to the pretty Marie. And Marie, a smiling girl with e3'es as sweet as the clear light of the moon, loved to listen with the young people of the village to Pierron's stories of bugbears, witches, and of his sheep. She loved, too, th e blue mountains crowned with white of which he told her. But better st illshelovod the beautiful knitting needle, skilfully carved, that he gave her on a holiday, the pretty mittens he knit for her at Christmas, and the gentle fleecy lauib that he gave her when she was eighteen years old. It was with great sadness that Pierron discovered, one evening, some white flowers on a cherry tree. The spring had arrived. The sheep commenced to bleat in the fields, now covered with daisies, and the donkey, straightening his head, pointed his great ears toward the mountains. God be with you, Marie said the shepherd, in saying good-bye, after the fashion of his country. I must go." Marie bent her head a little and blushed a deep red. And then Pierron said, taking her hands and gazing into her face "Marie, if you think as much of me as I do of you, marry me when I come back in the fall. I love !rou wilh all my heart and soul, and I would like to ead you to the foot of that mountain to my good mother, who will love you well. It is true I am not very rich, but-" here his voice fell to a half tone— I think I know a way of procuring a fortune for one I love." "What is it, Pierron?" said Marie, raising her eyes. I have an uncle who was as poor as we are a short time ago; he has bought a house each year for 20 years now, and no one living with him has ever been sick. I also know an old servant who, without inheriting anything, has amassed twenty thousand francs in several years, and his wife has the most beautiful children of the country." "But how do you explain this, Pierron?" "It is because both my uncle and the servant, i carry with them a snake's sting which brings good luA." And does the sting of a serpent carry good luck with it ?" Yes, the stings of a certain kind, which I know." Why have you none on you then?" Oh, that would not prosper me any. It is necessary that I should not know I carry it some person must hide it in my clothing. It was my aunt who hid the sting in my uncle's coat and it was also the servant's wife who slipped one into her husband's. Sometimes when we play tenpins, on Sunday, at home, the women put stings in theii husband's pockets, and when they don't find theru they always win." Marie dared not smile at what he said she herself believed as much in these mysterious things as any of the old women who told her of them in a low voice, while crossing themselves. I must go now. Marie, you will reflect on this during the summer, won't you?" Yes, Pierron.' The weather wa s mild; the fields were full of little shepherd girls, and the apple trees covered the ground with a white sheet. The sheep of one will turned toward home, Pierron had to follow. For a long time Marie stood under the chestnut trees and watched the retreating figure of the shepherd who turned often to look at her. For a long time she heard the bells of the leaders, and thought she could distinguish the figure on the donkey, high on the near hill. After that she saw nothing except the distant blue mountains. ° When Pierron came back to the farmhouse the following autumn, he failed to find the beautiful, happy light in the eyes of Marie. The village maids, without doubt like those of the mountains, preferred often a tall, muscular man, who gained eighteen dollars a month in some large city to a lank Bhepherd with nothing but snakes' stings in his pockets. That is why Marie had promised to marry a young man of her own country, the happy Joseph Tauzia, who was coachman to a rich merchant from Bordeaux, and who meant to take her, covered with ribbons and cheap jewellry, to the city as soon aa they were married. Pierron's songs were sad that winter. But he was a very young man, and had never yet wished any one any harm, so he forgave Joseph. As the year advanced he gave Marie a pair of beautiful white mits, a pair of sabots, and on her nineteenth birthday the fattest and most beautiful of all his sheep. He spoke with respect to Joseph, that grand coachman, when he came to visit the j farmhouse at Easter. Marie never heard an unkind j word from his lips, and never saw an unforgiving light in the eyes of her old lover. But Pierron cared no more for his old joys he ate without the same relish the chestnuts cooked in fig leaves that Marie offered him as well as the other men of the household. He looked at her from a distance without saying a word, and if she addressed him he lowered his head, stammered a reply, then said good-night to his host and went to sleep in the granary with his sheep, where he could hear their peaceful breathing. One day Marie came to the field to speak to him. It was bright and sunny. and the poplars were open- ing their buds in the breeze. All the countrymen were planting their maize. Pierron, I am going to be married in three weeks, the first Tuesday in May. If you want to please me, you will stay in the country until the day of the wedding. I would like you for one of my groomsmen." Oh, thank you very much, Mademoiselle Marc," he stammered, "but I shall not be able to star so long. My sheep will want to go before your wedding, and if they do, I must follow them." c But he did not soon depart, though he several times made up his bundle and washed his donkey for the journey. One of his sheep became sick, a lamb was lost, and he had to stop and find it before setting out for home. Little by little the days grew warmer. Already the grasshoppers had commenced to sing. On all the bushes the caterpillars crept over the ieaves, and one stormy day Pierron saw a long viper on the border of a little stream. Meanwhile the dav of the wedding approached. What are you doing there, you ragamuffin?" It was Joseph, the coachman from Bordeaux, entirely dressed in black, who said this. It was his wedding day, and he had surprised Pierron in the chamber of the bride. Tell me what you are doing here ?" Pierron remained quiet. He quickly put some- thing it, his pocket that looked-like a needle-case, and looked at the groom, reddening to the roots of his hair. A coat of Marie's lay on a chair; the shepherd Appeared to tve searching this and JiCtf lit tiiruw biamelf in treat of iu "Y ou vagabond! Tell me right away what you were doing here." Joseph suspected him of some theft Pierron saw this in his eyes. I have stolen nothing," he cried, fiercely. I swear to you I have stolen nothing!" What are you doing here, then ? Tell me quickly!" The shepherd looked at him in perplexity. I command you to tell me why you are here." "Icannot,"answercdPierron. So, I cannot." The coachman made an aogry gesture, and taking Pierron by the ear, sent him out of the room with a blow from his foot. Get out of here, you jail bird Marie was dressed all in white her dress had been sent lioIllC froiii the city, and she looked so beautiful in it, with her sweet mouth and blue eyes, that few could refrain from telling her so. The bridal baggage had gone, and already the bridesmaids were impatiently taking the arms of their cavaliers to go to the church. But Marie went to her room first, after hearing from her lover what had happened an hour before. She saw her window half open, and her coat thrown on a chair. She became very pale. She quickly examined the garment: under the cape she found a little opening in the lining, and in this a tiny white paper in which was something long, black and sharp, that seem to terminate in a fork. A sting! Marie became paler yet, and her eyes filled with tears. She threw her coat on the chair, left her room and escaped into the garden without being seen. She went toward the granary. She heard the sheep bleating, and saw the shepherd, enveloped in his red cape, leaning against the fence .And then, very white among all the white sheep, she. who had perhaps never kissed a man before, gave a, kiss to Pierron. The shepherd partly closed his eyes and stain- Inerpd-- "You hare found it ? Oh, that is bad I wanted to hide it. Now it has no virtue You will go to live in Bordeaux ? I will never come back here. God be with you, Marie And so he went. The sun was very bright. On the road he turned to look at the bride, who was going toward the church, across the verdant fields, where voluntarily the swallows followed her. Then, from the near hill, he saw for the last time the farmhouse. He stopped there an instant until he heard the b»IIs ringing for the bride. Then, making the sign of the cross, he rejoined his flock, hisdonkev and his dog, and continued his way down tho hillside toward the distant blue peaks.



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