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Our Children Scenes from the Country and the Town   By: (1844-1924)

Book cover

First Page:

OUR CHILDREN

by

ANATOLE FRANCE

Illustrations by Boutet de Monvel

[Illustration]

OUR CHILDREN

Scenes from the Country and the Town

by

ANATOLE FRANCE

Illustrated in color and in pen and ink by Boutet de Monvel.

[Illustration]

New York Duffield & Company 1923

Copyright, 1917, by Duffield & Company

Printed in U. S. A.

CONTENTS

FANNY 1

THE FANCY DRESS PARTY 10

THE SCHOOL 12

MARY 14

PAN PIPES 16

ROGER'S STABLE 18

COURAGE 20

CATHERINE'S DAY 22

THE LITTLE SEA DOGS 24

OUR CHILDREN

FANNY

I

[Illustration]

Fanny started off early one morning, like little Red Riding Hood, to visit her grandmother, who lives quite at the other end of the village. But Fanny did not stop like Red Riding Hood to pick hazel nuts. She went straight on her way, and did not see any wolf.

Even when quite a long way off, she could see her grandmother seated on her stone doorstep, the dear grandmother who smiled with her toothless mouth and opened her old arms thin as grape vines to welcome her little granddaughter. Fanny's heart was filled with delight at the prospect of spending a whole day at her grandmother's. And her grandmother, having no longer any cares or tasks, but living like a cricket near the fire, is happy too to see the little daughter of her son, a sweet reminder of her youth.

They have many things to say to each other, for one of them is at the end of life's voyage and the other is just setting out upon it.

"You grow bigger every day, Fanny," says her grandmother, "and I am getting littler. Just look! I need hardly stoop to press my lips to your forehead. What difference does it make how old I am when I still have youth's roses in your cheeks, Little Fanny."

[Illustration]

But Fanny is exploring for the hundredth time, with new joy, all the curious things in the little house the paper flowers blooming beneath the glass globe, the old paintings of French generals in fine uniforms overthrowing their enemies, the gold cups, some with handles and some without, and grandfather's old gun which hangs on the chimney breast on a nail from which grandfather himself fastened it for the last time, thirty years ago.

[Illustration: TREES AND GRASS AND FLOWERS AND LITTLE BIRDS THERE WERE IN GRANDMOTHER'S YARD. FANNY DID NOT BELIEVE THERE WAS A PRETTIER YARD THAN THIS IN ALL THE WORLD. SHE TAKES HER KNIFE FROM HER POCKET PROMPTLY, AND CUTS HER BREAD AS THE VILLAGE PEOPLE DO.

Printed in France ]

But the hours pass and the first thing one knows it's time to get ready for the noonday dinner. Grandmother stirs up the wood fire that has been slumbering quietly, and then she breaks some eggs in the black tiled hearth, while Fanny watches with great interest the omelette and bacon that turns gold and sings in the flame. Grandmother knows better than any one how to make ham omelettes and tell stories. Fanny, seated on the little stove, her cheek no higher than the table, eats the steaming omelette and drinks sparkling cider. Grandmother, however, as her habit is, eats standing near the corner of the hearth. She holds her knife in her right hand, and in the other her snack spread on a crust of bread. When they have finished, both of them, Fanny says:

"Grandmother, tell me the story of the blue bird."

And grandmother tells her story of the blue bird, how a wicked fairy changed a beautiful young prince into a bird the color of the deep sky, and of the great sorrow the princess felt when she saw the change and beheld her lover flying all ruddy and dripping toward the window of the tower in which she was shut up.

Fanny is very thoughtful when she hears this story.

"Was it a long, long time ago, Grandmother, that the blue bird flew toward the tower where the princess was shut up?"

Grandmother replies that it was all a good while ago, those things, in the days when animals could talk... Continue reading book >>




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