“No! I won’t eat my soup! and pray, what of that?” I would reply.
“Very well,” was the answer, “the colonel’s horse will tell your father to-morrow on parade!”
I would have eaten my soup if it had been boiling, rather than expose myself to the tale-bearing of that white horse. I learnt, little by little—as Montézuma found me more difficult to manage—all sorts of horrible peculiarities belonging to the colonel’s terrible horse. I heard that he would bite most cruelly all little boys who refused to go to bed at eight o’clock, who kicked their father’s orderly, or who preferred to sail their boats on the pond in the Palais Royal (where Montézuma did not happen to meet his friends) to taking a walk in the Jardin des Plantes (where Montézuma always met his friends). It seemed, according to Montézuma, that this much-to-be-dreaded animal had devoured the little son of the master shoemaker, because he fought with his schoolmistress: nothing had been found of this unfortunate but his shoes, his cap, and a letter in which he declared that he thought he quite deserved his fate.
With a sigh of anguish I would anxiously ask, “And what did his mamma say?”
Montézuma replied, “She was in great grief.”
“I will never kick you again, Montézuma,” would I cry. “Oh! pray of the horse not to eat me, because it would make mamma so sad.”
“Very well; this time you are safe,” Montézuma then gravely replied. “But remember, if you ever do so again, he will not listen to my entreaties.”
With what an eye of curiosity and distrust did I gaze upon that anthropophagus of a horse, when I was taken to reviews. If I was placed near the colonel, curvetting in pride at the head of the regiment on his splendid white charger, I was seized with a
“Let us go further, Montézuma. Oh! do come away!” I used to pray, “he knows me, he is looking at me!”
“Don’t be afraid; while you are with me, and I do not sign to him, he will say and do nothing,” replied Montézuma.
“But,” I persisted, “don’t you see how he looks at me, and how he shakes his head? What does he mean?”
“Well, he means,” answered Montézuma, “he just means, ‘I have my eye on you: you must remember that, and take care how you behave.’”
IX. CHILDREN SHOULD CONFIDE IN THEIR PARENTS.
All these things terrified me greatly, and yet, to tell the truth, I took a secret pleasure in them. It was an unhealthy excitement, but even men sometimes find, like children, a strange pleasure in what is alarming and mysterious. Much good may it do them!
Montézuma would have been wicked to put all these ideas in my head if he had known the harm they did me. But he had no idea of it, poor fellow! He must, however, have been rather ashamed of these inventions of his, because he never said a word about them before my father or mother. And I, without his bidding me keep silence, said not one word either, about the matter, except to him. It was a secret between us. One discovers when one is very young, I am afraid, the charm of forbidden pleasure, or at least, of mysteries, and it was certainly a great pleasure to me to have this secret of the white horse’s powers between Montézuma and myself.
Still it was a great misfortune for me that I did not tell all to my father and mother; they would have put a stop to these foolish fancies and mad terrors, which little by little destroyed my spirit, and turned me into the unfortunate coward I became.
People who have children entrusted to them, or who are constantly with them, should make a rule that they shall never be frightened by stories of giants and ogres, or supernatural beings, or in the foolish yet terrible way in which Montézuma used to terrify me.
One cannot tell the effect these fears may have upon children: can never guess the mischief that may be done. When once my father had retired from the army I was no longer under the influence of Montézuma. I no longer believed in Croquemitaine, and had even lost faith in the colonel’s horse; but though the actual belief was gone, the pernicious influence remained, and I was always building up fresh terrors on the ashes of the old ones.
X. MONTéZUMA’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
Montézuma had the most wonderfully flexible face I ever saw. He could literally do anything he liked with it. For instance, he would lengthen his features, raise his eyebrows, and half shut his eyes, and there you had before you the living image of Lieutenant Hardel, the thinnest and most miserable looking officer of the regiment. Then, in an instant, he would puff out his cheeks, half bury his head between his shoulders, and opening his big eyes, roll them about in a terrible manner, and at that moment you beheld an exact copy of Major Taillepain. When he began these representations, which were performed for me, and me only, I could scarcely contain myself for joy. At each change of countenance, I would clap my hands and cry out, “Again, again, Montézuma! Again, please, again!”
He, too, would get quite excited over his own performances, and after having imitated the faces of all those he chose to mimic, he would begin making grimaces of so terrible and strange a nature, that I would be seized with horror. It seemed to me as if it could not be Montézuma standing before me: that fantastic and hideous face that I beheld—now furious, now jeering, and now surely the face of some strange animal—could no longer be his; and, almost beside myself with fear, I trembled all over. Then I used to have a sort of hysterical fit, crying and laughing at once, and I would implore of Montézuma not to do it any more. And he would then have his own natural face again in a moment, and taking me up, kiss me heartily.
In time, these performances which frightened me so dreadfully, yet which I could not help asking Montézuma constantly to repeat, had the effect of putting the strangest ideas into my head about the similarity of the human and animal physiognomy. I began to discover, from this time, different and strange expressions in the faces of the animals that I happened to meet with. In some I would read a threatening or spiteful expression, in others an expression of mockery or fun, which they, of course, never really wore.
I remember, in particular, one of the monkeys in the Jardin des Plantes, who, as a monkey was singularly ugly, and as a greedy monkey, showed singular eagerness to partake of some cakes which we had brought with us. From quite a long way off he saw them, and came towards the bars of his cage at a curious, loose, half-dislocated trot. When we had just reached the cage, and he was within a few paces of us on the other side, he made a sudden spring, and came with a bang against the bars. Oh! how frightened I was! I thought he was jumping into my face! I shut my eyes in terror, and when I opened them, there he was close to me, and I saw him rolling his eyes and grinding his teeth, and grinning at me. I thought I had never seen so spiteful a face! I dreamed of him that night; and the impression left upon my mind by the sight of that horrid monkey was so strong, that three years afterwards, I actually—before my father, of whom I stood in some awe—was seized with nervous terror at the sight of an ugly little neighbour, who stood at his window opposite, making faces at me, and putting out his tongue.
XI. DARING EXPLOITS.
My mother, naturally extremely timid, scarcely ever dared to differ from my father; but still she bravely took my part when he would attack me too severely on the unfortunate subject of my cowardice. My father would always be softened by her in the end. But as a last protest he would shrug his shoulders and say:—“Very well, my dear; but pray dress him, then, like a little girl, and set him to work to hem handkerchiefs.”
Hem handkerchiefs! In his eyes this was the most dire insult that could be offered to a coward. But I, who had but little pride 佛山桑拿按摩一条龙那里好 in me, I should have been more than contented to be turned into a girl, and sit and hem handkerchiefs. I should in that case never have to leave my mother, and I should not have the disagreeable prospect of college looming in the future.
I had a great love of dolls; my mother and I used to make up the most delightful rag dolls together. I used generally to hide them most carefully away when I had finished playing with them. Sometimes, though, I had the misfortune to leave one about: my father, then finding it, would turn and twist it with the end of his cane; wearing on his face, the while, an expression of the greatest contempt. Then—with a dexterity which I should have admired if it had not been exercised at the expense of my poor doll—he would toss it up into the air and send it flying, with a twist of his cane, right out of the window.
My paternal love for my outraged 佛山桑拿论坛q群 child would then seem to give me some courage—for I had to brave more than one danger to recover my dolly. If the doll fell in the street I would fly downstairs, and opening the hall-door a little way, put my head out to reconnoitre, and—after being quite sure that there were no carriages in sight to drive over me and crush me, nor curs to run after me and bite me, nor boys about to pelt me with peas out of their popguns—I risked it, and recovering my treasure from the street, would retreat, breathless and excited, at the idea of dangers which I might have met with.
If the doll happened to fall into the garden, I would first go and look out of the kitchen window—for from there I could see the goings and comings of a certain little bantam-cock belonging to us. This funny little fowl, which was no bigger than my two fists, was of a most quarrelsome disposition. Directly 佛山桑拿天堂网 he saw me coming he would run up as fast as he could, and then standing right in front of me, firmly planted on his two horrid little feet, he would stare at me, turning his head from side to side, first with the right eye and then with the left, twitching his little comb about with rapid jerks. Why did he come? What did he want with me? I had never done anything to him! Had he only then discovered, like others, that I was a coward, and merely amused himself (being a facetious sort of fowl) by making me afraid of him?
When he was at the bottom of the garden, occupied with his own affairs in some corner, I would seize the opportunity, and gliding softly, softly to where my dolly lay, I would carry it off in triumph before he had time to follow me. Sometimes though, he would only pretend to be pre-occupied, and in reality watch me out of the corner of his wicked little eyes, and suddenly shoot out from his corner right up 佛山桑拿按摩论坛07 to the door, when I, scarcely outside as yet, would make a rapid and ignominious retreat inside the house again. Sometimes I have made as many as ten ineffectual attempts to get out at the door, without counting the various stratagems which I was obliged to have recourse to when once outside before I could recover my lost property.
XII. THE INTOLERANCE OF THE LITTLE BANTAM.
When I did not play with my dolls, I made little chapels and altars in all the corners of the house. I made myself a chasuble out of my mother’s apron, and I sang away, as loudly as ever I could, all the hymns I knew by heart, and many that I composed for the occasion. My father said nothing to this, because he thought that, after all, a child must amuse itself in some way; however, I generally chose the days when he was out, and my grands services took place always when he went out fishing. On those days I felt I was free, gay, and happy. I sang my most beautiful anthems, composed of any words that came into my head, terminating in us or um; and 佛山桑拿女电话qq the house resounded with the noise of my bell.
But the procession, consisting of myself alone, did not go beyond the different rooms and the kitchen. I did not go into the loft, because who ever heard of a grand imposing ceremony taking place in a loft? I would, however, have gladly gone into the garden to ask a blessing upon our rose trees, and the one apricot tree which grew there, but 佛山桑拿论坛网 which never had any apricots on it; only the notorious intolerance of that little bantam-cock prevented the procession venturing out of doors.
When I met my mother, as I marched about the passages in pomp, she would smile kindly at me, and kiss me as I passed. Then I would whisper in her ear, “Mamma, I should like to be a priest.”
“And why not, my darling,” would be her reply, “if it is your vocation?”
XIII. HAVE I A VOCATION?
One day when my father came home from fishing he went into the kitchen, where my mother was making some cakes, and remained there talking earnestly with her for some time. While this conversation was going on I appeared upon the scene dressed up in my surplice, for I was just in the middle of one of my grandest processions. As I was about to enter 佛山南海区桑拿娱乐会所 the kitchen I was rooted to the spot by these words, which I heard proceeding from my father’s lips.
“You say, my dear, that he talks of becoming a priest: the fact is he knows neither what he is talking about nor what he wishes. You must not suppose that because a child arranges little chapels in the corners of rooms, pretends he is joining in a religious procession, and wears his mother’s apron as a surplice, that he is therefore fitted to be a priest when he grows up. You might just as well say that a boy must become a soldier because he puts a feather in his cap and plays the drum all day; and then,” he went on in a melancholy tone of voice, “Paul would certainly be a worthy priest to offer to God’s service! Priest, do 佛山桑拿按摩论坛交流区 you say?” Then exclaimed my father bitterly, “No; a priest, like a soldier, must ever be ready to sacrifice his own life. A priest must think nothing of danger or suffering, if he incurs either for the good of others! A priest must be ready at any hour of the day or night to visit and solace those dying from pestilence. However contagious an illness may be, no priest may shrink from visiting those stricken down with it, at the risk of his own life. Do you think Paul has a vocation for this?”
My mother hung her head and said nothing. Alas! what could she have said? My father’s words were wise indeed. As for me, I stood motionless in the shadow of the dark corridor, with my little bell in my hand. I listened to all that was said, standing there too distressed to remember that I ought not to listen to my father and mother’s conversation when they were unconscious of my presence.
“You see, my dear,” my father continued in a more gentle voice, “a man requires courage in whatever position he may be placed and in whatever profession he may choose. But the duty of a priest is to give others courage when they fail in it, and how can he do that if he is wanting in it himself? He must set others the example. No, our boy is less fitted to be a priest than anything else; for a priest must be courageous, and his courage must be of the highest order. But mind, I would not, for anything in the world, prevent our unfortunate son from following his vocation, if he really had one. I will not deny that I had hoped he might become a soldier, because I was one myself; but alas! I have had to give up that hope.” And he repeated slowly, in a sad tone of voice, “Yes, I have given it up!”
The bell fell from my hand: at the noise it made, both my father and mother turned round and discovered me. “Ah! you are there,” said my father, looking sadly at me. “It is as well, perhaps, that you heard what I said. At all events it is said, and you have heard it. However, I did not intend you should do so, my poor boy!” he exclaimed as he kissed my forehead. “But you will understand some day why I have at times seemed severe with you.”
“Kiss papa,” said my mother, “and try to remember what you have heard. You are very young, you have time to profit by his words. You may yet do better. I am pleased with his progress in his lessons,” she went on, addressing my father in a conciliatory tone, “I have taught him all I can, he knows, as much as I do.”
XIV. AN ANXIOUS QUESTION HAPPILY SETTLED.
These words of my mother, intended to settle matters happily, at once raised another cloud on my horizon.
“Well then,” answered my father, “if you have taught him all you can, we must send him to college. Now then, little man, don’t let me see your nose turn white.”